Common Jobs for foreigners- South East Asia

To begin with, it is totally possible to move to another country and start a new life for yourself including finding a job that you could potentially love. This is possible, but it is not without it’s challenges. You’ve got to stay focused and be determined in order to find a job abroad!

I’ve put together a list of what i’ve seen to be the most common jobs for foreigners in Thailand and a few other areas that i’ve been in South East Asia.

Teaching- The easiest way for native English speakers to move to a new country in Asia and find a job is to become an English teacher. Surprisingly, this job does not require a teaching degree but having one would help and would also raise your salary. A lot of schools will require you to have at least a bachelor’s degree but it does not necessarily need to be for teaching. A TESOL or TEFL certification is also very helpful when trying to get a job as an English teacher. I’ll go into a bit more detail about these certifications in another post.

One thing to remember though if you’re looking for a job as a teacher is that you should only take this job if you plan to actually care about what you are doing. Chances are you’re going to be working with children and it’s really important that you try hard to help them to learn and actually care about what you say to them. Please keep that in mind!

Tour guide- You can get a tour guide job usually if you have a native language other than English and if you also speak English or Thai. I personally know a few people who are tour guides in Russian and Korean. Chinese, French, Arabic, and Hebrew might be other popular languages for potential tour guides to know. I often see job postings asking for Chinese speakers here in Koh Samui.

Dive Instructor/Working at a Dive Shop- These jobs are infamous for not coming with work permits. It may be relatively easy to land one of these jobs, but actually getting the dive shop to provide you with the legal paperwork you need to stay here in probably not going to happen. If you do go for a job like this, prepare to have to do frequent border runs. Simply working in a dive shop as someone that books trips etc is a common job but you can also work as a dive instructor. Working as a dive instructor obviously is going to require a lot more work and commitment as you’ll need to get lots of experience and of course you’ll need to get the certification if you don’t have it already.

Hotel Work- In popular tourism areas you will often find that hotels hire foreigners for various positions. Most of the positions are upper level management positions rather than something like a front desk clerk etc. These jobs are no joke though and not the kind that you should take unless you are really committed to them. Landing one of these jobs is also not going to come that as easy as you will likely need to have years of professional experience and typically they look for people with the experience in the hospitality industry. If you are lucky enough though to get a job like this you will enjoy the awesome benefits which most of the time include things like free housing, very high salaries (for south east asia), free food, and occasionally for those special ones even a car.

Business Owner – In Thailand it is common to find foreign owed businesses typically they will be restaurants or bars. It is most common to find this in high tourism areas. The thing to keep in mind though if you are interested in starting a business in Thailand is that as a foreigner you will never truly own your business. What I mean by this is that in order to own a business or land etc in Thailand it must be with a Thai partner. This does not have to be someone you are married too or in a relationship with but it must be a business partner. The Thai partner will have to own at least 51% of the business and you can own 49%. In my eyes this is a great law to have in place because if it weren’t I’m guessing Thailand would have been bought up by now with all of the ex pats currently living in this country and countless others wanting to live here.

Bar and restaurant work – Again, in major tourism areas it will probably be easy to get a job working a bar or a restaurant however these jobs most of the time do not come with a work permit. The pay is also not that great but the job will likely be tons of fun. You’ll meet so many new people and have a fun lifestyle. This is not always a stable job to get though as you run the risk of getting caught working with a work permit and also bars and restaurants open and close here constantly. This is not a bad thing to try out though while you just hoping to make some quick cash.

Most of the jobs that you will find in Thailand for foreigners are going to be teaching jobs especially if you’re not in a high tourism area. If you are interested in the other jobs that do not involve teaching then I would recommend looking in places that are well known for tourism and that have a lot of businesses.

I am interested in hearing if anyone else has anything to add to this list or any other input about working as a foreigner.

 

Thank you for reading!

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My first experience with the sex industry

If you know anything about SE Asia, you know that sex industry is big here. So surprisingly it did not take me long to have my first encounter with this industry which taught me some valuable life lessons.

In Phnom Penh Cambodia there is a street called street 51 which is a place where a lot of tourists hang out. It is full of bars and restaurants, and a lot of western faces. One night my friend and I decided that we wanted to head out to take advantage of some happy hour specials after school and not knowing much about the city we decided that street 51 should be the place to do that. We sat down in this open air mall sort of area with lots of different bars. As we sat there and had a few drinks and some food we noticed that this particular area was full of prostitutes and old western men. Seeing this was not all that surprising however we did not realize that the place we were in was known for that sort commerce; we were pretty much in the center of the main area for this business. Seeing these interactions between these very young women and quite old men was just not something that we were used to seeing every day.

As we sat there we noticed a couple across from us which was made up of an older British man and a younger Korean woman. They were looking at us with very strange expressions on their faces and we’d noticed it a few times but did not think much of it. A little bit later the man walked up to us with his wife and asked if she could sit with us and talk. He said “this is my wife Jay, is it alright if she sits and talks with you for a little bit, she doesn’t have any friends. She was sitting with a group of girls over there before but maybe she can sit with you girls now.” I knew that something was off about this situation but at first I did not know what exactly. Not wanting to be rude, we let Jay sit with us and we spoke to her for about 5 minutes. She looked very scared and nervous and kept saying how stressed she was about her new job. We were so confused but after a few minutes we kind of concluded that she was working as a prostitute. Her husband was clearly facilitating this and he thought that we might show her the “business.”

As one can probably imagine, I was not happy about many parts of this situation. I decided to ask her husband exactly what was going on. He said to me “Well this is my wife’s first night on her new job and she just needs some help. We are looking for safe places to go.” I asked him what business exactly he thought we could help her with and he looked at me and said “she is in the ‘hospitality’ business,” and then winked. We made it clear that he had made a huge mistake thinking that we knew anything about this and politely made our exit.
I walked away just feeling scared and horrible. I felt awful for Jay knowing that her husband was doing that to her, and I just couldn’t shake the feeling of disgust. The whole next day I couldn’t get the situation, or Jay off my mind and it really upset me. I actually took some time to sit and reflect upon the whole thing that happened and was able to kind of come to terms with it. I realize that people around the world live different lifestyles and I cannot be the person to judge someone for doing things that I would not. I felt bad for Jay and at the time I felt hatred towards her husband but I realize now that it is the way of the world. All I can do is hope for the best for people.

Since this encounter during my first week in SE Asia I’ve seen countless other incidents involving the sex industry and I am completely desensitized to it now. In some places in Thailand it is practically thrown in your face and it just becomes a normal part of life. I’ve befriended people working in this industry and doing so has helped me to become a lot less judgmental and suspicious of other people. In America it seems like we are meant to think people who are involved in this industry are bad in some way but I know now that they’re not. People are people are people are people and we are all the same in a sense no matter what sort of line of work we decide to go into.

Dating in Thailand as a foreigner

This is a topic i’m sure you could find lots and lots of different opinions on and could be talked about for endless amounts of time. However, I’m bringing a point of view that’s not often blogged about regarding this subject: A foreign woman dating Thai men. I should probably clarify that and say I am currently in a relationship with a Thai man (singular) but prior to this I did experience dating a few different people. **Warning** I have written about most of the things in this post just because of personal experience but I am obviously aware that these things do not apply to all Thai people or all Thai men.

Whether you’re on holiday in Thailand, living here permanently, or coming here just to look for “love,” I’ve put together a few tips that may help foreign ladies that are interested in dating Thai men.

Tips

  • Thai people often marry quite young so it’s not unusual to meet guys that you might be interested in who already have a wife at a relatively young age. It seems to be a lot more common to marry young here than in America. I’m not quite sure why, i’d appreciate any feedback about that.
  • If you don’t like being cheated on DON’T date bar workers or “beach boys” as I like to call them – this means guys that work in popular bars or work on the beach (jet ski rental, fire dancers, bar tenders, beach bar owners etc). I’m not saying this because I want to be judgemental towards these people, I am saying this because I’ve been there done that and know lots and lots of other girls that have as well. The nature of the work that these guys do is all about meeting new people, charming the people they meet, and having a lot of fun. They are often the guys that speak the best English and have the best tans so you’re probably going to love them but it is best to keep them as just friends. They are probably great people to know because they’ll give you free drinks and invite you to fun parties but just knowing them is enough.
  • In general, be aware that monogamy is not as important here as it may be where you are from. It is not common for Thai men to have what they call “gigs” which are girls that they umm….associate with I guess is the nicest way to put it. These are girls that are not their real girlfriends, these are girls they see while their girlfriend is not around. I work with a lot of married Thai men, and some of them openly talk to me about these girls that they see or used to see while being married. I’ve found this not only with the guys I work with, but with many of my guy friends as well. Talk to most Thai women about the Thai men and they will say the same thing. This is just something again that is part of the culture here and something that you have to be prepared for. Not all guys are like this of course, but it is not uncommon.
  • Don’t feel like your boyfriend/new fling doesn’t like you if he’s not into pda- that’s just the way it is in Thailand. Pda seems to be super embarassing for Thai people and is not a common practice. You’ll see the ocassional hand holding and couples with their arms around each other but fondling and kissing just aren’t done in public. It’s a cultural norm and if you want to be polite you should follow it.
  • “Cheek sniffing” will happen to you. It’s a more reserved way of essentially kissing someone. Your boyfriend/love interest will probably at some point press his nose against your cheek and seemingly sniff it. Just take it a compliment. It’s super cute and enjoyable once you get over the intial weirdness of it.
  • Remember that you are from different countries, you grew up differently, you view the world differently, you value different things, you take offense to different things, and you just are different in general. Cherish this! Getting to know someone who is different than you is one of the best parts of life. Keep this in mind though when you think the person you’re dating is crazy or unreasonable or even rude.

For example: my boyfriend decided to tell me that my face looked fat one day and this did not go over well with me. You will find that in Thailand calling someone fat is not considered rude but to an American woman it’s not the nicest thing to say. I explained to him that this hurt my feelings and I didn’t like it etc etc but that was hard for him to understand. He felt that he was doing me a favor by telling me I looked fat because he wants me to be healthy and wants the best for me. This sort of communication mishap will happen a lot! Just keep in mind that something your Thai partner considers nice may offend you but it is most likely not meant to! Vice versa you will probably do something offensive to him (pointing at things with your feet) and you won’t mean any harm by it but he may think it’s extremly rude.

  • Be aware that Thai men touch each other a lot more than men in the western world (especially the USA) do. They massage each other, hug, and even pat each other on the butt way more than you would probably see in your home country. This could potentially mean they are interested in each other but most of the time it doesn’t, it is just the way that it is here.
  • Most Thai people, including the men, do not like confrontation and avoid it all costs. Avoiding confrontation means that feelings will be kept secret sometimes, and saying no to things happens a lot less often than normal. Because they don’t want to “lose face” they won’t always approach you about something they want changed in the relationship, call you out for being offensive, or say no to you when request something ridiculous. You will ALWAYS get the last bite of food if you want it even if they are near starving. This is no way means that you should take advantage of them, it means that you need to be extra aware of what you are doing, and how potentially you could be trampling on someone. If you’re a nice enough person i’m sure things will be fine, but it’s always good to keep in mind this part of the culture.
  • Don’t let a language barrier stop you from pursuing something with someone that you have a connection with. It might be hard at first to communicate with your boyfriend if he is not fluent in the language you speak and you’re not fluent in Thai but you should not let that stop you from trying to make things work. It can be extremely fun, challenging, and rewarding, to develop your own style of communication with someone and at the same time to learn to speak and understand a new language. Google translate may be your new best friend when it comes to those tough words that you can’t get across but there is nothing wrong with that!
  • Speaking of translating services, once you’ve become friends with your new Thai crush on Facebook you’ll probably start to see what he’s writing on his profile and you’ll probably wish you could read it (if it’s not in English). Once you press that handy dandy little translation button on facebook you’re in for a whole lot of nonsense. Be prepared to be out of the loop with social networking stuff that your boyfriend posts. The translation app on there just never translates things as they’re supposed to be. So when you think your crush is talking about going to a concert with a pack of monkeys on the moon, he’s probably not, but your translate app will tell you he is.
  • Another thing to keep in mind about facebook is that in Thailand people seem to be quite “like” crazy more so than in America, not sure why. I am trying to say that the “like” button on facebook gets a lot of use. If you’ve got a few guys that are liking all of your photos, don’t take the wrong way, they are probably NOT trying to send some secret message that they want you, they probably just love that “like” button. I’ve made the mistake of thinking I had an admirer based on the fact that he liked pretty much every photo i’d ever post on facebook but sadly I was mistaken. I’ve also heard many girls that take these sorts of things on social networking the wrong way so it’s always good to keep this in mind!

In most ways, dating in Thailand is similar to dating in most countries, there are just some cultural differences that are good to keep in mind. It can be a lot of fun if you find the right person and if even if you don’t find the right person it can be a good experience! I’d love to hear anyone else’s experiences with dating in Thailand if anyone is interested in sharing. Coming soon I may do a post about foreign men dating Thai women. That should be quite interesting.   Thanks for reading!

Street Dogs of Thailand

Thailand is full of street dogs! The dogs are everywhere you can imagine, inside 7-11, in the middle of the road while you’re driving, napping in front of your house, sitting in the same restaurant as you, at the beach getting a tan etc etc. For the most part these dogs mean no one any harm, they’re just living their lives. I’ve never had any problems with the street dogs and it’s been rare that I have heard of other people having problems with them either. Although prepare to be barked at sometimes.

When I first came to South East Asia I was speaking to another American girl who went on a rant about how stupid I was for not getting rabies vaccine before coming to Asia because of all of the street dogs. On one hand I could see her point; it is much more expensive to get the vaccine after you’ve been bit than it is to get it before as a preventative measure but on the other hand, the chances of getting randomly bit by a rabid dog seem to be quite low even with all the dogs running around. Getting the vaccine before hand may be a good option for some people but in general I do not think it is a necessity before traveling. My best advice is if you see a dog that looks menacing or that is growling at you or looking aggressive in some way, just stay away from it. Most of the dogs you come across are going to be super friendly and probably just want someone to give them some attention (and food).

I also recommend to be very cautious when driving at night because they tend to wander into the road and if you hit one of them while driving a motorbike it can cause a major problem not only for them but also for yourself.  You should also make sure that you have travel insurance anytime you are traveling out of the country because you never know what can happen and it’s great to have that backup in case something goes wrong. If you’re coming to Thailand from a western country seeing all these dogs running around is going to be shocking at first, but it is the norm here and you should treat the dogs well!

Another thing to keep in mind when interacting with dogs in Thailand is that you may see a dog that you think lives on the street but there is probably a good chance that it has a home. In Thailand people typically do not put their dogs on leads and they let them roam quite a bit more than we do in the western world. Dogs are given a lot more “free will” here and that works out fine for most people. This is something that you’ll have to get used to pretty quickly being here.

If you’ve got the room in your heart and your home and you’re permanently staying in Asia I would even recommend adopting one of the street cuties. Remember though, if you plan to move back to your home country you have to take your pet with you, it’s the right thing to do! If you do plan to adopt and think you could move home in future, you should look into what the process for taking your dog home would be (it’s expensive and complicated).

Thanks for reading!