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Celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Siem Riep

 

Our first St Patrick’s Day away from Ireland was in Siem Riep, Cambodia, and it started shockingly early. We were awake before 4am to get ready for our journey to Angkor Wat to see the sunrise. We were tired but really excited as we bundled into the tuk-tuk that was to drive us there. We sped through the darkness and shivered in the cold air.

When we reached Angkor Wat, we were tired and hungry. We spotted a van selling coffee and rushed towards it. After a few sips of the hot bitter brew, and a few bites of the not so fresh pastry, we followed the trickling crowds in the dark.

We wandered around a little closer to where people were gathering at the banks of a lake overlooking the familiar sight of the temples where the sun was said to rise behind. My fingers twitched on the shutter button as I imagined capturing the beautiful sight.

As more people gathered around, the air was thick with anticipation. We stood facing the water and guessed how long it would be before the show started.

We kept on waiting.

It was only when we couldn’t deny the fact that the sky had gone from black to grey with no promised purples, pinks and oranges that we had to face reality. There had been no sunrise. The clouds had ruined the once in a lifetime, unforgettable moment that we had been waiting for. We lingered a little longer, holding on to the possibility that maybe it was somehow still to come, but in the end we had to admit defeat.

 

Feeling dejected, and wishing we hadn’t gotten up quite so early, we wandered in the direction of the buildings. Our moods quickly improved. We were in awe of the ancient buildings and soon grew giddy and tried to come up with ‘funny’ pictures, which included us popping our heads from behind doorways, sitting cross-legged on rocks and pretending we were falling. After taking breaks to eat and drink, we continued to explore. But the early hour had an effect on our energy levels, and by the afternoon we were ready to head back to our room.

angkor wat siem riep the traveloguer

After a quick nap, we started to prepare for our first St Patrick’s Day away from the Emerald Isle. We were all feeling a little glum as we thought about what we were missing at home. Then B started to play every Irish song on her ipod; U2, The Cranberries, traditional music, and unfortunately, Westlife. I tried to think of Ireland as the boys’ harmonies rang in my ears; I was taking one for the team.

The music had the desired effect, and we decided to wear green, white or orange, depending on our limited wardrobe selections. We took the green bands we had been given on the river in Vang Vieng and used them as headbands because, y’know, they’re green.

human tricolour st patricks day the traveloguer

After taking a tricolour-esque photo, we headed straight for the previously scouted Irish bar. As we walked, we grinned about how lucky we were to be Irish; all around the globe there are Irish bars, and being able to celebrate Paddy’s Day in one was as close to home as we would get.

A Sea of Green

As we got closer to the bar we couldn’t believe our eyes. The place a sea of green. It was jammers, and everyone was euphoric, toasting, shouting and joking. We slowly made our way through the crowd and eventually reached the bar. There were green pints everywhere, and Irish music blasting from the speakers. There were even shamrock decorations and loads of balloons of green, white and orange. We felt touched that there was such a celebration going on.

We decided to throw caution, and our backpacker budgets, to the wind, and go all out. On St Patrick’s Day, we simply had to have a pint of Bulmers. After weeks of sharing stomach-stripping buckets of whiskey, a Bulmers felt very indulgent.

And then we spotted something else on the menu, potato skins! What better way to celebrate our Irishness than with a plate of spuds! We sat squashed at a tiny table, with people carrying pints and conversations over our heads as we tucked in.

potatoes siem riep st patricks day thetraveloguer

Word soon got out that we were Irish. We were greeted time and time again by people from all over the world who wanted to share a drink with us. Apparently, Irish people were in short supply. Throughout the evening, people also rounded up fellow Irish and brought them to us. There were the Cork lads in the Irish jerseys who we ended up seeing later in Sihanoukville, and the lovely girls, and a large man who thought it was only natural to pick me up like a bag of spuds, and walk around until he found a suitable place to drop me.

Then there was a lot of dancing. Our Irish dancing lessons from school came back to us as we spun and jigged around the room, teaching our new friends steps we didn’t even know that we knew.

irish tattoos st patricks day siem riep thetraveloguer

After we had drawn countless Irish tattoos on as many people as possible, using a green marker that seemed to appear out of nowhere,  and stroking and kissing an Irish tea-towel hung on the wall, it was time to move on. Our new gang headed for Angkor What? Bar and danced around, until we succeeded in drinking ourselves into an early hangover. We headed back to our accommodation, laughing at the whole night. And we slept like little leanbhs.

 

 

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29 Comments

  • Reply
    Arleen
    March 18, 2014 at 7:57 am

    No what where you are there is nothing like tradition. At the end of the day you felt proud to be Irish and isn’t that what a special holiday to celebrate your heritage is all about. It is amazing you found the pub, so it was might to be. Think of the wonder cherish memories will you will always have.
    Arleen recently posted…A Winning Online Marketing StrategyMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      Hi Arleeen. yes the pub was a great surprise, we weren’t expecting to have a good night, but we really did. THanks for your comment 🙂

  • Reply
    Laurie Hurley
    March 18, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Nice to be able to travel to other countries and still celebrate the traditions you so enjoy. Safe travels to you!
    Laurie Hurley recently posted…The Good Client Quiz And Why It’s Important To TakeMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      Thank you Laurie, and thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • Reply
    Beth Niebuhr
    March 18, 2014 at 8:11 am

    What fun! You went from feeling a bit homesick to becoming the belles of the ball, whom everyone wanted to meet! What a great story.
    Beth Niebuhr recently posted…I’m Tech Challenged and Want an Online BusinessMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Hi Beth, yeah it was a really good night and we definitely forgot about being homesick. 🙂

  • Reply
    Paul Graham
    March 18, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Cambodia sounds like a great place to celebrate St Paddys and you seem to have been great ambassadors. Sometimes the worst mornings turn into the best nights. Of course with enough Bulmers the reverse is also true !
    Paul Graham recently posted…Every Picture 16My Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 4:19 pm

      Haha, very true, Paul! Cambodia really was a great place to spend Paddy’s Day. 🙂

  • Reply
    Vickie Fowler
    March 18, 2014 at 8:35 am

    Love your writing and adventures! Stay young and curious; and keep writing colorful articles for the rest of us to live through!
    Vickie Fowler recently posted…5 Surprises A Woman Learns From A BreakupMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      Thank you, Vickie, I will try my best!! 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

  • Reply
    andleeb
    March 18, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Its always an amazing feeling to be in such place , where you can remember your own festivals , norms and it’s best to be surrounded by some special people … I am happy that you have enjoyed a lot and it is necessary for a happy life ….
    In some countries , it is not allowed to observe your traditions or festivals… and it hurts.
    andleeb recently posted…What a Day!!! International Women’s Day.My Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      Yes, it was a really good time. Yes, we were lucky to find somewhere where we could celebrate freely. Thanks for commenting, Andleeb 🙂

  • Reply
    Susanna
    March 18, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    A more exciting St Patrick’s Day than I had here with just a special dinner, followed by some traditional music with friends and family
    Susanna recently posted…Pistachios, Green Gold from BronteMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      Hi Susanna, your St Patrick’s Day sounds pretty great, with a special dinner and traditional music. This year I only went for a drink, it wasn’t much of a celebration! 🙂

  • Reply
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie)
    March 18, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    What an unusual place to celebrate the holiday! Truly inspired!
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted…St. Patrick’s Day… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      Thanks for your comment Jacquie 🙂

  • Reply
    Catarina
    March 18, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Love the fact that you are celebrating your traditions wherever in the world you are. More people should do that.
    Catarina recently posted…How do you respond to risks?My Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      Hi Catarina, yeah it’s nice to celebrate traditions, but I couldn’t even remember what we did for last year’s Paddy’s Day, so it can’t have been much of a celebration. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • Reply
    Jay
    March 19, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Very nice to be able celebrate away from your usual place. Travel and celebrate while you’re young. Nice article

  • Reply
    Tim
    March 19, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I just recently returned from Siem Reap and reading your post took me right back onto Pub Street. I can imagine it was a green party. Great post and love the fact that you guys are out there seeing the world.
    Tim recently posted…Wonders of the WorldMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      Aw, I’m glad you were taken back there. Thanks Tim. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kumar Gauraw
    March 20, 2014 at 2:08 am

    Hi Christine,

    Cambodia certainly seems like a lot of fun to celebrate St. Patricks Day after all 🙂
    You’re a great example of the fact that you can still be yourself and celebrate your traditions while away from him and even while in a foreign land.

    Thanks for sharing!

    -Kumar

  • Reply
    Jason B
    March 20, 2014 at 4:33 am

    Sounds like you had a great time.
    Jason B recently posted…Before I Die Art WallMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      Hi Jason, yes we had a lot of fun! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Reply
    Jeri
    March 20, 2014 at 10:15 am

    I’ve never been out of the country on a major holiday, but I have been in Savannah, GA once around the 17th. They take St. Patrtick’s day really seriously 😉
    Jeri recently posted…How to Find a #Critique Partner and Set Ground RulesMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Hi Jeri, I would love to visit Savannah some day. I remember when I first realised how Americans celebrate St Patrick’s Day with such enthusiasm, I was really surprised. It is nice that it is such a widely known holiday. 🙂

  • Reply
    Susan Cooper
    March 22, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Aw, that was really cool and oh what fun. Not all countries are into St Patrick’s day, but when they are, as you found, it’s a blast. I’m so glad you found a bit of the Irish where you were, at the time. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Artichoke and Bell Pepper Salad: #RecipeMy Profile

    • Reply
      Christine
      March 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      Hi Susan. Yes it really was a blast, and unexpected! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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