On living in Bangkok

It's where the work is for a young language teacher

Bangkok is a loud, polluted, overcrowded, and poorly designed city. I've always thought that I would love to live in a different city, but now that I'm sitting down and pondering this, maybe Bangkok is more to me than I had previously realized.

Obvious start

I love Thailand, and Bangkok was the obvious place to start out. Bangkok has jobs. I think that's why the majority of us are here, Thais and foreigners alike. I personally cannot comprehend wanting to retire in Bangkok or even wanting to live here if I had a job which I could do from my laptop. If I were lucky enough to be in that position, you would find me out in Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Korat, or maybe even Mae Hong Son.

Yet here I am, a twenty-five year old Bangkok language school teacher who has been working at the same school for two years.

I work at a school with a variety of types of students, but they are all adults. My work is actually pretty fulfilling, but when it comes down to it, I work at a language school in Thailand.


The classes can be pretty fun, and preparation time is minimal, but it is incredibly draining. I think it's safe to say that regardless of the school, when someone tells you they work at a language school in Bangkok, you pretty much know what their life is like.

However, since my personal life here is much more Thai than I think most young teachers' lives are in Bangkok (excuse me if I sound like a snob for saying that) and because I'd like to keep my first post more on the bright side, I'm going to list my top ten favorite things about my life in Bangkok (specifically my neighborhood) at the moment.

This has been beaten to death by all those backpacker teachers talking about how friendly all the nice smiling Thai people are and how great the value is for a bowl of noodles, but I think some of my reasons will be quite different. Here we go in no particular order.

1. The fat dog in my condo's garage follows me on walks, comes into 7-11 with me, sits patiently while I wait for som tam outside, and then jumps up ready to go home the second he sees the money/food change hands. I think people think he's mine.

2. The pharmacist at my local pharmacy asked me if I was taking the medicine I was taking in order to treat allergies or to help myself sleep at night. The entire conversation was in Thai except for the word "sleep," for no apparent reason.

3. Everyone in my neighborhood knows me by name.

4. The motorbike drivers outside my condo called me Michael Owen before they even realized that my name was actually Michael in the first place.

5. My local som tam lady only speaks Isaan to me.

6. The only place I ever go out for beers has super cold Leo on tap for 120 Baht a pitcher.

7. Although the MRT is horrible during the morning rush hour, a 30-35 minute commute isn't that bad having grown up in DC where my dad might take an hour and a half to get home on the beltway.

8. I'm the only person who regularly uses the fitness room in my condo, so it's always available.

9. The loudest noise which can be heard from my bedroom at night is a cat in heat that crawls around between my building and the government building next door. In Bangkok it could be so much worse.

10. Getting shirts ironed is only about 15 baht a shirt.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. Please pay a visit to my own personal blog site. Mike Curl.




"How could you live here three years and not at least speak/read basic Thai?"

For me it's a blend of arrogance, laziness and stupidity.

By Mark Newman, Thailand (2 years ago)

Sorry just being honest, it is open to criticism. As you know, there's little point using aftershave in Thailand because it wears off after a few minutes.
Yes, a dog followed me to the shops or waited outside the bar for me and then would walk back with me come and sleep on the porch. It was a filthy mutt and acted quite weird... a bit like you guys.

By Dan, UK (2 years ago)

I guess I'll address Dan's comments since he took the time to write something.

The dog follows me because we are friends. It took a long time for it to trust me, but we have developed a relationship. It looks at me and doesn't get up unless I maintain eye contact with it. When I do that, it hops up excitedly and because it knows we are going for a walk. If you don't like dogs, that's your loss. I'm a dog person and this dog adds joy to my daily life. If that really bothers you so much that you need to make ignorant and spiteful comments, something is clearly wrong.

Yes my motorbike drivers called me Michael Owen before they realized my name was actually Mike. We are both quite short and have rocked similar haircuts. Now that they know my name, they call me Mike Pilomporn.

Leo on tap WOW! Yes. Wow. How often can you find Leo on tap? Not very often, right? Would you be happier if I said I prefer to drink pints of Guiness from some overpriced British joint that has a horrible atmosphere? This is a blog for teachers, right? Teachers appreciate a 120 Baht Pint. If you don't get that, I don't know why you're reading ajarn.com.

Why not buy an iron? What an ignorant question. Did I ever say that I don't own and Iron? I OWN AN IRON. Now that we've established that I own an iron, I also am usually at my school about 60 hours per week. I value the little time that I get to spend with my girlfriend who also works and studies full time. I don't want to waste it ironing, and I believe that 10-15 B per item is a pretty good deal. What about that could possibly cause someone to reply so negatively?

Finally, this "Only difference... allegedly... is that you speak the lingo. " What is this even supposed to mean? I never said I can speak fluent Thai. I can hold good conversations and read everything I need to, but I never claimed to be some master whose skills need to be brought into question. How could you live here three years and not at least speak/read basic Thai? Why are you even questioning this in the first place??

By Mike, Bangkok (2 years ago)

Thanks, Mark! Nice to see how we compare in those regards. Not much of a Skins fan, but would be if I watched Football.

Appreciate your comments also Mark and Phillip.

By Mike, bangkok (2 years ago)

The reply from Dan is mean spirited as his quotes are taken out of context, twisted and then reproduced to suit his agenda.

I was going to write about how important it is to NOT screw on the Marmite lid on the jar before you pop it back in the fridge because it's a bugger to remove, but I'll now have to rethink that one.

It's good fun for us old timers to read about how new arrivals are settling in and what they find interesting enough to report on.

I've been here 15 years and have yet to have a dog follow me into a convenience store. I suggest that Dan changes his cologne... or uses some!

By Mark Newman, Thailand (2 years ago)

Amazing how many people think that the sole purpose of blog comment sections is to put other people down. I guess it's a reflection of the world we live in.

"The dog following you? Pretty common, even more so for tourists and newbies infact"

I've never been followed by a dog to 7-11 and I've been here 26 years.

By Philip, Samut Prakarn (2 years ago)

-The dog following you? Pretty common, even more so for tourists and newbies infact.
-The motocye riders calling you a footballer's name? Well how quaint!
-Leo on tap? Wow!
-Ironing? Why not buy an iron? If I'd been there 2 years I would want that all important bit of kit. Call me uptight.

Snobbish? No, maybe a bit deluded, because your patter sounds no different to a 2nd time holiday maker. Only difference... allegedly... is that you speak the lingo.

By Dan, UK (2 years ago)

Welcome to this website, Mike. Skins fan?

Well done for entirely embracing everything about your chosen country of residence... especially the functional comprehension of the language.

Me, being a coward and a lazy person, have swerved in the opposite direction, though I still like living in Thailand and have for fifteen years called it home.

Let's see how your top ten compares with mine...

1 - There are almost no dogs where I live. Those that do live here are not allowed to roam on the streets off a leash. (One of the principal reasons why I moved to where I did.)
2 - I know possibly 20 words of Thai. I can't count to ten! Yes, after 15 years here, that's disgraceful, I know!
3 - No-one where I live knows what my name is, not even the security guards.
4 - No motorcycle drivers.
5 - No food vendors here. (There's a 7/11 about 2 miles away.)
6 - Don't drink.
7 - Commute to work is 50 km drive each day and takes a leisurely 45 minutes through country roads.
8 - Fitness? Yuk! I swim a couple of times a week..
9 - Yup - finally something we have in common.
10 - I iron my clothes.

Mike, you make me feel ashamed! :)

By Mark Newman, Thailand (2 years ago)

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