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


Ajarn Robert

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to teach in South Korea in April/07 to April/08. Currently back in Thailand thinking of where to go next for a year - China, Japan or God forbid Thailand?

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I have taught in Thailand since 1999. One year in Phetchaburi, at an infamous private language school chain, and 6 years at the English Programme in Chumphon (actually a fairly normal school by Thai standards)

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

There is never one main reason in Thailand. Let me see - Administrative incompetence, degrading salaries, an educational system lead by idiots that haven't the slightest idea what education is, an immigration department that assumes everyone is a Burmese drug smuggler, the chicken and the egg quandary rules between the work permit office and the immigration department, schools that are more into the money making aspects of an English programme than the academic side, having to do entrance level tests, then the school letting any idiot student in that has failed the entry level test just because Daddy's a policeman, every Thai teacher agreeing with your criticisms but non of the spineless buggers ever doing anything about it, having to wai people that wouldn't be hired to bag shit in any other country, having M 1 students that could do a better job of running the Ministry of Education or Immigration than any Thai minister could, etc, etc
If you have taught in Thailand for more than a week, you know bloody well why people leave this country.

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

In Korea, they do know what education is, and they don't expect you to be the world's authority on the English language either. They do discipline children, as their parents aren't sending bribe money to the director to keep them in school, students are eager to learn English as they can see that it is useful to have. I had primary students and was able to have a conversation with grade three students, because they have shut up in class and listened and have actually learned something.

Being in a school that actually has supplies that aren't ordered as you need them. A supply room stocked with such extraordinary things such as staples, paper, pens, markers, notebooks, you know, school supplies. Printers, computers and photocopiers that all work. And students that work!

That was just from the school side, now what about getting looked after? - mainly a salary that was real, free apartment, flights, pension plan, medical and other BENEFITS!! A one stop immigration work permit office that took 5 minutes and that's it, you are done for a year and at a far cheaper cost than Thailand. A tax rate that is less than Thailand's (tax-free if you are not Canadian)a cost of living that beats Thailand (remember you don't pay rent), electricity was cheaper than Thailand, clothing is less than Thailand, foreign food was a lot less than Thailand. Did I mention not only cheaper but you are making 3 to 4 times a Thai salary.
The over-all attitude of the Education systems are: it is an honour to have you here, or the Thai it is an honour to be here BS.
In short there aren't any advantages in Thai schools, except more holidays, but considering what they pay you, you should have 2/3rds of the year off.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I am back in Thailand, because I live here, married to a Thai and most likely will die here, but work here? - maybe never again.
When I was in Korea I didn't miss anything about Thailand, except maybe the beach in the winter months, but I was back in Thailand 4 times during the year. Why? because I could afford to do it. A return flight is less than half a month's salary. Try flying anywhere on a Thai monthly wage.

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

Thailand doesn't deserve to have anyone work here with their attitude but some, and I must stress some of the Thai students do. The advice would have to be Korea hands down. There is no reason whatsoever to work in Thailand really. If you are going to get your hands-on working experience you may as well get paid for it. And have the opportunity to learn how to teach, instead of just strategies of how not to kill your lazy ass Thai students or their corrupt director.
Work in Korea or elsewhere and make enough money to come and enjoy Thailand, which everyone can as long as you don't work in a school here. If it isn't money you are after, then go to some poorer country in Africa. They might appreciate you more anyway.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I plan on living in Thailand for the rest of my life, (unless immigration reads this and then I'll be deported)
I do enjoy Thailand, its people, weather, and I understand the culture. Will I ever teach here again? Most likely. There are enough good Thai students that are worth saving I know. I have had a lot of very good students. Will I ever have any respect for Thai education? - most likely never, because it won't change in my lifetime. It's like if you hate fast food, you can't say that you'll never eat at McDonald's. You'd prefer not to, but if you're hungry, you're hungry.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

No. I've said enough.


King Willy

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved to Jakarta, Indonesia. Last July.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked at the one international school in Bangkok for 5 years

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

Job opportunity, also somebody had quipped to me that I would never be able to leave Thailand, it sort of felt a little bit true, I was getting bored in my job so made the plunge to go elsewhere.

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

It’s all sort of six to one half a dozen to the other. I’m on a lot less pay, but have a lot more responsibility in the school that I’m working in. I’m certainly enjoying the challenge.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

People, food, availability of food, Bangkok is far easier to get around than Jakarta, has a far more 1st world cosmopolitan feel about the place, availability of goods and ease of getting things done.

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

The biggest factor has to be weigh up each job possibility or offer on its own merits, it’s no good having a crappy job in a good place.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Holidays? Have been back 2 or 3 times already. Working? No firm plans, however, it is a strong possibility in the future, just depends on if the right job comes up at the right time or not, however, with a Thai wife, Thailand will never be far away.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

No


Mark McTaggart

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

I moved from Nakon Sawan to Bulgaria, Varna. This was in Sept 2002.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

I worked in Thailand for about a year. I worked in 2 different schools. One in Rayong and one in Nakon Sawan.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

The main reason was to get a better job with more prospects. I applied for the British Council and was offered Bulgaria! I would have loved to have found a well paid, enjoyable job in Thailand, but didn't want to live in a busy city, especially Bangkok.

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

One of the differences is that I blend in more so I don't have everyone staring at me all the time. Also, it's much closer to home, so trips back are not such a mission. Also, learning to read and write in Thai was very difficult for me. I have found Bulgarian easier to learn as many of the words come from Latin.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss the people. Thai people are so friendly and always smiling. I also miss the food. I adore Thai food and often try to cook it myself...still it's not the same.

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

Difficult question. Both Thailand and Bulgaria have a lot to offer. I think that Thailand has more to offer culturally, especially as its so different to European culture. However, Bulgaria is developing fast and it's good to come and see it before it completely changes.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes! I love Thailand. I have been back several times for holidays and will come again in March 2007. I'd love to set up an English Academy in Thailand and this is a future ambition of mine.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Teaching started off as just something fun to do and a way to stay in Thailand. I only planned to do it for a year then go back to London. However, I realised that I wanted to stay in teaching and by making it a career, I could work wherever I wanted and with experience also earn a decent salary. My own school, English Academy Varna, is also doing very well at the moment which is very satisfying.


Chris Harkins

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

From Bankhae Bangkok- Youngin City South Korea

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

about a year and a half

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

It was definitely for the money. I love Thailand but the pay is really low compared to Korea

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

Money Money Money, my salary here in Korea is over 100,000 baht and the extra work I can do such as private tutoring will get me an average of 1,400 to 2,000 baht an hour.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

The fun , the cheap taxis, the nightlife, the soi dogs and the bad television acting

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

I think that Korea is a wonderful place to save up money. The transportation system is good and they will pay for your apartment but the people here seem too serious. They aren't rude by any means but It's definitely not the land of smiles.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

Yes definitely, I love Thailand and my wife is Thai so I'll be back as soon as I have saved enough money to buy a house or something.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Thailand is great but being broke in Thailand sucks. so go make money and then come back


Andy Francois

Q1. Where did you move to and when?

Saudi Arabia. I moved to Thailand in October 2002. At first I taught at a state college in Minburi for one 1 term and then moved on to a large state school just outside Bangkok.

Q2. How long did you work in Thailand?

One year.

Q3. What was your main reason for moving?

I left because working in the Thai state system proved to be nothing short of a 'nightmare', complete chaos (no books) and in the latter of the two schools a lot of back-stabbing.

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

I went to Saudi Arabia for the money. People only come here for that reason.

Q5. What do you miss about life in Thailand?

I miss many things about Thailand. In particular I miss seeing women walking around. I also miss Tiger beer, the food, Koh Samet and other islands.

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

I would advise people to work in Thailand and Saudi Arabia. However, both the positive and negative aspects will have to be made clear to any prospective teacher.

Q7. Any plans to return to Thailand one day?

I love Thailand and spend many holidays there.

Q8. Anything else you'd like to add?

Don't take the teaching too seriously in Thailand, especially if you work in the state system. And, if you work in Bangkok make sure you escape at the weekend and see the beautiful places that Thailand has to offer.


Showing 5 Great Escapes out of 263 total

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