Dec 26 2012
Update: 30 December 2012 – The Big Event on Ocheuteal Beach on New Year’s Eve looks like it’s going to be the Soundwave Music Festival. According to their flier, it is going to be a “Massive Music Festival” with a “Massive sound stage” and a “Huge stage & lighting.” Tickets are $6 on the day of the event. Ask for details at the Dolphin Shack on Ochheuteal Beach.
Cambodians love their holidays and don’t hesitate to celebrate any available holiday in style. Chinese New Year is a big event and Khmer New Year celebrations seem to last for as long as the locals can make them last. Here in Sihanoukville, Western New Year’s Eve is an excuse for fireworks and revelry at the beach. In the past, the celebrations were pretty “R” rated, but as more Cambodian and foreign families are coming here, there are now more “PG” rated activities as well.
As far as we could tell after asking around, no formal firework displays are planned for this year, but informal displays are a nightly occurrence on Ochheuteal beach and on New Year’s Eve, the local fireworks sellers bring out their big guns at nightfall. This is good, because Ochheuteal is still pretty PG rated at that time of night and will be relatively safe for children. Towards midnight, things will get a little crazier.
As always, most party-goers will be gravitating towards Ochheuteal beach for their New Year celebrations. If you’ve ever done an Ochheuteal beach version of a pub crawl before, you probably started at the old site of JJ’s, on Serendipity beach. If you have your heart set on JJ’s this year, don’t despair when you discover it has been replaced by Nap House, a newer, somewhat mellower night spot. JJ’s has moved down to Ochheuteal beach and is now the last backpacker/expat venue before the restaurants catering primarily to Cambodians begin. In between are old standbys like the Dolphin Club and Coco Shack, as well as newer venues like the popular Sessions bar.
Choosing your party venue on Ochheuteal beach will be a matter of taste, but all tastes are catered to. And there’s no reason why you can’t do a Cambodian version of a pub crawl and sample a few. It’s probably not advisable to sample them all, though, since that would equate to a couple of dozen beers at least, even if you only stayed for one in each venue.
If you want to avoid the party scene on Ochheuteal but not miss out on the fireworks displays, turn right instead of left at the bottom of Serendipity Road and choose a beachside bar with a view of Ochheuteal. You’ll have a perfect view of the fireworks, without having to be in the midst of it all.
Another mellow New Year’s Eve option is to go to the Coolabah Resort for their special New Year’s Eve seafood dinner special and take their optional “champagne and fireworks” package with you to the beach afterwards. This gives you the opportunity to sit at a proper table and enjoy a leisurely meal without missing out on the beach fireworks displays.
Planning ahead isn’t high on the agenda for a lot of Sihanoukville businesses. When we asked one cruise operator what they had planned for New Year, they looked at us like we were asking a dumb question and said, “That’s still weeks away,” but assured us there would be some sort of celebrations on board, as there are every day. No doubt this will be the case elsewhere in Sihanoukville, so if you’re here at the time, rest assured there will be something to do.
Wherever you decide to go on New Year’s Eve in Sihanoukville, get within easy walking distance as early as you can. The later it gets, the crazier the traffic becomes. You really don’t want to spend New Year’s in the local clinic getting patched up after being side-swiped by drunken revellers.
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