You’ve got a friend in me

Today I said goodbye to one of my best friends here in Cambodia. I met Hallie in September last year, barely a month after I moved to Phnom Penh. We met at dodgeball (where all the best people in the Penh hang out) and then ran into each other the following week in a cafe. A friendship developed and soon we were hanging out every weekend. We’d go out drinking on Saturday nights and then bond as we suffered through our hangovers the next day. When Hallie mentioned one of her roommates was leaving Cambodia, I asked if I could move in. Actually, I told her I was moving in, over a delicious Mexican breakfast at our staple Sunday hangover restaurant, Alma.

Since February, Hallie and I have been living together and we have had so much fun! She’s a teacher too and we’d share stories of our kids and their various escapades and swap tips on how to control difficult children. I’d often walk into Hallie’s room after a long day, flop down on the bed and start watching whatever it was that she had on her laptop alongside her. We were instantly comfortable with each other and I am going to miss her presence in the house very much. She’s got a great attitude to life and we share many beliefs and ethics. I talk to Hallie about any problems I have, knowing she will give me good advice and a compassionate shoulder to cry on when it’s needed. She has always been there for me and I know she will continue to be my confidant even when she’s off traveling the world and having an amazing time without me! Thank you for all your support over the past year Hals.

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Hallie and I have been on multiple holidays together during our time in Cambodia. The first was for Hallie’s birthday trip when we, along with four other girls, headed to Kampot. This was our first time visiting my now favourite hostel Arcadia too and we had such an amazing time exploring the town further and traveling to cave temples and up to the derelict casino at the top of the mountain (read this blog for more information). I knew from this trip that I wanted to travel more with Hallie. She was so easy going and relaxed, up for any adventure and keen to try new things.

Sunset selfie at the top of Bokor Mountain - Left to right: Anne, Rachel, Hallie, Joh, Me, and Ellen

Sunset selfie at the top of Bokor Mountain – Left to right: Anne, Rachel, Hallie, Joh, Me, and Ellen

My second holiday for Hallie was for our mutual friend Rachel’s birthday. We journeyed to the Thai island of Koh Chang where we celebrated Songkran, the water festival (read the full blog here). Once again Hallie was a great travel companion. She joined in all the activities, even when the water fights irritated her contact lenses, and she lounged around at the beach before heading out to the bars with everyone in the evening. The journey back was a little less fun for Hallie. She will freely admit she is not a morning person and my less than genius idea to travel back to Cambodia without a single mode of transport organised started far too early for dear Hals and the delays at the border caused some tensions but we got home with our friendship intact … just!

In fact, we were such good friends by this point that we decided our next holiday was going to be just the two of us (see the blog “Buckets of Fun” for more details). I’ve seen most of Cambodia by now but I’d never been to Battambang and neither had Hallie. The abundant public holidays gave us a five day weekend so we journeyed to this sleepy town for a few days where we had a truly wonderful time. We explored the town together, both happy to wander aimlessly through the pretty streets before finding quiet restaurants to eat in. We also visited several temples that lay a little outside the city, climbing to the top and then hiding in the shade to cool off, chatting and getting to know each other even more. My favourite activity was the bamboo train where we trundled along on our little platform of … bamboo … speeding through the farmlands that surround the city. I loved our time in Battambang and we returned even closer than before.

A beautiful temple in Battambang

A beautiful temple in Battambang

Battambang countryside

Battambang countryside

Hallie and I even made history together! We were both in the winning dodgeball team, Snoop Dodgy Dodge, and helped clinch a victory for our team in Phnom Penh’s first ever dodgeball tournament last March. This whole experience was so much fun and the day itself was amazing. I’m so glad I got to share those memories with Hallie and we even graced the local newspaper front cover alongside Michelle Obama … sort of.

Hello Michelle!

Hello Michelle!

WINNING!!!

WINNING!!!

I have loved living with Hallie these past seven months and getting to know her over the previous year. Hals – you’re an incredible person and an amazing friend. I am going to miss you so much and I don’t want you to leave. But I know you are going to have incredible experiences and see so many beautiful things as you set off on your next adventure. Keep being the awesome person that you are and good luck with everything you do in the future. I know you’ll succeed because you deserve to and you work so hard to achieve your goals. Phnom Penh won’t be the same without you and I hope I will see you back here some day. Keep smiling, be safe, and enjoy life.

Big love x

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Categories: Cambodia, Expat, Friends, Goodbye, phnom penh | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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