Monday, November 21, 2011


My first day in Sriracha, I wasn't feeling so keen about this place. I was cranky, frustrated, and lonely after receiving zero instruction from my school and spending all day looking at apartments that were either too expensive, too shitty, or too far. Finally settled on a place, although not near the school, walking distance to the mall and main part of town. Working air conditioning, 24/7 security, wifi and a proper hot shower = sold. After 2 months of being with others, I was suddenly alone in a new place. I didn't know anyone, found nothing exciting about the city, didn't see any sign of English speakers, and struggled to communicate with the local Thais with my poor Thai and their non-existent English. To top off the typical bad first day, I spent the night ill from food poisoning.

Saturday things began to look up. I was put in contact with 3 English teachers from another town, about 30-45 minutes away. Despite the language barrier, I managed to figure out the local bus with a connecting songtaew (a popular, cheap mode of transportation here; looks like a large pick-up truck with benches and standing room with as many Thais as possible packed in) to the Bang Saen Beach to meet the English folks. Although I wasn't feeling 100%, I got on quite well with my new friends, and it was comforting that I will at least have friends near enough for the weekends.
[Bang Saen Beach at sunset]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Home Sweet...Sriracha!

So, I never made it to Kanchanaburi. We made it (through the flooding) to the bus terminal in Bangkok when my boss, KD, called me with news on my placement. I was to be moved the following day to a new location not in Bangkok: Chon Buri! My pals Phil and Rob decided to post-pone their trip as well, and use my move as an excuse to finally get our suitcases that we left nearly a month ago at our first hotel. KD instructed me to stay the night at the hotel, Pongpetch, where I would be picked up the following day. After paying for an expensive room and feeling the dismal deja vu of being in Pongpetch without my friends, I later received a call that my move date had changed. There really are not words to describe the screwy situations my fellow English teachers have put up with from AYC (our recruiter) and the Thai schools. Flexibility is the key! Every time things change, all you can do is breathe, take everything with a grain of salt, and remember T-I-T (This is Thailand)!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Loi Krathong

I experienced my first Thai festival, Loi Krathong, last Thursday. This takes place annually on the evening of the full moon of what is usually November on the western calender. 'Loi' literally means 'to float' while 'krathong' is the lotus-shaped float often made out of banana leaves. The festival is often referred to as the "festival of light" or "floating lantern ceremony". On this evening, all over the country, thousands of Thais gather at a local river, canal or lake to light a candle on their hand-made float, make a wish, and let their float be carried away by the current. The flame is supposed to signify a release of sins.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Farang! Farang!

"Farang! Farang!" The Thai people shout when they see white foreigners wandering the streets of the non-tourist parts of Thailand. The first time you recognize the blatant & repeated calls at the fact you are a foreigner, it may seem derogatory. The frequency to which all aged Thai people shout "farang" as you pass seems motivated by more of an interest than harm however. Still, it is unclear exactly why they so excitedly shout the word over & over. Occasionally, we do feel like the butt of their jokes when they laugh at our confused glances and butchered attempt at their language. More often though, the Thais express their genuine intrigue, kindness and willingness to help.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Nok Su Kow

After nearly a week on Koh Tao, it was time to get away from the touristy beaches and find ourselves the proper Thai street food that we so missed. Koh Tao was incredible, but extremely Westernized to the point that the locals would only respond in English even when we spoke to them in Thai. Even the Thai food was over-priced and bland, clearly catered toward the Western taste buds. It's strange that paying 120 baht (4 USD) for a meal on Koh Tao seemed absurd after knowing that better, more authentic Thai food for only 30 baht (approx 1 USD) was readily available everywhere else in the country. We had a fun-filled week of exploring the island via motorbikes & snorkeling in the Gulf of Thailand. While New York was battling power outages and 4 inches of snow, looking at the stunning beaches of Koh Tao everyday became far too normal of a sight. Once we realized it had reached that point, it was definitely time to head back to reality.