I don't think I've ever met a teacher who has taught in Sakhon Nakhon. It wouldn't be at the top of many people's dream destination list but come on guys...it's in North East Thailand. It's probably great!
The Lonely Planet guidebook says......?
OK, here are some totally random facts about Sakhon Nakhon. During World War II, Sakon Nakhon became a haven for free Thais and a base for Communist activities in the late 1950s. The weather in April can be brutally hot with temperatures rising to a daily average of 96 degrees. Sakon Nakhon lies on the bank of Lake Nong Han, the largest lake in north-east Thailand. The town is surrounded by extensive farmland. You can spell the name of the town two different ways. Right, I think that's enough!
In general, what are the pickings like for an EFL teacher?
There are a quite a few schools around and probably not surprisingly, they are always in need of qualified teachers. All the local schools, universities and language schools employ foreign teachers.
How far from Bangkok or civilization?
Sakhon Nakhon is one of those Thai towns that seems to be miles from everywhere. Look on Google maps and you'll see exactly what I mean.
The bus journey from Bangkok takes around 12 hours while according to the Wikitravel website, the train from Bangkok leaves in the early evening and gets to Nakhon Sawan somewhere between 6.00 am and 9.00 am. What on earth are you rushing for? This is the North East. Slow down boy.
Sakhon Nakhon does have an airport though and budget airline Nok Air fly daily from the capital. It probably takes an hour or so.
What's the place like for nightlife, eating out etc?
There are a couple of good falang hangouts, Apples and the Chilly Bar come to mind. Western food is in abundance here. The only things that are hard to get are a decent western breakfast and a Sunday roast.
How much to rent a house or basic apartment?
You can get a nice house for 5,000 baht or less, but they take a while to find. Find a decent long-term stay hotel until you find one. Rent is cheap here. I pay 4,500 baht a month for a 3-bedroom house. As for apartments, anything from 2,000 baht a month upwards - but be aware that the building may be full of rowdy students.
Shopping malls, department stores?
We have the usual big players such as Tesco, Big C, Makro and Robinsons..
How is mobile / internet coverage?
Pretty good considering the distance from everywhere.
Will you be stared at? and what's the likelihood of a good beating?
No stares or beatings, but I avoid the bars as much as possible. There are plenty of foreigners around but most tend to mix within their own groups, (the Europeans, the Brits and colonies etc).
Taxis, buses....or horse and cart?
You need a motorbike to get around and I paid 7,000 baht for an old one. If you live close to your work, a bicycle should get you by. I have both a pick-up and a scooter. A decent second-hand bike here will cost from 12-25k
Main advantages of living there?
Sakon Nakhon has clean air and its proximity to the Phu Phan mountains keeps the temperature about 3 - 5 degrees cooler than most of Issan
And what are the downsides?
It's a quiet town that won't suit everybody. Not a great deal of English is spoken.
Any local attractions?
Pu Phan Mountain is very near, also a a huge lake that you can't swim in due to the liver flukes - but boat rides are fun.
Where's the best place to meet other farangs or are they best avoided?
Apples, Chilly Bar, Robinsons. Most are old retired drinking people who like to hear the sound of their own voices, but very good honest blokes. I mainly hang out with Thai farmers and laborers. Educated Thais bore me. Each to their own place, most people drink in one hole and only one.