Month in Bangkok drives a decision on moving there

phnom-penh-past-tour0

Somewhat dated and romanticized view of “downtown” Phnom Penh with Central (or, in Khmer, “New”) Market in foreground. Source: Cambodia Hotels and Travel Guide

Part 2 of 2

In the first of two parts regarding whether moving to Bangkok from Phnom Penh was a good idea, I listed a number of pluses.

If you read Part 1, it will not surprise you to learn that Continue reading

Bangkok would be a mixed blessing for this expat

Flower delivery for Lunar New Year in Bangkok

Part 1 of 2

After three and a half years living Phnom Penh, I have developed itchy feet, a symptom of which is my increasingly frequent travel to other countries.

One country I have visited several times over the years is Thailand, next door, and I have much appreciated the contrasts between Bangkok’s, size, food and diversions to Phnom Penh’s.  Smaller cities in Thailand have their winning characteristics, but I don’t find that they enjoy the same vitality or energy for me as the capital while they certainly provide significantly more opportunities for all that nature offers.

I have been wondering whether we should make our home there.  We still own almost nothing more than can fit in two large suitcases each, so it is no problem in that respect to pick up and go.

But does it make sense?

To approach a decision, Continue reading

Reason foreigners cannot own ground floor: Naïveté

IMG_4689

Visitors evinced keen interest in new developments at the Cambodia Real Estate Show.

Foreigners in Cambodia are barred from owning the ground floor of any building in the Kingdom of Wonder.

I finally found out the origins of the prohibition early this month when I attended one of 16 presentations at the Cambodia Real Estate Show, a well organized two-day event that attracted numerous potential developers along with buyers of luxury apartments and buildings.  (Hey, you can take the broker out of real estate, but you can’t take real estate. . .)

It was not until 1989 and then in 2001 that government decrees defined the possession and subsequently, in 2001, full ownership rights of residential property.

Like most other countries in the region, Cambodia does not want foreigners to own a piece of the nation, no matter how small, as codified in Article 8 of the Land Law.

According to presenter Matthew Rendall — a lawyer who holds a Cambodian passport and is managing partner at SokSiphana & Associates in Phnom Penh — the stricture resulted from Continue reading

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