Matthew Pape

Don't come to Thailand if this makes you mad

You've got to roll with the punches

After my last blog announcing I had prostate cancer, I thought I would give you something a little more light-hearted.

If you want to see how I am now, go to and click on the four month update.

I always get a kick out of cultural differences. It can give you a headache as much as it can make you laugh. For example, here is how things typically are as a teacher here in Thailand.

One day at work, a Thai teacher handed something to my friend Paul. It was a few pages stabled together written in Thai. He didn't have time to look it over that day but the next day he sat at his desk and took a look.

He knew how to read Thai, but didn't know many words. He said, "Hmmm.... This looks like a script to a play." He goes to the Thai teacher that handed it to him and asked, "Is this a script to a play?" The teacher said yes. He then asked, "Do I have a speaking part in this play?" The Thai teacher said yes. I know you know the next question my friend asked...... say it with me....


Lucky for us, the Thai teachers were rock stars and always super helpful. They wrote out his lines in romanized script and he taped it to the front of the stage so he could read them. Everything worked out fine.

That is a way of life here in South East Asia. Things are very spur of the moment. You hardly ever hear about things until the last-possible-second. There is nothing you can do about it. No matter how hard you complain, it's not going to change.

It's not the end of the world though.

Bitter idiots who have been here for years, constantly complaining about Thailand and saying how much they hate it here but are too stupid to leave are going to tell you, "Oh Thais don't like you, they have no respect for you, you're nothing to them...." yadda yadda yadda.

This might be true in some places. I'm sure there are some schools that are an absolute nightmare to work in. The teachers there care more about their egos and reputations than they do for the students. That kind of attitude is pathetic because I will always put my kids before myself every time.

There are also plenty of good schools too where the male Thai teachers are stars and the female Thai teachers are angels. I've been fortunate enough to work with wonderful Thai teachers who I got along great with. Even though I've worked with great Thai teachers, I still got used to that last minute information.

From my 3 ½ years here my take on it is - it's their wiring. What I mean by that is if we're given information about work or what have you, we want to check with each other to see if everyone has the information because we assume people don't know it yet. It's our wiring. They are wired the opposite way. They seem to assume you already know the information and if you didn't, you would ask.

How do you deal with it? You need to roll with the punches.

Personally speaking I think I'm going to come up with a bribery system with kids I can tell are my best ones. If they let me know about an activity that is going to interrupt things a few days ahead of time, I'll give them 100 baht. Fair enough right?

I'll finish this blog with a shameless plug. If you want a second stream of income where you can teach students online at home for only two hours a day several days a week click here and apply.

I'm currently making between $18 and $19 and hour.

Karawacimatt signing off.



If you live here long enough, a person can start sugar coating even buffalo dung.
Looking on the bright side can be compared with the "oh, never mind" attitude that is so prevalent here. But one thing is for sure. Try to stay childlike well into adulthood. Don't worry about growing up and being an adult. Let your parents make your decisions for you. After all, it's more polite that way. Whatever you do, don't have your own opinion because people may think you are ungrateful. But its quite all right to bash other people's opinions even if you don't understand what they are talking about. Just smile and politely nod as if you really care.

By Bob Johnson, Bangkok (23rd August 2018)

I live in Ayutthaya with my family and want so badly to teach online but the internet speed here is .20 at upload, that's right . 20. The download variates between 6 mb to .5 mb and sometimes just cuts out. Upload has never gotten above 1 mb. I've had to leave my family for a year and go teach in other countries just to get money because it's so difficult to make a dime here. This place sucks financially and mentally.

By Andrew, Ayutthaya (3rd November 2017)

I think it's wrong to generalise that in SEA things are spur of the moment. I haven't been to all 10 countries, but PH and SG notifies you ahead of time when things change and expect punctuality when things do happen at work.
I've learned to roll with this one, but I think education in Thailand is a joke unless your folks are loaded to send you to exceptional schools not being public.

By Cha, Trang (25th October 2017)

I don't think it's as innocent as 'their wiring.' Hoarding and withholding information at a school is a way to gain power. Ajarn farang is also last to know, even after students seem to know, because ajarn farang is in a total power minus position. My two cents.

By Guy, California (23rd October 2017)

Well said Matthew, I well remember the first six months here in Bangkok teaching at a Thai school and experiencing the very same things. That incredibly short notice - in fact often no notice at all - that something was to change. I have always accepted that change is not an enemy, but management at my school would surely have taken the world title.
I learnt very quickly to simply shut up and accept that 2 or 3 lessons had been suddenly cancelled and the students were off to the local temple for some merit making or were required to kneel down in their thousands in front of the school stage to listen to management drone on for hours at a time....

Oh, the difference between New Zealand schools and Thai schools !!!...but to be perfectly honest I prefer the latter.

By Peter Batchelor, Bangkok (23rd October 2017)

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