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16 Apr 2002

All the partying and dancing on the street makes you think that Khmer New Year is going to be one long rave, but at the last moment everything goes quiet and the population all but disappears! Maybe they are exhausted, or maybe... that's just the way it is. We have made a point of going out for a walk each morning and evening to see what is going on. The main place to see activity is at the temples, which seemed to be doing a brisk business - certainly the monks look well fed, though we were assured that they redistribute the food they are given to the poor. Temple visitors looked their best today, with the ladies in traditional blouses and skirts and the men in black trousers and white shirts. In the evening families sit out in their yards or gardens enjoying a chat and a game of cards, and tables with offerings of fruit and flowers are set up on balconies or in front of the house. Tonight I went for a stroll around the neighbourhood and, to go with all the hellos and smiles, had talcum powder smeared on my face and neck by children of all ages. And I narrowly escaped getting soaked by one exuberant group of teenagers - throwing water is a recent addition to Khmer tradition!