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Love in the fast lane

Intrepid reporter plunges into capital’s speed-dating pool

Valentine's Day is an occasion that I dread at the best of times regardless of my relationship status. While Phnom Penh's FCC is usually a home away from home for Western expats, I was daunted by what awaited me at the top of the stairs on this special day.

While speed dating is an activity that few should miss, most should avoid undertaking it more than once. Basically, the event provides an opportunity to spend three to five minutes with a complete stranger and feels a little like an unsuccessful job interview.

At the beginning of the night, the emcee described the occasion as an event not dissimilar to his past relationships - a series of brief affairs. I would agree with this statement.

Bring on the love

My first encounter of the night was with a charming Londoner at the bar. She told me that she was participating for the booze and "blagged her way onto the guest list". An admirable quality regardless of tonight's goal of raising money for SISHA, an Australian-registered and Cambodian-based NGO that seeks to prevent human trafficking.

As I prepared myself to be bounced from female to female, I grew more sympathetic towards this worthy cause.

Four Anchors later, I was ready to divulge my deepest, darkest secrets, the first being that I'm covering the event for The Phnom Penh Post.

Girl No 2 was quick to provide me with my first suitable quote: "I want a husband, children and a house in two months." To which I replied: "I'm a reporter and all I want is a good quote." A slightly more attainable task.

Four anchors later, I was ready to divulge my deepest, darkest secrets...

My first mistake of the night was a misdirected rotation. It saw me rejected for another man and out of the loop after just two out of 12 rounds on the speed-dating circuit.     

Aside from this, the evening progressed like clockwork. Five minutes with a series of strangers asking the usual questions: "What do you do?", "Where do you do it?", "Have you been here a while?" It was only a matter of time before I was asked what school I went to and what my father did.

With most of the women I spoke to employed by NGOs, I encountered an interesting but stereotypical sample of the city's expats.

As the evening drew to an end, I was rewarded with a bottle of booze, a series of humorous memories and a pretty serious headache. 

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