Hot Seat

Henry Durrant

We're chatting to expats who live and work in Thailand about the pandemic situation here. Family man and IELTS examiner, Henry, has lived in Thailand for 17 years and is now nearing retirement.

Q

Could you introduce yourself (where are you from? how long have you lived in Thailand? and what do you do for a living?)

A

I’m from the UK and came to Bangkok in 2004 to do my CELTA (at ECC), with a view to teaching in China.  However, before I’d even finished the course, I was offered a job at a language school at Emporium, and I have remained in Bangkok ever since.  Since around 2009, I’ve focused on EAP and exam prep, and now I mostly teach IELTS.  I’ve also been an IELTS examiner for 10 years.  

Q

In general, how do you think Thailand has handled the pandemic up to now?

A

Last year I would have said “very well”.  Now, not so well!  Although I was not personally affected, the border closures in 2020 do seem to have worked, but now it all seems random, ill-thought out and ineffective. I think the fear of Covid is over-played and the half-hearted and illogical lockdowns frustrate me.  The biggest mistake was not ordering millions of vaccines last year!  

Q

If you were put in charge right now, what would be the first rules or things you would change?

A

Open parks and schools! Vaccinate everyone.  

Q

Let’s talk about you personally. What is the most regrettable thing that the pandemic has robbed you of or changed about your life?

A

My wife and 5-year-old son were stranded in Laos in March 2020 when the borders closed.  I couldn’t get them home to Thailand until the end of August, and it cost me a fortune in ASQ accommodation, hospital transport from the land border, not to mention months of stress organizing Covid tests and COEs.  Other than that, the most regrettable thing is my son missing school – Zoom classes for a class of 20 bored 6-year-olds do not work, and not having parks and playgrounds open as well is definitely affecting his (and my) well-being. And now Funarium has closed down for good.  

Q

From a work point of view, how has your situation changed (if indeed it has) and has there been any significant financial impact?

A

My school has kept going throughout, but numbers are down as online classes are not as popular. I’ve had reduced hours and salary payments have been delayed.  I’ve also lost out on IELTS examining money as the thousands of Chinese candidates pre-Covid are obviously no longer coming.  

Q

Has the pandemic had any positive impacts on your life?

A

I had no choice but to get to grips with online teaching and Zoom.  I can’t say I like it much, but I guess it’s the future.  

Q

When do you predict the world will return to some sort of normality and we will be able to travel abroad and maybe get to remove these damn face-masks, etc?  

A

I was wearing a face-mask for PM2.5 long before Covid, but I’ll be delighted when I no longer have to wear one indoors.  We had flights booked to the UK for July 2020, so now I have a voucher which has to be used before April 2022.  I can’t say I’m optimistic that the world will be “normal” by then.  Maybe April 2023?  

Q

Things started to go pear-shaped in March 2020. Over the past year or so, has your enthusiasm for living in Thailand increased or decreased?

A

I don’t have much choice.  I’ve pretty much sold up in the UK and although we have a house in Laos, it’s not somewhere I could live permanently. As long as I can afford a decent school for my son, and I stay healthy, I’m in Thailand for the foreseeable future.  I don’t mind it here, although I given up trying to learn the language and many aspects of the culture frustrate me.  As long as I can continue to live a comfortable western-style life here, it’s fine.  

Q

When we get to the light at the end of this long tunnel, have you promised yourself to make lifestyle changes or do some things differently?

A

I’m approaching retirement, so the plan is to move out of Bangkok to somewhere near a beach Life will be very different.  

Q

For someone who doesn’t know how to get through the days and is perhaps suffering mentally, what would be your advice?  

A

Don’t believe everything you read on social media; walk a lot; binge-watch true crime series on Netflix (they make life seem a lot better).  

Follow Henry on Twitter

Read more Hot Seat interviews



Featured Jobs

NES Kindergarten and Primary English Teachers

฿60,000+ / month

Rayong


English, Science and Math Teachers

฿42,300+ / month

Thailand


Qualified Non-NES Primary Maths Teacher

฿23,000+ / month

Bangkok


Pre-school Teacher

฿90,000+ / month

Bangkok


Full-time and Part-time Literacy / EFL Teachers

฿48,000+ / month

Bangkok


English Conversation Teachers

฿35,000+ / month

Thailand


Featured Teachers

  • Wang


    Chinese, 29 years old. Currently living in China

  • Riza


    Filipino, 25 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Shabnam


    Azerbaijani, 29 years old. Currently living in Azerbaijan

  • Jose


    Spanish, 52 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Phyo


    Myanmarese, 34 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Anthony


    British, 36 years old. Currently living in Thailand

The Hot Spot


The Region Guides

The Region Guides

Fancy working in Thailand but not in Bangkok? Our region guides are written by teachers who actually live and work in the provinces.


The cost of living

The cost of living

How much money does a teacher need to earn in order to survive in Thailand? We analyze the facts.


Need Thailand insurance?

Need Thailand insurance?

Have a question about health or travel insurance in Thailand? Ricky Batten from Pacific Prime is Ajarn's resident expert.


The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?


Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?


Air your views

Air your views

Got something to say on the topic of teaching, working or living in Thailand? The Ajarn Postbox is the place. Send us your letters!


Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.


Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.