Saturday, February 14, 2009

Choose My Next Adventure - part one

OK....writing out the pro & con list was beneficial. For one it reminded me of the good things about living here which improved my mood and helped my perspective. But it also highlighted how much I don't like about living in Rayong and how I should probably start formulating an exit strategy. I'm just going to brainstorm and get some ideas out there, you are most encouraged to comment!

Step one: Short term thoughts

- I signed a one year contract at my school.
- If I break my contract I have to pay 10,000 baht (not quite $300) for my work permit
- There are other branches of my school in Thailand, most notably in Bangkok
- While I have 10,000 baht in the bank, I certainly don't have much more than that
----- OK - when I write it all out like this it really seems like the most logical thing to do is to just move to Bangkok to finish out my contract, assuming such a thing is possible, and financially feasible, BKK is expensive.------

Step two - long term ideas

I don't think Thailand is a good landing spot for me. I love the beaches here, and it has been a hugely educational experience. But certain aspects of the lifestyle just get to me, namely the foreign man / Thai woman dynamic, and having to see it repeated over and over and over is more than a little depressing.

So if I leave, where should I go?

- The US, as homesick as I get sometimes, I don't think I'm quite ready to head back there yet. Even with our new president, things just seem messed up to me. The culture makes people fat and afraid. I've only absorbed enough Thai culture to really notice that, not enough to combat it should I go back. So... probably not yet.

- South America, maybe Argentina or Brazil. Both of these countries would be warm and beach-friendly. From what little I know of the cultures, they are in general more laid back and open than the US. Bonus, if I go to a Spanish speaking country I'll have that much more marketability back in the state.

- Eastern Europe, maybe the Czech Republic. The pros would include the food, westernized culture and proximity to Western Europe, I could potentially visit France (Hi B!), Germany, Italy, Spain, etc... all those places I want to visit "someday". But the cons are that it can be difficult if not impossible to get a work permit without an EU passport, and I probably wouldn't make enough money to actually do the traveling that I'd like to.

- Stay in Asia, go to South Korea. The main attraction of South Korea is that this is, theoretically, where you can make a lot of money. The pay is nearly what I was making in the states, but the cost of living is substantially cheaper. Of course, this is what people say, the reality could be different. The other pro is that there are a crap-load of English teachers there so it shouldn't be too hard to find a community there. Japan would be interesting, but it's also extremely expensive.

- Africa, either Northern like Tunisia and Morocco or Western Africa, not sure which countries yet. The main upside here is that I am told I would be treated like a goddess for my expansive hips and chubby thighs. I could really use a few months... or years... of being treated like a goddess. Plus, if I went to Northern Africa, again I would be relatively close to Western Europe, and all the places I'd love to visit.

- Um... yeah, Europe. While I'd love to go to Europe on an extended vacation, I don't think working there would be feasible. First, you need an EU passport, or a specialty skill to get a work permit, cost of living is expensive, and I think my lack of language skills would be less tolerated there. I'm not sure where I've formed this opinion.

I'm still just tossing ideas around here, if you have personal knowledge of any of these regions, or even a totally irrational and biased opinion - please share your opinions, and let me know where you think I should go next and why. =) Also, if you know of any bloggers who are currently abroad in any of these areas, please send me a link... information from 'on the ground' is always more helpful than what you find in guidebooks.

Thanks in advance.

TAG: Code Watermelon


Bezzie said...

I agree a Spanish speaking country would make you more marketable (part of the reason I was pursuing a degree in Hispanic Studies...and they all laughed at me....back in the day). But in the Czech Republic, you'd run into a few other Bezzes I'm sure ;-).

Cate said...

I've been thinking about this too...not that I'm leaving Thailand for awhile, but still, it's in the back of my mind.
Czech Republic sounds pretty amazing - I have a friend from college who got a SWEET job there.
I'm really drawn to Latin America too... tough decision!

Jonathan said...

Check out this address:

I really enjoy Viet Nam. There is a big expat community in Ha Noi, and they are not all teachers which makes for an interesting diversity. From what i hear, you can easily get paid 18-20$ an hour and live incredibly cheap.

But I would say go to Bangkok. Preferably by March 26th, when i will be there ;)

Jeannette said...

Be careful about not wanting to go somewhere because it's "expensive." Bangkok or Japan.

I find Japan much cheaper to live in than the States, my rent is cheap, food [can be] cheap, water is free and clean from the tap.

But, if you're heading to Starbucks and McDonalds a lot it will be just as expensive as anywhere. I think you may make more in Japan than Thailand, too. Minimum is 250,000 yen a month. I send a lot of money home each month (around $800USD). I'm not trying to convince you to come here, but keep your options open when you're applying for jobs. Maybe think about location, working hours, vacation time, and health insurance, not necessarily how "expensive" a place is known to be.

Jeannette said...

Having said all that, my uncle moved to Quito, Ecuador to teach and really loved it. Low cost of living and low pay. And no Asians! (I can say that because I love Asians)

d said...

you know, what i didn't hear in all of this really, is where do you want to live? i think it's always good to consider the practicalities of a situation, but you should also listen to your heart and figure out what part of the world you want to live in.

you can make anything work and there are always ways to live cheaply pretty much anywhere.

so, i say, move someplace you have been wanting to experience. and let everything else fall where it may.

Anonymous said...

You didn't mention Australia, which is a foreign culture (albeit English speaking) compared to the US. I spent 10 years there. You would have to learn a new vocabulary. For example, "swimsuit" is "togs"; "beer" is "a coldie"; "toilet" is "dunny".

You are young and should be able to get a work permit with no problem. If you are under 35, you can get a working holiday visa, good for a year, which allows you to work for up to 3 months for any one employer. The Gold Coast (1.5 hours by bus from Brisbane (pronounced BRIZ-BIN) half way up the east coast is as beautiful as Rayong, perhaps more so, but with the advantage of more or less Western culture. There is an Aussie embassy in BKK.

My daughter recently spent a month in Morocco, and loved the food and scenery but hated the attention from the men, who would not leave her, nor her girl friend, alone. She said she would think twice about going to an Arab country again.

I have a friend who spent 3 years teaching west of Ulaan Bator in Mongolia; she loved the teaching bit, but found undeveloped Mongolia to be the limit of her tolerance; and the winters were worse than in the US. She then moved to Beijing, which she said was a daily hassle. She taught English for a large foreign corp, but found her adult Chinese students difficult to work with. She got arrested and fined because she changed apartments from one crappy one to another; her crime was that she did not get permission from the police.

I have another friend who taught for a year in southern China, I think Guangzhou. He loved it. On his way out, his bags were searched at the airport. He was arrested because he had a small Buddha statue and 4 DVDs of American movies. He missed his flight, had to pay a big fine, was blacklisted at Chinese Immigration, and officially deported with a big red stamp in his passport.

I loved living in Marbella, southern Spain between Malaga and Gibraltar, but that was 30 or 35 years ago now, I don't know what it is like now.

On the other hand, I found living in Mexico to be a real pain, constantly getting cheated at every gas station and restaurant. Having to bribe the customs guard to get my free import permit for my car was my introduction to the Mexican way of life; you're in the country 30 seconds, and they are already shaking you down. The Mexicans seemed to think I was a walking bank vault with no brain. I've been twice, and will never, ever go back.

Rebel said...

Bezzie & Cate - I'll count those as votes for S. American & the Czech Republic.

Jonathan, I will be eagerly reading your blog to see what Vietnam has to offer... seeing your sweet set up is definitely tempting!

Jeannette, Japan is also tempting - and you're right about living frugally or not so frugally whereever I am. But the fact is, I like to splurge, I always have. The change of location hasn't done much to change that. =/

d - that is an excellent question... more later.

Poorboy - thank you so much for all the detailed information!!! Do you have a blog? Clicking on your ID just gave me an error.

Doug Anderson said...

Poorboy is Doug Anderson; I have two Googgle accounts and I used the wrong one.

Anonymous said...

I have been teaching in South Korea for 3 years....great fun and save lots of money!!!!!!! Need a change now....but I say go for Korea!!