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11 posts categorized "Meghan Lourie"

The One With The Final Thoughts

    It's crazy that I'm writing my final Thailand blog post from the same exact spot that I wrote my first one. I am sitting on the floor of my best friend's house but instead of being anxious about leaving America we are anxious about assimilating back into America. It sounds crazy right, I mean we grew up here- how can we harbor any trepidation about being home? Because we are different than we were 6 months ago, that's why.

    6 months ago we were young women embarking on a journey together without a clue of what it would be like. 6 months ago we sat cross-legged on her floor and poured over books about Thailand and tried to learn and prepare for the culture we were about to join. 6 months ago we were sure that the lives we left behind would be patiently waiting for us when we got home. I can't speak for her, but for me- life is different now. Now I know more about the culture than any book from Barnes and Noble could possibly have taught me. Now many aspects of my life that I left behind have completely altered. I've changed career paths, masters programs and schools. I have had to sacrifice aspects of my life I never wanted to sacrifice- and hoped I wouldn't have to. I've crashed and burned literally and figuratively over the last 6 months and you bet your ass I'm a better person because of it all.

    There were so many things about Thailand that shocked me to my core when I arrived that now I barely register. Babies sitting on mother's laps on the backs of motorbikes without helmets... time being a loose guideline rather than a solid basis to revolve my life around... students taking 14 courses at a time... road rules that don't really exist... 90% of the population being happy and willing to assist you to the best of their ability... the cost of everything being so incredibly low... all of these things were concepts I thought I'd never get used to and now I have to adjust myself back to the culture I've always known and honestly many things about Thai culture will be hard to give up. I already miss it so much.

    I look forward to the next chapters in my life and the ways that I'll be able to apply this experience to them. I've grown and changed so much and yet if anything I just feel like a stronger version of myself. I can't wait to see everyone and start piecing my life in America back together, but the first step for that is to sleep a very long time. Thank you to the kind souls who followed along with this blog, you are all the real MVPs. Mai pen rai!


The One With The Last Day In Tak

    I remember hugging my mom at the train station and saying "it's only six months, it'll go by so quickly!!" I wanted to reassure her, I didn't want her to worry because in my head I had begun the process of freaking the F out. SIX MONTHS, SIX. MONTHS. in a foreign country, with people who don't speak my language, in a culture I know next to nothing about. There were so many moments right before I left where I thought "I don't think I can do this..." and now nearly six months have come and gone.

    I was right when I told my mom that it would go by quickly, at least now it feels that way, though there were definitely days when it felt like we had been in Thailand for YEARS and that we were never going home. I don't know how it's possible but after 5 months and one week, we are packed up and getting ready to leave Tak. The place we have called home since November. We still have 17 more days here in Thailand to travel and explore the islands (yay!) but this is out last day in our "hometown." It's unimaginable that we accomplished what we set out to do with only a few set backs along the way. All-in-all this was an adventure I will never forget.

    I'll be coming home in a couple weeks and I know a lot of changes are waiting for me when I get there, some I'm ready for and some I'm not. Some I welcome with open arms and some I'd rather lose my arms than face. But that's the thing about this trip, it's genuinely made me realize I can adapt to any situation or change. I came here with many things that I am not coming home with: the skin I left on the road in Chiang Mai after the motorbike accident, The wallet/passport I lost in Bangkok, a good chunk of my wardrobe that I decided I can really live without, the 20lbs of weight I realized I dropped and many other things that I did not expect to lose while I was over here. 

   I'm so thankful for everyone in my life that has stood by me during this insane period of my life. I am who I am because of your steadfast love and support. We're picking up our other best friend in Bangkok tomorrow night and then the next day we are flying to Phuket. We have so many exciting adventures coming up in the next few weeks and even more adventures when we get back to America. 

    I have been repeating Hagrid's words in my mind over and over since New Years and it's basically become my mantra: "what's coming will come, and we'll meet it when it does." See you soon, America!





The One With The Field Trip To Chonburi

    I won't lie to you guys, I did not want to go on this trip. At first it sounded pretty cool but then as the preparation meetings began we felt like it was not going to be what we expected. I knew this because this was the first line of the schedule we got:

    Saturday 10pm- DRIVE  OVERNIGHT FOR 9 HOURS WITH 40 STUDENTS AGED 15-17 (lol kill me)

    We worked together (4 other foreign, English teachers and myself) to come up with as many activities and lessons as we could because the whole point of the trip was it was an English camp. By the time we actually left we had it basically figured out. I popped a couple dramamine and slept through the whole ride down. 

    We were very pleasantly surprised by the entire field trip so I'll be the first to say I was wrong to assume it would suck. We checked into a Naval base which also had a sea turtle conservation on it Sea Turtle Conservation Center Royal Thai Navy This honestly might have been the best part of the trip for me. My favorite animals are turtles so getting to see hundreds of them- of all various ages, sizes and species was really incredible. I absolutely had more fun than any of the kids. 

    We then went to a Mangrove forest and got to walk along a wooden bridge and see where mudskippers live, we didn't get to learn as much as we hoped because the guide spoke only in Thai and despite being here nearly 6 months, I still barely speak the language, let alone understand it. 

    Afterwards we checked into our accommodations on the base and then changed to head off to the beach. We played a bunch of games geared towards English speaking and listening and the kids loved getting to play them on the beach (as did the chaperones). After we played some games, we were allowed a couple hours of free time at the ocean which was really nice considering most field trips in America only give you a half hour or so. 

    We then returned to the base to continue with the camp and did some more activities and after all of that we basically crashed into our beds. 

    In the morning we woke up early and caught a ferry to an island called Koh Samae San. What's interesting about this island is that the Royal Thai Navy is in complete control over how it is maintained and cared for which becomes obvious when you see the pristine beaches and crystal clear water. We paid 50 Baht (1.50 USD) to use snorkel gear and be taken by boat out to a roped off area of coral reef where we got to dive and see lots of different sea life, some of the fish are so unafraid that they swim close enough to touch, though of course we didn't touch them. It was awesome, and the fact that the school trip included this blows my mind. We relaxed on the beach the majority of the day and then bussed to Pattaya, another province in Thailand. 

    We stayed right across from the beach and that night the kids put on a gala which consisted of lots of singing, dancing, games, skits and other impressive talents. It was conducted as a competition because throughout the trip the students were split into 6 teams and were earning points for every activity. The English teachers were judges and I genuinely felt like Simon Cowell at some points. Microphones and misplaced responsibilities go straight to my head and I immediately think I am more powerful/important than I am. But we had lots of fun and the kids really enjoyed it. 

    The next day we bopped around Pattaya a little more and then headed back to our province. Aside from the 2hour long karaoke session that took place on the bus on the way home, it was an awesome field trip and I am so glad my assumptions were completely wrong. 

    I attached only pictures of myself and other chaperones because I did not get the permission of the students to post pictures of them on my blog.




The One Where I Got My Wisdom Tooth Pulled For 15 Dollars

    I have been bitching about my wisdom tooth for weeks. Just ask anyone in our office at the school and they'll tell you that it's basically all I could talk or think about at work. I'm one of those unlucky people whose wisdom teeth came in late and came in completely effing sideways.

    A few weeks into arriving in Thailand (by the way, great timing on that one God) I started the unmistakable process of cutting one of my wisdom teeth. I will never be bother by a teething baby again- that shit sucks. Leading up until the last week or so it honestly wasn't too terrible. Then the rest of the tooth came through and decided to point itself directly into my cheek and gums. I felt like I had braces all over again and as much fun as that was the first time around, I really wasn't interested in experiencing pain like that again.

    I wanted to check out the really nice looking dentist's office right across from the school. All the kids where I teach who have braces said that's where they get them. I figured they must be pretty good then. Finally after withstanding another horrible day of tooth; cheek, gum and jaw pain I decided to walk over and see what the price of getting a tooth out would be. I waited maybe 20min to see a dentist, she X-rayed the tooth and said "do you want to pull it today?" I said that depends, "how much will it cost?" She replied "500 Baht." I almost cried. 500 Baht is roughly 16 U.S. dollars. I smiled and said "let's do this."FUN FACT: the name of the clinic translated means "happiness clinic," nailed that one. 

    PSA: I am a huge, huge wimp when it comes to dentist procedures. Once when I was young I had 2 teeth pulled by a dentist who chose to ignore my cries as I was telling him I wasn't numb and could feel him ripping my tooth from my gums. So needless to say, I'm terrified of the dentist. The Thai dentist here was a phenomenal woman, who was incredibly patient, calm and comforting. She asked how I was feeling multiple times and answered all my paranoid questions without getting frustrated at all.

    The whole process was done and over in 20 minutes- including numbing me, waiting 10min for it to kick in, pulling the tooth and placing the gauze. I literally hugged this woman after it was over because it was such an easy and comfortable process. She laughed pretty hard cause Thai people don't really hug each other. I joked and told her I was going to fly back to Thailand for all my future dentistry needs. I was given extra gauze, pain medication, and directions for after care for the next few hours. The grand total came to 650 THB (20 USD).

    The process was no different than it would have been in America except that my Thai dentist actually provided better quality care than my past American dentist. I can't even think about the bill I would have received for this in the U.S.

    So anywho, that's the most excitement I've experienced in a hot minute since we aren't traveling right now in order to save money for the end of the semester to explore with. MORAL OF THE STORY: Come to Thailand to get your wisdom teeth out.

NAME OF THE CLINIC: PasoOk Dental Clinic (พาสุข เดนทอล คลินิก)


The One Where I Figured Out How To Send Money Home

So the really exciting thing about being an adult is having bills and responsibilities no matter where you are, right? Wrong. Nothing is worse, actually. I make a decent paycheck in Thailand standards as a teacher, which sounds like a lot until you find out that every month I have to send roughly half of my salary home every month to cover bills/loans/other random adult BS I hate with a passion. 

That's frustrating in and of itself, but I haven't mentioned the good part yet- up until today I could not figure out a fast way to send money home to my US bank account without physically going to my Thai bank and filling out a form, waiting in line, paying a huge fee and then biking back. Well today my life has changed for the better because.......

GOD BLESS FACEBOOK, the one and only time I will say that. 

Someone in our CIEE Teach in Thailand FB group asked the great question "how are you guys sending money home to cover bills and things in America?" The first thing I thought is, why the F didn't I think to ask that here? Followed swiftly by, wait did anyone have a new answer for this? Lucky for me someone did. 

So I just want to say that I did try my very hardest to figure this out on my own, I read every online resource, I tried every stupid website and app but most things weren't international or had a huge fee. I tried adding a second account to my paypal account but you can't send money to yourself from one account to another... UNLESS triumphantly raises finger into the sky

You open two separate paypal accounts with two separate emails....DUH takes finger and jams it into brain for not thinking of this concept sooner

So shoutout to the girl from facebook who floated this idea in the group and allowed me to find a way to send money, quickly, without having to go to the bank and for 1/20th of the cost. My only regret is not figuring this out sooner and avoiding all the fees I've already paid but hey better late than pregnant! ....I mean never. 

Anyways I just wanted to post a blog about this in case anyone else teaching abroad was struggling with this now or in the future. 

May the exchange rate be ever in your favor! 

The One Where We Spent New Years In Bangkok

Fun fact: NYE in Bangkok is very very similar to NYE in Times Square, or so I imagine. I've never actually been to Times Square for New Years because I am claustrophobic and after experiencing it in Bangkok I can confirm that I will probably never go to NYC for New Year's Eve- not my scene.

But let's back up and give you the full rundown of what New Year's Eve day was like and how we spent New Year's day because that's the good stuff. 

Our friend from Orientation came and stayed at the hostel with us and we hadn't seen her since October so that was really amazing, it's crazy how close you can feel to people when you only met them a few months prior. New Year's Eve day we got some really delicious breakfast, I got blueberry cream cheese pancakes and an iced coffee which was just as fattening and amazing as it sounds. We then walked around the Wang Lang market and found some fun earrings to wear with our outfits. We stopped at a park that overlooked the river in the center of Bangkok and walked across the bridge and got semi lost trying to find the Ferry. All-in-all it was a really nice day, if you take out the part where we saw a cat get hit by a taxi, that was a major bummer.  After the market we went back to our hostel and got ready for the night, we made drinks and sat on the roof with other people from our hostel and caught up with each other. Two of the people in our hostel had decided to skip the crowds and go to a disco funk club for NYE instead and we decided to meet up with them there. Unfortunately we made a cab drive us all over God's creation to try to find this club, only to fail miserably. We hauled ass back to Khao San Road which is the main drag of Bangkok where all the bars are and where everyone gathers to watch the countdown. We made it and formed a human chain and shoved our way through the crowd and got to a good vantage point roughly two minutes before midnight. We were actual sardines but it was such an incredible thing to witness and be a part of. 

Due to my high anxiety in closely-packed crowds and claustrophobia, I Irish exited the premises and fled back to the hostel which was thankfully only one road away. (Irish exiting: Verb, meaning to leave a party or event or function without saying goodbye to anyone or telling anyone where you are going). This is a really bad habit of mine that started in college but since I made it back perfectly safe and texted everyone as soon as I hit the hostel I think it's fine. I fell asleep around 12:30am and have no regrets. 

The next morning we all were nursing a stellar hangover, as I'm sure many other people were that morning and decided that going to see a movie in an air conditioned theater was exactly what we all needed. We went to the mall got really great Indian food and then split up so we could all see the movies we wanted to. After the movie we indulged in some shopping and then went back to the hostel for our last night together. Everyone was so exhausted from the night before that we all passed out by 10pm knowing we had an 8hr bus ride back to our province the next day. 

It was so great catching up and reuniting for a weekend and enjoying the end of the year together. I have a feeling 2018 is going to be a great one considering how the end of 2017 has been for us. knock on wood. 


The One With The Trip To Pai

    I don't normally give advice about Thailand because everyone experiences it differently but there is one piece of advice that I know to be absolutely valid- EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO PAI.

    There is no other place in Thailand that is quite like Pai. It's a popular area but not over-crowded. It's a city but it's doesn't have insane traffic, unless you count the reckless driving that takes place on the 762 hairpin turns in the road you take to get to and from Pai. There is so much to see and do there that you need at least a 3 day weekend to really take it all in. We will definitely be back before we leave. 

    Pai is notorious for it's laid-back atmosphere and hippy vibes. After working for a month and a half we were ready for a mini vacation, so we took an extra day off and spent 4 days there, best decision so far. 

    We rode our bikes to the bus station in Tak at 11:30pm, took the midnight bus to Chiang Mai and arrived at 4:30. We then took a 6am van from Chiang Mai and after the many twists and turns we arrived smack dab in the middle of Pai's famous "walking street." It didn't take us long to find all the different foods Pai offers that our province doesn't (Mexican food)...(so much Mexican food). We then dropped our bags off at our hostel and began walking around and getting accustomed to the new area. 

    We stumbled on a booth selling tours and since we knew it would be a very expensive and probably unsuccessful journey trying to seeing the hot spots ourselves, we decided to sign up for the full day tour. The tour was of 5 different locations, it covered transportation and lunch and the company picks you up at your hostel the day off. We left at 10am and were gone until 6pm and it was so beyond worth it. It cost 500 Baht (15 USD) to see a view point at the top of Pai, a guided cave tour which included a bamboo raft ride through the river inside, a stop at the hot spring, followed by a waterfall and last but absolutely not least the Pai canyon at sunset (which may be my favorite thing we've seen in Thailand so far). 

    It would have been incredible if the tour was just that, but the group of people we spent the day with were the most awesome, genuine, hilarious and fun people to ever be grouped with. We got off the tour truck, looked around at each other and decided we weren't done hanging out. We found an amazing restaurant with delicious food and a rooftop setting and ate lunch followed by a few drinks around Pai. We made plans to hang out the next day with everyone and got each other's contact info so we could keep in touch.

    That's the amazing thing about the backpacker community, you meet so many awesome people. We met another girl at our hostel who we also loved and went to dinner with and honestly by the time it was time to go we were having a really hard time saying goodbye to both Pai and the people we met there. 

    So for those reasons and about a billion others, I fully stand by my opinion that if you come to Thailand YOU HAVE TO GO TO PAI. Trust me. 

Tour: Pai Let's Go Tour (pailetsgo.com) 

Restaurants worth trying: Moonshine, The Wine Bar, Bom Bowls, Earth Tone...plus all the street food vendors

Bars worth going to: Sunset bar, Paradise Bar, Yellow Sun

Hostel we stayed in: Pai Circus Hostel and School 



The One With The Nightly Dinner Routine

    I honestly didn't know what to expect when it came to what meals would be like in Thailand. I knew markets and stands were common and that pad thai was probably abundant in the country. I didn't know that when I got placed in my apartment I would not have a kitchen of any kind, aside from a refrigerator. When I first heard this I won't lie, I sort of freaked out. My inner monologue went something like this "HOW THE F AM I SUPPOSED TO FEED MYSELF WHEN I DON'T HAVE ANY WAY TO MAKE FOOD?!" Except in my head "F" was very clearly spelled out. 

    After the first few days here we realized we weren't going to be able to survive with just a fridge, so we rode our bikes to the nearby store and purchased a water heater, which is essentially just an electric tea pot- we have them in America too and I'm obsessed with mine. We use that to make a lot of different things so we can theoretically survive without buying every single meal outside of our apartments. 

    The great thing about Thailand is that every. damn. thing. is cheap. Meals are rarely more than 300baht, the equivalent of 10USD and that's honestly when you're splurging or in a more urban area. Where we live has significantly lower prices than say Bangkok or Chiang Mai. Our average meal is between 30 and 60Baht (1-2USD). 

    We have been here for about a month and a half now so we officially have our "spots" and are on a first name basis with some of our favorite vendors. In fact at one of our favorite restaurants in Tak, the cook brought our rice out in the shape of a heart the other night. We knew we had officially been promoted to "regulars," which is a pretty awesome feeling. 

    While we do love that restaurant, our go-to meal is Pad Thai (how cliche, I know) and a papaya salad. Our nightly routine looks something like this: 

    Around 6:50pm one of us texts the group and says "night market in 10?" 

    7:00pm we ride our bikes about a mile to the river where several vendors set up stands to sell various amazing foods

    7:10pm we stop at the pad thai stand and get a serving to go

    7:15pm we go to the papaya salad stand and get an order to go and say "mai phet" meaning "not spicy" -I will never be able to put into words how DELICIOUS  papaya salad is, if I am able to recreate it when I get back to the U.S. I will cry tears of joy. 

    7:20pm we ride our bikes back to our apartments with our food in our baskets 

    7:30pm stage dive into a pile of bomb pad thai and papaya salad while constantly saying "I can't believe I'm not sick of this yet!" 

The convenience aspect is slightly missing because we do have to ride to the river to get the food, but the meal is always so, SO worth the effort it takes to obtain it. 

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The One Where I Apologize To Every Teacher I've Ever Had

  • I am so sorry for all the times I talked while you were talking.
  • I am so sorry for the times I used my cell phone while you were teaching a lesson and then raised my hand and said I didn't understand the topic you were trying to teach.
  • I am so sorry for not doing my homework or not reading the material.
  • I am so sorry for being a pain in the ass in general.

     I say all these things because oh how the tables have turned.

    So it turns out, teaching is really effing hard. Lesson planning is super frustrating and time-consuming and NOT FUN no matter what people think. Meetings, grading papers, keeping track of pens, managing a classroom are all things that come with the territory of teaching and all drive me insane.

    This job is even harder when you add in the fact that we do not speak their native language so if they don't understand something they can't even really tell you why they don't understand it or what exactly they don't understand.

    It's probably important to mention that I have taught before, lots of different things to all different ages but this is another level of teaching that I never knew I was capable of doing.

    So you're probably wondering right now if I hate it here and if I'm regretting this at all and the answer is: not one bit. Somedays are harder than others but when a kid says they learned something from your lesson or draws you a picture or smiles and waves excitedly when they see you... That's the good stuff that makes this job so cool.

    The main thing I've learned is that my teachers are all good people for dealing with teenage pain in the asses like myself without losing their shit on a daily basis. Love you all.

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The One With The Motorbike Accident

    It was a simple left hand turn.

    Brigette (a friend we met at orientation who also works at our school) and I decided to rent motorbikes to go see the grand canyon in Chiang Mai. Each driver had to leave their passport at the rental company to ensure that the bike gets returned, Brigette didn't have hers so they said we could just take one and ride together. Keep in mind I have never driven a motorbike before but we felt like we could handle it, evidently we were wrong.

    We were going left on red (the equivalent of right on red but in a country where they drive on the left), a completely legal move. It happened so fast. We were trying to make the turn but we both weren't leaning into the curve so instead of making a sharp left, we made a slight left into a car that came up beside us while we were making the turn. We hit the car and then we hit the ground, hard. Our skin is probably still somewhere on the 108 in Chiang Mai to be honest. 

    We both were wearing helmets and I genuinely think if we weren't that things would have been much worse, if not fatal. I bounced my head off the ground but the helmet took all of the blow and aside from some whiplash today I have no head injuries. We stood up, took stock of ourselves and then noticed some really nice guys running over to help us pick up the bike and move it to the side. We each have some bumps bruises and gnarly road rash but all in all we got really lucky that nothing worse happened to us. 

    The important part of the story I want to mention is the way we were treated following the accident. In America if we had hit another car, a very nice one I may add, we would probably have had the cops called on us and some hefty fines on our hands. In Thailand we were taken to the restaurant in front of where the accident happened, given waters, and had our wounds cleaned- all by the people whose car we hit. When I offered her all the Baht (Thai currency) that I had, they refused. She ended up taking 20 baht just to placate me but 20 baht is less than 1 USD. While I was begging them to take some money to pay for the damages she was using google translate to communicate with me, when I said why won't you take money she typed something into google translate. When she turned the phone to me all that it said was "kindness." I wept onto the woman's shoulder and hugged them all, she then pointed at herself and said "Thai friend." The restaurant owners then communicated with the bike rental company and asked them to come pick us/the bike up. They came immediately, brought us back and cleaned all our wounds and bandaged us up without any question. 

    It may go down in history as our worst day in Thailand, but it may also go down as the day filled with the most compassion. With this week being Thanksgiving, I am very aware of all the things I have to be thankful for.  Unnamed (4)
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