Having been in Thailand since February and bagging myself a job as a primary school teacher, starting in May 2014, I am making the move to a little town called Bang Saen.
I went to Surin to stay with my friend Mark, who generously let me stay at his house until I got myself sorted, and so after my trip to Kuala Lumpur, and a couple of weekends in Bangkok, I was on the job hunt.
My friends, Chris and his wife Na, have lived in Bang Saen for a good few years and I went to visit them to have a look around. As soon as I got there and had a couple of days and nights out I realised that this was the place for me.
It is a beautiful little place on the coast along Thailand’s eastern seaboard, right on the beach and about an hour and a half bus ride to Bangkok- just the things I wanted when I lived in Surin (from Surin it takes 7 hours on the bus to Bangkok and it is about 9 hours from any beach). I just had visions of myself on a Sunday afternoon on the beach reading my book.
Bang Saen is a favourite for Thais as a weekend getaway resort and, as such, busy at the weekend and holidays but during the week it is like a ghost town and no hordes of tourists anywhere- something that may change in the future- but for now it feels like the perfect place for me. Plus I already have two friends there who have been showing me around, for which I am eternally grateful.
So I went there for a second visit with CVs in hand and Chris took me round to the different faculties at the university there and to a few schools and basically asked for a job. (This is such the best way to gain employment here, rather than emailing CVs and most of the time getting no response-the Thais are very much about appearance and if you go in person they can see that you look professional and it also saves them the bother of advertising the job). However, the one I eventually got was actually advertised on the main teaching website, Ajarn.com, so I went to see them and arranged an interview for the following day.
Interviews in Thailand are not like they are back home- they are, shall we say, less formal. Yes, you have to dress smart and yes, you have to sell yourself but they asked me strange questions which were actually quite amusing because, Thais being Thais, they like know what’s going on with you- Are you single?; Do you have a boyfriend?; Where are you going to live? And statements like “the guys are sexier in Bang Saen than in Surin”; “oh you can live there (I told her I was going to live in a particular apartment) you’re single”; “give her the job she’s single”. Questions and statements that would not be heard in your own country (not in an interview environment anyway) but I took it in jest and thought it was pretty funny.
So having completed the interview, which included showing them how I would teach young kids- question: what’s an animal beginning with A?-answer: Ant; question: how do you spell it?-answer A-N-T….., and answering their unusual questions, with a smile on my face, I got the job.
I have never taught little ones before, the previous teaching job I had in Thailand was teaching 12-15 year olds. But I think it will be fun and it will be less serious- learning through fun activities. I think I will have to brush up on my football and singing skills (not that I have any skills in those areas).
I was wondering how I was going to get all my stuff from Surin to Bang Saen and since leaving the UK I have acquired more of it. I looked into hiring a car with a driver but this is very expensive for me- 5500 baht (about 100 GBP), so am getting the bus. Nachon Chai Air is the best way to travel in Thailand. Gold class is the best actually but they were sold out-it being Thai New Year here- so silver class it is. NCA have stewards and overhead compartments just like on a plane and as the bus leaves the station the steward or stewardess stands at the front and lets you know how long it will take and what time it will arrive at the destination. Plus you can put your luggage underneath. The thing they don’t know yet is I have a very large, heavy suitcase, a smaller case and a big box (I did have two boxes which I had in storage, at my friend Patrick’s house, for the two years I was away) but I have been ruthless and got rid of a load of books and DVDs. But I have been reliably informed I should (should being the operative word) be able to put everything underneath the bus for free. The cost of the journey? About 376 baht (7 GBP). Much better than 5500 baht.
The bus should get to Bang Saen around 6.30pm but as it is Thai New Year it might take a while to get to my final destination because, although it starts around 12th April in Bangkok, in that area in gets staggered so Bang Saen will celebrate it on 16th-17th. I don’t half make things difficult for myself because the 17th is the date I travel, but I will just have to take it in my stride and put up with the potential 2 hour + journey from Chonburi to Bang Saen- normally about 15 minutes. Although I shouldn’t say that in the first place I might just jinx it!