Christmas in Cambodia is always an odd time. Far from friends and family; we spend our days on beaches and in pools, rather than by a fireside wrapped in ugly Christmas sweaters. That does not make it any less festive; Cambodia celebrates Chirstmas in that special Khmer style; with lights adorning commercial buildings, Christmas costume and paraphernalia shops popping up where last week there was a convenience store, and jolly Santas cajoling passersby on Monivong to buy simcards.
CWF celebrated a few days early with a Secret Santa gift exchange. Staff and teachers gathered to anonymously exchange gifts, presided over by a rather unconvincing Santas Helper. Everyone had been secretly given the name of another participant, and arranged a present for their giftee, who would also prepares a gift for someone else in turn. A $5 limit kept things silly and made sure everyone could take part.
Cheers, jeers, laughter and a flurry of wrapping paper announced each new freshly opened gift. Fancy liquor packaging disguised a personalized mug; Toilet paper wrapping revealed… a packet of toilet paper. Marmite made an appearance. The Khmer staff outdid themselves, presenting beautiful Khmer kroma to their foreign visitors.
Christmas day saw many teachers on the island of Koh Ta Kiev; others took the time to wander the galleries of Angkor Wat, or gorge themselves on Christmas buffets at fancy hotels. Many Khmer staff took the time to visit home, foreigners made do with Skype.
The weekend ended with an amazing meal to farewell Sambo, Founder and Operations Manager of CWF. The local was the Tonle Bassac Restaurant, as swish as you please with a buffet to rival the Christmas fare of a few days earlier. A few old faces returned to wish Sambo well on his new venture, more on that soon!
Always at this time of year you think back to friends and ‘chosen family’ who have come and gone over the years. The past eight years have seen over four hundred friends become part of the CWF family. We wish you well, wherever you may be; Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!