As the semester begins to wind down (where have the past three and a half months gone?), I’ve decided to write a post about a typical day in the ESL classroom: what time I start, what time I end, what my responsibilities are, etc., etc.. As I begin to write that post, however, I thought I would share with you (in no specific order) some tidbits from my life over the past few weeks.
– It’s currently final exam week here at Ratwinit Bangkaeo School, and while I love exam week for the fact that I tend to get out of school around 2pm, I don’t exactly love sitting in silence in the back corner of a classroom (one that averages around 93 degrees) for about five hours a day. To give y’all an indication of how fun proctoring exams is, I’ve taken to writing blog posts on napkins and counting how many ants crawl over my desk. The last exam week took place during Christmas, and man, does that feel like a long time ago.
– This past weekend was a long weekend thanks to Makha Bucha (or as the locals tell me: Buddha Day), and I made a trip to Pattaya which is a shoreline city about two hours south of Bangkaeo. SO, here’s the thing about Pattaya: If you live in or around Bangkok, it’s worth it to make a trip to Pattaya to visit the neighboring islands (we visited Koh Larn in particular and it was BEAUTIFUL). Otherwise, I don’t recommend staying in the city as it’s basically a giant RLD, and the entire city seems to smell like s**t. Maybe we stayed in the wrong area, but my consensus is that there are too many beautiful places in Thailand to make a stop here.
– I also had my first (and perhaps last) visitor in Bangkaeo this past weekend, which was super exciting (S/O to Stef). We have officially planned trips for March and April to Malaysia, Vietnam, southern Thailand and Bali!
– I accidentally bought “salt” flavored toothpaste from 7/11 the other day, and I can’t say I hate it.
– Two weekends ago, I visited Wat Pho and the Grand Palace, two of the most elaborate and well-known temples in Bangkok. Here’s my two cents: Go, and prepare to marvel at some of the most magnificent sights you will ever see. Perhaps don’t go on a Saturday afternoon (although I’m not sure if the crowds ever subside), and be prepared to pay upwards of 700 baht for entrance to both of these temples. ALSO, make sure you are wearing pants/skirts that cover your knees, and make sure to wear a shirt that covers your chest and shoulders. They claimed a scarf (which completely covered my chest and shoulders) wasn’t appropriate, and so of course I was forced to “rent a shirt” for a 200 baht deposit.
– I recently celebrated my Thai friend’s birthday, and we went to an all-you-can-eat buffet, where you choose from an endless selection of raw meats and seafood and vegetables (no, I had no clue what anything was), and cook it yourself—in oil—directly on your table. Apparently this is a fairly common option for Thai families when they go out to eat, but I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread (for the novelty factor, but also for the delicious food).
– Check out Iron Fairies in Bangkok. You won’t be disappointed.
– Same goes for Rocket CoffeeBar.
– I finally got my first Thai pedicure, and while I can’t say it was the most hygienic thing I’ve ever done, it was sorely needed thanks to all of the walking I’ve done lately—and I only paid 200 baht (about 5 USD) for it!
– Speaking of pampering myself, I got two Thai massages in the span of two weekends. The first was in Hua Hin (more about that city later), and the second was in Bangkok. Both were about 250 baht and left me feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. A lot of people compare Thai massages to assisted yoga, as they involve a lot of stretching and awkward positioning of the body. At one point, I was lying on my stomach and the masseuse had my toes touching my ears, and at another, she proceeded to crack each of my toes, not once, but twice. To add to the ridiculousness, they have you wear these hilarious outfits of baggy shirts and high-waisted pants in shockingly-bright colors. At multiple points during both massages, I looked down at myself and burst out laughing. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or entertainment, Thai massages come highly recommended!
– I spent the first weekend of February in Hua Hin, a city about three and half hours southwest of Bangkok. While I was in Pattaya, I was reminded a lot of Hua Hin, as both are beachy cities that attract a multitude of visitors on the weekends, and both populations seem to be a retirement community of sorts for older Westerners. If I had to choose one to re-visit, however, I would choose Hua Hin in a heartbeat. The nightlife was fun (in contrast to downright skeevy), the city had more of a “beach town vibe,” and while it was windy and stormy the entire time we were there, the beaches were a great escape from city-life.
– There are a lot of things that tug at your heartstrings while living in a developing country. In particular, the treatment of animals here is something that would never be accepted at home. I’ve seen everything from horses panting and foaming at the mouth in Hua Hin for the sake of giving tourists rides on the beach, to elephants being marched around in front of the temples in Ayutthaya, to dogs being kicked as if it were nothing. I’ve seen ten birds shoved in a small cage to be sold to “let them go.” I’ve seen multiple kittens being carried in plastic bags. I’ve also heard horror stories about people snapping dogs’ tails because they “didn’t behave.” Perhaps most shockingly of all, you can read about the speed-breeding and abuse of the tigers at the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi (a popular tourist spot) here. With the proper education and resources, these issues can subside substantially, and so I beg that you do your research and boycott many of these animal institutions. I implore that you treat all animals kindly and with respect (yes, all living things deserve respect), and perhaps even check out Rescue Paws or similar organizations to see how you can help (even if it’s just a monetary donation).
– One of my friends recently asked what I’ve learned about myself while in Thailand, and I responded: “Weeeellllll in stressful travel situations I tend to shut down and I get kinda…” I couldn’t even finish my sentence before two of my friends jumped in: “Cranky!” they shouted. So there’s that…
– I’ve also learned that I need to be equal parts challenged and inspired to be successful. I’ve learned that I need my own space and crave independence, and I’ve learned that I will pursue opportunities that allow me to live abroad for as long as I possibly can.
Until next time,