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The Welsh bars which have found home and hiraeth in Cambodia

06 Jul 2024 4 minute read
The Welsh Embassy and Welsh Consulate bars in Phnom Penh in Cambodia (Credit: Welsh Embassy)

It’s rare to find a Welsh themed pub or bar outside of Wales, but to find two in a far flung corner of the globe is certainly a surprise.

While Irish themed pubs and bars predominate across the cities of the world, Welsh bars have never been noted for travelling further than our nation’s borders.

The Welsh Dragon Bar in Wellington, New Zealand is one of the great exceptions to the rule, however try and name any others and you will be genuinely stumped.

That’s why discovering the Welsh bars more than 6,000 miles away in Phnom Penh – the capital of Cambodia, certainly came as a shock to traveller Kara Wildbur from Denbighshire who shared her experiences on her TikTok account.

“It’s a street full of bars on a narrow street, and you walk down the alley and then you see the red dragon and a banner saying ‘Croeso’,” said Kara, speaking to Newyddion S4C.

“We never see things in Wales when we are traveling so it was a nice shock to see it.”

These little corners of Wales in Cambodia provide an intimate home away from home.

Bedecked with Welsh flags, maps, photographs and Welsh beer on tap, there’s also the opportunity to watch Wales play in rugby and football on the bar’s big screen – and there is always regular live music.

@okay.kara.travels ♬ Yma o Hyd Cwpan y Byd – Dafydd Iwan ac Ar Log

Travelling with her boyfriend Luke across South Asia for seven months, Kara was delighted that they spoke Welsh at the Welsh Embassy.

“The woman behind the bar was speaking Welsh to us straight away when we walked in,” she said.

“The red dragon appears everywhere in the bar and they have Welsh words for everything.

“They are trying to learn a little bit of Welsh so they put up banners saying things like ‘iechyd da’ and ‘ty bach’ instead of toilet.

“And behind the bar there is Conwy Beer and Penderyn Whiskey.”

The Welsh Embassy was opened by Welsh expats Ross Clarke and Luke Jones in 2021 and was so successful they opened a new bar, the Welsh Consulate.

Welsh Embassy and Welsh Consulate owners Ross Clarke and Luke Jones (Credit: Welsh Embassy)

The story of how Ross and Luke came to open their first bar in Phnom Penh is explained on the bar’s website.

They wrote: “We have always wondered why there are so many different establishments from different countries situated in different cities across the world.

“Our somewhat small country was rarely represented or known in many of these places. We both came to Cambodia for an adventure and that is what we found.

“Having lived all round the world, Ross always had a dream to open a Welsh pub. After meeting Luke over a game of rugby the friendship grew and later the discussion began; we must make some representation of our small country here.

“The Welsh Embassy, Phnom Penh, was the first public house here to rectify this situation. The idea was to bring a little bit of Wales to those across the sea from us and to welcome people from near and afar to experience a little bit of our culture.

“Luke, from Swansea, and Ross, from Caernarfon are here to welcome you to a place where people of all creeds meet, drink and make merriment! We are currently in our infancy and intend to expand to all corners of the globe with the idea of spreading the culture of the Welsh pub.

“What is it to be a Welsh pub? It is to be welcoming, fun, and proud. We are one of the smallest, most beautiful countries in the world, and we love to meet new people! We sing, we dance, we speak a language that few know, and we love rugby!

“We look forward every day to meeting new people and having some great conversation with them.”

To find out more about the bars visit the Welsh Embassy website, as well as the Welsh Embassy Facebook page and Welsh Consulate Facebook page.

READ MORE: Welcome to the Welsh bar celebrating Christmas in July

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