Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I moved back to the UK in Feb 2023. It has been a rough time re-acclimatising to the UK. I am definitely suffering reverse culture shock. I am adjusting slowly, but the UK is not the same place i left all those years ago. People are very much more insular. Maybe it's me who's changed, but I don't feel the people of the UK are very open to different ideas.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
I lived and worked in Thailand for 20 years. My first job was in Lat Phrao at English First. Then I moved to a nearby school on Lat Phrao 94. I stayed there for a year and moved on. I moved on from that experience because the school was, well, a bit of a magnet of all the waifs and strays of the TEFL world. I cut my teeth in the teaching game there, so I don't regret it, but the daily comedy show of the school, mostly from management, was enough.
I then moved to a far more organised school in Lat Phrao. After that (good) experience, I moved to an international school on Lat Phrao 101. That produced the most bizarre working experience of my life. The school was run by a religious (SDA) fanatic. We were subjected to calls from Jesus on the mobile phone and all kinds of other crazy religious stuff.
After that troubled 9 months, I moved to Korea because my girlfriend at the time moved there for work. I had a great year and a half in Korea then came back to Thailand to work at a university in Bangkok. I stayed at that university for 15 years until moving back to the UK.
Alongside all this teaching work, I also did quite a lot of writing work. I was a travel writer earning a decent income for a number of years. I mainly wrote about cycling in Southeast Asia and did guidebook work. My passion was cycling in the region.
I have cycled in most countries in Southeast Asia, including some quite remote places. In my time I cycled every province in Thailand, I cycled the Ho Chi Minh Trail, I found Pol Pot's resting place and got held at gunpoint in Laos, amongst other crazy, stupid things.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
I moved to the UK for a number of reasons. I have a young son who I want to put into a decent(ish) education system. Also, my beloved job at the university in Bangkok was turning sour because of new management. My final reason was that Thailand really had become a little too stale for me. It had become just 'ordinary' and 'home'. There was nothing alarming in that per se, but I prefer a little challenge in my life.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
Well, the main advantage is that everything kinda works in the UK. The UK education system is streets ahead of Thailand. The UK is a country of laws, whilst Thailand is a country of connections. I also work a 4-day week.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
I miss just about everything about Thailand. I know that sounds a little strange, but I miss the bad stuff as well as the good stuff. I miss the people, I miss the weather, I miss the adventure. I miss the nightmare traffic in Bangkok, I miss the feeling of being out of my comfort zone.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
Yes, definitely, go work in Thailand. It can be infuriating, it can be annoying, it can drive you insane, but it is a special place with a great many wonderful people and experiences. Just learn to ignore the crazy management of the institution you are working for.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
Yes, I haven't cut ties with Thailand and own property in Bangkok and Jomtien. I will return regularly as I don't want my son to lose his Thai side. My wife is also Thai, so I think I'd end up in the divorce courts if I cut Thailand out of my life...I will return one day to work, I'm not sure when, but it will definitely happen.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
I'm a bit of a nomad, I always have been. I don't ever hate anywhere I am living, but I do like a challenge. If I can, my life would be full of challenges. That was my driver for going to Thailand in the first place. Now I am back in the UK I am starting to think of my next adventure.