I arrived in Bangkok around 7AM on Sunday morning. I was nervous about the driver not being where they said they would be in the airport, but luckily I met them easily as well as five new friends, who had also just landed. We were getting to know eachother’s backgrounds on the fourty-five minute drive to the hotel, and by the time we arrived we had already solidified friendships and plans for the rest of the day. After showering the plane smell off of us, we met in the lobby to conquer Bangkok. We didn’t have many plans as to what to do, but we ended up taking the Sky Train to another part of town and getting some yummy Thai street food.
After the 30+ plus hour trip to get to Thailand, I figured that I could use a massage. The five of us new friends went to a massage parlour for a Thai massage, and it was an experience like no other! Shreni, Aisha and I were all in a curtained room together as we were being massaged. We were giggling at first at the compromising positions the masseurs put us in, but after about 15 minutes it felt normal to be poked and prodded and stretched in every direction. If you haven’t had a Thai massage before I highly recommend it, but don’t expect it to be a relaxing experience! The masseurs use every part of their body to massage every part of your body, so your inhibitions fade away quite quickly. Afterwards I felt incredibly zen, so it was definitely worth the $11.50 (have I mentioned I love how cheap everything is here?!)
We made it to Hua Hin on the second day, and it has been filled with mostly ups, but definitely some downs. The friends I’ve made here are fantastic, I love them all so much already. We all come from diverse backgrounds but have so many similar experiences that brought us to Thailand. We have all left a home that we (mostly) loved, but didn’t offer exactly what we wanted. It’s refreshing to meet so many people with this perspective – I don’t feel like a black sheep quite so much. That being said, I miss all my friends and families so much it hurts, but being surrounded by people in the same position is really comforting during this transitional period.
The “ups” of Hua Hin have primarily been the excursions we’ve gone on as a group. Yesterday we had a brief Muay Thai (aka Thai boxing) class. If you don’t know what Muay Thai is, it’s a blend of boxing, kick boxing and martial arts. These boxers do not mess around, and there are often some fairly serious injuries as a result of a fight. Within the first two minutes of stretching I had sweat dripping down my back, so you can imagine how soaked we were an hour and a half later. Hearing and feeling the connection between your shin and the mat as you kicked reallllly helped to get out some frustration – it was addicting! We’re planning to go cheer on our instructor in a fight on Friday night, so I’ll let you know how that goes.
Today we went to a pineapple farm, elephant sanctuary and “Artist’s Village”. My personal favourite was the village, which I hope to go to sometime later this month to purchase some local artwork. I don’t even know how to describe it…it is a small community of artists that have their pieces on display, while there were art workshops being run, all in this super cool little maze of wooden rooms. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it’s the best I can do. We drew and painted a little, which was a refreshing change of pace from being either in the blistering sun or lecture halls all the time. The elephant sanctuary was also very cool and a good photo op as we fed the animals pineapples, but it was pretty much what you’d expect from a tourist spot.
I suppose I forgot to mention that this course actually is hard work (I didn’t just come to Thailand to party, I promise!) We have had about 12 hours of lectures in the past two days that have covered Thai culture, visa runs, Thai language classes, what to expect from your school, et cetera. The real teaching English classes start next week, when there will be even more work and assignments to do.
There is one “down” that really stands out from my time here. On Monday night a few of us went to a bar just down the road, which was a lot of fun and it was great getting to know my new friends over a few beers. While we were chatting at the bar, we heard a huge crash come from the road, and of course everyone ran to the patio to see what had happened. There was a head on collision of two mopeds on the road, and when we got to see the accident there were two Thai men lying unconscious in the middle of the street with pieces of their bikes lying around them. Without getting into too much detail, it appeared as though one, if not both of the men, were killed in this accident. It was handled incredibly well by both the paramedics, who arrived within three minutes, and the XploreAsia staff who offered counselling and support for those of us that witnessed the accident. The experience was scary, surreal, sobering and humbling, and really made me not want to jump on the back of a moped any time soon (I hope that makes you feel better, mom).
It’s really difficult to put into words what I have been experiencing here, and pictures hardly do it justice. If you want to imagine what it’s like for us, just sit in a sauna for a couple of hours until there is sweat dripping out of every pore of your body and you’ll get a good idea. But seriously, coming here is one of the best decisions I could have made and I’m already dreading having to say goodbye to these new friends at the end of the month.