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


Jeal Labrador

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

From Bangkok to China in August 2004.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

5 years (1997-2002)

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Visa Run and Money. I got tired of going in and out of Thailand for visa plus the salary was not enough to live a decent life.

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

Definitely, the salary is much, much better. I am not a native speaker of English but they pay me like a native speaker because my qualifications and teaching experiences are more important with my present employer. I've been here for 3 years now and will be here as long as they want me. Teaching load is nothing compared to Thailand. I teach 4 days, 16 hours a week. I only have to be in school during my class time. I can go anywhere I want to when my classes are over. On top of that, I have a free single fully-furnished apartment (inside the campus which is good for my security) with a computer and 24 - hour internet connection, and even my drinking water is free. Air tickets are reimbursed at the end of a year contract. My university gives us travelling allowance, which is good enough to travel around China), a bicycle to go around the place and a year-end bonus. So many paid holidays like 7 days in October (for National Day), 40 days in January or February (for Spring Festival) and 7 days in May (for Labor Day). What more can I ask for?

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Thai Food

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

I would say new teachers must seek work in their home country first before they explore other countries.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes...but just for traveling.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

All I can say is that there's life after Thailand. To all my fellow Filipinos out there, don't lose heart in finding jobs in other countries. We are not native speakers of English but there are many employers who want to hire us because we are hardworking, shrewd, and ingenious people. Mabuhay tayong mga Filipinos!!!


Alex Lapp

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Seoul in March 21 2006

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

Only about 4 months - in Bangkok near Chatuchak Market

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

After my contract expired with the school I realized that I was not wanted. The pay was low and the general "mah ben rai" attitude was starting to get old. Also the head of the English department had no idea what to do with us. It's like we were dumped on the sidewalk and had to be given something to do or we would be back on the streets. We had no curriculum and no feedback from any of the fellow teachers. Like I said " mah ben rai".

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

Besides the obvious one which is money; the kids are more enthusiastic to learn English, there are no stray dogs, and the bars are open until morning.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

Weather, islands and general laid back attitude. And Chatuchak park!

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

New teachers can definitely afford to shop around Thailand for a year. If one has no qualifications:( only BA from Uni) then you can learn a lot from today's TEFL industry. Unfortunately, mostly it will be negative info. Current government doesn't make things work to our advantage as well. So work for a few months and if you likes it, get certified or even get MA and thus have more options in the future.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Got girlfriend waiting, so planning to come after the end of my current contract.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Don't get too comfortable in the Land of Smiles.


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.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 246 total

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