Are you a teacher who once taught in Thailand but decided to seek out pastures new? Has the grass been greener on the other side? Maybe you swapped Thailand for the financial lure of Japan or Korea? Read about those who have left Thailand, and their reasons for moving...

Submit your own Great Escape


Alison Empey

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Sancheong City, South Korea. March 31, 2006.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

A little over a year in both Bangkok and Suratthani.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Weary of putting off the uni debt-collecting shysters back home. Thai wages just wouldn't cut it.

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

Money. Gaining a renewed appreciation for Thailand - for even some of the things that drove me mad when I lived there.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The beauty and exoticness of the land, the fun-loving and laid-back nature of the people, the fantastic food, the cost of living, the students that caused my face to actually hurt at the end of the day from excessive smiling - I shit you not, my mates, the Thai whisky, the weather, the spontaneity and unpredictable daily adventures.

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

I would drag my naked body through broken glass and follow it up with an acid bath before recommending my worst enemy seek work in rural South Korea. I've aged five years in one from being in such close quarters to intensely anal, controlling, and close-minded people. Cities are less intense but would only even suggest it for short-term money-hoarding gigs.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Well....that's a tough one.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

17 days remaining. Thailand, here i come.


Weree Xavante

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I went back to Belgium on my way to Argentina

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

5 months. I worked in different government schools in Pattaya.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The weather conditions; too hot; too humid and sick and tired of living with air-con and fans. But also unsatisfied with the managing of the teachers, the red tape, ministry of education's obtuse views on teaching, the petty rules of insisting on tucking shirt in trousers, the lack of real interest in quality teaching, the fact that they cane students and only because of incompetent teachers who can only demand respect through fear mongering and threat of caning.
The low salary opposed to what they demand of teachers…visa runs, forking out money for all the getting of work permit and changing of tourist visa into non B immigrant visa.
The growing interference of government into private life of its citizens and the changing laws and rules day by day.
The fact that Thailand is turning the clock back 50 years and no sight of the promised elections. I believed I was going to witness a civil war soon. Besides teaching, I am an artist and I couldn’t paint as I came home knackered and sapped of all my energy due to the heat.

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

I am not working, but will soon be teaching online from South America.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The food, the tribes, the cheap cost of living, the laidback attitude.

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

Yes, certainly, but I would tell them not to buy the slogan of Land of Smiles….

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes! Probably for travelling and living in the mountainous area in the North.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

It’s about time Thailand realized it cannot turn the clock back and take a deep introspective view on why the students are dropping out so soon. Quit the nonsense of uniforms or caning and instead give some real boost for education programs and listen to the students voice of what they would want to learn. Also look into the teachers needs and what they do for that precious little 25.000 baht. Very few in Europe would put up with all the nonsense for such a small salary.

In contrast the West can learn from Thailand in terms of respect for a teacher for what he does. It takes good teachers to educate and they need all the support instead of boycott from government officials. Teachers are born and very rarely can be taught. A degree means nothing if you don’t have a heart for it and if you only teach for the money, which goes for most of the Thai teachers. Neither a degree, university knowledge or being a native speaker doesn’t necessarily mean that you are fit to be a teacher.

The students were charming from prattom 4 to mathyom 3, though the latter obviously is not interested any longer.
When I left the schools, I was revered as a pop star, they all wanted my autograph, e-mail and phone number. The fact that I am by nature an entertainer (dancer, singer, painter has made them all looking forward to my teachings)


Ajarn Ernest

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Mexico City, Mexico. April 2006

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I was in Thailand from July 2003 to April 2006, so 2 1/2 years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

At the time I weighed 109 kilos. The heat and humidity were KILLING me! I now weigh 82 kilos and am much more comfortable with the weather here in Mexico City. Every day it's between 23 and 30 degrees, very nice.

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

Better weather, a school system and students that actually are interested in learning and not just putting on the appearance of learning, more competent management, the money is about the same though I do have national healthcare that covers my medication and I also have private health insurance, THE WEATHER... I was just tired of being hot and sweaty ALL the time plus having to wear a shirt and tie every day in 34 degrees was just an unreasonable expectation.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The cheaper cost of living, the night life, trips to the islands ( though I can go to Cancun or Acapulco here in Mexico, nothing beats Samui or Phuket )

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

Yes, it's a good place to start out. Take a TEFL course in Thailand, this helps you ease into living there as you have a built in support system in the school and other students.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes, but this time I will weigh between 65 and 75 kilos, much more reasonable for my 171cm height, and I won't work FOR Thai people, I have no problem working with Thai people but having one as a boss is enough to make a person crazy. "Be like the bamboo and flex with the wind" I was told while there, but there's only so far a bamboo stalk can bend before it breaks and ends up taking hostages! I am getting training and certification to teach in my current schools IB Program so I'll be looking to get a job in an IB international school in BKK in another year or two.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand is a great place to visit, a good place to live (if you can stand the weather) but a terrible place to work if you have to work for Thai people. While there, be flexible but don't lose yourself in the process. I finally got to the point where I told my boss that I wouldn't change a students grade so they could pass ( everyone passes by the way ). I would give him the grade that he had earned and if she wanted to change the grade later on she could do that, just don't tell me about it. This was in regard to a scholarship football player who had only attended 3 classes ALL term! The boy couldn't even pronounce his own name correctly in English, yet I was supposed to test him until he passed, ridiculous! Good luck to all.


Andy Mackay

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Saudi Arabia in August 2005.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Nearly three years. I worked at a Catholic school, a Rajabhat and a mini English programme.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Crap money, lousy conditions and generally hacked off with Thailand and Thais – and I’m married to one. I reckon when the mere sound of the language begins to wind you up then it’s time to move on.

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

Money, free accommodation, long holidays, better students and not being a performing monkey.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Nothing

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

A new teacher wouldn’t get where I am.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I’d rather stick pins in my eyes.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Not a lot to say really. I loved Thailand when I arrived, grew to despise it and got out.


Mark Dawson-Smith

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Hamilton, New Zealand (Hamilton is about an hour and a half south of Auckland), in March 2003.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for more than 11 and a half years.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Mostly for family reasons. My family (wife and two daughters) had been involved in an horrific coach accident in the south of Thailand in May 2002, in which my youngest daughter had almost lost a leg. I guess it was the reaction of some of the local people that sealed it for me. Insurance companies didn’t want to know, the bus company blamed the driver (who had, of course, fled the scene), the police grinned a lot and gave me the coach driver’s address, should I want to settle the matter myself, and at the end of it all I just felt that I never wanted to put my family through such a thing again. Additionally, my girls were leaving home before 6am to get to school and as I wasn’t getting home until late most evenings, I hardly saw them during the week. So, definitely a move for family (and lifestyle) reasons.

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

Where do I begin? First of all there is excellent education for my daughters at very low cost. I have a good working environment with generally competent people and very few shysters. People are prepared to listen, and there is little of the back-stabbing and petty jealousies that are so common in Thai educational establishments. All staff are expected to work a 37-hour working week, Monday to Friday. Any over time can be taken off in lieu. I get a reasonable salary (although I can’t save as much as I did in Thailand). Employers have good leave provisions and offer generous training assistance. As far as teaching goes, we get a great mix of students from different countries around the world. They are generally well-motivated, as most are preparing for university. And, of course, we enjoy outstanding sport (I spent all day yesterday at a sun-soaked Seddon Park watching the Black Caps stuff the Aussies!)

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Mainly my friends/work mates. I was lucky enough to work with some top teachers during my time in Thailand, and I guess these still make up most of the people I would still call good friends. And maybe quiz night at the Bull’s Head!

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

For a new teacher, I would most definitely advise to seek work in Thailand. It is a great place to learn, and I think the learning curve is probably a lot steeper over there, especially in Bangkok. There are some very good teachers working in Bangkok, and ‘newbies’ can learn a lot from them. I know I certainly learnt loads from other more experienced teachers when I started out in 1991. If you can find a school that pays a half decent salary, Thailand can be a great place for new teachers.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I’d like to say “Yes”, but I don’t think I could come back and work, at least not until my daughters had finished uni over here. We still own a house in Prakhanong, so I guess that gives me a good excuse to pop over there, but I have resisted the temptation for the last 4 years. If I was to return, I think lifestyle would be a real issue, though.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Enjoy Thailand as much as you can. Make mistakes, but learn from them. Remember that there are lots of other great places out there, and if you are a serious and capable teacher, then don’t be afraid to turn your back on Bangkok and find just as much fun somewhere else.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 239 total

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