Three New Year’s celebrations are a lot to handle in a few short months. In addition to our New Year’s festivities in January and our mountain retreat vacation over Chinese New Year in Taiwan, we were also able to add another New Year’s celebration to our ever-expanding repertoire this year.
Over the weekend, we celebrated Khmer New Year on the beaches of Sihanoukville in Cambodia. The entire sky along the beach was lit up with hundreds of firecrackers being set off by hoards of Cambodians, loaded with water guns, who arrived yesterday in time to shower each other with baby powder. We had a rather subdued evening, despite the enormous amount of parties on the beach. We simply enjoyed our dinner on the beach and watched the evening sky burst into every color of the rainbow while the wind rolled off the waves. It was a perfect evening.
We made sure we avoided Angkor Wat, as we were warned ahead of time that people flock to the temples with prepared offerings. We think there were just as many people at the beaches too. People were busy throwing baby powder on each other, lobbing water balloons and firing off rather large water guns at one another.
Once again, we were grateful to be away from the crowds. Serendipity Beach is occupied by foreigners, while the Cambodians crowded onto busy Ochheutal Beach. There must have been thousands out there frolicking in the water. The water actually looked like a sea of heads. Obviously, this is the place to come to for Khmer families, especially at this time of year.
The Cambodian New Year is a three-day festival to mark the end of the harvest season. It takes place the 14th, 15th and 16th of April every year. It felt quite strange to be celebrating the New Year at this time of year.
During this time, people believe that the spirits of the old year explain their responsibilities and duties to the spirits of the New Year. As the New Year is born, a new Heaven is born too. People light candles and pray for the New Heaven to bring them joy. We certainly found our evening to be a joyful one.