Category Archives: Life in Thailand

National Children’s Day 2016

National Children’s Day is a day to celebrate children, recognize their importance in Thai society, and most importantly, to have lots and lots of fun!

National Children’s Day is held every year on the second Saturday in January.  Although not technically a national holiday, the day is celebrated throughout Thailand.  Businesses put on events with games and activities (magic shows, contests, workshops, parades, etc.); and many zoos, museums, and other attractions offer free admission to children.

Many government offices, which are usually not open to the public, are open on Children’s Day for children and their family to visit.  Children can take a guided tour of the Government House (office of the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers–similar to visiting the White House in the US), and this year the Government House lawn was turned into a dinosaur theme park.  The Royal Thai Air Force puts on an air show and allows children to explore the aircrafts up close.

One temple in Nonthaburi even installed a number of large replica characters from comic books, movies, and literature.

There is clearly a lot going on to celebrate being a child in Thailand.

Every year the Prime Minister  announces a motto for Children’s Day. This year’s motto was:

เด็กดี หมั่นเพียร เรียนรู้ สู่อนาคต

“Good children are diligent and crave for learning, for a bright future.”

Since Children’s Day falls on a Saturday, our school celebrated by having a big party on Friday afternoon.

The P5 students organized the games, and the P6 students were in charge of the gift swap.  Every student and teacher brought in a wrapped gift (worth at least 50 baht,or ~$1.50) that could be for anyone at the party (students aged 1-12, teachers, or parents).  Jake and I settled on some really beautiful, decorative notebooks since a notebook is age appropriate for just about anyone, and our students are drawing every chance they get.

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The P6 students numbered every gift and made a  chandelier with hanging paper hearts.  At some point during the party everyone picked a heart, and the number inside determined which gift we received.

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Gift swap

One of the P3 students traded her original gift for my notebook, and ran over to show me how excited she was.  Jake got a Mickey Mouse pencil case, and I got some sort of Thai educational computer game–both were clearly intended for Thai children.

The most interesting part of this party though, were the games.  There were games planned for every single grade, from nursery 1 (1-2 year old babies) all the way up to P6 (11-12 year olds), and every single one was extremely entertaining.

Nursery 1 had what I am calling “baby races”.  One to two year olds “raced” across the yard–guided mostly by the older students and teachers.

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Lining up the babies…

Inevitably this results in one child racing towards the finish line; a few children taking a few careful steps forward and then either freezing in fear, or backing up slowly; and the rest running off in every possible direction other than towards the finish line.

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baby race chaos

Nursery 2’s game (2-3 year olds) involved picking up various balloons and putting them in colorful, plastic bins–essentially cleaning up.  They also needed quite a bit of help.

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Kindergarten 1 (K1) had an actual eating contest.   The 3-4 year olds stuffed their faces to see who could finish their snack bar the fastest.  This was hilarious, and it took the foreign teachers a few minutes to figure out exactly what was going on.

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The next Takeru Kobayashi and Joey Chestnut

K2 and K3 students (4-5 year olds and 5-6 year olds respectively) played musical chairs.

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This round of musical chairs was very successful in that their was only one crying incident, and the tears stopped immediately once she received her prize.

Prathom 1 (also called Primary 1, P1, or 1st grade) raced across the yard to scoop up water from a bin, carry it back to the start, and see which team could fill up their water bottle the fastest.

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The P2 students (2nd grade) each wrapped a balloon around their ankle and tried to pop each other’s balloon with their feet.  The last one with their balloon still intact wins!

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The 2nd graders who play football (soccer) every day after school were the best at this game

P3 and P4 had some sort of flour-blowing race.  The students lined up (girls first, then boys), raced across the yard, and then competed to see who could blow all of the flour off of a paper plate the fastest.  This results in a huge cloud of flour, and flour all over the face and hair of everyone participating.

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Lining up. The P4 boys are very competitive.
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Flour-blowing in action
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Who finished?

P5 students MC’ed the event and helped organize and set up all of the games throughout the party–so I guess that’s why they didn’t have their own game.

Finally, P6 competed in limbo, where the girls were way better than the boys.

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Every student received a gift after playing the game, plus their gift swap gift, and then additional gifts were given out throughout the party as well.  So every child left with their arms overflowing in presents.

Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time, myself included.

How did you celebrate National Children’s Day?  If you’re not in Thailand, does your country have a similar holiday?  Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Christmas in NY, New Years in Bangkok

With my re-entry permit freshly stamped in my passport, I flew to New York on 12/23 in order to spend Christmas Eve with my mom’s side of the family, and Christmas day with my dad’s side, just like I have in years past.  It was wonderful to see my parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends after being out of the country for the last 4 months.

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Lunch with my mom and sister
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The Santomauro’s on Christmas Day!

After a relaxing 6 days in New York, I flew to Bangkok where I met Jake for New Years Eve.

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New York to Shanghai, 7 hour layover, then Shanghai to Bangkok for a 27 hour trip. Better than the 3 flights and 36 hours it took me to get from Chiang Mai to New Jersey on the way there!

We spent the night at the Grand Swiss Hotel in Sukhumvit, a popular Bangkok district known for shopping, restaurants, and nightlife.  The guesthouses we usually stay in in Thailand have all been very cute, clean, and have everything we could need; but the Grand Swiss is pretty luxurious by comparison which was really nice for New Years Eve.

After getting ready for our night out in the city, we started off at 180° Lounge on the top floor of our hotel.  The 180° Lounge has a little roof-top bar where we sat overlooking the city.

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180° views of Bangkok

After enjoying the view and our buy one-get one 50% off cocktails, we decided to hit the streets of Bangkok.

Bangkok had a number of things going on for New Years Eve.  We decided to avoid the crowds at CentralWorld (similar to Times Square in New York City where there were thousands of people, live bands and DJs, a beer garden, fireworks, etc.) and instead go to one of the many rooftop bars Bangkok is known for.

We wandered the streets for a bit and quickly found the countdown party at Aloft Bangkok‘s Splash pool bar.  For a set price of 899 baht ($25) we get entrance to a rooftop pool party with unlimited food and drinks until 1am.  This is extremely cheap by US standards (especially for all you can eat and drink on New Years Eve!), but pretty pricey for our typical budget here in Thailand.  We normally spend about $1-2 per meal or drink, maybe $7 per day at most if we eat western food.  However, we decided it was worth it and bought two tickets.

A “pool party” was a bit of an overstatement.  There was a pool, but no one was in it.  This party had much more of a chill, lounge atmosphere with bean bag chairs scattered all over the roof.   We arrived about 30 minutes after the party had started so all of the prime bean bag real estate was already claimed, but this actually worked out better for us as it kept us moving around and mingling after each trip to the barbeque or the bar.

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DJ Zaar about to start the party

The best part of the party was the excellent people watching.  The relaxed atmosphere, mixed with an all you can eat and drink rooftop bar, drew a very interesting crowd.  We witnessed groups of Thai 20-somethings, very drunk foreigners, families complete with pre-school aged children (including a little girl in a princess costume who I think had more fun twirling around the roof than anyone else at the party), bored foreigners falling asleep in the beanbag chairs, and 60+ year old couples, all at the same party.

Jake and I had a great time commentating on the crowd, eating an endless supply of kebabs from the barbecue, and drinking bottomless  cocktails, wine, and champagne by the pool.
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Our one-night stay in Bangkok was a nice way to end a year where we moved across the world, and started entirely new careers.  I am definitely looking forward to seeing what this next year in Thailand has to offer.  We have lots of exciting plans underway,so follow my blog to get all of the updates :-).

Happy New Year!

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Thai Culture and Etiquette 101

Thai culture is extremely interesting.  I am by no means an expert (I’m an American, and I’ve been living here for all of three months), but most of what follows is not only based on my experience living and working here, but was also taught to us on Thai cultural day during our TEFL course.

Temple etiquette

Thailand is 95%  Buddhist and there are over 300 Buddhist temples, or wats, in Chiang Mai alone.  When visiting a Buddhist temple you should be sure to cover your thighs, chest, and shoulders–men wear long pants; and women wear pants, skirts, or shorts that go below the knees.  Everyone should wear shirts or blouses with sleeves so that the shoulders and chest are covered.  In some wats, visitors wear all white or a white top with black pants or long skirt, although in my experience this is rare.

Take off your shoes before entering the temple.  You will see shoes lined up outside of the temple, so just follow the lead of everyone around you and leave your shoes outside.

When entering the temple you should step over the door threshold, rather than on it.

In a Buddhist temple, women kneel  with the tops of their feet flat on the ground and sit on their heels.  Men kneel  with just the  balls of their feet on the ground and the soles of their feet facing straight behind them, and sit on their heels.

Monks are highly respected in Buddhism and Thai culture.  Women should never touch a monk.

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The head and feet

In Thailand, the head is considered the most sacred part of the body.  Therefore you should never touch another person’s head (there are obvious exceptions for hairdressers, doctors, masseuses, etc. as well as some exceptions for children).

You also should never point your feet at anyone, as the feet are considered to be the lowest and dirtiest part of the body.  Accidentally pointing your feet at someone mostly occurs  when westerners cross their legs while sitting, or while sitting in a chair with their legs outstretched.

Similarly, this is why you take your shoes off before entering some houses or buildings in Thailand, and always at a temple.  You also should never raise shoes to unnecessary heights, or have shoes hanging loosely tied to a piece of luggage.

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The Wai

The wai (pronounced ‘why’) is both a greeting, and a sign of respect.

In any given social situation, the Phu Noi (little person) wais the Phu Yai (big person) first.  This is usually based on age and status, but a number of different factors can come into play.  I always wai first my employers, the director at a school I am visiting, or someone who is clearly older than me where we do not know each other’s status or position.  When in doubt, it’s probably better to wai first.  You do not need to wai someone you are paying for a service such as waiters or taxi drivers.

If someone wais you and you do not return the wai, it is considered very rude–similar to if someone goes to give you a handshake in the west and you leave them hanging.  Obviously Thais are understanding of foreigners and that you may not understand their culture and traditions, so it’s unlikely you really will offend someone by not returning a wai as a visitor, but it’s much more respectful to understand how to wai appropriately.

There are three stages of the wai:

  1. A first stage wai is for someone of equal status to you, or when acknowledging and returning a wai from someone of lower status.  To first stage wai you place your plams together and equally lower your head while raising your hands until your index fingers touch the tip of your nose.
  2. second stage wai is for waiing someone of higher status.  This includes elders, teachers, parents, or your boss. To second stage wai you place your palms together and  lower your head while raising your hands until your thumb touches the tip of your nose and your index fingers touch the center of your forehead between your eyebrows.  In a second stage wai you bow your head slightly more than you would in a first stage wai.
  3. third stage wai is for the King, the Buddha, or monks.  You third stage wai while kneeing (as described above).  To third stage wai you start with a second stage wai (thumbs to nose and index fingers to forehead) and then follow that by bringing your hands to the ground in front of you and bringing your forehead to touch your fingers on the ground.  

In a temple you third stage wai the Buddha three times–once to the Buddha, once to the Buddha’s teachings, and once to the monks.

Thai Temperament

Thais value “jai yen” or a “cool heart”.  In general, Thais are very laid back and you will hear “mai pen rai” very often.  “Mai pen rai” can not be directly translated to English, but it is often interpreted to mean “never mind”, “it’s ok”, or “no worries”.  To relax and go with the flow is a very positive attribute in Thailand.

Thais are said to openly avoid confrontation (for anyone who knows me well, this is obviously something I kind of love).  However it also means that if a Thai has a problem with you, you probably won’t know it.  This goes back to an important concept of ‘losing face’.   It is very important in Thai culture not to ‘lose face’ so Thais would rather avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation (or person they don’t like) than to have any form of confrontation or disagreement.

It is also considered a major faux pas to outwardly express extreme negative emotions, so expressing anger or loosing your temper in public is frowned upon and causes you to “lose face”.

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Pretty easy to have jai yen here

Fun!

Thais do love to have fun (“sanuk”) and therefore all activities should have an element of fun–including work and school.  This is a very important cultural point for teachers.  On our very first day of school, Jake and I were asked by our supervisor if we could “make activities for learning”.  We need to include creative ways to keep the kids having fun and engaged in order to ‘trick’ them into learning.  Traditional teaching methods of lectures and worksheets and sitting at their desks for the entire 50 minute period just doesn’t fly here.

Similarly, it is not uncommon to see Thais at work, in a variety of work settings, laughing and joking and having a wonderful time.

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Having fun during afternoon STEM activities!

Other random cultural points

Appearance is very important.  Sometimes how you look and dress will mean more than other qualifications to show signs of status, or even to get a job.  It is important to be well dressed and clean.

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Dressed to impress on the first day of school

Thais use their first names rather than last names.   Teachers are called “Teacher” or “Kru” (which means ‘teacher’ in Thai)  followed by their first name.  For example, I am “Teacher Nicole” at school, not “Mrs. Geller” as I would be in the west.  Outside of the classroom this still applies, and people are usually introduced with the title “Khun” followed by their first name; rather than Mr. or Miss/Mrs./Ms. last name as you would be introduced in the west.

Beckoning a songthaew, taxi, tuk tuk, or another person is done with the hand down.  To a westerner the symbol almost looks like you are shooing someone away–but in Thailand this is how you call someone over.  As a westerner it can be a little confusing the first time you see it.

In Thailand, you eat with a spoon and fork.  You hold the spoon in your dominant hand, and use the fork to push food onto the spoon, and then bring the spoon to your mouth.  The exception is when eating noodles or certain other dishes, which you eat with chopsticks.

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Hope this helps!  As always, contact me with any questions.  I’d love to hear about any upcoming trips to Thailand!

Thai Visa Run to Penang, Malaysia

Jake and I just got back from our Thai visa run to Penang, Malaysia and Penang far exceeded my expectations.  I have heard horror stories of half or full day long lines and paperwork at other consulates, but applying for our non-immigrant B visa in Penang was very fast and easy.

Logistics

The Royal Thai Consulate in Penang is open Monday through Friday from 9am-12pm, and from 2pm-4pm.

If you are applying for any non-immigrant visa, make sure you will be in Penang for at least 2 business days, the first day to drop-off your passport and apply, and the second day to pick up the visa (same day pick-up is available if you are applying for a tourist visa).   The consulate is closed on both Malaysian and Thai public holidays so make sure to check holiday dates and plan your trip accordingly.

Make sure you have all of your paperwork, and always check the latest requirements as they can often change.  EFL and SEE TEFL took care of our visa paperwork for us, so I can not offer much help here other than to tell you to check and re-check the requirements.  This document from the Penang consulate outlines exactly what type of visa you will require depending on the purpose of your trip to Thailand, and what documents you need to bring to apply for each type of visa.

When you arrive in Penang, make sure you exchange enough money, as the visa fee must be paid in Malaysian Ringgit. Also note that the power outlets in Malaysia are different from the US and Thailand (although the same as the outlets in Britain), so remember to bring along an adapter!

Getting to the Royal Thai Consulate

The Royal Thai Consulate is located at 1, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, 10350 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.  The phone number is +60 4-226 9484.

We took a cab to the consulate on the first day, which ended up being a waste of money (cost about 25 Ringgit from our hotel).  The walk back was not bad, as long as you map it out on Google maps ahead of time so you know where you are going (about 30-40 minutes to our hotel, Kimberley House, and completely free).

The Kimberley House staff recommended we take the 101 bus (info on the 101 bus route found here) which would cost only about 1.40 Ringgit per person, but it would still take about 40 minutes to get there from downtown.

If you can drive, our recommendation is to rent a motorbike for the day (~30 Ringgit/day) so you can get to the consulate in about 10 minutes (again, map it out ahead of time so you know where you’re going), and then you have the freedom to go anywhere in the city and see the sites for the rest of the day.  We used AM Sinar Enterprise and they were wonderful to work with.

Day 1: Passport drop-off

You can apply for your visa only between 9am and 12pm.  We arrived at the consulate just before 9am and only about 10 other people were waiting for the consulate to open. Right at 9, the security guard opened the gate and we lined up to sign-in before walking over to the main window to collect the appropriate application.

The application for the non-immigrant B visa is fairly straightforward, but it helps to have your address in Penang (current address), proposed address in Thailand, and address of your sponsor in Thailand (found on the bottom of your recommendation letter stating your employment) handy.  You will also complete a passport pick-up slip with basic contact information and your passport number.

When you have completed the application, line up at the main window to hand in all of your forms and pay the visa fee.  For a single-entry, non-immigrant B visa, the cost when we applied was 300 Ringgit (approximately 2,517 baht, or $70 USD).  The consulate will keep your passport and relevant documents, and you leave with your passport slip.  We were told to return back the next day at 2pm.

We really took our time completing the application, and we were still out of there in less than 45 minutes.

Day 2: Passport pick-up

We had the next morning to continue exploring Penang (more on Penang coming soon!) before arriving back at the Royal Thai Consulate a bit before 2pm.

Right at 2pm we were allowed to line up (this line was much longer than the previous morning’s line) to collect our passport and visa.

When we reached the window we exchanged our passport slip for our passport, now complete with a new non-immigrant B visa to allow us an extra 90 days in Thailand, and to apply for a work permit.  We left by 2:08pm…the pick-up process took a mere 8 minutes.

This 90 day non-immigrant B visa will be extended to match the duration of our employment contract once  we receive our work permits (our school can apply for our work permit now that we have the correct visa to allow us to work).

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Front gate at the Royal Thai Consulate in Penang, Malaysia
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Back of the Thai Consulate in Penang, Malaysia

I will keep you updated on our visa extensions, 90 day reporting, and other visa and immigration logistics as they come up over the next few months.  I am by no means an expert, but if you have any questions about your own Thai visa run to Penang please don’t hesitate to contact me, I’m happy to help!

The “Thankfulness Candle”

Happy Thanksgiving! Thais obviously do not celebrate Thanksgiving, but gratitude is an important part of many Thai festivals throughout the year.  In fact, every Monday morning the students at our school practice gratitude.

On Mondays,  the students move into the library mid-way through morning assembly, just as they do on every other weekday.  They do their usual morning prayers and wai the Buddha, chants, and meditation.

At this point, the teacher who leads the morning prayers and rituals lights a small flower candle to pass  around the room.2015-11-16 08.44.20

Each student, one at a time,  wais their neighbor on their right to accept the candle.  2015-11-16 08.51.32

The student receives the candle from their right, holds it in both hands, and announces to the room something or someone they are thankful for.  They then pass the candle to their left and wai their neighbor who receives it.

"ขอขอบคุณ....." ("Thank you for.......")
“ขอขอบคุณ…..” (“Thank you for…….”)

After stating what they are thankful for and passing the candle, the students hold hands, close their eyes, and meditate until the candle goes full circle around the room.2015-11-16 08.52.04

I think this is a great way to start off each and every week.

What are you thankful for?

 

Finding an Apartment in Chiang Mai

As other bloggers have suggested (here, here, and here), the best way to find a house, condo, or apartment in Chiang Mai is by using online listings, word of mouth (how some of our friends found their awesome 3 bedroom house in the old city), or to go through a realtor. Jake and I started off searching online listings and ended up deciding a realtor was the way to go.  A realtor will bring you to see a number of places in their car, so you don’t have to worry about transportation or directions, and the service is completely free. No realtor fees!  We were able to do some online research, see multiple options in person, sign a lease, and move in…all in less than 48 hours.

To find our condo we used Chiang Mai Properties and they were wonderful to work with.  We dropped in to their office at about 4pm on a Wednesday and sat down with a lovely woman who pulled up multiple listing based on our criteria.  We set a budget of about 10,000 baht/month (~$286) and narrowed down their listings to 4 possible options to see the next day.

The next morning  our realtor Get, a small, soft-spoken, Thai man, met us at our guesthouse.  Get drove us all over the city from Nimmanhaemin (an up and coming neighborhood near Chiang Mai University that is very popular with expats and students–but about 30 minutes away from our school) to Hang Dong (where our school is located, about 20 minutes south of the old city).

Everywhere we saw had advantages and disadvantages.  One was perfect, but too far from school.  Another was also beautiful and in a great location midway between the old city and our school, but a bit over our price range.  The third was a large 3 bedroom house with plenty of space, roof access, and a yard; but it was a bit old and dirty and only partially furnished.

We ended up deciding on a one-bedroom condo in The New Concept, a boutique condo and hotel building very close to our school.  The place is clean, bright, and fully furnished with a kitchen, eating and working area, living room, balcony overlooking a small man-made lake, large bathroom, spacious bedroom with a big bed and a vanity, and two TVs with English-speaking channels (one in the living room and one in the bedroom).  We were told the economy package (10,000 baht/month) was not available, but the premium package for 12,000 baht was.  The premium package includes room cleaning twice a month, refill of water bottles and some kitchen supplies like coffee, a fully stocked kitchen and bathroom (plates, dishes, utensils, towels, and toiletries), and bedding.  The only downsides were the extra 2,000 baht/month, and no second bedroom that we ideally wanted as a guest room and office.

Get drove us back to our guesthouse and after some deliberation we decided this was the place for us.  So we grabbed some lunch and walked over to Chiang Mai Properties to sign the lease.

Now, Get is amazing and as soon as we arrived he sat us down and told us we could in fact have the “economy package” the saleswoman mentioned.  This would mean the condo would cost us only 10,000 baht/month which was exactly what we were looking for. The only difference is that we wouldn’t have our room cleaned twice a month (we can clean ourselves for free–and by we, I really mean Jake does all of the cleaning every week 🙂 ), and we would have to buy our own bedding, towels, and kitchen supplies (appliances like our microwave, stove, and fridge are still included; but we would need to buy dishes, cups, utensils, and pots and pans).  We knew we could buy all of this for less than 2,000 baht, which would pay for itself in just the very first month, before saving us an extra 2,000 baht every single month thereafter.  We agreed and signed a 6-month lease on the spot.  Get even picked us up in his car the next morning and drove us to move in right away.

Our Condo

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Jake enjoying our living room
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Dining area and desk
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Kitchen
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Bathroom
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Shower
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Bedroom
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Wardrobe and vanity

Pros:

  • Very clean and modern
  • Fully furnished with comfortable furniture
  • Western-style kitchen with a stove and hood (no oven–but no one has ovens here)
  • Large and comfortable bed (many beds in Thailand are very hard–ours is great!)
  • Big bathroom with a closed off shower (Many apartments in Thailand have “wet bathrooms” where the shower head is part of the bathroom instead of separated by a door or curtain)
  • Two ACs and two TVs (one each in the living room and bedroom)
  • Shuttle service to get to the old city or Central Airport Plaza (one of the largest western-style shopping malls I’ve ever seen, and a movie theater) for just 50 baht per person
  • Free bike rentals
  • A cute coffee shop and restaurant on site with reasonable prices, and even room service!

Cons:

  • We ideally wanted a second bedroom to use as a guestroom or office–but it was very unnecessary
  • We are 20 minutes south of the old city where most of our friends live and hang out, and what is considered the “downtown” part of Chiang Mai
  • Our WiFi is not great.  We live in the unit at the end of the hallway so we are as far from the router on our floor as we can possibly be, and it shows.  I sometimes have trouble with Hulu, connecting to VPN for my US-based job, or with Skype.  This is my biggest grievance with our condo.
  • No pool or fitness room–again, completely unnecessary, but would have been nice.  However, they are currently building a pool that should be completed by early 2016–so we’re hoping that it will be finished before our lease ends in March!

Overall, we are very happy with our condo and we really can’t beat our 10 minute commute each day.  Or this view:

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View from our balcony

If you have any questions about  the The New Concept, finding an apartment in Chiang Mai, or anything else at all, please contact me or comment below!

How I interviewed without knowing it, said 6 words, and got a job

Once our course ended we took a few days off to go to Pai (more to come). When we returned to Chiang Mai we spent just one day visiting schools in person handing in application after application all over the city,  not speaking to anyone directly; and one day applying online before we got impatient and went to Ying.

Ying is the manager of EFL, the English language arm of SEE TEFL where we took our TEFL course (more on our TEFL course experience here and here). Ying told us during the course that she is an excellent matchmaker–for teacher jobs, and only for teacher jobs.  Ying gets to know the teachers who graduate out of SEE and has connections to many schools in and around Chiang Mai. She then matches up the graduates with a job opening that she thinks would be the best fit for both the teacher and the school.

Ying was set on finding us jobs together.  She said there was a great school about 30 minutes south of the city that had 2 openings and she would make a phone call to see if we could go visit, and maybe do a demo lesson tomorrow.  So we give Ying all of our paperwork (CVs and copies of our passport, transcripts, and TEFL certificate) and leave to go get a quick coffee.

When we come back, Ying runs outside and tells us the jobs she mentioned have already been filled but there is another school that has 2 openings, a better, nicer school, a little closer to the city, and we could go there at 2:00.  Today.  It is a little after noon now, so we quickly go home, shower, change into interview clothes, grab lunch, and come right back.

Back at SEE, we meet up with Por, one the Thai staff who would drive us 20 minutes to the school.  The school is very small, and absolutely beautiful.  Everything is traditional Lanna style and the school is built on a farm with big fields on either side complete with buffalo, cows, horses, and beautiful greenery.  As we pull up to the main building we see an organic garden, a small playground, and lots of beautiful teak wood.  Por walks us through the courtyard and says we can go meet the Director.

We meet the school Director, and the four of us sit down with me, Jake, and Por on a small couch; and the school Director across from us in an armchair.  Por and the Director immediately begin speaking in Thai to one another while Jake and I sit and smile.  After a while Por turns to us and asks if we could start on October 19th.  We answer, “Yes, of course” and continue sitting and smiling.

The two Thai woman continue speaking in Thai to one another until Por asks if we could start a week earlier to lesson plan and prepare.  Again, we say “yes, of course”.  Por and the Director continue speaking in Thai while Jake and I continue sitting in silence, smiling.

The school Director asks us this time if we could also teach science or math.  I answer again with “yes, of course” and that my degree is “like science” and Jake’s is “like math” (my graded language explanation for a degree in human physiology and economics respectively).  The Director is very pleased to hear this.

Por and the Director continue speaking in Thai to one another, this time for quite a long stretch of time.  Jake and I continue sitting, smiling, and having no idea what is going on.  Por realizes at some point that she is no longer translating so she turns to us and explains that they are discussing where we could live.  We smile and nod and realize that this interview, that we didn’t even know was an interview until it had already started, was apparently going really well.

After a few more moments of Thai, Por turns to us and says, “Congratulations, you got the job!  Can we take a photo for Ying?”.  We thank the school Director (and Por for doing all of the hard work!), take a photo, and try to steal  glances at each other to indicate what we are both thinking—I don’t know what just happened, but I’m excited.

From there, we say goodbye and go see the rest of the school before driving back to SEE.

When we walk in the front door at SEE TEFL all of the Thai staff at the front desk had clearly already heard the good news, and they all start applauding and cheering.  I told Jake as we were walking in that I couldn’t stop smiling, but this sealed the deal.  Thailand is awesome.  We went from hearing from Ying that there might be a job opening at about noon, to us both being fully employed about 3 and a half hours later.  The Thai way (or just knowing Ying) definitely wins.

New TEFL teachers!
New TEFL teachers!

More to come….

Hello everyone! So it is November 8th.  I’ve been in Thailand since August 28th, or about 2 and a half months now.  I know I haven’t blogged to date, although I did vaguely mention before leaving the U.S. that maybe I would blog , but I think it’s officially time to jump on the blogging bandwagon and get started.

I should hopefully post at least once or twice a week moving forward.  I hope to fill you in on our experiences with our TEFL course, working in a Thai school, and navigating living and working in a new country and career.

I will also provide some “how tos” for living in Thailand in general (based on my personal experience alone), as well as reviews and photos from our travels, attractions we visit, restaurants we try, etc.

I hope you like it!  Please subscribe using the form on the right side of the screen, and don’t hesitate to contact me with questions, suggestions, posts you would like to see, or just to say “hello”.

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Me outside of Wat Pho in Bangkok in October 2014, during our first visit to Thailand.