Once upon a time we were Ph.D. students in Liverpool. We worked for a while, Kate for the Highways Agency and Kris for Rentokil Pest Control. Surprising, or not, this wasn’t what we wanted to do with our lives, so we decided to make a change. We saved up some money, sold lots of our possessions, packed up and rented out our house and left the UK on a one-way flight to Thailand.
We spent the first few months travelling around Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia, where we spent bathed elephants in a river in Kanchanaburi, spent Christmas in Singapore, saw both wild and rescued orangutans, and gatecrashed our friends’ honeymoon in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
We slept in beach huts, one shared with a huge lizard next door to a nightclub where we got to sleep at about 4am and got woken up by a massive cockerel at dawn. We slept in a box without windows in Kuala Lumpur in two of the thinnest single beds ever created, listening to prostitutes coming and going all night. We slept in a brothel in Cambodia (which was surprisingly nice), and a room next to a building that was being knocked down as we slept.
After all that, we realised that we couldn’t go back to sleeping in a comfortable bed in a nice house in Leeds. We looked around to find a way we could stay away, and found a course to train us to be teachers of English as a Foreign Language.
A semester in a primary school on the edge of Bangkok followed. Then we headed back to Europe, and taught in Madrid, Spain for six months. We did a summer in Bournemouth at an adult summer school where we stayed in what seemed like the Big Brother House – without the cameras (we think). Hot footing it back to Asia, we got stuck in Bangkok for a spell when anti-government protesters closed the airport, which led to a job offer in Haiphong, Vietnam at Apollo English, a language school.
After a year in Haiphong, we moved to Ho Chi Minh City, initially for six months. We taught academic English at a language centre and a university and six months led to nearly four years, when we thought it was about time we moved on. We chose to take a job at a university in Shanghai, which was a bad decision. Although Shanghai was fun, the job was not for us, so we moved on after a semester.
Luckily, a language school in Odessa, Ukraine, needed two teachers almost as soon as we left Shanghai, so we went to experience life in the ex-Soviet Union. This was in February 2014. Yes, shortly before the revolution, the annexation of Crimea and the start of the war. An interesting time to live there.
Two years later, the pull of Asia was too strong. We got offered jobs back in Bangkok, back where it all began, nearly ten years ago.
But never ones to stay put, despite loving Bangkok, we decided to move on in July 2017. A job offer back in Ukraine brought us back, to Kyiv this time. Follow our explorations of both Kyiv and Ukraine, and all that is around. Of course, in February 2022 we had to leave Kyiv.
For nearly ten years, we blogged as Rat on the Road on Travelblog.org. The links on this page take you to the various stories we wrote there. After our decade anniversary, we decided to set up a separate blog. We want to give some more advice about teaching English and living abroad, while continuing to tell our stories of our travels and our life.
Hope it’s useful and fun.