This week we interviewed Anthony who told us all about life in Thailand. Anthony recently launched a great blog called Healthpats where he shares great tips for staying healthy while living abroad. If you are interested in this topic (which, let’s be real, we all most likely struggle with this from time to time) go check out his awesome new blog here!
Now for the interview!
Please give a few sentences of background info. Who are you? Where are you from? Fun facts about you?
Hey, I’m Anthony (or Tony) I’m 30 years old and originally from Britain. I’m living in Bangkok, Thailand and have been here for over 5 years.
Some fun facts about me?
1. My parents let me travel alone to America at the age of 15 to visit a school friend that moved there. I flew alone, got a connecting flight from Dallas to Austin and got collected by her parents at the other side. Ever since then the world seemed small and there was no excuse not to explore it! The travel bug hit at a young age.
2. I left to travel in 2011 with two friends, originally it was supposed to be around a year of travel. I took a sabbatical and started an adventure but never went back home.
Why did you decide to move to Thailand?
I originally left home to travel to give myself a challenge and get out of my comfort zone. I was enjoying the experience but after about 9 months it all get too comfortable, too routine. So much so that I had completely forgotten the reason I wanted to travel in the first place. I decided I needed to put myself out of my comfort zone again and start a new challenge. I asked myself how I would cope living in a different country, working there and all the challenges that come with it. Sitting in a hostel in Australia I started looking back at the countries I visited to see which I would like to go back to and try living and working there. After some deliberation I settled on Thailand for the following reasons:
1. It has a good eclectic expat community
2. A fairly good level of English
3. Cheap living expenses
4. When I was there I had a great time.
Overall it was a perfect balance of east and west that would make the transition smooth.
What do you love about living there?
There are a lot of things that I love about living here. The food is fantastic (not just Thai food but the foodie scene in Bangkok is out of this world!)
What is not so great about living there?
The answer to this question really does depend on what kind of mood I’m in. The Thai people can be very laid back and have a ‘sabai sabai’ outlook on life (not a care in the world/chill) Although this can be great when everything is ‘chill’. Being late in Thailand is normal and expected. As a Brit, this doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve had appointments where friends have been over 2 hours late to meet me! As this is such commonplace, the expat community often adopt this habit too.
The traffic is a real problem in Bangkok. What is normally a 20-minute drive can be anywhere between 45 minutes – 2 hours during rush hour! Traffic is not only a problem for the roads, during early morning rush hour, the skytrain system is so over crowded I have had to wait for 3 trains to stop before there is space for me.
Although the food here is delicious, it’s not that healthy and I struggle to keep a good diet. With food labels being in Thai language I am never sure what I’m eating and the breakdown of sugars, fats, and salt. Trying to keep on top of it is something I have tried to get better at and is one of the main reasons I have set up my blog, to help other expats finding the same problems.
It’s easy to become a victim of corruption in Thailand and unfortunately, it’s often the authorities asking for ‘tea’ money…so who is there to complain to? Defamation laws are very strict in Thailand so I would prefer not to discuss specific stories 😉
What do you do for a living there & what was the job search process like?
I am an English teacher and private tutor after hours. The job process was relatively easy, finding a good school is the difficult part. I found my first job through a Thailand job board ajarn.com . Once I had a job I made friends with colleagues, met their friends and had a good network of teachers. Once I had a good amount of experience teaching in Thailand, finding a better job was easy. Old colleagues recommended me and put my resume in front of the right people.
How was the visa process?
I don’t have a lot of experience with obtaining a visa in other countries but the Thai Visa process can be complicated, expensive and ‘random’. I use the word ‘random’ because they regularly change the rules without prior warning and these curveballs can mess everything up.
The whole process depends on how good the HR department of your employer is. My first employer was not 100% above board in retrospect so my visa process involved leaving the country often (at my own expense). My current employer does everything properly and in good time. Due to this, my visa process very rarely involves me! I just turn up once, maybe twice a year…my passport is there more than I am.
What is the cost of living like?
Everyone says Thailand is cheap…let me say that I have seen the prices go up since I have lived here and it is not as cheap as it was. Having said that, I could eat out every night of the week if I wanted and it wouldn’t break the bank. I live in a one bedroom condo with a gym, pool etc. I have a gym membership and a personal trainer and I also socialize with friends regularly. Guess what? I still save money at the end of the month.
Although my salary isn’t anywhere near as high as at home, I save more money than I was in the UK and my quality of life is better here…anyone can live like King here (or Queen).
One thing I would say is that alcohol isn’t that cheap here anymore if you are a big drinker you probably will spend a lot of your salary. If you are a girl, you can avoid the cost as there are excellent ladies nights pretty much every night of the week (free drinks!) There are some guys nights too…
Would you like to stay there long-term?
I could stay here long-term potentially, although Thailand doesn’t allow foreigners to own land. This is a problem that hopefully will change in the future! If you have a good pension plan Thailand is a great place to retire, your money would stretch a long way.
My motto in life is ‘If I am enjoying myself, don’t change anything…once I don’t like something in my life, change everything’ So I guess that as long as things stay like this, I will be here for a while longer.
What are your fave traditional foods that we should definitely try if we go?
The list of Thai food you should try is endless, I will avoid the green curry and pad thai because they are obvious (they are a must though) Massaman curry is a really rich curry that uses potatoes, nuts and beef in a creamy coconut sauce. This isn’t that healthy but its a must! Papaya Salad (Som Tum) is just amazing and has a nice kick to it. Additionally, add a salted egg it, the saltiness really rounds off the flavours and will leave you wanting more.
When my family visit the first thing they want to eat is pork and sticky rice. This can be found at food vendors on most Thai streets. These are juicy sticks of meat (moo ping) accompanied by a small bag of sticky rice. The sticky rice is good in the morning as it slowly gives you energy throughout the day (great for when you are temple hopping)
What are some places we should definitely visit?
In Bangkok, you must see the Grand Palace and Wat Pho…they are typical tourist spots but for a very good reason…the architecture is beautiful! If you want to try a range of Thai food in a fun vibrant atmosphere, I recommend the Train Market (Talad Rot Fai) an outdoor night market with cheap souvenirs and crafts (plus a lot of food and awesome bars)
If you want some fresh air and a taste of the slow life, rent a bicycle and explore the green lungs of Bangkok..you won’t believe you’re still in Bangkok!
What are some things about the culture we should know before going?
Historically you shouldn’t touch children’s heads, although I see this every day and no one seems to care. It’s considered rude to point your feet at people, so if you are crossing your legs on public transport check where your feet are pointing! Women are not allowed to have any physical contact with Monks, if you see a Monk sitting on the train, try not to sit next to him (even if it’s the only seat available!)
Would you recommend it to other people who are interested in moving abroad?
For sure! I think that Thailand is an awesome place to move to! If you have a profession that is not teaching, do extensive research to find out if you are able to gain a work permit here though. If a Thai person can do your job, there is a high chance your work permit wouldn’t be granted. If you work for an international company and there is an opportunity to move to Bangkok…do it! You’ll more than likely get paid in your home currency and you can really live the high life!
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