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!

The TEFL group is phenominal - we all get along very well and have great fun together. It's nice to have people from all over the world here for all of the same and different reasons. Week one was a bit like freshmen year of college (or Freshers to the Brits) since we are all living together and enjoying ourselves a bit too much! Our hotel is a little inconvenient to the center of Bangkok. Without traffic, we are probably about 20 minutes away, but the traffic here can mirror that of Los Angeles. It isn't too bad though, splitting a taxi 4 ways gets us to our destination for under $1 US dollar. We like to say that it is so ridiculously cheap here that it is expensive. You don't think about making purchases as much here because it is like spending nothing, but it is definitely starting to accumulate. We can't expect to get paid until the end of November so we might need to take it down a few notches.

The Thai people are wonderful! Of course you just have to get used to what we perceive as awkward staring when they see a group of white Western people. When going into Bangkok last Thursday night, some of us met the most genuinely kind Thai woman who we instantly connected with. She was very excited & giggly because it was her first time on the Sky Train in her 67 years. We chatted with her our entire ride and pretty soon she was referring to us as her daughters. This is a very common for the Thai people - friends become family and the Thais will openly refer to one another in this manner. [Below: "Mother" and I]

On Friday night nearly our entire group headed out to the bars/clubs in the Koh San Road area. Six of us, including myself, decided to split a hostel for the night to avoid the hassle of having to get back late at night. We had a wild night, making it quite difficult to fully enjoy visiting the Royal Palace the next day. It was definitely helpful to the hangover to have an "American" breakfast of eggs and toast the next morning. Still very much enjoying the food, even though I realized I haven't had cheese in over a week (that is a long time for me). Perhaps the heavy carbs diet is counteracted by the lack of dairy, helping keep the Thais petite. They do eat a lot of eggs in everything which is good, I don't think I could live without eggs. Anyway, we did make it to the Royal Palace - it was incredible! Today some of us are going to this big market near us. There is so much to do and see just in Bangkok, let alone the rest of the country. I am getting a bit anxious not having left Bangkok yet, but I am glad to know I have at least another 6 months to see every corner of this country I so desire. I can already see how this lifestyle of traveling and meeting others on the same page could be addicting. Although traveling can be quite exhilarating as well- I haven't found anything quite like this feeling of being totally immersed in a foreign culture through a relocation. My TEFL group is not just passing through like the millions of tourists that do so - we are having the unique opportunity to truly experience and connect with the Thai culture and people. I am totally in my element!

[Below - Part of the Royal Palace]

[And some fried insects on the streets - YUM]

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