Learning to love Christmas in Sihanoukville
I’m not a huge fan of Christmas — I feel like a holiday that was originally fun and well-intentioned has evolved into an expensive, stressful and guilt-inducing ordeal. I honestly wouldn’t mind if it was skipped altogether.
Being away from home for Christmas was a no-brainer — and, believe it or not, this was my first Christmas outside of Massachusetts!
I wasn’t sure where I’d be for the holiday. Cambodia, definitely. But Battambang? Siem Reap? Sihanoukville? What about in transit?
But come on…I couldn’t really spend Christmas Day on a 12-hour bus ride out of spite!
I would create my own Christmas, a stress-free Christmas, and I would do it in a place that I adored: the amazing town of Sihanoukville!
What did I love most about Sihanoukville? Lying on the beach with a book while getting a foot massage. Dancing all night at JJ’s. Most of all, meeting new friends. In Sihanoukville, you meet friends more or less constantly, all day long.
So after some Swedes and Australians invited me on an island cruise they were taking the next day, I knew I had to join in!
The cruise left from Serendipity Beach at noon, and we were immediately met by a bawdy bunch of Swedes who arrived wearing the most hilarious Christmas costumes I’ve ever seen.
I don’t know if it was a condition to their trip or not, but they didn’t take their costumes off once all day. Not even when they jumped off the boat into the water!
We spent the day on the beach of a tiny island off Cambodia’s coast — playing volleyball in the water, throwing frisbees on the beach, having a great barbecue, dancing, burying each other in the sand.
At the end of the day, as the sun was setting, the captain stopped the boat in the middle of the ocean so that we could do flips and cannonballs off the side. Talk about exhilarating..
It was a fun day, a chill day, and a party day. And I gladly toasted to Christmas with my new friends. Backpacker style.
That night, as always, the party moved to JJ’s. This time, with extra Santa hats and tinsel!
And I got the best present of all: three awesome new friends with whom I traveled on to Siem Reap, Bangkok, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. Much more on those friends later!
This was the best Christmas for which I could have hoped.
If you feel like Christmas has become more stressful than joyful, it might be time to celebrate unconventionally. Here’s how to start:
Find a place that makes you happy. Is it a tropical beach? Is it a mountain cabin where you can go skiing? Is it the city where several of your friends now live?
Get there. Save up, book way in advance, and get yourself to that dream destination. It won’t happen if you don’t take action.
Find people that make you happy. Who makes you happiest? Your sibling? Your best friends? Your significant other? Go together — and bring nobody else.
Reduce the stress this time around. Tell your family that you’re taking Christmas off. You can probably get away with that once. If not, make it a gift-card-a-rific holiday this year.
If Christmas brings you down each year, don’t let that keep happening. You can be capable of having an amazing unconventional Christmas!