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Celebrating Solo Female Travelers in the XploreAsia Community

Celebrating Solo Female Travelers in the XploreAsia Community

This March, we celebrated International Women’s History Month by highlighting some incredible women who became teachers through our programs! At XploreAsia, over 75 percent of our participants are solo female travelers and some of them have shared with us some words of wisdom that they’ve gathered throughout their journeys abroad: 

Allison Scott

Allison Scott is an American who has been teaching English in Thailand since Nov. 2018.

“Say yes to everything.” Saying yes to opportunities has led Allison to have some amazing experiences in Thailand. Some other advice she has for incoming teachers is to learn to go with the flow, because nothing ever goes as planned as a teacher!⠀

Kate McNaughton

Kate McNaughton is from South Africa and has been teaching in South Korea since Aug. 2018. She teaches elementary and middle school students, and also has one Adult class!

“Don’t be afraid to take risks. Sometimes moving to a different country seems daunting but life is what you make of it. Enjoy every moment of your new city, your new life. Explore. Try new things, new food, make new friends from all over the world and make the most of the opportunities you’ve been given.”

Shauna Dunkley

Shauna Dunkley is a Canadian who moved to Thailand in Oct. 2015 and hasn’t left since! She teaches kindergarten at a private school in Nonthaburi, Thailand and loves it.

“Never be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

Tamryn Iyer

Tamryn Iyer is from South Africa and has been teaching in Vietnam since Sep. 2018. She teaches students from kindergarten all the way up to sixth grade!

No matter your salary, no matter your apartment, no matter the tax you pay… happiness starts with you! In any experience you choose, working abroad, packing shelves at the grocery down your road, it’s totally up to you to make it the best experience of your life!”

Lindsey Gall

Lindsey Gall is an American who originally came to Thailand in Nov. 2014. She initially taught for two years, then taught in another country and after traveling for a bit, came back to Thailand in Oct. 2018 because she missed it so much!

“Go for it! I know it can seem scary at first, but the kindness that you encounter on a daily basis from the locals everywhere, from total strangers, is both remarkable and humbling.”

Erin Jamieson

Erin Jamieson is from Canada and has been teaching in Thailand since Nov. 2018. She teaches grades M 1 and 2 (children aged 13 and 14) students in Chanthaburi.

She has had some amazing experiences while living in Thailand, and one of her favorite things about living there has been making true connections with Thai people. In her time there, she has found Thai people to be the most kind and genuine people she has ever met.

“Always expect the unexpected, and just go with whatever presents itself because it always turns out how it is meant to.”

Pearl Simelane

Pearl Simelane is from South Africa and has been teaching in South Korea since Aug. 2018. She teaches elementary and middle school students in Suncheon, a small city in the southern region of the country.

“It’s been such a beautiful journey. It’s scary at first but the little humans with genuine, heartwarming smiles make it so easy. A smile and a little encouragement every other day goes a long way and it’s so rewarding to watch them bloom with newfound confidence.”

Caroline Byerly

Caroline Byerly is an American who arrived in Thailand during Oct. 2018. She teaches English, Math and Computer to students in grades P1-P4 (first graders to fourth graders) in Chaiya, Surat Thani.

“Don’t be afraid to take a position that isn’t your ‘dream placement!’ You learn the most about yourself when you’re outside of your comfort zone. Be up for the challenge and embrace your new community!”

Jade Kelly

Jade Kelly is from South Africa and taught in Thailand from Aug. 2018 until Feb. 2019.

“Embrace the whole experience and especially the unexpected! Immerse yourself in the culture! Don’t give up and remember when things get tough that you chose to put yourself in this situation so that you would grow and learn new things! Be positive and just enjoy it all, it’s amazing!”

Amber Rondeau

Amber Rondeau is an American who teaches children ages 2.5-7. She has been teaching in Thailand since July 2018 in Surat Thani!

Travel with an open heart and accept everyone you meet. Keep your guard up, but don’t make judgements about others. Your instincts will tell you what kind of person they are.

We’d like to thank these courageous women and countless others who have taken their TESOL courses with us and who are changing lives all around the world. They inspire us each and every day! To see more from our teachers, check out our Instagram and Facebook pages.

The Twelve Days of Christmas in Thailand at Rescue P.A.W.S.

The Twelve Days of Christmas in Thailand at Rescue P.A.W.S.

Rescue P.A.W.S. landscape logo

Celebrating Christmas in Thailand can feel strange for westerners who may be used to building snowmen and having snowball fights. Although you may not be able to ride a sleigh through the snow, there are many ways to celebrate the holiday in the sunshine instead. What more perfect way to ease your homesick blues than taking a look at some of the adorable animals our charity Rescue Paws is caring for?

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… a cat curled under the tree!

Saba is one of three cats we found tied up in a bag and thrown over the wall of the temple where our clinic is based. We took her and her siblings in and now they are happy, healthy and ready for adoption. If you are interested in adopting, contact us here!

Rescue Paws volunteer walking towards kennel
Rescue Paws volunteer with cow

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Whenever we are unable to return a dog to its pack, we try to find it a forever home. Pictured are two dogs we took in to sterilize and care for that were adopted by two families.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Our volunteer program is the backbone of Rescue P.A.W.S. Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to help nearly as many dogs as we do. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit our website to apply!

Rescue Paws volunteer with dog
Rescue Paws volunteer training dog

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

At Rescue P.A.W.S., not only do we look after dogs but we also look after cats. All of our rescued animals are like siblings here!

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Rescue Paws volunteer holding dog on the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand

Stray dog overpopulation is a massive issue throughout all of Thailand. In the span of six years, one male and female pair can produce up to 67,000 offspring. Here at Rescue P.A.W.S. we help to reduce the number of strays by sterilizing dogs, which in turn helps increase their quality of life.

Volunteer in Thailand with Rescue Paws

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

While on a feeding run one day, we noticed one of the puppies, Snooze, had swelling in her paw. We took her back to the clinic to sterilize her and treat the wound. She will be returned to her to her pack as soon as she heals.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven dogs a-feeding, six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Rescue Paws volunteer holding dog on the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand

Our volunteers partake in daily feeding runs to local packs around the area making sure the dogs are properly nourished. We feed the pups both dry and wet dog food, all thanks to donations. If you want to help us feed the street dogs in Thailand, donate here today!

Volunteer in Thailand with Rescue Paws

For the eighth day of Christmas in Thailand, my true love gave to me eight licks a-landing, seven dogs a-feeding, six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

One of the most crucial parts of being a volunteer is socializing with the dogs. We give each dog extra love and care so that they grow up friendly and properly socialized.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine dogs a-learning, eight licks a-landing, seven dogs a-feeding, six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Rescue Paws volunteer holding dog on the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand

Not only do we socialize the dogs, but for those that are with us for longer, we also train them. Pictured here is Cloud, who is up for adoption! If you are interested in adopting and making this Cloud’s last Christmas in Thailand, please message us here.

Volunteer in Thailand with Rescue Paws

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten clean kennels, nine dogs a-learning, eight licks a-landing, seven dogs a-feeding, six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Our volunteers work tirelessly to ensure that our dogs are happy. Part of their daily tasks is cleaning the kennels so that all the dogs staying with us are comfortable and happy.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven toys donated, ten clean kennels, nine dogs a-learning, eight licks a-landing, seven dogs a-feeding, six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Christmas in Thailand doesn’t only come once a year thanks to our lovely volunteers. Nikita, was generous to donate some much-needed toys, leashes and collars for our dogs. This year, we have been lucky to receive many donations from many kinds of individuals. But unfortunately, we still need more help. With one sterilization costing around 2,000 baht ($60 USD), any amount goes a long way! To donate, click here. All of us at Rescue P.A.W.S. and XploreAsia appreciate the donations that have and are being made that enable us to continue helping the community.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve strays transformed, eleven toys donated, ten clean kennels, nine dogs a-learning, eight licks a-landing, seven dogs a-feeding, six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

It warms our hearts to see so many lives of animals transformed after they come through our doors. It’s truly incredible what a little love and care can do to better the lives of these precious animals. Thank you to all of our donors, volunteers, and to our amazing team for helping make Rescue P.A.W.S. the organization that it is. 

Volunteer in Thailand with Rescue Paws

Do you love animals? Want to give back to the community? Ready to trade a cold crimbo for a warm Christmas in Thailand? Come join us in beautiful Thailand and get involved with Rescue P.A.W.S. You can also make a positive impact by visiting Wagging Tales Cafe, our non-profitable coffee shop where all proceeds go towards Rescue P.A.W.S. itself.

If you want to see more of our adorable pups and kittens, check our RP’s Instagram and Facebook pages too! Learn more about the Rescue P.A.W.S. volunteer program here

How to Reduce Your Environmental Impact In Thailand

How to Reduce Your Environmental Impact In Thailand

How to Reduce Your Environmental Impact in Thailand

Picture this: I’m walking down the street in sunny San Diego with an iced almond latte in one hand, proudly sporting my stainless steel tumbler and straw. I feel as though I’m saving the world with my farmers market tote in the other hand. Fast forward one month and I’m ordering a Thai coffee in broken Thai for 30 baht from a street vendor. My stomach churns as I watch the smiling woman hand me a plastic cup with a plastic lid and a plastic straw. Then, my heart sinks further as I consider my environmental impact as she places the drink in some sort of plastic bag handle device.

Plastic can seem to be everywhere in Thailand- reduce your environmental impact by carrying reusable alternatives instead.

From the day I was born my parents engrained reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, or refuse into my mind. However, I never really considered how my habits back home would translate abroad.

My First Impression of Thailand

Having only spent one week here in Thailand I am constantly amazed by the prevalence of single-use plastic. There are plastic water bottles everywhere. At 7-Eleven they’ll give you a plastic straw in a plastic wrapper for your plastic drink bottle all held together in a plastic shopping bag. Or at a local market they’ll wrap your dried fruit in a plastic sheet, tie it with a rubber band, and place it inside another plastic bag. Even bananas come in plastic bags. And to think I was annoyed by the shrink-wrapped cucumbers at Trader Joe’s back home.

Reduce your environmental impact by seeking out sustainable and cruelty-free wildlife centres, santuaries and rescue organisations.
Rescue Paws volunteer in Hua Hin, Thailand

Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries in the worldknown for its tropical beaches, lush forests, high mountains, and glittering Buddhist temples. The various street vendors and markets on every corner allow visitors to support the local economy. They also have an amazing ecotourism industry where visitors can participate in sustainable travel.  Visitors can opt for a homestay, support a humane elephant sanctuary, or volunteer with a nonprofit organization, such as our very own Rescue Paws. While Thailand has exceeded my expectations with its sheer beauty, pollution is still a very real issue.  

My first visit to the beach was quite a humbling experience. This particular beach was absolutely gorgeous with white sand and calm waves, but there were hundreds of tiny pieces of plastic stuck in the seaweed that washed onto shore. Yes, plastic is convenient. Yes, it is a low-cost option. Yes, there are other pressing issues besides the environment. But I think as both guests and educators in this country we can do something!

Progress Towards Sustainability in Thailand

By no means are things all gloom and doom here in Thailand. The country has definitely made some significant strides towards sustainability. Tesco sells reusable bags, local coffee shops provide discounts for bringing a reusable cup, most busy locations have recycling bins, and national parks recently placed a ban on plastic.

Plastic Ban in National Parks

This large sign appears at the entrance of the Sam Roi Yot National Park near Hua Hin

Plastic ban sign in Sam Roi Yot National Park in Thailand

In 2013, a group of environmental activists in Thailand formed a nonprofit organization called Trash Hero with the mission to bring communities together by reducing waste through action and awareness.  As of June 2018, more than 104,000 volunteers have removed almost 597 tons of garbage from beaches and cities across Thailand and ten other countries. There’s a chapter right here in Hua Hin that holds weekly beach cleanups every Sunday. This is a great opportunity to collaborate with the local community for a greater cause!

Reduce your environmental impact by volunteering with Trash Hero. Picture: a volunteer educating youth about plastic and sustainability in Thailand

Read Blog

We interviewed one of XploreAsia’s very own program coordinators about her experience with Trash Hero

Whether we are teachers, interns, volunteers, or just tourists in Thailand there are some small changes we can make in our new everyday lives here to help make a difference and lower our environmental impact. The first thing on everyone’s to-do list after arriving in Thailand should be to buy a reusable water bottle. I bought a large water jug and have been refilling it with clean drinking water at many locations around Hua Hin for 5 baht.  Furthermore, we can purchase reusable shopping bags and take-away containers to use at local markets and street vendors.

Watch Video

Adorable kids from Trash Hero teach us how to say no to plastic bags in Thai

Helpful Thai Phrases

Mai sai tung ka/krap = don’t need a bag
Mai ao lawd ka/ krap = don’t want a straw
Mai = no
Sai = need
Ao = want
Tung = bag
Lawd = straw
*make sure to add ka (if you’re a female) or krap (if you’re a male) at the end to be polite*

Our Role as Educators

Most importantly, we can educate our students about how to reduce our environmental impact and the importance of minimizing single-use plastic. This global issue will affect their future unless we do something about it now! Many of our teachers have set up recycling bins and demonstrated to the students how to appropriately sort waste. We can and should incorporate sustainability into our lesson plans. For example, when learning the English words for animals we can teach students about marine life and what we can do to protect them. In addition, during a lesson about household items we could play fun games that teach them about saving water and energy.

Teacher from XploreAsia teaching Thai class about the beach
As an educator, you can teach students how to reduce their own environmental impact and spread the workd about how to protect the Earth!

By teaching in Thailand, we have the ability to encourage our students to discover other ways to protect the planet. During XploreAsia’s overseas in-class TESOL training participants will learn different activities and lesson plans to encourage conservation. Since this is a cross-cultural experience, your students may even come up with some ideas that you haven’t considered. Let’s work together to make a difference and preserve Thailand’s natural beauty!

Written by: Maya Vrechek

Best Cafes in Hua Hin for Productivity & Good WiFi

Best Cafes in Hua Hin for Productivity & Good WiFi

Best Cafes in Hua Hin for Productivity & Good WiFi

(All in walking distance from the XploreAsia office too!)

Whether you’re interning, teaching, or working abroad (like at XploreAsia), Hua Hin offers an array of highly productive, adorable cafes located on almost every corner. I love finding a nice, cozy, cafe or coffee shop to write, read, or work at for the day. A change of scenery is my best inspiration and productivity booster. Luckily, Hua Hin is filled with the best cafes all over the city. Work hard, play hard right?

best cafes in Hua Hin

For those of you searching for these hidden gems, I’ve created a short list of the best cafes in Hua Hin with reliable wifi, delicious snacks, & perfectly brewed coffee based on my own experiences here in Hua Hin–not to mention, they are all a short walk away from the XploreAsia office. I hope these cafes bring you as much productivity, inspiration, and yumminess as they did for me. Happy exploring!

Soi Hua Hin 43

Open: 7am-4pm

1.) Wagging Tales

Located right across from the XploreAsia office, Wagging Tales is XploreAsia’s local cafe supporting their NGO, Rescue Paws.

XA transformed this big house into a cafe serving delicious Thai and Western food and drinks. 100% of the profits from Wagging Tales go to helping the stray dog population in Thailand through XA’s NGO, Rescue Paws. Wagging Tales is committed to bringing all profits back into the community. Not only does this cafe offer amazing smoothies, breakfast muffins, etc. it’s also a great place to meet fellow dog lovers and support a good cause. The mango smoothie from Wagging Tales is a perfect start to my day!

Make a donation to Rescue Paws, here.

11/34 Hua-Hin Soi 45

Open: 8am-3pm

2.) Black Monster

Despite the name, this coffee shop is the farthest thing from a black monster. Located just a block over from XploreAsia, the Black Monster is one cafe you can’t miss. The speedy wifi and assortment of trendy drinks combined with their mod decor, makes this cafe a favorite in Hua Hin—mine included. Not to mention, ALL. DAY. BREAKFAST. The most important meal of the day, and one that is sure to give you a productivity boost. Black Monster offers a breakfast special for 275 TBH which includes a trendy drink of your choice, toast, and a hearty breakfast. It’s a win-win situation.

3.) Chub Cheeva

Described as “tasty food in a chillax environment” Chub Cheeva was one of my best random finds in Hua Hin. Just a few minutes away from the office, this place is a A+ choice for great food, drinks, and atmosphere. Whether you need to get some work done with their super reliable wifi or take a break, Chub Cheeva has it all. As they say, “Loosen up your day in our chilled garden”.

 

2/8 Soi Naeb Kehardt,

Tambon Hua Hin

Open: 11am-9pm

4.) Two Beds & Coffee Machine

Right down the street from my accommodation (which is also conveniently on the same street as the office), I spotted this adorably hidden cafe, Two Beds & Coffee Machine and had to check it out. Turns out, Two Beds is a small and cozy British espresso bar and tea lab. Although they don’t have food, they do have an assortment of espressos, tea, and matcha. Plus, if you’re hungry for a snack, head over to their close neighbor Wagging Tales Cafe! The icy cold A/C, reliable wifi, and caffeinated drinks make Two Beds a great location to hammer down and get some work done.

11/62 Hua Hin Soi 43

Open: 9am-6pm

5.) Hot Cappuccino

I spotted Hot Cappuccino walking home from dinner one evening. When I went back to check it out, I found a clean, quiet, coffee place conveniently located right next to the Pizza Company (I was really craving pizza that day). The staff was very friendly and the service was stellar. This open air cafe allows you to take in the streets of Hua Hin while also getting some work done. I tried their frozen cocoa smoothie and was not disappointed!

Hua Hin Soi 56 Phetchakasem Road (next to the Pizza Company)

Open: 8am-5pm

 

6.) Khang Wang 

Another random discovery in Hua Hin, Khang Wang Clean Food & Juice Bar, stole my heart. There’s a lot of hidden gems in this city. I find that the best places I’ve stumbled upon are by accident, and I haven’t been disappointed yet. Khang Wang is an inviting, slightly hidden clean food & juice bar. Both the WiFi and A/C are top notch too. But, the best part of it all is the service you receive. The gentleman that helped me was so genuinely nice and helpful that I couldn’t help but include him in this post. Not to mention, he just earned himself a new regular customer. I suggest trying the Rice Noodles & Green Curry entree and Honey Lemon drink! 

11/100 Petchkasem Road Tambon Hua Hin

Open: 8am-5pm

 

Written by: Leah Amich

Reasons to Volunteer: A Look into the Pala-U Orphanage

Reasons to Volunteer: A Look into the Pala-U Orphanage

XploreAsia camp counselors leading game at Pala-U orphange

At XploreAsia, we are dedicated to helping people discover the life-changing adventure of working and volunteering abroad. Our aim is to provide cross-cultural interaction that fosters greater empathy and wisdom. Furthermore, we believe there are countless reasons why you should volunteer your time to a worthy cause.

XploreAsia has built a relationship with the Pala-U orphanage over the last four years. It is located in the remote village of Pa Den about an hour and 40 minutes west of Hua Hin, near the Myanmar border. The orphanage is home to 24 kind, caring, and energetic children ranging from age 6 to 17. Our leaders, Mike and Paang, generously donate money, supplies, and tools to the orphanage regularly so that they can live sustainably. The children at the orphanage depend on donors and sponsors to receive proper education, nutrition, and medical support.

Our visits to the Pala-U Orphanage embody six main reasons to volunteer: create lasting connections, improve social skills, build self-confidence, find a sense of purpose, practice valuable job skills, and feel a sense of fulfillment.

It is important to highlight that each of these aspects is a mere side-effect of volunteering. One should never expect anything in return but instead, approach each experience with an open heart and mind.

1. Lasting Connections

Every month a group of participants and staff members venture to the Pa Den village to play games, teach English, and connect with the children. It’s important to build consistent interactions so that the children have the opportunity to bond with new people while also seeing familiar faces.

Being a volunteer abroad means that you get to make a huge difference, travel and make amazing memories for yourself and the kids!
Boys playing soccer in Pala-U

2. Social Skills

Volunteers work alongside both Thai and western XploreAsia staff members and other participants from all over the world. They collaborate to choose appropriate physical and mental games to play that the kids will enjoy. They also must adjust their conversations and games to accommodate the age level and English proficiency of each child at the orphanage.

3. Self-confidence 

Whether you’re a staff member, teacher, camp counselor, intern, or volunteer, you must step into a leadership role. You are the English expert and it is incredibly valuable! XploreAsia has the resources and experience to spread that knowledge with members of our local community. It’s up to us to share this skill with others and ensure that they have a positive, impactful experience.

A volunteer camp counselor leading hokey pokey
Four smiling kids from Pala-U orphange

4. Sense of Purpose

Volunteers can directly impact the lives of these children. This interaction helps build the Thai children’s social skills and confidence in English. They get the chance to connect with native English speakers of all different ages and backgrounds which will help them in future education and occupations.

5. Valuable Job Skill

This is a cross-cultural experience. In exchange for your English expertise, you have the ability to learn and work in a culture that is completely different than your own. Volunteers will strengthen their leadership and communication skills. Future employers will take note of your philanthropic efforts as a reflection of your character. (Though this should not be the sole reason for your volunteer work)

XploreAsia intern thinking of animal for charades
Being a volunteer can be loads of fun, and it's rewarding to give back to the community.

6. Fulfillment

Many people visit Thailand and never explore outside of the tourist hotspots. On this lush farm, volunteers have the chance to play and laugh during duck duck goose, telephone, or street soccer with extraordinary kids. There’s a sense of pride and happiness that comes from taking time out of your day to service someone else, with nothing in return.  These children teach volunteers about the value of community, teamwork, and friendship.

Become a volunteer and spread joy to the children at Pala-U
Community building at Pala-U Orphange
Two girls laughing during game

Volunteer Opportunities

Pala-U Orphanage – reach out to us if you’d like to volunteer, donate, or sponsor.
Camp Counselor Program – Travel across Thailand to help underserved students acquire the skills needed to improve their lives and communicate across cultures.
Rescue Paws – Make a huge difference to the lives of the stray animals in Thailand. There are many ways to get involved: volunteer, day program, flight volunteer, adopt, donate, sponsor, educate others, and more. 
Monastic Teaching Program:  Improve the lives of Myanmar by teaching English to a mixture of monks, novice monks, nuns, orphans, local adults, university students, and children from disadvantaged communities.

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Written by: Maya Vrechek

A Day in the Life of an English Teacher in Hanoi, Vietnam

A Day in the Life of an English Teacher in Hanoi, Vietnam

English Teacher Living in Vietnam

Ellie graduated from XploreAsia‘s accredited TESOL course in August 2018. Learn more about her experience as an English teacher at an English Writing Center outside of Hanoi, Vietnam!

Over the last few months I have lived and worked in Hanoi as an English Teacher for a Private Language Centre. My day to day routine is very much dependent on the hours and responsibilities that come with my position at the centre. My schedule can switch and change depending on team meetings, training and teacher cover. Generally, however, it does stay the same. In just a few months I have managed to build a routine that allows me to pursue hobbies, travel and explore the vibrant city of Hanoi and beyond. As I work for a Private Language Centre, I’m required to teach 25 hours over the evenings and the weekends, with two days off during the week. Initially, I thought I might find this schedule hard to regulate. And as someone who’s been used to having weekends and evenings for quite some time, this schedule felt somewhat strange. However, I have grown to love it! I have found time that I never thought I would have.

Average Weekday Working Schedule

07:00 – Wake up, go to the gym (normally)

My alarm goes off. Slowly I’ll drag myself out of bed and to the gym. My local gym is just around the corner costs around $12 a month. Or (300,000 VND). At this point I appreciate the luxury of being able to snooze for another 30 minutes if needed. After my tiring 9-5 routine back home, time is for once on my side in the morning.

09:00 – Head back home

We arrive home and prepare a delicious and colourful plate of fruit for breakfast. Brew a coffee and watch the news. Once I’ve had a chilled breakfast I’ll get myself ready for the day. I’ll start thinking about any errands that need to be run and which of Hanoi’s many incredible coffee shops we’ll be heading to.

English Teacher Living In Vietnam
10:30 – Set out to our coffee shop of choice.

One of the most appealing things about Hanoi is its endless amounts of cafés and lunch spots. It would take you a very long time to discover Hanoi’s entire extensive coffee scene.

Once we’ve found our spot, we will spend a couple of hours enjoying one of Vietnam’s many delicious coffees. My favorite being the coconut coffee and Eddie’s a traditional egg coffee. Here we will work on various different things. Generally I will write about our experiences in Vietnam, travel plans and teaching for our blog.  

Eddie uses this time to write for a second income. As an experienced content writer he is able to earn money by writing for others online and for his own websites. We try to be productive as we can!

Most of our friends also use this time to pursue various different hobbies and side jobs. Some English teachers choose to tutor in the mornings, others learn to play guitar and a couple even rock climb. It’s precious time most of us are not used to having, and something that is greatly appreciated by most teachers here.

12:30 – Lunch time

Decide what we fancy for lunch. Again, the choices are endless.

Eating out in Vietnam can be as cheap as $1 for a delicious meal. It is arguably cheaper than buying and cooking in. Depending on how we are feeling, we could go for a western brunch or a street side Pho.

Western food is much more expensive, but cheaper than home. It’s generally a treat we allow ourselves once a week.

14:00 – Naptime

With full bellies from lunch, we head home to get an hour of chill time before we set off for work.

During this time we usually take the opportunity to have a nap like the locals or to watch some TV.

15:00 – Commute time

Set off on our 30km commute to work. Don’t worry, a 30km commute isn’t the norm for most teachers in Hanoi.

Eddie and I were placed in a center 30km outside of Hanoi. We made the decision to continue living in Hanoi and to commute by bike to work. It usually takes us about 40 minutes depending on the traffic.

Most teachers can expect up to a 30 minute commute, sometimes even longer if traffic is bad. Generally a job in a private language center will require you to travel during rush hour, which means commute times can vary greatly.

16:00  – Arrive at our English Language Centre

Lessons in our center don’t start until 17:30 during the week, which allows us plenty of time to review lesson plans and prepare for the evenings two lessons. Each lesson at our center consists of two blocks of 45 minutes, with a 5 minute break in between. Every English teacher is different. Some teachers like to carry out all of their planning and printing on one day, others prefer to arrive early to prepare before their lessons. I personally prefer arriving an hour before class begins each day to prepare lessons. This is mainly because it keeps things fresh in my mind and I don’t end up with brain fog in class.

17:00 – ‘They’ arrive

The evening starts to get into full swing.

I start to hear feet pattering in the corridors and the squeals of excited children ringing in the air.

At this stage I find it very difficult to actually get anything done. The kids seem to know few boundaries and I find them running in and out of my classroom as they please. As I teach the younger ages, it is very hard to ignore them.

I quite enjoy this period of madness. As I teach the younger ages I use this time to try and tire them out as much as possible before they have to stay relatively calm during my class.

English Teacher Living in Vietnam
English Teacher Living in Vietnam
17:30 – First class

We do our best to calm our students and line them up for class before teaching begins.

At this stage every day is different. Some days classes are a dream, others are a nightmare. It all really depends on how prepared you are for lesson, what sort of mood your students are in and what sort of mood you’re in.

“Teacher fit” is a term I have heard used to describe a certain fitness level that can only be obtained through teaching. At first I didn’t really understand what it meant, but after gaining experience as an English teacher, now I certainly do.

Teaching has you running around, dancing, singing, jumping up and down, shouting words and generally pacing. It is a term that is particularly appropriate for kindergarten teachers.

Two classes in a row can really take it out of you.

20:45 – Home time!

The bell rings for the end of the day’s final lesson.  We say goodbyes to our students and send them on their way home. Once all of our admin is completed, we aren’t far behind them. It’s time for us to reflect on the evening’s lessons and think about what we might do differently in the future. As teachers I believe we learn something new from each and every lesson. I always leave the classroom feeling as though I have gained something.

21:45 – Arrive home

We throw together a simple meal, such as a stir-fry or omelet and appreciate some well deserved peace and quiet. Depending on how we are feeling, we may stop in at one of the street food stands for dinner.

During this time we will wind down with a book or some TV. It’s often quite hard to shut off after being so active for the last few hours, so allowing ourselves this time is necessary.

Weekend Workday Schedule

As I mentioned before, if you are an English teacher in a Language Centre it’s likely you’ll be working long hours over the weekend. For us we teach 3 lessons on Saturday mornings and 3 lessons on Sunday afternoon/evening.

It can be a challenge sometimes getting in for 8am on a Saturday morning, but I quite like it. I don’t know whether it’s the time or whether the kids haven’t been at school all day, but I find they are somewhat more chilled.

Around those hours we stick to a similar routine, with a few beers with friends thrown in on a Saturday evening.

Days Off

Days off in the city are my favourite. Simply hopping on a bike with no plan and no particular place to go is a great feeling. Hanoi is full of interesting things to do and some wonderful things to see. If we’re feeling more adventurous, we might even hop on our bike and head to Ba Vi National Park or Tam Coc. Both a straightforward 2 hour drive from Hanoi.

In the evenings we will normally meet up with our pals from work and go to an open mic night or to a karaoke bar. We definitely work hard, but the reward is so worth it. 

English Teacher Living in Vietnam
You can follow Ellie and Eddie’s journey over at www.idiotsteachabroad.com!

Ever considered becoming an English teacher in Vietnam? With XploreAsia, you could be living and working in this diverse country, gaining a deeper insight into the culture, interacting with local people and making a real difference in the community through teaching English. For more information on this program, visit Teach in Vietnam!   

Volunteer in Thailand: An Interview with Rescue P.A.W.S.

Volunteer in Thailand: An Interview with Rescue P.A.W.S.

Rescue P.A.W.S. landscape logo

In 2013, XploreAsia co-founded Rescue P.A.W.S., an animal relief organization based in Hua Hin. This creates a unique opportunity for animal lovers to volunteer in Thailand while also contributing to our mission at XploreAsia. Rescue P.A.W.S. is made up of full-time staff and a group of volunteers who carry out the daily tasks of the on-site kennels, clinic, and play area. The team is a tight-knit unit who live and breathe passion towards animal care, often going above and beyond what is needed by the innocent canines. Our volunteer programs provide you with a life-changing opportunity to make a big difference to the lives of the stray animals in need of care, whilst also offering you a rich holiday experience soaking up the authentic culture in one of Thailand’s must-visit destinations. 

As marketing interns for XploreAsia, we took the opportunity to volunteer alongside the Rescue P.A.W.S. team for the last two days. After getting to know these two rockstar volunteers, we have a much greater understanding of the passion and dedication that is required to be a Rescue P.A.W.S. volunteer.

Rescue Paws volunteer in Thailand Kennidy with Cher

Kennidy (& Cher)

Kennidy is a 22-year-old from Settler, Canada

Rescue Paws Volunteer in Thailand Shari with Cloud

Shari (& Cloud)

Shari is a 20-year-old from the Gold Coast in Australia

Side note: these two adorable pups are up for adoption! Find out more here or email adopt@rescue-paws.org 

Rescue Paws volunteer with Mae and Thai food

How did you find out about Rescue P.A.W.S.?

K: I originally wanted to teach English abroad. So after a quick Google search, I found XploreAsia. Through them, I discovered Rescue P.A.W.S. and decided to volunteer in Thailand with animals instead. I hadn’t heard of Rescue P.A.W.S. until then, but I follow many similar animal welfare accounts from all over the world on social media.
S: I learned about this opportunity through Global Work & Travel. I did a work program through them previously and had a great experience. I knew that I wanted to volunteer in Thailand next so I was browsing the Global Work & Travel programs and found Rescue P.A.W.S.

Do you have any previous experience working with animals?

K: Yes, I was a secretary at a local animal rescue in my town. I’ve also fostered dogs in the past and have always been an animal lover.
S: Yes, I’ve always loved working with animals and knew that I wanted to work with animals since I was 5 years old. Back home I worked in a few different vet clinics but wasn’t exactly sure what kind of work I wanted to do with animals in the future. My time at Rescue P.A.W.S. has helped me figure out more of what I want to do, which is pursuing vet school!

Rescue Paws volunteer walking towards kennel
Rescue Paws volunteer with cow

What’s your favorite part of the day?

K: I think my favorite part of the day is having one-on-one time with the dogs that are the most timid. It’s amazing getting to know the dogs. Oh, and I love teaching them tricks!
S: Afternoon activities are my favorite because it’s different every day. It could anything from training the dogs, feeding stray dog packs, befriending these packs, bathing the dogs, parasite treatments, Thai cooking, surgeries, etc. Our mornings are pretty routine but we never know what we’ll be doing in the afternoon and if it’s a surgery, we get first-hand experience with the vets.

Biggest reward

K: Seeing dogs slowly come out of their shell. Throughout my time here I’ve been able to build relationships with each of the dogs. Most of them are quite shy and timid in the beginning, but after spending time with them every day their personalities begin to shine through. S: Returning dogs back to their packs. For me, experiencing the whole process from start to finish is quite amazing.  It can take a long time to befriend a local pack, so when you’re finally able to pick up an unsterilized or injured dog, bring that dog into the clinic for testing, surgery, rehabilitation, and then returning that dog back to their pack feels really good. You know you’re making a direct impact on that animal.

Rescue Paws volunteer with dog
Rescue Paws volunteer training dog

Biggest challenge

K: The biggest challenge for me is finding wounded street dogs and seeing them in pain. We actually found Pudge during one of our feeding runs with a wild pack. His foot was cut and he came right up to us. Usually, the dogs are so scared that they won’t come anywhere near you but this cute puppy needed our help.  Also, I see dogs in a different way than back home. It’s just a completely different society. Back home, if you see a stray dog you post about it on Facebook and the owner claims it. Here it’s different. There are soi dogs everywhere and they can generally take care of themselves.
S: It’s challenging to be continuously working with different dogs. There are a lot of dogs here in Thailand that need our help and we only get a certain amount of time with each dog. So, it can be difficult to maintain consistent training and bonding with each dog since they are often rotated between volunteers, adopted, or are returned to their packs.

Do you have a favorite animal?

K: I don’t know. Maybe Lamb or Bohdi. Lamb was the first dog that I able to work with so it was the first real relationship I built. But then there’s also Bohdi. I sat in his kennel with him when he first got here. He was so scared and I eventually helped him feel more comfortable. But it’s hard to pick favorites because we have little relationships with each animal and they’re all so different.

Rescue Paws volunteer holding dog on the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand
Volunteer in Thailand with Rescue Paws

Do you have any advice for a future volunteer in Thailand?

K: Don’t come here with any expectations. You’ll be challenged a lot, so I advise everyone to come in with an open mind. You’ll be challenged on things you thought you knew when it comes to animals. I came in thinking I could save them all but you simply can’t. But what they’re doing here has made a significant impact in their community.
S: Definitely be open minded. Traveling, in general, is always going to be full of unexpected challenges and it’s a mind game to overcome them and make the best of any situation. Your experience is going to be what you make it, so be open minded.

Thank you so much Kennidy and Shari for all of your hard work! Rescue P.A.W.S. wouldn’t be able to thrive without all the help that we get from our amazing volunteers. 

Do you love animals? Want to give back to the community? Come join us and volunteer in Thailand with Rescue P.A.W.S. You can also make a positive impact by visiting Wagging Tales Cafe, our non-profitable coffee shop where all proceeds go towards Rescue P.A.W.S. itself. Learn more about the Rescue P.A.W.S. volunteer program here

Work in Thailand: Orientation Week at XploreAsia

Work in Thailand: Orientation Week at XploreAsia

Work in Thailand

Whether you’re coming to pursue work in Thailand as an English teacher or through one of our various internship programs, your first week will always include a cultural orientation. At XploreAsia we believe that immersing yourself in the culture is critical to your success here in Thailand. During your first week in Thailand you will partake in various cultural orientation courses about Thai culture, politics, and language. We wouldn’t throw you into working in a new country without giving you the basics first (who do you think we are)!

XploreAsia’s Cultural Orientation courses are designed to prepare future English teachers and workers for all aspects of life in Thailand. Each course delves into the heart of each countries culture and values through online classes before you arrive in the country, and once in the country, through active-learning cultural excursions to various sites of cultural and historical significance.

Thai Cooking Class

One of, if not, the best part of Thailand is the food. Thai food consists of four distinct tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. Most Thai dishes are not considered satisfying unless they combine all four tastes.  A typical Thai dish includes rice or noodles, vegetables, meat, and lots and lots of herbs and seasonings. The most common street foods being, “pad thai” and “som yom”, or papaya salad.

Thai cooking class is one of our most popular cultural orientation classes. During this course you will learn the basics of Thai cuisine and how to make both of these popular dishes. A very important phrase to know as a foreigner or “farang” in Thailand is,“Mai ped”, or no spice. For those that are looking to work in Thailand, “mai ped” tells the locals to hold back on the chili flakes that they love to saturate local dishes with.

XploreAsia’s Thai cooking class not only acted as an immersion into the culture, but also a useful lesson on how to make an easy, fast, and affordable meal when living in Thailand.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, meaning “the art of eight limbs,” is a boxing sport of Thailand that combines physical and mental discipline using the knees, shins, fists, and elbows.  During this lesson, Muay Thai instructors demonstrate and teach common defense moves that may be useful when working in Thailand.Through this active cultural learning excursion, you will learn how to side kick (Tae Tad), kick to the inside of the knee (Tae Pub Nai), elbow strikes (Sok), and many more aspects that make this sport so popular among the Thai locals. Make sure to pack your workout clothes when coming to Thailand as many of our participants have said this is the best workout they’ve ever had.

Work in Thailand: XploreAsia teachers partaking in Muay Thai

Work in Thailand and learn how to Muay Thai

Rescue Paws

It wouldn’t be cultural orientation week without a visit to our non-profit organization, Rescue Paws. When you work in Thailand, homeless dogs are around every corner and in 2013 we co-founded Rescue Paws as a way to help the stray dog population here in Hua Hin through sterilization and education.. With an increasing number of stray dogs in Thailand, Rescue Paws befriends local packs in the area, , and then makes an effort to decrease the stray population through vaccinations, sterilizations, and adoptions.

The majority of dogs brought into the Rescue Paws clinic  are in life threatening conditions, and living a poor quality of life. Once an animal is treated, they are returned back to their original packs. Unfortunately, some are not in the condition to be returned to the streets. In this case, these animals are put up for adoption and put into a forever home. A visit to Rescue Paws not only helps spread awareness of the organization, but participants get the chance to learn about the importance of animal sterilization as well as hangout with the amazing pups!

Rescue Paws is completely run on volunteers and donations so there are ample opportunities to volunteer or donate to the organization during your time working in Thailand.

Sidenote: follow Rescue Paws on social media and if you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering, adopting, or donating to Rescue Paws, contact coordinator@rescue-paws.org.

Work in Thailand: Sprite enjoying his day at the beach

Sprite enjoying the beach!

Temple Hike at Wat Thum Khao Tao and Monk Meditation

Next on your cultural orientation is a temple hike to Wat Thum Khao Tao and a visit with the local monks here in Hua Hin. Rescue Paws’ clinic is actually located on the temple grounds, so it’s a nice transition from one excursion to the next.

Wat Thum Khao Tao, meaning “Temple, Mountain, Cave, Turtle”, was used as a halfway house for monks traveling from the North to the South. The cave is still frequented by traveling monks, but also is a sanctuary for those that work abroad to experience the spirituality of the Thai culture. Dragon fixtures, Buddha statues, and monk figures, were present around every corner of the cave. With this, a giant Buddha is located at the top of the mountain. The statues around Wat Thum Khao Tao represent the hope for further awakening and the devotion the Thai people have towards their faith. This cave is certainly a bucket list destination for those working abroad!

After your temple hike our participants partake in a guided meditation with the local monks that live at Wat Thum Khao Tao. Through meditation, you are educated on the basics of meditation and how the mind and body work together as one. The monk will also talk to you about the importance of meditation and how this practice will bring peace, happiness, and serenity to your life.

Work in Thailand: Teachers at Wat Thum Khao Tao

Group photo at Wat Thum Khao Tao

Beach BBQ: Leaving Behind Fears of Working in Thailand

Last but not least, cultural orientation week ends with a beach BBQ. The beach BBQ is a time for everyone to celebrate and reflect on the past week. Not to mention a time to have fun and enjoy amazing food with your new friends!

XploreAsia goes to great lengths to provide the most comprehensive culture orientation possible by bringing aspects of all major areas of existence here in Thailand right to the classroom for our clients. We provide traditional classroom learning on life and business in Thailand alongside an array of hands-on experiences that require you to completely immerse yourself within the culture.

Work in Thailand: Teachers at Wat Thum Khao Tao

Are you ready to work in Thailand? Visit our website. We hope to see you on our next cultural orientation week!

Thailand Budget Tips for ESL Teachers

Thailand Budget Tips for ESL Teachers

travel, teach, Hua Hin, adventure, XploreAsia

So, you’ve come to Thailand to teach English and now you want to use your weekends to explore and travel, really discover those hidden gems of Thailand. There is only one slight problem – you’re living on a Thailand budget and need to ensure your rent and bills are paid off, while still being able to put food on the table. Traveling to Thailand on a budget can easily be done, but does require research and planning. We’ve learned a few things during our time here in Thailand and want to share a few pointers from one budget traveler to another.

travel, Thailand budget, beach, paradise, beautiful, ocean, adventure

Thailand Budget Tip #1

When it comes to choosing your accommodation, it is important to remember that you will most likely, only be sleeping here. You will most likely be out and about most of the time exploring all that is Thailand. You’re in a beautiful, amazing country, why would you want to spend all of your time in your room, right? Of course, we all want a clean, comfortable room and bed, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices—especially when you’re on a tight budget. I have yet to come across an affordable hostel that is not only clean, but also accompanied by a gorgeous view. The Thai people take care of their hostels and hotels better than I take care of my place back home. Sure, the bed may not be the most ideal size or comfort level, but you will survive, I promise.

Also keep in mind that you don’t have to stay in the heart of each city or town that you are visiting. The hotels and hostels that you would find here are likely to be more expensive than a hotel or hostel off of a side street, a short walk from the heart of the town/city. If you place yourself in a less populated area, you may also get to experience that town or city from a more true and honest perspective. Whatever you decide to do, make sure to do your research on the hostels in the given area. My favourite website to use for the Thailand budget is hostelworld – it shows you all of the hostels available for the specific dates and locations you want and you are able to sort the results by many different filters (price, room, facilities, rating, type and payment). Hostelworld allows you to book right through their website, has an extremely easy cancellation process, and they give you all of the contact information you need. Not to mention, they provide reviews for each hostel, as well as all of the amenities that are both included and not included. For example, a beautiful  hostel (rated 9.1) in Koh Tao island is only $9.70 USD per night for a 6 bed dorm with air conditioning – extremely affordable if you ask me! You just have to take the time to sit down and look at the options available, compare what is offered, and make the smartest decision for yourself.

Pro-tip: Hostels generally have a cancellation policy which requires you to inform the hostel between 3 – 7 days prior to the day you are to arrive; giving many of us more than enough time to change plans, if need be.

hammock, relax, Thailand, teach abroad, relax, XploreAsia

Thailand Budget Tip #2

Our given mode of transportation is very important to the Thailand budget. This past weekend I took a van, a bus, and a train so I can tell you all the ups and downs of each. First off…the vans. Not only do they run all over Thailand, but they are extremely affordable, comfortable and air conditioned. I took a van to Kanchanaburi on Saturday and the total cost was 220 baht, which works out to be approximately $6.25 USD – this is for a 3 hour (220km) drive.

Next up…the busses. Now, I don’t mean coach busses, I mean those colourful busses with all of the windows down and the doors open so that you see the streets of Thailand. The bus I took was from Kanchanaburi to Erawan Waterfalls & National Park was about an hour and a half drive from Hua Hin, depending on if the driver is going the speed limit. This mode of transportation cost 50 baht, approximately $1.40 USD.

travel, budget, Thailand, adventure, teach abroad, XploreAsia

The Truth About My Thailand Budget

Now, I will be completely honest when I say this trip wasn’t exactly the most comfortable. It was a very hot day, and although there are fans on the roof of the bus, with open windows and doors and long stop lights, it got a little toasty at times. The seats themselves were made of a material that you stick to if you are at all sweaty, and you feel every single bump in the road.  Inexpensive – yes, comfortable – no. But it did the job. Although I was happy to get off of that bus, this is not to say I would never take another because of how inexpensive it is.

Lastly, the trains. I took a train from Bangkok to Hua Hin late in the evening one Sunday. From my own personal experience, the trains do not run as often as the vans or busses, however, they are comfortable and air conditioned, and they even give you a blanket and a snack. The price of the train depends on the time you are traveling – as my roommate took the train from Bangkok home to Hua Hin on a Monday afternoon and it only cost her 95 baht per person ($2.70 USD), whereas when I took the train this past Sunday evening, it was 400 baht per person ($11.40 USD). That being said, it is best to book any travels via train in advance to ensure that you get the class and time that you would prefer. Another mode of transportation that I have yet to experience  – is the ferry. Using the ferry to get to Koh Tao is seemingly the most affordable option and the easiest mode of transportation. With this, you will embark on a  6 hour catamaran ride. Who wouldn’t love to be on the open water for a whole 6 hours? Perhaps an individual who gets seasick. The price for this, one way, is 1047 baht – approximately $30 USD…so cheap! I believe that, if you can stomach it, ferries would be the most beautiful mode of transportation as the views will be amazing every which way you look.

Thailand Budget Tip #3

The food you choose to eat while in Thailand will honestly make or break your budget. Yes, it is okay to splurge on Western food every once in awhile when you are having a craving from back home, but try not to make it a habit (as this will become a very expensive habit). Eating as the Thais do – street food for every meal – is beyond affordable. One day for breakfast, I got 10 freshly cooked, deep fried pastries and 3 sticks of chicken all for 30 baht – $0.85 USD. 

western food in Thailand, travel, budget, travel, explore, XploreAsia, adventure

If I compare this to an average western breakfast of an omelette with a smoothie from my favourite western restaurant – The Baguette – this total comes out to be 145 baht – $4.15 USD. Now I know that $4 USD for breakfast is unheard of back home, however, this does add up especially when you have much cheaper options available to you…literally across the road. The same goes for dinner. You can get Pad-See-Ew for 40 baht ($1.15 USD), or you can get a burger and fries for 150 baht ($4.30 USD). Trust me when I say, you will enjoy the Thai food so much more than the Western food – nine times out of ten, it is not exactly how we make it back home, it is better. Why come to Thailand to eat burgers and pizza anyways.

thai food, delicious, explore, adventure, travel, budget, teach overseas, XploreAsia

I used to be such a picky eater, and since coming to Thailand, that part of me disappeared – in a good way. When I go to the local markets I am willing to try what I like to call ‘mystery meat’ as I have no idea what I am about to eat, but it is always so delicious. I have been overly pleased with every meal in Thailand so far, whether it is so spicy that I am crying between bites, or so delicious that I eat it too quickly to even enjoy the flavours.

SO! Are you more confident that you can travel on a Thailand budget? I sure hope so. Get out there and start exploring!

Interested in teaching or working in Thailand? Visit our adventures page!

Thai Culture: The Do’s and Don’ts

Thai Culture: The Do’s and Don’ts

You’ve booked your flight, packed your bags, and are ready to embark on this new adventure with XploreAsia—teaching English in Thailand. This once in a lifetime opportunity attracts people from all over the world, and for good reason. Teaching abroad will change your life. Now, that’s not to say that it won’t be without challenges— but overcoming these challenges is what makes an experience like this so rewarding, unique, and meaningful. You get what you give in Thai culture. Through XploreAsia’s internationally accredited TESOL course you will learn the necessary skills to teach English in Thailand while also making a difference.

Here at XploreAsia we know how scary it can be to come to a new country (we’ve been there). We believe that having a basic understanding of Thai culture is essential to your success, therefore, we provide all of our future teachers with a cultural orientation week upon arrival to Thailand. Your first week in the program will include lessons on Thai culture, language, politics and more. Because we want each and every individual that comes through our program to succeed and embrace the beautiful and unique lifestyle that Thailand has to offer, we’ve created a basic guide to the cultural “Do’s and Don’ts” of Thailand.

DO: RESPECT CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

Thai culture is greatly influenced by Buddhism and is the world’s most heavily Buddhist country. About 97% of the population is Buddhist, making Buddhism one of the cornerstones of Thai culture. The Buddhist beliefs and values play a vital role in the day to day life of Thai people as well as the many tourists that flock to this country every year. Some of the most prominent values being respect, self-control, and a non-confrontational attitude. Thai cultural expectations revolve around these values and it is truly beautiful to witness and be a part of. Although Thai culture may be very different from our own, there are behaviors one can avoid in order be respectful and truly assimilate into the Thai lifestyle as smoothly as possible.  

Thai culture: Buddha statue at Wat Thum Khao Tao

Buddha statue at Wat Thum Khao Tao 

DON’T: PDA

First things first, we all know how sweet it can be to show affection with our partners and friends in public. However, Thai people are very discreet and prefer to keep PDA to a minimum. Therefore, it is best to refrain from being overly affectionate in public as to not make others uncomfortable. Being a highly Buddhist country, the religion influences certain behaviors as unacceptable. In this instance, PDA.

DON’T: PECULIAR MANNERISMS

Another example has to do with certain parts of the body. In Buddhism the most sacred part of the body is the head. The feet are considered to be the lowest and filthiest. Therefore, it would be highly offensive to touch another person’s head and disrespectful to point, push, or step on anything with your feet. Most importantly, one should always avoid facing the bottom of your feet towards another person, as that is seen as a major sign of disrespect.

Pro Tip: Don’t step on Thai money. Since the King’s image is on the face of all Thai bills, stepping on it would be considered disrespectful to the monarchy. And Thai people take their monarchy very, very seriously.

Thai culture: Monk at our local temple located in Hua Hin

Visiting our local monk in Hua Hin

DO: RESPECT THE MONKS

Monks are a significant aspect of Thai culture. You can encounter monks casually passing by, in temples, or even at the train station. Although we treat them with the most respect, it is important to remember that monks are prohibited to touch or be touched by women. Therefore, women should be careful to not come in physical contact with a monk.

DO: MAINTAIN FACE

The notion of “face” is important in Thai culture and there are many aspects that involve the concept of “face”. In general, it is best to avoid being overly emotional in public. Particularly, being angry or confrontational towards others. Maintaining “face” shows respect and dignity. AKA, keep your emotions in check.

Thai culture: Having a laugh while eating at the beach barbecue provided by Xploreasia

Showing our best smiles while enjoying a barbecue dinner provided by XploreAsia

DO: WAI

While in Thailand you will 110% experience a Thai greeting known as the “Wai”. Don’t be shy, the wai is a common Thai greeting, almost like a handshake. “Wai-ing” someone is easy – just press your palms together in front of your chest and bow your head slightly. Do keep in mind that there are different variations of the wai in Thailand. Thai culture greatly honors and respects the elderly, so when greeting someone older than you, make sure to do a very traditional and powerful wai as a demonstration of respect. Nevertheless, don’t worry (“mai pen rai”), if you get it wrong, making an effort shows a great amount of respect in and of itself.

Fun fact: The phrase “mai pen rai” is a very common expression in Thailand, translating to  “don’t worry”, “it’s okay”, or “take it easy”. Something extremely fascinating about Thai culture is how open and safe it is towards the LGBTQ community. It is a great place to be respectful and accepting towards everybody. With that, don’t forget to live the mai pen rai life! Life doesn’t have to be rushed and in a hurry at all times. Just smile, enjoy your time, stay calm, and mai pen rai!

Thai culture: Visual of how to do a Wai

 

DO: PICK THE RIGHT SHOES

Stay comfy while you teach in  Thailand by wearing flip flops and slip ons! While exploring in the warm and humid weather of Thailand, it’s easy to slide on a pair of flip flops and easily go on with your day. Not only will this keep you cooler, it’s also an easy way to take off your shoes – given that this is a common practice to do before entering temples, homes, and occasionally businesses. In addition to taking off your shoes when visiting temples, make sure to always wear appropriate clothing to cover your knees and shoulders.

Thai culture: Slipping off your sandals

 

Are You Ready for Thai Culture?

Last but not least, DO make sure to have an open mind. Be open to learning new things, experiencing new cultures, and DON’T forget to have fun. Thailand has a vast and rich culture and there is so much to learn about this beautiful country. Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes because that’s part of the learning process. At XploreAsia we are here to help enhance your cultural experience in addition to supporting you throughout your teaching journey.

Thai culture: Xploreasia teacher practicing her Thai language at Hua Hin local market

Xploreasia teacher engaging in Thai culture by practicing her Thai language skills in Hua Hin’s local food market

 

If you are interested in any of our programs, visit our Adventures page and follow us on Facebook for more information! 

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