To everyone who emails me with that oh so familiar email, "how can I work in Thailand without having to teach", the following is for you. I get this question by email about three times a day, every day. The reality of the situation is that there is not a huge demand for farangs to work in many of the positions that these particular farangs would like – the same job they do at home, for the same salary. Such jobs in Thailand will be done by Thais who will do it almost as well as their farang counterparts, but for a fraction of the salary. Therefore, getting such highly paid expat positions comes down to luck as much as anything.
For many people, the desire to live in Thailand is strong, very strong. But in many cases, one does not have the skills to get a regular job. There is an alternative. English teaching.
So how does one go about getting a teaching job? In what is an increasingly competitive environment (many teaching positions advertised in Thailand are now getting 50+ applicants for ONE position), it is the people who have specific teaching credentials who will often get the nod.
TEFL International is Thailand's (indeed Asia's) leading English teacher training course provider. The school itself is located just along from the main road at Bahn Pe, the main port for boats going to the tropical island paradise of Ko Samet. So if the course gets a bit much, you can jump on the boat and go over to the island, leaving your troubles behind on the mainland.
Located up a quiet lane perhaps a kilometre or so from the main town, the school has everything that you need right there on the premises. Accommodation is included in the course price with every trainee getting their own air-con room. There is a restaurant on the premises which serves first class farang food and reputedly has the Eastern Seaboard's best Mexican food. And of course there are computer terminals so you do not miss out on the Stickman Weekly. With friendly staff, professional trainers, all in a very nice environment, the school has a very nice feel about it. Many trainees have commented at the end of the course that they feel like they are leaving home.
I visited the course the school a few weeks back and what impressed me most about the course is the laid back way in which it is presented. Unlike similar courses around the world where stress and anxiety levels of the trainees go sky high, at TEFL International they offer a relaxed, supportive environment in which to learn. Trainees are not compelled to wear business attire while they are studying (which is in effect what teachers must wear in Thailand), and the whole atmosphere at the school is more like a beach resort than that of a stressful English teacher's training course. Trainees walk around with big grins on their face which is far different from when I trained to be a teacher. I can remember trainees on my course back in Farangland counting the number of new grey hairs each day.
So, now you do not need to ask me how to get work in Thailand – the answer is here. Go to TEFL International, do the course, and then you are just about ready to face life in Thailand as an English teacher.
WARNING / FOOTNOTE: It should be noted that English teaching is not for everyone, and for many reasons, you should not take the decision to become an English teacher lightly. If you are a career teacher, then go for it. If you absolutely want to live in Thailand and there is no other alternative, then go for it. But, if you want to teach English overseas for a year or two and are not fussed about where you live, then perhaps Thailand is not the best place for you.
Where is this pic?
Not easy this one….so the clue is: "inside out".
Remember, the first person to email me with the right answer wins a fantastic calendar with pictures of Thai ladies from the good folks at ThaiTemptations.com. Last week's picture was taken inside The Old Dutch on the corner of Soi Cowboy and Sukumvit Soi 23 – and a huge number of people emailed me the correct answer. The first person with the right answer was Whosyourdaddy but as he cheated he forfeits his prize.
Ever heard of this before? I haven't.
of pussy so the girls line up in front of it and shuffle about awkwardly. Lots of girls, but definitely quantity v quality – spotted one of my LEAST favourite girls in Bangkok who has worked in a LOT of bars over the years.
Anyway, the interesting bit is the 'Swing Room' you mentioned and the fact that they have a French female manageress – a first? Her name is Monique and she showed us the new room (location seems a little less than discrete). It will have a cashier outside who will admit couples only at B500 per couple to include 4 drinks. It is kitted out with comfy booths with tables but I am not sure whether the swinging is meant to take place inside the room or whether it is just intended as somewhere where couples who are interested in that scene can meet and size each other up. I have seen quite a number of enquiries about this sort of activity over the years and nobody ever seemed to have any concrete info and seemed to rely on the internet in order to meet other couples. I have a mate who lives in Singapore who has now taken to hosting orgies on a regular basis. All
sounds very civilised and quite a lot of fun – he doesn't allow farang women in! – though I am not sure if I would cope with it very well myself!
The foyer area of TEFL International's English teacher
training school in Bahn Pe. And that is Big Bruce, the boss!
Quote of the week comes from one the city's finest photographers, in response to the opening piece in last week's column… "Any Thai girl trying to meet guys on the internet is not what I would call a good girl, at least not within the traditional Thai values."
Following on from last week's very negative write-up about Check Inn 99 on Sukhumvit, I can confirm that some people have complained that in addition to the super expensive drinks, a chit was slipped into their tumbler with "entertainment charge" and it was 250 baht per person. Enter at your risk!
Is Cafe Digital on Rama 4, just opposite and along a little from Lumpini Tower, the best internet cafe in the city? At 30 baht an hour for a really fast ADSL connection and flash new computers, all with new LCD screens, it represents very good value for money. If it was in Sukumvit or Banglamphu, it would be packed 24 hours a day but down on Rama 4, it is not nearly so popular.
A quote from a reader that I like. "As anywhere, in Thailand the more familiar one is with the language, the broader one's options are".
LOWLY PAID ENGLISH TEACHERS TAKE NOTE! Is it possible to get absolutely pissed (drunk for you North Americans) and then get your rocks off in Bangkok, all for 300 baht? Of course it is! Start out at the Cathouse in Nana Plaza where from 4:00 – 8:00 PM they have the "all you can drink beer Chang for 100 baht special". After that, it is time to wander down to that tacky soi with the dodgy guesthouses opposite the Malaysia Hotel where cat calls from the street announce that 200 baht blowjobs are available. Tacky, but for 300 baht (or around $US 7), you can go home pissed, and with one less bullet in the chamber.
If you want to rent a bar in the new bar area around Sukumvit Soi 10, I hear rumours that the bars there can be rented at approximately 30,000 baht per month.
Robinson's in Sukumvit has struck financial problems and I have proof! The security guard who used to stand there and open the door for you is no longer. Times must be tough when they make such a position redundant, given that the poor fellow probably earned the princely sum of 20 baht or so per hour.
From Soi 33, rumour has it that the Blu-Bar-Bq Bar is doing a roaring trade compared to all of the other bars. With beer at 80 baht all night, every night, I wonder if there is greater elasticity of price down there than many people believe.
For anyone in the market for a few new toys, Blackie has the following for sale. A Sharp 29 inch TV, a Panasonic VCR, a Thompson washing machine, A Nokia 6150E mobile phone (which can used with a laptop). All are going at bargain basement prices. Interested parties should call Blackie on 01-7412211.
The Big Mango by Jake Needham remains my favourite Bangkok novel. But I have to admit that Jake has put the fear of God into me more than a few times. If you've read this novel, you'll know about the relevance of motorbikes pulling up next to you with two guys on board, both wearing helmets. Well, there have been more than a few times when such a motorbike has pulled up next to me, and my mind suddenly races back to the previous week's column and I think to myself, "which bar / language school / individual did I say bad things about". Fortunately, the motorbike riders haven't recognised me so far and the column continues…
Our memories become clouded over time, and it is often difficult to truly know if what we think we remember is actually what we experienced. I still maintain that the bargirls are far less attractive than they ever were, are far less pleasant to chat with and that things are just generally less fun. This week I thought I had stepped into a time machine when I entered a certain bar in Nana. There were quite a few very pretty girls, the staff were very friendly and the whole atmosphere was one of fun. Which bar was I in? Angel Witch! There is something about this bar which made me feel that I was in the Nana of old. I personally don't care for the music in the bar and the seats are damned uncomfortable, but overall, Matt the manager has crated a feeling in there that I haven't felt in a gogo bar for a while.
Clear skies and nice sunsets. The tall
apartment building next to the Pinklao Bridge.
If you're new to the Kingdom and want a phone – or even if you are just here on holiday, there is a pretty good deal going at the moment. You can get a Siemens S36, the phone and SIM card with number to be used with AIS either on the monthly term or pre-paid contracts, all for 3,900 baht. While this may not sound special, they are also giving you THREE MONTHS UNLIMITED CALLS IN THAILAND ABSOLUTELY FREE. A hell of a deal. Mobile prices continue to plummet.
Thanks to everyone who sent kinds words to me regarding the opening piece in last week's column about the girlfriend who turned out to be a bad apple. As it happens, this particular incident happened quite a while ago and bears no relevance whatsoever to the current girlfriend.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that it is getting more and more difficult for Thais to get visas to go overseas. New Zealand, previously a soft touch, is now a lot tougher and the NZ Embassy (or the excuse for a shack that they have the audacity to call an embassy) has been turning down applicants left, right and centre. However, if an applicant is turned down, the Kiwi Embassy will (in most cases, but not all) provide a visa if a NZ citizen is prepared to pay a $NZ 3,000 bond. This bond will be refunded if the sponsored person exits the country before the visa expires. Failure on the person's part to exit before the visa has expired will mean that the sponsor loses the bond with that money being used to contribute towards the cost of locating and repatriating the overstayer.
Holland has some scheme that I heard about whereby a Dutch citizen had to sign a form guaranteeing the visa applicant and they would be held liable for up to 100,000 Dutch guilders should that person abscond! The Netherlands are definitely making things harder for newcomers. Every alien will have to follow a course to integrate properly in Dutch society. What is not so nice however, is that from now on they charge 125,000 baht for that course in order to make it less attractive to import a new wife! That's enough money in Holland to pay for two years tuition at a university, all books included! One does get a full refund if they successfully finish the entire course.
Has Saxophone Pub at Victory Monument closed? Went to go there the other night and the cab driver insisted that it had closed – and he was in no hurry to divert us elsewhere so it made me think that he was telling the truth. I'm too lazy to go over there and verify it.
This week I checked out the Coliseum Brew Arena for the first time. Similar to the Tawan Dang Beer Hall that I talked about last week, this is another of the massive Thai style night places – or is it palaces? Hell, I may be an English teacher but I really don't know how to describe these places! The venue is very nicely decorated inside and has the usual layout with a stage at one end where a band performs most of the time along with a series of featured singers and musicians. The music is good, but nowhere near as good as Tawan Dang. Drinks are very reasonably priced with Heineken at 95 baht for a 500 ml glass, all cocktails at 120 baht (the Kiwi fruit daiquiri is SUPERB) and for people who drink Coke, I think it was available at just 30 baht a glass. The food is damned good too and also reasonably priced for a venue of this type. Service was very good and all of the waiters and waitresses that attended to us were extremely pleasant, helpful and made every effort to speak English, even though that wasn't necessary. (Incidentally, the waiting staff work a 6 day week and get paid 7,600 baht a month, plus tips. This is a lot more than your average gogo bar waitress – and it shows – these folks are REALLY nice and helpful.) However, when sitting upstairs, service can be a bit slow as the bar / food prep area and cashier are all one hell of a hike away from the upstairs seating…so you wait quite a few minutes for your drinks to come. There is a katoey who does a bit of a skit and sings a few songs and she is absolutely hilarious. Watch out if you are a farang sitting near the front as she is a bit of a joker – but all in the name of good fun. I am picking that this place will become a really popular haunt for bargirls to take their customers to because it is very easy to get to from any of the gogo bar areas and will appeal to Thais while being sufficiently interesting to farangs too. Overall, Tawan Dang is more to my taste, though Coliseum sure is impressive and still gets the Stickman thumbs up.
An important thing to consider if you are going to Coliseum or such similar places with the express purpose of attempting to pick up a nice Thai lady for the evening. Thais tend to go to these places in fairly sizeable groups. Even if a girl in a group likes you, it is unlikely that she will do anything more than chat with you, for fear of losing face within the group. Remember, good Thai girls do NOT drop their knickers right away – and a Thai girl leaving the group to accompany a farang off the premises would create HUGE gossip amongst her Thai friends / colleagues!
In recent times, a couple of people I know well have decided that it was time to dabble in a new career. They wanted to be a movie star! Not only did they want to star in a movie, they wanted to direct it and film it too! But both of these guys didn't want to star in any old movie. No sir, they wanted to be the star of their very own X-rated movie! So, I can report that the going rate for making a video with a girl of the night is a surcharge of 2,000 – 3,000 baht, on top of their regular fee. Both of the guys in question claim to have filmed remarkable results. Maybe the Dollhouse would like to have a "Bangkok's Best Home Movies Competition" and host them on that huge screen inside their Cowboy branch?
From time to time we hear stories about how Thai men are evil….but is there any truth in these stories, or are they simply bargirl bullshit to try an make us feel good? Well this week a Thai man stooped to new depths, literally. A freelancer was in the lift in an apartment building on her way up to see her customer of a few days. There was also a Thai man in the lift. The Thai man said to the girl that there was an insect on her shoulder and brushed it off. The insect fell to the floor of the lift and the girl looked down and saw it there. The Thai man bent down to look at the insect and as he was down on his knees, he pulled up the girl's skirt to have a quick peak at the merchandise. She let out a shriek and jumped out of the lift at the next floor. So, is this story a load of old tripe, or what? Actually it is quite true and happened in the very apartment building where I live. A 30 year old Thai man…a pervert and a coward.
Perfect beaches can still be found on Ko Samet.
It is THE place to go with your favourite lady friend.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of venturing down to Ko Samet, that little corner of paradise off the coast of Rayong. It had been a long time since I had last been down to Samet, close to three years in fact. I needed a break, and Samet was chosen due quite simply to there being nothing to do there apart from sit in the sun and swim. Just the recipe for someone who slaves over a weekly column, week after week!
If you've never been there, Ko Samet is an easy four hour journey from Bangkok, about three hours on the bus and 3/4 hour or so on the ferry over to the island. On previous visits I had stayed at the main beach, but this time it was decided that we would stay on a quiet beach, away from the main area.
I have to admit that the bungalow price of 1,500 baht was steep, given that one got a decent but really unremarkable bungalow with air-con, fan and hot water. No fridge, and most certainly no TV, although the omission of the latter represents no loss. And damn it, I couldn't even get reception with the mobile phone there, though that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
What I like about Samet is that the beaches really are perfect. The sand is soft and white, much whiter than any other beach I've been to in Thailand. The water is clean and warm and the whole island is not overdeveloped as so many places in Thailand are – and this doesn't look likely to change either. However, it must be said that prices on Samet have soared and fxxx me if they aren't more expensive than even the likes of Samui and Phuket. One can only assume that the lack of development (supply) and the surge in visitor numbers (demand) has resulted in a basic economic principle.
I've visited many of the most popular beaches and islands in Thailand over the last few months, and have to admit that I still really like Ko Samet. The lack of development is a blessing and even when all of the bungalow operations are full, there are nice beaches away from the main beach, where you can escape the day trippers who crowd the main beach. If you want a quiet beach, truly paradise like beach, leave the southern beaches to all of the backpackers and get your ass on over to Samet. Visit any of the beaches south of the main beach, Hat Sai Kaew, and you'll be in paradise. And if it is of a concern to you, remember that this is the place to bring a teeruk with you, and not the place to find one (unless you are still into well rounded farang girls).
Your Bangkok commentator,