Samut Songkhram

It's usually a settlement you drive quickly through on your way from Bangkok to Hua Hin, but believe it or not foreigners do actually teach there. But could it be Thailand's most boring province?

The Lonely Planet guidebook says......?

It is the smallest province in Thailand, in fact, some Thais don't even know that this province exists.

Part of Ratchaburi province, Samut Songkhram comprises three small districts and is home to the famous Amphawan Floating Market and Firefly Sanctuary. The place is said to be the birthplace of King Rama II and also the legendary Siamese twins. But BEWARE - most of the Thai people here speak little or no English.

In general, what are the pickings like for an EFL teacher?

There are plenty of schools in the province but only a few have foreign English teachers and most of those are Filipinos.

As far as I know, only one school employs English native speakers- and that is Tawaranukul School. English Plus is a famous language center of the province and there are a number of nameless language centers. Most of those language centers are owned by Thai teachers from different schools in the region. Some students even have extra classes in language centers in Bangkok. Most of the schools provide free accommodation to the foreign teachers.

Jennifer - Yes, plenty of schools here. I teach at Tawaranukul, there is also Sarasas, Ban Tawan Chak,Ban Klong, Wat Prok to name a few

How far from Bangkok or civilization?

It's about 70 kilometers from Bangkok and you can take anything from an hour to an hour and a half during rush hours. You can reach Samut Songkhram by van going to Maeklong or bus going to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. You can start either from Victory Monument or Southern Bus Terminal. The fare is 60-70 baht.

What's the place like for nightlife, eating out etc?

Most of the market stalls and shops close before ten o'clock. It can feel quite dangerous when you walk along the street at night. At nine o'clock people generally scurry back to their houses and apartments.

Jennifer - Nightlife is non-existent here but there are lots of good restaurants, including at least four places I go to for my Western food fix.

How much to rent a house or basic apartment?

It's not expensive. Apartments range from 2,500 baht to 4,500 baht, it depends on the type of apartment you want. You can pick up fully-furnished apartments which are actually quite cosy. Compared to other provinces, the rent here is cheaper.

Jennifer - There are so many apartments to rent here. I pay 3,800 baht a month including water and electricity.

Shopping malls, department stores?

There is a Tesco Lotus and plenty of small convenience stores like Seven-Eleven and Twikit. Samut is very near to Bangkok so if you want to go 'malling' you can do it in Bangkok during weekends. The nearest mall is "Central Rama II".

Jennifer - We have a Tesco Lotus and a Big C and that's about it.

How is mobile / internet coverage?

Good enough.

Will you be stared at? and what's the likelihood of a good beating?

If you are white, everybody will be staring at you saying, "farang! farang!". I had one British and one Canadian colleague before and almost everybody couldn't keep their eyes off them

Jennifer - I live in the Maeklong area, which is a fishing village, and yes there are about 12 foreign teachers here. But have never ever seen one!

Taxis, buses....or horse and cart?

If you want to travel from one district to another, you can ride songtaews, tuk-tuks and motorcycles. All of these can be seen around the Muang District or even Amphawan and Bangkontee Districts.

Jennifer - I walk everywhere because everything is so central. There are the usual transport modes. Horse and cart you can find more on the Amphawa side.

Main advantages of living there?

If you want to save your money, Samutsongkhram is a great place because there's nothing to spend money on. There are no malls or beer-bars or any of those other things that seem to suck up salaries if you're not careful.

Jennifer - You will save most of your salary because there is nothing to spend it on.

And what are the downsides?

It's boring. Believe me.

Jennifer - You have to keep yourself amused because there is no entertainment here.

Any local attractions?

King Rama II Memorial Park, Amphawan Floating Market and Firefly Sanctuary, Siamese Twin Memorial Park and historical temples. There is an annual Lychee Fair and Pratu (a kind of fish) Festival. Don Hoi Lot is also a famous local attraction because it's the only place in the world where you can see the unique worm shells (apparently).

Jennifer - There are loads of salt farms. Maeklong market with the train running down the centre line is amazing to see! No other unseen destinations that I know of.

Where's the best place to meet other farangs or are they best avoided?

It's unusual to see Farangs working in the province. There are no places to hang-out at night or even during the day.

Jennifer - Best to avoid all farangs anywhere and everywhere in Thailand. They all have their own agendas.

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