Bangkok, Thailand Report of what it's like to live there - 06/21/13

Personal Experiences from Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand 06/21/13

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I've lived in Europe, Australia, Australia.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

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3. How long have you lived here?

9 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, military, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US Embassy Employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

All are great -- most are downtown with great views of the Bangkok skyscrapers.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Easy to find, cheap prices.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing. It is easy to buy online -- but even this is not really needed, as there is everything here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Loads of them -- every price and every type. A fantastic street meal will cost around $2, and a New Year's Eve Lobster dinner will cost $200.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes and sometimes cockroaches.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

APO

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available, but it might take time to find a good one. I pay $200/month for 20 hours a week.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Loads of them! Most buildings have one.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Easy and available on most streets.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes. Not sure which ones.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes. Usually provided by the building.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It helps and would make the experience of living here more enjoyable. Unfortunately, I don't speak the language, but I get by fine on my "taxi Thai".

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Bangkok is not a very handicap-friendly city.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Absolutely safe and very affordable -- most taxi fares run around $3.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any vehicle, but I bought a scooter to get around the streets of busy Bangkok.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes. $30/month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

No, sorry, I used the one give to me by the embassy.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

No.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Very good.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not really. Work permits are very difficult to obtain.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

I wear a tie during the week, except for casual Fridays or during the three/four warmest months: Smart Casual.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

I hear that there is some purse-snatching on the streets, but I have never known anyone who has been a victim.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Not really. Very good and cheap.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Moderate in Bangkok, good everywhere else.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and humid and wet during the rainy season.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I don't have kids, but I hear that the schools are great.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very high.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

So many options!

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Yes, yes, yes.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Absolutely! The Thais are about as understanding and tolerant as anyone can be.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None that I have experienced or heard about.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Playing with a baby elephant near Chiang Mai and scuba diving off Koh Tao.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

EVERYTHING! Movies, eating out, clubbing, concerts, you name it.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Beautiful furniture.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The spicy food, the friendly people, the beautiful beaches. And everthing is so affordable.

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11. Can you save money?

Easily.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely! I haven't left yet, and already I want to come back.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Jeans, sweaters, and cold-climate clothing.

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3. But don't forget your:

Suntan lotion, sunglasses, and flip-flops.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Hangover II? LOL.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Bangkok is fantastic!

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