Sam Phran – a small town in the Nakhorn Pathom province about an hour West of Bangkok. Here, you will experience the real Thailand. Real Thai culture, untouched by Western tourism. If you are ever out this way to see Nakhorn Pathom – famous for its amazing food and abnormally large temple in the centre of the city – be prepared for the stare. They don’t see many westerners around here, and it’s very rare that they would speak your language. It helps a lot to speak Thai here – unlike in the densely populated areas that see many tourists, they wont laugh in your face for trying to speak their language, they will greatly appreciate it.
Around here, everyone knows who you are. It’s a small town, and a ‘farang’ (‘foreigner’ in Thai) will not go unnoticed! Everyone knows you’re a teacher at Nakprasith, so foreigners in this area get a lot of respect, but you also have to constantly be aware to be conservative and respectful yourself. That doesn’t mean you can’t drink or smoke – it just means you must be on your game when in public.
Pros of being a teacher in a small town include:
– Everything is 40% cheaper – prices haven’t gone up because there are no tourists around here!
– Getting free food (not like we can’t afford it!) but Thais are so giving.
– Local restaurants remember exactly how you like your food.
– People ‘wai’ you – the famous ‘wai’ consists of bringing the hands in front of the chest and bowing the head – mostly Thais don’t wai foreigners, but teachers in Thailand are believed to be of higher status, and Thais show us a lot of respect.
– Deep cultural understanding and experience
– Working with Thais who can teach you about their lives and culture
– Everyone is extremely friendly and helpful, and will try to use what English they know with you to accommodate – especially the kids! They usually chase our bike screaming ‘Hello!’ as we get home.
Cons of being a teacher in a small town include:
– Everyone knows what you’re doing
– It’s very conservative
– Sometimes the language barrier gets frustrating
– There isn’t a lot to do on weekends
– When you need your Western food fix, you have to travel a bit
– If you go out after dark, there’s a high chance you’ll be chased by a pack of stray dogs – even if you’re on a motorcycle – you need to be prepared to kick. This also makes exercise difficult, as dogs still roam around during the day and can be just as dangerous.
Its different here, but it’s an amazing experience. I wouldn’t say staying here for a year was a good idea (only because I get bored very easily) – it would have been very difficult if we didn’t have many long weekends and 2 months of holidays, because of the limited things to do here, and how expensive it can be doing day trips or weekend trips on our wage, because we are also saving money for the rest of our adventures. Although this place isn’t ideal for me, the people have made it special for me. They’re so lovely and accommodating – even if they don’t speak English, they want to talk to you and help you out. My ideal expat city would probably be Rome. Rich food, culture and language!
Sam Phran has definitely made my cultural experience in Thailand rich and intensive, and I won’t forget the beautiful people here that have made me feel welcome and comfortable!
Above: Sam Phran sunset – this is our sunset spot. We drive maybe five minutes out of the centre of town, and find Sam Phran’s farming fields. Quiet and serene!
Below: This is our small but cozy house. At a mere 5000 baht ($150) per month, we are quite happy with it!