An easygoing, old-school Thai town with its own distinct character - but are there any opportunities for TEFLers?
The Lonely Planet guidebook says......?
In general, what are the pickings like for an EFL teacher?
There are very few language/international schools in Trang that employ native English speakers, however the number of students wanting to learn English has increased therefore the local schools are now advertising for more staff and will continue to do so. Although there are many interested students, schools in Trang do not yet have formal IELTS or TOEFL programs, however some schools offer preparation and training courses designed for these international examinations.
Salary: Between 20,000 - 30,000 Although the salaries aren't very high, the low cost-of-living compensates for that. Most schools guarantee that you will clear about 24,000 Baht however there are some others that advertise 30,000 Baht but don't give you enough hours to make that kind of money. Your best bet is signing a full-time contract that will pay you a set wage regardless of the amount of teaching hours they provide you (within your contracted teaching hours of course).
Because of the fact that there aren't a lot of tourists about, there is no difference between low season and high season, which means the pickings that are available are open all year around. In saying that, pre-term dates (October and between April-May) are when most schools are looking for teachers.
How far from Bangkok or civilization?
Not far enough!
From Bangkok (pollution and madness): A good 12 - 15 hour terrifying journey by
bus or train OR 45 minutes on a plane (the airport is the size of a 747)
From HatYai (farang food and entertainment): 2 - 3 hours by mini bus, bus or taxi.
From Krabi (resorts and reggae): 2 - 3 hours by mini-bus, bus or taxi.
From Phuket (go-go bars and waves): 4 - 5 hours by mini bus or bus.
What's the place like for nightlife, eating out etc?
It depends on what your ‘cup of tea' is (mine personally is Earl Grey) but there are numerous forms of entertainment....
- Sport Stadiums / Gyms
- Muay Thai Boxing / Training
- Bull Fighting / Cock Fighting
- Leisure Parks with aerobics, Thai Chi and yoga
- Karaoke with birds
- Bars and discos with live bands
- Cafes (that show live football games on the big screen)
- Snooker Clubs
- Restaurants with a fantastic selection of inexpensive seafood
- Endless Attractions
You name it, Trang has got it in all shapes and sizes and for all walks of life! (all except go-go-girls on poles which most males in Trang agree - are not missed!)
How much to rent a house or basic apartment?
Unfurnished one-two bedroom terraced houses range from around 3,000 baht! but not so easy to find. One-room furnished apartments start at around 2,000 for the basics and range to 5,000 for the works! Readily available. I managed to rent a three-bedroom unfurnished house for six thousand baht per month. I think the average apartment costs around 5,000 baht per month. Another foreign teacher rented a furnished studio apartment, with a small kitchen area and a small balcony. The building also has gym and swimming pool for 7,000 baht per month.
Shopping malls, department stores?
Tesco Lotus is almost it. Although heavily packed with people who have no idea how to navigate shopping trolleys - you'll find all you'll ever need. There is a Big C located not from the football stadium and there is also a Robinson department store, although not on the scale of other larger cities
How is mobile / internet coverage?
Will you be stared at? and what's the likelihood of a good beating?
Of course you will be stared at....and it's great that you are recognised as someone different! Although it may seem rude where you come from, I believe that the starers are genuinely more inquisitive and less contemptuous. Although I've seen a few Ferang-Thai bottle-brawls at even the friendliest nightspots, the majority of the time the beatings are caused because of intolerable behavior or social/cultural misunderstandings from both sides.
There have been a few cases of bag and mobile snatching/mugging taking place - but these situations can be easily avoided. Like any country, use your common sense and you'll avoid the hospital or the police station.
Taxis, buses....or horse and cart?
Enough tuk-tuks and motorbike taxis to get you from A to B for 20-40 Baht a ride. Car and motorbike rental facilities also available, however most teachers own their own bikes. Trang also operates a metered taxi service, with modern air conditioned cabs.
Main advantages of living there?
The main advantage is that you can immerse yourself in the culture. It's easy to meet Thai people, learn the language and be a part of a great rural experience! Although the tourists come through Trang on their way to the Islands, Trang has protested in changing to suit their needs and remains a quiet town, somewhat untouched by western influences!
It's also central, in that it's only a hop, skip and a jump to beaches and islands, small cities for a McDonalds and a movie, and tourist destinations for a real disco, depending on the weekend you desire.
Some of those ex-pats who hate the dual pricing systems (one price for Thais and another extortionate price for farangs) enjoy the fact that here you are expected to barter for bargains just like the Thais (the starting price is the same for farang and Thais alike!)
And what are the downsides?
No cheese and the fact that every live band or bar will play "Hotel California" until your ears bleed! Some may say the low salary (in comparison to other areas of Thailand) is a disadvantage. Although the money is enough to live like a king or queen in Trang, it doesn't allow for a lot of deposits into your savings account (depending on your lifestyle)
Any local attractions?
Waterfalls, islands, caves, hot springs, camping adventures to meet local indigenous people, Ratchamongkon Aquarium, Botanical Gardens, and Khao Chong Nature and Wildlife Park......and more.
Beaches on the Trang coast.
The most popular weekends close to home are trips to the beach where you have the option of staying on:
Had Pakmeng Beach which is the main port offering transport to the islands of Trang. It's about 30 minutes drive from town. Although the beach isn't laden with white sand, there are numerous seafood restaurants scattered along the beach. From this coast you can see numerous islands (which do have amazing snorkeling treats and beautiful beaches).
Had Chao Mai Beach is situated in Chao Mai national park. This beach is a cleaner, more sheltered and has facilities to rent tents and camping equipment if you fancy a night on the sand.
Had Yong-Ling Beach (also in Chao Mai national park) is more popular with the Thais and can become quiet crowded, however from this beach you can walk around the headland to another beach that isn't accessible by road. Be careful of your munchies, as the monkeys will feast on your treats!
Had-Yao Beach is another port laden with long-tail boats and ferries to take you off to the islands, however there is a private beach with a small resort that offers cheap bungalows and tranquility!
Islands off the coast of Trang and Krabi.
Otherwise it's off to the islands of Trang or Krabi such as Koh Muk (which has an emerald cave that you swim/kayak through to get to the centre of the island) , Koh Chuang, Koh Rok, Koh Hai, Kok Kradan, Koh Lipay, Koh Libong, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta, etc....
Waterfalls around Trang.
Or have a day at the waterfalls such as Nam-Tok Sairoong, Nam-Tok Prisawan, Nam-Tok Khao Chong, Nam-Tok Khao Lak, Nam-Tok Ton Yai, Nam-Tok Ton Te, Nam-Tok Ton Tok, etc.....
Where's the best place to meet other farangs or are they best avoided?
If you'd like to become involved in the typical expat community lifestyle ie. attend organised events such as hash runs and chess clubs, then Trang isn't for you. There are very few expats here, and they tend to have their own circles of friends including their colleagues and community (both Thai and Farang).
If you'd prefer to hang out with the tourists, hang out near the train station. But ideally befriending a few of the locals for some more insight and adventures would be more fun.