Phnom Penh Vixen: Going the distance, a damp reunion

Phnom Penh Vixen: Going the distance, a damp reunion

121214 12

There are fewer conversational topics I enjoy chewing over more than other people’s love lives. When people start to talk about their long distance relationship (LDR) however, my eyes tend to glaze over.

While LDR cynics conjure a doomsday clock and preface any mention of someone else’s relationship with: ‘Are they still together?’ I find listening to tales of oceans-apart love more the equivalent of hearing about other people’s dreams: completely uninvolving. Knowing little about the absent partner, other than a name, sometimes makes it hard to believe they’re real at all.

I know from experience that this weird disconnect is no more apparent than to the long-distance couple themselves.

When it’s time to reunite after many months overseas, there is a barrier that needs to be pushed through to bring two strangers back together. It doesn’t happen at an airport gate or opposite each other at an awkward dinner, but in the bedroom.

“Clear your calendar when you meet up,” a friend currently in the airship of a long LDR says. “Get dolled up and go and meet them at the airport. Go straight back to your place.”

“You get connected again straight away,” another friend agrees. “You feel more yourself and you can express your emotions too.”

This is just first stage of getting reacquainted, she adds, but intimacy is the great leveller and afterwards, you’ll fall back into your pattern.

After six months of travel through different countries, I was about to meet up with my boyfriend of three years, in a city steeped in romance. The problem was, I was worried we would fall back into our old pattern.

Our cross-continent time apart had started with desperate late night phone calls and round-the-clock emailing, but after just two months away from each other my feelings for him began to fade. I decided to make the phone call to end it: sensitively enough, from a rowdy hostel phone with a time limit on international calls.

After shouting my heart’s reasons over the crackly phone line I sat down to check my email, only to see an email from him sent just an hour earlier – with his airplane itinerary.

He had decided join me on my trip after all.

I was younger and untravelled before we left: the more I experienced on my own I became, the more of a stranger he was.

As the meeting date crept closer I began to hope and dread our old passion would return and trick me into getting back together with him.

A good overseas reunion can be like a “bubble”, I’m told. A short burst of unrivalled good times in one partner’s exotic new world, while never establishing anything new. “You’ve got so many emotions going through you, especially on the plane ride,” another friend tells me.

“When you first see each other you get so excited but it’s quite strange for a while and you just don’t know how to act.”

When I met my sort-of LDR ex off the bus I gave him a stilted peck. We began our unhappy travels the same day, avoiding discussion of the sorry relationship hanging over us.

That evening before bed, as he gave me another sad peck goodnight, a wave of sorrow and arousal came over me and I pulled him down onto my bed.

Making love didn’t repair things but it broke the ice, back to where we had been – not happy, but open to each other and able to talk.

What we had wasn’t strong enough to sustain an LDR, but it was enough to enjoy a last hurrah together in a distant land. 


  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,