What do you do on an average evening and over the weekend?
An evening or weekend depends a lot on the content of my week – sometimes I pack them full of activities, and sometimes I feel like staying in.
My evenings normally consist of either getting food from the market or a restaurant or ordering food panda. I have 4 other foreign teachers in my apartment building (2 of which are friends from home). So more often than not we eat together which is lovely.
There are about 8 – 10 foreign teachers in Lampang, so many evenings we will go for dinner together. We have a weekly games night and have recently started doing a writing night which is a fun thing to do to get to know new people.
Friday nights and weekends mean we can stay out later and grab a few drinks. There are many bars and restaurants in Lampang, there is plenty to keep entertained.
What is there to do in your city?
Lampang is a small city, but it is still a city. So it has all the things you might expect. Temples, markets, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, a shopping mall, cinema, event venues, parks and sports grounds.
Lampang is a great balance – small enough that it feels manageable and like you know your way around, but large enough that there’s plenty to do. We are also lucky to be only an hour and a half from Chiang Mai, so we often spend long weekends there getting our fill of the city life.
How do you travel around your city?
Lampang doesn’t have much by way of public transport around the city itself but it is very walkable.
I often get Grab bikes where the walk is too long, and have just started renting my own bike to learn to drive. Getting a motorbike definitely gives you more freedom to explore the wider area (and it’s also fun), but it’s by no means essential to get around Lampang.
If you can find one, there are Songtaews that will drive you anywhere in the city for 20 baht per person.
To get further afield, Lampang has a bus station, train station and an airport so is well connected. Flying from Lampang is likely quite expensive so we’ve never done it, but the bus station has proved useful for trips to Chiang Mai.
Is it easy or difficult to make friends with Thai people?
This is a tricky one to tackle, the honest answer is both. Thai people are incredibly friendly, warm and hospitable. Despite the language barrier,it is very easy to get involved with your Thai colleagues. I have been for drinks, food and to markets with my co-teachers (and co-teachers of my friends in other schools). Everyone in my office is friendly and helpful. One of my co-teachers helped us arrange a Songtaew to take us to a nearby national park, which was very kind of her. Thai people will often go out of their way to help you and be friendly.
The challenge comes in taking these relationships beyond casual friendship and into more depth. Here the cultural gap between your experiences of life and the language gap of how you interact are a bit trickier to surmount. However, it may be that this is just a long-term game. I’ve only been in Thailand for 2 months and I’ve made some fantastic friendships. I’m excited to see where my friendships with my Thai co-teachers go.
Are there teachers from school that you see outside work?
Yes! In my school, we have 4 foreign teachers and we regularly meet outside of school for food and activities, often as part of a larger group of foreign teachers. It’s been really great getting to know the teachers in my school and being able to turn to them for advice as they had been here 6 months before I got here. All the foreign teachers I have met in Lampang have been great people.
Are there many opportunities to get involved in clubs or activities?
I’m still figuring out this part of socialising in Thailand. We’ve plans to attend a dance class and maybe some Thai lessons but for the first few months we have been focused on finding our feet. Often knowing what clubs and activities are available depends on you knowing your Thai co-teachers well to get this inside knowledge.
So far, most weekends we go for breakfast at a local cafe. This is a spot for expats, and every week we play cornball (an American game) with the older expats. This is a nice way to get a sense of community beyond just people your own age.
What do you miss doing at home that you can’t do in Thailand?
Aside from the obvious seeing my family and friends, I miss cooking. In Thailand, it is so much cheaper to eat out (which is awesome as I could never do that at home). However, I am missing cooking as I’ve always loved it and it is convenient. Other teachers I know do a fair bit of cooking, so it’s definitely an option but it is more expensive and often apartments don’t come with kitchens as standard. Of course, I miss the western food I am used to occasionally but luckily Thai food is delicious.
What do you enjoy doing in Thailand that you couldn’t do at home?
There are lots of great things about Thailand; the work-life balance is fantastic, the weather is hot and sunny (we are in the cool season at the moment), the scenery is stunning and the people are charming. It’s difficult to point to one thing because all of what I’ve spoken about so far contribute to the lifestyle that I enjoy about Thailand.
If I had to pick one, I’d place natural beauty near the top of that list. Thailand is so different from the UK in this regard which is something I will miss. The forests, mountains and rivers are really something to behold, and the pictures never seem to do it justice. Also, Thailand has the best sunsets of anywhere I’ve been.