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Strangers in Kampot: My Most Unexpected Travel Encounter!

There’s a little story I have from my recent trip to Kampot, Cambodia that caught me extremely off guard. I’m still not quite sure how to interpret the situation.. perhaps your perspective can help!

Firstly, Kampot was a blast. I haven’t yet experienced a place quite like it. It was quite raw and far removed from the beaten track, with the town still emerging on the tourism market. The *Pot‘s hippy expats  (*what the locals call it) were fun too. They’re mainly the NGO type in elephant trousers, who have integrated seamlessly into life within the town’s ‘crumbling French architecture’ (what Lonely Planet calls it.)

Secondly, the tourists are pretty much the same. Well travelled guests who appreciate the rustic, bohemian atmosphere.

Now imagine the gorgeous scene.

It’s the second night into our holiday and the Sailor and I head out for dinner after a day looking out at these romantic views. #ViewGoals #bliss

We checked out at a cool, Mediterranean themed hangout Baraca. The set-up was a cozy, quirky restaurant that screamed of old-world charm. It was humming at dusk and just what our holiday spirit needed- happy hour infused gin cocktails that could rival any in KL.

The conversation was flowing in pure CTFO mode (chill the f— out) as we nibbled some delicious Spanish tapas that was infused with Asian melodies. Could this place get anymore perfect?! It was a ideal sundowner moment (you know those.)


Baraca- Kampot

…out of the blue, a 30 something chick pops out and asks us if she can join us.

She eagerly declared that she is dining with her husband and his friend, but that they’re talking ‘business’ and she is getting bored.

‘Erm..’ says the Sailor first. ‘Sure,’ I say at the same time.

Personally, I would not impose on a couple having an intimate dinner on holiday. But I put this lady’s behaviour down to being in Kampot.

And I know what you’re thinking. It all seems very harmless enough. And it is! But you’re not going to expect what I have to tell you next. At all.

The woman then briskly stepped away to fetch her drink and I was regretting my decision almost immediately. We were after all having a cosy dinner for two. The Sailor and I agreed that we should have said no and that we only said yes because she asked so nicely. The power of politeness.

She came back and sat down, told us her name and ordered some food. Let’s call her Tess for this article as she is from Netherlands, and I just Googled that it’s quite a popular girl’s name there.

So Tess started asking the typical questions that every taxi driver in Kuala Lumpur asks me as a foreigner in KL, you know, ‘Where are you from?’ ‘What brings you here?’ She told us she just arrived in Kampot herself and was leaving tomorrow for Thailand with her husband, who is based in the Middle East.

It’s hard sometimes meeting someone for the first time. You immediately form an opinion of them without knowing much at all. However, I know that first impressions are often wrong, so I always try to push them aside and give people the benefit of the doubt. Except I was really struggling with Tess. There was something quite peculiar about her that I couldn’t put my finger on.

Apart from being quite eccentric and forward, Tess’ remarks were quite flippant and the conversation was struggling to flow. She reminded me of a slightly superficial European socialite who avoided saying anything that makes complete sense.

When she found out we live in KL she said, ‘Why aren’t you holidaying there in that beautiful country? Why would you leave Malaysia when there are so many amazing, gorgeous places there?’  (P.S. She has never been to Malaysia. This was in fact her first time to South-East Asia.)

Erm…for something different Tess!

‘Oh, are they very different? Two tropical countries in South-East Asia.’  She replied.

Excuse me lady, you invited yourself to the table! And that is how the conversing went for a while. Still very innocent enough, if a bit annoying. (The meaty stuff is coming next, I promise!)

‘What bring’s you here?’ The sailor asked.

Before I tell you her response, this is a fair question to ask. Kampot is lesser known in Cambodia and most visitors head to the famous temples in Angkor Wat or the tropical island of Koh Rong. Plenty have never heard about Pot, let alone been there.

‘We are planning on moving here.’ Tess said.

We found this quite surprising. She had never lived outside Holland yet the first place she moves to is a remote part of Cambodia. Most people in her situation would migrate to Phuket or another destination fit for first timers to Asia. Perhaps she was more adventurous than we thought. We started to think that we had underestimated Tess.

She then announced that her move is why her husband was talking business. ‘What business is he in?’ Queried the Sailor.

“You may have to be quite open minded for me to say.”

Okay. We still weren’t expecting what came next.

“We want to open a swingers bar here in Kampot. Do you know what swinging is?” Tess asked.

Excuse me. Whaat?!

She continued. “Yes, we have been considering lots of places. Somewhere hot because that’s what people are after. Malaysia wasn’t an option for us unfortunately.”

“But maybe the Philippines. Or I hear Cuba is open now. That is why my husband is talking to his friend, he wants to find out what it’s like here from a business perspective.”

She continued by saying that she was worried that the locals will want to feed off it. But that they themselves won’t be paying any taxes in Cambodia, “Don’t be silly darling, my husband is an accountant,” she bragged.

Shocked and not quite sure what to say, I edged in from a business perspective, “Is there a market for that kind of thing here?”

She assured me that she knew tons of people back in Holland and would fly them over to the Pot ‘like that’ for swinging holidays. She also said that she is the “conversationalist” and knows how to make friends. There’s more.

She stated that her and her husband have a very “open” relationship and that he has girlfriends all over Asia. She said they were going to Bangkok the next day to meet one of them together.

After this discovery, I was a bit saddened  that Kampot would attract their sort. Being such a sweet place, it certainly doesn’t need a horny Dutch couple coming to turn it into a Playboy Palace. Something that has happened in many parts of SE Asia, just look at Pattaya.

Shortly after, the Sailor and I finished our drinks and paid the bill, the smoothest exit from our new ‘friend.’

But it wasn’t until we stepped foot out the door, that the we began to suspect Tess’ real intentions.

Why did this conversationalist really come to sit beside us?

Why did she openly tell us about her swinging plans?

We both looked at each other and said, “Was she just hitting on us?”

We may have never known until we decided to go back to Baraca the next night. The gin cocktails were too good to miss and the Dutch said they were flying to Thailand that day. We also wanted to try their coconut Panna Cotta which we missed the night before.

We entered and were safe; it was Tess free.

After ordering our mains, the restaurant was swiftly filling up again. This place was possibly the best expat eatery in town. Then, by surprise, Tess and Milan (apparently a popular Dutch boy’s name) entered. But it wasn’t until I saw her get up and go to talk to another couple, that it confirmed our suspicions.

The night before, we were really being hit on for a night of fun and folly in Kampot, by a couple of Dutch swingers. At least, I think! ..What do you make of it?

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