There are a lot of TEFL teachers in Bangkok who work weekends and when I tell people I work on Saturdays and Sundays, they normally look at me with pity.
But in all honesty, I feel I have the best of things!
This past weekend though was a holiday for me so I went out on Sunday to Siam Square, one of Bangkok's main shopping areas. All I can say is thank god I don’t have to deal with that every week!
Sure I know it’s probably one the most popular areas of Bangkok but the whole place was a heaving mass of people. Even inside the malls it felt like I was in a rush hour BTS train, constantly bumping into people and having to walk at a snail's pace.
Bangkok can, it must be said, be pretty nasty on a weekend. There are almost no benefits of having these days off work compared to taking the days off in midweek. Not that I can see.
Monday and Tuesday off
For the past four and a half years, I have always taken Monday and Tuesday off work and it’s fantastic. I have a stable weekend and can plan my routines around this.
Sure some people have jobs where their days off do vary, and that is trickier - but if you can get those two midweek days off set in stone - every week - then you are laughing.
If you come from a background where Saturday and Sunday are always days off then the 'midweek break' does take some getting used to but after a while you will come round and see there are far more benefits involved.
I have a number of friends who have Saturday and Sunday off (while I don't) but guess what? we still see each other, still hang out and it still works. Just because you don’t have the same days off as all your friends doesn’t mean you can’t see each other. Sometimes I go out with them after work on a Saturday; other times they meet up with me when they finish midweek.
Cheaper, quieter, better
I think the heading says it all as far as Bangkok is concerned. Things are cheaper, quieter and therefore much more enjoyable midweek in this city. It rings true for almost everything you can do here.
I like to play golf and during midweek, the course is empty and the green fees, etc are 35% lower than at the weekend.
If I go to special events or attractions, a lot of them have cheaper midweek prices. Even if the price is the same, those attractions will certainly be less crowded.
Talking of fewer people and peace and quiet, you get fewer kids out and about midweek. Imagine on your weekend going to a nice place for lunch and, after queuing for six years to get in, you’re stuck next to a table full of screaming kids. That is extremely rare midweek.
Fancy a long weekend away at the beach? You enjoy that on a Saturday and Sunday and I’ll take my midweek trip every time. You’ll pay more for hotels, have more guests there and spend a longer time traveling to and from your destination.
Driving to the seaside resorts from Bangkok is Heaven midweek compared to doing it on a Friday night or Saturday morning. Coming back into Bangkok on a Sunday evening is one of the worst experiences Thailand has to offer.
The main point here is that I don’t need to plan my weekends based on where will be busy. If I want to go shopping to Siam Square on Tuesday, I can do without any difficulty. If I really want to go to the latest Thong Lor cafe then I can without hordes of other people being there. When a new blockbuster movie is showing at the cinema, I can just turn up without booking a ticket in advance.
Nobody does anything interesting on the weekend until late anyway
Do people ever do anything interesting on the weekends until after dinner? Oh no, I’m missing out on reading the online edition of the Sunday Telegraph in bed in the morning and I can’t spend hours walking aimlessly around Chatuchak market looking at stalls all selling the same stuff. That’s a shame.
To be honest people only do interesting stuff like going out with friends after dinner and guess what, I’ve finished work by 4.00 pm so I can do all that stuff too if I want.
All I really want to do on Saturday and Sunday is to watch the football and have a couple of beers, both of which I can comfortably still do. The benefit is that I do this and still have two days off in the week to look forward to.
I guess that a three beer limit on Friday and Saturday nights is as bad as it gets. Oh, and some smaller places are closed on Mondays.
You might say that I probably miss the atmosphere of a Friday / Saturday night out but firstly, the large number of tourists here mean that pretty much every night is busy in bars. Secondly, as I work with others who have the same days off, we can all go for a few beers after work on Sunday much like those who do the same on Friday evenings with their colleagues.
If you have kids in school then I guess working weekends would be a downer because you wouldn’t see your kids as much. That is pretty much the only major drawback I can see about working weekends. Some people just have an attitude that 'a weekend' can only be Saturday Sunday - but in reality, here in Bangkok it's much better to have a couple of days off midweek instead.
If you enjoyed this blog, check out my website - Life in a New Country
Richard is co-author of a great new book on planning a life in Thailand.
Planning your new life in Thailand isn’t easy. There are many hurdles to jump and potential frustrations galore. From practicalities through to cultural issues, from finances to fitting in and making friends, there is so much to learn. Luckily, you will find all the basics explained in this 282 page book.
Settling in Thailand takes a broad, insightful and balanced approach – neither too cynical nor evangelical, this book sets a precedent in terms of presenting a positive but realistic and non-judgemental description of Thailand life for foreign residents.
Written by two British expats in Thailand, and with interviews with another 13 expats from around the world, you will get first-hand experience, advice and explanations of expat life in Thailand. With a combined 150 years of Thai experience this book is the ultimate guide to making sure your move and settling in Thailand goes smoothly.