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Photographer's Note

These guys are watching the annual Khmer boat races from a tree.

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The Khmer form a very important minority in the deep south of the Vietnamese Mekong Delta, especially in the provinces of Can Tho, Tra Vinh and Soc Trang. They speak their own Khmer language and - like the inhabitants of Cambodia, Thailand or Laos - they practice Theravada Buddhims, which is very different from mainstream (Mahayana) Buddhism in Vietnam.

They are sometimes referred to as "Khmer Krom", which means the 'Khmer from below', and already inhabited the region before the arrival of the Vietnamese. Though their status as a minority within Vietnam has never really been disputed, Pol Pot used their presence as an alibi to start invading the south of Vietnam, as soon as the American War had ended. This eventually lead to him being ousted from power by the Vietnamese and the beginning of 'modern' (i.e. post-Khmer Rouge) Cambodia.

Soc Trang is one of Vietnam's strongholds of Khmer culture. This province alone has 89 Khmer pagodas. The annual highlight is the Ooc Om Boc festival in the provincial capital, featuring the impressive Ngo boat races, with longboats of up to 60 rowers racing each other. The festival is held every year on full moon day of the 10th lunar month.

WS for a picture of the boat races, i.e. what all these guys are actually watching.

more information about the festival in this excellent article from Viet Nam News: vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/showarticle.php?num=04SUN181107.

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scan from analogue print

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Additional Photos by Benny Verbercht (BennyV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1539 W: 34 N: 2211] (13538)
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