-Where were you born?
England. Born in Luton, but grew up in Devon, and lived in Oxford for about 10 years before moving.
-In which country and city are you living now?
Siem Reap, Cambodia
-Are you living alone or with your family?
I live with my fiancee.
-How long have you been living in Cambodia?
Depends when you're counting from! I came as a tourist in late November, popped home to make some arrangements, and moved out here in early January. 9 months, say.
-What is your age?
-When did you come up with the idea of living in Cambodia?
I love Asia, but after initial misgivings in Vietnam, my fiancee fell in love with Cambodia from the first moment she saw it. It was good timing for us - my contract was up in the UK (hence the holiday), and she felt that she wasn't enjoying her job. When we met a friend of a friend for a drink here, a throwaway comment along the lines of "I've been advertising for an ex-pat, why don't you stay?" ended up with tests and interviews for both of us.
-Was it hard to get a visa or a work permit?
Are you kidding? As long as you've got the dollars... $25 on arrival, then work renewed as a 12 month business visa - one of the locals in the office took my passport down, and returned 3 or 4 days later with the new sticker.
-Was it difficult for you to get medical insurance before you went there or when you first arrived?
We've got local cover. I'm hoping it that it does actually do what it says on the tin in the event that anything does go wrong.
-How do you make your living in Cambodia? Do you have any type of income generated?
I came out here for a job - see above. We both work in the travel industry (he ended up getting two for the price of one, well, one and a bit), something that neither of us had anticipated. I'm doing web design more than anything, so the job itself is something I could have done from an office at home.
-Do you speak the local language and do you think it's important to speak the local language? Please add your thoughts on local customs and whether it's important for expats to respect/observe local customs.
I am rubbish. My fiancee is taking lessons, and I pick up bits, but Khmer isn't easy. This is a great town to be lazy - young Khmers learn English as it's a passport to a (comparatively) well paid job in the tourist industry.
It is very important to be knowledgeable about the local customs. I look at some of the backpackers now, and think "what MUST the locals think of us?". My fiancee was shopping for a dress, and the shopkeeper was trying to sell her a dress saying "good for you", and then basically stopped when we explained we lived locally. Of course, knowing about them doesn't equate to following them all - we have a reputation as crazy barangs to uphold...
I wish ex-pat drivers wouldn't take on all the local driving customs as well.
-Do you miss home and family sometimes?
Of course. Family and friends are the one thing I miss. Apart from real ale :)
Siem Reap is a small town. Part of the reason I decided to write this was because almost all of the ex-pat forums and advice centres on Phnom Penh. Siem Reap IS stuck out of the way, and IS a tourist town, but there is a great little ex-pat community here, a real mix of NGO workers (from the extremely well-funded projects to those scraping bucks together trying to make a difference), travel industry workers (from high-flying hoteliers to bar-owners), retirees, artists and musicians... there are very few boring ex-pats in Cambodia. Inevitably, much of the social life centres around eating and drinking - but my company will be opening a cinema club up in a couple of weeks...
-Do you have other plans for the future?
We'll stay here for another year or so, and see how business goes. If it goes well, then we may move to Vietnam (if the missus will allow), but more likely Malaysia or Singapore.
-What about housing, have you bought, or are you renting a home? How much do you pay for it?
We rent a 3 bed Khmer house, 3 air-con bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, just over $300 a month. There's a big spread of prices, some of which are harking back to pre-credit crunch days, so shop around. Call it about $400 a month once electricity, cable, water are included.
-What is the cost of living in Cambodia?
What are your tastes? You can eat out (well) for $5 for a local meal and beer, or spend $100 on a meal at an upscale restaurant with wine. We pay our housekeeper $120 a month, less than that again covers food for us and the dog. We go out a couple of times a week. To be honest, part of coming out here was about becoming less materialistic - we did buy a big flatscreen TV, but that's about it. It's not hard to save here.
-What do you think about the Cambodians?
Generally, great people. Warm-hearted and generous. Humbling sometimes. There are bad apples like any population. I guess some of the rich Khmers are arrogant pains in the arse - at home they would be driving BMWs rather than Lexus. I think I like the average Khmer better than the average Englishman - but it can be frustrating at work!
-What are the positive and negative aspects of living in Cambodia?
Litter! Man it bugs me. Take a beautiful country, and chuck plastic bags everywhere. The biggest asset are the people who live here.
Positives - getting away from the Western rat race; good food; great standard of living (as long as you can roll with things, and have a bit of patience); being based in Asia, and able to travel around.
Negatives - being a long way from friends; inability to get anything done quickly (or so it always seem when it's urgent); living in a small town.
-Do you have any tips for our readers about living in Cambodia?
Do not move out without visiting. It's a marmite country - love or hate, no just coping with it and getting used to it.
-Do you have any favorite Web sites or blogs about Cambodia?
www.siemreaplife.com - newish site aiming at becoming a resource for Siem Reap ex-pats
http://blog.andybrouwer.co.uk - The daddy of all Cambodia blogs.
www.aboutasiatravel.com - work, if I'm allowed to plug that!