Being in Hua Hin has been a breath of fresh air to say the least. After our time in Bangkok, we were pretty overwhelmed with the congestion as well as the fact that it is one of the most massive cities we have ever seen and experienced. Hua Hin is a beach resort town about two and a half hours South of Bangkok. It is very much cleaner and calmer. We were under assumption that since it is beach side, we would get a bit of a cooler air temperature or breeze at least. This is NOT the case. Walking around has been dreadfully hot and I mean HOT… like, sweat pouring out of everywhere; but it is definitely worth it. There is so much culture and friendly faces here and the food… wow…the food is DELICIOUS! There are endless street food stands and various markets where you can get the most authentic and fresh Thai food. Whether its meat on a stick, mango sticky rice, red or green curry, the options are endless. Before coming here, I hated curry, now I am ridiculously obsessed and seek it out everywhere I go to eat.
I am still waiting for that large creeping critter to come surprise me though because I definitely know they are around here somewhere; however, we do have lots of lizards, inside and around our house. We do not mind them because they eat the little bugs, spiders and mosquitos so they’re actually good to keep around, plus they stay away from humans. Orientation week is meant to help us settle into the new environment and culture. It has been filled with amazing excursions and class sessions covering Thai Culture, Thai politics (which is actually fascinating) and Thai language. We have been practicing our Thai on some of the locals we come across when going out on the town. More often than not, we get lots of giggles and sweet smiles. Our Thai language teacher tells us not to take it personally because she explained that it’s something the Thai people think is cute, just like as if an infant was learning to speak.
Afterwards, we got to visit the elephants. Elephants are such special animals and I have always had a great deal of love for them and it was incredible getting to be so close to them. There is a young elephant there, baby Songkran, who we got to spend time with and she is just so full of life and insanely intelligent. She paints, bows, gives kisses and communicates in numerous ways, it is just enchanting to witness. Elephants LOVE pineapples, they eat the entire thing too. Little baby Songkran, however, chose to step on them and suck up the juice with her trunk because she is picky on the size and color of her pineapples :). Later that day, we also got to take a Thai cooking class. The director of our training program is married to a Thai woman and her own mother lead the Thai cooking class. We made classic Pad Thai and it was phenomenal!
We have visited Khao Tao, which is a gorgeous temple along the beach with a stunning view of the ocean and hilly region. We were blessed by the head monk and even had a chance to meditate within the temple. I have really fallen in love with the Buddhist culture (as expected) since arriving here in Thailand. I am very eager to travel around the country and see more!
One thing I did not expect about Thailand, especially in Hua Hin, is the vast number of stray dogs. There are so many of them that they even form packs, with obvious leaders of the pack. They do not bother humans but it can be extremely saddening because they are seriously everywhere. Our program, XploreAsia, helps sponsor a rescue organization here in Hua Hin, called Rescue Paws. We went to see the rescue grounds and it was awesome seeing the work that they do. They vaccinate, sterilize and treat stray dogs as well as pay for all adoption costs, even transporting dogs out of the country to loving homes. You can donate to help these adorable pups here, https://www.crowdrise.com/helpingrescuepaws . If you’d like to learn more about the organization please visit, www.rescuepawsasia.org … they truly do incredible things for these dogs.
Orientation week has come to an end with a great last day (Friday 9/4) of learning some Muay Thai boxing skills and having a beach BBQ hosted by our program to celebrate the end of our first week. Following the BBQ, we decided to have our first late night out on the town. Our Thai language teacher recently opened her own bar in the city of Hua Hin; she invited us to come for free drinks and to take part in her masquerade themed party! We had a great night and we were able to get to know a lot more about our fellow co-teachers on a social (and tipsy) level. Next week is when we really get into the TESOL course material, assignments and all of that fun stuff; so, we are taking this weekend to have fun and relax before all of the serious work starts! We cannot wait to see what else the next few weeks in Hua Hin has in store for us!