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Cambodian New Year

Countdown on Pub Street

sunny 95 °F

When we started this journey three weeks ago we weren't even sure which country we would be celebrating the new year in, or if it would even be widely celebrated in this part of the world. We considered Bangkok, knowing there would be a celebration – which we assume would have just been nuts – or an island, but it worked out that we would have our countdown in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We weren't sure what to expect, but soon after arriving in town last week realized this town does not lack in a party scene. In the center of town is a block with several alleys called "Pub Street" that is filled with restaurants, shops and street vendors. This has been our hub nearly every night as it's only a short tuk-tuk ride from our hotel and a great place to wander around for dinner and shopping.

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We knew from advertisements that Pub Street would be in full-swing on New Year's Eve, but started our evening at the "Phare" Cambodia Circus a few kilometers away. This small big top runs a nightly show full of interpretive dance, acrobatics and gymnastics. Think Cirque du Soleil on a much smaller scale and without the flashy costumes. Phare is a great program that offers free education in theater and performing arts to impoverished children in an effort to break the cycle of poverty and give them a chance at a life off the streets. We've seen more children selling and begging on the streets here than we care to talk about. It's a real problem, and it's comforting to know that there are people trying to help. We lucked out with great seats, and thoroughly enjoyed the show.

We got a lift back to Pub Street and found a spot up on the balcony of a restaurant to watch the crowd. We could tell that there was a lot of energy at the far end of the main drag out in front of a place called Sky Lounge. After deciding we didn't want to spend 2+ hours sharing a seat where we were at, we ventured out into the madness and headed towards Sky Lounge in the hopes of reaching its roof top bar. Along the way we realized that people were throwing water, beer, and mixed drinks, as well as handfuls of baby powder, over everyone and everything. The ground level of the lounge was an absolute disaster! We couldn't get anywhere near the stairs and quickly retreated back in the direction from where we came. We settled back down at the Red Piano and eventually watched the countdown from the center of Pub Street. We finished the night at X Bar, a nearby three story place with a halfpipe on the rooftop (no one was skating though) and caught the last few songs of a Cambodian punk band's set.

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Cambodia has been a blast, and tomorrow we head to Koh Chang, an island off the coast of Thailand for the last leg of our adventure. 2015 was a big year for us, and here's to another year filled with happiness. Happy New Year!!

Posted by carpentrek 01:29 Archived in Cambodia

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!! How exciting that was! I watched the last few minutes of the new year vanish from my chair and soon after the ball fell in NYC I was asleep again. Thanks for the post. Continue to have a great time as 2016 begins. I know it will hold lots of happiness for you and John. Much love, Nannie and JPa.

by marty warren

Cambodian Punk? OK - that's got to hurt the ears! What a trip . . .

by AJ

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