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Ricky

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved back to the UK a couple of years ago and I live with my parents on the outskirts of Leeds.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was there for three years at the same Thai secondary school in a very quiet and peaceful town, about an hour's minivan ride from Bangkok.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I just got bored of life in Thailand. Simple as that. I loved my first year there and the school always treated me well and I always felt like part of the family. But by the end of the second year, I could feel the malaise setting in. And I just ghosted through the third and final year.

The school begged me to sign another contract because even though I had fallen out of love with Thailand, my performances in the classroom hadn't suffered. But I knew deep down it was time to move on. And that was probably the biggest mistake I've ever made in life.

Like other 'Great Escapes' I've read on the Ajarn site, I never had a long-term plan or ever bemoaned the fact that I never had one eye on the future. I genuinely went into the TEFL business in the hope of making it a career because teaching was all I ever wanted to do. Thailand seemed like a perfect place to start and my attitude was always 'let's see where this leads'. I thought maybe once I had got enough teaching experience under my belt, I could become an academic director or head teacher and move steadily up the TEFL ladder, perhaps even move on to a country like Japan or China where the pay would be better.

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

I love this Great Escape section of the website but I wanted to wait until I had been back in England for at least a year or two until I was in a position to hopefully make sense of the situation and analyze the direction I have gone in since I left Thailand.

What's life like for a guy in his mid to late twenties living back in the UK with his parents? I honestly don't know where to start. Even on the sunniest of days, it's like living your life under a perpetual black cloud. I could genuinely weep for the majority of young, single people here because I don't see a future for them at all. I think many young, single people have given up already. It's like there isn't even a small ray of hope.

The gap between the haves and the have-nots has never been so wide. I see countless single mothers pushing prams around Poundland and trying to put a meal together out of tins and stuff off the out-of-date shelf. Or they go the numerous charity food banks that seem to be springing up everywhere. I see lonely, elderly men sipping cheap pints of beer as slowly as possible at ten in the morning rather than go home and have to turn the heating on in some pokey little council flat.

Everything is bought 'on tick'. It's rare to meet someone (certainly in the circles that I move in) that doesn't have credit card debts spiraling out of control. All those young guys you see driving flashy cars can only ever afford them on some back-street lease agreement. The whole thing is an illusion.

Many young people are working on zero hour contracts. The employer says we'll pay you when we're busy but if we're quiet, we'll send you home with no wages or don't even bother coming in. As I said, how can anyone plan or budget for a future based around such a flimsy and unpredictable system.

I would go out and drown my sorrows, but I'm scared of accidently walking into a Sharia law 'neighbourhood watch area' with my girlfriend and having some hate preacher unleash his venom at her for wearing a skirt above the knee.

I could go on.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

How does the old saying go? - "you don't know what you miss until you don't have it anymore" Something like that.

Everything I grew to dislike about Thailand - the terrible driving, the insect bites, the floods, the occasional bouts of food poisoning, the unbearably humid weather at certain times of year - I now realize that I should have just shrugged my shoulders and laughed them off. They are part and parcel of living in a foreign clime.

Now sat on the family sofa at home with my Mother screaming at the TV because the judges on 'Britain Hasn't Got Talent' are being way too harsh, the air thick and sickly from my Father's flatulence, and the family poodle trying to have it off with my leg, all those things I moaned about seem so trivial. They actually feel exciting and exotic.

Sometimes I let my mind drift away and I'm relaxing on a Thai beach, sipping at a young coconut and hypnotized by the calming ebb and flow of the tide. Then Mother asks me to put the kettle on, Dad lets another one rip - and I'm back in the real world of Simon Cowell's golden buzzer and TV ads for high-interest loan sharks and yet another MFI clearance sale.

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

I'm not going to answer this question with a straight yes or no but let me just say this. When you've experienced life back in England as I have for a couple of years, suddenly the idea of earning 30-40,000 baht a month as a teacher in Thailand doesn't seem that bad at all. I know which lifestyle I would rather have.

30-40,000 baht a month isn't a fortune we know (it's about the amount I earned when I worked there) but you've got your own apartment, your own personal space. It might not be a mansion on the hill but it's YOUR place. You can watch all the football for free on your computer (TV packages cost a fortune in the UK) You are eating good, healthy food two or three times a day. You've got money in your pocket for the odd nice weekend away. Last but certainly not least, if you fancy a bit of company in the evenings (wink! wink!) well, it isn't too hard to find. You DO live like a king when all things are considered.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

As you've no doubt guessed, I would pack my suitcase and catch the first flight out tomorrow morning. I really have no idea what's holding me back. Perhaps it's the fear of just picking up where I left off and falling back into a negative mindset. But life is going nowhere here. Work-wise, I'm picking up enough bits and pieces (mostly delivery driving) to pay for my food and lodging (your 'keep' as we call it) but not putting enough away for a safety buffer to have another crack at teaching in Asia.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Not really. Eastenders is is just starting.

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