Australian diehards who disregarded pleas from family and friends and opted not to catch the last flight out of Cambodia as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold are dealing with lost income and home sickness but are otherwise doing okay.
"On consideration and weighing statistics, I decided I would run more risk by travelling and also I did not have anywhere to isolate except with my sister who I could perhaps infect," said restaurant consultant and 20-year resident Wendy Lucas.
Cambodia and its proximity to China was initially considered a high risk country amid the outbreak.
Borders are closed and flights out are rare, with lockdown laws imposed across the country.
But one month since the last connecting flight to Sydney left Phnom Penh on April 12, infection rates have remained low, baffling health authorities.
To date, just 122 people, mostly foreigners have tested positive for COVID-19, all but two have recovered with no deaths recorded.
"The reasons why we fell in love with this country haven't changed. Everyone is being respectful, wearing masks, and staying at home whenever possible," said Mel Nutter, an aerial dancer who moved to Cambodia with her photogapher husband Lee almost four years ago.
"We have been able to keep up with developments through friends and the internet ... and feel as safe or safer here than we would have in Australia where supermarket shelves are bare and panic has caused people to react in strange ways."
Business sources say as few as 500 Australians remain in-country. That compares with official figures of up to 7000 in 2016 when total visitor arrivals from down under numbered more than 16,500, a significant contributor to the local economy.
The Australian government is warning that the current environment could last another few months and has been blunt in it's assessment, assigning Cambodia a level four travel ban because "your health and safety is at extreme risk".
"This may be because of a high threat of terrorist attack, conflict, violent social unrest, widespread infectious disease or critical levels of violent crime. It could be a combination of risks. If you travel to this location you're at a high risk of death, imprisonment, kidnapping or serious injury."
The Cambodian health ministry has also warned of a potential second COVID-19 wave and told Khmers to remain vigilant. That, however, has not deterred the Australians and other expatriates who have remained.
"The chance that hospitalisation would be needed if contracted in Cambodia where the health system is not capable of keeping up with the demands and being overwhelmed was real," Lucas, who closed her restaurant a year ago, said.
"I am thankful I am not operating through this COVID-19 pandemic. My restaurant/bar would not have financially survived and my staff would have lost their jobs," she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by others who remain in Cambodia for the long haul, despite the level four warning and the country's reputation for trouble and occasional violence.
Many are content watching Australian television and stocking up on home-grown products; from Vegemite and wine to Two Fruits and cordial, and checking in with the embassy.
Meanwhile, Cambodia, unlike neighboring Vietnam, is waiving fees and extending visas for foreigners stranded in-country.
"Our family and friends in Australia insisted we would be better off 'back home', but Cambodia is our home and will be for as long as we have the privilege of being allowed to stay," said Lee Nutter.
Tristram Hardman, an advertising director from Sydney, said the level four warning was "a bit too much" and added there were risks associated with any country, noting that Australian people were getting hysterical over toilet paper.
"In Cambodia I can work from home, I feel I work for an agency that makes safe and intelligent decisions, that freedom was not available in Australia."
But the advice from home has also differed.
"Go for what?" Asked Tom O'Connor, who runs three restaurants and is married locally.
"Go back to Sydney and quarantine and then home to Queensland and quarantine again?
"My father's in hospital and even if I got on a plane I couldn't see him. It's tough call but he's the pragmatic one.
"Dad had just finished fighting the bushfires and was admitted to hospital with pancreatic cancer and he's the one who said 'I was better off staying with the kids in Cambodia'."
Australian Associated Press