'We are literally begging for help to get home': Black Country couple unable to leave Cambodia

By Jamie Brassington | Walsall | Coronavirus | Published:

A Black Country couple have been left stranded in Cambodia as the country begins shutting down over coronavirus.

Holly and Keslie

Holly Adams, 28, from Walsall, and her boyfriend Keslie Turnbull, 28, from Wolverhampton, have been trying to leave Cambodia for a week amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

But their flights have been cancelled and now they face ticket prices of up to £8,000.

To make things worse, hotels are set to close in the next few days leaving them with uncertainty over where to stay.

And their efforts to return home have been exacerbated by what Holly claims has been no help from the British Embassy.

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This is despite the UK Government last week pledging £75million to rescue stranded Britons abroad. Some countries have been prioritised - but not Cambodia.

Holly says she and her partner feel left "abandoned" by the British Government, saying: "We need to leave by plane as there is no other option due to the land borders being closed.


"But we simply cannot afford to pay between £3,000 to £8,000 a ticket - which is what the British Embassy in Cambodia are suggesting we do.

"The only option we have now is waiting for flight prices to come down. There has been very little help from the British Embassy."

The couple had been touring countries in South East Asia. They ended up in Cambodia after being told to leave Vietnam recently.

Holly and Keslie now are among a group of international visitors who are urgently trying to leave Cambodia amid the pandemic.


She claims the country is now preparing for a state of emergency.

"There isn't a lockdown yet but places are closing under police instruction," she said.


"Cambodia is set to issue a state of emergency in the next few days so things will drastically change then.

"The country was reacting very calmly to it up until a few days ago.

"When we were out for dinner, police drove past us taking photos. Then, within 30 minutes, the police turned up and shut the place down.

"I think there are very few [coronavirus] cases here compared to elsewhere - but the numbers are increasing.

"There are local supermarkets that have put up signs saying 'you're not allowed to enter without masks on'.

"A few other supermarkets have barricaded entrances so you can only shop from the outside."

The couple tried to book a flight out of the capital, Phnom Penh, on March 24, but their journey was cancelled within 24 hours. They have not yet received a refund.

Since then other flights have been cancelled and they haven't been able to find affordable ones.


"It has been difficult and uncertain ever since," she said.

"There are so many of us in the same boat. We are constantly booking flights for them to be cancelled with no sign of a refund or replacement. We are literally begging for help to get home."

They are currently stuck in Kampot, a city about three hours south west of the capital, on the coast.

They have been fortunate because their hotel allowed them to stay for another week.

"We are staying at Sabay Beach. It is a beautiful place where, luckily, we booked for five nights," said Holly.

"On the day we were due to check out, we asked to extend our stay. The owner told us it is possible - but for a maximum of one week only, as the hotel was shutting.

"A lot of hotels and hostels now are closed to new visitors. We are lucky that we have accommodation and don't need to find somewhere new."

The couple are in regular contact with their family and friends back home who are desperately trying to get them back safe.


Asian media is reporting that the Cambodian authorities have drawn up a draft state of emergency bill, which could soon be passed. The draft legislation could give the Cambodian Government powers to restrict freedom of movement and control people's internet activities.

If the situation was to worsen in Cambodia, Holly hopes they can rely on the British Government.

"If Cambodia enters a state of emergency, I'd like to think the British government will act accordingly and get us home within two weeks," she added. "But I really don't know.

"We feel safe for the time being. But we can sense things are changing for the worse. Given the circumstances we just want to get home.

"The only thing that is scaring me is not having the ability to do that.

"We have taken for granted our freedom of movement. Knowing we can't physically get back to our home country is a scary reality to be faced with - especially amid the Covid-19 situation."

In response to the Express & Star's story, a spokesman for Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We recognise British tourists abroad are finding it difficult to return to the UK because of the unprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions that are being introduced around the world – often with very little or no notice.

"The government has partnered with a number of airlines who have committed to work together to get Brits back to the UK and up to £75 million has been made available for charter flights were commercial options are no longer available.

"We’ll continue working around the clock to bring people home."

Jamie Brassington

By Jamie Brassington
Senior Multi-Media Journalist - @JamieB_Star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star. Contact me at


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