In May 2013, I left my cold and monotonous lifestyle in the Welsh valleys and embarked on a career as an ESL teacher. Here is how it all began….
Uncomfortably positioned between an attractive young Indian woman, and a very fidgety old one, on a flight from Heathrow, it hit me like a ton of bricks…… I had just quit my job, uninhabited my home and geographically distanced myself from everyone I knew.
Sawasdee Krung Thep (Hello Bangkok)
I will never forget that immense feeling of emotion when I first found myself alone in a new country. It was a combination of pure excitement and nerves. My imagination was out of control. I also felt very hot, which will not surprise anyone who has visited Thailand before; the weather is always sweltering.
Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport is huge and complex, but after a marathon distance of walking, at gate 6 I finally found the representative from my agency, LoveTEFL, waiting for me. His name was Lordy, anyone who has used LoveTEFL before will know him. He is a friendly, chilled guy and had no bother answering my millions of questions.
We headed into the concrete chaos of Bangkok City.
It was dark when I arrived but the advertisement billboards and speeding cars of erratic motorists lit up the highway. The streets of Bangkok were filled were food stalls (this must have been the infamous street food you read about online, I thought to myself), clothes stalls and rushing pedestrians. As we entered the hotel I met the teacher that would be joining me at my school for the next year. His name was Joe, a Cornish Newcastle United enthusiast who had done quite a bit of travelling before. He was an interesting and funny guy.
The 3 of us headed on the cities MR2 subway (an experience in itself for a young boy from Wales) to a bar where the first beer of my Thai experience was consumed. The beer was served with ice. What type of strange world is this?
At the end of the night, we had a meal, soup and water for the equivalent of 1GBP. It was full of flavor and my first taste of Thai cuisine. I loved it.
Any nerves I was feeling no longer existed.
I was an energy ball of eagerness and excitement.
The drive to the school the next morning was scorching and I felt like an idiot because I was wearing shorts (my definition of smart dress) and the other 2 were wearing shirts and black trousers. Luckily this didn’t matter as the school was vacant when we arrived (my first experience of the unorganized chaos of Thai planning). The school is based about 1 hour and 20 minutes east of Bangkok, in a small town called Ongkharak, in the Nakhon Nayok province (the waterfall province).
The school is an architectural masterpiece. Its golden bricks shape the structure into resembling a spaceship, and there is an observatory tower at the front of the building overlooking two spectacular lakes and a giant flag
The following day we returned to school and met the head of English, an attractive young Thai girl with a great sense of humor called Mod (Thai for ant). We also met the assistant director of the school, a middle-aged flamboyant homosexual who no sooner than meeting us was inviting us to his house to ‘play’. I was on edge because our agent had told us we had been hired because of this man’s opinion of our pictures rather than the suitability of our CVs.
A few days of finding our bearings followed. We quickly discovered that there was not much to do in our area of residence but everything was insanely cheap and the people were friendly.
We also made friends with some local Thai lads, an old lady who sells meat on the street (my Thai mother) and purchased some push bikes. The bike choice at the local market was limited, so I ended up with an Angry Birds Limited Edition child’s bike. I looked ridiculous riding it.
We were starting to feel comfortable in our surroundings and I personally was loving absorbing the new culture that was dominant in our everyday lives.
Then school started…