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Posted by on Apr 9, 2013

New Year’s Resolutions – Take Two


This coming week marks Chaul Chhnam Thmei, more commonly known as Khmer New Year.  It’s the actual beginning of the next year in traditional Cambodian culture and is celebrated at the end of the rice harvesting season.

Chinese New Year a couple months ago in Phnom Penh.

Chinese New Year was celebrated a couple months ago in Phnom Penh.

Khmer New Year will be celebrated over three days this year starting on April 13. Each day has a separate meaning:

Day One – Maha Songkran – marks the end of the last year and the coming of the new one
Day Two – Virak Wanabat – a day for remembering one’s elders and for donating to charities
Day Three – Thgnay Leang Saka – the start of the New Year

Traditionally, Khmer people would age another year at the New Year rather than on their birthday, making the last day of the celebration a giant birthday party for the country. That tradition may be changing with the introduction of more western birthday celebrations, but we’ve found that overall Cambodians don’t really celebrate their actual birthday (but there is a lot of excitement leading up to New Year).

We’ve been told that Phnom Penh will clear out as everyone heads back to see their families in outlying provinces. We’re also planning to travel for Khmer New Year and will spend a few days in Koh Kong Province, enjoying a bungalow on an island beach resort.

Beach living here we come.

Beach bungalow  living here we come.

The resort doesn’t have wifi and its the first time we’ll be truly “unplugged” since we started traveling in mid-January. I have high expectations for those island days with no internet, which in turn means no time wasted on Facebook and Twitter and an excuse to not do any planning for the next legs of our trip.

Instead, I’m going to embrace the influence of Cambodian culture and use Khmer New Year as the start of my new year. I love making New Year’s resolutions and have had some success over the years actually following them through. At the start of 2013 though, I couldn’t think of a single resolution I wanted to commit to and I’m pretty sure it was because all I could think about was our upcoming travels.

As we’ve been on the road, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about what may be ahead, what goals I want to have for myself and how I may want to continue living my life whenever this big adventure comes to a close. The experiences we’ve already had, and what I anticipate is to come, have proven how useless one resolution would have been for this whole year.

So, next week begins the spring cleaning in my head and the new year in my heart.

Getting some headspace.

Taking some time to contemplate.

I’m not focusing on one small resolution this time around, but a full review of the past year and a plan for the year ahead. It’s time to take advantage of the great blessing we have of so much time and headspace right now.  I’ve found some great inspiration from people I’ve been following since the beginning of launching our big idea to travel the world.

How to Conduct Your Annual Review – Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity
The Fire Starter Sessions – Danielle LaPorte

I think I’ve even got Dave hooked on the idea.

To all our Cambodian friends, Sur Sdei Chhnam Thmei!  For the rest of you, we’ll be scheduling a few posts while we’re away to keep you company and will be fully back on the grid mid-next week.


  1. Feliz año nuevo numero 2! Miss you guys. 🙂

    • For Cambodians, it’s number 3! Jan 1 New Year, Chinese New Year and now Khmer New Year! Miss you too…jealous of all the good wine you’re getting to drink 🙂

  2. How nice to have second & third chances at New Year’s Eve. Goals & resolutions make you stop & evaluate your lives which allows you to see how fortunate you are. We are also. Love to both of you. Mona

    • Thanks as always for following us on this journey!

  3. I am impressed by what you have learned about Cambodian culture, history and traditions during you volunteer time. You have tried to immerse yourselves and have had a richer experience for that. I lived there for over 5 years and return every year and so often meet people who live in a cocoon. You haven’t. I hope that the rest of your travels around the world will be memorable for you both. Dave, it was good working with you. Jill, your photography is brilliant. Let me know when you both return to SF. It is not 104 degrees here! Roberta

    • Thank you Roberta. It’s been such a fascinating three months, we have learned so much and will take away a lot from our Cambodian experience. Look forward to seeing you at some point in SF!

  4. Enjoy!

    Look forward to hearing from you and seeing your pictures when you return.

    Happy New Year!