Becoming an Expat, Cambodia on $25/day, Pho 101, and Hanoi History Lessons

This week at BootsnAll learn about food, traveling on a budget, and how a place’s history affects its present in Southeast Asia. Jessica Spiegel give her best advice about jumping the hurdles to becoming an expat, James Pham shares his expertise on budget travel in Cambodia and the basics of eating and understanding Vietnamese Pho, and finally Jenn Miller reflects on Hanoi and its history.

Read on for what you may have missed!

Becoming an Expat


Becoming an expat is tricky, but by no means impossible. Jessica Spiegel shares her best advice from her first-hand experience obtaining legal residency in Italy.

“A two-week vacation doesn’t give you an accurate picture of life at a destination. So before you make the big move you should take time to spend a month or two renting an apartment in the city you think you want to live in – preferably in not the best weather or the busiest season so you aren’t duped into thinking it’s always beautiful and sunny and full of energy. An extended, single-location stay will let you settle into a routine and get used to things like grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and paying the bills.”

Cambodia on $25 a Day

There’s more to Cambodia than Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. James Pham explains how to explore this off-the-beaten path destination on $25 a day.

“If you’re on a budget, Cambodia is definitely do-able on $25-$505USD per day. Budget $7-10 for accommodation, $5 per day on average for transportation (motorbike rentals run $5 per day, a great way to get around if you’re a confident driver), $5 for food, $2 for a fruit shake and a beer and $3 for admission tickets. Of course, your expenses go way up if you’re visiting the Angkor temples with their hefty entrance fees in Siem Reap.”

Pho 101


In this  beginner’s guide to Pho, James Pham interviews a local family about the history and preparation of Vietnam‘s most famous dish. He also explains how to order the iconic soup, no matter where you are.

“Most pho restaurants don’t need a menu because there are a set of standard options wherever you go. The first option is beef or chicken broth. While the spices that go into them are similar, chicken pho (phở gà) is made strictly from chicken bones, meat and innards. Because of how much work goes into the broth, most restaurants will serve one or the other, not both. Chicken pho has clearer broth and a lighter flavor. If there’s no “phở gà” sign outside, that means you’re in for the more common beef pho.”


Hanoi History Lessons


How do you feel when traveling to a country that your government was at war with in the recent past? What if you have family members that were involved? Jenn Miller reflects on Vietnam and the USA’s shared history, and the human condition in general in Hanoi.

“It’s an interesting thing to be a guest in a country that the government of your father’s generation bombed to perdition with questionable motives. We watch a beautiful and ancient woman cross the street in the middle of a rain storm. She pulls her long pants up around her knees and gingerly steps through the puddles in her plastic sandals. She is wearing a traditional cone-shaped “rice paddy” hat and is grinning from ear to ear without one tooth left in her head. It’s likely she’s lived her whole life in Hanoi”

Photo credits:, Luboslav Tiles /, Ayotography /, Gitisak /, martinho Smart

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