The Regional Review
• Beilingju Hotel Shenzhen
• Shanshui Trends Huafa Hotel
• Shenzhen Airlines Hotel
• Bauhinia Hotel Shenzhen
I liked the review of the regional options in this week's Stick Mark II column. I'll throw in my few bits and pieces.
If you have a lot of money, this is a very good place to be. The food can be excellent, and the infrastructure and facilities are Western standard. However, everyone I know who's lived in Singapore, while they've loved it, haven't saved
a penny during their time there. That can be construed in some cases as "a good thing" as it means there are things to spend money on (as opposed to other places where expats can find high paying jobs), but, at the end of the day you'd
like to think that you're getting ahead.
Okay, I'm not a big fan of Vietnamese cuisine. All of the bad meals I've had in Bangkok have been Vietnamese, and my trips to Vietnam have not been satisfying. Infrastructure's a mess, the police are scary, and I find the whole place just
exhausting. To be fair, it's been several years since I was back, but I just found the attitude "tiring". There could be good opportunities there, and the government has become much more "investor friendly" (as opposed
to the early 90's when it was basically a sinkhole for money), but I still wouldn't trust them too much.
I like Phnom Penh. I find the food of good quality, the wine excellent, and some of the ambience charming. And the Khmer can be much easier going than urban Thai (but so can rural Thai). On the down side the infrastructure makes an abattoir look appealing,
and it's not a bad idea to have a "friend" in the glove compartment for late night driving. But, if I was to open a small business, this place is actually pretty easy to operate in, with the "special taxes" being affordable
and easily managed. It pains me to see the town filling up with the flotsam of Bangkok, and for Snooky to be dragged down to the lower levels of Pattaya.
Forget it. The crime isn't as bad as Africa, but it's close. People are robbed during church services, for God's sake! And the food is really abysmal. The PI is actually devolving, with things getting worse from year to year to year.
I love visiting Laos. The food is good, the wines good (but not as good as Cambodia). And the people are extremely gracious. However, I've known people who have found that their businesses have become "gifts" for the Armed Forces of Laos.
Also, this is one country where you want to keep your nose really clean while you're there. As you've pointed out, things can become very frightening very quickly. (But I still love visiting!)
Why bother? The Burmese (outside of the military) are charming, gracious people, but you're going to be seeing a lot of the military. You can't escape them. And the food isn't too great.
I've several friends in Djakarta, and they love and hate the city. There are some decent restaurants, but not many. The nightlife is vibrant, but you do have to contend with traffic. And you should always be on the watch for crime (and demonstrations).
Traffic is going to be the big killer for anyone living there.
I was very impressed last year by how modern KL was. And how cheap everything was. There's not really any high-end dining, but the street food and mid-level restaurants were good, and prices were low. Hotels as well were quite inexpensive when compared
to Bangkok (at least the 5 star internationals – I was on expense account). With all these good things, what's not to like? Well, something's not there in the people. They almost seem a little dead inside. It's not as bad as being
in Egypt or India, but I was getting depressed after only a few days.
So, would I still move to Bangkok? (and I'd live in Bangkok, not in the provinces). Probably. A year ago that would’ve been more definite, but now it's becoming a question if we'll be allowed to. The minimum bank account balance isn't a problem yet, but who's to say they won't raise this again? And again? At some point it becomes a lot of money to have sitting around doing nothing. If they relaxed that to allow for consideration of trading accounts, it would be another matter.
And part of what I like in Bangkok is that I have a circle of friends there. If they leave the city, that's a draw that's gone.
Still, there's a lot to be said for a city with good hospitals, functioning mass transit, and almost every cuisine under the sun.
This was actually email feedback to this week's Stick Mark II column. I thought it interesting and the writer allowed it to be used as a submission.