See what I did there with the title?
Anyway, I figured I’d make an entry that could actually be helpful to the people of the future who want to teach and live in Thailand, even though we’ll have teleporters by then so they could live in their home country and still work in Thailand. The most pressing question is typically “What is your day to day like?” Honestly, I only teach three or four hours a day and am done with the school day by 3:30pm, so I end up with a lot of the day to myself?
“What do you do with all that free thaim?” you ask, spelling “time” the same way I did in the title, you clever devil. Read on!:
Those that know me know that I love myself some hobbies. In fact, I think I have enough hobbies that having hobbies is my hobby. Hobby hobby hobby. It’s a funny word.
One benefit of living in a country that has both a weak currency and an inexpensive standard of living is that you can have as many hobbies as you want and not be considered financially irresponsible. Buy an instrument, take a class, learn the language. It’s basically free and you’ll be getting better at something.
Among other things, I’ve been doing archery every other weekend in Bangkok. Ramkamhaeng University has free archery lessons for beginners every Saturday morning from 10-11am and the only fee (other than travel) is a 300 baht (10 dollars) yearly membership fee to their massive sports complex that would allow you to do everything from archery to rockclimbing to Afghan goat carcass polo, I presume. I took up archery because it’s something I’ve always wanted to be good at and doing it in the States can be pretty expensive. In Thailand, I take a two hour van to Bangkok, a mass transit (airport rail link) to the university area, then a cab to the campus. I do the opposite to get back home. All in all, the trip costs me about 350 baht (about 12 dollars). In the states, that wouldn’t even cover the gas it would cost me to drive one way to the nearest archery club, much less the monthly classes fee or equipment rental.
For religious people, I’d recommend finding a place to worship. It’ll give you a bit of familiarity to relax you and minimize homesickness, and it’ll also give you a community here in Thailand to support you. Thailand is a pretty diverse and international country, so I’m sure you could find something, depending on where you live; as long as you’re not a Scientologist, which I’m going to assume doesn’t exist in the future anyway.
Other than religion, there are plenty of options for spirituality, reflection, meditation, etc. My spiritual activity of choice is martial arts, so I’ve taken up Muay Thai lessons from a teacher in my town. Muay Thai actually has a number of cadet branches based on the region of Thailand they developed in, so mine is more specifically called Muay Chaiya. My instructor is part Pillsbury Doughboy, part Tony Jaa, so the lessons are pretty enjoyable. And he doesn’t charge me, so there’s that. While it helps physically, I think anyone who has studied a martial art for any length of time will tell you that it affects how you think and how you interact with people around you and how you sleep at night as much as it affects your muscles and balance and killing ability.
This is a big one for lazy people (I guess. I wouldn’t know). There are days when you don’t want to go anywhere or do anything physical or social, and it’s important to have things to do at home. Books, movies, music, newspapers, holograms, and virtual pets will all make your life easier. I’m a caveman, so I brought a number of books with me instead of getting an E-reader, but you shouldn’t be like me. And for the 3 of you who don’t steal music and movies, I guess you can stock up on those too.
Additionally, video games. I’ve gone back to playing Rome: Total War and I’m a better, cleaner person because of it.
Some people don’t like to travel, and I definitely understand that. If you’re not the type, then replace this with “being social.” I grow weary of interacting with people, but I use every other weekend to travel with my fellow teachers to different exotic locales. It’s always fun and educational, and it’s good to remind myself that there are other people in Thailand that are just as inept at speaking Thai as I am.
Bangkok is the central hub of travel for all of central Thailand and it’s almost always easiest to go through Bangkok (Mo Chit bus station for long trips and vans at Victory Monument for places near Bangkok) to get to where you’re going. Any of the islands (Ko Samet, Ko Chang, Ko Konut, etc) are worth a visit, as well as Chiang Mai in the north, the various national parks and really every single square inch of Thailand. There’s a lot to see.
5. Preparing For the Future
No matter how much you’re enjoying yourself in Thailand, most of us will leave this paradise to go back to our underwhelming lives in whatever terrible first world country gave us citizenship. Because of that, you should always be working, at least a little bit, on the life you’ll lead when this is over. Filling out job applications or updating your resume or what have you. Call your mother every now and then, so you have somewhere to live when you go back penniless. If you’re an artist, work on your art. If you’re a normal person, try to find volunteer activities or workshops in your field that will look great on that resume you should’ve updated three sentences ago.
You may not enjoy it since there are always more fun things to do in Thailand than worry about home, but you’ll appreciate if you do it and hate yourself if you don’t. Believe me. I wrote this whole blog post to avoid finishing a grad school application.
What I’m Reading: America Again: Re-Becoming The Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert
What I’m Writing: Everything but grad school apps
What I’m Listening To: Life is Good by Nas