Marissa’s first Christmas in Cambodia

Marissa Carruthers is a freelance journalist who, seven weeks ago, left behind life in the UK for the sun and smiles of Cambodia. In her weekly column, she will be sharing the ups and downs of settling into life in Phnom Penh as a new expat.

Bah humbug, it’s nearly Christmas. I usually get dirty looks when I say this but I’m not a huge fan of Christmas, bar the parties and days off work that come hand-in-hand with the festive season back home.

When I landed in Cambodia at the beginning of November, I was delighted to slip into a world where it was easy to forget that Christmas was just round the corner.

It wasn’t cold and I wasn’t surrounded by the constant reminders that seem to land earlier and earlier each year back home. Yes, Christmas was going to be easy to pass by un-noticed in Cambodia…

I enjoyed living in this land of oblivion until precisely December 1 when I went to Lucky supermarket and walked straight into a Christmas tree and staff sporting Santa hats.

Since then, the Christmas momentum has been snow-balling and there are reminders round every corner– something I rather naively didn’t expect in Cambodia.

I didn’t for a second imagine I’d be sipping on mulled wine while eating seasonal nibbles in a beautifully, festive-decorated apartment at a friend’s Christmas party on Sunday.

And there’s a never-ending list of places playing host to carol services, nativity plays and other entertainment with a seasonal touch. There was even a panto the other day!

Cambodia is the last place I thought my Christmas spirit would be rekindled for the first time since I was a kid and that I’d be left desperately craving the traditional serving of turkey with all the trimmings on Christmas Day.

Thankfully, I’m among many expats demanding a traditional festive feast and there are plenty of places offering Christmas dinners. In fact, there’s so many I’m still deciding which to choose.

So for anyone worried about missing out on Christmas, Cambodia seems to cater for every single need except the snow.

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