Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mother of the King holiday

Did you know Cambodia is a kingdom? Today I went to the US Embassy in Phnom Penh to see if I could get some pages added to my passport. Obnoxious, I know, my passport is full. I blame Argentina for stamping it sixteen times. Upon entering Cambodia, I was taken aside and it was demonstrated to me that my passport lacked "Visa" pages. There are several pages for "Amendments" and other sorts of things, but not visas specifically and for that reason, the Cambodian officials decided to fine me $10. The fortress that is the US Embassy was easy to spot, but the guards let us know that it was closed for a holiday. Assuming it would be a US holiday (isn't the land around embassies considered territory of the countries they represent?), I asked which one it was since June 18 didn't ring a bell. Perhaps they celebrate Father's Day early and bureaucratically treat themselves to a day off? The guard mumbled that it was Mother of the King's birthday, which my brain interpreted as Martin Luther King's birthday and I said, Isn't that in January? but shrugged and walked away, figuring I would try the embassy in Saigon.

There was no indication that today was a Cambodian holiday until fireworks started going off over the river. I was alarmed by the first boom and asked a girl if she knew what it was about, but I couldn't understand her. I appreciated the fireworks as an early American Independence Day since we will probably be in Vietnam and not having fireworks on July 4. Then as we continued down the riverfront, we saw a sign on the National Museum commemorating the King's Mother's Birthday and it all came together.

Happy Birthday, Lady also known as the Queen!?

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