New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is one of the unique times of the year when you have an event that is celebrated widely around the world. There are some iconic places in the world where the passing into the new year would be celebrated and likely shown to others around the world on television (e.g., Times Square, Sydney Harbor, Eiffel Tower, Moscow Red Square), but regardless where you are, there is likely some special events organized to celebrate this event.

When planning for the Southeast Asia trip, Kristi and I knew that we would be passing into the new year somewhere during the trip. So we decided to pick a place that would be memorable to do so; we thought it would be neat to experience the first sunrise of the year at one of the most recognizable landmarks in Southeast Asia, the temple of Angkor Wat. That was the anchor place on our itinerary, and the rest of the travel plans was put together around that. And that means the New Year’s Eve would be spent in the nearby city of Siem Reap.

After a full day of visiting the temples of Angkor, we went to downtown Siem Reap for dinner, and after a nice dinner at the Angkor Palm Restaurant and dessert at the Blue Pumpkin, we walked around in the Old Market area for a while to see the activities around. There were a lot of people around, but that’s probably quite normal in that touristy area especially at that time of the year that’s considered a high season for tourism. When we got closer to the popular Pub Street, however, we started seeing places decorated and crowd started building up as it’s getting closer to midnight. We walked passed the street earlier in the evening and it was still quite empty. As we continued on to another street nearby, we passed an area where there were restaurants set up on the side of the road with open kitchen where cooks were preparing grilled foods. The aroma of the food cooking on the grill was very inviting for the passersby; too bad we already had our dinner.

We decided to head back to our hotel after that, around 9 pm or so, since we didn’t want to oversleep and miss the moment we’re planning to experience the following morning. So we celebrated the passing into the new year… but with the folks in Australia on television.

The photo below was taken near the Pub Street. You can see the crowd starting to build up for the New Year’s Eve celebration.

New Year's Eve

Angkor Palm

Angkor Palm is a restaurant on Market Street in downtown Siem Reap, Cambodia, not far from the popular Pub Street. This restaurant server Khmer food. We ate at Angkor Palm per recommendation of a couple of travelers whom we met at our hotel. It was New Year’s Eve when we went to the restaurant, so they had a special deal that included several dishes, a cocktail drink, and dessert. The price for the combination was pretty reasonable (USD $15), so we decided to try it out.

The owner of the restaurant was very nice and welcoming to his guests, but it seemed that several of the wait staff didn’t have as good command of English, so there were times that he had to intervene to help the staff. They were all very polite and courteous, so for us that was not a problem.

When we ordered, there was a miscommunication and we ended up with one set of the combination meal (but with individual cocktails) instead of our intended order of two sets. The one set of dishes was big enough for us to share, so it ended up working out well. But I could see such miscommunication causing problems for other guests.

The food was really good, even though some of the dish names on the menu were a bit strange or misspelled (eggplant caviar (?), calamary, stir-fried mixte vegetable). The ice cream dessert was excellent — I think it was supplied by an excellent ice-cream shop next door, The Blue Pumpkin.

You can see in the photo below the New Year’s Eve special dish that we ordered. Onesampler dish was plenty for both of us. The sampler included: cocktail drink (we had mojitos), Khmer spinach crab soup, mango salad, eggplant ‘caviar’, calamari, amok fish, satay scallops, stir-fried mixed vegetables, steamed jasmine rice, and ice cream.

New Year's Eve sampler