Khmer New Year: Part One

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[vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][vc_column_text]Polly C Photography for The Travallure  New Year's celebrations in Southeast Asia are based on the Buddhist calendar and observed throughout the month of April. Songkran in Thailand, Bun Pi Mai in Laos, Thingyan in Myanmar and Chol Chnam Thmey in Cambodia all take place within days of each other and align with the end of the planting season. If you've been in the region for any of these events, you know that they are taken seriously and huge celebrations are always in order.

In Thailand, expect epic water fights with no man left dry. Random people will dump buckets of water over your head or spray you with water guns at every turn. My first Songkran was spent healing motorbike wounds, but you better believe I redeemed myself last year and soaked a few unsuspecting strangers on the street.

Luckily Chol Chnam Thmey (Khmer New Year) and Songkran were a few days apart in 2015, so I bused myself over to Cambodia to get in on the festivities there too.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][image_with_animation image_url="3659" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][image_with_animation image_url="3657" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][image_with_animation image_url="3666" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][image_with_animation image_url="3670" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/2"][image_with_animation image_url="3669" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/2"][image_with_animation image_url="3671" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][image_with_animation image_url="3710" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][vc_column_text]It all kicked off when I reached Battambang after a few days visiting friends in Phnom Penh. I had no idea what to expect of the quiet northwestern town where Polly was living and working, but it soon became my favorite place in the country.

That's all in thanks to the people you see on this page. These beautiful souls who gave us endless smiles and laughs, took us into their family homes and showed us the magic of their amazing country.

We met over beers at Buffalo Alley and I think the invitation to join the Khmer New Year plans came before I even finished my first $0.50 Anchor. An intense bond could be felt between the locals and NGO crowd, and I was beyond grateful to be welcomed in with open arms.

The Butterfly Tours crew was off duty for the holiday, but we still met at headquarters to assemble for the day. It took a while to get all 20+ of us on the road (including having to ditch my motorbike because it was running slowly and couldn't keep up with the crowd), but somehow Moth, Sam and Borith managed to get us all geared up and on our way to Sokheng's house and Sam's family farm in Som Lot.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][image_with_animation image_url="3691" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][image_with_animation image_url="3672" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][image_with_animation image_url="3675" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/2"][image_with_animation image_url="3673" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/2"][image_with_animation image_url="3676" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/2"][image_with_animation image_url="3721" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/2"][image_with_animation image_url="3722" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][image_with_animation image_url="3723" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][vc_column_text]Sokheng's family so graciously made us a huge feast with plenty of white rice, fresh coconuts and Cambodia beer to go around. The rain started just after we finished eating, but that didn't stop us from kicking off a game of musical chairs and dancing to traditional Khmer music to wait out the storm.

It didn't last long, but made for quite the muddy trip to Sam's house. His father took us around the farm and showed off photos of his beautiful family. We snacked on green mango dipped in sugar and salt, laughing, chatting and soaking in those holiday feelings of togetherness and love.

We could hardly communicate beyond smiles with our host families, but they took us in as if we were their own. Many of our Khmer friends hadn't seen their families in years and this was the first time Sam or Sokheng had been back to Som Lot in nearly two years since they moved to Battambang. The fact that they were still more than willing to invite us along speaks volumes about Khmer hospitality and the warmth of Cambodian culture.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][image_with_animation image_url="3697" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][image_with_animation image_url="3688" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][image_with_animation image_url="3695" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][image_with_animation image_url="3699" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][image_with_animation image_url="3689" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/2"][image_with_animation image_url="3698" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/2"][image_with_animation image_url="3690" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][vc_column_text]Hearts and bellies full, we made our way to the last stop of the day: Black River Som Lot. Rain or shine, we were there for a good time and kept up the festivities with beer drinking and floating in the river with the backdrop of the gorgeous Cambodian countryside.

I've had a lot of experiences abroad, but this was a really special day. It was challenging, eye-opening, thrilling and humbling all at once. Even getting caught in a rainstorm on the way back to Battambang wasn't enough to wipe the smile from my face. In fact, it was a permanent fixture for the rest of my time in this incredible country. <3[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][image_with_animation image_url="3655" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][image_with_animation image_url="3679" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][image_with_animation image_url="3682" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][image_with_animation image_url="3652" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type="in_container" scene_position="center" text_color="dark" text_align="left" overlay_strength="0.3"][vc_column column_padding="no-extra-padding" column_padding_position="all" background_color_opacity="1" background_hover_color_opacity="1" width="1/1"][image_with_animation image_url="3647" alignment="center" animation="Fade In" img_link_large="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row]