Phnom Penh, Cambodia Report of what it's like to live there - 08/06/11

Personal Experiences from Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia 08/06/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

First Expat Experience

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Mid-West, It takes around 30 hours via Soul and Atlanta

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two Years, Summer 2009 - 2011

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Government

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Large air-conditioned houses with courters for live-in domestic staff

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

There are three supermarkets in town, it takes a few hours to find everything one needs, lots of driving around. Local markets sell fresh fish and vegetable.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, baby food, diapers.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Restaurants are plentiful and home delivery is very popular.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Organic vegetables available.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Dengue fever

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Diplomatic pouch.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very affordable, nannies, cooks, maids, gardeners and drivers available. Some people have problems with stealing.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, gyms are available. Very nice facilities and pools. Membership costs around $750 / year.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Cash economy, cc only in five star hotels.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Cable is available for $60 / months. Cambodia Daily Newspaper is decent.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

None

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Impossible to live in a city like that, would not accommodate special needs.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Tuk-tuks are widely available, two reliable taxi services in town.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

SUV Toyota, good for rainy season and local repair shops are used to fixing those. Driving is frustrating, traffic is slow and there are no rules. Lot of people get drivers for around $250/month.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Very expensive, at least $100 / month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Top-up cards available.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Volunteering

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business or business casual at work, very casual in public.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Purse snatching during the day, dangerous at night, not recommended to walk at night or use tuk-tuks, robberies and occasional shootings at night.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Health care is very poor. Most people fly to Bangkok or Singapore.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

No problems

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Tropical climate with rainy season June - November and dry, hot season December - May

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Nannies very popular and affordable. Hard to train, knowledge of English very limited

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

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2. Morale among expats:

Depends what you are looking for, some people love it, some people can wait to leave. Depression among staff was a problem.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

REstaurants and bars are plentiful and affordable.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes for couples. Some families like it very much. I wouldn't recommend it, it's very dirty, hot, nowhere to walk to, extremely difficult to push a stroller around. You feel like you are under house arrest.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Traveling, volunteering opportunities.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Silk, gems, furniture

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Traveling around South East Asia and learning with buddhist culture

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11. Can you save money?

No if you are traveling around the region.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Winter clothes

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3. But don't forget your:

Stomach medicine, it takes some time to get adjusted to local cuisine

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Travel books

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

City of Ghosts,

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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