Udon Thani, Thailand Report of what it's like to live there - 03/06/07

Personal Experiences from Udon Thani, Thailand

Udon Thani, Thailand 03/06/07

Background:

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

No.

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2. How long have you lived here?

18 months.

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

About an hour to Bangkok, then about 36+ hours to the States including layovers.

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

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

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

There are four major grocery stores: Big C, Tesco Lotus, Makro and Tops. Not everything is available. Imported food is extremely expensive.

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

Lots of baking chocolate, snacks, spices... anything you can think of you will miss (because it's either too expensive here or most likely unavailable)

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

KFC, Pizza Company, Swensens - that's about it as far as fast food!There is a Mexican restaurant, three Italian restaurants, Irish Restaurant, American style restaurant, Aussie Bar, two Japanese restaurants and couple English Restaurants/bars.

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Daily Life:

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

US$100 - 150 a month for a full-time maid. Lots of help is available however English proficiency can be a problem.

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

Credit Cards and ATMs are safe to use in major stores.

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

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

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

A lot. Most locals here don't speak any English.

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

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left.

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

No taxes in Udon. Local Tuk Tuks are very confusing for foreigners to use. It's best to have your own vehicle.

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3. 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?

Cars are very expensive locally, it's wise to bring a car.

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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?

About US$20-25 a month. Average quality.

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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?

There are several local cell phone companies available, plans are reasonably priced.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype.

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Pets:

1. 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?

Almost none. English teachers are always sought in local schools but the pay is not great.

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

Not a strict public dress code. Thais are very liberal when it comes to dressing.

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Health & Safety:

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

Moderate.

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

Not many.

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

If you have any near serious problems, you have to go to Bangkok. There are several private hospitals that can be used to treat minor medical problems.

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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 season from March to June. Rainy season from July till November and cool season from December until March.

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Schools & Children:

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

None.

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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?

None for expats.

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Expat Life:

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

Very small. Mostly old, expat men.

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2. Morale among expats:

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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?

Bars, that's about it!

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

It's a great place for single men, not a good place for expat women since there seem to be no expat women in this town.

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

Yes, I would think so.

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

None that I have noticed, Thais are very tolerant to all the religions and races.

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

Shop, shop, shop. See temples. Go to the bar.

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

Thai silk.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

No/maybe/it depends.

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

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3. But don't forget your:

Air conditioner, sunscreen.

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

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Local people are very nice and friendly, it's just a very remote place with almost non-existent expat community and that makes this town a very hard place to live. People are friendly to children/babies.

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