Phnom Penh, Cambodia Report of what it's like to live there - 08/09/11

Personal Experiences from Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia 08/09/11

Background:

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

Yes

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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?

Home is VA, depending on the airline, it's about 2 layovers making the total trip 20-24 hours

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years

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

Government; U.S. Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Houses are huge, either single family homes or apartments.

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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 U.S. products but it's very limited and pretty expensive. You will most likely have to go to 2 or 3 different places to complete your grocery shopping. We ordered alot through amazon.

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

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

KFC, Lucky burger (comparable to McDonald's) BBWorld (comparable to Burger King); Pizza Co. (comparable to Pizza Hut) and many great International restaurants. The cost range is inexpensive to U.S. prices

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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?

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

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Daily Life:

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

We receive mail through the Embassy via APO or pouch. APO is much quicker

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

Domestic help is very inexpensive. I would recommend using someone that has worked for previous embassy families.

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

Yes, they recently opened a nice new gym near most Embassy housing in the BKK area

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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?

We only used the ATM machine located in the Embassy.

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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?

We had cable for $100 per year, Probably about 10-15 of the channels were in English. HBO, Max, Stars, AXN and others. The embassy provided and AFN box as well.

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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?

It's always good to learn the local language but most everyone speaks enough English to get by. Even at the local markets.

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

It's difficult to get around sidewalks because they are crowded with people, motos or vendors.

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Transportation:

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

There are no trains, few taxis and buses are mainly for traveling far away. There are tuk-tuks which are commonly used and very affordable. Many people hire their own personal tuk tuk driver for their main form of transportation.

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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?

Definately bring a 4x4 truck or SUV.Rainy season brings heavy floods and most small cars gets flooded inside.

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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?

Internet is pricey, for high speed internet through EZCom was around $100 per 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?

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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?

No

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

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Health & Safety:

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

Crime is the same as anywhere, don't bring too much cash, jewelry or expensive items. Purse snatchings are common. The houses are very secure with very high gates and razor wires surrounding the houses. All embassy homes have 24/7 guards

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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?

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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?

The air quality is very dry & humid.

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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?

The weather is very hot througout the whole year. There are 2 months during the year where it cools down to about 90 degrees. Rainy season is from April to August approximately and it rains everyday mostly in the afternoons.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are 2 International Schools, ISPP & Northbridge. ISPP is currently located within walking distance to most Embassy homes, but the facilites are very old and run down. Northbridge is a beautiful school (more like U.S. standards) but far from the Embassy & most Embassy homes.approximately 20-30 min depending on traffic.

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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?

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

There are sports programs for kids attending the schools.

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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:

Very good.

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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?

Great! Many bars & clubs.

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

It's a great place for families, singles & couples.

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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?

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

Swimming & Parks

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

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

The locals are very kind people, it is very inexpensive to live, eat & shop. Travel to other countries is very cheap and we saved alot of money througout our tour here.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, definately.

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

Coats, mittens and scarfs. It's hot all year.

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3. But don't forget your:

Shorts, flip-flops & umbrellas.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Killing Fields.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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