End of my journey in Thailand

I can’t believe I have come to an end of teaching in Thailand. This was the most amazing and informative experience of my life. My school and my students were equally as wonderful as each other and I could not have thought of a better way to introduce myself into teaching than within U-Thong School. The things that I learnt along the way will be forever a part of me. I’m no longer scared of interacting with strangers or asking for help when I need it. I’ve also grown patient and appreciative of students in school who learn languages; it’s so difficult but they try their best and really give it their all. I will miss my school so much but it is time for me to move on to other things but we’ll get to that in a little bit.

The whole month of March was free for me in Thailand to do as I pleased so obviously I slept for around a week and binge watched Netflix shows in my apartment for as long as possible. I envy those who travelled after teaching but for me that wasn’t an option due to money issues but I honestly loved my town so didn’t mind staying there. I did however, manage to make it to Koh Phangan to meet up with my friends and had the time of my life. A one hour plane journey and a 3 hour boat ride and I was with all my friends on the beach in probably the best hostel I have ever stayed in (Echo Beach luv u 4eva).

The whole reason we went to Koh Phangan was for the Full Moon Party which was on the 20th March. It was probably the best night I’ve had in Thailand, so good that I even Facetimed my mum and dad at around 3am to tell them how good my night was whilst listening to heavy drum and bass. I danced on a beach until the sun came up and then threw myself in the sea at around 6am. All in all the best night ever, my friends made it 100% better and I’m so lucky to have them in my life although my liver does not agree. The day before I was leaving they tried to convince me to stay in Koh Phangan with them and extend my travels but I couldn’t face drinking another smirny ice or staying up until 7am on the beach. My body needed a rest from alcohol and my clothes needed to be rid of sand.

My friends are the reason that I have stayed sane in Thailand. We became friends during our orientation or during working at school and have stayed in contact after finishing our contracts, despite some of them living in towns around 10 hours away from my town we managed to see each other during our 4 months of teaching and have stayed really close friends. Being on Koh Phangan with them made me realise how much I love these insane people. I can see us all being friends for a really long time and I will miss you all so much!  Thanks for making Thailand better and my liver worse – Taylor, Kate, Ciara, Em, Jen, Jenna, Izzy, Khalil, Chris, Rhea, Carlos, Jackie and Carly.

Moving on to April.

I was told to move out of my apartment by the 1st of April by my lovely landlady who has been nothing but nice to me during my time in Thailand so of course I obliged. I wanted to try claim squatters rights so that I didn’t have to pay for anywhere to stay for my remaining days in Thailand but she was too cute to do that to. Instead I headed to Bangkok for a week of pure humidity. I stayed in a hotel in central Bangkok for 6 days, it had a pool which is quite a luxury and it was in the perfect place for everything I needed which was basically food and sleep. On the first day I asked the reception staff if there was a nearby supermarket and they said they could call me a taxi, me being a cheapskate said ‘no no I will walk’, the staff proceeded to look at me like I was a moron but gave me the directions regardless. 20 minutes later I arrived at Tesco looking like a drowned rat, covered in sweat and feeling like I’d taken a trip to the sun. Bangkok heat is like no other I’ve ever experienced, you can’t even describe it you’ve just got to experience it for yourself. Apparently April is the hottest month in Thailand although I beg to argue that all months in Thailand are the hottest. From what I have learnt Thailand has 3 seasons – hot, hotter and hottest. Now I know that April is not the time to visit Thailand. My skin will not miss the Thai heat but in a strange way I will miss it. I’ll miss everything about Thailand that I have grown to love so much.

I flew out of Bangkok on the 8th April at 1:45am to Incheon airport to start my new life as a teacher in South Korea.

I’m currently writing this from my apartment in Gwangju, it’s very cold and rainy but it already feels like home. I’ve already had to call my mum and ask her to send me some jumpers over but I love that, I miss having real seasons. I can tell I’m going to love it here.

I’ll keep you all updated on my adventures.

See you soon

Steph

Hello 2019

Hi, hello friends.

Happy Lunar New Year from Thailand! I wish you all health and happiness for the year of the pig.

It feels like ages since I wrote a blog post. Before I moved here I set out to write one a week but I am always so busy I’m lucky if I can write one a month. January felt like the longest month of my life and I didn’t even really do anything exciting.

I brought in 2019 in central Bangkok outside a huge shopping mall called Central World. I’ve never spent my New Years’ Eve in a capital city but I would definitely do it again. The firework displays were out of this world and it felt so nice to be bringing in the new year in Thailand, living my dream life and loving every second of it. I am so grateful for the support my friends and family offered me in 2018 and can only hope that it continues in 2019.

After we brought in the new year we took a tuk tuk back to Khaosan Road to have a bucket or seven. This tuk tuk was potentially the funniest journey of my life. Jen almost pissed herself as we weaved in and out of traffic at a dangerous speed singing at the top of our lungs with a driver that looked like Steve Aoki in a bucket hat. All in all some wonderful new year’s celebrations – thanks Jen, Em, Khalil, Ellie and Josh for making it wonderful.

January was a month of saving for me because I have bills to pay at home. The car sat on my drive at home is really draining me of life and money and I don’t even drive it. Try not to take out a car on finance if you’re moving to another country, just a top tip for you there. Help me I’m poor.

I’m also saving to travel Thailand for a few weeks in March and April so realistically I couldn’t do anything fun. I stayed in a lot and I’ve watched a hell of a lot of movies in January.

Payday weekend has just been and gone so I ventured to Bangkok with some of my lovely American friends I made in Thailand. One of who has just got into Law School in the states so we were celebrating (congrats again Carly, super proud)!!

One thing I did do this weekend was experience my first Thai massage and I can honestly say it was the worst experience of my life. Never. Again.

A little cute older lady took me to this very soft cushioned area and gave me a 30 minute shoulder and neck massage. I was lead into a false sense of security with her cute face. 

When I laid down she basically hulk smashed me into the floor. I wasn’t aware that the massages were so intense but I found out when she had her elbow in my spinal column that actually they are anything but relaxing. At one point she was massaging my temples (why?) and she pressed so hard that I was close to letting out a sob and blacking out.

I’ve never felt anything like it before and I still cant move properly since it felt like she was trying to rip the muscles from my shoulders. Lets just say I’m glad I have a skull because I thought she was going to pop my brain.

All my friends absolutely love these massages and I don’t really know why. I was scolded for wriggling too much when in actual fact I was flinching away from her insanely strong hands. She had a death grip like a baby.

All in all I’ve had a pretty boring month and don’t have much to update you on.

I still love my life and I’m very happy with my students. I’m currently writing out their final exam which I hope they all do really well on because they’re good students who work super hard.

It’s my mum’s birthday on the 11th February so happy early birthday Sandy babes. Hope you have a fantastic day.

I’m not doing much for February so I apologise for the boring blog posts. I swear they’ll be more exciting in the months to come!

See you soon

Steph

P.s I miss cheese and bread. Don’t take your cheese and bread for granted people.

Kanchanaburi, Pattaya and goodbye to 2018

Hello friends it’s been a while,

So much has been going on throughout the month of December my life has seemed to be crazy busy but I’m still loving my life just as much as I was when I first got here.

On the last weekend in November I went to visit a city called Kanchanaburi, which has actually been my favourite place I have visited since I have been in Thailand. I waited in the blistering Friday afternoon sun for 45 minutes whilst the bus came to the bus stop in our town (which is not a bus stop it’s where an elderly lady sells sodas and snacks) and got on the bus for around 1 hour 15 minutes. Super easy journey and very scenic. From Kanchanaburi on Saturday morning I got the extremely packed bus to Erawan National Park where I did a hike up 7 waterfalls.

For starters, no one told me that wearing trainers was a bad idea.

Waterfalls? Trainers? Who knew that my feet were going to get wet?

It was a struggle for me as some of the rocks were actually taller than my body and I found myself climbing them like an infant learning how to walk – arse in the air, no upper body strength whatsoever but never the less, I made it to the top. In record timing I might add.

Erawan Waterfalls are a thing of beauty and I found myself sat wondering how many people have sat in the same position as me gazing in awe at these beautiful natural formations.

If you ever get the chance to visit Erawan National Park I recommend it, but wear the sandals that everyone (?) seems to own that are like hiking sandals. You also get a free foot spa from all the fish in the water, they immediately latch on to your feet trying to eat the dead skin. Remember when those foot spas were a thing? Yeah disgusting. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. Perverts.

Moving on to my next adventure the following weekend.

Pattaya.

I don’t know if I’m proud to say Pattaya ruined me and my friends that weekend.

I finally met up with my favourite people who I’d spent orientation with and it’s safe to say we went a little too hard. It was strange being in a place like Pattaya as it seemed like we were the only young girls around the city that weren’t prostitutes.

There’s some great clubs around Pattaya and the nightlife was booming. It was all fun and games until someone said “Shall we go see a ping pong show?” To put it lightly I wish I could unsee said ping pong show. Holy water eyedrops were needed. We went to a couple of clubs and had an amazing night, it was the blow out we all needed after not seeing each other for so long. I still left at 3am with a 7/11 ham and cheese toastie in hand.

The following day, instead of letting the inevitable doom of the looming hangover set in we went to an island just of the coast of Pattaya called Ko Lan and started drinking on the boat over. Fair to say after 12 Bacardi Breezers Kate and I were having a wonderful time floating in the sea.

We got the last boat back at 6pm and headed into the city for drinks. We crashed as soon as we went out and were ready for bed by 10pm.

I wouldn’t go back to Pattaya but it’s something that I think everyone should experience once in their lives.

Last week I went to Vientiane in Laos to get my Non B Immigrant Visa, but I don’t think I need to relive the horror 2 days I spent there. I spent more time seeing the Thai Embassy than seeing any of Vientiane.

All in all I’ve had a great month (bar the very unorganised visa run).

It’s Christmas Day tomorrow but here it’s just other day here of school. We’re making Christmas cards though and listening to Christmas music. 

What’s December without a bit of WHAM!? Nothing.

I am heading to Bangkok for New Years celebrations on Saturday and I am extremely grateful that we get New Years Eve and New Years Day off. I can’t wait to see my friends and bring in the New Year with a bucket of vodka red bull.

Going to stop rambling on now and go to sleep. I don’t think Santa will find me in Thailand this year but that’s okay, being here is the best thing in my life anyway. Woah that was real cheddar cheese, I didn’t even want to read that back to myself. Gag.

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year to you all!

Speak to you in 2019!

See you soon

Steph

Adjusting to a new life

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post so I thought I’d update you all on what’s being going on in my little life.

Adjusting to Thai life hasn’t actually been as difficult for me as I once thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong I sweat profusely at every given moment and the weather is insanely hot and humid but life here isn’t that different to my life back at home. I still get home from work and watch netflix, I go out on a weekend and drink with friends and I sing and dance around my room listening to music most days. The only thing different is the fact that some of my friends are still in England and my family is there too, but with the use of technology I don’t really have to miss them as they are only a video call away.

That being said Thai culture differs quite largely from Western culture, but that’s what makes it so amazing to live here.

The first part of Thai culture that still amazes me to this day, and I’ve been here 5 weeks tomorrow, is the fact that every Thai person has a nickname. This isn’t just a shortened version of their long Thai name, these names are given to them by their parents from birth. They have nicknames because often their Thai name’s are long and complicated so it’s much easier to have a shortened name that they all go by. Makes sense right?

In school and outside of school the students I teach are known by their nicknames because it is easier for them. All their nicknames have different meanings, but to a native English speaker sometimes these names are different than the norm. I have many children in my classes named Oil, Ice or Cream. These names amaze me every day as they are so far away from their Thai names but they’re so interesting and I wonder how their parents chose their nicknames.

Another thing that I’m still getting used to – 

Squat toilets

I understand the concept but I just cant really seem to grasp how to use them. My school toilets are squat toilets and I’m genuinely scared to use them. I can 100% see myself slipping and falling in piss one day. If you don’t know what a squat toilet is please google it. It kind of looks like a bidet with a pot of water next to it. For a Westerner who never even visited Thailand for a holiday (stupid) before moving here these are very strange to use. It’s hard work being a girl sometimes but I’ll be leaving Thailand with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s thighs, watch this space. Also, next to the squat toilets is something that is widely called a bum wash, which is just basically a hose as you can’t flush toilet paper down the toilets here. Luckily a lot of places have Western toilets in town including my apartment but school is not one of those places and I’ve realised that wherever I go I must take toilet paper as it’s not really readily available.

Also, I have had to send out an emergency SOS message to my mum to send me some tampons because they don’t exist in my town. The panic. Sandra is thankfully on the case and is sending out some boxes in the post. I’ve sent a message to my sister telling her to send me some for Christmas but I don’t think it will happen. We’ll see. Kirsty, please don’t be horrible.

Again I would like to point out that I live in a rural Thai town so if you’re going to Bangkok or Phuket where there are loads of tourists of course there’s Western toilets and tampons galore, don’t you worry.

Moving on from my struggles because I actually don’t have anything to complain about.

The past week has been loads of fun. We had a festival called Loi Krathong 

Thai people make a Krathong which is a little raft made of a slice of banana tree trunk, leaves and decorated with flowers. On the night of the full moon, Thais launch their krathong on a river, canal or a pond, making a wish as they do so. The festival may originate from an ancient rural ritual paying respect to the water spirits. I copied that last bit from Wikipedia (don’t sue me, I’ll drop in a bibliography if you need me to). The town was lit up with bright neon lights, it almost felt like Christmas, there was a parade with all the children from the town involved. Singing, dancing, music and happiness. It was a beautiful festival to be a part of and I actually felt extremely grateful to be able to be in Thailand for it. As always I was stared at by the whole town but I’m getting used to it now. Someone even asked me to take a photo with their baby. At least I can sleep well knowing I’ll be in someone’s photo album as the farang who came to town for Loi Krathong that one time.

I’d like to apologise as I don’t update this as often as I should but I work and I have a life. People to see, Chang to drink. You know the deal.

See you soon

Steph

Hi from Thailand

At the start of 2018 I was getting showered and ready to go to my mundane 8:30am to 5pm job and it dawned on me that I was stuck in a rut. The rut of waking up at 8am when I had to be at work for 8:30, running around like a headless chicken and being late for work most mornings. Something had to change for me.

I had three options to get myself out of this rut as far as I could see:

  1. Throw myself down the stairs to break a limb – Too painful and I wouldn’t escape my job forever.
  2. Have a child – Gotta wait 9 months to pop it out and support it for 18 years. It’s a no from me.
  3. Hop on an airplane and run away from all responsibility – No money.

How could I see the world with no money? Don’t get me wrong I had savings but the money eater that is my car used up a lot of said savings.

I did some research and realised I was qualified to teach English as a foreign language. Once this came to my realisation I was straight on a website enquiring more about TEFL and signing up to do my 240 hour course.

Flash forward 10 months and I am now sat in a public high school in Thailand getting ready to teach my sixth class of the day.  I left my job in October and I have no regrets. I hate British winters, I disliked my job and I wanted to get away. I didn’t want to be one of those people who were born and raised in a town and never left. That’s never been for me. I’m a social butterfly and I would make friends with my own shadow on a night out given the chance.

I currently live in a town called U-Thong in the province of Suphanburi. It’s located about an hour and a half away from Bangkok and for a small town it surprisingly has everything you would need for daily life. I am the foreign girl, people pass me in the street and call me a ‘farang’ which is basically Thai for Westerner – this is not offensive to me because I am a foreigner to these people. Also, half the time I don’t understand them anyway. Every day people stare at me as if I have come from another planet but realistically I am just a small ginger girl from Leeds, England.

The people in my town speak minimal English and probably wont ever need to know it in their lives but they always offer me a friendly smile, regardless of whether it is accompanied by staring or not.

When I first arrived in U-Thong via a van from Bangkok my face looked panicked and I felt like I’d stepped into another extremely sweaty/humid world. I looked like a packed mule with a backpack on and a duffle bag, I was carrying my whole life on my back. I was greeted by a man who luckily spoke English and was the director of a primary school down the road from my apartment block. After he asked if I would like a job, to which I sadly declined, this friendly man had a conversation with my Thai consultant on the phone for 5 minutes and sure enough I felt safe enough to jump in his car with his wife and they gave me a ride to my apartment which was about a 10 minute walk away from where the van dropped me.

I have been in Thailand 3 weeks and at my school 9 days. I came to this country knowing how to say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in Thai but everything seems to be going well for me. I eat, I go for drinks and I sleep in my apartment, although the mattress is like sleeping on a 6ft rock (apparently it’s good for your back? Doesn’t feel it). I still haven’t picked up many Thai phrases as I have a lot of people around me who are willing to help when my face starts to look a little worried but I know that I will eventually.

I have realised that you need transport to be able to get anywhere. Walking is a word that is unknown out here due to how hot it is. It’s currently the ‘winter’ season in Thailand yet it reaches 35 degrees most days and my weather app keeps basically saying ‘feels like being on the sun’.

I now rent a motorbike to see the sights (sorry mum). After having a minor anxiety attack about the motorbike I was taken to Tesco car park by my friends and taught how to ride it safely, I even bought a helmet. My friends sat and drank beer in the car park whilst I and another friend rode around trying to get our balance correct. I genuinely felt like I was back in high school. I can now ride the motorbike more confidently than before but still not fabulous at it. Also, when I get off my hair is just one giant dreadlock?! It’s an absolute disaster.

Today is Tuesday and last week I completed my first full week of teaching, it was surprisingly very fun. Don’t get me wrong it’s exhausting but it’s so rewarding. My students seem to like me and even though I have to shout to get their attention they’re actually really great kids. I currently teach mathayom 3 (14-15 year olds) and mathayom 6 (17-18 year olds). I came into this job thinking it would be all colouring and dancing, maybe it is in the primary schools? I have no idea.

However, my 14-15 year old kids live for slapping each other on the back of the heads and yelling over me in Thai. They don’t like putting their phones down and the amount of selfies I have been in is insane. It is hard to communicate with children who are glued to their phones and don’t want to listen to what you have to say but perseverance is key, that and a really long silent stare at them really shuts them up. 

My students make me laugh every day, whether it’s on purpose or by accident. Acting goes such a long way with them. Slapstick comedy is now my forte and I will be taking bookings whenever I am back in England.

This first post was a little all over the place as I’m unsure of what I wanted to say. I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m fine, I’m living a nice life and I’ve made some friends. I’m having a great time and the students tell me I’m cute every day. Honestly when you’re not feeling great “teacher you so cuuuuuute” really makes the day a little bit better. I’m not a scary teacher, I’m a nice teacher and I hope my students enjoy my lessons. Every day I get better at teaching and in a month’s time I will be the best damn teacher you’ve ever heard of.

I cant wait to see what adventures Thailand brings for me.

See you soon

Steph

P.S sorry to all my teachers that I yelled over in high school, karmas a bitch right?