An expat’s perspective on health care and immigration

BNH-Hospital-bangkok-premium-clinic-thailand-ogocare-2

BNH, the hospital in central Bangkok where I have received annual check-ups.

Technically, I am not an immigrant, though I make my home in Cambodia.  I have only a mailing address in the United States.

What I am is a retired expat whose year-to-year visa allows him to reside in Phnom Penh, where my savings go far indeed.  It is a good life, but it is one without a citizen’s rights (such as they are in Cambodia) and without dependable medical care.

Fortunately, I am an expat in excellent health now into his 70s.  Should I develop problems, the quality of my medical care here generally is suspect and its cost would be prohibitive for anything serious.

You see, I am uninsured outside the United States.  Even if coverage were obtainable from a reputable firm at my age Continue reading

I digress: Some Americans respond selfishly to election

american-flag-3Consider this post from an expat I do not know in response to a rant on Facebook today:

So happy I’m living in France. So happy I’m living in France. So happy I’m living in France.

Which of the four candidates I favor for U.S. president is beside the point of this post, but let me say that the foregoing quote is one of the milder reactions I have seen especially to the possibility of Donald Trump’s winning the election over Hillary Clinton.

Even as an expat myself, I confess to feeling holier than those who fantasize about leaving their country behind for what I contend is the wrong reason.  They despair of one candidate or another leading a nation of more a third of a billion persons and, not incidentally, the whole free world.  They seem to think that leaving will improve their lives . . . and theirs alone.

Those who talk about quitting the United States seem to overlook at least four things: Continue reading

Phnom Penh, I’ve grown accustomed to your place

monks

Monks on morning rounds seeking alms and chanting harmoniously when receiving them.

We had walked for the exercise for approximately an hour to the Riverside neighborhood, much favored by tourists and other expats, early one morning.

Our reward was atypically complete breakfasts of eggs benedict with smoked salmon for one of us and a Spanish omelette for the other at a total cost of $8 including juice, fruit and a portion of a baguette.

We were enjoying our food in a small restaurant that has its open front facing the river called Tonle Sap when my friend Amanda idly spoke of Continue reading

Why study a language that only 15 million speak?

khmer sign

The language of Cambodia, called “Khmer” and usually pronounced K-mye, is hardly heard around the world.  No one who doesn’t live here needs to speak, understand or write it.

It happens that I have an aptitude for language.  I can get along somewhat in French and Spanish (the latter sadly falling into disuse now that I have left New York) perhaps because I took the not unusual path in olden times of studying Latin for a year or two in junior high school.

Thus did I decide to pick up a little Khmer when I decided last year to move to Phnom Penh. With echoes of the Ugly American reverberating in my brain, I considered it appropriate to study the language if I was to be a resident of the country.

Not to learn the language struck me then and strikes me now as arrogant.

The irony is that Continue reading

It turns out that we are not all in the same boat

This woman makes a point of not looking at me -- or her husband.

This woman makes a point of not looking at me — or her husband — at Brown coffee house.

On the long list of my misapprehensions about moving to Cambodia was the belief that all expats perceived each other as being in the same club.

Walking down the street, sharing a table at the coffee house or encountering each other in a restaurant, I assumed there was a common connection that would produce at minimum a nod or smile of recognition. Silly me.

Unfriendly man

One unfriendly face. . .

Although it is true that Continue reading

Reflections on three weeks of travel in Cambodia

A major artery in the capital city of Phnom Penh (click to enlarge photos)

Among the numerous images that I have retained from my recent travels in Cambodia are two indelible ones.

Those impressions involve a family in the seacoast city of Sihanoukville on the one hand and, on the other, works of tourist art in sprawling markets as well as in hotel rooms and lobbies.

In a country of grinding poverty, there is no avoiding beggars, child laborers, individuals asleep where they work or on the street, shop after shop that literally is a hole in the wall, and one-room hovels that many must call home.

Thanks to Nicholas Kristof’s superior work aimed at ameliorating and his writing on humanity’s deprivations around the world, child labor, sex-trafficking and child abuse cannot be far from one’s thoughts.

What remains engraved in my mind is Continue reading