Bangkok, Thailand Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand 08/06/19

Background:

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

This is our fourth post. We've also lived in Athens, Berlin, and Copenhagen.

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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?

Northern Virginia, USA. We fly in and out of Washington/Dulles, VA. It is a 13/14 hour flight from Dulles to Seoul, South Korea and then another 6 hour flight to Bangkok. We live in the Northwest suburbs in Nichada so there is an additional 45+ min. drive from the main airport.

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3. How long have you lived here?

This is our third year.

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

U.S. 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?

We are in the suburbs of Bangkok in Nichada. Embassy housing is undergoing some changes this year. When we came in, we were appointed a single-family detached home with a yard. This year, they've changed the requirements and are putting families with only one child in apartments within the gated community. Families with two children are being placed in two neighborhoods with slightly smaller homes. The living space is still much more than at many posts but I think it's important for people to know this as they come in, as it may determine whether they want to live this far out.

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

Everything is available here. Imported goods cost more than they would at home but you can pretty much get everything you want. Fruits and vegetables are much more cost-effective on the local economy. Buying from your local fruit and vegetable vendors is best in terms of price and freshness. Electronics and furniture are a bit expensive here and imported meats such as beef. All household goods are easy to find.

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

Cereal is expensive here. We use Walmart or Amazon to buy this since we have a DPO. I also ship paper towels but that's a personal preference. Shoes are difficult if you are looking for larger sizes. Even men's shoe sizes present here tend to be narrow in the foot box and hard to fit on American feet.

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

You can pretty much find anything here if you are willing to travel into the city or pay higher prices. Western food tends to be expensive here (read typical American prices which are much higher than buying Thai food). Out here in the suburbs we've got a Mexican restaurant, several Italian, your basic fast food (McDonalds and Burger King), sushi, Indian, and a few Western sandwich shops/delis. Downtown you can find options for any cusine.

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

Cockroaches aren't unheard of. Our maid uses white vinegar to help combat this which seems to work. Also, geckos inside houses. There are snake sighting (some venomous) from time to time in the community so keeping the kids vigilant while playing outside is important. Small pets have been known to go missing when left unattended in the yard. Mosquitos are the worst problem. At certain times of the year, we experience swarms and have difficulty keeping them out of the house. Mosquito prevention is important. The community sprays once a month but it's hard to combat during certain seasons.

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Daily Life:

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

DPO and pouch.

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

Household help costs are low here. Around USD $500 a month for full-time help. This includes cooking, cleaning, and child-care. Some expats employ drivers which is also low-cost.

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

Nichada has several gyms you can use as a part of their community benefits included in a card that provides you access to two additional gates that cut down on traffic time to the expressway. Each neighborhood has a pool and additionally, there is an Olympic-sized pool for use.

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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?

Yes. Most small vendors require cash though. ATMs are scattered throughout the gated community and are easy to find outside Nichada. I've never had a problem besides having my card sucked into the machine when I left it behind. Banks here do not collect the cards so be aware. Once it is sucked in the card is destroyed.

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

There is a non-denominational church withing the Nichada gates, a Morman church close by as well as a Catholic church. Several options downtown as well.

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

I get by with very little out here in Nichada. Basic phrases and numbers will get you by. Directional phrases are great for taxi rides. Local language classes are provided by the PTA of ISB inside the gate as well as the Embassy.

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

Within Nichada would be fine. Sidewalks are not wheelchair-friendly in the surrounding neighborhoods.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, and all very cheap.

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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?

Around Nichada there are some options for purchasing a diplomatic sale car. When a car comes in with a diplomat it can only be sold to other diplomats for the next 3 years. After that, it can be sold on the local economy. Owner and purchaser must exchange the car and payment while both are present in the country. We drove our right side drive car here fine without any problems. The highway has Ez-pass which gets around trying to pay tolls when the booth is on the left. We have a mini-van and it has been fine for driving and parking most places.

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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, just a day or two for install as Nichada customer service helps you get it set up with the local provider.

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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?

We use True for cable, internet, and mobile phones.

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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?

Lots of pets in Nichada. Great walking community and several dog parks. No quarantine. Crate size and the temperature requirement has been known to be a challenge when leaving the country.

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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?

No bilateral work agreement here so most spouses that want to work get jobs at the Embassy.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty of volunteer opportunities. Orphanages, prison visiting programs, animal rescue, etc.

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

Business casual.

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Health & Safety:

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

No, nothing beyond petty theft.

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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?

Pollution levels reach dangerous levels at certain times of the year. Quality medical care is easy to find.

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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?

Not great during January- March. Seasonal allergies. Schools were closed for several days this past year due to poor air quality.

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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?

Three seasons: Rainy season (typically rains hard once and afternoon and is hot and humid), winter (aka: 75 degrees and lighter humidity), hot-hot season (typically over 100 and high humidity).

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Schools & Children:

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

Inside Nichada is ISB. We've had a great experience here. IB program at all levels. The school does a wonderful job of welcoming new students and setting them up to meet other children. Teachers are caring and supportive. Strong learning support program at the Elementary level as well as a new intensive learning support program.

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

ISB does a great job of accommodating students with special needs. Staff is knowlegeable on learning disabilities and do their best to provide appropriate instruction and modifications for students who need them. Pull out or push in instruction at each level as well as a Speech Therapist and OT.

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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?

Yes. Fairly expensive but there are several options around the Nichada community.

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

Yes, many sports and activities provided by the school as well as the outside community. You can find pretty much every activity through school.

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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 expatriate community and good overall morale.

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

Many, many expatriate groups and events in the ear. You can find a group for pretty much anything here in Nichada (book clubs, running group, social groups, volunteering opportunities, etc.).

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

A great place for families! So many things to do. Great for travel and exciting opportunities. Thai people love children and are very welcoming.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

Yes.

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

None that I've heard of. Thai people seem very open to all beliefs.

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

Travel is cheap and easy here. Walking and taking care of elephants, temple viewing, history, eating. We've loved everything about our time here.

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

Beautiful handicrafts and artwork from the Northern part of the country. Antiques galore. You can have handmade teak furniture made to specifications.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes.

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

Winter clothing.

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3. But don't forget your:

Summer clothes, shades, swimming gear, and patience.

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Bangkok, Thailand 06/06/18

Background:

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

Yes, first expatriate experience.

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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?

DC/NoVA. 24 hour flight with one layover flying transatlantic. Codeshares have changed so other options are likely now available.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Diplomatic mission

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

We live in a three bedroom apartment that is huge for a family of two. My commute to work is short because I live very close to the embassy so I walk to work, rain or shine. Housing size is based on family size and it seems most people get one bedroom for each family member and one additional. There are also separate quarters for nannies who live-in or need a place to rest during their breaks. Note that nannies' quarters have a bathroom but no hot water; unfortunately, this is the norm.

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

Some products are cheap, others are expensive. There are lots of grocery options and many places deliver. Bookmark paleorobbie.com, passiondelivery.com, honestbee.co.th and there are many others.

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

Ethnic hair products for people of color. Whatever you can't find here, you can get it shipped via APO. It typically takes 8 to 10 days.

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

Food panda is an app to download. Tons of restaurants listed. Also, ChefXP is another food delivery service and sometimes more reliable than Food Panda.

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

Some have issues, some don't. There is the occasional bug or gecko but nothing major that I have experienced living downtown.

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Daily Life:

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

APO. The mailroom can assist you in arranging pick up by FedEx or DHL.

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

Most people hire a nanny/housekeeper. Some families have a nanny for each kid. The average for full time is US$400 and it depends on family size.

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

Tons, too many to name. Muay Thai is popular and I highly recommend you at least try it. Gyms are expensive; most more expensive than the U.S. but have the latest if not better equipment that what you find at stateside gyms. Personal trainers are also available to come to your house.

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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?

Yes, no issues so far. Use cash for taxis, motorbikes, BTS sky train, and shopping at street markets. There is also a cashier at the embassy for obtaining cash.

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

I am aware of a Catholic church close to the embassy, a Baptist church, and there is a Chinese Christian church somewhere downtown.

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

Living downtown you need to know some Thai to navigate directions when riding in taxis and it's also good for eating out. The embassy offers classes and the instructor, Khun Nok, is really good.

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

Yes, horrible sidewalks downtown, few elevators for getting to the Sky train. There are escalators at most train stations. If you are in a wheelchair it will be difficult.

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Transportation:

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

Local buses are a no-go but some people take the long haul buses for trips to other areas. Most people just hire a driver to take them places for long weekend trips. Trains are safe. Taxis are safe, but most don't have working seat belts. Uber is no longer in Thailand so you have to use the GrabTaxi app which works in many Asian countries or just hail a taxi off the street.

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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?

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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, should have within one to two weeks depending upon where you live.

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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?

AIS is the main provider. Bring an unlocked phone. I did not keep my home plan. I play less than $30 a month for phone service. Texting is usually an additional charge but super cheap, however, most people use apps. Download LINE and whatsApp if you don't already have it.

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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?

I think there are vets but don't know much about it as I don't have a pet. If you live downtown, expect to see stray dogs and most look sickly and don't bark.

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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?

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Check within the embassy.

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

Relaxed due to the heat and humidity here. Dress up for formal meetings, etc.

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Health & Safety:

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

Walking...the sidewalks are bad in some places so you could twist your ankle if you're not careful. Also, motorbike drivers sometimes drive on the sidewalks (which is illegal).

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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?

No particular health concerns, although air quality decreased over the last year. A lot of kids ended up with bronchial issues as a result. Hospitals are great here. This is an medical evacuation location.



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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?

See above answer.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Most Thai restaurants don't understand food allergies so be careful or just don't eat out.

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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?

Hot and humid most of the year. December - January are typically nice.

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Schools & Children:

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

Too many to name. Take your pick. All seem to be great. Asia has some of the best international schools when you do the research.

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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?

I have a elementary aged child but I am aware that there are day care options. You have to pay out-of-pocket for preschool.

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

Tons of afterschool activities at all schools.

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Expat Life:

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

Check post profiles on the DoS Intranet.

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

Get together with neighbors and teammates from work. You'll figure it out. I can't recommend a club, sorry.

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

Yes to all. There is something here for everyone.

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

Yes, there is a huge LGBT community in Thailand.

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

I am not aware of any problems.

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

Chiang Mai (tea plantation, night markets are great), Bali, and Phuket (John Gray's sea canoe). Vietnam is also great. Most countries are about a 2 hour flight and flights are not expensive. Enjoy the Chatuchak weekend market but prepare to bargain and sweat a lot.

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

Rooftop bars! Banyan Tree 61st floor is amazing. Thai cooking classes are fun. I recommend Silom Thai cooking school. Massages! Fresh fruit! Erawan Museum and Ancient Siam are great places to visit.

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

Yes, lots of shopping. Chiang Mai has great markets too as well as Hua Hin.

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

It's so walkable and the Skytrain is great for getting around downtown. There's a ton of stuff to do here. If you get bored, something's wrong. There is always a new restaurant opening and food is everywhere.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Nothing I can think of. I did my research.

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

Absolutely.

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

Long sleeves! It's always hot here!

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4. But don't forget your:

Deodorant! Sense of adventure.

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

Youtube or Google.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

It's great to get away from Bangkok for less humidity and to go somewhere cleaner from time to time.

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Bangkok, Thailand 04/01/17

Background:

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

This is our third international posting.

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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?

East Coast, USA. Our general route is through Tokyo (about 7 hours) to either Chicago or D.C. (13-14 hours), then one more connection home. About 24 hours in the air. Brutal.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Two years.

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

Diplomatic posting.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Downtown apartment with adequate space, a balcony, near the BTS. There are basically two types of housing--downtown apartments or Nichada, the gated community surrounding International School of Bangkok.

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

Every single thing you could ever want is here- it may take a hit of time and "asking around" to find it, but I usually can find everything, and things are either cheap or what I would reasonably pay in the US.

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

I order good paper towel and trash bags through the pouch, although there is a reasonably well stocked commissary that arranges home delivery for a small fee. There is a very high duty on wine, so the commissary is the best place to buy wine. Beer and other liquor are reasonably priced locally.

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

Everything and anything you could possibly imagine. Excellent food scene, home delivery through Food Panda. High-end, casual dining, street food...it's all here in Bangkok.

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Daily Life:

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

APO at the Embassy. Thai Poste within country is reliable and reasonably priced.

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

We pay our part time housekeeper about $3 USD per hour and she comes 15 hours a week. Availability is good, many Thais, also Burmese (you need to research visa requirements and be in compliance). Nichada housing has quarters for live in help, some downtown apartments do as well.

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

Downtown apartments have facilities, Nichada has Clarke Hatch (membership required for a fee), most places have pools. Fitness First, Virgin Sports, tons of options, reasonably priced. Due to the heat, most people exercise indoors or swim.

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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 my ATM card everywhere--there is a 200 Thai Baht (@ $6 USD) fee for ATM withdrawals, so I withdraw a larger amount of cash versus small withdrawals, as the fee is the same. You can cash checks at the embassy but the exchange rate is not as good and the hours are quite restrictive, especially if you live in Nichada or are reliant on a traveling spouse to get cash for you. I also use my debit card to buy groceries, except at Makro (a Costco-like store), which only takes cash but has ATMs on the premises.

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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?

Within Bangkok and in more touristy areas English is common, once outside of the city you need a bit of Thai to get by.

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

Yes, public transportation is not handicap accessible and sidewalks are congested and difficult even for the able-bodied.

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Transportation:

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

The BTS sky train and the MRT are great, but only serve a small part of the sprawling city. You can get a pre-paid Rabbit Card for the BTS, but need a different card for the MRT, although rumor has it they will be combined soon into one common payment card. Uber taxis are prevalent, as are regular taxis. Moto taxis are also everywhere. Cheap, cheap, cheap.

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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 can bring anything in, but Thailand drives on the left side. Small cars are better for navigating small congested roadways and tiny parking spaces.

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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, easy to set up. Nichada has a contract with True, downtown has other provider options.

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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?

Bring or buy an unlocked phone (widely available in Bangkok at MBK mall) and buy a local SIM card- either pre-pay ("top-up") at 7-11 or at mall kiosks, or you can set up a cheap monthly plan with your carrier.

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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?

Excellent and widely available. Many will do in-home visits for a fee, which is a great convenience given the horrendous traffic.

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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?

No bilateral work agreement with US, so mission jobs or telecommuting are the most frequent types of jobs.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Yes, lots of things to do with orphanages and churches. You need to seek them out, but they are there.

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

Thais dress very well, especially in business settings. The oppressive heat makes this a challenge.

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Health & Safety:

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

Purse snatching by motorbike drivers is common, but Thailand is generally very safe.

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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?

Local medical care is excellent and world-class. Several hospitals have entire services for international travelers and expats. Zika is a worry, but prevalence is low. Dengue is more of a threat. Motor vehicle accidents the worst health concern, Thailand is second in the world, behind Libya, in terms of motor vehicle fatalities, especially of those riding motorbikes without a helmet.

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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?

Pretty good for a city of this size. We have lived with much worse.

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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, hot, hot and humid, occasional slight (warm) breeze. It is hot 24/7/365...

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Schools & Children:

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

Several excellent schools that I am aware of, tons more that I do not have familiarity with. The International School of Bangkok is top-notch, with an excellent facility, and tons of extracurricular activities. NIST also has a wonderful reputation, as does Pattana (British curriculum). There is a French school...tons of choices.

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Expat Life:

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

Big community, expats from all over the world, you can find your niche...

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

Restaurants, movies, concerts...it's all here. There is an American Women's Club, an Australian women's group, lots of expat options.

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

Everyone can find a lot to enjoy in Bangkok.

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

Yes, a very open culture in some ways ( Thailand recognizes a third gender) but regressive in others (do not recognize same sex marriages for diplomats).

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

Regional travel throughout Southeast Asia is easy and cheap, Northern Thailand and the beaches are awesome, easy to get away for the weekend. We love Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar...so much to see.

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

Regionally there is a treasure trove of crafts to buy (Vietnam and Laos in particular), also Chiang Mai. It is more difficult to find handmade artisanal heritage items in Bangkok, much of the shopping is super high-end mall shopping ( and plenty of it...)

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

Easy living, broad availability of everything, easy travel, great restaurant options, Western convenience.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How debilitating the traffic and the heat would be, how overpopulated and "modern" Bangkok would be at the expense of tradition and heritage.

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

Glad I had the experience, but will be ready to leave when the day arrives.

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

Winter clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Umbrella, sunscreen, anti-perspirant, frequent flier number and sandals.

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Bangkok, Thailand 11/25/16

Background:

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

I previously lived in Japan and the UK.

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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?

About a full day in transit back to the east coast of the U.S. You typically have to connect in Hong Kong or Tokyo but there have been rumors that Thai Airways is going to restart a direct west coast flight.

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3. How long have you lived here?

A year and a half.

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

U.S. 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?

We have a large, 3BR/4BA apartment in central Bangkok, with a balcony. Almost all of the embassy housing is good-sized and centrally located. There is also a "suburban" neighborhood located somewhat outside the city center where larger families tend to live, and shuttles provide transportation (about 45-60 minutes one-way depending on traffic). Otherwise most central USG housing means a 25-35 minute commute via skytrain or subway.

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

Very available and reasonably priced. It is rare that we cannot locate an item here. As expected most specialty items will be more expensive but it is typically not obscenely expensive.

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

Nothing that I can think of but if you have truly specialized items that you like that you'd have trouble shipping to an APO, bring those.

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

Bangkok pretty much has everything, and FoodPanda delivers all over the city. Malls galore with food options galore. Street food is ubiquitous but the usual caveats apply--be careful about those.

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

We haven't had any issue downtown, but we are up in a newer apartment tower. Not sure about the residential housing outside the city.

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Daily Life:

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

APO. Amazon usually arrives in 7-10 business days.

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

Very available. Our Thai maid comes 3x/week for full days and we pay around $300/month. Some have live-in nannies and work out other deals, most all of which seem reasonable. We've been lucky that ours was recommended by a colleague and speaks English. If you choose to go with non-Thai household help, make sure you understand what the visa and employment rules are.

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

Yes, I use them all the time. Recommend staying on top of your transactions as ATM scammers have been seen here.

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

Most Thais in the consumer service industry speak enough English to get by. You should be fine if you don't speak Thai but obviously small polite phrases are always appreciated.

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

Somewhat. Sidewalks can often be damaged to non-existent, but there are escalators to skytrain/subway stations and efforts are sometimes made to make sites handicap-accessible.

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Transportation:

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

They are available and affordable, yes. After 18 months we've honestly had it with the taxis, though. Endless attempted illegal haggling, they rarely know where they are going unless you're going to major areas in Bangkok, lots of unsafe driving, the taxis usually don't have seat belts, etc. I understand that cabbies in large, sprawling cities can be unique characters, but for a city that purports to be as developed as Bangkok does, the taxi situation is honestly ridiculous. We use Uber almost exclusively now and it's worked out pretty well.

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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?

We do not have a car but it seems as though most have small SUVs per usual for the dip community. I think we would probably do the same were we to buy 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?

Typically yes. It was surprising that we landed in a building that is only 5-6 years old but was not wired for ethernet, so we have an ADSL connection. It is normally ok for Netflix, etc but it's not ethernet so backing up files/photos/etc to the cloud can take hours at times. We pay $35/month for landline phone/internet.

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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?

AIS, True, DTAC are all basically the same. We've had good service and for a 3G 1Gb monthly plan I pay $6. Literally, $6.

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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?

Good vets--ours is Malaysian and makes house calls. No quarantine, just the standard USDA certs and paperwork. We shipped our two cats via separate cargo company because there wasn't an airline/airport routing available to move them with us. No issues.

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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?

It seems like there is a mix of everything, although the U.S. and Thailand do not have a bilateral work agreement, so keep that in mind. There are a ton of EFM jobs at the embassy, but this is also a huge Mission, so there is a lot of supply as well.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

No direct experience but there seems to be a lot.

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

Business casual to business formal depending on any public appearances that day. Men can usually get away without jackets/ties simply because of the heat.

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Health & Safety:

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

Traffic safety and petty theft are typically the biggest concerns. Theft by those on motorbikes is no joke--it has happened somewhat frequently to USG personnel. Traffic rules appear to be taken more as suggestions.

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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?

Air quality can be an issue, but nothing like China or India. Medical care is excellent and widely available.

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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.

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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, hot, and more hot. Be prepared to sweat through everything.

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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 large. Morale seems to be quite good.

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2. 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 of options available depending on your interests.

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

Singles and couples, yes. Families I'm not as sure about--I could see how downtown Bangkok might be difficult in terms of long-term living with small kids (due to the traffic and heat, etc).

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

I would say the LGBT community is very accepted here.

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

Great travel options around the region. We've been all over Thailand and to various countries around the periphery. The food options are excellent.

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

All of the beaches and natural sites. Chiang Mai is a great walking town. We'd recommend trying to find more out-of-the-way islands that are off the beaten tourist path.

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

Absolutely yes, but there are also a bunch of cheap trinkets that look unique until you see them at another stall down the street.

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

Most shopping/food is convenient and fairly cheap. As a hub, you can fly in and out of Bangkok pretty easily to lots of locations.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How much the relentless heat can have an effect on you. The crazy number of people in central Bangkok. The traffic is probably the worst I've ever experienced in any major, developed city. That the whole notion of the "smiley Thai" is a misnomer at best. IMO they are no more/less nice or helpful than anyone else I've ever met in East/Southeast Asia.

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

In contrast to other writers here, I would honestly have to say I don't think so. Bangkok has been a generally positive experience for sure, and living has been mostly easy. But after 18 months I can honestly say the combination of the traffic, heat, political situation, the Thai people's let's call it "interesting" relationship with the monarchy (this frustration has grown with the recent passing of the king), arcane rules about decency, lack of local traditional culture in Bangkok... I understand that all places will have their issues--for us we will leave Bangkok with great travel memories and feel fortunate to have lived in a place with so many conveniences, but we have never really developed a true affinity for this city and will not really miss it.

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

Coats, jackets, perceptions about what "normal" travel time connotates

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunglasses, sunscreen, umbrella.

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Bangkok, Thailand 08/08/15

Background:

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

No, several prior around the globe

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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?

New York - 2.5 hours to Hong Kong followed by 16 hours to New York. Or you can fly thru Tokyo first.

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3. How long have you lived here?

4 years

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

U.S. Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Embassy housing is either city based or outside the city in "the bubble" known as Nichada Thani, where we live. People choose Nichada because the houses are beautiful and spacious, (many are brand new), the community is gated and safe, and Internatiional School Bangkok is inside the gates. The school is the heart of this community, so if you have kids, this is a great place to be. Embassy workers take the free shuttle in the morning into the office, with a commute of about 35 - 45 minutes. If you go later you can sit in traffic forever. Bangkok traffic is absolutely some of the worst on the planet. Don't even try to figure it out. There is no rhyme or reason.

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

If you want American products, you will pay double or triple for them. If you get used to local brands, it will be a lot cheaper.

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

Car tires and car parts, my dog's favorite dogfood, but otherwise you can get anything you need here.

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

Everything you can think of except Taco Bell, and they all deliver.

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

Less than I would've expected. After the rainy season there tends to be an issue with mosquitos, but otherwise this is far less tropical in terms of insects than other places we've lived. There are virtually no bugs in our house!

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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?

Plentiful - about US$400 per month for five days per week.

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

Nichada Thani has a gym facility.

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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?

ATMs are everywhere and credit cards are widely accepted.

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

Catholic churches, Mormom, Jewish, Muslim

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

It's nice to have a small vocabulary, but you can survive in Bangkok easily without it. Most people do.

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

Yes - sidewalks downtown are terrible and sometimes nonexistent.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are safe, plentiful, and cheap. The BTS in Bangkok is modern, safe, and inexpensive, but it only covers a small portion of the city.

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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 need an SUV in this country - the roads are great. Car parts for American vehicles and even American import Toyotas can be hard to find and often have to be ordered.

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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?

Not expensive but not high speed either. You won't get what you pay for, that's for sure.

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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 need an unlocked one.

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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 - good vets here, and inexpensive

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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?

Nope. This is the downside of things, especially for embassy spouses. There is no agreement with the Thai government.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty.

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

It's hot, so nobody really wears suits.

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Health & Safety:

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

Virtually none. This is about the safest place you could ever imagine living with a family. I put my kids in taxis at night and don't think twice. I haven't locked my door in four years and don't even know where the keys are.

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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?

Medical care is superb. There is a huge medical tourism trade here. International hospitals look like five star hotels, and the medical care is often of equal or better caliber than you find in the United States.

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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?

We live about 15km outside of the city in Nichada Thani, and it is just fine.

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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?

Hottest time of the year is March through July. Consistently over 100F degrees. Really mild November thru January. Rainy season starts around May and goes thru October.

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Schools & Children:

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

We send our kids to ISB and we love it. It's like a college campus, and the leadership and teachers there have truly been top notch for our family. Super sports program and extra curricular activities. Excellent IB scores in the High School. If your kid is bored at ISB... Most families really love this school, and the school is at the heart of the Nichada community. Word of warning, though. This is an IB school, so if you are looking for AP, this might not be the school for you. The vast majority of kids in the HS take the full IB program.

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

Most of the international schools won't accept your child, regardless of how mild the disability. St Andrews Samakee accepts children with special needs but they recently turned down a family with a child with special needs because the particular classroom was full. There is also a school downtown called The Village which caters to children with special needs. There are a couple of therapeutic service companies that offer OT, PT and speech, but support is limited. Recommend you do your homework before you accept an assignment here.

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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?

Yes, there are lots to choose from.

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

Thru the schools, yes. They are extensive.

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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, huge, huge. Most people love it here. Many stay forever.

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

Great clubs and restaurants downtown. Movie theaters, more malls than you will ever have a chance to visit...

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

Great for families.

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

Heading to the north of Thailand, visiting temples, gorgeous beaches and never running out of a place I wanted to experience. The people are calm and amazing.

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

Grand Palace, Ko Kret island for pottery shopping and biking around the island, Wat Arun, longtail boat ride on the Chao Praya. This city never gets old. And the food culture is incredible. Thais eat 24 hours a day, and the streets are filled with amazing smells and opportunities to try new foods.

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

Amazing, warm culture. Beautiful weather much of the year (Okay, hot in the spring, but otherwise really manageable), wonderfully safe. Great regional travel. Wonderful temples, amazing shopping...

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7. Can you save money?

If you eat street food, you will really save money!

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

To not expect things to happen in a New York minute. Thailand runs at its own pace. Things that should happen in a day often take five, and nobody seems to get upset about it. People move slowly, and nobody gets angry. Ever! Never ever show your anger - Thais consider it a sign of weakness. So when things don't go your way, you simply have to relax and bear it.

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

Absolutely

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

winter clothes, loud voices, lack of patience for the traffic and the pace of things

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, sense of adventure, willingness to explore a new culture.

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Bangkok, Thailand 08/26/14

Background:

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

No, this was my fourth experience after Shanghai, China; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and Frankfurt, Germany.

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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?

If going to the West Coast of the USA, then the trip is approximately 18 - 20 hours with connections. If going to the East Coast, then the trip is about 24 hours with connection. Direct flights to Europe are approximately 12 - 14 hours. The direct flight to Sydney, Australia is about 9.

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3. How long have you lived here?

From August 2012 to August 2014 - 24 months.

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

I was associated with the U.S. Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

If you want to live in the city, commute times will vary depending on what time you go to work. If you work at the U.S. Embassy then generally you will arrive around 7-7:30 - in which case, driving isn't too bad at that hour. Note: parking is limited, if you arrive after 7:30 you will have a hard time finding a parking place. If you live close to a BTS or MRT station then you may use this method, however the Embassy is a bit of walk from both and by the time you arrive at work, you will have had your "second shower" of the morning (sweat). The BTS and MRT are also both very crowded in the morning.

If you have children then you may have the option of living out in the suburbs in very nice (but far from the city) villas. The U.S. Embassy offers shuttles to and from these compounds, but traffic in the afternoon can be quite bad so it may take a while to get home. There are very few townhouses in the city that a few families get to live in. They are very nice, but some families complain they are too small compared to the villas. There are international schools close to the suburban housing compounds and downtown as well. I don't have children so I can't say which schools are better.

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

Depends - but foreign goods are imported, and will be quite expensive. If you have a maid, you can have her buy food at local markets, which will be much cheaper than buying food at the international supermarkets.

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

A car.

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

All major U.S. fast food chains are available, however, why would you want to eat that when you could eat delicious Thai food for about half the cost. Cost for meal at McDonald's is comparable, if not slightly cheaper than the U.S.

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

I had a mosquito problem in my condo, but that was also largely because I lived on a low floor. Other than that, the usual developing world insect problems: cockroaches and what not. Bangkok is, however, a fairly developed city, for the most part you won't be overwhelmed with biblical plagues of insects.

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Daily Life:

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

U.S. Embassy personnel use the APO and/or diplomatic pouch.

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

Abundant, and prices very. I paid 2500THB (about US$75) every two weeks for twice a week/8 hours each time. My housekeeper was very good, and spoke English relatively well. You can find service for cheaper, but the quality will vary. A full time, live-in is probably about US$300-400 a month.

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

Many many. The Embassy has a couple, and every shopping mall has one, but they aren't cheap. The longer term you sign up, the cheaper it gets - however, you have to pay in advance - and that usually means a couple thousands of dollars out of pocket. I want to say the average is about US$50 to 70 a month.

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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?

Credit cards are accepted at many places, however, the more local the vendor, the less likely they will be willing to accept them.

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

I think all major denominations - but I am not sure.

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

You can survive with very little, however, I strongly suggest (if you want to make the most of your time) that you learn as much Thai as possible. I wish I had learned more, and my Thai was so-so. It will also help when you have problem with a taxi driver, or when trying to shop or eat at a local establishment.

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

Yes, extremely. That's all I can really say, but this is a developing city and there just isn't enough thought going into these types of things.

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Transportation:

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

Yes. Long distance buses can be dangerous only because of accidents, but otherwise they are safe. Taxis are safe, but unscrupulous drivers will refuse to use the meter - arguing with them at the wrong time of day (say at night) can result in a serious altercation. Again, please see comment above: Thailand has some of the highest road fatality rates in the world.

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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?

Thailand is right hand drive (British style), but you can bring a left hand drive automobile if you choose. Most major brands have dealers, however, U.S. manufacturers' models are not the same as the models sold in the U.S.; and thus, if you bring a U.S. spec American car you may have problems obtaining parts. With that said, I know many people who did have U.S. spec American cars and didn't have any problems. My colleague had a BMW that wasn't sold in BMW, and the BMW dealers in Bangkok refused to work on it. Roads are generally ok, and you'll be fine with a sedan for the most part. If you plan on exploring the real countryside then you may want to consider bringing a SUV.

There are plenty of used automobiles available on the local (diplomatic community) market. Driving in Bangkok can be crazy, but I have seen worse (China, Cambodia etc.). Traffic in Bangkok is very very bad though, and if it rains it can take hours. Note: Thailand has some of the highest road fatality rate sin the world - this may affect the type of vehicle you choose to bring.

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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, but the quality varies, and I don't think it's that great overall. I paid about US$30 a 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?

There are three major local carriers: AIS, TRUE, DTAC. All are relatively the same - AIS has the widest national cellular coverage, but TRUE's data service seems to be better in Bangkok. Everyone says DTAC isn't good, but I had friends that used it and seemed happy. You may purchase a post paid plan for about US$30 a month.

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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. I am not sure how good the vets are, but there are definitely many.

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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 so much, but it depends on the skill set. If people have any experience working for major NGOs then it will be better. The U.S. Mission has a fairly wide array of jobs for family members.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Many - elephants, HIV charities, orphanages, street dogs, etc.

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

Pretty relaxed, but usually a button down shirt and slacks for men, woman would generally be expected to wear a blouse and a skirt.

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Health & Safety:

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

For a large, developing city Bangkok is very safe. There is the occasional violent crime that one may read about in a local newspaper, but in general most of the crime is opportunistic, and more of a nuisance than a threat. Scams, of course, are prevalent, but once one lives in the city, one learns what areas of the city scams are common in and what the usual scams are.

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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?

Thai hospitals are for the most part very good. Thailand is a medical tourism destination after all, and Thai hospitals cater to these types of tourists. With that said, medical care isn't necessarily cheap. If you are associated with the U.S. Embassy and need medical assistance, they will pay for your hospitalization, and get reimbursed from your insurance provider later. If you don't have medical insurance, and want to go to a good hospital then you will have to pay out of pocket which can be expensive. I suggest purchasing medical insurance that will cover you during your time in Thailand, so as to ensure that you have access to the best medical care in the country.

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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?

Unhealthy. I was surprised actually how bad it could be. Probably akin to Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s (or maybe even now). The air would often clean up after a heavy rain but there were days when visibility was very bad.

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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, hotter, and really really hot. Between late December and early February the temperature can be comfortable - in the 70s F (20s Centigrade) and not too humid. However, the rest of the year it is pretty humid with the average daytime temperatures in the 80s to low 90s (hottest time of the year is from March to July). rom June to November it rains a lot, and the rain comes down in buckets, often resulting in massively flooded streets. The upside is that it rarely rains all day with no shower lasting more than 30-60 minutes.

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Schools & Children:

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

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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?

Many.

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Expat Life:

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

Massive (the U.S. Embassy alone is over 400 direct-hire employees) and very very good. I have met few expats who didn't love Bangkok. They practically had to drag me kicking and screaming to the airport.

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

Go to bars, leave Bangkok on the weekend, go to one of thousands of night clubs, go to house parties, run around some of the parks, go shopping - go to more bars and nightclubs. Social life really isn't a problem.

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

Yes - some Western spouses complain about the city but most people find end up loving Bangkok. It's perfect for singles, very good for couples, and families generally enjoy the city as well.

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

Haha, that's like asking if bees make honey. Don't expect gay pride parades, they tried that for a while, but it didn't really catch on. With that said, gay life is vibrant in the city. There are gay bars, clubs, ladyboys, etc. Thai culture, however, is still relatively conservative, and many Thai men and woman cannot tell their families about their true nature. his is contrary to the impression that most foreigners have regarding Thai culture, in that they think that Thais are accepting of everything. This is definitely not true - Thai people have more of a "as long as it isn't in my house" attitude. In other words, they will never openly judge you about your "lifestyle," but if you are their son or daughter, then you better not be "one of them." This isn't the case for every Thai family, but it isn't uncommon to find (especially among men) Thais married to people of the opposite sex for appearances only. In summary: an openly gay foreigner will have absolutely no problems meeting friends, developing relationships, in Thailand. Note: Thailand has one of the highest HIV rates among men who sleep with men in the world.

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

Generally, no.

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

Eating the local food, traveling around the country, spending time on the beach, enjoying the always busy nightlife, taking in the local culture, learning to be more patient and understanding, and never having to wear cold whether clothing. Oh, and of course the fantastic shopping - especially the "Weekend Market" and Terminal 21.

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

So many I can't begin - one thing I would definitely suggest for everyone to do at some point, maybe when one has visitors, or when one is about to leave is to go to a place called "Deck Bar" that overlooks the Temple of Dawn which is beautifully illuminated at night. I did this my last night, which made it all the more meaningful, but I wish I had gone to this place before - it truly was magnificent.

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

Tons of art, clothes, silk, suits, gems - just about everything. NOTE: Exporting Buddha images from Thailand requires special permission, and if you purchase a lot of Buddha images, you will have a lot of bureaucratic paperwork to fill out when departing Thailand (and also pay a fee of about US$100 to a moving company to have them taken to the appropriate Thai Ministry to be examined).

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

Numerous. Numerous. If you truly like Thai food, and can eat like the locals (on the street, in local establishments, etc.), then the cost of living is super cheap. Bangkok is truly an up and coming (if it hasn't already arrived) world city. People always that New York City never sleeps, however, the true is the same of Bangkok. No matter what day of the week it is, there are always people out, and many bars and clubs will be packed to the brim even during the week.

Outside of Bangkok there are unlimited exploration opportunities throughout the country. From the islands in the south and in the Gulf of Thailand; to the less traveled Northeast "Isan" Region; to the northern border next to Burma - the truly adventurous will never run out of places to see and explore. I only wish I had had more time to explore the country.

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10. Can you save money?

Depends - yes if you don't go out a lot, and don't travel too much, and don't eat at expensive restaurants then yes. But going out and traveling are some of the greatest aspects of Bangkok and Thailand. Thailand is definitely not expensive, but it's getting more and more expensive, so it just depends on what type of lifestyle you want to live. I chose to enjoy myself.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I had been there many times before so I knew what to expect.

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

Without thinking twice... I would live there forever if I could.

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

Winter clothes, bad attitude, and intolerance for bad traffic and heat.

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4. But don't forget your:

Good attitude, open-mindedness, and tolerance for spicy food. Oh, and umbrellas and shorts.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Bangkok Dangerous [Blu-ray]
- ridiculous, but shows a lot of Bangkok.


The Hangover Part II
- again, not at all realistic, but shows many of Bangkok's more famous areas.

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

The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej - illegal in Thailand - do not bring the book to Thailand, or discuss the book with Thai people;

"Thailand's Era of Insanity" (online article, use google) by Andrew MacGregor Marshall - do not discuss with Thai people - however, last time I checked, Thai censors had not yet blocked it in Thailand.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Thailand will be one of the greatest experiences of your life if you allow it to be. Be respectful, and adventurous, and you will have a fantastic time in their Kingdom.

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Bangkok, Thailand 05/05/14

Background:

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

No, also lived in Tokyo for 4 years.

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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?

Mid-west, USA. 6 hours to Japan and another 14 to home (be it Mid-West or DC). Alternatives are to fly through China and Korea; or via Dubai through Europe.

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3. How long have you lived here?

For 2 years.

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

Embassy.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

For the embassy community there are two options: downtown in an apartment (most are high-rises around the Sukhumvit or Sathorn areas); or outside the city in a suburb called Nichada where the ISB school is located. The Nichada community, I've been told, is like living in a country club community with golf carts, minus the golf course. Downtown is lively, with the fantastic sky train systerm getting you to most key points in the downtown area, and a large number of nursery, preschool, primary and secondary schools abound.

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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 several "international grocery stores" in the downtown area that are the same cost as any high-real estate location market (think Whole Foods prices for Safeway products). As an embassy employee you may have access to a small commissary at post and/or order through APO.

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

Paper towels. A car (or get one soon after moving here - solely for excursions on the weekend). Sunscreen (it is expensive here).

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

Lots of decent restaurants everywhere and lots of fast food (vendors on every open space on the street). American fast food is also available in any of the many malls and elsewhere. Costs range from US$1 to US$10/person.

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

Mosquitos.

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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?

It's a bit tricky. There is some wonderful helpers and we have a very good experience personally. That said there are issues. Most helpers are either Thai (often low English skill) or Burmese (higher English skill, but discriminated against in Thai society and you have to ensure they are legal and valid with their visa to live and work here). There are also Filipinas but they are often considered to be the most expensive due to their experience, skill and language. But like Burmese, you have to ensure they have a visa and are legal to work. The Burmese are considered cheaper in rates, though more and more, this seems to not be the case. Costs range from US$400 to US$700 (though I've only heard rumors that costs are as high as US$700). Many people with more than one child will have two helpers - a nanny and a house keeper. There is a lot of demand for quality helpers, so it can be difficult to keep a great helper and / or there will be fierce competition.

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

Many of the apartments have workout facilities; plus there are gyms downtown throughout. No idea for cost.

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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?

Generally, safe.

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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 good set of "Taxi thai" phrases will get you far - enough to get you home at least. Beyond that, the language is very difficult and many, many expats know very little. Those who know more can perhaps explore off the beaten path more easily and more often.

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

Yes and no. While a wheelchair would be challenging to get around the city, there are many opportunities and options that would enable someone to live a very exciting life here anyway. Other types of disabilities... Bangkok is a big city that has some very sophisticated options. Anyone could make it work. Plus there are amazing medical facilities here that might be useful.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are generally safe, though some caution and "street smarts" are sometimes required. They all have meters and are supposed to use them; but many love to roll down their window and throw out some arbitray cost to you if you are in the tourist areas. Usually by the third taxi you flag down, you will find your gem and have a very pleasant, metered cheap taxi ride to wherever you need to go.

The sky train here is fantastic! As is the subway. If only there was more of it!

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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?

This is a left-side drive country. You can bring your American car but it will take some getting used to. Very large vehicles seem to be a problem, though possible. No carjackings. Generally speaking, your car will be considered average and suitable if it is a medium size 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?

Yes. About US$25/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?

Get one here. Very cheap to have a phone here and generally very reliable.

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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?

For embassy family members, no, as there is no bilateral work agreement and we are not supposed to work on the local economy. If we do, we must have the sponsoring company secure our work visa. If you have a teaching background there should be opportunities. UN offices and opportunities in the region. Beyond that, volunteer.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Lots.

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

Very similar to what you may find in DC in the summer months - from the tacky to the very hot business blue suit and tie.

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Health & Safety:

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

Generally, no. We've lived here during the recent political protests and blockades. The stress of expecting violence took its toll but the actual violence was very minimal and specific to the protests. We easily learned to "walk around it" (literally, at times). Day-to-day safety is very comfortable and in fact, one can feel a bit over-confident in the safety situation. As an expat and because of where we live, we are limited to typical street crime. I am comfortable to go out alone or in small groups, take taxis, and use the public skytrain systerm. However, our Thai helper expresses concern related to 1) not wearing gold or flashy jewelry at night; 2) never taking a taxi at night alone; and 3) walking with friends.

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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?

Excellent medical options here. And affordable. Concerns include dengue.

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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. Very few days have been "bad days." Similar to what you could expect in summer time in DC or other big American cities on hot humid days.

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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. Humid. With a couple months of blissful "cool" (November-January). And when they say "hot months," it is really, really, really hot. But the city is full of air-conditioned spaces and so more often than not you're wearing a scarf to stay warm when indoors.

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Schools & Children:

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

A lot. All have pluses and minuses but are generally well respected. My child is still in a preschool.

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

I don't have direct experience with this but can say that I know of several families who have. I have been told that some are very open to "shadows" in their classrooms, others are not. I understand that parents have to work very hard to coordinate special needs but that there are resources and options here.

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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?

Yes. Costs vary as does quality but there are lots of options. Costs range from US$1500/term (12 weeks) to US$15,000/term! But you do NOT always get what you pay for so it is worth exploring the different options, ask for recommendations and most importantly: choose a school that is easy to get to for you and your child! Location is everything here.

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

Yes, at schools, private lessons, and businesses. There are great swimming classes, tennis, soccer/football, basketball camps, baseball (I think only at ISB), and dance.

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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 large and, generally, very good.

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

Food. Dance. Drink. And more food. Everything revolves around food here. There are also many meet-ups and groups that gather for book clubs, etc.

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

Great city for families, though it may take a bit of time to adjust (especially for the parents of small children). This is not a very stroller-friendly city, but a baby carrier and/or an umbrella stroller will get you far. Older teens love it (what I'm told); younger kids love the numerous activities. Lots of interesting family trips to take.

I suspect this could be a fun place as a couple without kids. And I think it may be a challenging place for single women.

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

As an expat female, no direct problems. But watching the old slimey men grab on the (often very) young Thai women in the streets is very frustrating and takes a toll. While there are problems between the majority-Muslim South and the majority-Buddhist North, you don't see such problems on the surface in a day-to-day environmnet in the city of Bangkok.

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

The food, the beaches, the expat community is large and diverse and very social. The Thai smile (most of the times).

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

Eat. Eat. Eat. And travel - beaches, mountains, theme parks, wats (temples). There is no end to the list of gems here.

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

Furniture! Art work. Clothing from local designers.

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

There are many, many wonderful places to visit as a tourist both around Thailand and the region (Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar).

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9. Can you save money?

Not at all. Not even close.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

It would take a while to adjust. Longer than I had expected. And keep things close. Really close. Even the difference of a few kilometers can mean a 5 minute versus 50 minute commute at times. And try to relax.

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

Yes.

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

Furniture. Come and shop!

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4. But don't forget your:

Your summer clothes, camera, and patience. Also, bring a few wintery things so you can take trip on a direct flight from Bangkok to Hokkaido and go skiing.

Bangkok is a very urban sophisticate city but Thailand is still a country that is developing. Don't forget the latter, despite all the glitter.

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

The The King Never Smiles: A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej (though it is banned in the country so delete it from your Kindle/iPad before arriving!). Not fantastically written and gets a bit boring as it begins to discuss current affairs. But the first 2/3rd is interesting.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The King and I
- also banned apparently.

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Bangkok, Thailand 10/02/13

Background:

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

Not the first.

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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?

D.C., about 24 hours. Flights depart BKK at midnight or 6 AM.

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3. How long have you lived here?

A little over two years.

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

U.S. 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?

Lots of high-rise apartments with common areas (pool, playground, gym, tennis courts, basketball court). Houses in Nichada Thani are large but have very thin yards and old playgrounds from what I saw, and the commute is long.

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

Anything packaged and imported is much more than at home, but many vegetables and herbs do seem to be cheaper. I can find just about anything I can think of (imported) at Villa.

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

Baby items (carseats, strollers, toys, etc.) are all double or triple the price here new. The same goes for children's toys, clothing, etc.

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

All kinds and all ranges of price. Indian food and Korean food are expensive and not as good as in Northern Virginia. Street food is maybe the most overrated thing about Bangkok. Once you start noticing the rats, lack of running water near the carts--people washing street cart dishes in filthy park ponds, lack of refrigeration, and car exhaust piling onto the Bangkok street food, you kind of wonder why everyone isn't dropping dead from eating it.

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

We live in a high-rise and have persistent tiny ants. I have only seen a few of the large cockroaches in our building, but the buildings spray cloudy billowing pesticides into gutters and public areas regularly. You will see rats on the streets during the day and night if you start to look for them.

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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?

We pay US$435/month for full-time, 8 hours/day. Lots of help is available, but this is a huge expat community, so if someone is a terrible employee and gets fired, they can easily get hired again.

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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?

Seems safe so far to us--no problems with it.

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

It would be very hard unless they had a car and driver take them everywhere, and then it really might not be that bad.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis seem safe during the day and are so affordable. The Skytrain also is very safe and cheap.

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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?

We have a CRV and it's about as big of a car as I would want to drive. The roads are a little narrow and parking spots are narrow and you often have to squeeze into parking garage spots where an extra row of cars is parked in the middle.

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Health & Safety:

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

Motorcycle purse snatching is the main one, but I think it's also important to be very cautious about taxis at night--the drivers tend to be quite normal during the day, but are more likely to be drunk or on drugs at night.

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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?

Great hospitals.

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

So hot--don't underestimate the effect the constant heat will have on your life. They say you get used to it, but I think you really get used to always finding shade to walk in and not going outside between 10AM and 6PM if you can help it. If you have small children, it means you will be indoors or at the pool a lot.

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Schools & Children:

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

I believe there are several schools that will help with this. It shouldn't be a problem in Bangkok.

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2. 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?

Many, many preschools. Don't trust other expats when they tell you about their child's great preschool--go spend several hours there yourself and see how the teacher your child will have treats the students. Many of the preschool teachers are young women who want to party for a couple of years in Thailand, many of the Thai assistants are older women who look burned out and like they are there for a paycheck.

Some of the classrooms and playgrounds in quite expensive preschools are atrociously maintained with safety issues and very little for the children to do. There are a few truly great preschools, but you must search for them. Also, prepare to pay much more than in the U.S.

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

Yes, lots. Lots of swimming instruction and pool time to be had, but also soccer, gymnastics, everything.

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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 expat community. Many people love it here. Many people find the traffic, noise, heat, distance from nature, lack of community to be challenging. Also, a huge expat community means that people aren't as friendly as they might be at a smaller post.

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

Yes, however, I must say this because all the other Bangkok post reports are so frustratingly GLOWING, I found this to be a really hard city to live in with small children who weren't in school yet. The sidewalks are terrible or nonexistent, so once your child is beyond a weight where you can carry him everywhere (or if you have two or three children), you are really stuck taking taxis or driving everywhere--a 2, 3, or 4 year old can't walk far in the heat, and my children tended to have meltdowns any time we were out in the heat for long. We've spent a lot of time inside, and every expat family I talk to in Bangkok yearns for nature and green space and outside time. This would be a very easy city to live in as a couple or a single person.

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

Spending December in Chiang Mai--so beautiful and such perfect weather.

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

For children there are fantastic indoor play areas: Funarium, Playtime, Molly Fantasy, Kidzania, YoYoLand, and also Oceanworld aquarium and many places to go ice skating. In December or January when it's slightly cooler you can go to Dusit Zoo or Rama 9 park.

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

Summer all year, inexpensive household help, fruits that are in season all year, nice indoor play areas for children, cheap taxis, and the city feels quite safe.

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6. Can you save money?

Yes, although the high cost of preschool took a big bite out of our savings. The only really inexpensive things here are taxis and household help. Everything else we would want is priced for expats and wealthy Thais.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

I wish I had known that living in the "nanny belt" means that playgrounds, playgroups, play areas, and anywhere else you might take a young child during the day are full of little Western children and their Thai nannies. It's been really hard to meet other mothers here.

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

Really not sure. Probably?

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

Good haircuts and highlights.

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4. But don't forget your:

Deep breathing exercises so you can use them while driving.

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5. Do you have any other comments?

If you have small children and have never lived this far from home, you must think about the travel time and the jet lag time and remember that the jet lag is compounded because you won't get to sleep for any of the 30+ hours of travel and plane time. Jet lag is a different beast once you have two or more children and they can take turns keeping you awake for a week or more. If you have an awesome family who will come to visit you, though, then that doesn't matter as much.

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Bangkok, Thailand 07/23/13

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

Virginia- Maryland-Nerita-Bangkok.

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3. How long have you lived here?

We have been living in downtown Bangkok for one year.

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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?

Majority of the community live downtown, but some also live outside in the Nichada Thani. Described as a country club neighborhood, Nichada is quite a commute from bangkok, but those who move there rarely leave as it contains everything you could possibly need. An American school, malls, Starbucks, salons, etc. Residences downtown are mostly spacious apartments, spread throughout the city.

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

Afforable, and most american products are available, though a little more expensive.

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

You can get just about anything here,

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

All of them. And most of them deliver!

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

Mosquitos pose a big danger. Even in the city, dengue is a problem. Malaria as well.
Cockroaches are a given-although you will not encounter them too often in the high-rise apartments. We are ground level, so we can't leave ANY food out.

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Daily Life:

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

APO is reliable, and very quick. Christmas orders came in with 10 days.

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

A full-time nanny/housekeeper/cook can cost only US$300-500 a month. Most people hire at least part-time help.

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

Yes-all types you could imagine.

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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?

Cash is king here, but you can find an ATM or exchange anywhere.

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

Mostly multi-denominational churches.

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

Yes.

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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-most people speak a bit of English or you can communicate by pointing and smiling.

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

This is a terrible city to live in if you have disabilities. There are no handicap guidelines, sidewalks are a mess!

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Transportation:

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

Mostly, and taxis and trains are VERY afforable. You can hire drivers for the day for VERY cheap.

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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?

Small SUV's and sedans are fine. Roads are pretty good.

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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.

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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?

True is good.

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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)?

So-so. Veterinary care is VERY good though.

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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?

NO! Thai wages are far lower than we are accustomed to.

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

Reasonable, taking into account the heat. You must cover shoulders and legs when you enter a temple. But everywhere else, anything goes.

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Health & Safety:

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

Frequent protests occur downtown. While they are usually peaceful, they can get large, and in past years there have been several eruptions of violence so awareness is important. Pickpockets and motorcyle thieves are also a frequent occurrence-bags have to be slung across the chest or you are an easy target. The main areas of Bangkok are pretty safe, however, there are many issues such as drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc.

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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?

Health care is efficient and inexpensive, but you usually have to pay up front for services.

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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, but with it being so easy to get out of the city on weekends, it doesn't bother us much. We ride bikes and run outdoors, when the temperatures aren't too high.

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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 hot and hot! When you get here you must learn to move more slowly or you will perspire like crazy! In the 'winter' the weather can be gorgeous, but it is a fleeting period. The green season is rainy every day, but mostly mixed with sunshine as well. You just need to carry an umbrella with you most of the time, to protect yourself from the sudden downpours AND direct sun.

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Schools & Children:

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

Excellent variety-several schools that offer special needs education, and a bevy of different curriculums, whether British, American, Chinese...

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

The three or four main English-speaking schools are fully booked and frequently waitlist children, and do not have adequate accommodations for most special needs students. The Village and Rose Marie Academy offer a spectrum of programs for those kids, and their parents have been very pleased with them.

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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?

Meh. Mixed reviews on the daycares-daycare providers are not as skilled or qualified as in the U.S., but they aren't terrible. Given the variety of playgroups and associations available, I find preschools unneccesary. Its a better value to hire a competent nanny so you are more aware of who is tending to your child. Daycares are not regulated very closely, so its up to your comfort level.

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

Again, anything they could desire!

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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 large-Bangkok is a melting pot, filled with multi-national companies and embassies.

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

I could go on and on about this-there is something for everyone here.

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3. Morale among expats:

Very high-most people don't want to leave!

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

Great city for families and couples-there is nightlife suited to anyone's interests, and always a LOT to do. Singles can have a great time, especially men. Single women, however, may encounter a different experience if they are hoping to date here.

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

Most of the time. Lesbian expats have been disappointed in the dating scene here as well.

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

Yes. We have witnessed racism time and time again. Men are treated like kings here as well-single or married they are pursued, it makes little difference. Women often complain that they feel invisible, but are not harassed.

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

Having an all-in-one domestic helper who speaks English and Thai. Weekend adventures to Hua Hin, Parks, and Krabi. The Wats are gorgeous in the city-you MUST walk to the top of Wat Saket and take in the view. Songkran Festival is amazing fun-thai's have a great sense of "sanuk" or fun, and celebrate almost everything.

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

Water parks, and indoor aquarium, malls malls and more malls, outdoor markets like Asiatique and Chatuchak, canal tours, amazing nightlife, fantastic restaurants, rooftop bars, 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?

Thai silk, teak furniture and decor, coconut oils, wood carvings, Benjarong pottery, custom suits and dresses

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

1. Food and services are very cheap. A typical date night could cost you as little as US$40 and include a 1-hr foot massage! Street food is affordable, delicious, and with a little common sense, safe to eat. 2. Culture- Thais are kind and gracious hosts. They adore children. 3. Souvenirs and shopping are incredible. Even furniture is quite afforable. 4. Vacations- an island retreat on one of the most beautiful beaches on earth can cost as little as US$60 a night. Beaches are just 45 mins to 4 hr drive away, depending on whether you prefer nightlife, or peace and serenity.

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11. Can you save money?

You could. But Bangkok is a great point to explore se asia from, so most people spend their extra money on trips to Angkor Wat, Luang Prabang, Vietname, the Thai islands, etc.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes!

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

110V appliances. Coffeemaker. Winter coats.

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3. But don't forget your:

Beach gear, comfortable walking shoes, sense of humor.

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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, 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. 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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3. Morale among expats:

Very high.

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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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Bangkok, Thailand 07/05/12

Background:

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

Yes.

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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?

New York, about 20-24 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Fours years.

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

Corporate.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Apartments in the city, houses outside the city.

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

If you eat like a Thai, it will be cheap. If you can't do without maple syrup, you'll pay through the nose.

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

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

Whatever you want.

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

Mosquitoes, but not too bad. Just use coils and wear insect repellant when you're outside at night.

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Daily Life:

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

Thai Post is okay.

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

Very reasonable and good.

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

Yes, lots from workout palaces to amazing sporting clubs like RBSC to racket clubs and the like.

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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?

Don't use credit/debit card at local shops. Use it for brand name hotels, brand name stores, etc. I typically use cash.

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

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

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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?

They speak a lot of English here, but a little Thai goes a long way.

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

Lots. It is not a wheelchair-friendly city.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, BTS and Metro are brilliant. There is an extensive bus and boat system. Taxis are cheap and air conditioned, if a little small.

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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?

Locally made brands likeToyota, Mitsubishi and Honda are cheaper, but more than you'd pay in the US.

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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?

OK, but slow speeds.

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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?

Local calling plans are quite cheap. I use True. My wife uses AIS.

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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)?

Many vets here. We use Thonglor Pet Hospital.

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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?

It depends. Thai immigration can be a bit touchy. Working while here on a spouse's visa can be hard to do.

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

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Health & Safety:

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

It is a very safe city.

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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?

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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?

You definitely notice it, but it is so much better than China.

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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 wet June-November, Amazing December-Early Feb. Hotter than the face of the sun during March, April and part of May.

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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 am writing this as we leave Bangkok. I have contributed to talesmag before. My children go to NIST. We are very sad to be leaving the school. It has been a terrific place for both of my kids. We love the IB curriculum and the quality of the teachers has been excellent. The school offers a multitude of wonderful after school activities -- from swimming, gymnastics, and basketball to cooking, singing, and robotics. They also have a good instrumental music program.

The school has a very diverse student body. There are students from many different backgrounds -- Thais, embassy staff from all over the world, NGO staff families, UN and corporate families. This diversity is a plus, but there seems to be some tension between international parents who love the IB and some of the Thai families who like the success the school achieves with students in terms of college admissions, but don't quite get the IB. They would like to see an even better admission records at top universities -- our kids do get into Ivies and Public Ivies and top universities in the UK and Australia, but it is not at the rate that some would like to see. The college guidance department would rather see kids get into a school that would be a good match for them, rather than chasing a brand. The school has excellent leadership and it remains one of the best IB schools in the world, but I fear that there is pressure for the school to become more of a college admissions "powerhouse".

What parents don't always understand that none of the schools in Bangkok are selective in the admissions process. If there is space and the parents can pay the tuition, the kids can typically matriculate at any of the private schools here. If you're looking for an elite private school, you will not find it at NIST or at any of the private schools in Bangkok (anyone who says anything different is being very disingenuous). Having said that, the curriculum you will find at NIST is the best I have ever seen in my 17 years of teaching at elite private schools in the US. They take the kids who come in that front door and do an amazing job with them. They are encouraged to think and question and be inspired. Students will be engaged at a level which challenges them. When I look at how my 7 and 4 year are thriving, I am blown away. They love school and they love to learn, something they take with them outside the classroom. The kids are pushed and stretched intellectually, not drilled and killed.

NIST is not the only game in town. Bangkok is blessed with many excellent schools. Among them are ISB (American), Pattana (British), Ruamrudee (Catholic), KIS (IB) and Harrow (British). I am familiar with parents and students from all of these schools and they all offer a a good to excellent quality education. The most international, other than NIST, are ISB and Pattana. Your school choice will be a combination of two things, location and curriculum. NIST is in the city center. ISB is in the Northern suburbs, Pattana is East of the city, and the other schools are also outside of the city center.

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

It varies by school, but I know that Ruamrudee has a good program for special-needs kids. Students in this program must pay a supplement.

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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?

ELC is an excellent choice, as is the Australian school, but there are numerous choices and they're not cheap!

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

Yes, great soccer (Can u kick it, Brazilian Soccer school) and basketball programs (top flight, BJBL, gym rats). There is little league baseball out at ISB.

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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:

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?

Lots and lots.

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

Excellent for all!

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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?

Thais tend to be very open. There is more a sense of class discrimination, rather than racial discrimination.

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

We have enjoyed becoming a part of our school community and meeting lots of terrific people. We have gone on amazing vacations -- lots of great snorkeling and beach time!

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

Too many to list.

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

View All Answers


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

Too many to list: friendly people, large expat community, great shopping bars and restaurants, easy and short trips to the beach.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, but you can also spend it easily if you're not careful.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Absolutely! I hope we get to come back!

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

down jacket.

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3. But don't forget your:

sunscreen, hat and sunglasses.

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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?

Any novel by John Burdett

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6. Do you have any other comments?

I would say that this is probably one of the most livable cities in Asia. Once you get used to the buzz, it is an amazing place to live.

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Bangkok, Thailand 10/04/11

Background:

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

First expat experience.

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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?

Washington, DC: It can take as little as 25 hours if you time the flights right, but can also take much longer if you want a good price. Best price I've seen since we've been here about $1000 round trip and usually around $1500.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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

Spouse of US Foreign Service 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?

We are in embassy housing- a large, 3-bedroom apartment close to public transportation. Our building has a small but fine gym, a tennis court, basketball court, a small soccer area, a pool, a playground, and an open area for leisure. We find it very comfortable. In the city, everyone has apartments. Families often choose to live in a gated community outside the city -- which I hear is very nice but has an awful commute.

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

You can find anything, but the prices can be much higher.

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

You can find anything here, but you will pay more for it, so we wish we had shipped many more non perishable things and paper products so that we could have stocked up at Costco. Also, sheets are very expensive here,so you may want to bring those. Buy extra long sheets for the twin beds, the size is a little different.

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

Everything! You can eat Thai food for under $2, but expect to pay US prices when you want a US fine dining experience.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

I am not that familiar with these, but I did have vegan friends who made it work here. There are several vegetarian restaurants and they had the embasssy store stock some vegan things.

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

They tell you to be careful of Dengue from mosquitoes, but it is not too much of a problem in the city.

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Daily Life:

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

Embassy mail

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

We have a maid 4 half days a week and its $230 a month.

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

Most apartment buildings have small gyms. There are a ton of gyms you can join but they can be a little pricey $50-$100 a month.

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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?

They warn you not, too, but we have used them at reputable seeming places and been fine.

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

We go to a great Catholic church with many masses in English. All of our friends who want to go to church have found churches they like.

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

Our TV/internet package is $100 a month and we have several English channels that get the latest shows from US, Australia, and UK. Bangkok Post is English language and pretty good.

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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?

For daily living you can get by without it, but as in most places it would be really nice to know some for true ease of living.

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

Many. The sidewalks and buildings are not equipped for any handicaps.

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Transportation:

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

The skytrain and underground train are great! Taxis are safe and good as well. We've only taken long term buses to the beach and they were fine.

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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 really need a car here. We don't have one. Taxis are very cheap and public transport is very good. If you like to drive out of the city often, it may be useful. Any car will do, but they do drive on the left side.

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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?

$100 for TV and Internet- the internet is a little slow, but not bad.

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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?

Cheap, easy to buy and add a sim card to.

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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?

For teachers- tons. Otherwise it seems to be hard.

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

Thais dress to impress and I found myself dressing a little more when going out of the house. Nothing crazy though.

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Health & Safety:

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

There have been some purse-snatching and pick-pocketing incidents. Otherwise, Thailand is extremely safe, and I feel safer here than in DC.

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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?

Medical care is amazing. The hospitals are luxurious.

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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?

People say it isn't good, but I haven't had a problem.

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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 rainy from June- November, a little milder Nov- Feb, HOT March- May.

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Schools & Children:

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

We do not have children, but I am a teacher and found a lot of great options for schools here. They are cutting edge and there are several higly competetive schools. If you want to live in the city, make sure you consider the options for school in the city: NIST, KIS, Patana, etc which are great schools, just not affiliated with the embassy.

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

I don't think there is a ton in Bangkok, but I do know a couple of families that have found a plan that works.

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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?

There seems to be a ton available, but I would be careful about making sure they are child-appropriate.

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

At my school there are. I don't know much else!

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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:

generally great. Some people have a hard time finding their niche because it is so big.

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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?

Anything you want to do is pretty much available. People say that everyone entertains much less in their homes here because there is so much to do.

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

I think its really great for everyone. Unless you are a family who wants a house and yard as well as a short commute. There is a ton to do in the city, and I know many happy singles, couples, and families. If you do not like a busy, bustling city, it may also not be for you.

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

From what I hear and see, Bangkok is very gay friendly.

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

I did have one black friend who had a hard time. Like many places in the world Thais aim to be lighter skinned and use bleach, etc.

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

Going to the beach, the luxurious and fairly inexpensive movies, wide variety of restaurants, large expat community.

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

Tons: restaurants, movies, shows, anything you can think of really. Outside the city, you can travel cheaply to beaches and countryside. To have nice accomodations, though, you will pay more. If you are happy with a cold shower and no A/C you can go anywhere for next to nothing.

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

The markets have tons of great finds.

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

The proximity to other countries to visit, great beaches, nice people, availability of all conviences you want.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you really try or have a double income.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Definitely.

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

winter clothes

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3. But don't forget your:

summer clothes! Unless you are petite, you will have a hard time shopping here.

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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 have any other comments?

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Bangkok, Thailand 08/05/11

Background:

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

Yes. After finishing university, this was my first real job.

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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?

My home base in in the North West of England. It takes approximately 15 hours to fly from Manchester to Bangkok. The best flight deals are from Etihad and Jet Airways.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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

I work as a teacher.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

I live in a condo close to the city centre. It costs me $220 a month. Not bad considering it has a swimmiing pool, gym, 24-hour security, shop, table tennis, and basketball court. Accommodations in Thailand are very cheap.

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

Cheaper than in the west.

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

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

Fast food is widely available. MacDonald's, KFC, and Burger King are all found here. Thailand has a huge food culture. Decent restaurants from every area of the world are available, but, when in Rome, eat Thai food.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

A lot of vegetarian food is available. With such a high number of people of Chinese descent, things like tofu are widely used.

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

Some friends have complained about cockroaches. Personally, I can't remember the last time I saw one. No problems with any insects.

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Daily Life:

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

Sent to my condo.

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

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

On every street corner! They are widely available.

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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?

No problems.

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

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

Bangkok Post and The Nation. Passable newspapers and TV are available but quite expensive for decent English channels.

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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?

Very little. Thais appreciate you learning, but I know people out here who can survive using no Thai whatsoever.

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

I imagine it would be very difficult. This is not a mobility-friendly city.

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Transportation:

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

Yes, both safe and very affordable. Taxi-bikes can leave you a little worried, but not enough to stop me from using them!

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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?

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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, at approximately $20-25 a 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?

AIS has a good network.

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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?

Teaching seems to be the ideal way to start out here. With a base in the city, you can start to look for other areas of work. Wages won't be as high as in the west, but you can afford so much more and have a far better time with your money. I consider it a perfect recession getaway!

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

Shirt and tie are standard. I don't think many places expect you to wear a jacket.

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Health & Safety:

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

Far safer than anywhere in the West, as long as you don't act like a total moron to the locals.

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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?

Private healthcare through BUPA is reasonable.

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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?

Not sure really. I would assume it is probably not very good but I have never studied it. I wouldn't want to stand by a busy Bangkok road for too long.

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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?

Three seasons: -Hot - Between 30 and 40 degrees. Rainy - Just as hot but with added rain showers. Cold - Between 25 and 30 degrees.

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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 sometimes teach International students at my language school. They are mostly very intelligent, polite and courteous. Usually the children speak quite highly of their teachers.

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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?

Throughout Bangkok it is huge. Almost every street will have a few expats.

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2. Morale among expats:

Mostly good. We appreciate Thais for being accommodating and great to live alongside. Unfortunately, some people come here to complain and moan about how Thais can't do anything right. These people, though, can be avoided and ignored.

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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 / Clubs / Parties / Shows (both naughty and clean) / Cinemas / Bowling / All manner of sports to watch and play

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

Bangkok is a very versatile city. There are many activities for every generation. The only people who may find Bangkok difficult are the frail and the elderly. The noise, heat, pollution, and lack of mobility may prove to be an issue.

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

Anything goes in Bangkok.

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

Religion: As far as I can see, there are no problems. Gender: The PM is female, and females are strongly represented throughout most walks of life. No issues, I think. Race: I wouldn't know, really. I have never come across any racial discrimination against westerners. But just as Americans laugh at Canadians, and the English laugh at the Welsh, they love a good laugh at Laotians!

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

Food has been incredible to experience. You never stop learning and I enjoy finding new types of food regularly. Temples - Wat Arun at sunset always sticks in my mind. Ayuthaya is a great place to visit for temples in vast numbers. Golden Mount is an impressive temple with an equally impressive panorama over Bangkok. Beaches - More than you can shake a stick at. See the Lonely Planet

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

Eat, shop, dance, sightsee, see Thai cultural shows.

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

All kinds of tourist tidbits are available at JJ market and throughout the city.

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

Salary - I am on quite a low rung on the teacher salary scale, but even from my gutter position, I can still quite easily afford a very comfortable lifestyle and I do manage to save a little bit each month. Weather - Even when it is cold, it is hot. If you like your weather hot and occasionly chokingly hot, Bangkok is the place for you. Even if you don't like it hot, fierce air con follows you into almost every building. Culture - Every mix of culture is interspersed throughout Bangkok. It is a great way to experience a new culture without losing out on a few home comforts and the safety of quite a large expat community. Food - Thai food is by no standards done credit in your local Thai restaurant back home. It can only be truly appreciated in it's finest form; In Thailand, by the side of a road or in a small restaurant. I write a lifestyle blog which can be read at http://www.bloggingbangkok.blogspot.com/

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, but not substantially.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Definitely. I recommend it to almost everyone!

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

Jumpers, your jackets, and your inhibitions about Bangkok's "sex capital" reputation. Warm clothes you won't need. Seedy areas you can avoid.

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3. But don't forget your:

Long novel to read on the beach, which is only a couple of hours away from Bangkok.

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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 have any other comments?

For further information on Bangkok, please follow my blog at http://www.bloggingbangkok.blogspot.com/

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Bangkok, Thailand 07/19/11

Background:

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

Yes

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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?

Raleigh, NC - 25 hours by plane through Tokyo or Hong Kong and then NYC area to Raleigh.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years

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

US Embassy

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

U.S. Embassy employees live in high rise condos near the Embassy or in stand along houses out in Nichada near the International School of Bangkok. Most people are very happy with the housing as it is modern and comfortable.

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

Western groceries are 1.5 to 2 times more expensive then in the US.Local brands are more reasonable for cost with mostly comparable quality. Availability is plentiful and there are grocery stores everywhere.

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

Say what you want about WalMart, but our APO counts as a home address and shipping diapers and liquid detergent is free or $1 to get from US to here! Otherwise diapers and liquid detergent are 3X what US prices are.

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

Everything you have in the US you have here. McD's, Starbucks, KFC, Baskin Robbins, Burger King, Cinnabon, etc...

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

There are some organic grocery stores around town and the larger grocery stores have organic/veg sections.

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

I see very few bugs here in Bangkok. Perhaps the air pollution kills them off.

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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?

$300 - $500 per month for 5 days per week - 12 hours per day - cooking, cleaning, laundry, babysitting. Some people hire Burmese at cheaper rates, but you get what you pay for.

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

Most apartments have gyms or you can join a local gym like California Wow.

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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?

Lots of ATMs, and credit cards are accepted at most places.

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

Several Catholic, Protestant, and Mormon churches in Bangkok with services in English.

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

Bangkok Post and The Nation are local papers in English. Local TV is mostly in Thai with CNN International, BBC, and a few others in English. I don't know the cost because I use a slingbox, and you should, too!

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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?

A little "taxi thai" will go along way in not getting ripped off (as much), and it makes life much, much easier. And the Thais love it when you can say a few words in their language.

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

No ramps, broken elevators, busted sidewalks - horrible for people with disabilities.

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Transportation:

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

BTS Skytrain, subway, taxis, motorcyles, tuk-tuks, trains, buses - it's all here, cheap, some forms of transport are cheaper than others.

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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?

Roads are very good, and any kind of car will work. Traffic is tough, and gas is expensive ,so keep that in mind.

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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 - 7MB for about $50 per month. Speeds slow down at night.

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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?

Cell phones are available and SIM cards are cheap.

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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?

View All Answers


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?

There must be - all of these expats can't be here only for the red light district.

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

Business to business-casual. I wear a tie most days but no jacket.

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Health & Safety:

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

Very safe with few pickpockets in tourist areas and occasional bag snatching. Violent crime is very rare.

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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?

Medical care is amazing at a fraction of the cost of the US. Very efficient systems with many western-trained docs.

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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?

The rain cleans a lot of the pollution out during the rainy season, but over all the air pollution is a problem for people with sensetive lungs.

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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?

Nov - Feb is mid 80's during the day and can even get to upper 70's at night but dry. Mar - Oct is rainy and hot with daytime temps a humid 90+

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Schools & Children:

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

Our son goes to preschool near the embassy. Cost is $10,000+ per year for 1/2 days at the nicer places.

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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?

View All Answers


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

Yes - at schools or other local groups like BAMBI, Gymboree, or Bangkok Dolphins.

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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:

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?

Unlimited!

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

Excellent for all family types. Plenty to do, but traffic can be brutal especially when its raining and sidewalks double as food cart parking. Plenty of activities in and around town.

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

It's Bangkok - plenty of opportunity and no one cares about your prefernce (gay or straight) unless you're flaunting it. Hand holding and public displays of affection from anyone are frowned upon.

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

Not that I can tell, but some expats who are of darker skin complexions have reported not being treated as well as whites.

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

Snorkeling clear waters near Phuket, street food in Bangkok, cooler weather in the hills near Chiang Mai

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

Grand Palace, Wat Pho, river/klong cruises, mega malls, local markets, Chinatown, Lumpini Park, temples, beaches close by, come on it's Thailand!!

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

Wood carvings, tailored clothes, new plates and bowls

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

Rich culture, incredible food, very safe, friendly people, very reasonable cost of living, amazing beaches only a short flight away, affordable domestic help, excellent medical care

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11. Can you save money?

Yes - even when doing lots of traveling and activities you can save money.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Would I go there...heck, I'd live here if I could.

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

Winter coat and gloves and your copy of "The King Never Smiles"

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3. But don't forget your:

sunglasses and willingness to eat spicy food

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4. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Don't lower your IQ - stay away from Bangkok Dangerous and Hangover II.

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

Lonely Planet Thailand, Very Thai

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Bangkok, Thailand 02/22/11

Background:

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

First expat experience

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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?

Boston, MA. It takes 26-30 hours when all is said and done, depending on carrier and connections.

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3. How long have you lived here?

14 months

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

US Department of State

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Classic decision: to live downtown or in the expat bubble a/k/a Nichada Thani (about 30 minutes on a lucky Sunday to 1.5 hours North of the city depending on traffic!) If you choose city, I've seen some subpar housing, some decent housing, and at least one fantastic apartment near the Embassy. It also depends on your personal priorities and style. Personally, I wish we lived downtown. Many find Nichada to be akin to winning the lottery - it is like a country clubw/ children running about, Starbucks, and mothers in tennis skirts and golf carts. Still, it's compound style living which is not for everyone, folks know your business, and you are a long commute away from the Embassy. Convenient for school if you have kids and wonderful if you have a dog to walk! I also kind of like that we mix it up here. It isn't just officers, for instance. We have every level of Embassy personnel in our little subdivision, Regent, and I quite like that for the most part.

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

You can get most anything here, truly. If you eat Thai, you will save money. Western items are expensive. ACSA has stocking issues at times (waiting for powdered sugar for months), but we're generally happy and use it for occasional indulgences. Best of all, they offer a good wine selection and prices - wine is iffy due to heat, and is expensive here otherwise. You can definitely get your Cap'n Crunch fix if you need it for about $6-$7 a box.

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

If you live at Nichada, you'll have a large house with plenty of space. Bring your barbecue! We didn't but got lucky with a fellow selling one. Bring extra bookshelves, bikes, and sports equipment. We brought very little with us and have purchased a few wonderful items from India up in Chiang Mai. You can have furniture and drapery, etc. made here pretty cheaply.

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

Tons. (McDonald's, KFC, Burger King, Subway, 7-11 everywhere). They'll deliver it to your door, usually hot, though I'll choose Thai over that any day!

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

I think you can find all of that. Eating Thai food would be a win-win all around.

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

It may be different downtown as I think they spray a great deal here in Nichada (possibly better not to ask what they're spraying?), but mosquitoes are definitely an issue. Our neighbor had Dengue, which isn't publicized much, and might not be too common, but it clearly exists. Our kids often have tons of bites up and down their bodies despite our diligence w/ Deet. Get the plug-in frogs at Home Pro - they help.

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Daily Life:

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

USPS, baby. It's wonderful. Right at the embassy.

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

We pay $425 per month for a live-out maid/cook who comes in 5x a week, cooks 3x weekly, walks our dog, etc. She came to our door the day after we arrived, so we took the decadence plunge and she's become a part of our family. (Our house has separate bed/bath quarters outside for live-ins if you prefer.) Most people do have some kind of domestic help arrangement.

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

Yes, folks have many options downtown, and we have the Clark Hatch Club here at Nichada. Many expats run yoga, dance, and boot-camp classes, etc. as well. Also adult swim and running clubs. We ran a marathon at Angkor Wat - fantastic.

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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?

This is a cash culture so get used to it. ATMs are all over. Sure, you can use your credit card almost anywhere, but it's risky and, unless you have the right card, you'll pay that painful 3%. Most school fees are cash-only. You carry around a lot of baht on those days, and the ATMs clean out!

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

There is a Roman Catholic church directly across street from embassy and also one near the Oriental hotel. Not sure about others. There is a community church at NIchada, which is very active with lots of community service opportunities.

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

Bangkok Post; IHT. Not sure of cost.

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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?

You can get by with English, but knowing at least some Thai will certainly facilitate daily living and enhance the experience.

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

Very inhospitable. High sidewalks, uneven pavement, you name it. Bad news.

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Transportation:

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

BTS Skytrain is great - your best bet to get around the profoundly frustrating traffic, especially on Sukhumvit and surrounding central areas. I spent 4 hours once during rush "hour" without moving more than 8 blocks - no kidding. Taxis are generally fine, but I wouldn't necessarily trust one after dark as a single woman. And there are stories of drunk and drugged-up drivers - wouldn't surprise me. Proceed with caution.

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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?

The dumpier the better - as long as it functions well! Traffic is heavy with reasonably good flow but there are plenty of scrapes. I cannot imagine having a nice car here. No way! I hear that Japanese auto parts are easy to find; others not so much. We have a Honda shop nearby.

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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?

We have True, and it's good on the whole but sometimes frustrating! I think we pay around $85 a month. Our maid usually takes the bill to the 7-11 and pays there - very convenient!

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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?

It's changing. More folks seem to have BlackBerries and iPhones. I'm a dinosaur and bought a cheap model here with new SIM card. It's what most folks have done. Ditch your U.S. cell phone unless you need it, or contact someone here for the most up-to-date info.

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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)?

No problem - we were warned that it would be a tough post to bring a dog to (and I'm sure that's more true downtown), but there are vets, pet stores, and kennel options all over. Our 100-lb dog is happy but hates the heat.

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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?

I seem to see a lot of spouses finding work when they want it, mostly at the embassy, but not exclusively.

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

Whatever you wish. Flip flops and sun dress or shorts at Nichada, your best Prada for Siam Paragon downtown and everything in between.

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Health & Safety:

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

Tough question and it's all relative, right? Americans are, generally speaking, liked here, though I wouldn't call it the open-arms embrace I was expecting and there are some Thai who openly dislike me on principle, it seems. The Land of Smiles isn't the beginning and end of Thai people - it's far more complicated. We have had (and know of others also) some frightening brushes w/ the odd local, including taxi drivers and security guards. Obviously, the civil unrest continues to brew beneath the surface and nobody really knows what is on the horizon. (Don't believe it if someone tells you they do know - that's rubbish.) During the actual violence that erupted last Spring, we mostly felt safe but also a bit on edge for a sustained period. Folks downtown had it so much worse (lullabies and gunshots for a stretch there) but even out at Nichada there was an unsettled sense of the unknown. It disrupted normal daily life for a long time. Ultimately, constant security-related texts, school closings, the odd bombing (even out here), and escalating tensions really made things unpleasant. Some may thumb their noses at it having lived in "worse" situations elsewhere but it was unsettling for most folks I know. A few took the evacuation offered. We stayed put.

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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?

People rave about medical care here and, in particular, Bumrungrad. I'm sure it's better than most posts and folks won't normally won't say it but I will: I am not one of the fans. We had a horrible, serious experience at Bumrungrad and I know folks who have had heart-breaking deaths and other serious complications here that probably shouldn't have happened. It's lost its credibility with me and others. Be vigilant, insist on gloves and whatever else to prevent infection, and do not be seduced by the sparkling facilities, plasma tvs, pretty nurses, and room service. Just saying. If I had a major health issue arise in our family, we'd be on the first plane to Singapore. Dental care and orthodontics generally good and much cheaper than U.S.

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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?

The air quality is rather unhealthy. We live out in the Nichada community and even here folks with allergies or asthma have difficulty at times. Downtown is, of course, worse. There are many, many days where it's just a thick, sweltering, soup-like sky.

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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?

As others have said: hot, hotter, hottest. That said, we have enjoyed some really pleasant days from November-February. That is definitely the great time for visitors. I highly recommend making early resos for that Songkran-April break so you can flee to somewhere cooler! April/May 2010 were horrendous.

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Schools & Children:

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

Not surprisingly, I hear both good and bad about the 3 major schools Embassy folks utilize: Patana (British), NIST (downtown on former ISB campus) and ISB (North of city in Nonthaburi province where Embassy housing is located and we live). ISB has a wonderful headmaster who will sadly be departing at the end of the 2011-12 school year. I have to believe that compared to other international schools this place has a lot to offer in terms of sports, extracurricular, and so forth. The high school is IB and the graduates appear to do well. Elementary school has an energetic team running the show. The middle school is probably the weak link - not terribly impressed with the principal; vice principal seems more invested. We've enjoyed both private and top-notch public U.S. schools so we aren't overly impressed with the quality of education here, to be honest, but we aren't miserable either and our kids are happy, so hey! Some of the teachers are amazing and, as with anywhere, some are more lemony who probably should think about retiring or reevaluating their chosen profession. We weren't prepared for the racism at the school - it's demoralizing to see but definitely exists in all directions. I know that could exist anywhere, though, so more a comment on our deflated "It's a Small World" expectations attendant to moving abroad. You could try and buck the trend and attend Patana but it is really tough given housing. If you have high school kids, your best bet w/ activities and such is ISB unless you want your kid on a bus for hours during each day. Busses were a real problem during the unrest. Families w/ younger kids seem to like both downtown and local options.

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

The admissions officer we dealt with at ISB was somewhat of a nightmare. Of about 26 schools contacted around the globe, this was the sole gatekeeper that gave us trouble laced w/ inhospitable tone and forced us to spend thousands of dollars in testing to prove that the school could accommodate a kid who had an IEP showing mild needs and teachers arguing on his behalf that his needs were basic. It was one of the most rigorous, harrowing times of our parenting lives. Once in, the learning support people were lovely and couldn't believe we'd had that trouble since there were plenty of children with special needs being served at ISB. Now that I've been through the process another round with 30+ more schools, I know this official is patently unreasonable and should resign. Good luck to parents with special needs. Hopefully, ISB will be more accommodating. (Patana and NIST were lovely, incidentally.)

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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?

Not sure.

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

Yes, the schools have extensive programs. Athletics are not of the caliber of the U.S. but they have more offerings than many posts, we're told. We've been very happy with the ISB Panther swim program and their dedicated staff. Not so thrilled with Panther Tennis. They even have horsemanship near here, but I'm told it's prohibitively expensive. Actually, most programs are pricey here.

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Expat Life:

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

Enormous. Embassy Bangkok is somwhere around the 4th-largest worldwide, I believe, and there is a huge population of other Americans working here with oil companies and so forth. Tons of interesting folks from other countries mixing it up, though it can be somewhat clubby.

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2. Morale among expats:

I think it's generally pretty high. Not everyone ends up thinking this is the dream post they expected, but many are sad to leave -- from what I've seen.

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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?

Whatever you wish.

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

It is probably great for almost anyone but the disabled. Not a walkable city in any sense and not accommodating in that way.

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

Oh, I have to believe it is very welcoming and respectful. Oddly, I don't know any gay or lesbian expats here, so can't confirm. I'd be shocked to find otherwise.

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

Well, being a Western man seems to get you better service in general than, say, being a Western woman.

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

As noted, travel opportunities have been spectacular. Our first leg in BKK was somewhat compromised by the civil unrest, whether it was just brewing or full blown. We joke that we know more of the region and the rest of Thailand than we do downtown Bangkok.

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

Too many to list. If you can tolerate the heat, you can bike, hike, run, travel all over, shop until you drop, eat like Anthony Bourdain, and party like a fool.

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

Textiles, furnishings, antiques, travel, clothing, eating out and entertainment. Some buy jewelry. You can buy anything at Chatuchak market, from a pet Cobra, to 1000-year old coins, to a plasma tv.

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

Thailand has much to offer, particularly on the food and travel fronts. You can explore the North near Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and beyond, there are national parks and, of course, all of the beach destinations. We have explored much of SouthEast Asia - Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and beyond. Proximity makes it feasible, though not everything is as inexpensive as you might think. Still, a great perk of being here.

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11. Can you save money?

We're in debt after all our travels! It isn't as cheap as some say. Yes, a massage is cheap. But I don't really need a massage. I need someone to highlight my hair 3x a year. And that cost me $400 (yes, that's right). The first time, I tried and the guy ruined my hair. Just an example. An Italian meal for four with no wine will cost you close to $100. Thai food and most services are inexpensive but, again, this is a more expensive post than we thought. Gas is outrageous.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes, but we're ready to move on to our next adventure. I would live downtown next time; my husband agrees; our kids would leave us - they love Nichada.

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

bad attitude, impatience, and Western definition of personal space upon entering Asia!

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3. But don't forget your:

flexibility and willingness to try new things, to explore, and take some reasonable risks. There is so much to discover here. But we have a saying: TIT (This is Thailand.) Things will drive you insane at times because things simply won't make any modicum of sense to your farang self.

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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 have any other comments?

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Bangkok, Thailand 05/19/10

Background:

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

First long-term expat experience. Other, shorter stays in France, Switzerland, and Afghanistan.

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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?

Portland, Oregon. About 24 hours via SFO and Tokyo's Narita airport.

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3. How long have you lived here?

4 years, April 2006 to May 2010

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

US Embassy spouse.

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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 embassy houses people in several parts of the city. If you live in town, you'll be in a pretty large apartment, most of which are near the BTS Skytrain. A number of families live in homes located outside the city, nearer some of the international schools. They often drive to work or take the embassy shuttle. This does cut down on their ability to participate in after work activities. We had two cats with us and had no problem with our apartment allowing them, although we heard that fewer buildings accept pets than in the States.

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

Groceries are reasonable, esp. if you have a local housekeeper who knows where to get the best deals. Cheese, wine, and olives are more expensive and heavily taxed. There are big grocery stores like Tesco Lotus, Foodland, and Tops. You can get most household supplies that you would find at home, though maybe not familiar brands. It's hard to find unscented products like laundry detergent--although if you have commissary access, you can get it at the embassy.

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

Nothing really. You can get nearly everything there.

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

American fast food like Subway, McDonald's, KFC, and Burger King are easily available and even deliver by motorbike. Lots of Middle Eastern, Indian, Italian, French, a few Mexican restaurants, and of course Thai. Many fancy restaurants in hotels which offer big buffets and extensive menus.

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

Some mosquito problems in the city. I have heard of some issues with Dengue fever due to daytime mosquitoes.

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Daily Life:

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

We had APO access, so I didn't need to use the Thai system.

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

Easily available. The embassy newsletter advertises available housekeepers. Otherwise, I would ask friends for recommendations. We paid about $300/month for 4 days a week of cleaning, cooking, shopping, and errand running.

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

Yes, most apartments have workout equipment and pools and there are a bunch of big gyms to join.

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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?

We generally used cash and did have ATM card info stolen twice in four years. With the international charge from your credit card company and big ATM fees, it's easier and cheaper to carry cash. All the outdoor markets and street vendors are cash only.

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

Yes. Catholic, Anglican services, mosques, not sure of others.

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

Yes, several English channels are available via satellite. There are two English newspapers _Bangkok Post_ and _The Nation_--the quality isn't terrific, but it's okay. A satirical online paper called _Not the Nation_ is incredibly funny and often has very insightful humor.

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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?

You can get by on English, but people love it if you speak even "taxi Thai". Learning to give directions and ask for certain kinds of food, say thank you and hello, are very useful. Not everyone speaks English and many people who do, speak it with a heavy accent and tones having learned English from other Thai speakers.

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

The sidewalks are crowded with vendors and people and are often broken and narrow. It would be extremely difficult to get around if you had mobility issues.

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are cheap, air conditioned, metered (although you sometimes have to insist) and fairly safe (no seatbelts in back). They run on natural gas. We took the clean, modern Skytrain and subway and otherwise taxis for most of our needs. Very affordable.

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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?

I wouldn't drive in Bangkok although friends with children liked having cars so they could use children's seats. You see a lot of sedans on the roads. Thais drive on the left side like in Britain.

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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. I think we paid $40-$50 a 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?

We got a pay as you go plan, although I believe the embassy issues phones to all employees, too. We bought used phones at MBK mall and bought a SIM card veeery cheaply that allowed texting and phone calls for less than $10/month.

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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. We had to provide a health certificate from the USDA and pay a small fee.

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

Good vets who speak English and Japanese and provide regular and specialty care. My cat even had a CT scan while we were there for much less that it would have cost in the States. They even sold her special diet canned food.

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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 terrific. NGOs, embassies, international schools, and English teaching. Pay varies wildly.

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

Varies, but professional or casual professional. You see a lot of Thai women wearing high heels even on the terrible sidewalks. Not a lot of tank tops and shorts except among the tourists.

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Health & Safety:

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

Normally, no. There is some purse snatching like any big city, but I've walked up Sukhumvit late at night and never felt threatened. Currently in May 2010 the country may be on the verge of civil war. So, all bets are off. We did not leave because of the violence, but we are relieved to not be there.

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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?

Great medical care is available--American- and UK-trained doctors and dentists in many cases. Most street food is pretty safe. They say the best advice is to eat it hot out of the pan, but we ate fruit from street vendors, too and never got sick.

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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?

I had heard that the air quality in Bangkok was terrible, but with the BTS Skytrain and MRT subway, this must have improved. Air pollution isn't too bad. Although the city is fragrant with incense, sewage, cooking smells from street vendors, exhaust, and frangipani and jasmine at various times.

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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?

As they say, the seasons are hot, hotter, and hottest. The cool season sometimes gets into the 70s at night, if you're lucky. It runs from around November to January. The hottest time of year is usually Feb-April and then the rainy season begins usually with heavy afternoon showers and impressive thunderstorms.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are several well-known international schools, but I don't have children, so can't speak to them personally. Friends with children in school seem quite happy with their quality, even for special needs students.

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

I know at least one parent who has had a good experience with this.

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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?

There are English-language preschools, but I don't have personal experience with them.

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

The international schools have big sports programs, but I don't know otherwise.

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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 large from English teachers to diplomats to retirees.

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2. Morale among expats:

Very good (except during the present violence).

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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?

See comments above. Active and fun.

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

This is a good city for couples and single men. Single women friends have had a more difficult time meeting people due to the ready availability of young, slim, Thai women. There's endless nightlife, great restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys, lots of karaoke, food from cheap to expensive... You can find live music at smaller venues, but the city doesn't attract many big acts and doesn't have much live theater. You can have almost any kind of food delivered from fast food to nice places via Food by Phone and the less expensive Chef XP.

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

Thai people generally don't exhibit public displays of affection, but they seem fairly accepting of gay men. (The illicit gay scene is very active.) They do seem accepting of most expat behavior in general, although in Thai society itself they seem less accepting of lesbians.

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

Thais speak openly about darker skin as less desirable. You'll see whitening cream heavily advertised. They joke about everything including their friends' skin tone or weight which can be uncomfortable or downright insulting to an American. But we try to remember things are different here.

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

Jaunts to the beaches on Air Asia, visiting Buddhist and occasional Hindu temples, and learning about Thai culture and history. Getting to know Thai people.

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

Visit the Grand Palace and various temples, take an express boat or even a dinner cruise along the river, have high tea at the Oriental Hotel, visit Chinatown and the Golden Buddha in his new home, go shopping at the Suan Lum Night Bazaar or the more intimidating Chatuchak (or JJ) Market, or go to the Jim Thompson outlet for silk or the fancy malls like Paragon for brand name stuff but also nice Thai things at Exotique Thai. Eat, eat, eat. Have a nice drink at the Banyan Tree or State Tower or other sky bars. Go see Thai boxing or the Joe Louis Puppet Theater or Khon dancing for some Thai traditions.

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

Old teak furniture, hill tribe bags and silver jewelry, replica frog drum tables, and lots of scarves. Don't forget to buy one of those little wood frogs.

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

Fascinating culture, friendly people, good food, fun shopping, great beaches, foot massages. Inexpensive housekeeping. Cheap taxis and a very modern Skytrain and subway system.

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11. Can you save money?

You can save money if you're careful, but with all the travel opportunities in and around Thailand, it's easy to spend it, too. And there's shopping and nice restaurants, too.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Definitely yes, although I'd wait until the current political tensions simmer down.

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

Winter clothes.

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3. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, bug spray, and little umbrella to shade you from the sun in the city.

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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?

Culture Shock! Thailand, Travelers' Tales Thailand, Rough Guide to Bangkok, Bangkok 8 by John Burdett, Very Thai by Philip Cornwel-Smith

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Living in Bangkok was very comfortable and pretty easy even in the midst of a very different culture. I'd jump at the chance to go back.

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Bangkok, Thailand 04/02/10

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. 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?

Washington DC. It takes a full 24 hours from door to door.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 months.

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

I work for a US Government Agency.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

Within the city most people live in high rise apartments. Outside of the city the staff tend to live in houses but the commute is much greater.

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

A lot is available and its very inexpensive. I would consider buying hair products in the states as the products here are not of the same quality.

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

Hair products. Human Kindness.

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

Food is amazing here. You have Food-To-Go. This is an amazing book that allows you to order takeout from many restaurants at once (very family friendly). Street food is good and normally won't make you sick. Restaurants are excellent and cheap. Food is a major plus to living here.

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

With humidity and standing water comes mosquitos. Bring your OFF-spray.

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Daily Life:

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

I usually use the APO but don't send for ANYTHING that you want to receive faster than 7 days. It always seems to take the longest to receive anything here.

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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. Less than $400 US per month.

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

You can visit Lumpini Park. There are actual aerobics classes every night from 6-8. Also the hotels usually have fitness facilities. If those don't satisfy you could always join Fitness First or California Wow.

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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?

There seems to be an ATM at every corner but I wouldn't use them. Try to use the ATM inside a bank or major store. Try to never use credit cards.

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

Thailand is a Buddhist country but they respect other religions and have several locations throughout the city to worship if you are Muslim or Christian.

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

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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?

Not very much. Most Thais understand some English.

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

The sidewalks would make it very challenging for a person with physical disabilities to walk anywhere.

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Transportation:

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

The metro is close and goes all over the city. Taxis are also very affordable. If traffic is heavy I would consider a motorcycle taxi as they can whip through the traffic faster and the fares are a lot lower.

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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?

Bring something small. The roads are too small for SUV's (although I've seen several expats with them).

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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?

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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?

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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?

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

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Health & Safety:

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

No. But as with any other place if you are female I would not go anywhere at night alone.

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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?

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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?

It is unhealthy but from what I've heard it is a lot better than 10 years ago.

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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?

There are two seasons. Dry and wet. For the most part it is hot a majority of the time (i.e. above 85 degrees).

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Schools & Children:

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

This is a great post if you have children. The top three schools in Bangkok are ISB, NIST, and the British school.

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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?

Yes they are available but are very expensive. Most people hire a nanny. You could have a live in for less than $400US per month and have this person cook and clean. Can't beat it!

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

Through the schools, yes.

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Expat Life:

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

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2. Morale among expats:

Seems to be pretty high. Men seem to LOVE it here!

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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?

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

This is a good city for families (i.e. great schools and great things to do on the weekends if you have children). A little harder for single women as Thai men don't seem interested in foreign women. Also if you are married it is challenging as their are several rumors that it is very easy for a spouse to stray (primarily husbands).

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

Not a problem at all for gay or lesbians.

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

This is my biggest disappointment. I've seen several Thais disrespect people of darker skin tones. They care very much about status and it seems to them that foreigners with darker skin must be of a lower income bracket. As a result they are not treated as well as their white counterparts. I've seen African Americans laughed at as they walk past and heard them make disrespectful comments. If have very dark skin I would really think about if you have "thick skin" as racial prejudices are commonplace here. Bummer for such an amazing city.

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

I visited the Leaning Buddha, the Emerald Buddha, the National Museum, and the Grand Palace.

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

Shopping (MBK, Pratunam (must see), Siam Paragom, Centre World). Visit Pattaya and Phuket (local beaches).

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

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

Shopping is amazing. You have a great opportunity to view the amazing sights here and tour all of Southeast Asia (i.e. Cambodia, Vietnam)

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11. Can you save money?

Definitely.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

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

Winter clothing.

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3. But don't forget your:

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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?

I'm reading "Letters from Thailand". It takes place in the 1940's but is a very good read.

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Bangkok, Thailand 01/17/10

Background:

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

yes, first time away from America

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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?

Home is Pensacola, Florida. It takes 26 hours to reach Bangkok from Pensacola(usually Pensacola to Houston, Houston to Tokyo, Tokyo to Bangkok)

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3. How long have you lived here?

1 year and still here

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

Retirement

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

I live in a condo high rise, next to the subway and skytrain, near center of Bangkok

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

food is in abundance here--in the open air markets and the regular supermarkets.thai food is much cheaper than imported western foods

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

a bicycle

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

lots of american fast food available--mcdonalds, pizza hut, kfc, dunkin donuts, burger king.cheaper than in america, but expensive compared to thai foods

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

none in the city

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Daily Life:

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

same as if in america.mailboxes and post office are everywhere

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

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

many very nice fitness centers, reasonably priced

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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?

many places do not accept credit cards and many of the ones that do will increase the bill by 3% to accept your card. ATM usage here is an art--you can pay your bills by using an ATM.

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

yes, but not many churches here--mostly buddhist temples and some mosques

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

yes, there is cable tv here with many english channels.about $35/month

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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?

not much, some english is in use--but i am in the big urban city.english is much more rare in the country

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

many difficulties, seems like they do not concern themselves with handicaps

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Transportation:

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

yes, they are safe.taxis are cheap in bangkok.

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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?

a regular auto is fine here, except that they drive on the left side of the road and all steering wheels are on the right side of 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?

yes, about $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?

cheap to use, chips are interchangeable so you can go from country to country with the same phone, just changing the chip.i buy minutes.using a cell phone here is very simple and inexpensive

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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?

mostly teaching english, unless you are very good with thai

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

in public--whatever you want to wear

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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.

very safe, even walking the streets at midnight

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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?

medical care is good; no prescription for most medicines.pharmacists will prescribe and sell to you--simple, simple, simple! and inexpensive

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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?

Only 2 seasons:wet and dry; usually hot with about 65% humidity.

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Schools & Children:

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

There are many in this city, offering English as the primary language.

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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?

yes. they are big into badminton, soccer, ping pong, volleyball, and takraw

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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 large in bangkok, if in right area

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2. Morale among expats:

very good

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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?

many bars and dance places, movie theatres.easy to meet people here

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

yes, i like it much.

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

i do not know, but there are many ladyboys here.

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

none that i have seen or are aware of

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

shopping in the numerous street markets, night markets, weekend markets is fun.visits to temples and palaces is amazing.eating food at the street vendors stands is always cheap and tasty.visiting the numerous sights around bangkok is lots of fun, and, of course, the beaches and islands are beautiful.

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

everything is cheap, except cars which are imported

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9. Can you save money?

yes, cheap to live here

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Words of Wisdom:

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

yes, definitely.wish i had come here sooner.

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

110 volt items unless you have a stepdown converter

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3. But don't forget your:

sunglasses, hat, and favorite canned foods (some are not available)

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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 have any other comments?

great place to live as long as you do not miss a change of seasons

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Bangkok, Thailand 07/02/09

Background:

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

No. We've also lived in the following cities/countries: Tbilisi, Georgia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Ashgabat, Turkmenistan; Ankara, Turkey; Athens, Greece; Tongduchon, Korea; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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2. How long have you lived here?

We've been here 11 months now.

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

I'm with the UN, and my husband is with the U.S. Embassy.

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

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

For expats there are basically two options: If you choose to live downtown, then for the most part it'll either be condo or apt living. There are some houses, but not that many. The second most popular option is an area out in Nichada Thani (the suburbs north of Bangkok): 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on traffic. Nichada Thani is a gated community of roughly 3,000 expats who are all there for one reason, and one reason only. And that is solely because that is where ISB (International School of Bangkok) is located.

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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 several large grocery store chains available throughout Bangkok; Tesco Lotus (UK based), and Carefour (French based). Both of these stores are pretty much like Walmart, in that they sell food items as well as everything else under the sun. There's also, Makro, Thailand's version of Costco, which sells items in bulk. If you stick to these places, whose cost actually isn't that much less than grocery shopping in the US, you'll do ok. But where it starts to become very costly is when you start shopping at places like Villa, a chain grocery store that stocks a lot of American products that will start to set you back. For example: a box of Lucky Charms is right at $8/$9, and a box of pop-tarts runs right at $4. Ouch! For those assigned to the U.S. Embassy, there's also a nice commissary that sells American food & drink items, but again, at considerably more that what you would pay back in the States.

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

Other than shoes for my husband and me, there really isn't anything that we miss. Wait- does Taco Bell count? I say "shoes" only because if you wear anything larger than say a size 7/8 for ladies, forget it- they're simply not available here. The same holds true for men's shoes, in that larger sizes are not available.

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

When it comes to American "fast food", the Thais have learned to embrace both KFC and McDonald's, which are conveniently located on every second street corner, along with Starbucks. Pretty much all of the fast food outlets that are in the States, can be found here. BUT....there's always an exception right? No Taco Bell-drats! But, on the plus side, all of the fast food chains deliver, in 30 minutes or less. You can't beat that :)- As for restaurants (non-fast-food) - Bangkok has it all. Want Sushi at 2 a.m.? No problem. Have a hankering for a "bloom'n onion"? There's an Outback Steak House. And then of course there's all of that terrific Thai food at every turn. Whatever your palate is craving, be it borsch or enchiladas, it's all here at your finger tips.

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

No real insect problems. If you're out on nature walks, though, using an insect repellant such as DEET is recommended, and it is available locally.

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Daily Life:

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

We're blessed in that we have an APO address, and can order pretty much anything. The shipping time from the States to here is right at two weeks. As for many of the corporate folks that we know, other than letter mail (letters, cards or bills), they do not have mail privileges and often have to rely on the local postal system. Also, DHS and UPS are available here, but be prepared to pay a hefty amount. Additionally, if you're using the local postal system, you're also subject to local import taxes.

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

Actually, that depends. But here's the breakdown as we know it: Filipinos - largely because of their familiarity with the english language, command the highest salaries. Live-in and or live-out- right at $400 per month. Burmese - live in/live out: typically have the lower salaries. Many of these workers have little and or no english language ($250-$300). Thais - live-in and or live-out, the average monthly wage is $300-$350. Whether the housekeeper resides with you or not, the typical work week is 5 1/2 days, which includes a half day of work, typically, on Saturdays.

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

The majority of the major hotels have gyms, as do most of the condo/apt complexes downtown. There are also standalone gyms where membership fees apply.

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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?

They're readily available, and easy to use. Again, we've heard rumblings of folks having their credit cards and or debit cards cloned, but again, no one that we've met here has had any problems. The rule of thumb, or so we were told, is to stick to using ATMs that are attached to banks.

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

It's all here: B' hai, Scientology, LDS, mosques, synogogues (3), Christian churches- to include Pentecostol, and Seventh Day Adventists. And it goes without saying that there are plenty of Buddhist and Hindu temples here as well.

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

There are several english-language newspapers available here, and just like in the good ole U.S. of A., can have your paper delivered daily to your home.

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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?

Of course having Thai under your belt would be a big help. English is not that widely spoken here, except for places where the farang (foreigners) frequent, mostly western establishments such as hotels, restaurants, or department stores.

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

If you're on crutches or in a wheelchair, you'd have a hard time getting around, particularly downtown. The sidewalks are narrow, and what little available space there is, is taken up by either food and or clothing vendors hawking their wares on literally every street corner.

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Transportation:

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

Local transport is all good, I will say. Most expats don't really use buses in town. They usually cab it, or take a tuk-tuk. The cabs are metered, but if you're catching a ride on a tuk-tuk, you need to negotiate the fare before jumping in.

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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?

The "only" car I would discourage anyone from bringing would be a convertible, unless you have a hard top for it. Between the rain and sun, rest assured, you won't be spending too much time with the top down with that hot stagnant air. A good chunk of the Americans ship their cars from the States without any problems; be it mini vans, SUV's- they're all here. Before shipping your car to Thailand, though, I'd go online just to verify that parts for your car are indeed available here - or at least that the dealership can order them for you. As for driving conditions here, the Thais are very polite drivers, and road rage is pretty non-existent. The one drawback to driving in Bangkok is, well, the traffic. Some days it'll only take you 30 minutes to drive to work or get to the mall, and other days, that same route can take you two or more hours. A lesson that most of us learned the hard way is to have the following in the car with you at all times: a bottle of water, snacks, something to read, cell phone - you'll need this to call and tell whoever you're meeting that you'll be late. Car insurance is available locally, which many of the expats, ourselves included opted for. Our US insurance company (USAA) does not offer car insurance in Thailand. So we opted to go locally with AIG. The premiums are a fraction of what we paid stateside.

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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?

Available...yes, but not always at a high speed. We're paying right at $50 per month for our wireless internet.

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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?

Just as anywhere else in the world, they're perceived as a necessity. The Thais are cell phone fanatics. There's a cell phone shop on every other corner, and they are always full of customers. For the younger generation, their phone is a status symbol. So the fancier it is (with jewels & gadgets), the more noticeable you are. Well, that's what they tell me anyhow...

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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?

There is no animal quarantine. On a side note to this- if you're relocating to Thailand with one or more pets in tow, be aware that Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, while a terrific airline, requires a mountain of paperwork be filled out 4 weeks prior to your arrival. All of it needs to be faxed directly to the airline in Hong Kong. This procedure is also required for folks who are merely transiting Hong Kong. We booked our flight 3 weeks prior to our departure, only to discover that 3 weeks wasn't enough lead time for Cathay Pacific to process all of our cat's documents. We opted to rebook with a different carrier and flew through Narita, Japan instead, with no problems.

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

There are pet shops and or veterinarians on virtually every corner. The quality of pet products and vet services are both excellent.

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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?

This is often a real sticking point for many trailing spouses here, in that there is no bi-lateral and or de-facto work agreement between Thailand and the US, so work permits (I'm told) are pretty hard to come by. I do know of several spouses here who work as substitute teachers, even though they don't have a teaching background or a teaching certificate. I'm told that, at least at the elementary school level, all that's required is either a BA or a BS in anything.

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

Business casual. Men: for the most part, you're off the hook with regard to wearing a blazer/sports coat, given the heat. A shirt and tie almost always suffice. And for the ladies: thank heaven, NO pantyhose!

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Health & Safety:

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

There are good days, when the skies are clear, and then there are days when the pollution is bad and the air is dark grayish.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

I believe the recommended immunizations are: Rabies, Hepatitis, TB, and Tetanus.

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

We live out in the burbs - in Nichada Thani, a gated community of roughly 3,000 people, and there aren't any security concerns here at all. That said, I have heard rumblings of folks being pick-pocketed downtown. We don't know of anyone who has been the victim of any sort of crime here.

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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?

The U.S. could really learn a lot by looking at the healthcare system here. The hospitals, as well as doctors, are all state-of-the-art, and at a fraction of the cost back in the States. How good is the health care? Well, for one thing, no one gets medevac'd. Whether you require surgery, need chemotherapy, or need to give birth, all of the expats opt to do everything here. You'll never live anywhere else, where the healthcare is this outstanding!

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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?

Thailand is in the tropics, with the average daily temperature hovering right at 90 degrees. The climate here falls basically into one of the two following categories: hot & humid without rain or hot & humid with rain.

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Schools & Children:

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

Unlike many other larger cities, where there are only a handful of international schools to choose from, Bangkok has literally dozens. Most of the Americans in Bangkok choose to send their child/children to ISB (International School of Bangkok), which is a US-curriculum-based school with almost 2,000 students. Second in the running for American students is NIST (New International School Thailand). NIST is also a US-curriculum-based school with a much smaller enrollment than ISB. As of last year, there were only 12 U.S. Embassy students enrolled at NIST, with the remaining almost 300 U.S. Embassy students enrolled at ISB. ISB is the largest international school in Thailand, and everything on the premises is state-of-the-art. After you tour the place, you have a better understanding as to why the elementary school tuition alone is right at $25,000 annually. We have children attending ISB, and we simply love it. NIST, while also a good school- lives in the shadows of ISB, in that it's downtown, and the facilities are cramped and not nearly as modern as those at ISB. The bulk of the students enrolled at NIST are truly international, in that their families are affiliated with the UN here. In short, NIST has much more of an international feel, whereas ISB has more of an American feel. The third most popular school among the expats would be the British-curriculum-based, Pattana school. We have quite a few British friends, many of whom send their children to Pattana. The school has an excellent reputation, regardless of who you talk to. Additionally, I'd like to comment on the recent posting of the American family residing out here in Nichada Thani that opted to pull their children out of ISB and enroll them at Pattana. ISB clearly isn't the perfect fit for every child, depending on the needs of the child of course. But a sa current PTA board member, I am of the opinion that parents in general are very satisfied with the school.

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

The larger international schools (NIST, ISB, Pattana, and Harrow) don't really have anything available other than a basic IS (Intensive Studies) program, which is available to students who are struggling with english (reading & writing, and comprehension). This program is designed to help bring a child up to grade level. Aside from this, many parents hire private tutors, usually a fellow teacher for after school tutoring. We have an 8 1/2 year old son (3rd grader) with ADD/ADHD, and because of this, he struggles in all subjects. We're very fortunate here, in that there are several different options available for those children, where a larger international school wouldn't be such a good match. Regarding schools that are better equipped to handle children with learning disabilities, whether they're academic, language, attentional, social, and or behavioural difficulties, I'd suggest looking into the following schools: Rose Marie Academy, St. Andrew's Academy (several locations/campuses), ELC (Early Learning Center). ATOC (Acorns to Oaks) can accommodate children with Down's Syndrome, as well as Autism. Our son is enrolled at Rose Marie Academy, which has been really good for him. The school is small, with a current enrollment of 70 or so students, and class room sizes are small (6 -8, which offers the students more one-on-one time with the teacher.

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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?

We reside out in Nichada Thani, and there are several preschools in the area: Sunshine School, Majic Years, and ELC. There are, of course, more to choose from, but these are the three schools that most of the residents here have their youngsters enrolled at. ISB, Rose Marie Academy, and St. Andrews Academy, all of which are located here, offer preschool programs as well.

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

Pretty much everything that you could imagine your children ever participating in -- and then some -- is available here. The same actually holds true for adults as well. Many of the sports activities cost considerably less than what you would pay back in the U.S.

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Expat Life:

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

Ginormous! The bulk of the expats are from either the corporate and or the oil & gas sector.

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2. Morale among expats:

Let's see here---my husband and I are both employed, my children love their school, and we spend most weekends out and about. In short, we're very happy here. From what I've seen, those who are less enthusiastic than we are seem to be so because the trailing spouse is unemployed, at home bored, or is a younger mother at home with younger children while hubby is putting in 12 hours at work everyday. It's actually unfortunate to be living in one of the most exciting places in the world and being unhappy. In my opinion, under these circumstances, these people would be unhappy, regardless of where they were living, be it in Bangkok, Rome, or Paris. Over all, the folks we know and work with are pretty happy, and they relish the fact that you can wear shorts and flip flops year 'round, and a the beach is only 2 1/2 hours away.

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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?

Again, there's absolutely no end when it comes to entertaining/entertainment here. There are live shows, concerts, the philharmonic, ballet, restaraunts, discos, bars. There is literally something going on every day of the week.

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

Bangkok is a great city for everyone, period! Wherever your interests lie, there's something here for you, rest assured. For the single folks, there are numerous "singles" clubs/organizations, be it for dating, and or simply finding a travel buddy. For families- there's so much to see and do that there's really no excuse to spend the weekend at home bored. As for the Dinks (double income, no kids) - oh how I often envy you :) Between being able to dine out several times a week for considerably less than in most places, and the weekend beach getaways....aaah. In short, this a fun place for those at any age.

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

Hello....this is Bangkok- need I say more:)- Truly, the gay scene, particularly for men, is pretty rife, and much more accepted here in Thailand, than any other place you'll ever live. Because of the tolerance slash acceptance, the gay scene is much more visible here. One thing you'll see virtually everywhere, whether it's at your childs school, in a restaraunt, or at a shopping mall, are "katoys", or "lady boys" as they are often referred to here by the locals. They are men who have either completed a sex change, are undergoing one, or simply opt to cross-dress. Sometimes they're easily spotted, but often times they're not.

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

Not that we've ever witnessed and/or heard of.

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

Again, there's no shortage of "fun stuff" in and around Bangkok. Some of the places our family enjoys: the zoo, the aquarium, the Grand Palace, a lot of great museums, planetarium, Science Center, etc.

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

Again, the list is never ending, but a small sampling consists of: Thai silk, Celadon pottery, batik, teak wood items & furniture, silver cutlery, Buddha images made from various materials, wood carvings.

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9. Can you save money?

You can't be serious, right? All kidding aside - as anyone who's ever lived in any city in Southeast Asia will tell you, there's simply so much to see, to do, to buy, and to travel to. If you don't partake in any of these, then, well yes, I suppose you could save a chunk of change. If however, you enjoy any of the above-mentioned activities, then no, you're not really going to leave here after a two- or three-year assignment with a hefy savings account.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Yes!

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

snow gear, or anything else for cold weather.

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3. But don't forget your:

shoes - if you require larger sizes. Also, any creature comforts that you would be miserable doing without.

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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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

The King and I - still banned in Thailand after all of these years and not available locally.

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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?

We've been vacationing in Thailand for the better part of fifteen years now, and we truly love this country and all of the exciting things it has to offer.

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

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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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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Bangkok, Thailand 03/19/09

Background:

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

No, lived in Tokyo for 4 years.

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2. How long have you lived here?

3 years.

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

US State Department.

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

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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?

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

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

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

View All Answers


Daily Life:

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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


Transportation:

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

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


Phone & Internet:

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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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?

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


Health & Safety:

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

View All Answers


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.

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

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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've decided to write a report because I didn't hear this before we arrived. All I heard and read was that ISB was great -and that most Americans, especially Embassy families -go there. We were very disappointed with ISB. We tried it for our elementary child for 2 years, and would say it's "average" academically. Our public school in Northern Virginia was much better. The facilities at ISB are really nice, and many families choose ISB because of the planned community housing surrounding the school. However, if you're expecting a good private school education with individual attention for your child and motivated teachers, ISB is not your place. Many parents I know are frustrated. (The biggest concern we and other families have had is that bright children are bored and not appropriately challenged.)

When parents have spoken to the Administration or individual teachers, they feel brushed aside. Those parents who are most disturbed are former teachers. Some of these parents give their children extra work after school so they won’t be behind when they move. Several have actually moved into town to switch schools. We switched to Bangkok Patana this year, and are absolutely amazed by the difference. The curriculum is British (and structured), but the school is very international and creative. Lessons are differentiated based on prior knowledge or ability, so all students are appropriately engaged and challenged. Some may think the British school would be strict (i.e., “keep a stiff upper lip” mentality), but that has not been our experience at all. It’s a very caring environment and very welcoming to parent involvement (e.g., in the classroom at any time). Lessons and assignments are creative and well designed, and I honestly feel our children are getting an exceptional education. To us, Patana seems worth the private school tuition (which is less than ISB’s). Other parents I know who have switched feel the same way. From the moment we toured Patana we noticed a difference. We talked to children, observed teachers with their classes and reviewed student work samples. We also saw the facilities and heard about athletics and extracurricular activities (which are every bit as impressive as ISB’s, minus the planned housing community around it) –but the focus was on the students, curriculum and learning. Patana may not be for everyone, but we are just thrilled and only wish we knew about it earlier. To be fair, I’ve heard many good things about NIST as well, and I know of a few families who switched from ISB to NIST and are happy. There may be some, but I don’t know of any families who left NIST or Patana to attend ISB.

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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?

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


Expat Life:

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

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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?

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


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

View All Answers


9. Can you save money?

View All Answers


Words of Wisdom:

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

View All Answers


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

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3. But don't forget your:

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

View All Answers


5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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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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Bangkok, Thailand 02/19/09

Background:

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

Yes.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Arrived August 2008.

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

Trailing spouse of wife who works for a U.S. multinational.

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

To U.S. direct to LAX in 16 hours. All other flights connect through Hong Kong or Japan going east and many points in Europe and the Middle East going West. Takes about 22-24 hours to get to NYC whichever way you go. There are direct flights to most European Capitals and take anywhere from 8-11 hours.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

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

There is lots of available housing of all types. We live in a new apartment tower, but friends live in housing developments here in the city center. There are also older Thai houses and apartments available at a fraction of the price of a place in New York and much less than most other US cities. Most buildings or housing developments have a pool, a playground for the kids and security. I recommend that you live close to where you work because the traffic is still quite bad at rush hour. While most U.S. Embassy staff and Americans working for other companies live in Nichada north of the city (30 minutes no traffic, 90 minutes or worse at peak rush hour), we chose to live near the city center to be closer to my wife's office and our children's school. We do not have the benefit of the shuttle service which conveys most Americans to their jos at the Embassy (the US Embassy here is the third largest in the world, so we're talking about a lot of personel). We really like where we live. There is so much to do.

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

About the same as the U.S. for basic staples, but MUCH more if you want things like Florida style orange juice or Cheerios. For 9/10 things there is a suitable local alternative.

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

Framed pictures and things that remind me of home because there is so much empty space in our apartment.

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

Every single one.

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

Mosquitoes. Everyone here is afraid of Dengue Fever. I have two kids and there is no vaccine. I worry about it too. Read the CDC guidelines if you have any questions. It is a treatable disease, but it's not what I'd like my kids to go through.

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Daily Life:

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

Mail service here is acceptable. When sending anything from the states by any means (DHL, FEDEX, UPS, USPS) mark "returned/used goods", take off all labels and declare a nominal insurance value. Otherwise you will pay a ridiculously high tarrif on your packages.

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

Very cheap US$450-600/month for a Thai helper. Even less for Burmese help. Some speak English. Some friends have gone through several maids before settling on one they like. Most are great.

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

Yes. Many buidlings have gyms. There are also large chains you can join (California comes to mind) as well as hotel gyms which offer memberships like the President Park or Patumwan Princess hotel.

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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?

Be careful with the credit cards. ATM's are fine (so far) and ubiquitous.

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

Many Christian denominations. There is also a Shabbat house here.

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

Bangkok Post and the Nation are local english papers. IHT and WSJ-Asia are also easy to get here.

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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 a little helps.

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

Yes. This is a city with few facilities for the differently abled. The curbs are ridiculous!

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Transportation:

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

Taxis are air-conditioned and super cheap. Learn a little taxi thai to get around, although most drivers speak some English. The Subway and skytrain are fast, affordable and super clean. I do not know of a cleaner subway. The lines are a touch limited in the areas they serve, but most of the major tourist areas are accessable from mass transit.

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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?

A Toyota Camry is a large car here. Minivans are a good option. Small cars are fine. Large ones will haves problems on the side streets (sois).

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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?

It is available, but not the best. Download speeds are slow and the same cost as the US.

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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?

Buy a local prepaid wireless phone. I hear many of the service plans can be difficult to manage and are a bit opaque. The rates on prepaid wirless are very reasonable for calling the states.

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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)?

We have used the Thonglor pet hospital, and have been quite pleased.

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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?

If you want to take any job, English teaching jobs are fairly easy to find. To get a job at a better school, whether Thai or international, you'll need a teaching credential and need to do a more formal search. Get your ducks in a row before starting your search.

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

Wear long pants. Dress smart casual for most occasions and you'll be fine.

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Health & Safety:

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

Moderate to unhealthy, but getting better. The air quality in New York was better, but they are actually trying to cope with the problem; thus the new subway, skytrain, airport rail line, and all of the Natural Gas/LPG busses and tuk tuks.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

The number of shots I had to take to come here made me tear up, and I don't mind needles. For most children, they need fewer, because they have already had some immunizations.

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

Very few. This is probably one of the safest capitals in the world. It's safer than D.C. by far or even New York. I can think of few U.S. cities where I would feel safer. That being said, there is non-confrontational crime here. Be very careful how you use your credit card. Pay cash if possible, especially away from major chains (Marriot, Starbucks, etc.). We have had one card number stolen and it was a huge pain in the tail to get the money back.

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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?

The hospitals here are terrific. Bumringrad is certified by the U.S. Most of the doctors are very competent to excellent. So far not one bad experience. Just be aware that while they will take excellent care of you for a bargain price, these hospitals are a business, and I have had my issues with wrangling between them and the insurance companies.

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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?

The most pleasant time of year to be here is defintiely November through Mid-February. The tempeture is cool during the day (83 F) and night (75). There is NO rain. I hear March-April is the WORST time to be here due to the extreme heat. Although it does rain quite a bit during the summer, this also cools things off and makes life here bearable. Much like South Florida during the summer (perhaps even a smidgen cooler).

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Schools & Children:

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

The three best schools in Bangkok are purported to be ISB (the American school in Nichada, surrounded by a planned community where many Americans live), Bangkok Pattana School (a British curriculum school east of the city), and the New International School of Thailand (located downtown on Sukhumvit soi 15). All of these schools are terrific places. Our daughter attends NIST and it compares very favorably to the private school she attended in New York City. We may even like it even more. There are many other excellent choices as well among the large number of private schools here in Bangkok.

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

ISB, NIST and Bangkok Pattana have learning specialists who take care of students with learning issues, but for students who have more needs, I am not sure. I have heard that schools are out there in Bangkok, but I cannot name one off the top of my head.

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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?

There are many choices for the little ones and most of them are of high quality. They can be a bit pricey (our tuition reimbursement does not kick in until our son is 4 and those "new student fees" are a killer).

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

Baseball at ISB. Soccer, swimming, and tennis at many schools and clubs in Bangkok in the afternoons and weekends. Basketball on Sunday, January to May at NIST-BJBL program.

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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 large and diverse. There are many Asian expats here from Japan and Korea as well as a sizable and historic Indian and Chinese population. There are many people from Western Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand. The US and Latin American expat presence is also quite large.

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2. Morale among expats:

For us, very high. Other families struggle if one of the spouses is unhappy. Being the trailing spouse, I found things to get involed in. I coach basketball and softball as well as play in a local softball league made up mostly of Americans. I also volunteer a lot at my daughter's school and spend lots of time with my 2 year old son. Get involved and you'll enjoy life more here. The Thai people are great.

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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?

Tons.

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

This is an excellent city for families. The apartments and houses are spacious, and it is very easy to get help at a price much lower than in the states. Our helper cooks, cleans and helps keep an eye on the kids after school if one of us is not avaialable. She lives out (although we do have a "maid's room" in our place). We pay her top dollar and it's only 600/ month. The going rate is more like $450. They do get thai holidays off. We love our helper. For single men, it is great. For single women, it is harder. For couples w/ or w/o children, you must have a stable marriage. If infidelity is at all an issue, don't come here. There is a lot of temptation and many opportunites for men to go astray. On the other hand there is so much for a couple to experience together. Beautiful beaches, exotic countryside, terrific food, some of world's best hotels, a thriving art and music scene.

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

Thailand is a very tolerant country and most people will mind their own business. There is a very active gay nightlife scene here.

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

People respect money and the guys in power are rich thugs. The poor here are ingnored too much (but I feel that is also a huge issue in the US).

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

So much. Shopping-Siam Paragon-the most beautiful mall I've ever seen with a killer food hall. There are so many beautiful malls on one end and really cool Asian markets on the other (Chatuchak for the tourists and Klongtoey for the real residents-although I hear they want to tear it down). The cultural sites-Wat Pho, the Grand Palace etc. are terrific. I hear Chinatown is one place not to miss. There are so many great clubs, restaraunts and bars to go to.

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

Great vacations, excellent silks, nice handicrafts.

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9. Can you save money?

We are.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Definitely, although I would have asked for money to bring friends and family here. It is a long way from home.

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

Closed mind. This is not America. I mean that in mostly a good way. Thais are great people who have a very tolerant society on most levels. They are terrific with kids and don't like people who are pushy or overly aggressive. The only time I have seen a person handcuffed here was in a supermarket after she had slapped her son. They took her into custody and escorted her right out of the store.

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3. But don't forget your:

Frequent flier miles to help your friends visit. Don't forget the sunglasses and 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. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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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?

Always show the utmost respect for the King and the Royal family. They are revered here. Not only is it against the law to criticize them, it's stupid and rude for an American to do so.

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