Readers' Submissions

Thailand Lifestyle

I find it strange that people who crave Western luxuries, as we all do from time to time, should choose to live and teach long term in a poor country like Thailand. It seems to be a case of trying to have your cake and eat it too. Farangs enjoy feeling superior when they come here, superior to the Thais due to their white skin and healthy bank account, and superior to Westerners back home due to their greater sense of adventure. But it doesn't seem to last long. If a first world standard of living is required, then quite simply that is where it should be sought. It's hardly fair to import oneself to a poor Asian country which can barely support its own people and then expect it to support ones lavish Western lifestyle expectations. Farangs come here because it's cheap, and because it is cheap, salaries and standards of living are proportionately lower across the board, and standards and quality are lower too. After a while they require things from abroad which are bound to cost more here due to having downgraded ones salary to a 3rd world level, perhaps one quarter than could be expected back home. Hence imported goods cost proportionately four times as much. I'm amazed that it seems to take some people years to figure this out, and by the time they do so, have thrown away any chance of a good career back home. They are then destined to permanently remain in the ranks of those who stand at the bus stop looking enviously at the small percentage of Thais driving by in new Toyotas and BMWs, something achievable to the majority of the population back in Farangland with a bit of effort.

I see teaching English in Thailand as almost a one way trip, there's no going back. I compare it to a football team going down from the premier division to a lower division. Whilst their life will be much easier, i.e. much easier opponents to take on, the money just won't be there any more. And once down, a team will find it hugely difficult to get back up again. Hence most teams yearn to be in and stay in the top division, and most people, probably including most Thais, yearn to be in the first world too. I for one can't seriously consider working in Thailand long term, because of the implications and the lower standard of living. I could live the same lifestyle on the dole in the UK, i.e. living in a bed-sit, riding on buses because I can't afford a car, and eating the cheapest food, rarely having nights out. All of my friends, both Thai and farang, advise to work in Farangland and holiday in Thailand, and that to me seems to be the most sensible approach.

Granted, Thailand is a fascinating place, but then taking cocaine is fascinating too. I don't want to or need to experience either every day of my life because I'm fairly happy with my Farangland reality. Is it therefore the case that only those who have given up all hope of a good career, quality relationship, and rewarding lifestyle in Farangland are able to force themself to adapt to life as a teacher in Thailand? I often hear teachers in Thailand brag that "some people are cut out for teaching in Thailand, and others aren't" whereas I see it as such people not being cut out for a life in Farangland, and so have to adapt to life in Thailand to find their little piece of happiness.

The biggest reason I am able to happily not live in Thailand is that I live near Chinatown in London, so if I ever feel the need for some Asian culture, just head there. Additionally, there are around 30 English language schools within 5kms of my house, with literally thousands of foreign women to meet, including hundreds from Brazil and Japan, who I generally find more attractive than Thais. Earlier this year I spent two weeks in Brazil visiting friends I'd met in London, before flying on for a week in Hawaii, something I could never do if I were teaching in Thailand.

Hundreds of new student arrivals turn up here each week, keen to meet the locals, so there is never a lack of new talent to meet. There are also plenty of Thais studying here too for me to practise my Thai on, including quite a few rich ex-ABAC students at my local university. They are much more approachable here than in Thailand, and really appreciate being helped out with local knowledge by a guy who speaks Thai, and knowing a guy with a car here. A couple have been extremely appreciative, if you catch my drift.

All of this makes the occasional visit to Thailand preferable to the permanent slog of being a teacher there.

Stickman's thoughts:

Too many people seem to give up too much to move to Thailand, especially if they are working at the lower end of the scale. One has to consider the future, and working in a lowly paid role which really doesn't contribute to your future employability is not a good idea for a prolonged period.