First impressions of living in Siem Reap

About a week before we moved to Siem Reap, I was offered a job at a reputable language school, but the difficultly for me was they wanted me to start teaching soon after I landed. So my first few days were consumed with finding food and foraging for information on where to live. Not exactly the Angkor Wat induction that most folks have when they arrive in Siem Reap.

Most tourists are here for 4 days, purchasing their 3-day Angkor pass, visiting the temples by day and wandering Pub Street by night, sunburned and soaking in the sights, smells and sounds of rows of restaurants, tuk tuk drivers vying for their business, trinket shops and other tourists in their various states of pleasure-seeking. But not me! Woe is me.

Siem Reap for visitors is a well-oiled machine mixed with the odd charm, if you can call it that, of pitted dirt roads, neglected or non-existent sidewalks, and regular power outages. And the tourists that come here are truly from all over the world. Even though I was born and raised in touristic Hawaii and lived in Thailand, a premier travel destination, I have never seen such an amazing array of people in a few short blocks. I enjoy seeing tourists dress up at night because in Thailand they have a tendency to look beach ready at all times. The downtown is a people-watching person’s dream.

Pub Street, Siem Reap 2015
Pub Street, and the surroundings, is where the tourists frequent after a long day sight-seeing.

I’ll admit, I’ve wondered if Cambodia was going to be very much like Thailand. It sure seemed like it from what little pictures I allowed myself to see, not wanting to ruin the surprise.  After we got off the plane, however, and even now, just a couple of weeks in, I can say Cambodia is its own unique place. You could mistake Laos for Thailand and vice versa, but you can’t confuse either with Cambodia.

Sivatha Road
Looks can be deceiving. Cambodia feels like typical SE Asia, but it’s very distinct, too. [Navigating Sivatha Road]

First of all, after living in the land of 7-11s (Thailand has the 3rd largest number of 7-Eleven stores after Japan and the United States), walking into mini-marts have been a small joy in discovering what independent shops have to offer. Cliff Bars, Pop Tarts and Nature Valley granola bars are sold like Snickers and Mars. I spied long-forgotten Freeman hair products in a pharmacy. Mini-marts and grocery stores have a wide and luxurious selection of liquor, beer and wine. I even saw Snapple (I didn’t even know they still made Snapple) in the fridge, and then there are the blocks of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and mini bakeries. It’s amazing, really. I was even able to nab DayQuil and NyQuil in the pharmacy, too. (Yes, I got sick, already, of course I did.)

While 7-11s are convenient and sure damn handy – Thailand expats and travellers learn to love having a 7-11 on every street corner – they are pretty much all the same. Isn’t that the point of these things? And herein lies the strength and weakness of chain stores: you know what you are getting, but you’ll always have the same choices. This phenomenon can also be said about grocery shopping at Tops, Tesco Lotus, Macro and Big C.

Diary aisle at Angkor Market Siem Reap
The dairy aisle at modest Angkor Market, but at any grocer here, seriously rivals many diary sections in Northern Thailand.

In SR, there aren’t many international chain stores. Apparently, KFC recently opened here. There is a Swensen’s and Pizza Company, and a BBQ [Korea’s No. 1 Chicken restaurant], and another Korean goodie, not food related, Nature’s Republic. Now, there are a few Cambodian chain stores, like Lucky Supermarket and some pharmacies, but overall (and this is going to change quickly, I think), Cambodia is free of outlet retail stores and restaurants that consume the developed world.

It’s a nice change, actually, as I’d rather support the small businessman or woman, but it’s the poor state of the roads that make me feel like I’m in a developing country. Ironically, fancy boutique hotels are situated on dirt roads dotted with potholes the size of moon craters (okay, very slight exaggeration). Not all roads are like this, which further adds to the confusion: why don’t they pave all the roads?

In the back of a tuk tuk Siem Reap
In the back of a tuktuk on an unpaved road where our guesthouse was. To the right is Siem Reap’s first cinema. It opened 2 days after we arrived.

I’ve lived off of dirt roads and driven down my fair share of them, but these roads are different creatures all together because the dirt is red and fine and gets everywhere. On my more romantic days, I tell myself I’m living on Frank Herbert’s science fiction desert planet Arrakis, you know, from Dune. And on my less romantic days, I try not to let my inner + outer clean freak spaz-out over all the dust in the apartment.

I ride my bicycle (well, it’s the landlady’s until I can get my own) to work and let me tell you there is nothing like being engulfed in a cloud of dust every time a car or dump truck drives by. Walking is no better. Sitting in a tuk tuk is slightly better. I hope all the construction going on will result in freshly paved roads and sidewalks. When we drive down particularly bad roads it feels like we are off-roading in a horse carriage.

But SR, I’m told, is changing fast and we seem to have arrived on the cusp of change. I saw Thailand change a good deal in the 5 years that I was there. This was part of the reason why I moved from bigger Chiang Mai to smaller Chiang Rai, I don’t like congested cities and consumerism crowding my ability to live an authentic life. And no one can accuse Siem Reap of not being genuine…

Along the Siem Reap River...
Along the Siem Reap River is pleasant and green!

Cambodians, at least in this touristic hot spot, are warm and friendly. And I’m not talking about the people who want you to buy something from (they’re sometimes not). But so far, Cambodians are quick to smile.  If you smile at them, more often than not, they smile back with their whole face. If you speak Khmer, they really light up and are thrilled that you know their language. My b/f has been studying like mad and has been able to charm his way to lower rent, tuk tuk rides and get the steeliest of grandmas and non-English speakers to smile and laugh.

Although, everyday tuk tuk drivers, restaurant workers, children, folks sitting in the dingiest shop have far superior English than many educated Thais. I continue to be surprised and enlightened by this phenomenon. I’m sure some part of this is due to exposure to English speakers, but Thailand is a well-trodden country, too.

Old Market area Siem Reap
[The Old Market area, Siem Reap]
Siem Reapers also simply have this confidence that I find refreshing. Many Thais are shy to use their English, but not here. Cambodians speak like native speakers, using words like, “so, well, actually…” and sometimes slang, like “holy shit” and “holy crap”. We’ve had to ask a few locals if they spent time abroad because their English was so good. I will have to ask my Cambodian coworkers why this is so…and get back to you.

This is not to say teaching Cambodians is all sticky rice and sweet mangos. My two weeks of teaching so far have been just a wee bit intense. I’ve walked in on a boy crying from another kid hitting him (my first day). I’ve left the room because one of the kids let out a “silent but deadly” (we all fled the room actually) and interestingly enough, in all my years teaching children, I’ve never had that before.  I’ve also accidentally flashed my students my underwear and unknowingly said a very bad word in Khmer. I wanted to crawl under my desk, but instead I put myself in the corner of the room with back towards them and willed myself to disappear (The class was laughing hysterically by this point).

Cambodians are also very serious about grammar, which I am not. As an American I couldn’t care jack-fruit about grammar, but it’s my “job” so I’ve got to be able to adapt my teaching style. Schools I’ve taught at before emphasized doing English, rather than explaining it as a subject. Right now, my life is about swimming through the choppy waters of micro and macro adjustments and I’m getting a little tired from constantly treading water.

It’s not that I don’t like it here, it’s just I haven’t had many opportunities to enjoy my new life. I’m working more than was recommended by my dear TEFL instructors. I took over classes that other teachers were subbing and arrived weeks after the term started. Work is too much, but the pay is great and I’m hoping things will get easier. They have to, right?

Siem Reap boys using motorbike seat as table
The balancing act and the practicality of using a moto seat as a table. [Boys eating, Siem Reap, 2015]
I’m also slowly starting to get our apartment comfortable, going shopping when I have free time, but we are still living out of our suitcases since we don’t have any shelves or places to put our clothes. I’m playing catch-up and settle down, getting adjusted and oriented every day. I’m taking more naps than in childhood I’m sure.

Last weekend the power was out all day Saturday due to city work and this weekend has been invasive traditional Cambodian music, monks chanting and lecturing at the Spinal Tap volume of 11, starting on Saturday around 8am and going on until the evening, and today starting again at 6am. It appears to be only happening in our neighborhood due to a funeral. I’ll quote my b/f on this one, he said, “It would be an interesting cultural experience if it wasn’t so abusive.”

Off of Sivatha Road, Siem Reap
Another common occurence is traffic coming to a stop due to vechicles getting stuck. This tour driver misjudged his ability to bring the bus down a smaller road.

There is still so much I haven’t shared, but I fear I am taking for granted your good time. So let’s end this update with food because the food has been a pleasant surprise. Before arriving, I was somewhat afraid of what Cambodian food would be like. After all, Thai food is world-renowned, but whoever said Cambodian food is like a mix of Thai and Vietnamese knew their cuisine. I like Cambodian food. It’s flavorful, and I love the French influence – crusty baguettes galore!

Siem Reap also has a wonderful variety of Mexican, French, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Thai and Indian restaurants. I’m excited to try a new restaurant once a week even though we have discovered our Cambodian favorites. I love to eat, and the Italian pizza we had the other night was exquisite, easily one of the best I’ve ever tasted.

Pizza at Il Forno Siem Reap
Delicious. The crust, crusty perfection. [at Il Forno]
I’m not losing weight despite cycling to work because, surprise, the portions are hearty here. Even the local food is a generous plateful, so I don’t know how the Cambodians manage to stay so fit. I’ll write more as soon as I can. And yes, I’m getting tanner.

Three locations of La Boulangerie-Café and after eating there, I understand why. [Me and my croque madame]
Three locations of La Boulangerie-Café and after eating there, I understand why. [Me and my croque madame. Mmmm.]
xxoo, Lani

83 replies on “First impressions on living in Siem Reap

  1. Hi Lani
    Read loads of articles about Cambodia and had a few mates who have been there (2 hours of pictures of Wats – yep not fun). But your article is the first one to make me think “Cambodia – must go there sometime”. Keep up the articles they are GREAT 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. When I lived in the Middle East, I was confronted with challenges on all levels, not from the locals in this ultra conservative corner of the Arab World but from ‘Life within the wall’. I sought solace from outside the wall. I walked alone. To survive, I had to change my mindset.

    I’ve never been to Thailand (transited in Bangkok, that doesn’t count) and Cambodia. The latter is a lot less developed than Thailand. It takes time to settle in.

    You have a great voice. Hang in there, Lani.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Traveller. I really appreciate it. These kinds of comments help me on my more grueling days.


      1. Kindness

        What greater joy is there than bringing about someone’s smile?
        Spreading positivity can go a very long mile.
        Whether they are feeling sad or happy,
        A small gesture, something affectionate to say,
        Wouldn’t it be amazing if you had made their day?
        A world filled with positivity and vibrant vibes,
        Is better lived than one shrouded in clouds of malevolence.

        Harvinder Bobby Singh

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lots to take in all at once. It’s too bad you didn’t have more free time to get settled. Will you continue with so many classes or will things eventually settle down on the work front?

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about Cambodia. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve asked for less hours next term and I’ll have to put my proverbial foot down now that I know better. I also know this time I was stuck with the “reject classes” so I’m hoping my schedule will improve, too.

      It is a lot of take in and I can’t wait for it to get easier. Thanks.


  4. Great to hear that you are settling in in Cambodia. Sounds very hectic to start work straight away but seems like you are on top of it 😛 Those roads do make Cambodia look worse for wear and run down. I suppose there are holes here and there in the roads, or the roads aren’t even but still, the drivers drive over them making for bumpy rides…at least that’s the case in parts of nearby Malaysia.

    Oh dear, you flashed your underwear, Lani? I’m guessing it was not on purpose and that it was an accident you never saw coming 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course it was not on purpose!!!! OMG. Today a couple of the boys were still teasing me about it.

      Yeah, the roads. Wow. I’ll try to get an action shot or picture of the potholes here. A bit tricky to do though.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so glad to hear that you found a job easily, Lani, and are starting to settle in, despite the hard work and interesting classroom experiences. 🙂 I also discovered Il Forno’s excellent pizzas, when I overdosed on temple-watching, and were lucky that I was there long enough to go back for more. Yum!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I can’t wait to go back to Il Forno’s 🙂 Thanks for your kind words. I’ll have to re-read your SR post now that I’ve been here for a spell.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Love to read your first impressions. Sounds like you’ve got a lot to take in and ‘process’. It takes courage and tenacity to do what you’re doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds very interesting there. I have only been in China so far in Asia so I can not compare anything at all.
    I am used to dirt roads in Finland actually but the way you describe it there I would just go crazy with all the fine red sand (though I love Dune..)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha. Glad you know the Dune reference. Yeah, these are not the dirt roads you are used to from back home. I remember when I was out in the country and we’d hit those bad roads, they were barely used, no one was around, but here they are main thoroughfares and that’s what’s so crazy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Herbert is one of my favorite authors though I haven’t read dune in at least 15 years now.
        In Finland dirt roads are everywhere and are used often as they are much cheaper to maintain (high temperature differences during the year make all the asphalt streets crack each year)


  8. I’m just wondering about the Cambodians willingness to speak English …somehow I wonder after suffering war/grief in earlier decades, just makes locals more fierce and bolder….in general…for survival. It might give a certain courage if one has lost family /friends.

    Think about it, mainland China is highly aggressive in general, economically and in other ways. Totalitarian Communist govn’t of Mao in previous decades made people suffer a lot, people hurt/tortured, robbed of their liberties, but some also survived..though not perfectly. That type of stuff if given peace and abit more freedom, makes a person, indeed a lot of others burst out and to heck what other people think of them.

    So learning to speak a foreign language…would be incredibly tame /less painful exercise for anyone having undergone trauma of violence, war, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, as a result of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia is a young population. And I agree, given their history, they probably are bolder, but they could have gone meeker, too. I think Cambos understand the importance of English and they are hungry for it and want to raise their status and be successful in the world.

      I’ve heard various arguements re: how unfortunate it is that Thailand was not colonized and I gather what they mean by that is, because of their isolation they have a bit of a superiority complex.

      Thais have a long history of protesting against their gov’t, but then being shut down by a military junta (like what is going on now) and they are the laziest English learners (admittedly). There is something about having to fight for what you want. It will be interesting to see what happens to Thailand b/c right now I feel they are feasting on credit and consumerism.


      1. I am not certain colonization is the best route to national rejuvenation and long term strength. Certainly war in a country’s history is a terrible wake-up call.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. It seems you have too much work but living there sounds cool! I was in Siem Reap for 4 days with the 3 day pass, I was a typical tourist, haha! Don’t think I went to the bar street though, our guide (who at that point was already our friend, haha) took us to some place for beers and most people were locals 🙂 I didn’t visit any supermarket so it is nice to hear they have CHEESE, that is also hard to get in China (and very expensive!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I have heard! It is really lovely to have nice breads, cheeses and Western food – everywhere. It’s a welcome change. Not that Thailand doesn’t have these things, but it’s not as ubitiqious.


  10. Happy adjusting! This had me in stitches:
    … let me tell you there is nothing like being engulfed in a cloud of dust every time a car or dump truck drives by. Walking is no better. Sitting in a tuktuk is slightly better. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great reading you again! I missed it. I had been quite inactive recently, just checking out posts from my reader once in a while. So now that my laptop seems to be working fine again, I made sure to visit you first, like first-first 🙂

    Thanks for sharing Cambodia to us. It gives me a glimpse of what stuff they have in common with us 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes. I must visit the Philippines one day. I was at the bank the other day and I swear the advert was in Filipino. Sometimes I feel like I’m in South America. I don’t know why. I think it’s my brain tying to find something familiar b/c it isn’t Thailand.


      1. “I was at the bank the other day and I swear the advert was in Filipino.” You must have encountered Spanish-sounding words…


  12. So so glad you made it safe! Sounds like a stressful time, to be sure, but you’ve kept your humor, which helps! I’m so excited to see what you have to say; you showed me a Thailand I would never have dreamed of, and I’m sure it’ll be the same in Cambodia. And of course, I’m so, so glad you’re still in Asia, my soon-to-be neighbor. 😉

    I’ve got two days left. TWO DAYS. Freaking out. But knowing you’ve done it and are adjusting helps me keep a positive attitude.

    Good luck! (I hope the school stuff gets easier…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, thanks! I can’t wait to hear about you. I see you posted 2 days ago, soooo, that means you are back on this side of the world!!! I’m sure it will all be wonderful. South Korea is a much more “Westernize” country than Cambo. But what do I know? There might be different challenges. Good luck, too!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m here! But I won’t have internet in my apartment for a while so I have no idea when I’ll get a proper post up.


  13. The differences sound fascinating — I can’t wait to hear what accounts for them.

    Dust. Boo. Dune…kind of also boo.

    I have never heard of a gas attack like the one in your classroom. Niiiiiccceee.


    1. No, Autumn, no nice 😛 It smelled like a dirty diaper. Actually, often the young learner’s classrooms smell like rank poo. Maybe it’s permanent. I hope the smell doesn’t stick.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I adored SR when I was there. The food is great, the people seem really friendly and I quite liked the beer.

    Have fun mate and best of luck!

    P.S. David Crystal’s ‘Discover Grammar’ is my go to for any grammar related stuff. Dead easy to read and clear in it’s examples – just in case you’re stuck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the tip! I’ve got my work cut out for me which means I should become a better teacher. Blah, blah, blah.


      *slams head on desk*


  15. Yay! I have been waiting for this post! It sounds like such an exciting and interesting place! I am slightly jealous of that dairy aisle and the fact that there are so many products from home! I was amazed when I visited Siem Riep how there would be a huge casino right next to a hovel. Is that still the way it is? I was going to go in an gamble at one, but decided to get a dollar drink instead? I can’t remember, do they use US dollars there or was it Laos? It has been a while since we have been there obviously. Congrats on the successful move!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cambodia is the one that uses USD. I don’t know about casinos. I think they are on the borders? Yeah, beer is cheaper here than Thailand, but I think beer is more expensive in Thailand in general. I’m not sure how I segued into beer. I must be thirsty 😛


      1. Beer is always a good topic of conversation. Chad is now a distributor of American craft beer in southern Thailand. Did you know the import tax on alcohol is 200% here!
        It’s no wonder it’s so darn expensive 😦 but we keep paying it hahah.
        I am glad the casinos aren’t there anymore, there was a huge one that looked like Bellagio right near Angkor wat when we were there!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, god. Then it might be there! I haven’t seen the great Angkor city yet. Yup, development. Gotta love it. 😛

        200%!!!! Sounds like the import tax, too. Now, I have “craft beer” stuck in my head…hmmm, beer.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Hope work settles down soon! Haha, I can just see you standing in the corner. And ugh, grammar. I hate when students always want to know “why,” like there’s a logical explanation besides cultural change/language shifts. Most of the time, you just have to remember weird rules.

    I was one of those tourists who stopped in Siem Reap for three days to do Angkor. Didn’t really like it (as far as that goes with a whopping three days) because of the dust, endless tourists, etc so looking forward to seeing it through your eyes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Everyone I’ve talked to who has visited SR loved it, so it’s a welcome change to hear that you didn’t. I can see why it would be a drag -especially during high season when there are probably too many tourists in a concentrated area all vying for an authentic experience. Could be said about anywhere, really.

      I’m curious about my opinion, too. Can’t wait to have time to have one 😛 Thanks, Kelly!


      1. Yeah, it was during the high season I think. My clearest memories are being literally pushed out of Chinese tourists’ scenic photos. I’m bitter haha. But I’ve heard good things about Cambodia, so I’d love to go back someday and see more of the country.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m definitely looking forward to exploring more and sinking my teeth into his experience, but those damn Chinese tourists better get out of my way. Hahhahaha. *ahem*


  17. Ah I love reading about your new experiences in Siem Reap (although they do sound a bit hectic). Your writing really takes me right there and allows me to vicariously live your expat life (as I sit at my 9-5 office job, sigh!).

    I’ve heard a lot of stories about Siem Reap and they’re usually good ones. It sounds like it’s an up and coming city in Cambodia, thanks to Angkor Wat. I also heard nothing but great stories about the hospitality and charm of the local Cambodian people.

    Wow, Cambodians speak better English than the Thais!? It’s ironic that countries like Japan and China spends hundreds of millions on their English education programs, yet people in Cambodia with little to no funding speak near fluent English.

    I also loved your phrase, ” I couldn’t care jack-fruit about grammar.” Haha. Nice.

    Best of luck on your new journeys in Siem Reap! I’m so excited to read more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Your comment made my relaxing morning even better!

      Yes, Thailand is in the same boat as China and Japan. The Land of Smiles spends a lot of moolah on education and AESAN has had to hold off on their “English fluency” standards, basically, because Thailand is behind. AESAN is waiting for Thailand to create a miracle or something b/c Thailand’s education system is all about working harder, not smarter. But let’s face it, many countries around the world struggle with education.

      I’m glad you caught the jack-fruit reference 😉 hee, hee.


  18. I was in Siem Reap for about four days a couple years ago and loved it! I can’t wait to read more about your life there!

    I’ve looked into working at the international schools in Siem Reap, but none of them seemed to need an American second/third grade teacher at the time. Have you seen any American International Schools pop up?


    1. Yes. But I understand where you are coming from. One of the language schools here says they only hire British and Australians. *rolls eyes*

      I actually saw a job board posting a few jobs for teachers who work with children. SR, I think, has quite a high turnover of expats.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. What an interesting question. I think if those were problems for me I would have chosen to live a life abroad.


      1. Recently having visited SR I thought about how bored you had to be there. For that reason I would prefer Phnom Penh but it is crazy busy. Really, you are not bored? I get bored in Chiang Mai some days. Well, good for you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t get bored easily. I think this is because my hobbies are reading and writing which you can pretty much do anywhere 😛

        But I understand, there is a certain restlessness that comes with routine and being in the same place, esp one with limited options. I find SR filled with new options though, so no, not bored – yet. 😀


  19. wah i can’t believe i hadn’t commented on this post yet! such a good read.. thanks for updating us on life in siem reap. when you wrote that the roads remind you it’s a developing country, i was thinking .. IT IS a developing country. weird to think that right, considering siem reap is so tourist market driven and there are tons of NGOs in siem reap and phnom penh. but the reality is that outside the major cities on the farms and in rural areas, most cambodians are poor. i had seen poverty on tv shows and in text books… then i looked poverty in the face of children in Kean Svay (outside of phnom penh) and Svay Rieng.. and it was a sad reminder that poverty and hunger still exist regardless of whether we encounter it on a daily basis in our own lives.

    i like that pic of the boy eating on the seat of a motorbike. resourceful! on my first trip to cousin’s house in the countryside, we had no table to eat on so we ate on the hood of a car. for real.

    i’m glad you’re liking the absence of franchises and chain stores – though they come with convenience, you’re right.. they’re predictable and lack personality. i much prefer local small businesses too. and YAYYYY that you like khmer food! =D do you know how to say “very delicious”? it’s ឆ្ងាញ់ណាស់ (chnyang nah)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. I feel like the poverty of Thailand can be avoided a lot easier than the poverty of Cambodia. I’m reminded that this is a developing country everyday because SR, it seems, is in a constant state of development! Just the landscape around our apt is continueously changing.

      Yes, I do know how to say delicious b/c my b/f is sooo good about practicing Khmer. I’m picking some up even though practicing Khmer is currently on hold while I wrap my head around my new work schedule.

      Glad you liked the post! Thanks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi Lani,

    I first came to know about your blog via
    Since then, I’ve been following your blog off and on with interest.
    I have just successfully completed a gruelling one month Trinity TESOL course in Thailand and I’m now back in my home town in Malaysia. I am thinking of continuing on my adventure in other parts of South East Asia and am looking at the possibilities of getting a good teaching job with a good school in Siem Reap in six months time. I am very keen to teach English to Adults as well as to Young Learners, though I have more experienced in teaching Young Learners.
    I hope you can email me with any information that you may know of about vacancies in English schools in Siem Reap.
    I have not been to Cambodia for about one and a half years and it would be nice to meet you if I do go back to Cambodia for a visit or to work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Wendy,

      Thanks for following along. I don’t know of any vacancies, but I can recommend following/joining the many FB groups on Siem Reap. There are job openings posted from time to time. Plus, it’s generally a great place to get connected and plugged into what’s going on. Be warned though, like many forums, their followers are sometimes assholes.

      It’s changed a lot – SR, from what I’ve heard. Shoot me an email once your plans get more definite and good luck! 🙂


      1. Hi Lani,
        Thanks for your reply. I just got a part time teaching English job in Malaysia.
        Anyway, I might email you if my plans to visit Siem Reap gets more definite.
        By the way, what is your email?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you for your interest.

        I will try to update you on any development via email or via your blog site.
        Or you can email me if you have any question to ask me.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. By the way, are you still in Siem Reap?
        If you are still in Siem Reap, how long are you planning to stay there?
        I really would like to meet you, that is if you are still in Siem Reap, when or if I go back to Siem Reap again.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Hi Lani,
    I am an Ex-Pat American who has been living in Thailand for just about 20 years. Where does the time go. I am preparing to move to Siem Reap and really appreciate your insight on things. There is so much I need to know. I was up there a few months ago for the first time although had first been to Cambodia in 1988 and went almost every religiously, if you can call it that.
    Anyhow, I sense there is opportunity up there. I have a publishing background but have been working on an incredible project relative to Farming I would like to do up there if I can only get enough funding. If not, I will work my way towards that goal.
    Are there any “houses” for rent outside of the city, say, 15-30 minutes?
    Can a Foreignor get a license easy enough there to ride a motorbike?
    Is it possible to bring personal items from Thailand, (same challenge as you with years of stuff) over the border?
    If possible, can you send me an e-mail so I can send some info to you. Thanks much,


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a friend who has been living in Thailand for 10 years and he eventually moved back even after visiting the major cities/areas of Cambo. So, I’m skeptical about 20 years and making the change. I suppose it’s up to the individual.

      We flew, but I’m sure there would be no problem moving things via land crossing. You might have to pay a bribe as I heard the land crossing sometimes has that.

      Plenty of foreigners drive bikes and cars here. I don’t think that is a problem, but driving here is very different as the quality of the roads is not as good, and as you’ve probably noticed, traffic moves in all directions making Thailand look civilized.

      Check out FB groups for land/housing options as there should be places that suit your needs. Sorry I can’t be more helpful than that.

      It’s quite an adjustment (even though there appears to be surface similarities), so good luck 🙂


  22. Hi Lani,
    Thank you for this article! My wife and I are moving to Cambodia next month. We want to stay in Siem Reap and I want to teach, I love teaching, but I notice all the English teaching jobs tend to be in Phnom Penh. Are there any English Teaching schools in Siem Reap that you know of? If so would you give me some names so I can look them up and contact them? Thank you again for your articles, they are very informative!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would head up Facebook’s ‘Expats and Locals living in Siem Reap’ page. Often employers post job openings. There is also a job page for Siem Reap folks as well. Just ask to join and the moderator of the pages will get back to you. Then you can peruse to your heart’s content 😛

      Or you can google ‘Siem Reap English schools’ or a varation thereof. Thanks, and good luck.


      1. That is so awesome to hear! Thank you again for the prompt response! I will check those things out on Facebook, and see where it leads.

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Hello again Lani,
    One more rather weird question if you don’t mind. My wife has read on other blog sites that it is hard to find bars of soap in Siem Reap that don’t have bleach in them. Do you find this true? She wants to bring tons of bars with us but soap is weighty and as you know there are weight limits on luggage. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bars of soap with bleach in them? I’ve not heard of that. Do you mean for washing clothes? If it is for whitening purposes you will discover that there are plenty of whitening products here. Also, SR imports many products from America, Australia, France…if it’s a western product, she should find something suitable.


      1. Great to know! I will pass that info on to my wife. Thank you for your swift reply!

        Liked by 1 person

  24. Hi Lani,

    Thinking of moving over soon. We love SR but have concerns that PP might provide more opportunities and things to do. Just wondered if you’re still there and how things have worked out 6 months later?



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jim, I’m in Thailand and have been for about a year. I was in SR for 2.5 and I’m including a link to all the posts I’ve written on Cambo: (in it is a 2 year reflection as well.)

      I know of folks who have moved from PP to SR and vice versa. Personally, I think SR has a lot for a town of its size, but I don’t know what exactly your concerns are. Also, one thing to seriously consider is PP is more dangerous. Sure, crime happens everywhere, but its a bigger city known for this.

      After my first year in SR, we moved closer to the river and stuff in general and that made all the difference. Well, my schedule changed and we got into a better apt, so my last year and a half was an improvement and we got to take trips. I don’t know where you are at now, but Cambo holds a special place and I hope to return.


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