Complete and Utter Happiness – Part 1
Two years ago I came to Cambodia on a whim with my sister. I was living in a small coastal town having moved there to escape the tiring pace of the big city. I left a really good job and a hectic social life (that included a lot of girlfriends and parties
etc) and took a considerable pay cut to move north. I worked in a pretty menial job that paid the mortgage but left little room for anything else and after a few years I was slowly going insane, even though I seemingly had it all – a dream
house near the surfing beach, nice fishing boat, dogs, a relaxed lifestyle etc. However, all my friends had moved overseas with careers or had got married and dropped off the face of the earth and my family was busy with their own families (if
that makes sense!). The locals where I was living were all either married, old, very gossipy or red neckish and at 36 and single, I just felt very alone and bored out of my mind. So when my sister rang me out of the blue and said “Do you
want to come to Cambodia with me?” I was in like Flynn as I needed a break so badly from my mundane existence it wasn’t funny. I had traveled the world extensively by that stage and whilst I had been to Thailand many years earlier
as a backpacker, Cambodia had never shown up on my radar. I was really excited to be going somewhere a little different and as my sister and I get along really well, I felt this was going to be a really great trip.
We arrived into the scorching heat of Phnom Penh in May 2006 and I was blown away from moment one by everything I saw. I won’t go into long winded descriptions of Cambodia and Phnom Penh, but if you have been there you already know the country rapes your senses on all fronts. There is no other word for it. I was absolutely bug-eyed and gob smacked as we rode the taxi into town and one of the things that has always stuck in my mind is the amount of insanely gorgeous young girls there were everywhere. I had never been “into” Asian girls but I have to say something went off in my head and I was, again, simply stunned by these amazing looking girls. Sister and I were soon unpacking in a pretty comfortable hotel and then we headed straight to the FCC for lunch. Whilst we had lunch I was just in awe of everything around me. From the colonial surroundings of the FCC and its view of the Tonle Sap, the sapping heat, the beggars, the elephant walking up the street, the saffron robed monks. It was like a movie.
After lunch Sister was dog tired and wanted to go home but I was keen to just get out and have a look so we said goodbye and off I went. Well, I made it as far as a coffee shop across the road that was down on ground level. It was hotter than I had imagined and this café offered a shaded ground level view of all that was going on so I thought it was a good place to stop and unwind. I sit down and the stunning young waitress in her immaculate silk uniform comes up to me and in fairly good English asks me what I want. A beer thanks! We get to talking as I ask her a few basics about Phnom Penh and she asks me where I am from and why I am in Cambodia and I spend about 3 hours sitting there in that café. Some times this girl can talk to me and other times she can’t as she attends to other customers. As I go to pay and leave, I am feeling very relaxed and confident and I ask this young girl if she wants to come out with me after her shift. I tell her I am with my sister and if she wants to bring someone she can and after a bit of a think, she says OK! Asking a girl out on my first day within the first few hours was the last thing on my mind when I walked into that café but it felt like the right thing to do as we had really hit it off.
I went home and had a shower, told my sister I was heading out (she was still tired so that suited her) and then wandered around until 5 PM and the allotted pick up time. I was a bit nervous as I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself in for but I shouldn’t have been. When I went to pick up N (as she will now be known), she had changed and was smiling and her hair was pulled back and I can tell you without a word of a lie…..I think looking back now I pretty much fell in love then and there. We went out to a bunch of bars over the next few hours and by the end of the night we were holding hands and sucking face in the back of a tuk tuk. I dropped her off at her family home and I asked her if she would like to go out again the next night. “Yes please” she said! I went home and my sister was awake and I told her I had met two Canadian girls and had gone to a party. I don’t know why I lied…but I did! I went to sleep with thoughts of N in my head and the smell of her perfume on my body.
The next day after some sightseeing, I confessed to my sister what had transpired the previous night and I asked her if she would like to join N and me for a night out. My sister is my biggest fan and it turns out she is actually really excited I have met a girl and she is really keen to meet her too. So when I pick N up, N is very happy I have brought my sister and we all head out to a really nice bar for some cocktails. The girls get on really well (despite a 20 year age gap) and N is very affectionate towards me, carrying on from the night before. Eventually N asks us if we would like to meet her family the next night and we say “of course”! My sister then leaves and N and I relax in a day bed and just chat and cuddle until midnight and it is all a bit surreal. I mean, I have been in town 24 hours and I have met this stunning girl who seems to dig me and this was not part of the plan! I drop her home again and return tour hotel and go to bed smiling.
More sightseeing during the day and then we headed to the market to buy some flowers for N’s mother as a gift and we arrive to find almost the whole family waiting to meet us. I was really nervous, not because I was being “introduced to the family” (I just saw it as a meet and greet!) but I was more worried about the language barrier and how things would go, what they would all be like etc. I shouldn’t have worried at all. The family were lovely. They had brought plates of fruit and bottles of water and the place was spotlessly clean. I presented the flowers to N’s mother (nice move!) and several hours later we were saying our goodbyes after a lovely visit. I think from memory N and I went out to a restaurant and had dinner and we had to say goodbye that night as I was off to Siem Reap on a plane the next day so I dropped her off once again and headed off. Siem Reap proved to be nice but I couldn’t help but think of N non bloody stop! After seeing the temples we headed back to Phnom Penh and our itinerary allowed for a 4 hour gap before we bussed it down to Sihanoukville. Guess where I went? I excused myself from my sister and after calling N to see if she would like to see me “of course!” I headed straight for her apartment. She was as happy to see me as I was to see her and we declared we had missed each other terribly. After some thought, I asked her is she would like me to extend my holiday and if I did would she come on a motorbike trip into the provinces with me? “Of course!". I AGAIN said goodbye and my sister and I headed off down to the beach for a couple of days. My sister was thrilled those things with N and I were…well…progressing…and those two days were the longest of my life as I waited to return to N.
Once back in Phnom Penh I rang my boss who was super cool with me staying on for 3 weeks and changed all my flights. After being caught up in ground hog day back home for years, I felt a sense of freedom and excitement I had not felt since my backpacking days. I rented a bike and after a final dinner with N and my sister, I said goodbye to Sister at the airport and I was now all alone in Cambodia with fate (and N!) guiding me. I rented a dirt bike and pretty much the next day we headed off to the southern provinces. We went up Bokor Mt and spent a few days in Kampot touring around and after a superb seafood dinner on the river one night and during a savage and violent storm, we finally lay together for the first time. The next couple of weeks were a blur as we went from place to place and got closer and closer as we became ever so comfortable with each other. I dreaded the thought of the holiday ending and I had no idea how it would actually end. Soon enough we were heading back to Phnom Penh and reality and I really started to feel sick to the stomach.
On my last night in Phnom Penh I took N's entire family out to a huge Khmer restaurant over the Japanese bridge. Everyone got dressed up and we were soon noshing on crab and drinking beer and having a grand old time. N and I held hands like we were glued together and everyone was smiling at us and it was just a great last night. That night I said goodbye to the family and N and I stayed together in my hotel for the last time. I don’t think we slept a single wink but just lay there in a tight huddle as close as we could get to each other. The next day we got up early as I had a 9 AM flight and it was a very weird feeling as I packed my bag. On arrival downstairs I find N’s sister has even come in the tuktuk as she wants to come to the airport with us to say goodbye. The tuk tuk takes us out to Ponchentong and before I know it I am standing there hugging N and telling her “this is NOT goodbye…this is SEE YOU SOON”. After a long embrace and a kiss, I enter the airport and the girl's eyes follow me right until I wave for the last time and disappear into the departure area. Funnily enough, I did not feel sad but rather elated to have met N and to perhaps have something completely and utterly unexpected about to change my life…or was it ?
Part 2 please! What happens next?!!?!