Moving to a foreign country to establish a new life is challenging. Right at the beginning of her first published book the author and freelance journalist Lina Goldberg sets clear that Cambodia is not just “a study in contradictions” as allegedly described by lazy writers on flying visits but rather uniquely wonderful. It is a statement that sets high expectations in the expat guide on how to settle down in the Kingdom of Wonder and hints to useful insider information.
The thirsty for knowledge won’t be disappointed. Whilst including informed historical background, the book also values the importance of connecting with the expat priorities, and keeps a light-hearted tone: “In 1863 King Norodom signed an agreement with the French making his country a protectorate of France…and bringing baguettes to the Kingdom.”
More than that, the expat guide provides the reader with knowledge that attest to Goldberg’s lived experience in Cambodia (2 and a half years). The section on the country’s concept of “saving face” for example is as honest as it is sharp and will help the potential mover to decide if he can become part of Cambodia’s culture.
Goldberg’s message seems clear: If an expat is unable or unwilling to accept that Cambodia is not his country. “Every situation should be negotiated.”
Move to Cambodia also arms the potential expat with much-needed practical information. With more than 60 sub-chapters on 170 pages including “cool season”, “dental care” “gay culture” and “opening a business” Move to Cambodia seems to cover almost every aspect of life for all kinds of people.
Knowing that a 1-bedroom Khmer-style apartment in Siem Reap should not cost more than 220 $ a month is as comforting as knowing that “Dr. Scott” at Travellers Medical Clinic is the man to consult in case of STDs in Phnom Penh.
One fault is the book’s scanty coverage of the role and recent history of expats in Cambodia. The vibrant expat life established with the arrival of the UNTAC in 1992 and expats that kept coming as a result of the brain drain caused by the Khmer Rouge and the resulting shortage of local professionals to rebuild the country.
She makes some problematic statements: “For those without such qualifications, never fear — there are jobs available to you, too.” Why should unskilled locals be replaced by unskilled foreigners? To make such a statement without referencing the problems that arise from hiring for no other qualification than white skin causes – particularly in the education sector – seems a little careless.
Nonetheless Move to Cambodia is a thoroughly researched, and highly. The unpretentious and precise journalistic writing style makes it an easy and enjoyable read underlined by a clear, chronological structure. Orientated on the process of deciding, planning, living and finally working in Cambodia make it a handy book of reference that is relevant to the expats’ point of views on every topic discussed. Just for its sheer volume of information the guide is also useful to expats who consider themselves well-established.
Cambodia remains after all the Kingdom of Wonder and some of its mysteries are explained here.
To purchase the book please visit Move to Cambodia's website.
To contact the reporter on this story: Julius Thiemann at [email protected]