Currently sitting in my desk at Banhan3 avoiding calculating final semester grades, while treating myself to a ~luxururious~ cup of Celestial Seasonings. While I have managed to find western-style bagged tea at Tops in Bangkok, it’s about 250 baht per box, or about $8. That’s a lot of baht. Anyways…
I’m finished with my first semester of teaching! While I’m not quite halfway, my first chunk of time in Thailand is coming to a close. I definitely haven’t seen as much of Thailand as I plan on seeing before I leave, my first 3 months in the Land of Smiles have been a dream. And I’ve only really had 2 major mishaps so far – losing all of my keys in Koh Phi Phi, and accidentally getting on a van from Bangkok to Chonburi instead of Bangkok to Dan Chang. So here’s a brief summary of some of the highlights from the last 3 months, from now way back to when I landed at Suvarnabhumi Airport on June 7.
- Seeing elephants in Chiang Mai! As cliché and touristy as it is, hanging out with elephants for the day is one of the sickest things I’ve ever done. They’re such loving creatures, and so intelligent. Definitely something I’ll never forget.
- Spending time on the beach in the South of Thailand. Planning a trip back in October, and I already can’t wait.
- Shopping at Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok. Yes, it is just shopping, but it’s 100% worth of this list. Post coming soon.
A SUPER cute vintage red corduroy dress & fried fish balls, 2 of the best things I’ve found at Chatuchak(so far).
- Seeing Sports Day at Banhan3. Sports Day is kind of like Homecoming in the US, but ALL of the students get into it, not just the half of the school that’s already super-involved.
Walking in the Sports’ Day opening day parade with the students.
- Going to a DJ Snake concert in Bangkok – I guess Thai people don’t prioritize pushing your way to the front at a concert like Westerners do? Because we were able to go right up to the barrier without any issues. I LOVE DJ Snake, so it was dope.
- Every single sunset every day at Krasiao reservoir in Dan Chang. Small town ~perks~
The Learning Curve
I’ve also learned a ton in these past three months, including…
- How to speak nit noy(a little)Thai – I’ve learned enough that I can order food, bargain for clothes, and direct a taxi driver to where I need to go.
- How to kick-start a motorbike (necessity is the mother of invention, right?)
- The art of pantomiming to override the language barrier – one of these days I’m going to record myself teaching a class, I’m sure it’s hilarious to watch my animated gestures
- How to cook Tom Yum soup! Post coming soon
- How to make Thai 14 year-olds laugh despite the language barrier. I’ve developed my slapstick humor quite nicely, it’s a good method of disciplining children and combating nasty high schoolers when they try to make fun of teacha in Thai
- How to be shameless when taking pictures in public – this I’m still working on, but the fact that Thai people stage full-blown photoshoots in public helps when I feel awkward about taking travel pictures
- That I can handle more exotic food than I thought – recently I’ve sample frog, chicken feet, and even pig organs. I’ve also become better with ordering random things on menus that I don’t know, and eating unidentifiable, scary food.
And there’s still so much I have to learn…
- Also – how to speak Thai. While I have learned a lot, I definitely haven’t learned as much as I’d like.
- What half of the food items I’ve seen at the market are
- Where to find TAMARIND SAUCE. Yes this makes the list, I had reallllly good tofu with tamarind sauce in Phuket and haven’t managed to find tamarind sauce in little Dan Chang.
- How to get to this really pretty Buddha on a cliff near the reservoir in Dan Chang. I’ve driven around for hours trying to figure it out, but I still haven’t gotten there.
There’s so many places in Thailand that I still want to see…
- Koh Tao
- Koh Samet
- Chiang Rai
And so many things from the US that I MISS…
- Fall is by far my favorite season. There’s nothing like fall in New England, where I’ve been for the past 4 years. I miss sweaters, I miss pumpkin spice lattes, I miss putting weeks of thought into my Halloween costume, I miss candy corn, I miss tailgates, and I miss beautiful Horsebarn Hill in Storrs, CT after the leaves have changed.
Last year’s Halloween costumes and tailgates, including a nice port-a-potty selfie and an appearance by Donald Trump.
- The luxury of good coffee at your fingertips – while there are many cute coffee shops in Thailand, I can’t just roll through a Starbucks drive-through on my way to school if I’m having a rough morning. Getting coffee without Carnation and Nestle instant coffee powder is hard enough in Dan Chang, much less getting hot coffee to go.
- CLIFF BARS & Trader Joe’s, I love you come back into my life
- Peanut butter, and having a variety of peanut butter to choose from. You can get peanut butter here if you go all the way out to Tesco, but for natural peanut butter you have to go to Tops in Bangkok, and for artisanal peanut butter you have to go to the weekly Farmer’s Market in Bangkok, where Mina’s Whole Foods has a great little booth. But it’s still expensive, especially by Thai standards, so I only buy it on special occasions.
- My dog. Self-explanatory.
- My comfy bed. Also self-explanatory.
- MY FRIENDS.
- Exercising without being constricted by the weather. In Dan Chang we don’t have a gym, so I run every day. But I have to wait until about 5:30 for it to cool down, and if it’s raining, it’s a no-go.
- Readily-available cheese.
Ode to some of the best cheese-filled dishes I had before leaving the good ole US of A. Nachos from WilliBrew in Willimantic, CT; Jalapeño cheddar bagel with bacon cheddar cream cheese from BagelZone cafe, Storrs, CT; and some kind of dank baked pasta topped with ricotta in the North End of Boston.
- Being able to get REALLY good, cheap sushi whenever I’m in the mood. What’s nice about my hometown is that we have a ton of ethnic diversity, so we have a TON of super legit sushi restaurants, my personal favorite being Tensuke market. Here, you can get good sushi, but you have to go to Bangkok, & it’s expensive. The other day one of my students told me that there is sushi in Dan Chang, at 7/11. It broke my heart. If only I could give that poor child a taste of REAL sushi.
7/11 versus Tensuke. ‘Nuff said.
But most exciting, now I have a month off of school for October break!
So here’s what’s up next:
- 10 days in BALI, INDONESIA!!!! I’m so excited to party in Kuta, see beautiful Hindu temples in Ubud, potentially surf in Cangu, and chill on the beach in Gili Trawagan! I’m also excited to try amazing Balinese street food, and to try “poop coffee” – it’s this coffee that’s VERY expensive, the beans are eaten by an Indonesian jungle cat, pooped out, and then used to make coffee.
- A week in Malaysia! I’m meeting my friend from college, who’s currently teaching in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam, which is exciting in itself. We’re starting in Kuala Lumpur, then heading to the Cameron Highlands to see tea plantations and go jungle trekking, and finishing in culture-filled Penang. I’m most excited for the food, Malaysian food is supposed to be amazing.
- A solo 24 hours in Singapore – I have a long layover in Singapore, and I’m going to go out to see the city sights solo. It’ll be a nice change of pace to see a highly developed country.
- The October Full Moon Party in Koh Phangnan! This once-a-month rave on the beach is something that Thailand is known for worldwide, and a must-do while I’m in Thailand.
- More island hopping to follow, islands TBA. I’m hopefully heading back to Koh Phi Phi for a couple nights, and we’ll see what other islands as I work my way back up north to Bangkok.
Thanks for reading my blog so far! Always open to suggestions and critiques, please send me feedback! Anyone out there with any suggestions to pack onto my itinerary for the rest of my time in Thailand? Or for Bali/Malaysia/Singapore/Koh Phangnan?