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7 posts categorized "Danielle Bailey"

4 Days, 3 Foot Injuries, 2 Hostels, 1 Amazing Weekend

Since coming to Thailand, several people have told me that one of the best places to visit is Krabi, which is several hours south of Bangkok on the "tail" of Thailand. I took their word for it and booked a long weekend away with Kaitlin, Emily and Laura. Luckily, our school had a field trip up to Chiang Rai on Friday December 8th until the following Monday, which was a holiday, so we had ourselves a few days off from school. Emily and Laura only had Monday off and were flying in Friday night (or so we thought), but a 3 day weekend is better than nothing!

So on Thursday Kaitlin and I packed our bags and took a late night flight to Krabi. BTW, if you're ever in Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok...bring a sweatshirt. We learned this the hard way when we were forced to huddle for warmth under our towels and sarongs.

We had booked 3 nights at Slumber Party, which is a very popular party (clearly) hostel, but they didn't have late night check-ins, so Kaitlin and I booked our first night at Pak-Up hostel in Krabi Town.

Bright and early Friday morning, we set out for Railay beach. This is one of, if not the most, popular beaches in Krabi. You can only get to it by long tail boats because of the high limestone rocks that cut it off from the town. As soon as those rocks came into view, our amazing weekend had officially begun.

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We spent the day taking too many pictures of the perfect backdrop (sue me), drinking banana smoothies (mostly just me...or only me because I had two and Kaitlin had zero), and getting slowly burned by the sun (my favorite pastime).

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For most of the day we were on the west side of the beach, but a couple hours before leaving we headed to the east side to check it out. Almost instantly after getting there we were bummed we hadn't come sooner. It was smaller, less crowded, and had some really cool caves and rock formations.

A couple of guys were jumping off a 10 foot rock which looked like a lot of fun, so I decided to join in and try it out. I've jumped off of rocks/cliffs before in Maine (not in a weird way but in a fun recreational kinda way yk?) so this was pretty normal. The rocks were kinda rough, but I made it up and easily jumped in. However, I didn't know how deep it was, and my foot ended up getting scraped on some sharp rocks down below the water. It took a nice little chunk out of the right side of my left foot, nothing too crazy, but this is where foot injury #1 comes in (see blog title again).

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After getting back into town, we checked out of Pak-Up and headed to Slumber Party. We took a 30 minute ride on the back of a Songthaew (pronounced like song tao), and when I say "back" I literally mean standing on the outside of the truck on the metal platform used to hold extra passengers. Again, what's normal in Thailand could be considered crazy anywhere else, but this has quickly become one of my favorite ways to get around. I love standing on the outside with a nice breeze, and the amazing scenery wasn't too bad either. The fact that the driver was going 40 mph down some winding roads was a bit concerning. Either he didn't know we were there or he didn't care (I believe it's the latter), but I'm still alive so it's all good (*nervous laugh*).

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Slumber Party is known as being the biggest party hostel in town, and it did not disappoint. I was slightly worried that I wouldn't be able to rally after the beach but the atmosphere and the people who work there, not to mention all the ~free~ food and alcohol, did a good job of getting everyone excited for the night to come. Every other night they host a pub crawl, Friday being one of them, but honestly we had the most fun downstairs at their bar before going out. Their pre-game was pretty on point when it started off with free barbecue followed by drinking games and awesome music.

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Unfortunately, Emily and Laura couldn't join us that night because they missed their flight out of Bangkok, but they'd be joining us the following morning. A perfect mai pen rai moment.

Saturday morning was a bit very rough for me...need to do better with drinking water and also maybe drinking less alcohol, but we'll see. Emily and Laura got in early and we decided to island hop that day. Isn't it nice that I can just say that in a super casual way? Like that's my life right now. CHOOSING to go island hopping. Ugh luv u Thailand.

So we rented out a long tail boat for the afternoon that would take us to two islands and bring us back around 3 pm.

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First we headed off to Chicken Island (lol) about 15-20 minutes away and it was basically right out of a postcard. The name really doesn't do it justice. There were very few people on the beach so it felt like we had our own private island. For the record, there were no actual chickens on the island (that I was aware of).

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And here is where foot injury #2 comes in. Our boat driver anchored off to the side of the island, so we had to either walk through the water or over some rocks to get to the beach. Regrettably...we chose the water. There were sharp and slippery rocks along the way, and of course, I cut my left foot AGAIN after being in the water only a couple minutes. Once on the beach Laura had to literally pull a piece of rock out of my foot. Luckily, some nice Thai men working there helped me out and cleaned both of my cuts and bandaged me up.

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"How many girls does it take to get a rock out of someones foot?"

A couple hours later I limped my way over to the boat and we were off to Poda Island not too far away. Poda was much more crowded and touristy, but it had great views of some limestone rocks in the distance.

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Saturday at the hostel was free vodka night (how could it get any better?) with the same fun games and music downstairs. One of the funnest games involved plastic clothes pins that people would try and pin onto your clothing without you noticing. Once they do, they count loudly down from 5 to 1 and if you don't find and remove the pin in that time then you're supposed to finish whatever drink you had in your hand. It was super entertaining but also created a lot of paranoia, as anyone at the bar or with a bucket was an easy target. Basically trust no one.

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The next day we slept in and decided to join the hostel on their "secret kayaking tour" where we weren't allowed phones, cameras, or even to know where we were going. Sounds sketchy af I know but again I'm still alive so we good.

This was the perfect day activity, as I didn't need to do much walking (my limping was pretty pathetic) and my foot didn't have to get wet for most of the day (like really I was just becoming a burden on my friends so sorry plz don't hate me).

A big group of us drove to this ~*secret*~ spot which turned out to be a really cool pond that also had some serious swamp vibes. Luckily, we didn't swim in that area, but we paddled through it and then through some tighter spots until it felt like we were seriously in a jungle. Obvs didn't have my camera, so plz enjoy some pics I took from the hostels Facebook page lol.

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If you squint you can see my teeny tiny head in the far back left!

We laid low that night, as we wanted to get up bright and early the next morning for our last day in Krabi, so we enjoyed dinner on the beach with a sunset view, one or two drinks at the hostel (how could we not?), and then off to bed.

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Monday we planned on taking the long tail boat to Railay where we could chill on the beach for the day. Oh and on our way to Ao Nang beach to get the boat, Kaitlin tripped and twisted her ankle, JUST as my foot was feeling better. Hello foot injury #3.

Luckily she was alright, because before we plopped ourselves on the beach we wanted to hike a trail that we had walked passed on East Railay on Friday. Some friends from Saraburi had suggested it to us before we left, and their description was literally that "you hike up a dirty ass wall with a vintage rope through Jurassic Park" and I shit you not, that was about as accurate as it could have been.

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We were expecting to get muddy, since Kaitlin and I had seen people coming back down from the hike before, so we were well prepared. The majority of the hike was up and down muddy parts of the mountain, but there were tons of places to put your feet and grip onto so it was pretty safe (granted, you could have easily slipped and fell, but this is Thailand so no worries). There was also the huge old af vintage, and unsurprisingly very dirty, rope that was always available to grab ahold of. First we climbed up and around to a viewpoint of the beach below.

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Then we walked around and down through the legit jungle towards a little lagoon. This was where the real mud came in as we slid down dirt walls, slipped on rocks, and climbed down bamboo ladders (v unstable but there were tons of people doing it so heh heh it was fine), and eventually we made it to the water. It didn't take us long to climb our way back out, and the total hike took about an hour and a half. It was honestly one of my favorite parts of the whole trip, so I highly recommend doing it if you go to East Railay beach! Start early and it'll be easier with less people on the trail.

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The rest of the day was spent lounging on the beach and enjoying the crystal clear waters. So basically, perfection.

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Krabi was a dream, and no amount of foot injuries could stop us from having a great weekend. And good news!!! Kaitlin and I were supposed to be teaching for the next two Saturdays, the 16th and 23rd, but we were just informed that they've decided to cancel those classes, so we're free from 6 day work weeks!! Looking forward to the next getaway.

Check out my personal blog for even more posts on weekend trips and what life is like in Thailand: https://danielleinthailandblog.wordpress.com

 

 

The Infamous Sports Day

As promised, this next blog post is about Sports Day and all the craziness that overtook our school for 5 days. The activities took place about 2 weeks ago, but since I have a million and one pictures on my phone of students dressed in crazy and extravagant outfits, I felt I'd be doing them an injustice if I didn't write a poorly timed blog about it, you know?

On Tuesday November 14th, Kaitlin and I showed up to school to find hundreds of students decked out in Traditional Thai costumes with faces full of makeup and heavy hair accessories atop their heads. One teacher said that some students got to the school at midnight to start to prepare. Meanwhile, we rolled out of bed at 6:50 am and showed up wearing our Sports Day polos and workout pants looking like sweaty trash cans next to them.

We were told there was a big parade through the school that would end at the sports field, where everyone else would be watching the competitions throughout the day. All five color groups (blue, green, pink, yellow, purple) had their own separate theme and story to tell in their parade, and each section of the parade took about 15-30 minutes. 

Our high school has a pretty strict dress code for students. Uniforms, haircuts, etc are all determined by the school (or the government? idk). But either way, all of that went out the window for this occasion. Girls were wearing platform heels and dresses you would never expect to see in a school setting.The Thai school system will never cease to confuse me.

In the parade, some people were carrying simple items, while others were actually carrying other people (as seen in my previous blog post). The students looked so glamorous, and it was really cool to see so many different cultural outfits, accessories, and props in one place. I felt really bad for the girls casually wearing 6 inch platform heels however, because they had to stand and wait for the parade to start, and then they had to walk a long way to the sports field, around the track, and had to wait again for the parade end. So without further ado, here's a small selection (literally I have so many pics on my phone) from Sports Day.

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To say that Sports Day was not what we expected it to be is definitely an understatement. How naive we were to think that they would simply be playing sports for a day or two!? We were really in awe of the creativity, time, hard work and overall beauty that must have taken place to create that parade. It was definitely a pleasure to get to experience it!

Follow me on Instagram to see my day to day activities and life fails: danii_bailey

Mai Pen Ra...Wait Where is Everyone?

COCKROACH KILL COUNT UPDATE:

Danielle: 3

Kaitlin: 3

I think our reflexes are getting quicker and they’re getting a bit scared that of all their friends keep dying…

Ok so I have too much time on my hands because I’m blogging far more often than I expected. But I guess that happens when you’re in Thailand and you’re constantly waiting for things to happen or people to show up. If you haven’t heard of “Thai Time,” it’s real…and unsurprisingly, it takes some time to get used to. If you’re considering coming to Thailand, then this blog post is for you. I swear I’m not trying to diss the Thai culture - really, its me, not you Thailand.

If you haven’t been forced to realize what it is over the past few weeks, Thai time is just another way of saying that things move slowly, and being late is not a cause for concern. It seems that my school is trying hard to prove this to me. Maybe one reason for Thai time is because the locals live by the “mai pen rai” way of life, which basically means everything is going to be okay and/or no worries (cue the Hakuna Matata song?). If your bus doesn’t show up…mai pen rai, there will be another one. If classes start 15 minutes late…mai pen rai, just make some stuff up and pretend you aren’t totally thrown off. If you’re given no information about what you’re really supposed to be teaching in your 14 classes but you’re expected to teach anyway…mai pen…you guessed it…rai!

Kaitlin and I haven’t been working at our school long but we’ve already come to the realization that we’re going to be hanging around a lot more often than we thought we would. We work at a large public school with 2700 students, and most of our classes have 30-50 crazy energetic Thai kids in them. The classes are supposed to be 50 minutes long, but they rarely start and end on time. As a bonus, this past week the kids had “Sports Day” so if they didn’t show up to class it was totally normal. And apparently no one bothered to tell us this before we were ditched by most of our students. But alas…mai pen rai.

Everyone says to embrace this go-with-the-flow lifestyle, and I plan to, but I’m not quite there yet. In theory, it’s a really nice way to live life, because Thais don’t want to sweat the small stuff (not including the 5 pounds of literal sweat a day) and instead just enjoy things and not get stressed out. And honestly, in this heat and humidity, I can understand why people move slowly. I’m surprised I haven’t keeled over yet from heat stroke. Hopefully I live to write my next blog post about the end of Sports Day and all the extravagance and ridiculousness that came with it. Sneak peak below:

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Follow me on Instagram to see my day to day activities and life fails: danii_bailey

A Weekend in Bangkok

My first week of classes is over! However, it wasn’t a typical school week. I had classes from Monday-Wednesday, but Thursday the students took a Buddha test all day and Friday was Sports Day, so there were no classes. On Friday, the students participated in the first of four days that are dedicated to playing sports and cheerleading. The second day was Saturday (which we did not attend), and the third and fourth days will be Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.

Sports Day in Thailand happens every year in the second semester, and at our school it's quite competitive. All the students are on separate color teams – pink, yellow, purple, green, or blue - which I think they're assigned right when they enter school in grade 7. They kicked off the start of Sports Day with cheerleading performances from each color group. Just imagine 2700 students all screaming for their team to be the best and loudest. It was definitely interesting to watch the students get so excited, and to see the Thai traditions and compare them to US traditions. For one, the students performed some cheerleading stunts with NO mats. If they fell, it would be onto concrete floors.

The rest of the day they play each other in different sports. One of the other foreign language teachers told me that the pink team has won for the last three years in a row. Throughout the day we watched students play basketball, volleyball, ping pong, and a bunch of other sports. We even got to play one of the assistant directors in ping pong before the games began.

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After a ~tough~ week of teaching for only three days, Kaitlin and I decided to go to Bangkok to meet up with a couple friends over the weekend (hayyy Laura and Emily if you’re reading this). Unfortunately, we had to “sign in” at the school Saturday morning, so we’d only be spending one night in Bangkok.

Around 1:00 pm on Saturday, we got on a bus and made the 2-hour journey into the city. When we got there, we met up with our friends at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Almost immediately I had to buy some coconut ice cream and sticky rice – which is almost the best combination after mango and sticky rice. Next, we had some pad thai and fried rice and eventually we were able to meet up with Laura and Emily.

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After some hours spent shopping, we took the BTS towards the places that we were staying. Laura and Emily were staying with a friends' uncle who lived in a fancy apartment, while Kaitlin and I stayed at a nearby hostel. If you’re planning on going to Bangkok and looking for a cheap, clean and fun place to stay, I HIGHLY recommend going to Bodega Bangkok Hostel. I’ve stayed in my fair share of hostels during my travels, and this was definitely the best one yet.

The reception and bar area is a cozy, adorable space outside with plants and seating. The walls are decorated with cool art and crazy expensive receipts from past visitors. The owner, Ben, has hostels of the same name in Chiang Mai and Phuket, and he was extremely welcoming and fun. He had just launched a bar crawl at his other two locations, and we were the guinea pig group for Bangkok. We paid 300 baht for a large bucket of vodka redbull (so nasty), a beer for the road, and various shots of coconut/pineapple rum (so delicious).

A group of about 15-20 of us left the hostel around midnight and walked to the first bar. Unfortunately, the bar had just closed, so we hopped in taxis and went to The Australia. There was live music with two women singing some awesome throwbacks. The next morning, we checked out at 11 and treated ourselves to an egg, cheese and bacon sandwich on an everything bagel. I can’t tell you how much I miss bagels so this was literally the best thing that could happen to me. Yet another reason to stay at Bodega.

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Kaitlin and I had the day to ourselves and we quickly decided that we needed to find ourselves a pool to relax by. We walked 20 minutes to a hotel we thought had an open to the public pool, but we were turned away. After calling around, the Marriott said we could pay a fee to use theirs. We hopped in a taxi to go there, but a minute later our driver decided he didn’t want to take us. So he made a U-turn and dropped us off where he picked us up. We were having such bad luck that for a minute we really thought we wouldn’t be finding a pool at all. Hot, sweaty, and desperate, we finally found a taxi that turned on their meter and drove us to the Marriott.

Thank god we stuck it out, because we had the best, most relaxing Sunday ever. For a fee we had access to the pool, the gym, sauna and the showers (yay hot water). No surprise, we didn’t take advantage of the gym, but the option was nice anyway.

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On the rooftop was an infinity pool that overlooked Bangkok, a bar that made great mango and rum smoothies, and the perfect chairs to relax in. We really had ourselves a day. That will probably be the most luxurious thing we do for our entire time in Thailand, and we were okay with that.

One reason being that Kaitlin and I have to teach for the next 5 Saturdays due to Sports Day taking up the students’ time during the week. We get a long weekend in December that we will be using to visit Krabi, but until then we can mostly only take day trips or one-night trips on weekends. So in our minds, it was justified spending a bit more money to have a nice day to ourselves.   

We ended the weekend with a quick hour and a half ride home, a banana crepe, and much needed sleep before going back to school on Monday.

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We’re not sure where the next weekend will take us – maybe Ayutthaya, or a national park, but no matter what, we’ll make it work and always have fun!

Follow me on Instagram to see my day to day activities and life fails: danii_bailey

Weird Night Adventures

What should have been an average night out to get dinner quickly turned into one of the most interesting nights me and Kaitlin have had so far in Thailand. I’m honestly laughing to myself thinking about it right now, which is why I wanted to write a blog post about it.

To start, we don’t have a proper kitchen in our house, so it’s generally expected that we go out for most of our meals. By the way, we might spend 50-150 baht depending on how much food we order (that’s about $1.50-$4.50). If we got something off the street it would be even cheaper. So far, we’ve always taken a right at the end of our street, which takes us across the main road and into the city. But this time we turned left to go down the road to a restaurant I found on google.

Around 7:00 pm, we ventured off down the street for what should have been a simple 20-minute walk. We noticed that the further we got, the less people there were on the street, and the area seemed more residential and much quieter. We had 5 minutes to go when all of a sudden a dog ran out from someone’s yard and started barking at us. We thought it would stop, but it started coming closer to us and continued barking. We had been warned of stray dogs sometimes chasing people, so Kaitlin and I quickly turned around and started walking back, but the dog followed us. We were holding onto each others arms hoping it wouldn’t bite us. We knew that if we ran it would 100% chase us, but it was getting so close to our legs it was hard not to freak out. So we casually strolled back down the street clutching each other and swearing under our breaths and thinking “holy shit this dog is going to bite us and we didn’t get a rabies shot we are so screwed.” Luckily, the dog finally stopped and turned around after we had walked far enough away.

Laughing, we kept walking but we were still hungry and didn’t want to walk 15 minutes back home without food, so we hailed down a motorbike taxi and asked him to bring us to the restaurant. He must have thought we were stupid since it was literally right down the street. So we both squeezed onto the back of this poor mans motorbike, our first time on one by the way. We were pretty sure we were going to fall off.

A minute later, we walk into the restaurant and its totally empty except the 3 people working there, and I think “crap did we just go through all that for this restaurant to be closed?” But it was open, so we sat down and admired the décor. It was the cutest restaurant I’ve ever been in. But of course, our luck, the menu was totally in Thai and the workers didn’t speak any English. We just wanted some fried rice with shrimp, but had to use google translate, downloaded the Thai keyboard on my phone, and showed them pictures. We didn’t think they had fried rice because they showed us a picture of a shrimp appetizer, then suggested tom yum goong (a typical spicy Thai soup with prawns). We said yes, as we just wanted something to eat at this point.

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We got the shrimp appetizer, then realized that the workers had whipped out a professional camera and started snapping pictures of us at the table. We couldn’t stop laughing because it was so weird and awkward. We smiled for a picture, and then they continued to have their own photo-shoot around the restaurant. I said to Kaitlin that those pictures were definitely going to show up on Facebook. And of course...they did.

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Then to our surprise, they brought out fried rice and shrimp. That’s when we realized that we accidentally ordered a 3 course shrimp meal. They also arranged the cucumbers and shrimp into heart shapes because apparently Kaitlin and I were on a date. Then came the soup, which we asked not to be spicy, but since you can never underestimate Thai food, it was still extremely hot. We decided to ask to take it home rather than suffer through trying to eat it.

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As we were waiting for the check, a guy came in and started talking to us in English. His name was Jain and he asked where we were from and where we lived, which led to us explaining the dog situation. Kaitlin and I had already devised a plan to take the long way back in order to avoid the dog, but luckily, he offered to drive us home! We had only met him a couple minutes earlier and we were so surprised by his generosity. In the car he told us he’s from Chiang Main and he’s in a band that plays at a local bar/restaurant on the weekends. We exchanged numbers on Line (the Asian equivalent to WhatsApp) and thanked him for the ride.

The night was honestly so weird but really enjoyable! The people at the restaurant were so kind even though we couldn’t speak the same language. They were total champs and went along with our ridiculous attempts to order fried rice. In the end, we found a new place to eat and made some Thai friends along the way! Just goes to show you that anything can happen in Thailand.

Oh, I’m also now considering a rabies shot.

Follow me on Instagram to see my day to day activities and life fails: danii_bailey

Home Sweet Home

*Authors note: I have to point out that my last blog stated that I went abroad in the Fall of 2015, when really it was 2014. Now I feel super old, but needed to correct it because OCD.

I moved into my new home in Saraburi last Thursday night with my roommate Kaitlin, and we seriously lucked out on our placement. We were originally supposed to be placed in the district of Sao Hai in studio apartments, but our plans soon changed only a week or two before leaving for Thailand. My school coordinator Kajee emailed me one morning and said that the apartment they had intended on renting for me was no longer available, and instead they wanted to move me to a house. The house had three bedrooms, a living room, air conditioning, a washing machine, Wi-Fi, and all the other essentials. I asked if Kaitlin could live with me in the house – as I don’t need 3 bedrooms to myself– and my school agreed!

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So now we live in the main district of Mueang in our little house, and it’s truly the most adorable place to live. The house is pink, and we even have our own courtyard and balcony. Our living arrangement in Thailand seems to be the exception, not the rule. Some people are placed in apartments/homes without Wi-Fi or some basic necessities. The only hard thing is living without hot water, but I’m pretty used to it now (as I’m a sweaty mess most of the time anyway), and I’m trying to master the 5 minute or less shower.

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I have also now mastered the art of killing a cockroach. If you’ve never done this before, it’s TERRIFYING because those suckers are huge and scary and may or may not be able to fly - we saw wings but are unsure of their abilities. Really hoping they can’t because that would just be unfair? Special tip: try and spray/poison them with bug spray with lots of deet in it and this will slow them down, because those assholes are fast.

The kill count is currently Danielle: 2, Kaitlin: 1. Those numbers will probably get higher soon. We also successfully captured a lizard that we found in our kitchen and released it back outside unharmed!!! We were made for this stuff.

In conclusion, my first week in my new hometown has been pretty enjoyable. I got to experience the Loi Krathong festival, eat some amazing fried rice and shrimp, met most of my new students, made new Thai friends, rode to school on a songtow, successfully didn’t fall off a motorbike taxi, and learned to kill some mutant bugs. So far I haven’t experienced culture shock or home sickness, however this isn’t my first time in Asia or living abroad, and everyone's experience is different. Only time will tell.

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Feel free to follow me on Instagram to see my day to day activities and life fails: danii_bailey

Welcome to Thailand - Prepare to be sweaty!

On October 25th I boarded a plane in Boston and embarked on my journey to Thailand to teach English for 5+ months. This blog post is coming later than planned, but this past week and a half has been crazy busy! The constant, and often infuriating, lack of stable wifi has also contributed to this delayed post. But as I write this, I am finally settled into my new home in Saraburi, Thailand, and I can finally reflect on the beginning of this journey.

First, I'll explain how I got here. This past Spring I was working at a job that I didn't love and really wanted to try something different. I had studied abroad through CIEE back in 2015 during my Junior year of college, and ever since I had received emails saying "Come Back and Teach English Abroad in Spain!" I had always thought that would be cool...but I couldn't do that? Then one day, I read a LinkedIn article written by someone who decided that they didn't want to follow the path that society had set out for them, and instead chose to see the world, while also making money. He did this by teaching English in Madrid through CIEE. After reading the article I knew that I had to do it. After some research, I decided on Thailand, broke the news to my parents, applied, got accepted, quit my job, and a few months later - here we are.

Arriving in Thailand, the only expectations I had were that I was going to be the sweatiest human alive and I'd be eating mango and sticky rice every chance I got. Lucky me, my expectations were met. Orientation was about a week long, and truthfully most of the time was spent inside. Not going to lie, it wasn't my favorite experience, sitting in classes and Thai lessons from 9 am to 6 pm, but the information was definitely useful. We took courses on TEFL training and what to expect from Thai culture. I chose to take the full TEFL course through CIEE before coming to Thailand (irrational fear that I couldn't do this without it), but it wasn't focused specifically on Thailand ESL classrooms. Nevertheless, I was so glad that I completed it and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has no teaching background but thought that they should be an English teacher anyway (business major whoop whoop).

Orientation took place in Bangkok with 220 new English teachers. Generally within this program there are two orientations - one in Central Thailand in Bangkok and one in the North in Chiang Mai. Since the late King's funeral took place right before our orientation, OEG (CIEE's Thailand partner) only had one orientation, which meant everything was a bit chaotic. One good thing about it though was that we were all able to meet people that we wouldn't have if we had had two separate orientations. My absolute favorite part of it was when the OEG team had a traditional Thai welcome ceremony for us. We were given bracelets made out of white string that symbolized our new connection to Thailand. We're supposed to wear the bracelets until they fall off naturally, and we were instructed never to cut them off, as this would be symbolic of your time here. Check out me and my girl Kru Gai hugging it out at the ceremony.

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After our classes were over, we got to spend our free time at night roaming the city and buying as many elephant pants as we could get our hands on. Aside from the classes and workshops, we also took a day trip to the Grand Palace and had dinner on a river cruise boat. On our second to last day of orientation, we took a 2.5 hour bus ride to Kanchanaburi where we stayed overnight at a "resort hotel." If you were wondering how many lizards there are in Thailand...I can't tell you, but I can guarantee that more than half of them were inside the hotel that we stayed at. It was an interesting night to say the least.

Finally, on Thursday November 2nd, we loaded back onto our buses and drove to Bangkok where we were picked up by our coordinators and brought to our new homes! I am placed in Saraburi, a province just an hour and a half north of Bangkok. Since there were people at our orientation that were placed in the very South, North or Northeast region of Thailand, several of them had 7-12 hours of travel ahead of them after arriving back in Bangkok (sorry if you're reading this and you had to suffer through that).

Now I'm home, sitting in bed enjoying my air conditioning/trying not to itch my bug bites, and really happy that I'm settling in to my new life. Stay tuned for more blog posts to come - I'm sure I'll have plenty to write about.

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