Friday, October 28, 2011

Life is a Beach


Tomorrow marks one incredibly brilliant month in Thailand. The natural disaster taking place in Bangkok has taken the beginnings of my life here in a completely unexpected, exhilarating, yet slightly frustrating direction. As we speak, I am using the wireless at a restaurant overlooking the sea with the most majestic sunset on Koh Tao island that reminds me that life isn't so bad. The last time I wrote, we were potentially going to visit Chantaburi from Hua Hin, but we were instructed to avoid going north towards Bangkok due to the flooding.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Homeless in Thailand

Every time I manage to get on this thing to do an update, there are seemingly five million events that have happened since the last time. Our TEFL course came to an end last Friday with a relatively easy final exam followed by some celebratory beers. We were to be kicked out of the hotel the following morning, so just in the nick of time, KD (the coordinator of the recruiting company that we all work under) managed to tell some of us where and when we were to depart. Nearly everyone in the course not near the Bangkok area was to be picked up and taken to their new location on Saturday morning. Some had an easy 2-4 hour journey, while many of my other pal's new homes are a good 10-15 hour journey from Bangkok (who knew how massive this country really is). Due to their early departure & and the flooding causing our favorite local bar to close, we spent our last evening drinking a shopping cart full of booze that the boys rolled through the flood from Tesco Lotus.
[Some of the TEFL group on our last night at Pongpetch Guestotel, Bangkok. Good times in room 514.]

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hong naam yoo tee nai?

We have found out our placements today. A bit emotional for many with the confirmation that we are scattered about the country after forming such incredibly close bonds in the last few weeks. As I expected, I am in the greater Bangkok area, in an area called Thonburi. I believe it's still about an hour outside of the center, so I am at least happy to not be right in the hussle and bussle of dirty, smelly Bangkok. Did I mention that Bangkok is by far the smelliest city I have ever visited? And I was sure after visiting Europe that it was Naples. For being the most Westernized country of SE Asia (and especially the most Westernized city in Thailand), the concept of an underground sewage system remains foreign in Bangkok. Hopefully Thonburi has their shit together a bit more - literally.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Update from Noah's Arc

The course has been progressing much more this week and we have finally been learning useful teaching tools. We each have to prepare a 30-minute lesson plan for next week. Having no teaching experience at all, the endless ESL resources online take off a bit of the pressure.

I've been in Thailand for nearly 2 weeks now, and have yet to leave the Bangkok area which is starting to get to me. Of course, we've been very busy with the course everyday. This weekend we were supposed to get away but we are stuck as the floods are a-coming. They have yet to reach our hotel area but supposedly they are nearby and heading our way. I am not too concerned about it since we've stocked up on supplies, it's just more debilitating that it's holding us back.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

So Cheap It's Expensive

Already I am slightly slacking with the updates! The Internet service at our hotel is a bit flaky, plus we have to come down to the lobby to use it so it can be a hassle. The first week of our TEFL course was alright. Very long days (9-4 or 5) and I think we unanimously are not fond with our teacher. Let's just leave it at that he is the type of person that gives Americans a bad stereotype. The Thai teachers/assistants are great though. One day was dedicated to Thai history and culture which is absolutely the day we all learned the most - very useful knowledge. Hoping that the course picks up a bit the next 2 weeks because after that we are actually expected to actually teach Thai students English.

Although we do not find out where our placement is until a couple more weeks, the director of the program told me an international (private) school outside of Bangkok is interested in meeting me. He basically told me that working for an international school is really great opportunity which will make the whole transition much easier than working in an unorganized government school. I was originally not particularly crazy about staying here in Bangkok, but it might work out well. For starters, I am sure others from my program will be placed in Bangkok. There is no shortage of things to do, and Bangkok is just about the easiest location in the country to travel everywhere else. In fact, you usually have to come to Bangkok from anywhere else to get elsewhere. So I may be going for an "interview" this week - we shall see!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Buckets in Bangkok

First of all, I am already crazy about this country! It's only been under 48 hours in Bangkok so far and I am having the time of my life.

After getting settled at the hotel, I headed out to Tesco Lotus (basically like a Walmart that has anything and everything you can hope for) to pick myself up a Thai phone. I got the good ol' basic Nokia for around 700 baht ($23 US dollars). They use a pay-as-you-go system, which caused a bit of difficulty to figure out how to "top up" my phone with credit, especially without someone in sight that spoke much English. Eventually I got it sorted and picked up an international calling card as well to call my parents. I hadn't eaten since the flight, so I braved the Thai food court and pointed to something that looked appealing, not really knowing what it was. WOW - the spice level was unparalleled to anything I've ever had. I love semi-spicy food - but this was an electrifying rush of intense flavor that left me feeling dizzy.