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A YL ham’s Cambodian diary

Writer: XU7AKK Mari Kimura

Hello, I’m Mari Kimura. I’m a ham radio operator who came to Cambodia due to my husband’s work. It has been two years since I first came here. Since I’m going to go back to Japan in 2020, I wanted to jot down my nice and sweet memories about my life in Cambodia, written from a YL’s perspective.

Simple home station satellite antennas for 2 meters and 70 centimeters. A 15-degree elevation angle catches most satellites except when they are directly overhead.

More about me:
My Japanese call sign is JL3GOI, and I have a Japanese 1st Class amateur radio operator license. I’ve been a ham radio operator for about thirty years. My home station consists of an IC-746 and an IC-PW1, outputting a thousand watts. Since I came to Cambodia, I’ve been working mainly SSB and FT8 from a small ham shack, as shown in the picture above. The feature-rich IC-706MKⅡG, and a dipole antenna are good enough to operate amateur radio in an apartment, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

A developing city, Phnom Penh

What surprised me when I first came here is the tremendous energy of people who are trying to recover everything they lost in past civil wars. High-rise buildings, huge shopping malls, and residential housing are rapidly being constructed. During rush hours, enormous numbers of motorcycles are mingled with tuktuks, bikes, buses, or trucks, and they cause traffic jams. After squalls, roads sometimes become like a river...but this is not a problem for Cambodian people at all. They easily plow the “river”, making great splashes and wakes.

A crowded road during rush hours

A road after squalls

Pigs carried by a motorcycle!

Cell phones and Wi-Fi hot spots

The city has many cafes, drug stores, and cell phone shops. When you enter those cafes or shops, you will surely find free Wi-Fi. The Internet environment is much better than Japan. Almost everyone has a smartphone, and they walk or drive while on their phones… a very common thing in Cambodia. Cell phone shops that sell various kinds of used cell phones line the streets, and there you can replace batteries and displays.

“Phsar,” a marketplace

“Phsar” means a marketplace in the local language called Khmer. In Phsars, we can buy fresh vegetables, fruits, fresh-water fish, pork, or chicken. The prices depend on your negotiating skill, and of course you must speak Khmer. I’ve realized that every Phsar has several beauty parlors that are always crowded with women. Cambodian women usually have long hair, and they seem to ordinarily have their hair washed at beauty parlors. The neighborhood is mainly a restaurant area. Cambodian people commonly eat out, so you can see many people at restaurants, early in the morning.

You can get almost everything at a Phsar.

Spit-roasted bananas...yum!

Got the amateur radio license, “XU7AKK”!

A month after I came here, I went to the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC), and applied for a Cambodian amateur radio license. I needed to fill out the application form and submit a copy of my passport, Japanese license certificate written in English, and so on. The application cost 15 US$ and another 25 US$ was required for the license fee. I was licensed at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MTPT). After that, I finally acquired the Cambodian amateur radio license “XU7AKK”!

In the application form, you must write about your rig or antenna in detail. For example, information about the antenna direction and cable loss must be provided. Luckily, the staff members at TRC were very helpful. They kindly told me what I have to write when I didn’t understand some parts written in Khmer.

Staff members at TRC. They are very kind.

In front of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication


I currently live on the fifth floor of an eight-story apartment building, surrounded by mansion houses, which has an atmosphere of a high-class residential area. Two dipole antennas that are connected to the IC-706MKⅡG stick out from the balcony. One is for the 15 m band, the other one is for the 20 m band (I add loading coils when operating on the 30 m band). Because we are now at the bottom of the Sunspot Cycle, it is a little difficult to make QSOs with my poor station. A breakthrough was the popular “FT8” mode! FT8 enables me to communicate with not only JA stations, but also with other stations worldwide. FT8 impresses me a lot. Sometimes it is a little difficult to use the WSJT-X software application, but now I’m fully enjoying amateur radio, regardless of the bad band conditions. I created an account on, and now I can use LoTW and eQSL. Please check out my page!


The NPIC Amateur Radio Club, XU7AMO, consists of teachers and students who I teach Japanese language to as a volunteer, and technicians of an FM radio station nearby. They mainly put their effort into helping others acquire their amateur radio licenses, and into contesting. I sometimes get on the air as a member of this club. The manager of the club is a student in my Japanese class, and his name is Mr. Sombath. He teaches Information Technology. I assume we are the only ones who own an IC-7610 in Cambodia, and we are trying really hard to have QSOs with amateur radio stations around the world. We have not gotten used to operate it, so we keep an instruction manual by our side.

We have a ham shack at the Communication Engineering campus. Mr. Sampath and me, with the IC-7610

As a Japanese teacher

TAlong with being a housewife, I am a volunteer teacher of Japanese to Cambodian teachers at the university where my husband is a professor. Although the teachers are busy, they study Japanese with a lot of passion. We always have fun, and our classroom is always filled with laughter.

My Recent Grid Activation

We smile all the time. These are teachers of Electronic Engineering and Electric Engineering.

Returning to Japan soon...

When I think of going back to Japan before long, I feel that time flies so fast. I tried to learn Khmer, but I still have a long way to go. Yet, I was very happy when I was able to communicate with local people with my broken Khmer. After I get home, I should communicate with Cambodian hams in Khmer from Japan. It should be a lot of fun.

At a wedding ceremony, the groom is heading for a home where his bride is waiting for him. Children are also well dressed.

Mango or Banana trees are often planted in front of Cambodian houses. This is a Jackfruit tree, which is planted near my apartment.

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