Well the time has come and I will be leaving the Philippines in 2 weeks after a 6 month stay here. It leaves me with extraordinarily mixed emotions and I am trying to put everything into place.

I am obviously very happy to be returning to my wife and two young children who I have missed intensely. They visited me here in April and we had an amazing holiday but it’s now been 3 months since I have seen them and it kills me every day. I have no idea how people in the military etc leave their families for 2 years. Angus and Grace seem to have grown inches in the time I have been away. Grace’s missing front teeth are growing out and Angus is now a real little man. In hindsight, I really should have brought them with me. The kids could have skipped school or enrolled locally in Manila and they would have loved daily access to the pool and playgrounds here at my condo. I am really looking forward to kissing them and smelling them and holding their little hands and doing things with them.

I have really enjoyed the change living in the Philippines after such a long time in Cambodia. I will really miss it and look back fondly on my time here. It is easy to get around and I have been walking everywhere and the shopping and weekend activities are great. Lots of things to do and see and it is surprisingly green. I have not met any “friends” here and have just kept to myself going to work on the weekdays and then getting out and about on the weekends or alternatively just staying at home. I have really enjoyed the convenience of condo living with the amenities available both onsite and just outside the premises. I do not miss the stray dogs and the voracious mosquitoes of Cambodia and I love being able to throw my rubbish in a shoot rather than on the street. I realized something a long time ago and that is I am very comfortable on my own. I truly believe I am mildly OCD and so I have enjoyed the time I have had being able to control my own environment if that makes sense. Everything has been orderly for 6 months. I go to the gym. I work. I sleep. I sightsee. I cook. Very civil. That comes with the aforementioned loneliness of not being with my family of course.

The thing that is causing the most stress is the work situation…yet again. I had thought, and was led to believe for a while, that the company I was working for would be able to bring me in full time but it has not panned out that way. I am very grateful for the 6 months experience I have gained and initially told myself that I would look upon even the short contract as a bonus but I suppose in my heart as I got comfortable here I just really liked being gainfully employed with a name company, feeling capable again, earning decent money and for a while at least, not having to worry. When I was told they were going to try and find a full time place for me, I really thought “you beauty, I am sorted” and was prepared to move anywhere with the family for a new start. So now…..I am back to worse than square one as I head back to Cambodia that has given me so much stress for so many years on the work front with the uncertainty and earning sub par money that allows you to live but never get head .What you save then gets hammered in the next moment as you are out of work yet again and trying to stay afloat. I have been lucky to date finding work in Phnom Penh but there are limited avenues and to be honest, I feel incredible stress at the thought of going through it all over again. I am running out of fortitude.

Then, let’s finally throw in the bigger picture head spin that leaving Cambodia for a while has now opened. I am now more aware than ever that I am almost 50, my kids are growing up in a third world country and I have no idea where we are going to end up or how I am ever going to support everyone as I get to an unemployable age. Whilst I am proud to say I have never skipped a beat providing for my family, the reality is moving back to Australia would take a hell of a lot of money and the many periods of financial self-sustaining in Cambodia have sucked the money right out of me. The first step would be getting Leakhana’s visa (now almost $7,000) and that is a 6 month process minimum right there. Throw in moving costs, air tickets, rent when we get home, the need for a car etc and it all adds up AND ….where would we even live and what would I do for work ? I have no interest in going back to Sydney that is for sure.

I miss my mum and dad and brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews terribly. I have missed so many years with them and honestly…..I am feeling more acutely than ever like am in a corner from which I cannot escape. I have days where I tell myself not to worry and everything will work out as always and then I tell myself that the situation is very dire and I have failed and I am setting my kids up for a shitty life and I will never see my family in Australia again and I start to get regrets and think of all the things I could and should have done differently. It is quite a toxic place to be in emotionally. I have always been a very positive person who just gets on with things but just now..well…it is just a temporary funk that will dissolve when I see my little family and my dogs again but that will be temporary as the reality bites and I am in Cambodia, looking for work and trying to make an escape plan for everyone.

Sorry to lay all that on you but it can’t all be poker and fluffy bunnies all time ! .

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