Dangerously Daydreaming

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence

Chaul Chnam Thmey (or Happy Cambodian New Year!)

On April 13 – 15 Khmer and Thais celebrate the New Year! I had the honor of being in Cambodia for a humanitarian aid trip during this time of year in 2007. It’s a celebration unlike any I’ve ever seen.

People are so happy, friendly, and kind. In the region it is common practice to “bless” one another with water or chalk that has been placedย before religious statues. The idea is to bless one another as you head into a fresh year full of prosperity and potential. But the Khmer took it a step further. You cannot walk down the street of a Cambodian city without being pelted with water and chalk. It’s like the best water fight I’ve ever been in, and on the grandest scale by far – everyone participates! Peals of laughter, squeals of shock, and happy shouting can be heard all about.

I remember taking a van from one of the outer villages back to our quarters in Campong Cham. A friend and I volunteered to sit on the roof on the overcrowded van and off we went. The slight breeze was an oasis in a hot and humid land for me. And then we saw a bus coming up in the other lane. A couple of younger Khmer boys yelled at us from their window and we turned just in time to see bucketfuls of water stream towards us. It felt SO good after the tropical heat of the day! We shrieked in surprise and then couldn’t help but laugh.

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Later that day back in Campongย Cham, some of my team and I decided to ride our bikes through the city during our free time to see the festivities. People came rushing out into the street as we passed. Some of the kids had super soaker guns but most were rushing about with buckets of water and handfuls of chalk. I got a fistful of chalk in my hair and realized that it was essentially baby powder!

I have a friend in Cambodia doing aid work right now and I hope she’s getting to enjoy the New Year festivities as heartily as I did. It was such a pleasure to share in the customs and celebration of those beautiful people.

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16 comments on “Chaul Chnam Thmey (or Happy Cambodian New Year!)

  1. sj
    April 14, 2012

    I LOVE that last picture of you!

  2. ethelthedean
    April 14, 2012

    I must second SJ’s comment. It is magical ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Audrey
      April 15, 2012

      You ladies are too sweet!

  3. Angie Z.
    April 14, 2012

    I’m so envious of all your travel and cultural experiences.

    • Audrey
      April 15, 2012

      I decided after my trip to southeast Asia that I would try to go on one humanitarian aid trip each year. Keeps the passion for travel and people alive. If you want to go, you should do it!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Angie Z.
        April 15, 2012

        Ugh — you’d probably hate me if you knew I recently turned down a chance to join my husband on a free trip to Malaysia (for his work). I’ve never been to southeast Asia but have heard nothing but fantastic things about it. (Especially Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.) When my kids are not-so-small I fully intend to travel more. What an amazing life you lead!

      • Audrey
        April 16, 2012

        I can understand having to turn a trip like that down when you have little ones. Just too hard to travel with small kids, especially when you go international. Here’s to hoping you get another opportunity when you’re able to break away! Southeast Asia really is an amazing place: the people are so kind and wonderful and the land is just breathtaking!

  4. BrainRants
    April 15, 2012

    You’ve been to some interesting spots, I’ll give you that. Please take my recommend and avoid your annual trip if it means Afghanistan. Just go with that.

    • Audrey
      April 16, 2012

      Thank you, very good recommendation and I’ll trust your voice of experience on this one. I have to admit I’ve certainly been tempted to make a trip that way… My brothers told me “no” as well. Working with Muslim women has really struck a chord with me but doing my best to be smart and avoid trouble whenever possible though.

      • BrainRants
        April 16, 2012

        Yeah, Afghanistan is fascinating, but I say, “No, Audrey.” As if I can. But, if you want to interact with Muslim women, look into going to Jordan, or possibly Turkey. I wouldn’t take my Mom there, but mainly because she can’t run fast.

      • Audrey
        April 16, 2012

        You most definitely can say no. ๐Ÿ™‚ I did a short trip to Jordan a few years back and can’t wait to do a return visit. And yes, safe enough for yo’ mama, for sure! Will you get the chance to hit Kuwait on your way to the ‘Stan?

  5. captainariel
    April 16, 2012

    The second picture is beautiful….and I DID have fun but also got really ticked off! Lol when we wnt into a brothel, we got into a baby powder fight and that was fun ๐Ÿ˜€ haha but when yyiou’re not expecting it and they almost ruin your electronis w water, No Bueno! Haha So for first Night we were still in Poipet. It was our last night there. We walked around, saw bautiful sand castles, live music, and got ice cream :D. Haha we also prayed for a bit though too. We saw the more uhm….crooked parts of Khmer New Year come out that nightt :/. Lots of guy on guy action and just people causing accidents! But we did manage to have fun. The next night I was back on Battambang and one of my friends from Canada was having a dance party at her house. So I bikes over w my best friend on the team. I only got one balloon to the shorts and purse but she was poured over like they won the super bowl! Lol A little bit more then frustrating haha. But we had fun blairjng our English music from her roof in competition and dancing :] haha. Definitely something I will never forget :]. I Love You! Thanks for sharing :D. I’ll try to post more soon! Ps sorry for typos! Kindles and wordpress don’t mix! At least for me anyway! Haha

    • Audrey
      April 17, 2012

      Sounds like you made the best of it and had fun for the most part! ๐Ÿ™‚ Hope your electronics didn’t get damaged… How are you liking Poipet?

      • captainariel
        April 17, 2012

        Yeah, you just learn to deal! Haha so I had fun ๐Ÿ™‚ and they’re fine! Haha just take them out of the bag and let em dry before using them. Uhm…I didn’t like Poipet :/. Haha its soo hot and dusty and is a very strong stronghold for the enemy :(. But like I said, you learn.
        to deal. I liked the Ministry we were staying w this time around very much! They’re called XP Ministries and they focus on working w Women at Risk. So I loved it :

  6. captainariel
    April 17, 2012

    ๐Ÿ˜€ * haha…and I enjoy our times of Evangelism! I got to see a woman come to Christ named Srey Mum…..I got to go into 3 different brothels for a total of 4 visits! ๐Ÿ˜€ a dream come true for me! …uhm…and I fell in love w a little boy named Chamnan. Hes only about 9 years old but he had a bad laceration on his foot and I wanted so badly to help! But all I oud.do was clean it :(…so when I get home now, I think I want to do EMT basic training ๐Ÿ™‚ so yeah. Overall, it was great! ๐Ÿ˜€ I like Battambang though haha

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This entry was posted on April 13, 2012 by in Adventure, Fun, Holidays, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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