An expat’s dilemma: Would getting sick break my bank?

ambulance

Injured construction worker is to be transported to hospital.  Source: Phnom Penh Post

Part 1: Decisions, decisions, decisions

It began with my absent-mindedly stepping on a wet tile floor and falling down hard on my right side.  It ended with important lessons not only for me but for many others, especially older individuals, who also choose the expat life.

In addition, the incident could prove illuminating to anyone who seeks some insight into the complexities of obtaining first-rate medical care overseas, whether tourists or expats.

One of the lessons that I learned reinforced the importance of my paying undivided attention to where I walk, especially if I am outside in Phnom Penh.  I walk for miles everywhere, in large part for my health, despite the dangers that pedestrians face here. We cannot navigate cluttered sidewalks and must always be on guard in a city where the multitude of cars and two-wheeled vehicles pays virtually no respect to the right of way of pedestrians in seemingly chaotic traffic.

Equally important, the whole experience of my fall taught me that I had made the correct decision about medical insurance when I retired to Cambodia from Manhattan at the end of 2013.

Having done my research before my arrival, I learned that Continue reading

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WSJ lists 7 things you may not know about expat life

Teaching is a job to which expats tend to gravitate. Source: Khmer440.com

Teaching is a job to which expats tend to gravitate, but pay in Cambodia is low. Source: Khmer440.com

The life of an expat may contain many surprises, the Wall Street Journal noted in an article not so long ago.

It turns out, according to a survey on which the article is based, that Ecuador provides the most happiness to expats and that Europe, unsurprisingly, offers the best education.

But would you imagine that Ireland falls behind Russia, Oman and Continue reading

When Cambodians sneeze, listen to sound of silence

5036593719_6dd776fc28_bAmong the countless cultural differences between Cambodians and Westerners is what happens when someone sneezes.

After 20 months living in Phnom Penh, I find it hard to drop certain reactions and expectations. One that comes readily to mind and that I cannot seem to accept concerns cars turning into a street; I still think they will give way to a pedestrian automatically — me.  They usually don’t.

Another has to do with sneezing.  Probably like you, my automatic reaction is to utter a “bless you” or “gesundheit” when someone, even a stranger, sneezes.  Where I come from, I know that I can count on hearing wishes for good health when I sneeze or anyone else does in virtually any situation but a performance.

Not so in Cambodia.  It is as if nothing ever happened or that no one cares about another person’s health.

What surprises me is Continue reading

Many expats seem to forget that they choose to be here

choices

Home is close to the work of these Cambodians, who pick from garbage anything they can recycle.

You hear the gripes, complaints and sparks of indignation all the time.

Expats regularly find fault with Cambodia in general and Phnom Penh in particular, and I hardly am blameless (as this post arguably demonstrates).

Whether it is about the vast majority of sidewalks that either are nonexistent or made impassable by parked vehicles and vendors’ carts or it is about intractable corruption, we continually voice our various displeasures to each other over restaurant tables and online.

We moan about Continue reading