Lost in Translation.

7 Apr

On Tuesday the 2nd of April – we received the great news… WE GOT A JOB! The waiting period was finally over, we could breathe a sigh of relief and unsubscribe to the numerous job notification emails which filled our inboxes daily.

Although we have officially been traveling since arriving in Thailand – we devoted a significant part of each day to researching, emailing and applying for various teaching positions. I know that it is said to be easy to find a TEFL post in Thailand, but experience proves such a notion misleading… Anyone who has left home to work in another country, without securing a position prior to departure, will understand the feelings of disappointment, frustration and utter enlightenment when things finally fall into place. Whilst standing in the BTS ticket line a few days before we got offered the jobs, I was in line behind a lady whose shoulder was splattered with bird poo. It just missed me but I do remember thinking – “dammit, couldn’t you have just landed on me! I need some luck!!”

Coming over to Thailand as a couple has had it’s benefits and drawbacks in terms of employment opportunities. Like any industry, there are benefits to employing a couple – committed to staying at one place, not losing staff because they are missing their other half, guaranteed support system etc etc etc. But then, there are the drawbacks – only one position available, looking for only female/male employees, one leaves; the other leaves etc etc etc. Breaking the stereo typical mould of what individuals and employees perceive couples to be like in the work place can be quite tricky – but from what we have learnt, there are enough people/schools/language centers in Thailand who are more than happy to employ couples, so don’t get despondent. Obviously, if you are working in a rural town – working at the same school is probable, but if you choose to work in a city like Bangkok, it is more than possible, and feasible, to work at different institutions and still live together.

We have moved into the most beautiful little apartment in the Saphan Khwai area – a 10 minute walk to the BTS Skytrain line. The area is predominantly Thai but we are a mere train/taxi drive away from popular tourist regions such as Sukhimvit and Khoa San Road. Our apartment is on the 26th floor and has the most incredible view of the city by night! Since we moved in, we have sat and stared out of our window every evening – adoring the view and trying to comprehend just how many millions of people are crammed into the area wherein our eyes can wonder.

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The language barrier in Thailand has been far more challenging than I originally expected it to be. There have been many instances when we have been speaking English to a local, who is only speaking Thai – lost in translation. We were rather amused when we told a local that we were from South Africa and he broke out into the Waka Waka World Cup song – reminding us of the immense power sport has at unifying the world. Do not expect taxi drivers to know the address of your destination… What we have found is that taxi drivers often have no clue where you are wanting to be and can drive you around for ages. Tuk tuk drivers or motorcycle taxis have a better idea, most of the time. Kyle asked if I think it is harder to move to a city like New York or London – which got me thinking. Having lived in Oxford for a year and spending quite a lot of time in London during that time, I don’t think so. Being able to communicate freely, knowing that the people around you understand what you are saying – is unbelievably comforting. Placing an order, asking for a wifi password or explaining that you do not want sugar in your coffee shake can take a considerable amount of time… Signing our lease agreement was also quite interesting. The sweet agent could barely string a sentence of English together, so I found myself jumping around the office, miming out the actions of what I was trying to say – with her sweetly nodding her head saying, yes, miss Kate! :)

One of the things I love about the area we are living in, is the coffee shop across the road. The owner has decorated the inside with a variety of vintage pieces. The outside garden area is just as beautiful. It is the kind of coffee shop which would be found back in Cape Town – so different to anything we have seen since being in Thailand and probably why we enjoy it so much – a taste of home.

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In hindsight, we should have probably arrived 2/3 weeks later in Thailand. We had expected to start working mid April and had set aside 2 weeks prior to such a date to look for an apartment etc, which gave us 6 weeks traveling time. We only start work at the end of April now – and moving around looking for a job, did become quite costly so we do not have enough money (after rent and the 14000 Baht visa run) to travel to Chang Mai for the Thai New Year (which is celebrated by the symbolic water festival – Songkran). But having said that, we wouldn’t have known until we got here and I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.

So how much is it costing to live in Bangkok? Now that we aren’t paying a daily accommodation fee, but still living on a tight budget, we have managed to live really cheaply. Street food costs maximum 40 Baht (R12) a meal in the street opposite us. Water, coffee shakes, fruit etc. are all so much cheaper in Bangkok compared to the islands – which makes a huge difference! So, we are living on a maximum off 250 Baht a day each. 7/11 remains our budget savior and having a Big C not too far from us has been great! We still haven’t bought linen or anything remotely luxurious for our apartment, but that will come with time. As my darling sister said, “just because you are poor, doesn’t mean you can’t make memories. Make poor memories!” :)

This evening we are off to Laos to complete our first visa run and attain a 60 day visa extension. I don’t understand this system – but then again, I don’t think the locals do either… One person tells us one thing, another tells us the opposite. So, we have opted to follow the advice of our future employee and pay a visa company to complete all of the necessary admin for us in advance. If you are wanting a straight and consistent answer as to how this system works, good luck and let me know when you get one, please… :)

We are starting to settle into Bangkok, becoming more and more comfortable with the city each day. Although we only have one English TV channel (I am now an expert on the Tokyo news) we are discovering more and more things to do – meeting people along the way. Let the adventure continue…. :)

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8 Responses to “Lost in Translation.”

  1. Sally April 11, 2013 at 2:36 am #

    You are a great writer Kate – and your travels sounds so real and exciting GOOD luck with the new job!! Sally x

    • katekingsley89 April 11, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

      Thank you Sally! I really appreciate you taking the time to read the little bits I have to say! :) Hope you are well x

  2. mushette April 11, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    Congratulations! It’s great to hear its working out. Thanks for sharing your success and also the challenges you’ve faced. Finding a job (as a couple) will be our first challenge next year so its been very helpful reading about your experience. Looking forward to hearing how you get on :-)

    • katekingsley89 April 11, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

      Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! :) It definitely is not easy every minute, but such an incredible learning experience! :)

  3. traveling crone April 22, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    Since I was just in Thailand (Chiang Mai & Koi Samui) your blog caught my eye. I am also intrigued by people’s story about living in such different cultures than their own so I will follow yours with interest. Good fortune with your job.

    • katekingsley89 April 23, 2013 at 10:07 am #

      Thank you so much! :) I appreciate your comment and interest in my blog!

  4. terrytrekker April 25, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    I love your adventurous spirit!

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