I have been reading with interest the tennis match of letters that seem to be flying around. I by no means wish to ruffle feathers but will purely speak from my own point of view. I too have just gone from Sept 30th - Nov 27th without pay because I currently work for an agency and work for them in a private school, semester to semester. I read with curiosity about those that were not managing on their wage or weren't able to save anything.
My basic salary is 33,000 baht per calendar month and out of that I pay for my accommodation - a modest 4500 baht for a nice newly refurbished air conditioned room (40 sqm) with all the trimmings bed wardrobe work unit tv unit. I have a nice TV fridge, microwave and mini cooker. It costs me less than 8000baht to live a good life and that allows for eating out at weekends.
I suspect that the majority of the problems for those that cannot manage is that they like to really live (party) and I would expect that they get through a fair amount of baht doing that, or they have a larger accommodation bill than me. Life really is what you make it.
I said that I had gone through from Sept 30 - Nov 27 without pay and so I have, However I have embraced the school where I work and I try my best to embrace the culture and actively take part where ever possible in school activities even if they are not directly part of the English programme. To that end I have been embraced by the Thai teachers, the children and the parents, but also the director and his son who run the school. I feel sorry for those in a position where they are just a farang teacher doing his job and probably that is the extent of what they do. Maybe their bosses are really rich and mean I don't know. From my point of view, the Thais are caring and do show concern. In my case I had a back-up fund which coped with the long holiday but I also had two fantastic bosses who despite not having a contract or any obligation to pay when I was not at school, were aware of the extreme circumstances and I was given a generous gift of 20,000 baht from their pockets not the school.
I have been really lucky. I have found a great school with great kids, great teachers and great bosses. I have found great rooms and don't pay the earth for them. I have found private work which boosts my monthly wage to over 53,000 for a few hours extra a week after school and with that I finish well before 7pm on three nights and I do nothing school related between 3.30pm Friday until 7.30am Monday.
Life is what you make it here. If you need to party and live a lavish life style then you need a big wage. I think you can live very well on 30,000 a month and you don't need to splash out on western food. It really is not that expensive if you shop sensibly. If you need to buy beers every day, then its going to cost.
Make the most of it here and if you're not happy then move on. In my experience I have no problems with work or Thai people. Be happy.