Hello everybody! A few months ago I posted some questions about teaching in Thailand and got some very helpful responses. I have completed my TEFL and am about to buy a plane ticket, but am now trying to figure out where I would like to end up in Thailand.
A little bit about me: I am a native speaker from California with a BA from the University of California and an TEFL certificate from ITTT. I am tan but definitely western-looking. I am arriving in Thailand with my girlfriend, who has the same credentials, but is not western in appearance (Indian) ven though she is a native speaker.
I am having trouble deciding between Chaing Mai and somewhere in the south, such as Surat Thani. There are multiple factors that are influencing my decision:
Arrival Time vs Job Availability: We are planning to arrive sometime in October. The earliest we could arrive would be October 10, but a bit later would be better. However, I have heard that the good jobs (especially in Chaing Mai) get eaten up pretty quickly. If the new semester starts November 1, will this leave us enough time to secure a job or will we be picking through scraps? Will there we any difference in job availability vs. arrival time between Chaing Mai and Surat Thani?
Prejudice Issues: We are aware that my girlfriend may face some issues securing a job because of her non-western features. She is of South Indian decent, but is also strikingly attractive and good at making first impressions. My research so far has indicated that with perseveriance her looks and credentials will work in her favor. But in your opinion is there a difference between Thai/Indian prejudice in the north and the south? I understand that people are generally fairer in the north and darker in the south, but also that the immigration of South Indians into the southern provinces may make people in the south more prejudice. Basically I am asking if her appearance will be more of a handicap when looking for a job in Chaing Mai or in Surat Thani.
Cuisine: Lastly, and not as importantly, I was wondering about the availablity of vegetarian food in these two cities. I would assume that Chang Mai has more vegetarian options available because of all the backpackers/hippies that come through and that in Surat Thani it would be difficult to find anything without fish sauce in it. Any thoughts?
Thanks for your time. Any feedback on any of these questions would be incredibly helpful!
Your g/f has to remember 1 simple fact... She is AMERICAN and NOT an American "of South Indian decent".
Jobs will be easier to find 100km outside of Chang Mai (or any other tourist destination).
I know jobs will be easier to come by outside Chiang Mai, but the real issue is whether there is so much competition for jobs that we would not be able to find any full-time work arriving in mid october.
Prejudice issues: You GF appearance will be an issue to some but by no means an insurmountable one. Thai's don't like fat people but plenty wide ass westerners get hired. Her American upbringing and education are going to trump any prejudices for all but a very small percentage of school masters. There won't really be any difference North or South.
Food: Vegetarian food is fairly easy to find everywhere if you know where to look. The locals are into it too, in fact the hippes have nothing to do with the local vegetarian scene.
Papa was a rodeo - Mama was a rock'n'roll band
I could play guitar and rope a steer before I learned to stand
just ask for a meat meal without the meat!
Uuhhhh, no, you don't ask for meat meals without the meat. If you are in Chiang Mai there are plenty of vegetarian restaurants. Also in the grocery stores, look for foods that have a yellow label with red writing. They are in Thai and Thai brands, but they look 'Chinese-y'. Their veg soya sauce is wicked! Tops has a nice selection of veggie sausages, hot dog type sausages and some other good veggie products. Again, they have the yellow label with red writing.
If you want to be sure of vegetarian, or even vegan, you can ask for 'jae'. The Thai word for vegetarian is mangsariwat with a rolled R. You can also get a decent range of vegetarian in Chinese places. For home cooking, there's a really nice tofu that you can get in Thailand, which looks yellow on the outside. It's sort of cured, very firm and really flavourful.
You mentioned that you're arriving in October. Every year in late September or Early Ocrober, there is a Chinese vegetarian festival in Thailand. It started in Phuket, but it's celebrated all over Thailand. It lasts about 10 days. It's really worthwhile. Let me see if I can find a link for it.
Sorry about the crap typing, it's a pain on the iPad. I can't correct Ocrober, but I think you know I mean October.
Here's a good link
Thailand Vegetarian Festival
I personally know an Indian lady, married to an American, who found no difficulty here with prejudice or finding work.
I've never heard anyone complain about a lack of vegetarian food in Thailand and if you're into fruit, in every sense of the word, this is definitely the place to be.