Photo credit: IOM/Monica Chiriac
“I left Cambodia for Thailand when I was 29 in search of a better job, but also to escape my fragile situation at home. A well-connected friend who already lived in Bangkok told me to come here, assuring me that there was a job here lined up for me, so I took the bus from Pratabong with a group of friends until we reached the border of Thailand.
In Cambodia I was earning half of what I earned when I arrived in Thailand. At home I used to make cookies and sell them at the market. My parents taught me how to cook them and I did it until they passed away. When I arrived here in the beginning I was doing unskilled labour, mostly cleaning. It wasn’t until years later that I started cooking. I worked for 10 years for the same restaurant until I opened my own food stall.
I have one daughter who is 10 years old and lives with her relatives, 40 km away from Bangkok. I take the bus every weekend to see her. She used to study here but I was too busy with work to properly take care of her, so I decided it was best she moved in with her father. I send her an allowance for her studies and clothes each month.
I used to visit home once or twice a year but now I only go every two or three years because it’s too expensive to travel, and every time I go back to my hometown I have to spend a lot of money on presents for my relatives. I have six brothers and sisters, all married with lots of kids.
I have my own business now so I don’t think I would want to move back and my daughter is still studying so I wouldn’t be able to leave her. Also, since she is Thai, she doesn’t know the Cambodian dialect so she would have a hard time adapting. I would like to go back more often though only to visit, not to settle down. I miss Cambodia and my family especially, but I have to work.
Although things are improving and Cambodia is developing a lot right now, I have been absorbed by the Thai culture. My life in Thailand is definitely better than the one I had in Cambodia. I love Bangkok, shopping, watching movies and especially Thai soap operas that make me cry.”