Expat Q&A: Rice for life

In this series we talk to Cambodia expats about what they wish they had known when they first moved to Cambodia that they know now.

This week we talk to the man behind the legend, Simone Bianchi. Whilst this Italian expat needs no introduction to the Phnom Penh community, Simone has lived in Cambodia for two years and works with local communities to cultivate forestry management. When not strutting down Golden Street, he can be found in the remote wilderness, at one with nature.

Simone in Kep

Simone getting his box on in Kep, Cambodia.

MTC: Simone, what do you know now that you wish you had known when you first moved to Cambodia?

SB: “I wish I had know this place was infested with Australians. I wish I had know where Carlton was (it’s in Melbourne, by the way). I wish I had know I would yell “Bonzaaa!!!” during an AFL game.

But luckily, Cambodia it is not all about Aussies. Cambodia is about cheap drinks and easy alcoholism. Phnom Penh is about wonderful world (and world class) restaurants…

“Um, darling, what do you want to eat tonight? Indian? Lebanese? Russian?”

“Oh, we had Indian yesterday. Let’s try the new Italian place.”

I wish I had know if you have triplet children you get rice for life. Rice for life! I am not sure if it is a prize or a curse or a title of an Iggy’s Pop song.

Phnom Penh is about cheap motodop (motorbike taxi) and infamous clubs and famous girlie bars and huge traffic jams and arrogant drivers and water (in forms of rivers, shit canals or rains).

I wish I had know Lexus is a car brand for posh people who enjoy chasing you if you dare to cross their road.

I wish I had know that expat aid workers can sip their gin tonic on the balcony while ordering food from Door2Door magazine and still saving the world one forest at a time.

Phnom Penh is wonderful. Phnom Penh is a bubble. Get away from it and spend as much time as possible in the provinces. That is the real Cambodia. Get lost in the jungle and remember Colonel Kurtz. He is still out there, somewhere.”

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