Yesterday I moved from Hua Hin back to Bangkok temporarily, and a lot has been happening here. I could tell you about going to the caves and finally having a reason to put on my climbing shoes (although my first bouldering experience here was an epic five hour game of “The Floor is Lava” – which I won), or finally setting off a floating lantern which I’ve always wanted to do, or acing my TESOL exam, but I don’t think I’m going to talk about any of those things. Not really, anyways.
These last few weeks (hard to believe it hasn’t even been a month yet!) have been some of the most intensive, crazy weeks of my life. Just a short time ago a group of just under 30 young adults were brought together for a TESOL course. We all came for different reasons, some running from things, some running to things, some searching for self-discovery, some wanting to be Bilbo Baggins, and some even wanting to change lives through teaching. What I don’t think any of us expected was how much we would change each other’s lives.
I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn, and we are lead to those who help us most to grow. (Yeah, I just quoted Wicked, what of it?) This month was filled with exhaustion, illness to the point of hospitalization on several accounts, missing persons (only to be discovered the next morning after waking up in a Thai family’s house), heartbreaks, regrets, and poor decisions on many levels. But through this all this group came together and became a team that supported each other to their fullest, through all the rough times, lifting each other up when all we wanted to do was crawl back to bed. We turned those dark times into times of laughter and rejoicing, and became closer because of it.
So I know I may have not been the most active person on the team, but I loved every minute I spent with these wonderful people. So thank you all for the magic, the poetry, the music, the dancing, the sharing, the late-night therapy sessions, the adventures, the laughter, the party party times, the new experiences, and most of all for holding nothing back. I don’t know if I will see any of you ever again, but I know I will never forget you. Good luck, wherever you are heading, I’m sure you will rock it.
I guess it has been a while now since I’ve posted anything here – over two weeks and boy have they been busy.
Shortly after my last post, everyone with Xplore Asia upped and moved from Bangkok to Hua Hin, a coastal Thai tourist city about 2.5 hours south of Bangkok. Most of us were placed in Suchaya House, where the beds are harder than rocks and the cool waters of a pool beckon at all times. The heat here is ridiculous, not at all helped by the humidity. But, I think I might be getting used to it. Somewhat.
Our first week with Xplore Asia was mostly introduction to Thai language, culture, and such, peppered with all sorts of excursions. The language is difficult to pick up (surprise surprise), and I feel like 6 hours of language lessons did not help me become fluent. The sessions on Thai culture were easier to pick up and were quite interesting. Did you know that to use your feet for things like pointing, opening doors, etc. is considered a major faux pas here?
The excursions were the really fun part. We did all sorts of things such as meditating in a Buddhist Temple, visited Rescue Paws (a sort of temporary dog shelter meant to help dogs off the streets by vaccinating them and getting them fixed, as well as doing everything they can to help with any injuries or whatnot), painted in an artist’s village, explored a pineapple farm, and – probably my favourite part to date – fed elephants. (If you want any more details about any of these activities, don’t hesitate to ask!)
After all the fun of our introduction week, we quickly got down to business with our TESOL course. At the end of our second week in Thailand there was an English Camp at a Thai school that we had to be ready for with two different lesson plans for the two days. It was a long week of frantically trying to learn everything we could before we were thrown into the deep end. Luckily, I ended up with a fantastic partner to teach with, and I feel like we were able to work well together.
Unfortunately, English camp fell at the end of about two weeks of non-stop activities so we were all exhausted when the time came. Luckily adrenaline was there to push us through to the end.
The first day, my partner and I had the older students, around 12-15 in age. As we taught the same hour long lesson 6 times, back to back with a lunch break in the middle, I discovered that this whole teaching English to speakers of other languages thing wasn’t so bad. We made it through the day without any major mishap and possibly even taught some students a bit of English.
The second day (Friday), when I was totally exhausted and just wanting a good night’s sleep, was the day that we taught the kindies. We were working with students about 2-5 years old. Never. Again. It would have been fine if they understood basic commands like “sit down” or “repeat after me” but none of that. I believe we lost control of every class but one. Those kids are adorable to look at, but I’m afraid I do not have the patience to teach them.
Luckily, that taste I had with the kindies is all it will ever be – a taste. During this last week I got news and confirmed a placement opportunity with C. We will be teaching M4-M6 (ages 15-18) at a government school (basically a public school) in the province of Sakon Nahkon. For those of you unaware of Thailand geography, that takes us about 10 hours north of Bangkok driving. If that still doesn’t help, I recommend that you google the province. All in all the placement looks good. I don’t know a tonne about it, but it seems to check off most of the boxes of what I was looking for. I will be starting there in November.
Anywho. After all the go go going of the first two weeks, I am now writing the blog after a nice, relaxing long weekend. Saturday, a bunch of the girls and I decided that we deserved some pampering, so we went out for a nice lunch, and got manicures, pedicures, and Thai massages. For those of you curious about the difference in pricing, here in Thailand you can get a manicure, pedicure, and massage all for less than $20 CDN. And that’s not even a package deal.
Yesterday was a lazy day around the pool, where I only got a little sunburnt. In the evening though we went to watch Muay Thai (Thai boxing) outside of a temple with a live band and all sorts of venders. I didn’t watch much of the Muay Thai (can’t say it’s really my thing) but I can say I had a very sweet dinner as I tried almost every dessert offered by the venders. Delicious.
I know this is a very long post, but I’m almost done, I promise.
Finally today. About 20 of us decided to be rebels and go against that TLC song and we went chasing waterfalls. Unfortunately with all of the rain we’ve had here lately (which I have another great story about, but maybe I’ll save that for some other time) we were only able to hike to level 4 out of 7 levels. Even still it was a lot of fun. The hike was a bit of an adventure in itself, and when we got to our final destination we were able to carefully go swimming in the very cold water by the waterfall. There were so many fish in the area that every step we took in the water disturbed a whole bunch of them. We weren’t able to catch any though.
We finished off our long weekend today by celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving by the pool. Unfortunately there was no turkey or mashed potatoes to be had, but I was able to enjoy some rather good pad thai and ice cream for dessert.
And although I have so much more that I could share, I am going to leave you with this. I’ll try not to wait so long before my next post so that I don’t feel like I need to skim over so much next time.