Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

This is not the first time we've rung in the New Year away from home.  In fact, we've spent four out of the last five New Years Eves in Southeast Asia.  

It all started when we rang in 2009 with a group of friends some 50 stories above the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, gazing across (and down) at the seemingly hundreds of fireworks displays celebrating the New Year and honouring the 80th birthday of the beloved King of Thailand.  

In 2008 we built our house in Bayfield, and didn't take a vacation that year.  We suffered through four months of icy blasts, dreary skies, road closures and desolation brought on by countless snowstorms.  It was our first year of retirement and it was all the convincing we needed to coclude that we were no longer cut out for Canadian winters.  Nothing memorable about that New Years Eve ~ I think we rang in 2009 with champagne and pizza.  

Somewhere in 2009, we decided to spend two months volunteering in Cambodia.  More through good luck than planning, we found ourselves on Pub Street in Siem Reap on the eve of 2010.  It's the Cambodian version of Times Square, without the dropping ball at midnight.  Revellers gather by the thousands to party the night away and ring in the New Year.  Music blares, people dance and shout.  It's a shoulder-to-shoulder crush, a wild time, and a 'must-do', if you're ever there at New Years.  To get an idea of the magnitude of the celebration, you might want to go to youtube and search 'New Years Eve Pub Street Siem Reap'.  It's nothing short of crazy.

The following New Years was quite a contrast.  Our flight landed at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on December 31 at 11:45 pm, and we rang in 2011 watching luggage go 'round and 'round the baggage carousel.  Boooo.....

This is the firstyear we've been in Siem Reap for both Christmas and New Years (see my earlier post about Christmas).  However, after the disaster in Phnom Penh during the 2010 Water Festival, we made up our minds to avoid large crowds and potentially dangerous situations, and decided against the frenzied revelry of Pub Street.  Instead, we spent a quiet evening sharing conversation and drinks (including a bottle of champagne) with good friends at the open-air restaurant on the rooftop of Golden Takeo Guesthouse.  It was a great vantage point to view the myriad of fireworks displays that dotted the midnight sky.

A big surprise awaited us on New Years morning.  The breakfast buffet was adorned with gorgeous fruit carvings, something you'd expect from a 5-star hotel.  Just one more reason why we came back to MotherHome Guesthouse.  Their motto is 'Arrive as guests, stay as friends, return as family'..... and it's true.  We are treated SO well here - their staff is wonderful.  And another thing....they're giving us informal Khmer lessons too.  So to all of our friends around the world, I can now say 'Susdey Chnam Thmey'  (Happy New Year!).

Carved watermelons & pineapple

A rose and the MotherHome emblem carved into a watermelon

My compliments to the chef!

Beautiful pineapple flower

Hearts carved into a watermelon

A carved dragonfruit


  1. Beautiful carvings! Goes to show; we don't have to do life the same and that life is filled with wonderful surprise. May you continue to be and receive abundant blessings in 2012 !

  2. Beautiful!!
    Still & all...I don't mind the "snowdays". It is a great chance to stay at home & quilt!
    But...who knows!