Seven things ESL and TEFL teachers have to pay for

Teaching in Thailand? Don't expect to be showered with resources.

Unless you're lucky, you won't be given anything much once you arrive at your new school. You will have to dish out some dollar to buy stuff to teach with, or make do without.

Injured Piggy Bank WIth Crutches
Photo from Ken Teegardin of

A computer

I would argue that every English teacher needs access to a computer to find invaluable teaching ideas and resources online, keep up with education research, plan lessons, create resources and project lessons from (and look at funny cat pictures between classes, of course).

If you're lucky, your school will have projectors in all of the classrooms that you use. PowerPoint presentations (the interesting, visually stimulating kind) can make teaching a whole lot more efficient and can be used again and again. If you don't know how to make fantastic PowerPoint presentations; why not see what you can do by learning how, or download and edit existing presentations.

You'll probably have to buy a bunch of cables and cable-end-converters to hook up your computer to the audio and projection equipment, though!

Printing and photocopying

Some schools pay for this, and some don't. If your school printer spits out your carefully crafted worksheet like it's poison, guess who has to dash to the print shop and pay out of their own pocket. That's right; you, the farang teacher rolling around in banknotes.

I'm certainly guilty of over-printing sometimes, but I actually believe it's best to print as little as possible anyway, even if you're not the one paying for it. Your students (hopefully) have notebooks; have them write in there and project the work in front of them. I've been working at converting my worksheets into on-screen versions, which has been going down really well with my students.

If you must print, use both sides ;)

Markers, pens, pencils, paper, staples, stamps, bluetack, folders and sticky notes

All that marking requires a steady stream of red ink and possibly 'awesome work!' stamps. Those games where they run up and write stuff on the board? REGULARLY RUINED MARKERS BABY. Even if you use PowerPoint for almost everything, you'll be writing on the board pretty often. Want to give your students something that's more than two sides of a page? Better buy a stapler and some staplers. You'll be needing sticky notes and folders too if you plan to keep track of all those assignments, projects, notebooks and paperwork. Naturally, you'll be wanting a big sturdy pencil case to keep everything in.

My cost-cutting advice is again, to use your computer and projector if you can. Whiteboard markers last about five minutes and re-fill ink is expensive and messy. You don't really need a stamp; draw a smiley face instead.

A microphone

Not everyone wants to use a microphone, but sometimes teachers with huge class sizes need one. Even with the best voice projection it can be hard for the kids at the back to hear. Guess who buys it ;)


Laminated resources are durable - the kids can't easily rip them, or disintegrate them with their slobber, and you can keep them for years if there's enough room under your desk. Lamination is almost essential for many ESL games that involve the students handling flashcards. It isn't cheap, though. My advice is to (you guessed it) use the projector to show them stuff.

Safe scissors

If you teach kindergarten and don't want them using normal scissors, you'll probably have to buy some for them to use. Try not to cry when you don't get all of them back at the end of the class.


Last but not least; you'll have to spend some money on your ESL Teacher Wardrobe. Shirts, trousers, skirts, dresses and shoes that fit well, are cool enough for the heat and modest enough for the Thai classroom. Ladies, remember to cover those sexy shoulders of yours!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014
Posted by Amy Burbridge

Cinemas in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Want to see a movie in Chiang Mai?

I go to the cinema more than anyone else I know in Chiang Mai. I love watching films, and happily Chiang Mai has plenty of great cinemas to choose from. I just saw Guardians of the Galaxy on Saturday... it was (surprisingly) amazing!

Cinemas in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bautista as Drax was excellent, and hilarious.

The only cinema I wouldn't go to in Chiang Mai is the one at Kad Suan Kaew shopping mall. Now that the Maya shopping mall has been built, go to the cinema there instead - it's much better, and cleaner, and not far from Kad Suan Kaew at all.

Your choice is out of SF Cinemas and Major Cineplex. They're both pretty much the same, but the popcorn is better at Major Cineplex ;)

Here is a map of cinemas in Chiang Mai.

Cinemas in Chiang Mai, Thailand
SFX Cinema at Maya is the easiest to get to from the Old City and Nimmanhemin

SF Cinema City Promenda, Chiang Mai

New and shiny, never crowded, and I met Kickass there once (no, really). There are often promotions; right now there is a cheap price for any early or late movie showing, any day of the week. Has an i-max screen.

Normal internet ticket price for a standard seat at a 2D movie is 120 baht. Reserve or buy tickets here.

To get there, tell your driver: Bai Promenada, khaa / khrab.

Cinemas in Chiang Mai, Thailand
photo from Promenada's Facebook page

Major Cineplex Central Festival, Chiang Mai

Also new and shiny. Has an i-max, Ultra Screens and 4D Screens.

Normal internet ticket price for a standard seat at a 2D movie is 130 baht. Reserve or buy tickets here.

Standard i-max tickets are 250 baht. Reserve or buy i-max tickets here.

To get there, tell your driver: Bai Centran Festival, khaa / khrab.

Cinemas in Chiang Mai, Thailand
photo from Central Festival's Facebook page

Major Cineplex Central Airport Plaza, Chiang Mai

Not so new, or so shiny, but still all good. Shows 2D and 3D movies only. Can get busy.

Normal internet ticket price for a standard seat at a 2D movie is 130 baht. Reserve or buy tickets here.

To get there, tell your driver: Bai Lobinsons, khaa / khrab.

Cinemas in Chiang Mai, Thailand
photo from Wikipedia

SFX Cinema Maya, Chiang Mai

Brand new and close to Nimmanhemin; a great location for those staying in the Old City and Nimman area.

Normal internet ticket price for a standard seat at a 2D movie is 120 baht. Reserve or buy tickets here.

To get there, tell your driver: Bai Mayaa, khaa / khrab.

Cinemas in Chiang Mai, Thailand
photo from Maya's Facebook page
Monday, 4 August 2014
Posted by Amy Burbridge

ESL Games in the Classroom: Hot Potato

Do your students need to review stuff you've taught them?

Play 'Review Hot Potato' - my favourite (and students favourite) in-class game.

I'm hesitant to share this game with the world, because it's that good. My students ask for it pretty much every day. I don't play it every day (makes it even more desirable, you see!), but I do use it often.

But, being a good teacher is all about sharing what works right? Maybe you can share your best ever game with me in the comments section ;)

Hot Potato is great for getting individual students to ask and answer questions, and it's a good way for them to practice being quiet when you countdown: 3, 2, 1, shwoop! *silence*. I also find that it's a useful way to encourage students to give creative answers and have fun with the English language.

You'll need a small ball, music and questions. It helps if they like the music that you play. Simply ask them what they like, but usually anything in the charts is a good choice (sadly). They do seem to love some Greenday, No Doubt and Horrorpops songs though! Choose happy, faster, upbeat ones for a nice atmosphere.

I usually have something on PowerPoint slides to prompt them, e.g....

"What is Mr Fluffy doing?"
"He's ruminating about the decline and fall of the Roman Empire."

... or you can ask them questions on the fly as a very handy filler.

Have your students sit in a big circle on their chairs. On the floor works too, but on chairs keeps them from going crazy. Hold up a ball and ask them to suggest what it is.

"A ball?" - "Nope."
"A yellow ball?" - "No."

Tell them that this is actually a potato. It's a very hot potato. It's so hot, that you can't hold on to it for very long at all. Ouch! Ouch!

Explain that when the music stops, the potato is magically cold. The person holding the cold potato must stand up. Everyone else must be silent. If they speak, they too will stand. Be very firm about this. There is one other, very important, rule, which you must say in a very serious voice:

"Do not throw the potato. If I see you throw the potato, I will throw you... out of the window!"

Give the potato to a student. Play the music. Students pass the potato in one direction. If they start changing directions, stop them straight away, even if it's funny at first, because it can get out of hand and quickly becomes extremely not funny. 

Stop the music at random (or at least pretend that it's random!). The person holding the ball stands up. If it's between two students, quickly have them do rock-paper-scissors to decide who stands. Don't let them take forever, because some students will really milk it.

If you need more than one person standing (maybe one to ask, and one to answer), have the stood up student remain standing and play the music again to find the next victim player. You can have as many students standing as you want - but I'd recommend having more sitting than standing for chaos-avoidance-reasons.

Once you have the students standing, countdown: three, two, one, shwoop! Any students that are still talking stand up too.

Teacher: *points at the talking student* "Talking! Up!*

Have one standing student ask, and one standing student answer:

Teacher: *points at picture* "Ploy, please ask the question; present continuous. Gun, please answer."
Ploy: *looks at picture* "What is Mr Fluffy doing?"
Gun: *looks at picture* "He's sitting in a boat."
Teacher: "Excellent! Everyone?"
Class: "He's sitting in a boat."

If you have extra students standing up because they were talking, get them to give a different answer:

Teacher: *points at picture* "Beam, a different answer please."
Beam: *looks at picture* "He's rowing to Brazil."
Teacher: "Lovely! Everyone!"
Class: "He's rowing to Brazil."

Students love love love this game. Only a few don't like it, but if you find out why you can usually get them involved. Perhaps the bored boy in the corner is obsessed with Minecraft? Put a few Minecraft-themed questions in there to keep his interest!

"What did Mr Fluffy do last night?"
"He cried and wondered why he was stuck at home playing Minecraft while all his pug-"friends" were partying at the club."

Teacher: *points at picture* "Baitong, please ask the question, past simple."
Baitong: *looks at picture* "What did Mr Fluffy do last night?"
Khota: *looks at picture* "He played Minecraft."
Teacher: "Perfect! Everyone?"
Class: "He played Minecraft."

Let me know how it goes!
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Posted by Amy Burbridge

Kayaking in Chiang Mai, Thailand

I recently started doing something I've loved doing for ages, but hardly ever actually did: kayaking. It turns out that Northern Thailand is a pretty sweet place for kayaking of all kinds. There's slow and easy, swift and wide, and rapid and bamboo-death-trappy.

Kayaking in Mae Tang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Easy kayaking on the river in Mae Tang

Last weekend, I went on the river in Mae Tang. I hadn't been kayaking for ages, and it seemed like a good place to start up again. Paddling began at about 10am, and about twenty eight lazy kilometres later, it was over. Kayaking seems to come easily to me; I love the easy motion of cutting through the water, gliding past life on the river banks in silence, zero pollution. It was a relaxing, lovely day. But I wanted more. I wanted challenge! I got it last Saturday.

Aidan, the owner of the kayaking company I went with, recommended that I try to conquer the Mae Ping River, starting in Chiang Dao. The river runs all the way to Chiang Mai. He painted a romantic picture of adventure; a fast-flowing jungle river, where you'd have to quickly duck under bamboo and pick a way through hanging vines without hesitation. We'd fly past temple ruins and remote monasteries in the Chiang Dao mountains. Exciting!

I met Daphne and Iris from The Netherlands in Chiang Mai at the kayaking centre. After a quick how-to-kayak lesson, our Thai guide Baigun drove us two hours north to Chiang Dao, with a brief stop to buy fresh rambutans from the side of the road. Have you ever tried this red and green spikey fruit? It’s kind of like a lychee. Particularly big and juicy rambutans are a real treat in Thailand.

Rainy season has recently descended upon Thailand, and the river was brown and swollen. We looked at it from the bank, a little nervous, trying to remember how to eddy out and where to lean and what to avoid. I tied my Converse tightly; there was a very definite chance of losing your shoes in this river. Daphne and Iris were wearing flip flops... oops. They tied them to their kayaks.

Kayaking in Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai, Thailand
It's all smiles before the bamboo spider death...

Straight away, I realised that this river was going to test me a lot more than the Mae Tang one. It wasn't easy, and it didn't feel like it came so naturally this time! After I'd pushed out into the river, I was supposed to paddle upstream to wait for the others to get in. I just wasn't strong enough, and was feeling a bit nervous! So I eddied out – went to the edge of the river where there’s no current. That’s when I first saw the spiders. If a spider is near me, that’s OK, though not desirable. But if one plops on my arm or head? I hate it.

River spiders are big, fast and scuttle-y. One was dangling off a twig over my kayak. I tried to brush it away with the oar, but these spiders are sticky. It ran up my oar, and I frantically splashed it away into the water. But a crazy thing I never knew about spiders? They can walk on water. It ran across the river, back onto its twig. Errgh. It was the first of many.

Kayaking in Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai, Thailand
kayak crash
When everyone was in, we turned to face downstream and began tackling the river. It was hard going. The water was fast and it was difficult to avoid the bamboo hanging down over the water. I crashed into it nearly every time. I realised why a helmet was so important. The bamboo scratched my arms and tried to pull my oar from me. Spiders apparently like to chill out on bamboo, and as I scraped through it loads fell into my boat. I didn't love it. Daphne got caught in some bamboo, and leaned the wrong way. Her kayak filled with water and she went over! She was fine, and laughing, but lost a flip flop.

I didn't take any photos for this part of the river - I was far too busy trying (and failing) to steer around bamboo. I think I glimpsed an impressive monastery during a quiet part.

It was certainly adventurous.

We stopped for lunch: fried rice, spicy pad kapow and a lot of water. Kayaking in this river was hard work! At lunch a super-fluffy black and white caterpillar joined us. It looked cute, but was dangerous, so I didn't stroke it. Baigun said that there was hardly any bamboo in the second half of our trip. Thai guides are notorious teasers, though, so I wasn't sure if he was telling porkies or not. I was pleased to find that it was the truth!

Kayaking in Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai, Thailand
view from the calmer river section

After lunch, we soon broke out of the bamboo-death part of the river, and it became wider, and a lot easier to avoid the obstacles. We relaxed; it was easy again! We played about, splashed each other and raced. It was fun, and there was plenty to look at: mountains, river-side-life and temples.

Is it crazy to want to go again?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014
Posted by Amy Burbridge

Feeling Homesick

I'm sorry, Blog. I've neglected you. The truth is, visiting England really threw me. 

I visited England in April for a whole month, and it was the best. I hung out with family and friends and saw England with new eyes.

I couldn't wait to get out of England two years ago. I said it was flat, boring, expensive, grey, cold and generally pretty rubbish. I knew I'd miss some things and some people, but I didn't realise just how much.

The Lake District is far from flat and boring. It's stunning, desolate and there are places that still feel wild and raw. We hiked to a tarn and fell asleep on a blanket by the water - perfect. We didn't need a guide. Here, all serious hiking seems to require a guide.

Then there's the beaches in Norfolk, where I spent so many days as a child with my family. We walked through pine forests, and ran through mist rolling on the sand for miles till we met the sea when the tide was out. I miss mist! It was like being in a dream world, blanketed away and only being able to see a few feet in front of you. The sea is cold in England, but this time I loved the iciness when I paddled, and the way the wind whips up your hair into a big salty tangly mess. After the 'loudness' of a tropical country, I loved the difference - the bleak greys, soft blues and stony whites.

"What fortune, I declared, to dwell in such an Eden, but my pleasantry punctured the young man's spirits. 'So I believed in my first days, sir, but now I don't rightly know. I mean, Eden's a spick and span place... but times are, I'd give anything for a North Sea fog.'"  --- Cloud Atlas

There were parties, of course, and day trips, mini holidays, dinners and drunken nights out. Glitter, tasty food, and all my favourite music that only me and my friends can enjoy so much. My favourite bar in Nottingham played the song I requested every time I went not long after we stumbled in, and there was lots of dancing and stomping! I spent almost every day in April with the best people in the world.

I love living in Thailand, but I'm homesick. Really, really homesick. I've been away for about two years now, with brief visits, and I miss home, family, friends. I haven't felt like blogging, or doing much of anything since I've been back. I haven't written a word for ages, or taken any photographs.

I started a new job at a new school, and I love it. We've been reading The Wizard of Oz, though, and Dorothy realises that she needn't look any further than her own backyard to find her heart's desire. Gotta admit, I've found talking about 'home' as a theme in the book has been really, really difficult for me.

“No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.” --- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Recently we've been out exploring again, though, and I've written this post. I've started to see the beauty of where I live again. I love the mountains and waterfalls, swimming outside every day, drinking coffee on our balcony every morning and driving our motorbike.

Is home wherever you make it so, or is it simply wherever the people you love live?

Someone please invent a teleportation device and let me borrow it...

living abroad, feeling homesick
Click your heels together three times... source:
Friday, 20 June 2014
Posted by Amy Burbridge

Chinese Tea Ceremony in Chiang Mai at Sati - The Art of Tea and Yoga

Did you know that tea has a spirit?

Today, me and a group of friends attended a beautiful tea ceremony at Sati, led by the most knowledgeable and graceful lady we could have hoped to meet: Echo.

Echo is a lovely, intelligent person and an amazing conversationalist with an encyclopaedic knowledge of tea.

She can tell you about the history of tea in China, the differences between Japanese and Chinese tea ceremonies, describe the different effects each of the teas she has available might have on you and answer any burning tea-related questions that you need answering. Her way of describing and explaining is poetic, patient and eloquent. It is abundantly clear that Echo has a love affair with tea.

Sati is an extremely calming, relaxing environment. When we were there, peaceful Tibetan music was playing and a gentle breeze played through the open windows. Heavy wooden furniture decorates the blue and white room downstairs, and the upstairs room is bare to serve as a yoga studio.

A tea ceremony with Echo is absolutely incredible value at 150 baht per person.

You should book in advance on her Facebook page or by calling 088 431 8976. She will close Sati to other guests while you’re there, so you can have a totally private and uninterrupted tea ceremony. It really is special and I can’t recommend this experience enough. Of all the tourist things to do in Chiang Mai, it was probably the friendliest and most comfortable thing we've done, and Echo herself played no small part in that. Thank you, Echo, if you’re reading this!

After we had sat down, listened to the descriptions of the different kinds of tea we could choose from and asked a few questions, we decided to try green puer tea. Our friend Ellie had already tried black puer tea and said it was really good, so it seemed like a good choice.

The tea ceremony set was really quite special. On the wooden tray there were six dainty white cups with a blue pattern, a small brown tea pot, a small white pouring pot, and the most curious item of all – a kind of stone foot fish ornament. This was a spirit of tea! It played an important part in the ceremony, as you’ll see later. Next to the tray was a dry purple leaf, a wooden vase holding several implements, and a stack of six small wooden trays. There was a small kettle on an electric hob. Everything seemed very precise and in its place.

Echo bought over the tea ‘cake’, which was carefully wrapped in paper and clingfilm to preserve the taste and fragrance, and to make sure that the tea didn't become contaminated by any other smells.

Echo began the ceremony by closing her eyes and making her Tibetan singing bowl sing loudly in the room.

Then, she unwrapped the tea. It was spellbinding to watch her unwrapping the cake while the Tibetan music played in that calm, still room. I almost forgot to take photographs, and I almost didn't take any at all, because I was worried it might break the spell. Echo then used a wooden-handled tool to break tea leaf chunks away from the cake, and piled the leaves onto the purple leaf. The tea had a slight scent; earthy. It reminded me of hay.

She then warmed the tea set by pouring hot water in all of the pots and cups and finally over the stone foot fish. The tray had holes in, and a container concealed underneath. All of Echo’s movements were practiced and efficient; she told us that she does this ceremony every day, even if it’s just by herself.

This green puor tea was two years old, so had to be awakened!

Echo ‘awakened’ the tea after it’s two years of slumber by steeping it for just a few seconds in the brown tea pot and quickly pouring every cup full, and then some over the fish… then all the cups were poured over the fish. Now, the tea was awake!

Then it was our turn. Echo poured fresh water into the brown tea pot and again, only steeped the tea for a few seconds before pouring everyone a cup full of tea, and then one over the fish. The colour was a fresh, bright yellow. We were shown the correct way to hold our cups and drink the tea, and then we drank! Every time our cups were empty, she would pour more hot water into the brown pot and fill our cups again.

Every ‘round’ of tea was served by Echo clockwise. This was important – the loving way to serve tea. If she had done it anti-clockwise, then it would have been a big hint telling us to get lost and get out, according to the etiquette rules of Chinese tea ceremony!

The taste of the tea changed after each round. It started off quite bitter, but definitely got fruitier and sweeter. Hey, I should become a tea critic ;)

It’s not just the number of rounds that affect the tea’s taste, said Echo. She told us that every person at the ceremony affects the taste. We asked how on earth could that be? We hadn’t touched anything! Echo firmly believes that the character and emotions of everyone present at the ceremony affects the taste of tea, and the emotions of the one who serves the tea affects the taste most of all. She told us that sometimes, when she is feeling strong negative emotions, the tea has no taste whatsoever.

The tea ceremony was not a scary, formal experience.

While we drank tea, we talked about the role of tea in different cultures around the world, the history of tea, Echo’s personal beliefs about tea, tea in Thailand and even a little bit about teaching, wine, chocolate and coffee! Echo described how in all cultures, sitting down with friends to drink tea is so conducive to relaxing, talking and laughing together, and that’s exactly what we were doing. It was incredibly lovely.

At one point, Echo asked us if we were high yet! We laughed of course, but you know what, we kind of were. Mike described how his head felt strangely light, and I felt *so* focused on whatever I happened to be looking at. Echo nodded, and said that what Mike had described was what people try to attain when they practice yoga. She described it much more eloquently, and talked about chi and … other things I don’t really know about, but it was fascinating to listen to.

I once heard something about when you drink tea with a stranger, you form a special kind of tea-drinking friendship, and I think that probably happened today. I will definitely, definitely, definitely be going back to Sati to drink tea with Echo. We said that next time I visit, we’ll drink a smoky black tea. I can’t wait. Maybe one day in the future I’ll take Echo some British builder’s brew with custard cream dunkies, and see what she thinks of that..! Haha. Andy thinks she’ll be horrified.

I’m so happy to live in this beautiful city where I can meet people from so many different cultures and backgrounds.

Sati - The Art of Tea and Yoga is at 5 Chaiyapoom Road, Tambon Si Phoom, Chiang Mai, 50300.

You can call Echo on 0884318976 and visit her Facebook at

Echo writes a blog too:

Friday, 14 March 2014
Posted by Amy Burbridge

How To Avoid Getting Bitten by a Nasty Dog in Thailand

Photo from Flickr's Creative Commons by Frabuleuse

I hate mean Thai dogs.

The feeling's mutual, they seem to hate me too. Why else would they growl and bark and call all their friends over to join in? They pick on foreigners. A Thai colleague said it was because I had red hair and "it's weird for them". Maybe it's true - most people in Thailand are Thai, and have black hair. Dogs can see the difference between black hair and red hair, so, maybe!

Stray dogs are a common sight in Thailand and many people have a Bad Dog Story or two to tell. I understand - they have difficult lives. They're unwanted animals, struggling every day with traffic and unfriendly humans. Here, I have created a guide to help other foreigners in Thailand deal with nasty dogs in Thailand. I have used experience, science and dog behaviour guides.

Don't get me wrong, I love nice dogs!

I'm an animal lover. I love dogs, cats, llamas and penguins. I really miss my friendly Foxxie dog. She's sat at home in England right now, probably curled up in a patch on sunlight on the floor. I bet she's reading this with horror - don't worry Foxxie; I don't hate all dogs!

Such sweeping generalisations aren't fair, and there have been a few Thai dogs that I would have happily taken home with me (perhaps after a good de-flea-ing session first). Bobo the Fire Dog on Phuket, for example, who joined our fire-pit party by the sea. Lazy Dog at Baan Famui in Chiang Dao was gorgeous, and very floppy. Wuffles hangs out in front of the YMCA and wouldn't harm a fly.

A very not-scary Thai dog at Baan Famui Resort in Chiang Dao

But then there are the tales of the bad dogs. 

In Nang Rong there was the neighbour's dog that might have had rabies that bit my friends, and the temple dogs that swarmed out at us every time we went to the food market.

There were ones on Koh Kood that Would Not Let Us Pass and we had to hop on the back of a man called Sergey's motorbike to flee in terror - thank you, Sergey, but where were you when on the same island a different pack of dogs chased us down a pier and my legs were so wobbly I almost fell right off it onto the jagged rocks below or into the jagged doggy teeth before me!?

Dogs are why we carry a catapult in our bag. No joke.

How to Avoid Getting Bitten by a Nasty Dog in Thailand

There are several easy things you can do to avoid confrontations with nasty dogs in the first place. 
If you're unfortunate enough to be in a situation where you have to escape from a face-to-face encounter with a nasty dog, there are also several things you can do, but each require varying degrees of preparation, also detailed.

Prevention: Avoiding Confrontation

1. Let sleeping dogs lie.

This old adage was probably invented by a foreign person living in Thailand after they tried to pet one too many cute sleeping dogs. Don't do it! There's a high likelihood that cute sleepy dog is an evil killing machine. Also leave eating dogs and dogs with puppies alone.

2. Don't go near dogs.

Keep your distance. If you don't invade their territory, they're less likely to attack. Yep, super annoying when 'their territory' is the entrance to 7-11. If you're in this situation, wait till someone else comes along and go in with them (strength in numbers) or wait till it's distracted/distract it.

Remember it's not just stray dogs that can be nasty. People keep nasty dogs to protect their houses.

4. Don't go near dog hangouts at night

Dogs hang out inside temple grounds, in abandoned buildings, in building sites, in car parks and in other empty-ish places. Try to avoid such places at night, when dogs are feeling especially nasty.

Preparation: How to Pack Your Nasty Dog Arsenal

1. Catapult

Used to launch small pebbles at nasty dogs from a safe distance. Small, lightweight and a good conversation starter. Takes some practice, or you'll just end up shooting your own foot with a pebble. Potentially useful should you end up shipwrecked and have to hunt for your own food.

2. Pepper spray / mace

Good and reliable for close-range encounters with nasty dogs. Remember to take it out of your bag before plane travel.

3. Rape alarm

Dogs hate the very high pitch of rape alarms. Good to set off as you stroll past like nasty dogs ain't no thang. People trying to sleep in the nearby vicinity won't be so impressed.

4. Big stick / umbrella

If you frequently come up against nasty dogs, you won't even think that this is too much. A big stick and a quick lunge at the pack of dogs will keep them away. Personally, I preferred to carry an umbrella when I lived in Nang Rong a.k.a Dog City. Way more practical and less crazy - and it opened up into a kind of shield that shocked the dogs if you did it quickly enough.

Execution: How to Escape From A Nasty Dog

1. Don't run

If you run, you'll activate the dog's 'prey drive' and it will chase you. ESPECIALLY don't run if you're being faced with a pack of nasty dogs. In the past, dogs were predators, and used to work in packs to bring down prey. They are still capable of bringing you down.

2. Don't show fear: hold yourself tall

Pretend you're trying to impress Alan Sugar on The Apprentice: you're oozing confidence, you can do anything and aren't afraid of anything, not even those growling wild animals in front of you.

If you need inspiration, just watch how this super brave dude handles stray dogs in Bangkok. I can't claim that I've ever managed to stay this calm when faced by a pack of dogs, but that's what we're aiming for here.

If you're feeling small, use your clothing to make yourself appear big - hold your shawl out behind you or open your umbrella in front of you.

3. Don't Smile

Smiling looks bit like baring your teeth aggressively, if you're a dog, so stern is the way to go.

4. Don't make high pitched sounds

Don't squeal, or the dog might mistake your squeals as the sounds of a dying animal and attack you.

5. Make deep, loud-ish sounds

Don't shout really loudly, but look right at the dogs (not straight into their eyes though) and say whatever your want to in a deep, firm, authoritative and, if you like, gravelly voice, to show that you aren't afraid.

"I came in like a wrecking ball."

"I need to buy some cocopops tonight, or I'll have no breakfast tomorrow, and I'll be really grumpy."

Anything will do.

Yelling too much might make the dogs agitated, and more likely to attack. Remember: unafraid and firm.

6. Walk on by, possibly backwards

Don't hang about, though. All the barking and commotion will attract other dogs in the area, and that's bad news because dogs often like to join forces to participate in socially facilitated predation - meaning that once one dog starts ripping into your flesh, it's an open invitation to a free for all buffet.

Be wary of turning your back on the dogs - this could cause them to get bolshy* and give chase. If necessary, walk away backwards.

*bolshy = too big for their boots

7. Throw an invisible stone... maybe

Pretend to pick up a stone and throw it at the dogs. Believe it's real, and the dogs might too - at least enough so that they don't attack. People throw stones at them enough that they can't be sure it isn't real. However, I watched Brave Dude's video, and you can see that the guy who was flailing around had the dogs right up on him, but the brave dude didn't mess about at all and was fine.

8. Use your aresenal of weaponry should it become necessary

Hopefully you packed your nasty dog arsenal in your bag and you're wielding a great big umbrella shield.

Don't worry, though. Some stray dogs are very friendly indeed and apparently, you're more likely to win the lottery than be killed by dogs though, so, yay!

Dog on Doi Suthep Mountain, also not nasty.

Life for a stray dog in Thailand is hard.

Soi Dog helps the homeless, neglected and abused dogs and cats of Thailand. Their aim is to set an example for the Asian region on how to humanely reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats through spaying and neutering, and to better the lives and living conditions of the stray dogs and feral cats of Asia.


Thursday, 6 March 2014
Posted by Amy Burbridge

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I live in Chiang Mai with my fiance Andy. I teach English to tweens in a great school, and I write. I write my own blog, for South East Asia Backpacker Magazine and for The Daily Touch.

Most of the time, I'm exploring Thailand, taking photographs and drinking lots of coffee and wine.

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