When I heard that my teach English in Thailand placement was going to be in Ranong, the tiniest and rainiest province in the country, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I love tiny towns, rain and being immersed in the chilled vibes of nature. But on the other hand, I’ve only lived in bustling cities with a lot happening around me all the time.
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Small, but with everything I needed
There was literally one Tesco, one Makro, a Big C, a couple markets and a few bars and coffee shops being the hip-and-happening spots in Ranong. But constantly being surrounded by gorgeous foresty views, finding hidden gems down small roads, and getting familiarized with the locals made Ranong a pretty incredible place to call “home”.
Talking about home, I lived in a small apartment basically on a riverbed. I had my own little kitchen area (but with no stove because you don’t really cook much and if you want to then you buy an affordable electric cooker), bathroom, bedroom, lounge area and a balcony with a view of the river and the tiny forest surrounding it.
There was wifi, a tiny gym, and a swimming pool. I basically had breath-taking nature views and (semi-stable) wifi… I was winning in life!
It’s your Kru that makes the experience amazing
What’s awesome about a tiny town, is that basically everyone knows each other or eventually meets each other because you all either live in the same place, eat and hang out in the same place or work at the same place.
Luckily for me, many other teachers and other local people lived at the apartment property I lived at (because there just aren’t many other places around), so I had direct access to people I could make friends with.
These people became people I could: explore with, eat with (like eat a lot), just have a beer with, search for actual waterproof rain ponchos with (the rain in Ranong is REAL but the ‘waterproof’ material promises aren’t always real), cry with, laugh with, make worksheets with and just vent about all the fantastic, sometimes frustrating, new, strange, magical experiences we were all having.
We were a little Kru (get it? “Kru” means teacher in Thai. So we were teachers but also a tiny crew #IPromiseImFunnierInPerson)!
Mastering the moped
To get around town, some people used cars, some songthaews (a public taxi) but most-like me rode motorbikes/scooters. The roads were pretty small and not incredibly dangerous so for even a person who had never dreamed of driving a scooter (me), it was pretty painless to learn.
Don’t get me wrong, there was obviously a bit of panic and a lot of sweating during the learning process (and one time I made a man spill his fresh soup in fear of me crashing into him because I couldn’t handle having two people on the road at once instead of just me).
But within a weekend I had learned and was ready to get onto the main road to drive to school on the Monday. Some of my friends literally learned in an hour and half and like pros they were off doing infinity signs and nascar racing on the road (jokes- they were driving and not hitting any stationary or moving objects so in my eyes they were basically in the Formula 1).
Teaching & traveling – Thailand and its incredible work-life balance
When I wasn’t obviously drag-racing on my bike, I taught at a small primary school in the centre of the town. The kids were warm, respectful, intelligent and incredibly endearing. I specifically taught little 5 year old kindergarteners so I spent most of my days singing, watching boogers being eaten, dancing and listening to the weird and amazing stories their imaginative minds were creating.
The staff was friendly, although sometimes shied away from the English teachers for whatever reason(s). But when we did interact it was usually full of giggles and exchanges of bright, welcoming smiles.
When I wasn’t reprimanding 5 year olds for making fart noises during nap time, I was enjoying my leisure time in many beautiful places in Thailand. If you don’t know this yet, then let this be a PSA: Thailand is so easy and affordable to travel in – so go everyfreakingwhere you can, as many times as you can, while you can! Modes of transport are so accessible for short or long distances and accommodation is quite easy to find.
My friends and I usually stayed in hostels because it was the cheaper option (of already relatively affordable options in general) and we got to meet weird and wonderful people on our trips. We went to the big cities in the centre, national parks and islands in the south, and chilled-artsy areas in the north.
In Ranong, there was a bus station with buses that take you basically wherever you want to go in Thailand; a ferry if you wanted to go the nearby island and a tiny airport with one airline that went to Bangkok if you want to travel from there. Not too shabby hey?
Long story short, the tiniest and rainiest province in Thailand is a pretty magical place to live!