Q1. Where did you move to and when?
I moved back to England in late 2019. Back to my home city of Sheffield to be exact.
Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?
I was there for three years. I started off at a small private school in Chiang Mai, earning about 25,000 baht a month but just didn't find that enough to live on. Then I worked at a government school just outside Lampang and even though the pay was better (32,000) I was bored to tears within a month or so. Eventually, I found my way to Bangkok and a large government school. I lasted about 18 months there.
Q3. What was your main reason for moving?
On the family side, my father wasn't in the best of health and I wanted to spend some time with him while we still had the chance. In addition, my brother was starting up a business buying and selling classic cars and he asked me if I fancied joining him as a partner. That was something that really appealed to me.
I was finding it too difficult to settle in Thailand and find a place to lay my hat and call home. Chiang Mai didn't really do it for me. I struggled to make any real friends and the air pollution for several months of the year was truly horrible ( I suffer from mild asthma) Lampang was too quiet and then of course, Bangkok was like going from one extreme to the other. Even though I come from one of the biggest cities in the UK, I found Bangkok just too overwhelming and not really much fun. It's an expensive city as well if you have no interest in living like a Thai and slumming it on 35,000 baht a month.
Q4. What are the advantages of working where you are now compared to Thailand?
The North of England is my home, I just didn't truly realise it. It's where my family and good friends are. It's been nice to settle back into daily life here and business is going fairly well. I don't feel 'alone' here like I often did in Thailand.
Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?
I don't miss any one thing in particular. It's a pretty laid-back lifestyle but you can get too comfortable and just drift from day to day. If I had to choose three things though, I would go for buying food from night markets (I always enjoyed that) secondly, the chance to travel to other provinces because Thailand does have some amazing scenery and natural beauty and finally, some of my wonderful students (I still keep in touch with a few of them on social media) But I left Thailand without ever making a true friend if I'm honest. I've been back in England for almost a year and it sometimes feels as if Thailand never happened and maybe I just dreamed it.
Q6. Would you advise a new teacher to seek work in Thailand or where you are now?
I worked with many foreign teachers over the course of three years. Some teachers take to Thailand like a duck to water, embrace every aspect of the culture and never seem to have a bad day, whilst others spend their every waking moment moaning and groaning and make you wonder what the hell they are doing there! Whether you like Thailand or not will all boil down to your personality at the end of the day.
Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?
I think South East Asia is a fantastic part of the world, but not sure I would want to work out there again. Holiday, yes, work, probably not. If I ever ventured out that way again for a month or so, I don't think Thailand would be top of my list.
Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?
Thailand's constantly changing visa rules and requirements was the one thing that really wore me down. Even though all the schools I worked at looked after me with visa assistance and work permits, etc, I never ever felt secure. You are only ever a guest there and Thailand constantly reminds you of your status. Someone who has been there 20 years (even with a wife and family) is just as much of a guest as someone who's just stepped off the plane. That's the way it seemed to me and it felt very unfair.