Whether you're a backpacker or a career ESL professional, you've probably considered the homestay option at one time or another. I researched many homestays in several countries before trying the Peetim Homestay in Thailand.
Unlike other homestays I researched, including a rather well known one in Bangkok, Peetim's Homestay is free and there is no jumping through the hoop. And since she can accommodate several volunteers at a time, there was no waiting in line.
What's it about?
Peetim's ESL Homestay offers volunteers lodging, food, laundry, transportation, and Thai culture in exchange for teaching English in her government and private schools.
Peetim's homestay is in a village near Singburi, a small town about 2 hours north of Bangkok. Her compound is safe, clean, quiet, and breezy. There are several bedrooms, bathrooms, and classrooms - and so many refrigerators in so many spots, I lost track.
The bedrooms and classrooms have AC. The classrooms have technology. Every room has reliable, fast wifi. There are not too many mosquitoes in the area and Peetim insists they don't carry diseases.
Fun in the kitchen
Peetim will teach you how to cook traditional Thai dishes. I taught Peetim how to cook an omelette American style. As many of you have discovered the hard way, a Thai omelette is actually deep fried sunny side up. Peetim caught the technique for American style omelette immediately from watching me and her first omelette was better than mine.
She grows some of the best papaya and mangoes in Thailand and her neighbor grows absolutely the juiciest pineapples I've ever put in my mouth. She sponsors trips to see such sites as monkeys in a temple and bats in a cave. Peetim's husband has a large mat for teaching muay thai boxing.
Tesco is 10 minutes in one direction by car, 7-11 and the downtown supermarket are 10 minutes in the other direction by car (down the street from the bus station), a mini Big C is across the highway several minutes by bike, and several mom-n-pop stores are within walking distance.
You can write your own lesson plans or Peetim can provide you with curriculum. Student skill level is pretty low, so plan to teach basic vocabulary and simple conversations. Pictures and videos are great. For the younger learners, use plenty of games and songs.
Peetim oversees all the care for her volunteers, from travel to shopping to copying to meals to laundry.
For one of my trips to Bangkok, she booked a van by phone the evening before and took me to van stop in her car early the next morning. For the return trip that afternoon, she sent a motorbike taxi to the van station. Her housekeeper doesn't speak English, but Peetim is fluent.
She can provide you with an invitation letter to get a volunteer visa for up to 3 months at 2700 baht. Many volunteers pay Peetim as much as several thousand baht per month.
There are volunteers coming and going all the time. The day after I arrived, I went to the bus station to pick up a couple of volunteers from Los Angeles who had just finished a semester designing and teaching TOEIC courses at a university in Bangkok through a cultural exchange program. The next day, we met business majors from Canada, the UK, and Florida who were studying at a university in Bangkok.
As we sat around the dinner table, we experiences and tips about working, touring, and surviving in Thailand. One of the Los Angeles volunteers shared about volunteering at a shelter for elephants rescued from the tourism industry.
Getting to Singburi
Singburi has no airport and no train station. There are 2 ways to get to Singburi, by bus and by van.
The buses stop at the bus station downtown. The buses run about every 30 minutes from the Mo Chit bus terminal near the Mo Chit BTS station. Take a taxi from the BTS to the bus terminal. Tickets cost about 120 baht at window 38 or 39 (that window #38 or window #39 inside, not window #38 or window #39 outside). Board the bus on platform 127 or 128. The AC on the bus isn't very strong.
The vans stop a few minutes from Peetim's house. The vans cost about the same as the buses but are a bit faster, depending on traffic. The AC is a lot better. The vans are a bit cramped. The vans run once an hour. The van station in Bangkok is a stone's throw from the BTS station between Victory Monument and Century Mall. Go to counter #12. Neither the vans nor the ticket windows have city names in English letters, so write the name of Singburi in Thai letters just to be safe.
Getting in touch
Peetim communicates through Facebook rather than by email. You can call her at 080779479.
You can also watch a couple of Youtube vids - the first will give you a good idea of what the homestay accommodation is all about, and the second vid goes more into what kind of teaching you will be doing.
If you're going to stay for a while and therefore have a lot of luggage, I recommend shipping most of it. I recommend using Kerry Logistics express mail service. They are all over Thailand and they are fast, reliable, and surprisingly cheap. I paid no more than 80 baht per box. Ship packages to:
45 Moo, 6 Phromburi
Carl Slaughter has taught ESL for 14 years. He has taught in Ayutthaya, Ladproa, Chachoengsao, Phatthalung, and Singburi. He has also taught in China, Korea, Cambodia, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia. He has lived in or traveled to 18 countries and counting.
Check out Carl's photos of him with his students from around the world. Also check out the Youtube video of his Thai kindergarten students having more fun high fiving him than any group of children you'll ever see doing anything.