Our Top 10 Highs & Lows of Daily Life in Thailand

Top 10 Annoyances of Daily Life in Thailand

1. Bathrooms

Thailand is a BYOT country. Bring Your Own Toilet Paper. Public restrooms, including the restrooms at our school, almost never have it. Additionally, you have to throw your toilet paper away instead of flush it. And soap is totally out of the question in most bathrooms.

2. Taking shoes off

Thai people believe that feet are the most unholy part of the body so it’s customary to remove your shoes before entering a classroom, home, and even some stores. I (Chelsey) hate the feeling of having dirty feet so walking around barefoot bothers me. It’s also time-consuming to take our shoes off each time we enter our classrooms at school.

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Students’ shoes lined up outside of the classroom.

3. Not being able to read

Reading is something most people take for granted in their home countries. Even in a Spanish or French-speaking country as we learned to speak the language, we would be able to read the text around us. But the Thai language uses an alphabet that looks more like stick figures doing yoga than letters to me. So even as we pick up on speaking and listening to Thai, we can’t read or write. We realized how much of a problem this was the first time we went out to eat in our city where most restaurants don’t have English menus.

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Ordered Pad Thai from this food cart at the park.

4. Traffic

Thailand has the second deadliest roads in the world, behind war-torn Lybia. Much of this is due to motorbike riders not wearing helmets and poor enforcement of traffic laws. The traffic in our city is nothing near the craziness in Bangkok, but you can still find people driving on the wrong side of the road, creating a 3rd lane on a two lane road, and honking for no apparent reason.

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5. Potholes

The road to school is laden with potholes. One of the teachers jokes that we don’t need to visit the national park known as “The Land of 3,000 Holes” because we already see 3,000 holes on the way to school each day.

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6. Bugs

We had several scorpions visit us at our old apartment. If you leave even the tiniest piece of food sitting out, it will be covered in ants within a matter of hours. We are also greeted by several mosquitos each time we enters the bathrooms at school (see #1).

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7, “Farang, Farang!”

“Farang” means “foreigner” in Thai and the locals are not shy about pointing you out. They don’t mean to be rude, and we also get a good laugh when we overhear adults whispering about us or children outright shouting “farang, farang!” and pointing. We are also almost constantly stared at when out in public.

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Entire truckloads of construction workers stare at us as they pass.

8. Last minute schedule changes

Thai culture is not as structured and scheduled as we like to be in America. Therefore things change quickly and we are often informed  last minute. Lucky for use, these changes often result in class being canceled. But they sometimes cause problems such as when the school changed class times for all upper-grade classes, but not kindergarten. So Cole’s kindergarten classes overlapped with the other classes and he got in trouble for not being in two places at once.

9. “Taxi? Tuk tuk?”

Every time we visit a tourists area in Thailand people are constantly trying to sell us goods and services by calling out to us as we walk down the street. It drives Cole crazy and he has to resist the urge to yell at them.

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We got a kick out of this shirt–apparently we’re not the only ones with this problem.

10. Cold Showers

Hot water is a luxury in Thailand. For our first 4 months here we lived in a school-owned apartment with cold showers. Showering went from being my favorite way to unwind at the end of the day to a much dreaded task.

Top 10 Joys of Daily Life in Thailand

1. Students

Students are what make any teaching job worth it and the kids here are no exception. Even though communication can be difficult due to the language barrier we have found ways to joke with, care for,  and connect with each of our students.

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With Jorn at the English competition.
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“Hi Teacher Chelsey!
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Kindergartners dressed in traditional Thai clothing.
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Some of the faves from K1.
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Making “Kratongs” for the Loy Kratong holiday.

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Chatting with Theo after naptime.

2. Teacher friends

We are lucky enough to have a few Thai teachers who speak English at our school and 11 foreign English teachers! It’s great to have other people to speak English with and to share in the adventure of living life in a new country.

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Teacher Julie is the head of the English Department and looks after all of us foreign teachers. We got to spend over a month teaching with and living next door to Kelsey and Scott before they headed back to Canada.
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Teacher Jan
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Gabbi and Carly started at our school in November. We love hanging out and exploring with them.

3. Kentucky Fried Chicken

Cole had never eaten KFC before arriving to Thailand and now we are obsessed! Our friends in India agree that Asian KFC is better and the prices can’t be beat! We each get what seems like a feast for about $4.

4. Sunsets

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Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
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Hua Hin, Thailand
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Waiting for a taxi in Ubon Ratchithani, Thailand
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Waking to 7-11
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The view from our balcony
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We caught this fabulous view as we were driving past the lake on our way home from school.

5. Quality time together

Cole and my classrooms are right next door so we get tons of time together each day, which has been great! We ride to school together, eat lunch together, cook or go out to dinner after school, and usually unwind by watching Netflix together in the evenings.

6. Motorbike cruises

At the end of November Cole made all my dreams come true and let us get a motorbike! Now we have so much more freedom to go around to town and it allowed us to move to a nicer area farther way from the school. I love cruising around on the bike. We have a beautiful drive past a lake on the way to school each morning.

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“Scoopy” the mo-ped

7. Low cost of living

Thailand has a relatively low cost of living, especially if you’re from a country with a favorable exchange rate. We live comfortably and save over half of our income each month.

Not everything is cheap in Thailand, but here are a few of our favorite low prices:

Room in a hotel-style apartment – $120 for one month

Meal at a food stall – $1 per person

Meal at a sit down Thai restaurant – $2-$3

2 pounds of fresh chicken from the market – $1.50

Fresh fruit smoothie (watermelon is my favorite) – $1.25

20-minute taxi ride across town – $3

Workout session at a gym – $0.75

2 hour full-body Thai massage – $9

8. Stress-free living

Compared to my first year of teaching in Kansas, teaching in Thailand is a breeze. We each teach about 25 hours and week and the rest is plan time. Needless to say, that definitely leaves us with some Netflix/nap time at school and no need to take any work home. Classroom management can be frustrating since the students lack respect for English teachers, but even the worst class only lasts 50 minutes and then you move on with your day. There are no evaluations, performance reviews, or impossible standards for teachers to live up to. After school our evenings are free to exercise, eat dinner, spend time with friends, and relax!

9. Fresh air

At home I often found myself craving time spent outdoors after being cooped up at home, at school, and in the car. I love all the fresh air we get in Thailand! Our school is open air in the hallways and common areas. The classrooms have doors and air conditioning (praise the Lord!). Most restaurants are outside or in an open covered area. The year-round warm weather also allows us to go for walks and spend time in nature.

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10. Holiday adventures

We had an incredible two-week break from school during the month of October. We got to travel to Cambodia and Southern Thailand. We also have trips planned for several long weekends over the next few months.

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A statue at the center of our town
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We spent a Saturday exploring this temple
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Drove two hours on our motorbike to see a waterfall and national park!
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