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October 12, 2012
by John Vink
This year the Cambodian Government granted three extra free days for the factory workers not working in their home province to go back and forth to their home village for the Pchum Ben celebrations (see more here) and two days to those who have a job in the same province as their village. As a result Phnom Penh empties itself with about half its population, and the economy, save the transport businesses, comes to a standstill for about a week.

Pchum Ben is probably the most important festival for the Khmer, as they pay respect to their ancestors, when the gates of hell are opening and the ghosts of the deceased are particularly active. The spirits are offered food, although these days the food goes to the monks who in turn generate 'merit' for the living.

Last year around 25 people died and 200 were injured on the roads during the week-long celebrations.