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Recently relocated to Siem Reap from LOS


Aspaltso

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I've recently relocated over to Siem Reap from Thailand where had lived off and on over a period of about 7 years. I'd like to just give a run down of 1) what my challenges are moving to Siem Reap, and 2) What the differences are between Thailand and Siem Reap from an expat perspective. I actually have lived in Cambodia previously(2009) however I'm not going to include my experiences then because 1) I was in Phnom Penh, and 2) I was inebriated for a significant part of my time then.

1) Getting an apartment (accommodation). Getting an apartment in Cambodia is quite simple as it is in Thailand, however I went about it a bit differently. First of all, finding an apartment over here in Cambodia is easier (I found) if you just go through a real estate service who really doesn't charge much for their service, while finding you the best possible properties. https://www.seaps.asia/. I never did anything like that in Thailand. I went online, found a decent apartment, and went to their office and signed a lease. Also, the lease structure is different in Cambodia. Where as in Thailand, i.e Bangkok, or Samut Prakan where I previously lived, I was required to sign up for a 6 month or 1 year lease on my apartment.  Here in Cambodia I was able to get the landlord to sign up for a 3 month contract with a 1 months deposit which was very convenient for my situation.

2) Cost and Quality. I will say that the cost of an apartment over here isn't cheap, and not necessarily better than what I had in Bangkok. Where as a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom in Udom Suk cost me 230 U.S dollars before water and electricity. I'm paying 275 U.S dollars a month here in Siem reap for the same size apartment, and that includes water, and electricity. Now this is important because most apartments over here in Cambodia don't cover the cost of water, and electricity, and electricity is very expensive in Cambodia since the country is purchasing it either from other countries, or from a private source that is charging a lot for their service. The quality of my apartment I'd say is equal to what I'd get in Bangkok with the exception of available services, and food options once I walk out my front door. As most people know Cambodia is quite a dirty country, and quite poor so once I'm out my front door the 3rd world is on display

2) Differences in the experience of living as an expat between Thailand and Cambodia. 1) Cambodia isn't nearly as convenient as Thailand. There are mini marts here with basic items( shaving cream, candy bars etc,) and increasingly more things, but nowhere near the same availability of goods that you'd see in a 7-11, or Lawson's back over in Thailand. I used to get food heated up at 7-11 in Thailand when I didn't want to go to the market, like a fried rice, or ham and cheese sandwich. Nothing like that in Cambodia.

Also, no wholesale stores, i.e Makro, or stores with the variety that you'd get in Thailand, i.e Tesco. In Thailand if you miss cheese for example, or some other specialty food from your home country you can find it at the very least in some generic form at the aforementioned supermarkets. That's not the case here in Cambodia. You would need to find a restaurant or specialty shop from someone from your own country to find the specialty foods you desire.

2) Life in Cambodia is a bit more challenging if you're used to the convenience of the modern world, but that's not why I came here, and I don't recommend anyone moving here if "overwhelming convenience" is important to them. I use motorbikes, and the passapp drivers to get around Siem Reap, and sometimes this can be challenging as opposed to using the MRT, or BTS in Bangkok but I'm able to complete my tasks, even if it does take more time. Also, as i mentioned before; Cambodia is still in a "3rd world status" of countries so its dirty, sometimes disgusting in areas, and not always safe away from the main areas of town. 

All being said, I'm happy I came over here to Siem Reap. I feel the atmosphere is very different from what I experienced in Thailand, and to be honest I feel the people are much friendlier. Also, if you're interested in starting a business or venture of some sort(which I'm not) it is easier over here with the licensing and fees etc. I hope this summary is able to help anyone whose been interested in coming over here to Siem Reap. Please respond with more questions if you have them.

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Hi - I have also just recently moved from Chiangmai to Siem Reap, about 4 weeks ago. Had lived in Thailand for 8 years and like you are happy to have made the change. I am somewhat surprised at your comments concerning availability of goods as I find the selection far greater than Chiangmai. I’ve been able to find items I could only dream of ranging from Crunchie Bars to Kippers. Have you been to the Angkor Market store who have a huge selection. I confirm electricity prices can be high but find the overall living cost far cheaper (Yes I do like a beer or two - 50 cents a beer on Pub Street lol) Also the variety of restaurants and bars in the centre are of a very high quality. Have you tried Bang Bang Bakery, simply delicious. Whilst I am from UK I feel Siem Reap benefits from having a french influence particularly when it comes to bread, pastries etc. As for travelling around I use the Grab Application and booking a Tuk Tuk, there are certainly many around, and find them both efficient and far cheaper than travel cost in Thailand. I live on the outskirts and most I have ever been charged into town is $1.50. Anyway perhaps one day I can buy you a beer in Pub Street.

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Thanks for the Reply New Beginnings. Indeed I have been to Angkor Market, I'm lucky to live around the corner from there. My belief is that a lot of those imported products are coming from the U.S, and Australia as there is a large Khmer Diaspora in those countries, and I share your belief that there is quite a large variety of goods compared to the Thai "cookie cutter" selection. My comments were trying to convey a broader sense of goods sold here compared to what an expat in Thailand might be used to. I might have missed the mark on that. I do share your sentiments in regards to the French influence here, it feels so much more interesting than Thailand at times. Thanks for the info on the Bakery; I'll go have a look. BTW the best bakery I've ever been to in Southeast Asia is the French Bakery off of 26th street directly opposite Tevy's Place. Thanks for the reply New Beginnings.

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scubascuba3: you are correct in inferring that Siem Reap can be a bit boring, but like anything else. It is what you make it. I teach during the week, and on my days off there are plenty of villages in the countryside to ride my mountain bike in. In fact, I find the village culture much more interesting over here in Cambodia. People are much more hospitable. Perhaps the way Thailand may have been 50 years back.

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sonnyboy2018: I don't have any detailed info on nightlife etc, as I have limited my drinking in recent years. I'm part of the "2 year, no beer crowd". I do know from word of mouth there really isn't a girly bar scene here, however there is a strong "bar presence" where freelancers are around, but I don't know firsthand.

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11 minutes ago, Ron jeremy said:

 

and to scuba: after living in pattaya, what do u do during the day in pattaya, besides sitting in a bar that you can't do in Cambodia?

lets face it, hanging in the mall gets boring after a while.

Golf, cycling, 10 pin bowling, pool, good walks, many friends here or passing through in the high season, bars, massage, coffee and of course many gf opportunities. How about Siem Reap?

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scubascuba3:  Golf, cycling, 10 pin bowling, pool, good walks, many friends here or passing through in the high season, bars, massage, coffee and of course many gf opportunities. How about Siem Reap?

 

 

All of these you can do with the exception of 10 pin bowling, and Siem Reap is developing so quickly there may be 10 pin bowling in a year. I'd say the gf opportunities are less over here, but by no means slim. There are plenty of khmer women looking for foreign, white men. Or foreign dark men for that matter. Anyways, I typically spend my time at a nice cafe morning time(there's plenty around, i,e coffee, or even custom tea cafes), there are plenty of opportunities to get involved in community development(if that's your thing, some people don't like working for the NGO's). I personally am involved with a reforestation effort. It keeps me busy and allows me to get exposed to the region more. There are plenty of bars here, I see many lounging around 2:30 afternoon time having a cold one. If that's your thing, you'd be happy here in Siem Reap. Otherwise, make your own fun. I've been doing it since I was 7 years old.

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I'd be interested in hearing about the medical side of things. Once upon a time for anything serious you'd have to be air-lifted to Bangkok or Singapore. What about local doctors? Are prescription medications as readily available as in Thailand? I'm an insulin-dependent diabetic so I'm guessing I may find things more difficult

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ThaiBunny : Your concern is justified. The availability of health care, and facilities isn't nearly as advanced as what you have in Bangkok, however there are some very decent foreign clinics here (with western doctors) that can sort through many of the minor ailments that affect us. However, its still the case that if you were to experience anything "major" i.e injuries from an accident, or anything else you'd need to get on a plane for Bangkok, or Singapore.

 

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45 minutes ago, Aspaltso said:

ThaiBunny : Your concern is justified. The availability of health care, and facilities isn't nearly as advanced as what you have in Bangkok, however there are some very decent foreign clinics here (with western doctors) that can sort through many of the minor ailments that affect us. However, its still the case that if you were to experience anything "major" i.e injuries from an accident, or anything else you'd need to get on a plane for Bangkok, or Singapore.

 

Didn't @Sheryl get hit by a motocycle in Cambodia in the last year, she went to hospital there and treatment seemed ok, maybe she can confirm

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56 minutes ago, scubascuba3 said:

Didn't @Sheryl get hit by a motocycle in Cambodia in the last year, she went to hospital there and treatment seemed ok, maybe she can confirm

 

I was treated at Royal Hospital in Phnom Penh which is a BDMS affiliate, had a Thai orthopedic surgeon and through sheer luck, the best one there. The others were much more junior, some of them still in their basic residencies in Thailand and doing part time at Royal.

 

There is nowhere else in the country that could have managed it properly, even at Royal PP  might not have done an adequate job had I not by luck been brought in while this one experienced doctor was there (he goes back and forth between Thailand & Camb as do most of their Thai doctors).  So outcome could have been different.  Their ambulance crew and ER were fine, they have a lot of experience with trauma/motor vehicle accidents as one might expect. The nursing care was fine, a mix of Thai and Cambodian nurses.

 

It is quite expensive, on par with say Bumrungrad in Bangok, and like all private hospitals not about to treat without money or an insurance guarantee up front. Fortunately I was (and am) very well insured. 

 

It is comparatively small and only the most common specialties are represented. They have to send many types of tests out to Bangkok (cultures etc) which slows things down a bit.  They do have access to second opinions/advice from Bangkok Hospital in Bangkok, one of the (Thai) cardiologists there sent my CT scan to be read in Bangkok after initial radiologist misread something important and I questioned it. (Questioning it and seeing the cardiologist was my initiative, a lay person would not have known to do this...so that also needs to be kept in mind.) They knew I was a health professional, and I had officials from the Ministry of Health at my side in the ER and among my regular visitors thereafter, this too may have  affected the diligence of my care.

 

There is an affiliate hospital in Siem Reap but it is smaller and has even fewer range of specialties and very few Thai doctors.  Costs about the same.

 

I would definitely say it is essential to have good insurance that covers medical evacuation if there or else immediate access to a lot of cash. And certainly for anything very specialized one would need to go to Thailand or VN or Singapore (which is what the entire Cambodian middle and upper classes do).  For anything specialized, immediately go out of country, for fairly straight forward and common things can try at Royal. But it will cost you. My tab for 14 days in hospital with 2 ortho surgeries (first one fairly extensive, second one very minor, just debridement)  but no instrumentation and no ICU = over $20,000 USD.

 

I have a large extended adopted Cambodian family, several of them with complex medical problems and it has proved impossible to get adequate care for any of them except the children in Cambodia unless at Royal which costs as much as going to Thailand, more in fact if compared to a government or less expensive private hospital in Thailand.  And even at any price, many of their needs couldn't be met at Royal (lack of appropriate specialist or specialist not experienced enough). 

 

There is adequate, free health care available for children through several charity run childrens hospitals in PP and Siem Reap.

 

I would caution an adult with serious medical problems to think twice about  living there and at a minimum, be financially prepared and also plan on regular trips out of the country for health care.

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As always, thank you @Sheryl for sharing your extensive, professional knowledge.

 

I've spent some time in Siem Reap 3-4 years ago and liked it. It's one city I keep on the list of possible places to live. While I don't have any threatening medical issues, it still worries me a bit should I have a motorcycle accident or need for intensive care. 

 

Moving along: SR does suffer from power outages and water shortages. One does need to live in a place with power generators. Has anyone experienced outages or shortages lately?

 

I've read there is a Makro in SR. Anyone surveyed the grocery lineup, particularly the meat and vegetable supply?

 

Thanks to all for your input.

 

 

 

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On 12/6/2019 at 7:56 PM, scubascuba3 said:

What do you guys do for fun? Angkor Wat is worth a visit once..

 

Do you end up just sitting in bars all day?

 

You don't bother hiring a motorbike?

that about covers it.
siem reap is good for a month max, and i'm outta there. i know i lived there off and on 6 months. boring as hell, but probably not as boring as an isaan village would be, the 50 cent drafts are great. after the temple stuff my usual routine was go into town to eat, have a coffee and drink at bars in the evening. fortunately i have work at night to keep me focused, otherwise id go crazy there if it was just being there for the sake of it. its hard to integrate into the local culture and make friends, it's so different and the khmer, though friendly and english speaking, dont really let you into their social circles at least thats my experience. they also always seem to be angling for money or some sort of financial kickback which makes things difficult.

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On 12/6/2019 at 10:43 PM, scubascuba3 said:

Golf, cycling, 10 pin bowling, pool, good walks, many friends here or passing through in the high season, bars, massage, coffee and of course many gf opportunities. How about Siem Reap?

Unlimited gf and massage opportunities in SR.

And with younger (18+), prettier, and cheaper gfs.

Not to mention with the beer at 50c a glass, they all look pretty by the end of the evening.

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On December 6, 2019 at 10:43 AM, scubascuba3 said:

Golf, cycling, 10 pin bowling, pool, good walks, many friends here or passing through in the high season, bars, massage, coffee and of course many gf opportunities. How about Siem Reap?

Exactly as I thought, same same as in Any country. Seems like you do the same as anyone, hang out. Never was into bowling, can't see many pattaya mongers doing such either. 

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On 12/5/2019 at 11:05 PM, Aspaltso said:

Thanks for the Reply New Beginnings. Indeed I have been to Angkor Market, I'm lucky to live around the corner from there. My belief is that a lot of those imported products are coming from the U.S, and Australia as there is a large Khmer Diaspora in those countries, and I share your belief that there is quite a large variety of goods compared to the Thai "cookie cutter" selection. My comments were trying to convey a broader sense of goods sold here compared to what an expat in Thailand might be used to. I might have missed the mark on that. I do share your sentiments in regards to the French influence here, it feels so much more interesting than Thailand at times. Thanks for the info on the Bakery; I'll go have a look. BTW the best bakery I've ever been to in Southeast Asia is the French Bakery off of 26th street directly opposite Tevy's Place. Thanks for the reply New Beginnings.

Do many speak English there or communicating a challenge? Also, how easy is it work with the banks there? Is opening an account easy as well as transferring money in?

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9 hours ago, HuskerDo said:

Do many speak English there or communicating a challenge? Also, how easy is it work with the banks there? Is opening an account easy as well as transferring money in?

I would say many Khmer can speak very basic English, but it is very limited and sometimes annyoying. For example; "Hello, you need tuk tuk, or hello, you need something etc. Like I have said; this is quite anoyying. As far as opening up a bank account I can only speak from my time back in Cambodia in 2010 when it was very easy to open an account .Essentially all I needed was my passport, and a limited amount to open the account with. I opened an account at Vattanac bank which is one of the better Cambodian banks, or so I was told. As far as transferring money in; I don't have much experience with this however I do know things are much more loose, and easy over here with the Banking regulations.

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Minior variation among banks but basically you need your passport and proof of long term residence, for which they will usually accept a lease/rental contract or work contract.

 

ABA bank which I consider the best (great online banking, mobile app, customer service and lots of ATM sites) will accept as proof of residence any of the following:

 

  • One-time visa or multiple visas with consecutive 182-day stay or more from one visa to another; or
  • House rental contract (hotel bill) indicating at least 6-month tenor, or
  • Proof of employment (employment contract, certificate of employment, or business license for self-employed) indicating at least 6-month employment.

I was able to open an account with them while on tourist evisa based just ion a contract for intermittent consultant work over a more than 6 month period.

 

English speaking among educated Khmers is far better than in Thailand.  Probably better in PP than in SR but still pretty good.

 

The reports of other posters of both English speaking and of relations with locals sounds like the experiences of a non-Khmer speaker living in or frequenting foreign hotspots and interacting mainly with those who cater to tourists. It is understandable that a new arrival would initially end up with such associations but is to be consciously avoided/overcome as soon as possible if you want to enjoy living htere.

 

It quite possible to form close friendships with Khmers, even to be accepted as family,  but as in any country it does require some acculturation first and preferrably acquiring some of the language - no need to be fluent but you do need basic Khmer to integrate comfortably into life there.

 

With it you will find people at all levels of society very willing to socialize and converse with you, and from that starting point you'll start to pick up the cultural nuances etc that are necessary to integration anywhere. Unlike many Thais, Khmers are not averse to or threatened by the idea of foreigners integrating onto their society and as long as they find you to be a good person, you'll be welcomed. 

 

There is sensitivity to sex tourists and pedophiles (unfortunately for good reason) so be aware of that.  Khmer culture is much more conservative than Thai in terms of attitudes towards, for example,  prostitution.  Obviously it exists, but it is not viewed as normal acceptable male behavior whereas in Thailand it basically is and has been for centuries  If it is observed that you associate with prostititutes (including bar girls), no one will bother you about it but it will affect their private opinion of you and thus your chances of forming other real friendships.  Serious GF no problem.

 

SR being a tourist area, does have a stratum of people seeking to make money off tourists and those types of course you should avoid. Proportionately more of them in SR than in PP but plenty of parts of the city that are largely untouched by it.

 

 

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On 12/6/2019 at 1:21 PM, Aspaltso said:

sonnyboy2018: I don't have any detailed info on nightlife etc, as I have limited my drinking in recent years. I'm part of the "2 year, no beer crowd". I do know from word of mouth there really isn't a girly bar scene here, however there is a strong "bar presence" where freelancers are around, but I don't know firsthand.

Ever been to "Top Town"?

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7 hours ago, daveAustin said:

How's the Chinese connection? Hear they're also making big inroads into Cambodia...

Ya, I've heard some interesting things in the last couple of weeks here in regards to the Chinese. An American Bar owner said a couple of weeks ago that a group of Chinese and their interpreter walked right up to his business and told him he wanted to buy his business, and or work out some kind of arrangement where he was leasing the property. The bar owner told him no, and apparently the Chinese were surprised with his statement.  Apparently there is a sense of overwhelming "money making opportunities" here in Cambodia with some of the Chinese who are moving here, and the bar owner went on to tell me its getting quite "tricky" here because of their presence. One of the reasons I chose Siem Reap was because I thought there'd be less Chinese influence than Phnom Penh, or other areas of Cambodia, and I think that's true, but there is no doubt they are moving in strongly here too. My landlord is Chinese, and he's quite a nice, and knowledgeable fellow. I actually like the presence they bring here if its "balanced". However places like Sihanoukville, and Phnom Penh are not. Their presence as tourists, or business owners doesn't affect my life here however.

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On 12/18/2019 at 2:56 AM, daveAustin said:

How's the Chinese connection? Hear they're also making big inroads into Cambodia...

Huge and very noticeable. They are buying up the country fast & furious & govt is letting them.

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14 hours ago, Sheryl said:

Huge and very noticeable. They are buying up the country fast & furious & govt is letting them.

One of the reasons I settled in Siem Reap was because I thought the Chinese presence would be less here than other parts of Cambodia, i.e Sihanoukville, and Phnom Penh. This is a UNESCO world  heritage site, and there will always be adventure traveller's coming here from all over the world.  I still believe this to be the case in the 1 month I've been here based on the tourists I've seen, however there is no doubt a bigger Chinese presence here than there was in 2008,(when I first came), or even a few years ago. They seem to behave themselves a bit better here considering they aren't the only tourists around, however I did get a Chinese woman kind of snip at me last week when I was purchasing a fish fritter from a vendor originally from Hong Kong. I didn't react. She obviously hasn't done much traveling in her life, and if she has that attitude she ultimately will have a lot of growing up to do. On a different note, if you get yourself a house, or apartment away from the center of Siem Reap is, you will probably not even encounter many Chinese. It'll be the local Khmer you'll be interacting with, and they are quite nice people. 

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4 hours ago, daveAustin said:

^^ This is a bit sad, though inevitable. It'd be nice to see monies benefiting the locals but if what I've been reading about Snooky is anything to go by, it doesn't bode well.

 

Unfortunately the money doesn't much benefit locals.

 

the MO of the Chinese here is to bring in their own Chinese workers for most things. Chinese run restaurants spring up to cater to them as well. So it all stays pretty much in Chinese hands plus of course large pay outs to the Cambodian powers that be.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Boing. Sounds about right.

 

What's it like February (POST-CNYear) regards tourist numbers? Easy enough to stroll into hotels / guesthouses to check rooms out Thailand-of-old style? 

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