Submit your own 'Great Escape' »

Will (AKA Wild Bill)

posted on 24th September 2011

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Lancaster, near to where I was brought up and where my family still live, in May 2008.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Worked in Chiang Mai for 18 months after visiting as a backpacker and meeting my then girlfriend who is now my wife.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Mainly financial. I was a little bit naughty and used my overdraft to fund my move to Chiang Mai and after over a year of no payments, the bank was sending nasty letters to my parents' house! Wanted to catch up with my friends and family too as well as giving my wife the opportunity to see where I come from and get to know my family.

Needed to also top up my HND into a degree which I completed this year.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

Obviously you get paid more money, which allows you to save for the future. The problem with Thailand is although you can live quite well, it is very difficult to fund a trip home, so many farangs don't get to see their homeland for years on end. Also there are real prospects for promotion and a career, although right now that does not motivate me.
Not dripping with sweat is also nice but I would swap it for being battered by rain and wind on my walk to work or falling over on the ice in winter!

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The simple things really, like going shopping for food at the local market; riding my Honda Dream in my shorts with the warm air blowing against you as the sun drops; drinking a few Leos whilst catching ridiculous -sized catfish a local fishing lake; meeting chilled-out and happy people wherever you go; and eating 'aroi' food wherever and whenever. Basically I miss it all, apart from the pollution and the sunburn!

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Thailand is definitely a place to 'cut your teeth' so to speak. It is easy to find work with relatively few qualifications and experience and you are usually left alone to learn on the job.

Kids don't always want to learn but usually want to have 'sanuk.' So don't expect too much from them but at the same time put as much effort as you can in to getting some fun activities together that teach a little bit to everyone each class.

Teaching young adults employability skills in the UK is actually quite similar but may be a tougher gig to start with. I have found that if you have the carrot of a job opportunity for the learners you can motivate them to learn quite well.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Although living in the UK is OK and my wife has settled in really well (many folk at work actually think she is a born and bred Lancastrian!) I have a definite plan to return to Chiang Mai in around 15 months time to build a small house on my wife's land and probably stay and teach for at least a year.

Ultimately I want to take a PGCE in the UK and also buy a house to rent out. Then I can return to Chiang Mai and live my days out in financial security with the house acting as a 'nest-egg' for when I retire. Long way off though - I am only 29!

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Two points: if you are in the UK and have considered teaching in Thailand, but have not bit the bullet, do it! I moved over with no experience, very little money and managed to get a TEFL, get teaching and earning a decent wage within three months and may have still been there if it wasn't for the bank catching up with me!

If you are in Thailand and are worried about coming back or want to show your Thai partner where you come from etc; then again, it is probably worth biting the bullet too. Living back in the UK has been good for our relationship as my wife can now understand a lot more about me and my life before I met her. I joke with her that she is currently three years into her PhD in Northern English. In two years she will be fully qualified and ready to return to Thailand to act as much like a farang as me!

Christian

posted on 23rd September 2011

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to a city called Jiaxing, near Shanghai in China on May 1st 2010. Now I live and work in Chongqing, South West China.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for 3 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I always wondered what differences there would be in the TEFL Industry in another country and to gain more experience.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

I think the advantages are ( in order ) money, free apartments that are well furnished and modern, fewer visa issues and twice yearly flights home paid for after six and twelve months.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Soooooo much. Despite the advantages of living in China, I still crave to be back in Thailand. The simplicity of life in Issan, islands from heaven, great food, smiley people and all my friends.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Yes. Despite the problems that Thailand has, it is a great country. Most people who left Thailand, in my opinion, were looking for too much. They left their home countries and came to Thailand expecting things to be the same but different ( as the saying goes). My advice to anybody is do what I did. I came to Thailand several times before making the leap. Get to know people. Discuss life there, work there, ins and outs, how to go about the job market and learn some Thai etc. Most important of all.....you have got to love teaching, if not, you are already backing a loser.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes. I will return after my current contract ends here in Chongqing.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

You need to be prepared. We have a saying in the UK: You can take the person out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the person. From what I have seen of expats in Thailand, this is very true.

Jonathan

posted on 14th August 2011

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

USA in 2007

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Four years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Money, fair treatment, and professional advancement

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

I save a lot more money and have a great retirement plan and family insurance. I get two months of paid vacation and the company I am with offer solid professional development

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the bad treatment, the double standards and hypocrisy of the school management - and the constant gossip.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

If you are a fully certified teacher, try to apply early to one of those Tier 1 schools in Bangkok. The rest of them are not real educators.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Never again

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand is not a great place to bring up a family.

Martin

posted on 1st August 2011

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the UK earlier this year.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for just over three years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I loved every second of my time in Thailand and I lived well by earning between 35,000 up to 50,000 in a good month, but in a moment of clarity I suddenly saw myself earning the same kind of money ten years down the line. Then my mom became ill and my dad found a subtle way to ask me if I would go back and join the family haulage business. I think he sensed that I was at a crossroads and needed to make a decision. So I decided to go back home to wintry England.

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

I'm only in my late 20's and I have the luxury of being able to work in the family business on a decent wage. I realise that not everybody has that opportunity though so I know I'm lucky in that respect. Other than that I can't really think of one single advantage.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Where do you start? The food, the weather, the women, the smiles. For me, it was the glorious simplicity of life. Life seems far less complicated in Thailand than it does in the UK. I can't put my finger on why. One thing I do regret is that I spent most of my time in Bangkok and got to see very little of the rest of the country. I made a couple of trips to Chiang Mai and did a weekend in Pattaya but that was about it. I would urge anyone to see as much of the country as they can when they get the chance.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

Oh for sure. I think it's an amazing place to spend a few years but I'm certainly not sure about it long-term. I noticed how teaching jobs became more difficult to get - even in the short time I was there - and that was another reason that made up my mind to leave. But Thailand's a cool country. A lot of these 'great escapes' are a bit negative and I find myself scratching my head and wondering where the hell people went wrong.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I will definitely come back for a holiday and I would never rule it out as a retirement destination (even though that's a long way off) But as a place to work? No. There just aren't enough opportunities for young foreigners to build a future.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

I live in one of those miserable northern towns where almost every shop in the high street is either boarded up or an Asian-run pound shop. There are hoodies drinking cheap cider on every corner and that's when they're not vandalising bus shelters. You go to work, you come home, you watch TV and you go to bed. That seems to be the existence for the majority of the population. Living and experiencing Thailand or any country in Asia for that matter is another world. Everyone should do it!

Joe

posted on 31st July 2011

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I returned to America this summer and am re-evaluating my options in the global teaching market.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

1 year

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Pitiful pay, extremely corrupt politics, difficult immigration policies, awful schools with despicable administrations, rampant poverty, a general disdain for education, inferior healthcare, lousy teachers, inferior students, contemptible expats, shall I go on...?

Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?

Better pay with benefits and better working conditions.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The delicious food, the beautiful geography, the good-hearted Thai people.

Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?

No way. A new teacher should learn how to properly teach in an environment that values its childrens' education. Thais do not place much value on education,

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Only for vacations.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand is a fool's paradise.

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