Readers' Submissions

A Cambodian Love Story Part 2



As I mentioned in part one of this submission, I lived in Vietnam for 5 years and met a Cambodian girl. I moved her to the U.K. We are now married in the U.K. and have a few kids. Also I spoke of a few unconventional girls that I met. I’d like to continue that and also explain life afterwards with my Asian wife with some of the conventional and perhaps boring bits dropped.

Bangkok is the capital of craziness and some of that craziness is fucking scary when you think about it afterwards. I once got padded down in a dark street by a corrupt cop who had a bag which he wanted to plant on my person. Thank Buddha that I managed to shout over a couple of witnesses at the right moment.

Craziness in my honest opinion can happen anywhere and everywhere. Once in Riga after clubbing I went back with a girl to her apartment. Her friend bought a guy home too. At 8 AM we were rudely awoken by the boyfriend knocking at the door. The girls wanted to hide us boys in the airing cupboard before they answered the door. Fuck that, I said. What if we were discovered? Thankfully for me it was the other girl’s massive Russian boyfriend at the door and my girl was single.

Like a lot of guys I’m a sucker for a beautiful girl and often this scary craziness can follow the girl or like the Thai policeman it could just be a case of wrong place, wrong time. Well I was only passing through Bangkok on this occasion and as I mentioned in part one of this submission I had a plan to teach gym and fitness and/or English in Saigon.

Within a few weeks of living in Vietnam I had a large circle of friends, expats and locals. I was out every night and so I met very many beautiful girls. One who I remember fondly I managed to entice by dancing beside her/with her in GO2 club for 6 hours. Some girls come easy and some you really have to have the energy and resilience to woo. She was Taiwanese and a partner in her family’s cycle business. This girl was hot with style and confidence. The attraction to one another and the mind-blowing sex was great, however neither of us could stay faithful to one another and we ended up just being friends. Often we’d meet up at Bobby’s Brewers just for a coffee, lunch and chat. Which brings me to make a valid point about dating. How many dalliances come after lunch dates and how many come after a late dinner with alcohol?

In my opinion a certain amount of good fortune at the beginning of a relationship helps and after that it’s all about keeping a strong connection, keeping faithful and keeping it fresh. Experience helps a lot too. When I met my future wife it was Christmas Eve and everyone I met was in a good mood. I’d been bar-hopping for a few hours and was returning to my hotel in Phnom Penh when a tipsy local girl sat outside nearby stopped me. “Hey, where are you going?”, she said as I opened the hotel front door.

“To bed”, I answered.

“Really?”

I was in Cambodia on a short break and visa run and had a ticket to return to Vietnam in a few hours’ time. I surmised that the girl who stopped me was a friend of the bar owners since I was in there earlier in the evening and she wasn’t there then. Also why would she stop me if the staff hadn’t been gossiping about me first. She didn’t give off a ‘staff’ vibe either.

Even though she had a chicken foot in her hand she invited me to go and eat something different elsewhere. Of course I paid as is the custom in many parts in South-East Asia. We asked the usual getting to know each other questions over dinner with the usual subtle flirtation on my part – and she reciprocated that.

She was unemployed at the time having recently left the prestigious L’yon Dor restaurant where she had worked as a waitress. I wasn’t to know at the time but she’d end up being a shrewd investor and a risk taker of intelligent risks. I wouldn’t call her a business woman or entrepreneur per se, but she made good decisions often when it came to making money and at the time we met she already had a little apartment in the city. Quite impressive for a young woman who started out with such humble beginnings. She was still humble too. She wasn’t a profit-driven corporate whore. She just saw an opportunity at the right moment and took full advantage. She has an air of arrogance, but is above that very friendly and well respected. I chose wisely and the rest is history.

We grew to love each other very much. In the beginning this was clouded by lust. I returned to Vietnam and she’d visit me often. I’d take her to scenic spots and we’d eat seafood and snails and the sort before finishing the night nightclubbing, dancing, live music or a crowded local Bia Hoi. I’d visit her in Phnom Penh often and before not too long I’d invited her to live with me in Saigon. I chose wisely and the rest is history.

You didn’t think I was gonna finish the story off there did you? Fast forward 2 years and I was at a crossroads. We had three children between us…..and children get older. Which brings me to my original statement. With the knowledge of both worlds, is it better to settle in South-East Asia or the West? Education and health care were discussed almost on a daily basis and we decided to settle in the U.K. This would not be straightforward.

Spousal visa was the way to go. So I went back first with the eldest two kids. I’d be able to claim income support until I got a job and the emphasis was to get a job quickly as I’d have to earn a certain amount and be employed for a certain amount of time to qualify to sponsor my wife. The youngest was only one month old so my wife stayed in Cambodia besides her family.

If only I’d known at the time what I now know….

The visa process didn’t go well. So hard to anticipate what will happen. The application was refused based on several inaccuracies on the Home Office’s part. My wife failed the English test in November 2016 was one such factual inaccuracy. Not funny, as she passed the test the only time she took it in April 2016. I appealed the decision and it took over a year to go to court. All in all we were apart for 3 years and 43 days. Mother from child, husband from wife, brother from sister etc.

All this time I had lived as a single parent bringing up the two eldest alone with some help from family. I rented a small terraced house, worked as a postman and took the kids to nursery. After work I picked up the kids and the real work began. I taught them to sleep in their own beds from the start. Prior to moving back the kids and adults all slept together South-East Asia style. I introduced some western style upbringing and they responded well, over time, but it was damn hard on my own. Whilst they slept I was working on the visa and court cases.

My wife was distraught and depressed knowing I was struggling. She was hopeless and threw herself into her work in order to not wallow on the stress. She had at least ten family members free to help her, unlike my small family here who all had their day jobs and their own lives. She felt helpless too as she was a million miles away.

The female judge questioned me on Cambodian history and asked why we couldn’t live there. I gave a good submission in court and pleaded Article 8 ECHR just to be on the safe side. She must have been a mother and wife since the right to a private family life was all she cared about in her decision notice.

My wife and youngest child arrived 20 months ago and we have grown into a tight-nit unit.

To finish, whilst reviewing this submission I thought that I’d been a bit crass to mention pre-marital conquests beside the glowing account of my wife. Does it look like I want to return to the single and free dating days? Well, those days are gone. I have more enjoyment spending time with my kids and wife then I’d ever have dating. Traveling I miss, however there is no reason besides Covid that we can do that again someday with the kids older. Someday we will all travel again….someday…

Someday that skinny Latvian guy in the airing cupboard in Riga will escape.

The author can be contacted at : [email protected]