I’ve been playing around with the idea of starting a blog for quite awhile. When I studied abroad in London back in Fall 2011, I made the mistake of documenting nothing. For my adventures teaching and traveling in Thailand and beyond, I’ve armed myself with a Go Pro Hero 3(greatest gift ever thanks to my BUD) and now this blog. This is the first step! Now I’ll have to hold myself accountable and commit to documenting my adventures. Here goes nothing!
I’ve been in Thailand a few days shy of a month now and all I can say is that it has been a huge emotional rollercoaster but worth every second. I’ve learned that with the right attitude and a good likeminded-friend, you can get through anything. Shout out to lessons I’ve learned in yoga. For my first post, I’m just going to list random bits of information I’ve picked up so far. AN ICEBREAKER IF YOU WILL.
1. The best decision I’ve made so far: renting out a scooter. I live in an area off the beaten track which means you can’t always flag down a motorbike taxi or especially a tuk tuk. As scary as it is driving a motorbike in a foreign country, it’s also allowed me SO MUCH freedom and the ability to explore. Also, walking can be too much when it’s this relentlessly hot and humid.
2. 7-11 is better here than in the states. They’re immaculately clean and you can do almost anything from heating up edamame or full meals to buying bus tickets or unlimited phone plans.
3. It’s not a real meal unless it involves rice. I’ve gotten to the point where I feel like something is wrong if I haven’t had rice by dinnertime. A common Thai greeting is “Gin khao reuyang?’ which literally translates to “Have you eaten rice yet?” Take that home and chew it.
4. As a foreigner or “Farang” in a less touristy town, you WILL be stared at and feel like you’re being laughed at. Smiling and laughing along is the best response.
5. I haven’t successfully ordered a coffee or tea that doesn’t have Carnation instant breakfast in it. All the drinks are extremely sweet and creamy. The green smoothie/juice drinking part of me hates that I actually like it on occasion.
6. Stop discussing things you miss! Over dinner the other night, my friend Leah and I were talking about what we missed about back home. For me: green smoothies/juices, running on the beach, a comfy bed, being able to read signs, labels etc. We then realized our mistake in doing so. We realized that we only missed these things because we don’t have them. Also, WE’RE LIVING/TRAVELING IN THAILAND FOR A YEAR. How cool is that?! Leah was completely right when she said that when we go back home we’ll be talking about what we miss about Thailand. We’re going to focus on making that true.
7. The rumors are true: for the most part, the people here genuinely friendly/happy and smiley and will go out of their way to make you feel welcome. Leah and I went out to lunch for our first meal here and the owner of the restaurant wouldn’t let us pay. We exchanged line contacts with his daughter, Zaine, whom we met and she drove us and made sure we got a great deal on our scooters. My drink and dinner tab was covered my first Saturday night out, Zaine’s friend gave us a welcome dinner at his resort, and just this evening a group of older Thai men sneakily paid for my dinner while I was still eating(pity for being alone?). I could write a whole post on these countless stories. If you’re ever out and about looking lost, you can count on a Thai person to offer assistance. I think of all the times I’ve seen confused looking foreigners/tourists in America and it saddens me to say that I never thought once about how difficult it can be. Now I can relate. When I’m back in the States, I’ll be sure to help out and welcome foreigners as much as the Thai’s have me.
8. Language barriers are frustrating but that doesn’t mean bonds can’t be made. I’m in a classroom with two Thai teachers, Teacher Ann and Teacher Bew, who speak very little English. When I first started teaching, I was still learning the whole classroom routine and it was challenging trying to seek help from the Thai teachers. Learn by watching and using common sense. Don’t underestimate the power of charades, body language and patience. It still counts as communication. As we’ve familiarized ourselves with one another we can understand and laugh along at the antics of our students or silly things that happen throughout the day. Teacher Ann freaked out when she saw a lizard in the classroom one day and we couldn’t stop laughing at our joint effort to free it out the window. It’s the little things. I’ve come to realize that my fellow teachers understand a bit more English than they let on at first, but just like me, they can be shy. It’s all about being open to new things and making an effort. I’ll never forget the Friday after school when all the Thai teachers were gathered around eating fruit and Teacher Ann motioned to me to come join the circle. She then communicated to Teacher Nint(the Thai teacher who speaks very good English) to tell me that she was going to try her best to learn English for me. As cheesy as it sounds, I felt way less like an outsider and it truly made my day. I’ve never wanted to take a crash course on Thai so badly.
9. Do something you would do at home but Thai style. I love yoga, so I knew I would sooner or later need a dose of it here. I kept pushing the subject on my coordinator, Teacher Patty(sorry for my relentlessness) and she found a class above a fancy new 7-11 not too far from my apartment. I quickly found out the benefits of doing something familiar in an unfamiliar place. The instructor, Teacher Pin, has an extremely warm and welcoming demeanor despite speaking very few English words and makes sure to help me with poses when my confusion is obvious. I might actually learn some Thai words even if they do only relate to yoga(directions and body parts). I found out that a couple of my fellow Thai yogis, one of which sets my mat out for me everyday before I get to class, are taught by my farang friend Ciara. Small town. The language barrier dissipates when we’re all trying out splits and other tough poses and laughing at each other’s pained facial expressions. I love my little Thai yogi community and the classes are a much appreciated part of my post school evenings.
10. Don’t underestimate the Thai mosquitos! I’ve always thought of myself as one being immune to mosquito bites back in the States. Thailand is a whole different ball game. I ignored the warnings from people and learned the hard way. Repellent has become a day-to-day essential.
This hasn’t even grazed the surface of all things Thai. My hope is that I’ve given a good overview of the types of things to come. Until next time! Sawatdee ka!