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10 posts categorized "Danielle Bailey"

Kanchanaburi Round 2

The second weekend in January me and the usual crew decided we were finally going to go back to Kanchanaburi to see the Erawan waterfalls. We had briefly visited the provence during orientation back in October, and while there we went to the bridge over the river Kwai and had a sunset dinner cruise on a boat. We knew that we'd want to go back to Kanchanaburi eventually, as we hadn't been able to see one of the biggest tourist attractions on our first visit.

Oddly enough, Kaitlin and I had a work party on Friday night, and so did Laura and Emily, which made planning pretty simple. Side note, our work party had a very interesting floral/50's/60's/70's/made-up Thai theme to it, even though the purpose of it was to celebrate New Years (two weeks late I might add). Kaitlin and I had no idea how to dress, so we tried to be as colorful and floral as possible. The party was on a courtyard at our school and consisted of a lot of singing, dancing, celebrating, and gift giving! Generally, we had no idea what was going on most of the time, but it was still fun, as I'll never turn down free food and drinks.


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Since we all had the same schedule, planning the weekend was pretty simple. We would meet in Bangkok in the afternoon and take a ferry across the river and walk to the Thonburi train station. From there we would get on the 3:00 pm train and make the 3 hour journey to Kanchanaburi, stay the night, head to the falls Sunday morning, and then take a van back to Bangkok.

The funny thing about Thailand is there are always a million and one ways to get around. Whether you choose to take a motorbike taxi, van, bus, train, walk, regular taxi, tuk tuk, songthaew, boat, ferry, the BTS (Bangkok's skytrain), or the MRT (Bangkok's subway) is up to you! I use several of these modes of transportation on a regular basis, and of course we knew this weekend would be no different.

First, we took a van from Saraburi to Bangkok, where we got off at the Mochit BTS station and took it a few stops into the city. From there the plan was to taxi to the ferry pier, ride over and then walk to the train station. While researching how to get to Kanchanaburi, we had found out that there are only two trains a day that leave out of Bangkok. One at 7:50 am and one at 3:00 pm (or so we thought). But once we stepped out of the BTS, Laura and Emily texted us and said they were already at the station and the train was actually at 1:45, not 3. At that point it was about 1:15, and the station was about 25 minutes away. Bangkok traffic is a literal nightmare, so we quickly hailed a taxi and prayed that our driver could get us there on time. That man turned out to be a godsend because he managed to get us there in 20 minutes on an empty tank of gas.

The train ride there was pretty slow moving, but all the windows were open in the cars so the nice breeze, combined with the scenery, made for a pretty relaxing ride. Around 4:30 we checked into our hostel, got dinner, and wandered around the night market nearby. We stayed at Asleep Hostel, which was pretty basic, nothing special, but it was in the perfect location to get to Erawan National Park. A bus picked us up outside a 7/11 at 8:00 am Sunday morning, and we got to the falls about an hour and a half later.

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Erawan consisted of 7 waterfall levels, the first four or five being very easy to get to. Once you get past the fifth one, the perfect dirt path kind of disappears, and instead you have to walk through water and over rocks to get to the top. We met a couple girls from Canada on the bus ride there, so we hiked up with them and the six of us made it all the way to the 7th fall before stopping and jumping in! That was honestly the hardest part about the hike, as every fall and the beautiful blue waters were so inviting. Also, once you jumped in, there were fish in the waters that would come up to you and nibble on your skin. Some fish were pretty small, and others were much much bigger - definitely stayed away from those ones. It was the weirdest feeling ever, but after awhile I definitely enjoyed it - not going to say no to a free pedicure?

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Around 2 pm we got on the bus back to Kanchanaburi, took a songthaew to the bus station, and got a van back to Bangkok. The ride home ended up taking four hours, and we didn't get to the Mochit bus terminal until 8 pm. Then the bus that Kaitlin and I were taking home didn't end up leaving until 9:30, so we got home around 11:30 pm. The crazy thing is that Saraburi is only 3 hours away from Kanchanaburi, but because there are no direct forms of transportation to and from, we had to go to Bangkok in order to get there. So basically, Thailand transportation can be a real bitch, but sooner or later you just have to accept it. I'm pretty sure all of SE Asia is this way, so really I'm just preparing myself for the two months of backpacking that I'll be doing after our semester ends! Which at this point is a month away!!! And needless to say, the 24 hours that we spent in Kanchanaburi were definitely worth it.

Next stop: Khao Yai National Park!

Easy as Pai

It has now officially been over a month since I visited Pai back in December, so clearly this blog post is coming later than planned. This last month has been busy, stressful, wonderful, and eye-opening. However, just thinking about writing this blog and all the others I've neglected to keep up with has me wanting to throw my laptop out the window. Dramatic enough?

Let me start by saying that Pai is a MAGICAL hippy-town that everyone has to visit if they're going to be in Thailand for an extended period of time. I had heard of and seen pictures of it before coming to teach here, so I knew it was going to be up at the top of my bucket list. My school had finals at the end of December, which we had to attend to help proctor for the tests. Luckily, we only had to proctor for three days out of the week, so I took off Monday the 25th, as it was also Christmas, and Tuesday the 26th to have a nice 4 day weekend.

The only way to get there is by flying North to Chiang Mai and then taking a three hour bus or van even farther North to Pai. The plan was for me to meet Emily, Laura, and Amy, who is another teacher at their school from OEG, in Chiang Mai on Saturday morning. I was flying out of Don Mueang on Friday night and had booked a hostel about 5-10 minutes from the airport. The three of them had a work party on Friday, so they were flying out of BKK super early Saturday morning. My flight was supposed to leave around 10:30 pm and get in around 11:30, but it ended up being delayed and I didn't get to Chiang Mai until after midnight.

The hostel I booked was supposed to be open 24 hours, but when I arrived it was totally closed. Like lights off, door locked, not a soul in sight. Thank god my taxi driver gave a shit about my well-being rather than just driving off and leaving me stranded. He so graciously helped me to knock on the door and even call the hostel. Turns out See Hostel in Chiang Mai is NOT open 24 hours. I reluctantly got back into the taxi and returned to the airport. Dejected, I asked the airport workers if there were any other 24 hour hostels...they laughed at me and said "no, but you can sleep over there" as they pointed to some extremely uncomfortable looking airport chairs. There were about 10 other people who were doing the same thing as me, and man we were a sad looking bunch.

It happened to be super cold in Chiang Mai that night, and of course I didn't bring anything thicker than a flannel. I ended up having to cover myself with a dress, put on my leggings, jeans, and flowy pants, and curl up on some chairs for the next 7 hours until my friends arrived. I was also getting through a really bad cold, so basically my night blew. To make matters worse, when Laura and Emily got to BKK, they said that Laura's flight had been booked for the night before (even though she clearly bought the same flight as Emily). She then had to go to DMK and wait a couple hours for the next flight out. This meant Laura was 0-2 for flights out of BKK (lol refer back to my Krabi blog...). Mai pen rai amiright?

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my sad sad sad bed for the night

Around 7:30, Emily, Amy, and I eventually got to the Chiang Mai bus station and got tickets for a 9:30 am van. Another thing you should know about Pai is that the roads to get there are extremely winding. You're basically constantly taking huge turns left and right up a mountain the whole way there. And if you get car-sick, I HIGHLY suggest taking some Dramamine. I was sitting in the very front seat of the van and, after one Dramamine, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the ride. It was really interesting to see drivers expertly curve around the mountain road and zoom past people going too slow. The views weren't terrible either.

When we finally got there, I immediately could tell that Pai was the absolute cutest little town. We walked along the main "walking street" that had tons of adorable shops and plenty of cafes offering avocado toast. We took a songthaew to our hostel, Deejai Backpackers, which was about 10ish minutes out of town. The hostel overlooked a rice farm and had a great view of the mountains and a really cool vibe with outdoor seating, hammocks, and music.

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That first day we just chilled at the hostel, headed into town for dinner, and made our way down the walking street to check out all the night vendors. The next day we got breakfast at the most amazing vegetarian/vegan restaurant right next to our hostel called Earth Tone. They had amazing smoothie bowls, guacamole, waffles, and so much more. This would be our first of many visits (no shame).

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Since everything in Pai is kind of spread out, renting motorbikes is the best option to get around. If you book a tour, then that can cover a lot of ground, but we wanted to see things on our own. So we rented two for the day through the hostel for 300 baht per bike. If anyone remembers reading about my experience riding around the Green Lung in Bangkok, you'd know that bikes are not my specialty (https://danielleinthailandblog.wordpress.com/2017/12/06/boats-bikes-and-bangkok/). So imagine my shock when I realized that there was no way in hell I was going to be able to drive a motorbike (like no shit). So Emily drove with Laura and Amy drove me, and our first stop was a hot spring about 15 minutes away in a resort. There are a couple hot springs in Pai, but they were each about 20-30 minutes away and harder to get to due to our inexperience on motorbikes. Our goal was really to just avoid dying. On our way there we passed some rescued elephants, and saw one being taken for a casual stroll down the street. It was a nice sneak peek of the elephants we would be visiting the following week in Chiang Mai! (Didn't love that the guy was riding it, but at least it was getting some exercise).

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After the hot spring, we went back to the hostel and prepared to get back on the bikes and drive to Pai Canyon for the sunset, which wasn't too far away. We wanted some time to explore and walk around the canyon before sunset, so we went around 3:00 pm. This was another landmark that I had heard plenty about before, and it definitely didn't disappoint! And for future reference, the dirt on the paths is super slippery, so definitely wear some footwear that has traction! Or even go barefoot.

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That night we had dinner on the walking street, and then it was early to bed for us because the next morning we were planning on waking up around 5 am to go to the Yun Lai Viewpoint to see the sunrise!

Yun Lai was about a 20-30 minute motorbike ride away in a Chinese village. Amy was going on a tour during the day that would take her to the viewpoint so she didn't come with us. And since neither Laura nor myself could drive the motorbike, Emily agreed to drive all three of us there. We grabbed some blankets, made sure no one was going to fall off, and made our way in the dark to the viewpoint. Fitting three grown women onto a motorbike was probably the most Thai thing we've ever done (apologies to Emily).

Once we got to the village, we noticed that there were a ton of other vans and songthaews taking tour groups up to the top of the hill. We sped past them and attempted to go up the very steep roads to get there. Unfortunately, a car came down the narrow road at the same time as us, so we had to pull to the side and stop, and with the weight of all three of us on the bike...we tipped over. Thankfully we weren't moving when it happened! So instead we decided to park the bike and walk the rest of the way up.

Aaaaaannnddd so. many. regrets. It was the steepest hill I have ever walked up. We really had no other choice because the bike definitely wouldn't have made it with all three of us, but I seriously have never felt so out of shape in my life. Damn you pad thai.

Once at the top, we waited with a large group of other tourists as the fog spread over the mountains and the sun eventually rose. It was such a cool experience getting there when it was still pitch black out. Even though you're with a bunch of other people, it wasn't hard to feel serene and at peace up there. Yun Lai is definitely worth the early wake up call.

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Afterwards, we got breakfast (Earth Tone again obviously), walked up to see a White Buddha statue, and saw more touristy things around town. Today also happened to be Christmas, but because we had a jam packed schedule of activities I honestly forgot about it for most of the day. Every so often another tourist would walk by and say "Merry Christmas" to us, and I'd have the same reaction every time, which was generally something like "oh shit, yeah Merry Christmas..."

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Before dinner that night, we met another girl named Amy who was staying in my room at the hostel. She was solo traveling so I invited her to dinner and we all went to this amazing restaurant that someone had recommended called Pens Kitchen. We ordered family-style and everything was amazing! I highly recommend their Khao Soi, which is a Northern yellow curry dish with noodles. I had never heard of it before, as I don't live up North, but I quickly became obsessed with it. Literally, I wouldn't shut up about the amazingness that is Khao Soi to Kaitlin and Kat and anyone else who would listen to me when I went back home to Saraburi. It is that delicious.

The next day I headed into town and got on my 11:00 am van to make the three hour journey back to Chiang Mai. From there I flew to Bangkok and had to wait for a 10:15 pm train outside of Don Mueang airport to go back to Saraburi. Overall I was traveling for about 11 hours. Because I live so far away, going to Pai definitely required a long weekend. But it was totally worth it.

The town itself feels so quaint and it has the cutest stores, the nicest people, and there are so many beautiful things to see, and we didn't even get to all of it. Added bonus, avocados are EVERYWHERE, unlike the rest of Thailand. If you want to go to Pai and see as many things as possible, I suggest getting a motorbike or doing a tour. The tours were only about 500 baht and brought you to a ton of different places.

Our hostel ended up being really cool and chill, but it was out of town which was a bit inconvenient. So, next time I would probably stay at a different hostel that's a shorter walk to town. And I really do hope there is a next time!

Make sure to check out my personal blog for more posts. Next up is Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi, and Khao Yai National Park!

https://danielleinthailandblog.wordpress.com

 

What To Expect...When You Have No Idea What To Expect

Since coming to Thailand, I've had to learn to adapt and embrace a culture that is nothing like my own. Of course this shouldn't be a surprise, and anyone who does a little research on Thailand compared to the USA would agree with me. I came to Thailand to be an English teacher, even though I feel like I am by no means qualified. Thailand, however, would disagree. I am from America, English is my native language, I have a Bachelor's degree, and I am able to take advantage of all of these things, speak in front of a class and in some way try and influence a few hundred Thai students' learning. Is that actually what has taken place over these last couple of months...I'm not so sure?

There are many reasons for this, and I wanted to take some time to write down my thoughts about how it's been so far being a "teacher" (I use quotes because I don't think I'll ever be able to seriously think of myself as a teacher). There are also several things I wish I knew about the Thai education system and what life would actually be like before I hopped on a plane to come here.

For starters, let me give a little background info on my school. Me and my friend Kaitlin teach at SaoHai Wimolwitthayanukul School, which is a public high school with 2700 students. My classes are large, English levels are low, and any overall organization is almost nonexistent. I never thought that I wouldn't like where I was placed, partially because I had this dream idea that I'd be teaching perfect, respectful children who adore me and are eager to learn. But, if I had a say in where I was placed, I might choose to work at a different school. That might sound bad and I hate that I even typed it out, but I do want to be honest. This post isn't all negative however. I am so happy that I quit my job and hopped on that plane to embrace a whole new life away from my home. I don't want anything that I say next to deter someone from coming to Thailand to teach. This has simply been my experience so far and I want to share it! So for now, let me get into some specifics about what I wish I knew to expect before starting to teach (the good stuff is at the end by the way).

  1. Public schools are veryyyy different than private schools. I work at a public school, which means we don't have a bunch of extra money lying around for school supplies, decorations, working projectors and computers, clean classrooms, etc etc. The lack of resources can be extremely frustrating sometimes. If I want to plug my computer into the projector to show a PowerPoint in class, and for some reason the system isn't working (happens several times a week) there is generally nothing I can do about it besides cluelessly tinker with the different wires and hope for a miracle. It usually doesn't happen. At this point, I have made note of all the classrooms where the projectors don't work so I can prepare ahead of time for a much more difficult lesson. We do have whiteboards, and if you bring your own whiteboard markers then you are good to go. Another big issue is that the classroom sizes are almost unmanageable. Trying to get 50 Thai students to stop talking, get off their phones and pay attention to a language that they don't understand can seem impossible. Which is why I've had to accept the fact that you might have 5-15 students paying attention, and you kind of just deal with it and ignore the ones who aren't. What I've seen and heard about private schools is quite the opposite. There's more money available which means they can be more selective of their students, which means smaller class sizes, which means more resources and overall more organization.
  2. Speaking of organization, I never knew it was possible for a school to be so disorganized, but damn Sao Hai does a pretty good job at it. Example 1, Kaitlin and I started school at the beginning of November. We aren't told specifically if there is a curriculum, or even what our general class topics are. Believe me, we asked, we just didn't get a straight answer. Not until at least a month in did I learn that two of my classes that I have to test are English for Writing and Reading, and the rest of the classes are Conversation. I also learned around this time that the students take English speaking classes with me, and then English grammar classes with Thai teachers (which you think would help to improve their English skills, but it does not). Example 2 was when I was told I have to hand in my midterm test at the end of November. At that point, I had seen my students maybe a couple of times and had absolutely no idea what I should be teaching them, what their proficiency levels were, and what they had already been taught in previous years. After this, I was also informed that I have to give them a quiz BEFORE the midterm, but for some reason they forgot to tell me. Sounds crazy right? Well it is, but I've learned to accept it. I now realize that essentially no one gives a shit, and that's ok. No one asked what I was going to test my students on, no one asks me what I teach them in my classes, no one even asks me how I'm getting along. But that's fine, because at least no one is breathing down my neck or pressuring me to teach something specific. I have free rein over what I do, which means lots and lots of English games! This is mostly because the students love them and get bored with anything else, like for example...a real lesson. And finally, and maybe my favorite, example 3, which only just happened this week. Our coordinator Kajee told Kaitlin that the school Director had asked how she knew whether or not her students' English was improving. You might be thinking, "yes indeed what a great and logical question." But the catch is that Kaitlin was told at the beginning of the semester that she didn't have to formally grade any of her classes. So she hasn't been. But now she's being told by Kajee that she should have been giving them speaking tests, and she wants Kaitlin to make up 4 test grades for each of her students. We have more than 600 students each by the way...so you do the math. She was told to grade them on a scale of 1-4, as if she knew who each of them was and how well they can (really can't) speak English, and to hand in the grades two days later. I'm kind of still laughing about that one because it's just so ridiculous. If they wonder how we're going to know how each student is improving, you'd think they would have us grade them all to begin with right? Evidently...wrong. And if you're wondering why we haven't been grading them informally, it's because we see our classes once a week, there's 50 students in each class, and it's just simply not realistic to try and teach them and then test them on it a week later. It would take several class periods, aka weeks, to do so. But again, this is simply my situation. Our other roommate Kat teaches at a different school in Saraburi within an English program. She sees her students three times a week, makes up detailed lesson plans, gives speaking tests, and is overall probably a better teacher than I am! But these are the cards I was dealt so I gotta play them.
  3. Sometimes you'll have to do things that you really didn't expect to do. For example, teach on Saturdays. I already wrote about the unfortunate circumstances that lead to Kaitlin and I being forced to "teach" on Saturdays because of Sports Day interfering with classes during the week back in November. With this wonderful idea, the students could get caught up with the course material in time for midterms in December. We were supposed to teach on five Saturdays, but they ended up cancelling the last two because they finally realized that the kids weren't exactly coming to school ready to learn. Some wouldn't even show up. The goal of those days was not met, and the kicker is that we weren't paid any extra for being there 6 days a week. Kaitlin and I both wished that OEG (our program) would have let us know that our school was going to make us do this. I personally felt like the school didn't really care about the teachers and wasn't concerned with what we wanted at all. It definitely wasn't a great feeling, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. It made it hard for me to feel a personal connection to the school because I felt like they really weren't concerned about us.
  4. No matter how much you want them to learn, some kids are just not motivated. That seems to be in part because of the school I'm at, and partly because of the Thai education system. For one, there are so many students at my school and no English program, so the overall proficiency levels are veryyyy low. This is really not surprising when you consider the impossible feat of trying to cater to 50 students' needs in the span of 40-50 minutes once a week. It's just not going to happen. So their motivation levels can sometimes be low since they know that the chances of them learning something that will stick with them is equally low. Another issue is the fact that they cannot fail. If they do fail, you re-test them. And re-test again until they pass. So why bother trying when you know the outcome already?! Great question, I would like to now refer you to 400 out of my 600 students and you can ask them! I definitely feel bad for the few kids in some of my classes who so very clearly want to learn. It's hard to try and control a classroom and also focus on trying to give all the students what they need. And again, at this point I've realized that that will never happen. Maybe if I had smaller classes, or saw them more than once or twice a week. But I've found that there's no point in wondering "what if" because you just have to adapt and learn what the best possible strategy is moving forward.
  5. Thai teachers are way stricter than I ever imagined. And I don't mean yelling or giving a lot of homework. I mean slapping kids on the head or using wooden sticks to hit them on their hands or backs when they've been bad. That was a fun surprise!! But once they see a farang (generally a white western foreigner) all bets are off the table (weirdly using a lot of card game references here?). They know we aren't going to do that with them, so they can go crazy, let loose and be EXTREMELY loud in our classrooms. Again, just something you have to deal with and learn to expect! I'd rather them have a little fun in my classes than be miserable.

If all of that didn't convince you to shut your computer and swear off ever coming to Thailand, then I'm glad! Because now I'd like to talk about the amazing things that I didn't expect to experience before coming to Thailand.

  1. The wonderful feeling you get when students tell you that they love you or get excited when you play a fun game in class. Just this week, one of my students from my favorite class left me a present and two cards on my desk for no reason at all. And actually while I was just typing this she came into the office and gave me another card. I do not deserve her.
  2. The huge smile that will break out on your face when you have the cutest student realize they said something properly in English. And yes I do have a favorite student who is the cutest thing I've EVER SEEN!!! And that's including puppies.
  3. Getting to know some of your students' personalities. I love laughing at the weird things they do or the sounds they make while being goofy in class. All of that warms my heart and makes me leave my classrooms smiling. And I don't even like kids!!! (Proof that anyone can do this).
  4. Overall getting to experience Thai culture and all the crazy, weird, and beautiful things that that entails. Like seeing three, four, or five people squished onto a motorbike drive by you. Without helmets I might add. Or taking a van to Bangkok for the weekend and swearing you're going to die at least five times on the trip as people zoom past you or drive on the wrong side of the road, but you always make it there safely. Or having teachers and students wai you in the morning, every morning to show respect (that's when you put your hands together and make a small bow with your head). Or learning to take cold showers and almost not even being bothered by it because it's so hot out. Or getting used to seeing the weirdest food combinations you could ever imagine being put into a crepe and devoured by a student after school. Or taking your shoes off outside most houses or stores. Or drinking soda out of a bag because this is Thailand. And also saying "this is Thailand" far too often but that's the only proper way to describe the crazy shit that happens here.
  5. The amount of places that you can manage to see on weekend trips and all the beauty that this country has to offer. I've so far been to Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Krabi, Chiang Mai, and Pai and have plenty more plans for the rest of the semester. I am also planning on traveling around Asia afterwards, just because I can!
  6. Thai money will get you far. The first month of working I had to use my own personal money to buy things, as I get paid at the end of the month by my school. But after that, I have not once dipped into my own money. Granted I haven't been able to save a lot (or any) of that Thai money yet, but it has gotten me through the months of traveling and lots of eating!
  7. No matter how hard I think this job is or how frustrating my school can be, I would choose this over working at home every. damn. time. I quit my last job because I was unhappy, and so far the overwhelming feeling I've had while being here has been pure joy. Maybe I don't feel that 100% of the time, but at least I'm not sitting in an office hating my life for 9 hours a day. THAT was torture. THIS is paradise.
  8. The people that you meet and become friends with are just amazing. I came here expecting to live with Kaitlin, but didn't expect to also gain a second roommate. Our friend Kat, who used to live about 10 minutes away, recently moved in with us at the end of December. We had been saying for a while that she should move in, as we had an extra bedroom, and she finally did! Our friend Tracy and her boyfriend live in our neighborhood as well. And our friends Emily and Laura live a couple hours away south of Bangkok. We see them almost every weekend when we get together to travel, and it's always great to spend time with people who have similar mindsets as you. One funny thing we talked about was that everyone always has that "token" friend who up and moves across the country or the world to do something crazy. And for us, we are all that token friend. We all left our families and friends to come to Thailand, and now we're experiencing a totally different way of living together.

So, the moral of this story I guess is that if you want to put your life on pause and come teach in Thailand or anywhere else in Asia, do it. Do it now. There are a million and one schools in Thailand that desperately want foreign teachers to come and work at their schools. It's an amazing way to make a difference, even if you don't feel like you are, while also earning enough money to travel and see the world. My situation is just one of many. I know I'm going to be asked about my experience once I go home, so I figured this was a surefire way to get around answering the same question a bajillion times - I'll just direct them here. Looking at you relatives that I see once or twice a year!

P.S. - This is the card that my student just gave to me. BRB crying.

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Make sure to check out my other personal blog for more stories and pictures! https://danielleinthailandblog.wordpress.com

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!

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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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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!

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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.

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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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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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