Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chonburi Livin'

Weekend of January 13
My first visitors to Sriracha, Chonburi included my dear friend Colette from college and her friend Emily who is teaching in Northeast Thailand. I did not know Emily before, but we bonded quickly over random mutual friends, attending college in the dear-to-our-hearts town of Ithaca, NY (she went to Cornell) and our similar experiences of teaching in Thailand. I was able to show Colette the lovely weekend Night Market of Sriracha where she indulged in Thailand's most talked about late night snack: bugs. (When in Rome, right?!) We enjoyed the nightlife with the company of my Sriracha friends. We rolled out of bed to meet Emily at the bus station at 5:30 AM, questionably still under the influence. After a few more hours of needed slumber, we set off on a ferry to Koh Sichang. This was my first time visiting this island that is only 30 minutes away, but it will not be my last! It is very low key, not touristy and an easy day trip from me. Of course I had to run into a group of my students while I was sunbathing in a bikini (I cannot escape seeing one of the 1200 wherever I go around here). After a quick ferry back, feeding the Koh Loi sea turtles and some deliciously authentic street food, we grabbed a bus to my [far from most] favorite place in the world: Pattaya.
Colette making the bug purchase, Sriracha Night Market

Colette & I on Koh Sichang
This time around, I experienced a different side of Pattaya. It was clear that Emily and I, now earning and thinking in Thai Baht, were on a different budget than our vacation-mode pal ready to single-handedly boost the Thai economy with her hard-earned American dollars. Colette has always been a most generous friend, and Thailand proved to be no different. She insisted on treating her poor teacher friends to a night of luxury at a 5 star hotel. There, we met up with a large group of Australians that Colette had met earlier on her trip. Perhaps it was obvious to the hotel staff that we didn't belong there, as they decided to make our night even more memorable by upgrading us to the Executive Suite. Never again may I stay in such a luxurious accommodation surrounded by so many great friends to make use of our space.
Thrilled about our Executive Suite!
Emily in the fancy hotel, pretending we fit in

Weekend of January 20
Last weekend, I thought would be a dull weekend in Sriracha, but it ended up rather eventful with a day pass to the gym and pool, a trip to the famous "Khao Keaw Open Zoo," and an interesting experience of attending a Chinese New Year type party outside of a chicken slaughterhouse. We have made friends with a Thai gentleman, Tommy, who owns the chicken factory, over several encounters at a bar. He invited us to his company's massive party where dancers and singers performed, good omen was wished for the new year, the booze was flowing and authentic Chinese food was served. 
Thai party outside a chicken slaughterhouse
 Happy Chinese New Year!
My favorite photo from Khao Keaw Open Zoo
Sunday evening I met up with two Thai ladies I was put in contact with to discuss future private tutoring sessions. They are both looking to improve their English, especially to better their chances in the job market and master degree programs. We got along very well, as I am trying to learn Thai and they are learning English, the companionship fit well.  Over dinner I revoltingly watched them devour raw shrimp - definitely went towards the top of the list of weird foods in Thailand. 
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My new Thai friends are two of many people who have been trying to convince me to stay put in Sriracha for next term. I appreciate the considerations, but my antsy feet are thriving for a new experience in the richly cultured North or Northeast Thailand.  I genuinely love all Sriracha has to offer, but I don't want to leave Thailand without seeing as much as I can, even if that means packing up again and starting fresh once more. 

And so the job hunt begins, the 2.5 months of travel planning continues (March-mid-May), working 3 jobs for the month of February ensues, and my final 5 weeks at Sursakwittayakom School wrap up my time here in Chonburi.

But first.... I have another special weekend rolling up where I will accompany two Moosewood Restaurant co-workers, Justin and Barry, on their SE Asia travels to the enchanting Kanchanaburi.

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