Sawadee ka and greetings from Bangkok, Thailand! 🇹🇭
This past month has been a whirlwind of events! For starters, within 48 hours, I had interviewed for, accepted a job offer, bought a plane ticket, AND flew to Bangkok, Thailand.💜
Bangkok was a city where I had lived as an expat in 2015, so it was not unfamiliar ground; however, this time I would be teaching and living in a completely different area of the city. 🧡
I was also vacationing in Europe at the time, so I obviously had nothing practical to bring here for my new job and life other than my bag full of suits and sundresses. Hah! 💃
Strange side note: It is surprisingly difficult to find blonde hair dye in this city, so pack your own if you plan to stay awhile and color your own hair. It is also shockingly easy to find skin products with bleach, since they idolize fair skin here. Make sure you read the label before purchasing! 😲
When you first land in Bangkok at Suvarnabhumi Airport, you can either take the public transport or a metered taxi to the city center. The Airport Rail Link costs 45 Baht and takes 26 minutes. As an alternative, a taxi costs approximately 300 Baht depending on where you’re going. ✈️
300 Baht= 9 USD
45 Baht= 1.45 USD
Side note: There is another airport in the north of Bangkok called Don Mueang, but it is mostly for low-cost national flights. If you’re traveling to/from there, I recommend a taxi for about 300 Baht, because it is much more convenient.
WORD TO THE WISE: I also highly recommend downloading GrabTaxi if you are trying to hail a cab from the city center. 🚕 Here are just a few reasons why:
- Taxi drivers are notorious here for NOT using a meter and charging a ridiculous price to foreigners, so GrabTaxi will eliminate this problem and calculate a fare price.
- It will also calculate your drive time and you can pay with credit/debit card using the application.
- If you DON’T speak Thai, it can be hard to explain where you want to go. Using this app, you will enter your destination, so there is no need to get frustrated trying to speak with the local driver.
OK, here are some other tips upon landing.
Getting around: Bangkok is SUPER well-connected using both the BTS Skytrain and the MRT underground metro. It is so convenient and affordable that you could travel from one end of the city to the other for less than 60 Baht (2 USD). By using a kiosk at the station, you can enter your destination and it will print you off a single-use ticket, or if you plan to travel a lot within 24 hours, it might be more cost-effective to buy an unlimited journey one-day ticket. Also, if you plan to travel on a daily basis, there are Rabbit cards, which are cool and convenient, because you just add a large amount of money to the card at once, then each time you use public transit, it will subtract that amount from your Rabbit card like a debit card. There are also many promotions and perks for frequent travelers, like 10-20% off at various shops and restaurants. Like everything else here, you can add more money to the card at 7-Eleven or at the station.
Getting around after hours:
Public transit only operates from 6 AM until midnight. If you want to travel outside of those hours, I’d suggest a metered taxi. Tuk tuks and motorbikes are also an option, and fun for the experience, but usually involve haggling a price. ALWAYS make sure your taxi driver is going to put the meter on before getting into the car!
Local Telephone: It’s easy to purchase a local SIM card at the airport or at any mall for 50 Baht (1.60 USD) and then you can just pre-pay for minutes or data. I chose AIS as my provider, as it has excellent coverage and the largest number of WiFi hot spots. The cost is about 1 Baht for every minute of phone use and there are various internet packages available. They also have short-term packages for travelers, like unlimited data for 8 days for only 13 USD. Personally, I have no need for data, since FREE WiFi is easily available all over the city, so I just have pre-paid minutes for calling and texting. Oh yes, AIS also has an application, which you can download on your phone to check how many minutes you have used, and you can easily add more minutes or data to your phone at 7-Eleven.
Communicating in Thailand: The most popular way to communicate in Thailand is with the Line application. It is almost ESSENTIAL to download this. There are no phone charges, since it runs off the internet, and the application has tons of adorable stickers. There is even a Line store here with the different characters, since it’s so popular!
Oh Thank Heaven for 7-Eleven!
As you’ve noticed, 7-Eleven plays a major factor in the convenience of Thailand. It’s open 24 hours a day and has almost every item you could need (toiletries, drinks, prepared meals, decorations, office supplies, groceries, etc…).
You can also use 7-Eleven to add money to your phone plan, metro card, pay for your apartment utilities, and so on. If you have 7-Eleven in your home country, it is NOT like 7-Eleven in Thailand. It is much more unique and special here. I stop here twice a day on average, and since arriving in Thailand, I’ve made it my mission to try as many foods as possible here, and I’ve BARELY scratched the surface, so get ready for more 7-Eleven posts in the future.
Other 24-hour favorites for me include Family Mart and Max Valu.
Other items on my bucket list include the breaded pork tonkatsu roll, Japanese pumpkin soup, coffee-flavored bread, the salmon teriyaki sandwich, red bean filled donut,the green curry fish sandwich, the basil chicken and egg rice burger, and an insane amount of flavored chips. 💚
I’ve also enjoyed quite a few nights out with both Thai and international cuisine.
And of course, there’s always a plethora of street food, so you are guaranteed to have plenty of food options wherever you are.
Fast food chains also have different menus in Thailand, so be prepared to try something new!🍟
And with all these convenient take-away options, they’re trying to reduce the use of plastic bags, so only take one if necessary. 🌎
Finding a Condo:
Now, one of the most stressful parts of moving to Bangkok for me, being the indecisive person that I am, was finding a condo in Bangkok. There are simply TOO MANY wonderful options!
I recommend using the website Hipflat, where you can search for condos by neighborhood, size, and price range. By expressing interest in a condo using the site, you will usually be contacted immediately by an agent who can help you view that particular condo and any others in the surrounding area. The agent doesn’t receive a direct commission from you, so don’t worry about having them hunt for condos.
After viewing three different condos, and various units in those particular condos, I decided on a lovely 1-bedroom unit with floor to ceiling windows, modern appliances, and my own private elevator.
It also has a gorgeous rooftop pool, sauna, gym, rooftop lounge, library, and so on.
I absolutely love the shared facilities, PLUS the price for my own condo here was the same as what I was paying to SHARE an apartment in Barcelona with four other people! 😮
Side note: 600-650 USD/month rent is on the high end for one person, but I really consider my apartment a haven for me at the end of the day, so it was worth the splurge.
Electric charges are typically an additional 15-20 USD/month, internet is 20 USD/month, and water is less than 2 USD/month. Also, this is quite an initial investment that is typically done all in cash. You usually have to pay two months deposit, plus the first months’ rent and most owners want you to sign a one-year lease.
Aside from my condo, I also love my local neighborhood. 🧡
It’s near giant mega malls, like Central World and MBK with food courts, trendy boutiques and hip cafes, local night markets, like Pathumwan, and there’s always something to see in the street, from people selling food to cool street art.
And because I’m almost on the 30th floor, I have an epic view of the city and can watch beautiful sunsets and apocalyptic storms, depending on the weather. 😮
Side note: Maybe you could buy some lotto tickets and hope to pay for your condo with your winnings, but I’m sure you’ll need to get an actual job if you’d like to pay for this type of place. 😉
Finding a job:
Now that brings me to what brought me here in the first place: my job. I knew that I wanted to find a teaching job abroad and I really enjoyed teaching here last time, so I started looking for positions in August using Ajarn and LinkedIn. May and November are the best months to look for jobs in schools, but I still found many openings during this month. To get a good job in Thailand, most schools require a bachelor’s degree, a teaching qualification, and teaching experience. My philosophy was to apply for every job that looked appealing and then see what kind of response I received. I had the advantage of being available immediately, which made me appealing to employers as well. When negotiating salary, make sure you take the whole package into consideration. Many schools will pay for your flight, visa costs, accommodation on arrival, and paid holidays.
To obtain the work permit in Thailand as an American, you will need to have your college degree certified. You can do this by making an appointment with the American embassy in Bangkok. Book early, since you typically have to wait around two weeks for an appointment. The cost for this diploma notarization is 50 USD.
After that, you will have to get that document certified at the Thai immigration office, which costs an additional 10 USD and takes 3 days for regular service. From there, you’ll have to apply for the appropriate visa and permit, which can cost a couple hundred dollars, so it would be good if all these fees were paid for by your company. It is also good if the company assists with these appointments, since it is difficult if you don’t speak the local language.
Teaching in Thailand:
So now I’ll get to the fun stuff. Since taking on this classroom of students, I’ve been having the best time EVER! As a homeroom teacher, I’ve been responsible for planning math, English, handwriting, grammar, spelling, science, history, computer science, and art classes. We’ve made our own rocket ships, played lots of games, like Memory, Simon Says and Four Corners, created our own Kandinsky artwork and salt paintings, learned about the life cycle of frogs, learned how to build strong structures out of paper, put on plays, practiced handwriting in different mediums, solved math mysteries, created map puzzles and place value accordions, made sushi, practiced meditation, read quite a few Roald Dahl books, like Fantastic Mr. Fox, and the Enormous Crocodile, supported with origami and mask-making, and celebrated many birthdays with cupcakes and pizza. What a blast! I also have a new class mascot, Norbert, the spiffy sloth!
The school is also centrally located, which is a rarity, so I get to walk to work in the mornings! I usually stop at 7-Eleven for a cold drink, then stroll through the park on my way. What a treat! ☺️
Another perk of being a teacher is the delicious school lunches. We also have at least two protein choices, like pork, chicken, egg, or fish, plus rice, noodles, cooked vegetables, and a fresh salad bar with lots of sweet and spicy sauces. Yum! 😋
We even organized an overnight trip to icamp in Kanchanburi. The kids enjoyed swimming, relay races, arts and crafts, and a bonfire with a talent show. The food and the facilities were also spectacular! 🏕️
Lastly, another benefit of a teacher’s schedule is all the paid holiday. Speaking of which, my first vacation will already be in a few weeks time. Stay tuned to hear all about it! Until then, here’s a short video of my apartment and surrounding neighborhood. From street performers with guinea pigs to lady boys dancing, this city is always full of smiles and surprises! Hope you enjoy! 😊