Bangkok, Thailand Report of what it's like to live there - 04/24/09

Personal Experiences from Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand 04/24/09

Background:

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

Lived in Middle East, Africa, Latin America and one other country in Asia.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Three years - 2006-2009.

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

Writer and educator.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

I find that Eva Air has the best arrangements from the West coast USA.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

The whole range. Rent an apartment in the city (location, location, location, $$$) or house in between or in the country. I rent an affordable two story house in a beautiful Mooban (Gated community) that is one of the nicest in BKK.

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

Western goods are a little more expensive. If you live partially ont eh local evonomy here (easy to do) you can greatly reduce your monthly expenses.

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

Powdered gatorade.

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

Almost everything, cheaper than the States.

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

Mosquitos are the only bother I find.

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Daily Life:

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

Regular mail has worked great.

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

Cheap and plentiful.

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

Yes, plenty around the city. Try to go to a place that does not get you into a contract. They are very affordable.

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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?

I use both and have not had any problems.

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

All.

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

Bangkok Post is a decent EL paper. IHT is available.

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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?

None but it helps to learn a little Thai. It really makes a difference with the locals.

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

Lots if they are in a wheelchair. Otherwise the usual difficulties of anywhere.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, yes, yes.

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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?

You don't even need a vehicle but a Camry, Accord etc. might owrk best.

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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, about US$30-60 month depending on terms.

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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?

You can buy any types of phone, cheap. A sim card is only US$3-4 dollars and can be used right away. they are available at all 7-11's and everyplace in between.

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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?

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

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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 as much anymore. Some teaching.

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

Dress casual. thais are fashion conscious.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Poor at times in the city. Allergy sufferers sometimes do. I live in a clean air envioronment cose to my kids' school.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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

Wonderfully safe. Perhaps the safest city and best overall quality of living of anywhere in the word.

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

Bumrungrad is one of the best in Asia, or the world. Samitivaj chains is also outstanding. Cheap also.

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

Warm and sunny, sometimes rain. Hot, but you get use to it.

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Schools & Children:

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

Lots of schools for what you want. ISB is still apremier school and has an outstanding staff. You will find it is more simliar to private schools in the US, than anything else, if that is what you are looking for. Bangkok Patana is a great British school with outstanding facilities also, if the British system is what you are looking for. NIST is another great choice despite the big chip on the shoulder attitude and a little bit cramped and crowded downtown campus (Air quality issues also). If you are looking to live 'outside the bubble' a little, be in clean air, and have you kids exposed to authentic cross-cultural experiences on a daily basis, then you might make a consideration for Ruamrudee International School. Back in the early '90s, BPS, ISB and Ruamrudee were the only schools in town. Ruamrudee still has about 10% western expat plus a good deal of Japanese, Indian, Korean and Taiwanese along with the 50% Thai and dual passport students. It is the only school in the country offering a large quantity of AP classes and also offers the full IB diploma. It does have the best kids in the country, athough it does not have the most American or British kids. Academically, it has a lot more to offer. Extracurricularly, RIS has great sports teams, lots of Drama, and other activites for kids. It boasts the best Robotics program in HS Asia, its math team won the Ulta-competitive WORLD championship and it also has the Jeremiah singers, known as the best HS level international school singing group anywhere in the world. Its teachers and administrators come from the same pool as the other international schools. I know that in the middle school and elementary there are teachers from Harvard, Brown, Cornell and graduates of other top schools. I have been staggeringly surprised at what is a gem of a school in Bangkok, for three quaters of the price of the others. Most of the Thai elite and government ministry kids are in attendance here. Don't over look Ruamrudee and the unique experience it can provide for your kids, as you look at internatinal schools. Plus, it is halfway between the city and the airport.

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

Most of the schools have considerations for special needs students. Ruamrudee is the only school that offers a full program for a wide range of needs. I think the others do accept some kids with SN.

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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?

Lots everywhere.

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

Yes, particulalry at BPS and ISB, outside of school. and on weekends.

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Expat Life:

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

HUGE.

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2. Morale among expats:

Outstanding.

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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?

Lots to do, check the Post.

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

I don't think there is one better, plenty to do here, all the time

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

YES!

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

As with anywhere else in the world, the darker you are, the more issues you have. Religions are all accepted.

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

More than anywhere else.

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

Almost anything.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes, lots.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, absolutely.

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

Warm clothing and bland foods.

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3. But don't forget your:

Smile and Thai phrasebook, sense of adventure.

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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

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7. Do you have any other comments?

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