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row, phnom penh, cambodia by tiro

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Camera: Olympus OM-2
Film: Kodak 200 (expired)

What’s special about where I live? The river reverses flow.

That’s right; twice each year, the mighty Mekong stops flowing one direction and starts flowing the opposite direction. To celebrate this natural occurrence, dragon boat races are held along the river about half a block from my apartment in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The boat crews come from all over Cambodia to compete. Some boats include up to 80 rowers.

The races are the culmination of a major water festival here called Bon Om Touk.

For most of the year, the Tonle Sap Lake empties into the Mekong River. But, when rainy season arrives in June, the Mekong rises, reversing the flow to dump water into the lake. The lake grows to 10 times it’s normal size during this season.

When the rainy season ends in November, the Mekong drops once more, allowing the current to reverse again, emptying the excess waters of Tonle Sap back into the Mekong.

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