1

Best days of my life

Since my last post, life has moved fast and slow. I have met dozens of amazing people and said goodbye to a few. I’ve gained friends and lost some. I have laughed and I have cried. I’ve started a new term and said hello to my lovely kindergartens again. I’ve adapted to new rules, felt more homesick than ever before and checked more places off my list. I’ve zip wired through trees, danced on bars, jumped in pools and fed elephants. I’ve watched fire dancers on beaches, had impromptu swims mid-party, laughed with friends and spent more time in my local hospital than I should have. Every day I am reminded of how lucky I am to be on this journey and I am grateful, despite how hard it can be sometimes. Sometimes when I am homesick I have to remember I chose to do this – which was terrifying and liberating in equal measures. But, it was the best choice I have made in a long time.

A proper update is coming soon. I promise.

20150502_182218

0

Oops, I did it again.

I managed to make the most of being uninjured by going to Bangkok and getting out of Lopburi! I love Lopburi, but after spending 8 weeks there constantly, it can get a bit tedious. So I escaped to the Chatuchak Market. I love the market – you can literally buy everything there. Armed with my Thai phrases of ‘Tao Rai Ka?’ (How much?) and Lod Dai Mai Ka? (discount?), I went in to buy long promised gifts for the people at home. Unfortunately, I need to improve my Thai because I have no idea what they say when they answer. Typically I spent too much, bought things for myself and got lost – but once back at the hostel I felt like I have achieved my aim.

The rest of the weekend was spent catching up with friends, making new friends and eating Mexican food. Dean and Deluca (Sala Daeng BTS Stop), is a dream. It is little expensive compared to street food prices, but nowhere near as expensive as England. And the toilets there are amazing. I would definitely recommend a visit, especially if you have a craving for western food.

But, 2 weeks after my collarbone was given the all clear, I found myself back at the hospital. This time it was thanks to slipping coming out of the shower, directly onto my wrist. Thankfully it was just a sprain. X-rays here cost 220 baht, which is roughly £4.50, so it didn’t break the bank. Again, I was seen quickly and efficiently, which is a welcome relief when you’re trying to get back to work before the Kindergartens finish their swimming lessons…

0

We all fall down

Apologies for the very long gap between posts. I would have posted earlier, but it would have been too whiney.

On the 16th of July I fell off my moped and fractured my collarbone, sprained my ankle and scrapped my knee. After 6 very long weeks, I am finally, nearly, almost fixed.

I know I am not good at riding bikes, but I thought a moped would be different. For a few rides it was lovely, until – ironically – I went out to get my insurance documents. Then, I fell off.

Straight away some very lovely locals came over, picked me and my bike up, checked I was okay and after a bit of persuasion, let me carry on to my destination. It was only when I got there that some of the adrenaline had worn off for me to realise the clicking and moving in my shoulder wasn’t normal, that my ankle hurt quite a lot and my knee was bleeding. I was taken to the doctors, then to the hospital. I was seen straight away, something that in an English A&E would have been pretty unusual. My BP was ‘perfect’ and according to everyone who saw me that evening, I was in a strangely good mood. I was cleaned up, x-rayed, put in a brace and prescribed an array of painkillers and muscle relaxants within the hour and for only £20, despite worrying how much it could cost. The hospital was clean and the doctor spoke good English. I was told to keep the brace on at all times, sponge wash and come back in 4 weeks. Wearing a brace is similar to wearing a child’s backpack; it forces your arms back slightly and forces you to sit properly. I was totally convinced I could go back to work the next day, I was told otherwise.

They were right. The next morning everything hurt. I spent the next week at home, having food delivered to me thanks to my lovely flatmates (Thank you, thank you) and Thailand’s lack of kitchens. After the first week, I could hobble to places. By week 2, I was back at work and getting lifts to and from the flat. I even survived a 4 day weekend alone. But the brace hurt, my shoulders were pulled back and by the end of a school day I was desperate to lie down. It had started rubbing where the brace came in contact with my arms.

Some days I felt like it would never end. I got frustrated at not being able to do little things like: wash my own hair (another thank you to my lovely housemate, Fiona), go out for nights out, roll onto my side to sleep, wear half my wardrobe, etc. My kindergartens were lovely, they spent the first day touching their shoulders and making sad faces. The competition to carry books back to the office after class has become fierce.

Week 3 I went to the doctors – I didn’t want my rubs to become infected and was told I had cellulitis and was put on antibiotics and given dressings and ointments to clean my ‘wounds’ on my back (again, thank you flatmates for that).

When a month was finally up, I went back to the hospital. This time no one spoke English to me for the first hour or so. I was ushered from queue to queue with lots of pointing and when I finally got to the doctor, after another x-ray, he advised me to wait another 2 weeks. I told him I couldn’t have the brace on anymore. Even moving my arms was painful. So we settled with a sling which gave me the freedom to take it off at night and let me have a proper shower (best.thing.ever).

I have a small scar on my knee, a bump on my collarbone and my ankle is still fat and mildly painful, but after a final dose of antibiotics for a particularly nasty rub and some calcium tablets, I am now 2 days away from the all clear (hopefully!).

As much as I would advise not injuring yourself in Thailand, if the worst comes to worst and you find yourself in that situation – It will be okay. I left England thinking Thailand would be so basic, but I have found myself pleasantly surprised on many occasions.

A few tips I have learnt from this experience:

  • Listen to your friends – even if you think you are okay, chances are they know better.
  • Even though you might become frustrated that you are wasting time being injured, just keep going – you’ll get better eventually and getting better is more important in the long run.
  • Always wear a moped helmet, you’re asking for trouble if you don’t.
  • Don’t wear t-shirts that you will get stuck in.
  • Don’t be ashamed of asking for help, even if you hate every second of it.
  • Appreciate that it could have been much, much worse.

A huge thank you to Harri, Fiona, Emmanuelle, Cillian, Justin, Amy and Luke for putting up with 6 weeks of moaning and whining.

0

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands

I have been in Lopburi now for around 4 weeks and I feel like everything has fallen into place.

I love my class – some of them can be challenging, but they are all lovely and there is nothing better than watching them all get ridiculously excited singing ‘Let it go’ (my post-lesson reward). I’ve really made use of nursery rhymes – so far their favourite is row, row, row your boat, and the teletubbies have become my heroes. It is really hard to keep their attention for more than 5-10 minutes so my classes involve lots of singing, games and drawing. The differences in their levels are amazing, some children can practically read and write, whilst others can’t form letters so creating lessons to suit everyone is a challenge. Strangely enough, some of my favourite children are the naughtiest, but they all have such big personalities it’s hard to choose!

The weekends are my favourite – though I definitely need a weekend off soon! We’ve had people visit us, which was spent in the pool, in bars and a gorgeous day by the lake. We’ve been to Samphran, which led to meeting a load of other english teachers and a particularly scary walk home (stray dogs are terrifying), and we’ve been to Bangkok again which included a night out in Levels, another trip to the weekend market (Hello dungarees!) and the most amazing sunday roast ever  (The Huntsman, near Nana BTS stop – it’s pricey but a buffet full of the most awesome food. Take more than 4 people and you get 50% off). It’s been so good being able to see the other teachers from training and exploring other places. It’s made me appreciate how good Lopburi is,but also *cheesy moment* how lucky I am to be able to see the new friends I’ve made.

Moving to Thailand felt terrifying, and there were times when I wondered what/why I was doing it. But I love it, I am happy. I love my class, I’m so happy with Lopburi and the amazing people I’ve met, and whilst I miss home like crazy at times (skinny jeans, mum’s lasagna and the pub quiz, please), I wouldn’t change this experience for the world.

Lopburi

1

L is for Lopburi

Lopburi is marketed as a tourist destination for short weekends with monkey focused tourism, but it is also a really nice place to live. When we arrived I hated the monkeys, I still do. But, they aren’t everywhere like I thought. So far, my exploring has been really limited. I don’t particularly like sitting alone in coffee shops, but I really should get out more on my own.

The small section that I have explored is great. Noom’s guest house has the friendliest family there and a really good menu. There are 2 7/11s within walking distance and a road of street food vendors across the road from our apartment building. We’ve discovered an Indian, a cook-for-yourself resturant, 2 unusual nightclubs, a dozen coffee shops and a bar. On Wednesday there is a market which sells everything and anything, including the most amazing curries. It’s safe to say Lopburi isn’t as basic as I thought, but I still need to get over my fear of monkeys before I can explore a large part of it. My distrust of monkeys isn’t made up, they’ve been known to steal bottles, sunglasses and bags. As someone who needs glasses pretty much everyday, the thought of them stealing my glasses really isn’t appealing.

The school we are in is lovely, I teach Kindergarten 2 (28 5 year-olds) – who are very cute, but a challenge. The TEFL course prepared us for knowing very little about what was going on in the school – we’re never 100% what is happening or why, but apparently that’s very normal. We’re in a new school building so aircon is still being fitted and the electricity has gone once or twice, but everyone carries on as normal.

I think I would be completely lost without the people I’ve been placed with. It’s really good to have such an amazing support network and I know my experience would be totally different without them. Living on the same corridor as everyone really reminds me of university, as does the feeling of being thrown in to a new situation and making the best of it. But, as cheesy as it sounds, I think this is the best situation I could have asked for.

0

Back to Bangkok

Going back to the madness of Bangkok after weeks on a quiet island was bizarre, especially when staying on Khao San Road. Admittedly, I do love Khao San – its range of identical tourist fashions, bracelet stalls, braids, scorpions on sticks and over-enthusiastic tuktuk drivers adds to its madness. We took ourselves to the weekend market, which is an enormous covered area with stalls selling everything and anything. It is incredibly hot, sticky and easy to get lost in. But, it has some amazing deals. I invested in 3 teaching skirts (below the knee and garishly patterned) for 300 baht (just over £3). It is definitely worth a visit – although we stayed in a relatively small area, it was clear there was so much more to see and buy if you can stand the heat! Next time, I will go early in the morning so I can make the most of it before the heat really kicks in at lunchtime.

Sukhumvit Soi 38 is a wonderful place. With my new appreciation of good street food (we didn’t know how lucky we were in the first week), and my new understanding of Thai menus and dishes – I had the best chicken and cashew nuts I have had in Thailand. I have become a bit obsessed with that dish, as well as Massaman curries and meat on a stick. Soi 11 is also good for bars and street food. It has a lovely mexican restaurant, which does the most delicious sangria and cocktails. I also became well acquainted with tuktuks. After watching them in taxis and declaring I would never use them, I used them more than taxis! Good for quick journeys, they will weave in and out of the traffic. It is terrifying driving towards oncoming traffic only to tuck in last-minute, but they are quick and much more open to bartering than some taxis

If there is one tip I have learnt in Bangkok, it is to ask the taxi driver for the meter for short journeys – drivers will try to charge you more, but beware incase they take longer routes to get to places.

Then, one by one, our group began to split up until there were just 8 of us heading to Lopburi.

0

3 Weeks on Koh Chang

So, my blogging hasn’t been going too well. It’s been a mixture of my laptop refusing to connect to the internet and doing the same things everyday that wouldn’t make good reading.

Koh Chang is beautiful – the views are something you see on the internet and don’t believe they could possibly exist. My phone is full of sunset pictures too. The accommodation is a little basic – but I know I’m too fussy for my own good. I’m currently hut sharing with 3 other girls, which has turned out to be much more fun than I thought it would be! So far, weekdays consist of training 9-4 then cooling down in the pool, eating dinner and then bed. It feels as though I have lots of free time, but not enough to get things done in – I suppose that’s because the things I should get done are inside and I want to spend all my time outside.

There are monkeys here – which terrify me. They like to steal food off our balcony and actually look into our huts through the windows. Some people are brave enough to chase them away, but I’m not – and I’ve been placed in Lopburi, famous for its monkeys!

Town is a 10/15 minute walk away, so eating outside of the hotel restaurant is a little walk – but there is a mexican called Barrio Bonito, which is lovely if not a bit expensive and a gorgeous treehouse-like place called Porn’s Bungalow which makes the nicest Massaman curry I’ve had so far. I miss the street food in Bangkok which was much cheaper, but sometimes a good curry/burrito is what you need. Lonely beach is the setting for our nights out – It’s a bizarre place full of firedancers, cocktail buckets and some of the most disgusting toilets I think I have ever seen. But we’ve made some good memories there and I’ll be sad to leave it.

As part of our course we spent the day with some Cambodian children. They were adorable! We planned and taught some lessons and played games with them. It was so lovely meeting them, although seeing their classroom was a real eye opener. I felt really nervous teaching them, although I’m guessing they couldn’t tell. Everyone had a great time – but who wouldn’t playing games with some adorable kids all day!

The rest of the course is nearly done – and it has been fantastic. Although sometimes it has been a struggle because it’s been too hot/ I’m too tired/ I’d rather spend my time on the beach, I’ve really enjoyed it.

I’ve not done nearly as much exploring as I should have. I came with ideas of elephant riding, swimming in waterfalls and endless beaches and have only visited one waterfall in all my time here. In my defense, I have been busy 9-4 and our weekends are used for letting our hair down and not trekking in the sticky heat – but I’m going to write a Thailand Bucket List and it should give me more direction when it comes to using my free time.

So, whilst Koh Chang has been amazing and I will miss it and my course friends when we leave on Saturday, it marks the next step in my Thai teaching adventure!