It's the 'fish sauce town' that you pass through on the drive down from Bangkok to Pattaya. Does somewhere between the devil and the deep blue sea appeal to teachers though?
The Lonely Planet guidebook says......?
This town is famous for fiery red chilli sauce, seafood and amazing souped-up motor-cycle rickshaws.
Well the seafood is better further down the coast in Sattahip, the chilli sauce is basically ketchup and the amazing tuk-tuks haven't been in common use for about 10 years.
But I guess Joe has been too busy giving interviews to Farang magazine and hanging out at Gulliver's to notice.
In general, what are the pickings like for an EFL teacher?
There are several language schools in town including ECC, BCC, English+ and Success. There are also three large Thai Catholic schools (Darasamut, St Paul's and Assumption) that hire foreign teachers. Salaries range quite a lot.
How far from Bangkok or civilization?
One and a half to two hours to Ekkami or Morchit, and 20 mins to Pattaya. Ko Samet is also close (1 hour to Ban Phe?)
What's the place like for nightlife, eating out etc?
There are LOADS of Thai bars/pubs. Many are very good, with cold beer and excellent Thai food. There is one night club of dubious worth, but I'm told it's actually ok. I just hate clubs!
There isn't a lot of choices for western food. There is an excellent Italian restaurant and a plethora of Japanese places. Otherwise your standard Thai chains and local stalls/noodle shops. We also have a lot of house parties. Balloon chasing anyone?
How much to rent a house or basic apartment?
A house can cost anywhere from 1000 a month for a pokey, dingy place way out of town, or 6 - 8000 for a nicer place closer in. Apartments vary, but can be very expensive, especially if you look Japanese. Reckon on about 6000 for a one bedroom place, possibly with a sea view.
Shopping malls, department stores?
There is a Robinson with attached mall. All the usual stuff, just not as swanky as in Bangkok. There is a new "Chatuchak" opening up in the centre of town. Still being built (November 2003), but we're all very excited. Go to Pattaya for Tesco x 2/Big C x 2/Carrefour, or to Chonburi for Tesco.
How is mobile / internet coverage?
Lots, some slow, some less so. 20 baht an hour and share with the Ragnorak on line crowd, 30baht an hour and your ear drums live for another day.
Will you be stared at? and what's the likelihood of a good beating?
There aren't many farang in town, but a few of the expats with families live here rather than Pattaya, and there are some resident teacher types. Never had any major problems with the locals. They tend not to stare at me, but they all seem to know who I am.
But that's more because I have a Thai wife who broke her foot a while back (people STILL ask her if its better) and I often take my Golden Retriever for walks round town!
Taxis, buses....or horse and cart?
Tuk-tuks 20-30 baht for anywhere in town, motor-cy for 10-20 for the same. All are fairly sane and will even take it slow if you ask them! Busses to Bangkok are 70 or 74 baht, and direct. Busses to Pattaya are 20 baht and all stopping. You can also take a songthaew to Pattaya which is slower and the same price. Go figure!
We also have a train station, but I've only ever been there to book trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
Main advantages of living there?
Far enough from the madding crowd to keep your sanity, but close enough to go wild every now and then. And for those in search of the "real Thailand", a small industrial/fishing town going about its business is about as real as it gets. AND you can buy cheese here too!
And what are the downsides?
It's a very small town that can get a bit boring after a while.
Any local attractions?
There's the eponymous Tiger Zoo, Khao Kieow Open Zoo, and Ko Loi. There is also a waterfall nearby, but its quite hard to get to without wheels and its not much to write home about as far as water goes! Ko Si Chang is also only a ferry ride away.
Where's the best place to meet other farangs or are they best avoided?
There isn't really a farang meeting point. But you'll see them hanging around in Robinson, or out for a night at the famous Pop Pub. Do say hello to us...we're very nice really!