WHAT’S UP MTV, welcome to my crib!!!! Now I’m sure some of you have been wondering – “Where does one live when extensively staying in what is technically considered a third world country? In a hut? In a teepee?” I swear the way some people have asked me about my living arrangements makes it sound like I’m becoming amish. There is in fact electricity and running water in Southeast Asia, shocking, I know.
Technically my living arrangement is considered a “shared house,” but it is more similar to an apartment set up. Thai houses are more open and outdoors than in the US, in fact almost all kitchens I’ve seen have been outside(similar to porches), so this may be a tad difficult to understand. By Thai houses I mean the one Thai house I’ve been inside of, but buildings in general are a lot more open. I get excited even when I find a coffee shop that’s completely indoors.
I have my own room, with an attached bathroom and a very small “kitchen” that are both mine. My apartment door opens onto a porch that I share with 2 other American teachers who have the same set up. I scored with mine, as it’s the only one with matching furniture and it is void of any cartoon motifs. There’s 2 other Chinese teachers who also live here, but they are in separate apartments attached to the main house.
This little complex is in the backyard of my coordinator’s house, P’nga. Apparently it’s fairly new, as teachers at Banhan used to live in the camping house down the street. It’s also down the street from the complex where monks live, so in I’ve been told to expect to hear chanting and other religious-based sounds early in the morning in the near future. Goody. There’s a couple cats who have 4 kittens and a little dog named Rio. His name is actually Leo like the Thai beer, but it’s difficult for Thais to pronounce “l” so they call him Rio.
Above is P’nga’s outdoor Thai kitchen, attached to her house. On top are the hammocks, in the background you can see our laundry/drying system.
I use the word “kitchen” in quotations because it’s a sink, a rice cooker, a toaster, and a tea kettle that is kind of broken and shoots you with an electric jolt when you plug it in. It really keeps life interesting. It’s enough to cook in, as ~life hack~ you can cook almost anything in a rice cooker, step aside crock pot.
My room is decked out with a full bed, a mini fridge/freezer, a small night stand, a beauty stand, and a wardrobe. Outsider there are a couple hammocks and a table to hang out at on our porch. The best part is that I have AIR CONDITIONING(!!!!) which is a big deal, screens on my windows, and a fabulous wifi connection. Air conditioning and wifi aren’t guaranteed when you’re a teacher, so I really struck gold. The wifi connection is also way faster than my connection at school in Connecticut, subtweet @CeleronSquareApartments.
Our outdoor common area, and the spirit house for this complex. Most major buildings have spirit houses outside of them, to house the spirits that live in and protect the house.
The bathroom is what it is, but I mean Mai Pen Rai(Thai for Hakuna Matata). In Thailand there’s no separation between church and state, including your shower and the rest of your bathroom, so the whole floor is essentially one giant drain. And the toilet – at least in Europe when they say “bidet” it sounds glamorous, this literally is just a butt hose(top left). I can’t complain, I have a friend at a school not far from here who has a fabulous old school Thai toilet that you flush yourself, meaning it doesn’t flush and there’s a sink next to it with a bowl that you use to pour water into it. So vintage.
I also am ~blessed~ that my school has provided me with a motorbike to get around. This is how many people get around in Thailand, and I can’t imagine living in a rural area without one. Although I did have a slight incident on my first day riding home from the resevoir, in which I accidentally ran over a snake and am still slightly traumatized. I don’t know if I’m more shell-shocked by hitting something living, or by the fact that there was a snake that almost slunk past my noticing.
I also have to drive on the left side of the road, starting to realize that it’s possible the US is the only country that drives on the right? The traffic laws in Thailand consist of
- First rule: traffic laws do not exist.
- Second rule: traffic laws DO NOT EXIST.
- Third rule: traffic lights might possibly exist but they are simply decoration.
- If you are bigger and faster, you have the right of way.
These rules actually make it easier to drive on a motorbike because I can just zip in and out of traffic without having to worry about petty things like speeding and red lights. Plus it’s the closest I’ll get to ever partaking in a real-life game of Mario Kart.
Yes, I did use a selfie stick to take this picture. I would highly recommend investing in one if you plan on traveling. Excuse my appearance, it was after a long day of teaching and working out, no makeup.
The town, like every other area in Thailand, has an abundance of stray dogs and cats, particularly dogs. It’s to the point that we can’t drive our motorbikes on side roads at night because we can’t see the dogs. On the plus side I’ve become friends with a couple of the dogs that live at the reservoir, and I see a few packs of puppies on my way to work.
There’s also geckos, snakes, mosquitos, cockroaches, large millipedes, frogs, and everything else that gross little boys are made of. They become especially prevalent after a rain storm, when everything that goes bump in the night comes out to play. “Malang saab” is Thai for cockroach, one of the first words I learned. The most terrifying thing of all is that one of the American teachers I live with was in the shower and a Huntsman spider appeared out of nowhere. Ever since hearing that story I spray my apartment down with high-caliber insect killer, especially near drains and outdoor openings, and double especially when I leave to travel on the weekends.
Some of the locals.
Thanks for reading! More to come on teaching and traveling in Ayutthaya.
UPDATE September 14, 2016
During a chat with P’nga recently we actually learned that her house, the house we live at is the OLDEST in Dan Chang. Apparently her grandparents were the first people to settle in Dan Chang. So now P’nga lives in her family’s house tax free, as it’s the only property that isn’t technically owned by the government in Dan Chang. She also said that before they renovated her house it was on stilts, in traditional Thai-style, to prevent elephants and tigers from bothering people in the house.