Party like a Cambodian

That’s right.  I had the good fortune of being invited to one of those loud, crowded, yellow and pink tented parties that I’ve seen all over Phnom Penh.  Although crashing a total stranger’s party would be hilarious, this particular party was held at my house.

Here’s the deal: the family that I live with owns two adjacent houses, one where most of the volunteers live and and one where the family and a few other volunteers live.  Over the last few months, Mr. L has been working busily to renovate the family’s house–tearing down walls, retiling floors, buying new appliances and, most recently, installing stunning wood panels into one wall.  This was the last step in their renovation plans and they wanted to celebrate, as Cambodians do.  I knew there was going to be a party but I didn’t expect it to be as extravagant as it was.

I’ll start with pictures of crews setting it up.  These were taken throughout the day of the party, although the tent went up the day before.



Yep, that's a stage!

For parties and events, Cambodian caterers rely on open spaces outdoors to set up make-shift kitchens.  This seems sketchy but this means that the food comes out as it’s prepared, especially because they only start serving tables when they are full of people.  As a result, food tastes very fresh since it’s never under a heat lamp or waiting around!  For this party, the caterers set up in a vacant lot across the street from the house.

Slowly it starts…who knew it would turn into the pictures below?


Cambodians love to eat!  There were three courses brought out on huge platters and placed in the middle of the table on a lazy Susan-like device.  What was more interesting was that the caterers prepared and served the food only once people had filled a table of 10.  That meant that there were people eating dinner at all hours.

There were several performers there to entertain the crowd that trickled in.  There were these two lovely ladies, a male singer and a break dancing group.  Of course, Mr. L was up there a lot as well.




Mr. L loves to sing!


We were tricked into a LOT of dancing…


…and then this happened for some Gaga-forbidden reason.


This party was crazy and I don’t know if my pictures captured the infectious energy that filled the crowd all night.  There was constant dancing, fruit everywhere, kids running around and free beer!  This was the only time in my entire life when I wished that I liked beer because 1.) it was free and 2.) it was 8% alcohol. 

The only downside was a 50-year-old Khmer guy (who was Mr. L’s cousin, of all people) there was trying very hard to get with a few of us girls.  It’s just not okay to say “Do you want a drink, baby?” and “Quick!  We can lose them now!” to a 20-something girl that you don’t know.

Somehow (and I don’t know how) the party wrapped up by 11:00PM so we volunteers could get to bed so scraping ourselves out of bed the next morning was slightly less unpleasant.

I’m going back to planning my itinerary for Thailand now.  See you soon, sweet Internets!


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