Readers' Submissions

Chooks And Cattle

  • Written by Slapjack
  • February 14th, 2005
  • 4 min read


I enjoyed the article submitted by Anonymous, "Thailand – A bit bland?" But I’m submitting this not as agreement with him, but to give another perspective on the pros and cons of moving to the LOS. I can see that writer's reasoning and I guess one of the main differences is the fact that he’s 28 with his working life ahead of him. I’m 55 with most of it behind me.

At the end of 2001 I found myself unemployed. I’d taught in a polytechnic style college for 20 years to 1999 and decided then to branch out into a different field, but this wasn’t successful.

This is what unemployment meant to me:

1. Loss of identity. How d- I answer the “what d- you do?” question which everyone asks?
2. Loss of dignity. Being afraid to walk down the street during the week because everyone knows that being free during the day means you are out of work (or So I thought).
3. Loss of confidence in yourself. Perhaps I was a shithouse teacher.
4. Loss of confidence in the system. But this is full employment. What about me?
5. Loss of a lot of close daily people contact. Sitting at home alone isn’t much fun after all.
6. Loss of experience. Stagnant.
7. Loss of conversation. What did I d- this week, you ask? Oh, nothing much. Hey, did you know that geraniums come in six different colours?
8. A realisation that yes, age does matter.

So I bit the bullet (hey, it’s not hard – just rent out the house, store the furniture and go. Ignore those women – and it is the women -who give all the negatives about Thailand).

This is what I loved about my 18 months there teaching at a Rajabhat / University in a southern non-tourist city in the south.

– Being said “hello” to by students I don’t even know.
– People in the streets who will think you are normal if you smile at them.
– The status and respect that I have here.
– Being given the Thai wai in supermarkets.
– Being forced to exercise, to walk places.
– Having students who are complementary to my style of teaching.
– Walking past the free range chickens in my street.
– Earning enough money here so my bank balance is at least stable.
– Neighbours who lend you things.
– Watching and teaching students who seem to be perennially happy.
– Having my age being considered an asset, not a liability.
– Watching with bemusement at the dogs crossing the roads and not getting bowled over.
– Walking through the Uni grounds in the morning and being called to by three or four of your own students who are sweeping the basketball courts.
– The warmth of the vast majority of the locals.
– Being able to experience a whole new range of fruits.
– The gifts of fruit that students and other staff (including the president of the Uni) bring you.
– Sitting outside on a hot night and knowing that tomorrow night’s weather’s going to be the same.
– Being able to say “I live here” to the odd tourist I speak to.
– The little girl at the end of my street who rushes out to say hell- every time I walk past.
– The collective screams in the classroom from your students when anything happens that they decide to scream at, and the same from other classrooms.
– Hearing the roosters crowing in the morning.
– Eating a two- course lunch plus iced coffee for $1.
– Having 15 stunningly beautiful girls in a class of fifty.
– Watching the family herd their seven cattle down the street past the apartments and at the same time seeing the BMW having to wait for it them to pass before the driver can exit out of the garage.
– Having Thai commuters offering to hold your shopping in the Bangkok skytrain.
– Being able to leave your notebook computer on your desk without it being stolen.
– Being $6 and three hours away from one of the world’s great tourist resorts.
– Sitting next to the shoe repairer as he re-soles your shoes on the spot, for $4.50.
– Talking to other teachers who have moved away from their respective countries.
– Watching children who still know how to play hopscotch and marbles.
– Being chased by, and rejecting a 21 year old (non student).
– Great food, except for the lamb and good steak which you can’t buy.
– Being an object of curiosity in this city.
– Having my laundry done for me.
– Being able to eat out every night if I want to.
– Being able to lose 10kg without going through the stress of formal dieting.

Stickman's thoughts:

Yep, there are many positives to living in Thailand.