Living in Thailand can be very cheap, especially if you don’t care for non-stop excitement and entertainment. If you’re a tourist and you’re here for a few weeks, then understandably you would want to see as much as possible in the short time you have. In those cases you might spend a lot more. But for people living here full-time, you can live extremely cheaply. I spend on average 1000 baht per week. That’s because me and my girl cook at home and rarely go out. The only time I spend more is when we have to pay bills or on special occasions.
So what is expensive in Thailand?
Most of the modern luxuries are as expensive, if not more so, than they are in western countries. The things that you will get for cheap are the Thai things. Street food costs anywhere between 30 and 50 baht for a typical meal. Living is cheap, with small town houses being rented out for as little as 5000 baht per month. In England I was paying close to that in one week! The closer you are to central Bangkok, the more expensive the properties will be, but you can still get a nice studio for around 7000 baht. I have never paid more than 6000 baht for rent.
If you had a large amount of money already saved in the bank, you could live in Thailand for an extended period on a double-entry visa or something similar. It is also possible to get an education visa without actually studying anything here. My GF is currently on an ed visa but the only study she does is playing Candy Crush! She’s a Filipina, hence the reason for having a visa. I don’t date farang girls, and they don’t usually date me. It’s a mutual agreement. But back to the topic…
Yes, you can live damn cheaply here and it sure is fun. I’d rather wake up in this tropical paradise than my home country, even though I do rip the locals to pieces with my criticisms at times. Thais: I do like them really (sometimes). The only down side is, when you really hit rock bottom, there aint nothing for you to fall back on here. Unlike the Thai national, who if flat broke can just simply contact his friends and family and hang out with them for a while, we farangs have to keep our heads above the water if we want to stay here. I don’t see myself being a homeless bum in Pattaya, and I have actually seen a white guy like that before: old guy, rooting through trash bins! What an example. So you can live cheaply, just don’t be a cheapskate! Thais hate that. Farang kee niow, I think they call it.
For those of you who have been to Thailand, it’s probably struck you how poor the standard of English is here. Even those who have been educated in the best schools are not so competent. So, considering that, poor people and the lesser educated can barely manage to blurt out things like: “Where you go?” “You!” and “You like Thailand?” Other Southeast Asian countries are way ahead in their English speaking abilities. So with ASEAN looming in 2015, the Thais have a LOT of catching up to do.
So why are they so bad at English? Considering that most of the kids here are studying English around 6 days a week, you would think they would be a little better. I remember one Saturday I asked a student of mine “How are you?” I’ve been teaching this kid for over 10 months and he turned round and said “Praewa arai?” Which means something like “What does that mean?” When he finally did answer me I got “8 Years old.” He thought I’d said “How old are you?” Seriously, I mean, how hard can it be to remember a simple question like that? I’ve been in Thailand for nearly 4 years and I’ve never taken Thai lessons but if someone asks me “Sabai dee mai” it’s the easiest thing for me to understand. I could answer that question after about 2 days in Thailand.
I have my theories about why Thais are not good at English, and I also have some hard evidence taken from my daily experiences. One of the reasons, I believe, is just their sheer lack of interest in learning. The Thais have some saying that apparently, when translated, goes: “If I think too much, I get headache.” That basically sums up the average Thai: They don’t like thinking or anything serious. During a typical English lesson, you’ll be lucky if you can get the kids to just shut up and pay attention to you, if they improve their English skills, that’s a bonus.
Another reason may just be their very laid-back approach to life. This kind of ties in with their lack of interest in learning but also has roots in their religion. Thais are “Buddhist” (supposedly) and they seem to have taken some of the Buddhist teachings as a cue to be lazy. Buddha taught that we should always strive to be happy, come what may, and that we should accept the things life throws at us with aplomb. As it goes, this kind of leads Thai people to have a rather “never-mind” attitude towards everything. Also their relentless “positive thinking” get’s in the way of progress sometimes. I used to teach adults in a language centre and one night I chose technology as a topic of discussion. I asked them the question: “Do you think technology is always a good thing?” Most of them said yes. Then I asked them to consider the misuses of technology such as weapons of mass destruction and one of the students turned round and said: “Oey! Think positive na ka!” WTF! I learned a great deal about Thai positive thinking that night: That it is in fact just complacency and laziness. The truth is, the average Thai doesn’t give a damn what happens in the outside world, as long as it doesn’t affect them.
For those of you who can read Thai, I’m sure you’ve noticed the amazing number of English words now used in modern Thai advertising. So how then do they expect to learn English if every English word they learn is transliterated into the Thai script, leaving the original word barely distinguishable? I see it all the time: service becomes serwis (with a falling tone); Central become centan; square become s’kware. The point I’m making is, they don’t want to learn English. They just see English as a way to make more money. English is the international language of business! But as far as speaking goes, they want to remain Thai: proud; nationalistic; arrogant. However, all languages evolved like that. After all, how many words in English came from French, German, and Latin etc. Perhaps Thais will learn English, just don’t expect it to be the English we know and love!
Despite looking excruciatingly sexy, my experience of Thai girls has shown me that they are actually a little boring and overly conservative in the sack. Some of them are actually shy to let you see their naked body before and after sex, and if you like the idea of your chick walking around the apartment in her panties you can forget it. Straight after sex she will want to shower then get dressed into a cute t-shirt and pair of shorts. Still, I haven’t exactly slept with every girl in Thailand. Perhaps I’ve just been unlucky. What are your experiences of Thai girls? Did you find them wild in bed? Or boring and conservative? Let me know your thoughts and opinions!
I have received a wave of messages from bewildered non-native speakers who feel left out on the Thailand teaching scene. However, while working in Thailand I have met many non-native speakers who live and work here. It is possible to get jobs here, but it may be worthwhile to keep your options open. Teaching English is not the only thing that Thais want, and as their economy, culture, and society are rapidly burgeoning, the new-wave Thais are looking for education in all kinds of areas. If you want general info on teaching in Thailand for non-native speakers, check out my other blog post: TEFL Teaching in Thailand for Non-native Speakers. This post is just simply a list of other potential lines of work.
Chess Instructor: I am currently doing this job part-time as I am in between jobs. I am the ONLY native speaker among the other chess teachers. Thailand has a lot of catching up to do on the world chess scene, and it seems they have just realized it. Families are now seeing the benefits to their children’s intellectual abilities through playing chess and are hoping that one of their little angels might be the next Magnus Carlsen. Check out IWICA for more details.
Football Commentator: Now don’t be bewildered by this one. You don’t have to have the verbal skills of great commentators like Kenneth Wolstenholme, it’s pretty formulaic, and your job is just to keep track of how many corners each side took, how many red cards, goals scored etc. You will be on the phone to someone during the match, relaying the information to them. Check out Real Time Sportcast for more information.
Content Writer: There are numerous companies offering work as a content writer. You can make a decent salary doing this line of work if you put in enough time. But don’t get too starry-eyed. You’re not going to be the next Charles Dickens through this kind of work. It’s mostly SEO stuff, designed to drive traffic to websites. It’s repetitive and can be time consuming, but it allows you to work anywhere (with internet) and frees you from the office/classroom. Check out Virtual Travel Guides and vWriter.
Well, those are just three alternatives to teaching English in Thailand. If you know of any others, please leave comments with links and descriptions. Good luck finding work in Thailand!
I recently had to do a visa run to Laos. It’s the first time I’ve ever had to do one in three years, and so I was a little confused as to how the process works. I asked ten different people and got ten different answers. But after doing it I can safely say that it’s an easy process and there’s really nothing to fret about. I had to obtain a 60 day visa, but I imagine the information is pretty much the same for a 90 day visa. However, you will probably need to go armed with a lot more paperwork for the 90 day visa. This post is going to be brief and to the point. I will just list out the steps you need to take to get your visa. So here goes!
- Get to Mukdahan. I live in Bangkok so I took the bus from Mochit. Make sure you take passport photos.
- Get a ticket to Laos. The ticket office is located in the Mukdahan bus terminal. Can’t miss it.
- Get your Thai visa cancelled. Everyone piles off the bus at Mukdahan border control. Make sure you’re fast. Don’t be polite or you’ll end up at the back of the queue. You have to fill out a departure card then get a stamp in your passport to show you have officially left Thailand.
- Back on the bus. Over the Friendship Bridge.
- Off the bus to enter Laos. Go to the window to your left, the one where all the other foreigners are going. You will need to fill in a visa on arrival form. The visa costs about 1500 baht. This is where you will need those passport photos. If you don’t have them it’s a 50 baht charge. The man in the office will you give you an arrival card. Might as well fill it out while you wait.
- You now have to get a stamp in your passport. Join the queue, pay the 40 baht fee and enter Laos.
- You will now be approached the by tuk tuk drivers. It’s up to you whether you accept their 2-300 baht charge or wait for some other mode of transport. I jumped on a tuk tuk for speed…well, speed compared to waiting for a bus, if you know what I mean…tuk tuks aren’t exactly known for their speed. The tuk tuk drivers do accept baht, as do most other business owners in Savannakhet. However, just so you know, 25000 Laos kip is equal to 100 baht.
- If you arrive at the embassy before 11:00 am then you’re just in time. Go to the small shop opposite the embassy to buy the visa application form and get copies of your passport. It’s about 20 baht.
- Now enter the embassy, give them your passport, get a receipt and you’re done.
- You now have to pass some time until the next day when your visa will be ready. Might as well book a hotel, have a manicure and enjoy some of the Laos cuisine. I found Laos food to be excellent and cheap. If you’ve missed steak while in Thailand, you’ll be able to catch up with 2 or 3 of them while in Laos. The beer is good too.
- The next day, enjoy some baguettes and coffee for breakfast at the Chez de Bourne cafe about 5 minutes up the road from the embassy. You’ll be able to pick up your visa at 2:00 pm. If you want to use the internet, I found an internet cafe not far from the embassy opposite Savan Auto. From the above mentioned restaurant, go up the road until you come to the cross roads. Take a right then walk for five minutes along the road. The internet cafe is on the right.
So that’s it. A quick, to the point guide on getting your visa in Laos. It’s actually really easy, and a good chance to see another culture.