The first agent was found via the internet. A young woman found us three overpriced properties picked us up and drove us around her selected places....
Flat 1: This was opposite the market (BKK market) I visited the other day. As the agent stated it is convenient for the market. However, the draw backs were considerable. The kitchen was a health and safety disaster. The squat toilet was practically in the kitchen. The bedroom was filthy. The second bedroom could not be observed because someone was sleeping in it(!) The living room was massive and as one of the young women who had been woken up to show us around said "you could put a pool table in here". That was true but it was more likely that I might die from various faulty electrical wiring first. The market was directly opposite. It would have been a disaster and the price was ridiculous.
Flat 2: Hopefully on to the next (waiting for that modern, western look requested) - this was basically a house with a corridor of doom. Dirty and with a massive picture on the front door of a dangerous guard dog. Suffice to say it was a big NO.
flat 3: This was a very odd flat. It was (needless to say, horrible, bad electrics, dirty, bad furniture, nasty bathroom...) not what we were looking for but the most amusing thing was the fact that there was one flat on the first level and then you went onto the balcony at the back of the property and then up a "ladder" to another floor to another flat that would also be part of the deal. The ladder filled me with fear and also I could see the estate agent was not too keen on going up it either.
Moving on to the next estate agent - the properties got better!
Flat 4: He tried to show us flat 1 again! - NO!
Flat 5: Nice. Clean. A serviced apartment. The only problem - it was on a street with a sewer. In the hot season - smelly. In the wet season, flooding. Poo all year round. Not ideal.
Flat 6: Nice again but security not good also next door to a building site. The electrics were not hanging off the walls. Was down a passageway from the main road so not so good at night.
Flat 7: In the Wat Phnom area of town (north). Nice a bit bohemian presently occupied by a couple from New Zealand. Wrong area of town. Second bedroom did not have a window.
.... estate agent number 3....
Flat 8: Tired to show us flat 1 again - NO!!!!!!!!
Flat 9: tried to show us flat 5 again. We laughed about the potential pitfalls of living by the sewer!! Noooooo!
Flat 9: Flat 6 again (rapidly learning all estate agents try and sell all flats!)
Flat 10: Phew, the first flat that would seriously be considered. It was at the top of a modern but nice building. It was more of an extended hotel room as the main area was just a bedroom with a bathroom which you could lock up but the kitchen was in an open area on the landing. Sounds odd but it was quite nice in that no one else would go up there (as it was right at the top of the building on its own floor) and that it was partially an open area. Still, a bit odd and the price was expensive for the size. The landlady was willing to clean and do the laundry and that was tempting...!
Flat 11: Our budget was not getting quality as desired so the agent took us to a nearby block to show us a more expensive apartment. It was a lot better immediately and was so clean compared to flats 1, 2 and 3!!! It was still overly covered in tiles (on the floor and walls - its a Khmer thing).
On the drive back the agent mentioned flat 12 - he described it like it was a palace. It was our budget plus another third but a look wouldn't hurt.... the building was by far the best outside so far. It had a lot of greenery and was next door to a decent looking hotel. The best thing so far however was the security guard who saluted as we got out of the car!! After getting the keys we saw an apartment on the third floor. The kitchen was fitted (!!! - the first so far!!), the bedroom was light and airy, the bathrooms (2 of them) gleamed, the bed was still in its original packaging, the living area had a new sofa, the balcony had good views, the air con looked like it would work.... SOLD! The view overlooks some of the city's sights - like the independence monument and the modern shopping centre Sorya in the distance.... the contract is to be signed on Monday!