Living in “the land of smiles” – Thailand

Fleur (aka “teacher flower”)

…lives in: Thailand

…works for: herself as a musician and as an English teacher

Fleur moved to Thailand in 2016 after being offered an English teaching job in Chonburi (a province 1 hour south of Bangkok). She had just been on an artist residency at Sam Rit in Nakhon Ratchisima, Issan, then decided that Thailand was somewhere she could live. She was seeking a different lifestyle from the hustle bustle and expense of Sydney and wanting explore whether teaching was her calling. She’s now studying teaching online while working as a teacher in Bangkok.

What is moo ping?

Moo Ping is breakfast food which consists of barbecued pork on sticks and sticky rice. You can usually find this in the morning from street vendors. It’s delicious!

What is your favourite meal in Thailand?

Pad thai! Which is probably the same as it was before I moved to Thailand – it’s just so damn good. It’s amazing when you order it on the street. The Street Chef throws all the ingredients into a pan and its done it a couple of minutes. 

What’s the transport system like?

In Bangkok we have the BTS sky train. This is quite convenient if you live near a station (which I do). It is very clean and air conditioned. They have a security guard at every entrance. You aren’t allowed to take food or drinks on the train! There is also the MRT underground train which works quite well but there is only one line. It is great if you live near either of these but most people in Bangkok don’t. There are buses – some air-conditioned, some free. Tsong-taos are trucks which everyone pile into in a chaotic way and go in random directions. Vans and buses go to other provinces from Bangkok. 

You can also get a motorbike taxi or sedan taxi. These are pretty reasonably priced, especially if you ask the driver to put on their meter. Motorbikes in Bangkok usually carry helmets for passengers because by law everyone is meant to wear one. This law is rarely obeyed. Road-rules are obeyed more in big cities where the police are more strict. 

What’s your favourite part about living in Thailand and what do you find most challenging?

My favourite part is that it is a very relaxed place to live. People are generally kind. It is mostly safe and you can travel alone as a woman without feeling threatened.

Sometimes it can be a bit lonely and forming a social network with people you genuinely relate to can be hard. I guess not speaking the language well makes it difficult to have complex conversations with people so you always feel a little disconnected. Thai people have their own culture and even though they are welcoming a western person can never truly become Thai. 

What do you do on weekends?

A lot of people travel to islands and go sight seeing. I am studying and playing music so I try to spend time doing that. I also get massages weekly or fortnightly and spend time lying by the pool. I get groceries from the local markets like fresh fruit and stuff that is really cheap. There are also a couple of gourmet western supermarkets but they are a little pricey!

What are some common Thai expressions? 

Mai bpen rai (don’t worry/Hakuna Matata/no worries)

Alai Gaddai (whatever/whichever/doesn’t matter)

What are some “do’s and don’ts” in Thai culture?

  • Don’t point the sole of your foot at anyone
  • Dress a little conservatively  – cleavage etc is not as socially acceptable here
  • Don’t talk about politics
  • Don’t point at people
  • Don’t touch people on the head
  • Females cannot touch monks
  • Smile and be polite
  • Take our shoes off before going into a temple, peoples houses and some shops
  • Be kind
  • Take food if it is offered to you

Read more about Fleur’s experiences in her article on Mopeds and Moo-Ping: My Experience as a New Teach in Thailand.

Fleur Article