During our travels in 2009-2010 we visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It was then that we stayed in a fantastic Guesthouse located on the Lakeside – The Drunken Frog. At this, once upon a time, amazing place we met Ben, he was a Teacher at an International school working a few hours a week, earning just enough to afford living in Phnom Penh. Five years later he’s living still in Phnom Penh but his life has changed a lot.
We want to tell you a story of an amazing person which we now have locked in our hearts.
Ben is 33 years old and was born in the UK, he grew up in a small town close to Oxford. When he was 20 years old he fell in love with a girl and put his dreams of traveling the world on ice. They had a good life together; they had their own building company, a nice house, two dogs and pretty much everything for a good lifestyle in the UK. However, after eight years they broke up and Ben started to dream of his plans to do what he had always dreamed of doing so he caught a flight to Australia and went further on to Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Laos.
He thought of living in Indonesia and staying there for longer but at this time he hadn’t been to Cambodia. In Laos he met a Bavarian girl and they decided to buy a boat and drive from Laos all the way down to Phnom Penh. On this amazing boat trip down the Mekong he realized and recognized the unlimited happiness and friendliness of all the Khmer people he met on his way. He felt very safe and welcomed throughout his trip, so his plans changed again and he decided to stay in Cambodia for the next two years. He would need work to afford living for longer in this amazing place and he figured out that the simplest and best way for him was to teach English at one of the International Kindergarten Schools. So he returned to the UK to get a certificate to enable him to teach English as a foreign language. He sold all of his belongings and everything valuable to him and moved to Cambodia to test if this would be the place to live life.
After two years of teaching he still loved the country and its people so he decided to stay in Cambodia. He made plans to create a happier, more creative and successful life so he could further enjoy the place he now calls home. Teaching was good to earn enough money to live day to day and to do a bit of this and that but he didn’t see himself teaching in the future, he wanted something where he could grow and fulfill his dreams, to grow a family and eventually a nice home and also to visit his loved ones whenever he feels like so he decided to quit teaching and build up his own renovation company step by step.
2012 He started the long road to business in Cambodia, it was not easy for him to find his place in the market, and also to find reliable and professional workers possessing the same qualifications and knowledge to the tradesmen back home, the language barrier also made it difficult to work together.
He started renovating Cambodian apartments into apartments with International standards. After two years of hard work his business is growing fast, renovating places such as coffee shops, nightclubs, houses and apartments, managing plumbing, electrical installations and almost everything that needs to be done. In the last few years he has taught his Cambodian workers day by day to bring them to the level of profession where he wants and he needs them to be. For Ben it is important to build up a reliable and responsible team and to avoid changing workers like he changes his socks.
He said for himself sometimes it’s really hard to free his mind, but he found a way to feel free for a while, taking his mountain bike out of the city and driving along the Mekong enjoying the simple and happy life of the countryside, the peaceful atmosphere outside of the buzzing life of Phnom Penh. Living in Cambodia is Ben’s dream which came true but he couldn’t and never wants to accept or ignore the social unfairness of the country.
At the end of 2013 he met his wonderful girlfriend Theary, they live together in the centre of Phnom Penh and are soon expecting a baby. We wish them all the best for their future and are looking forward to seeing them again soon.
If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re too small.
Follow us to one of Ben`s building sites and make sure to check out his work on his website for more informations
Thank you for reading and make sure to check out our next post, coming this month.
Chris and Flo