Downshifting for a programmer? Cambodia, survival experience and life experience
Hello dear readers. I must say right away that I am a bit of a strange person and my experience is far from acceptable to everyone and often encounter misunderstanding, both from relatives and from strangers. It will be about how I threw everything and left with $ 300 in my pocket in a new country for myself, which seemed to me something wild and unknown. In a discussion of one of the posts, I casually mentioned my experience and I was asked to write more.
I am 21 years old and I am quite an average representative of the profession. In Russia, I work as a senior PHP developer, had experience working as a system architect and lead programmer. He had 3 jobs at the same time, thanks to which he learned to organize himself and gained the experience I needed so much in software development in various fields. He worked without exaggeration for 20 hours a day for almost four months. I do not have a higher education, therefore the roads to many foreign offices are closed to me from interesting points of view.
On a typical spring day, on a weekend, I sat at home and thought that it was time to go on vacation, because I had not been on vacation for more than a year. Honestly, until that moment I did not even know where Cambodia was located. And now, a small note by a Russian tourist on a visit to the temple complex of Angkor catches your eye. The views of Angkor, of course, amazed me, but I was even more fascinated by the article, a link to which was in the discussion of that note. The article was about the times of Pol Pot. From that moment I was completely absorbed in Cambodia, I read books, watched the episodes of the program “The World Inside Out,” and studied expat forums in Kampuchea. Only a week passed, and I already firmly decided that I would go to Cambodia not just on vacation, I would go there for a long time. It is worth noting that I already had the experience of a long stay in another country. He lived throughout the year in the Czech Republic and during this time he saw quite a lot. He even tried on the skin of a homeless, impoverished, hungry emigrant.
A little more than a month after reading that note, I ended up at the airport. I had a one-way ticket with me and about 400-450 dollars for the first time. This may seem like a very desperate act, but my reasoning was something like this: “I have arms, legs, a head and even a laptop, I won’t go hungry” - and I didn’t.
To fly to Cambodia by direct flight is not a very reasonable move; it is best to do this through popular tourist destinations, from where it is then easy to get to Cambodia by land. At that time, the cheapest tickets were to Bangkok - 11,000 rubles one way, a fairly affordable price. Arriving at Bangkok airport and passing passport control, I decided not to rush and assess the situation slowly. He went around the building, went outside, talked with taxi drivers and found out that there is a train station at the airport, from where you can easily and cheaply get to the city. There were absolutely no ideas where to go in the city, so I bought a token to the geographically central stop and went there.
The first night was the hardest. I intentionally did not buy anything but simple and cheap food, I walked in search of cheap housing, but such walks with a backpack are very tiring. The first day almost ended with an overnight stay on the podium of some statue, but I took the rest of the energy into my hands in time, went to the motorcycle driver, said that I had no money, I was hungry and I needed the cheapest overnight stay. The driver took me to the hostel, for which he received his well-deserved dollar. I spent a couple of days in Bangkok studying it, walking.
A train ticket from Bangkok to Aranyaprahet (a border city with Cambodia on the Thai side) costs 50 baht (approximately $ 1.3). By the time I bought the ticket, as a result of an unpleasant incident and rash spending at the airports, I had $ 300 left.
The first thing you see when you arrive in Cambodia is devastation. If Aranyaprahet is still a more or less well-groomed city with adequate roads, then Poi Pet (the border city on the Cambodian side) just unsettled me. Poverty, garbage, smells, heat, a broken road - all this gives the first idea of Cambodia to those who travel there from Thailand and then says that Cambodia is an uninhabitable country.
In fact, most people who have come here have never seen, and most likely will not see, real Cambodia. The laws of a market economy and the development of the tourism business in Cambodia leave an indelible mark on popular tourist cities. Khmers have not yet learned how to monitor where they live and create attractive conditions for tourists. They, as a rule, do not think about long-term development, but want to fill their pocket here and now. These are the tourist realities of this country. Having some preparation, this can be very easily dealt with, after all, we are all human.
Real Cambodia is far from popular tourist spots and resorts. Real Cambodia is done first of all by people. Selfless, sympathetic, cheerful, all this despite the suffering that this people suffered and the fact that many of them are below the poverty line, earning $ 60 per family (!) Per month. They do not look in your pocket, they look with interest at you, wait for your stories and are ready to help you on almost any issue. This is why I came here.
Get to the point
The lyrics are lyrics, but it’s time to write about why I consider this country attractive for living \ visiting \ remote work.
Kampuchea is now at the stage of economic development, is trying to attract foreign capital, is just learning how to do business. The legislation and its enforcement in Cambodia is worth a separate post, but in short: they will not bother you until you cross the boundaries of the reasonable, you will not be forced to do unnecessary things to anyone. What can I say, I wanted to trade food - you go out and trade, that's all. It may seem strange, but here it somehow works well. I often ate in street institutions, which, of course, no one inspects, but the quality was always very good and there could not even be any kind of poisoning. But in Russia there seems to be a SES, but people are poisoned ... A good example of how the law works: “If you cross a double solid line and do not interfere with anyone, do it safely, you will not be fined.”
I already wrote about this, this is the main plus of this country.
In Cambodia, a huge number of foreign universities, schools, colleges, for example from the USA, Canada, Australia, France. I can’t accurately orientate on prices, I only know that it’s not very cheap. The local population clings to knowledge with special force. At the time of Pol Pot, as you know, the entire educated population was subject to destruction, because now in the country there is a real shortage of specialists. To get an education for the local population is a good chance for a better life. On the hub there was a wonderful series of posts ( tyts , tyts ) on the construction of a mobile network in Cambodia, in which many features of the population and the country, including education, were revealed.
For me, a very important point. Living in Russia, I just don’t see how to buy an apartment or a good car without contacting the bank for a mortgage / loan. Not for the sake of bragging - I had a very good salary, but you know how much I have accumulated? Not at all ... Here I can save 3/4 of the money earned.
Eating in a cafe costs $ 3 on average, going to the movies - $ 3, renting a bike - $ 40, a liter of gasoline - $ 1. The only thing is that utilities and medicine are quite expensive here.
Cambodia has access to the Gulf of Thailand. From the capital by bus take about 4 hours. There are several cities on the sea, one of which is popular with tourists, and the other that I have chosen for myself is a small, quiet, provincial town where, it seems, everyone knows each other. They love me in it and call it “Mister Russia”, everyone asks how I am doing, sometimes they invite me to visit and eat delicious food. In response, I show beautiful photographs of Russia, talk about it and just exchange life stories. It is very nice.
Finding a job for a foreigner in Cambodia is easier than for a local. Local business requires “whites,” such are the realities not only of Cambodia, but also SEA as a whole, as far as I know. Nevertheless, it is much preferable to still have a remote job, because local work = local salary, yes, higher than that of the indigenous population, but a foreign company will pay you more.
Khmer. In tourist cities, almost the entire population speaks English, it is more difficult to find an English-speaking population away from such centers. The older generation in schools taught Russian, some speak French.
Housing is for every taste and color. For $ 100 a month you can rent a decent odnushka or studio in the center of Kep. For $ 400, a villa with a pool and a mango grove in the yard. Problems with finding housing usually also do not arise, I always acted according to this scheme:
- I come to the city
- I stay in a cheap guest house (no more than $ 5 \ day)
- I ask the locals, watch ads, travel around the city in search of housing. Usually takes no more than 3 days
This section could be large, but, fortunately, I did not encounter such a phenomenon, at least dangerous to my health, or material well-being. My personal opinion is that it is difficult to find a country more dangerous than Russia. In general, in tourist places it is quite developed. In towns like Kep, she’s not there, everyone here knows each other, everyone is always in sight. On the other hand, I walked at night in all the major cities of Cambodia and I did not have any problems, but they say that it’s better not to do this.
12 $ \ month for unlimited 3Mb \ s, there is 3G, master 4G. Coverage - the whole country.
About $ 300 and how I did it
Everything is very simple. Arriving at a new place, you need to give yourself a clear indication: "do not buy anything." In a new place, you are not yet familiar with the reality in which you have to live, you will want to buy everything, try everything. No need to rush with this, everyone will have time.
Yes, at first it was hard. He lived in a dorm-room for $ 2 a day, while he was looking for acceptable housing options. As a result, I found a wonderful two-room apartment with a large balcony for $ 100 / month. A month was enough for me to raise at least some money. But I did not move out of the apartment for quite some time, I liked it very much.
From the funny: once I had to literally step over myself. The money ran out earlier than I expected and had to urgently figure out how to earn it, I wanted to eat. Fortunately, I already had local acquaintances, one of my acquaintances sang at the hotel, I offered to help her somehow, after which I played music for the first time in my life, and even on stage. Of course, my help was doubtful. He played the tambourine, the first time in his life, he was very shy inside, but tried not to show his mind. He earned $ 5, which was enough to provide himself with food for a week.
I could write a whole bunch of stories, but, unfortunately, I always question the usefulness and interestingness of the information I am presenting, I will gladly continue my writing in the next post if you specify a vector of descriptions. What would you like to know personally? You can ask the most stupid questions.
UPD: Since there are a lot of strange comments in which someone proves to someone that it is not necessary to go to Cambodia to achieve my goals, or not to go to it at all, I answer:
In no case do you need to go to Cambodia, especially if you do not want to. In no case do I agitate anyone to go to other countries with my post. I myself love Russia very much, but there are people who want to travel, I relate to them and I travel. All arguments like: “Everything is the same in Russia” are true for people who voice them, but are wrong for me. Understand that all people have different needs, philosophies, points of view and outlooks on life, and there is no one right or wrong, so why are you planting your own points of view?
Regarding "21 years senior / leading developer":
These are just inscriptions in the labor and responsibilities at work. Please do not engage in verbiage, in the end, we are not talking about this at all. Who is very interested, can chat with me on this topic in PM.
Thank you for your understanding and such an interest in the post, I did not expect that the topic could be interesting to such a wide circle of people. Unforgettable trips to you, love your country and remember that you are its representative and they judge the country as a whole.