Submit your own 'Great Escape' »


posted on 4th March 2012

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Moved back to my home country in 2009 for about a year and half to get certified and licensed as a teacher. Currently I'm in the Middle East working for a large international school.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

About 5 - 6 years, though I spent a year working in one of Thailand's neighbors during that time as well.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

It was more of a combination of reasons rather than just 1 main issue, but the thing that pushed me over the edge was the introduction of that bogus Thai Culture course and the laughable Thai teaching license that the government was pushing at the time. I flat out refused to do any of it, and I knew then it was time to leave. I was also fed up with working for Thai principals and bosses.

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

Where do I begin? I'm on an 'expat' contract here with all the benefits and freebies that go along with that like housing, professional development, worldwide insurance and paid summer flights every year. I have a qualified director and principal at my school who actually know what they are doing - something I never had in Thailand. The locals here are much more worldly, friendly, and easier to deal with than Thais. Believe it or not, in my neck of the Middle East imported booze is actually cheaper than in Thailand and the variety is much better as well.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Where do I begin? The weather, the incredible food, the smells of Bangkok, late afternoon rainy season thunder and warm tropical nights, the Andaman sea, durian, lychees, a few expat friends that I still keep in touch with, the travel opportunities you have from Bangkok, and the generally low cost of living.

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

That depends on how we define 'new teacher'. Someone who was doing something completely outside of teaching and then decided to give TEFL a try? That person would not get a job where I am now, so Thailand all the way. If we are talking about a newly qualified & licensed teacher looking at international schools, the opportunities here are better. International school jobs at the 'real' international schools in Thailand are highly competitive and a new teacher would be unlikely to land one.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

For a visit - of course, at least once a year. To live and work - only if I manage to get an offer from one of the top international schools in Thailand. I will never work for a Thai-managed school or principal again - been there and done that. Retirement - maybe.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand can be a wonderful and addictive place to live and play for a few years, but if you feel yourself stagnating you really need to assess your situation and get the hell out if necessary.

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About was started as a small hobby website in 1999 by Ian McNamara. It was a simple way for one Bangkok teacher to share his Thailand experiences and pass on advice. The website developed a loyal and enthusiastic following. In 2004, Ian handed over the reins to Phil Williams and 'Bangkok Phil' has run the ajarn website ever since. has grown enormously and is now the most popular TEFL site in Thailand - possibly even South East Asia. Although best-known for its vibrant jobs page, Ajarn has a wealth of articles, blogs, features and help and advice. But one principle has always remained at Ajarn's core - to tell things like they are and to do it with a sense of humor. Thailand can be Heaven or Hell for an English teacher. It's always been's duty to present both sides of the equation. Thanks for stopping by.