Teaching in Chaiyaphum

thailand
I guess this is my name in Thai
Dried strawbzzzzz. Yum

There were 6 other foreign teachers at Anuban Chaiyaphum. The first day of school, one of them came and picked me up. So sweet.

My first day walking home from school I got lost (shocker). I walked by this restaurant and these two ladies were kind enough to help me. I called my advisor from Media Kids and she spoke to them and there I was hopping on the back of my second bike ride. She drove me back to my apartment. Apparently I took a right instead of a left. Sometimes I amaze myself.

The walk to school

The Thai teachers were so sweet. One of them got me some dried strawberries from the northern part of Thailand. Sometimes she’d bring me random food which was awesome. I love trying new food. And then, on my last day, she gave me a skirt. So cute πŸ’—

So before Thailand, I had never taught before. Soooo, teaching a room full of 40+ students was A LOT of work. I had to use a microphone and even then it was hard to hear myself. I never knew my voice could go so high.

I worked Monday-Friday. The English teachers had to do a morning talk once a week and we had to go on stage.. in front of the whole school 😟 It was embarrassing for me because I was a horrible MC. I can’t do large crowds… unless it’s karaoke hehe.

The kids were cute though. I had P6 which were 11-12ish and then I had K3 which were 4 (I think). I actually forget their ages but I think I’m kinda right. Either way, they were all adorable. It was fun but also super stressful and overwhelming.

I went through Media Kids in Chaiyaphum and they were okay. I had heard some mixed things about them before going to Thailand. They gave you the curriculum and you just had to make the lessons enjoyable and exciting. It was hard with 40+ students but it worked with the ones that actually wanted to learn.

There was no AC in any of the rooms so I had to plug the fan in prevent the sweat from dripping off of my face. It was dry and scorching.

They have a huge turnover of English teachers. Not only just in Thailand, but everywhere. So I think it is hard for the students to engage themselves into the subject when they have a new teacher every few weeks.

One of my students drew this. How cute ❀️

I interviewed with Christina’s agency one day and weeks later, I was off to Bangkok with Anna and Amy (Dina had already left) after my contract had ended. Anna was this super cool girl that I worked with. She didn’t start til after me but we became instant friends.

My last day with all of my kids was emotional. Of course, I cried. Honestly, I never knew how emotional I was until I met those students. There was this one student who just followed me around and hugging me. It was so precious.

Before I knew it, it was my last day in Chaiyaphum. Anna, Amy, and I all met Christina and Teddy in Bangkok. Teddy was one of my new co-workers at my new school.

Chaiyaphum was a cute little town. I miss it. I think Thailand in general had such a great impact on my life. Everything that happened there will always be a fond memory.

My K2 kiddies πŸ’— πŸ’—
I teared up. Miss them.

I never noticed how much 6 weeks could go by so quickly, but also make such an impact on your life.

Chaiyaphum was merely the start of my Thailand journey.

Chaiyaphum, Thailand

thailand
My first walk around the city

Chaiyaphum is about a 5ish hour bus ride to Bangkok. It was much more rural than Mahachai. I could cross the street without the fear of being hit.

The walk to school was about fifteen minutes and there was a 7 (of course) right down the street from me.

There were two bus stations near me (that I know of). The one that went to Bangkok was about a twenty minute walk from my apartment. The other one that we took to Chiang Mai was only thirty-ish minutes away from me.

I named this dude Bob

Xplore Asia placed Amy, Dina, and I in Chaiyaphum for the 6-week program so I was there from June-late July, 2019. Xplore Asia handed us off to Media Kids after orientation. Amy and Dina were placed at the same school but I was at a different one.

I spent the first two weeks in an apartment 5 minutes away from Amy and Dina. I made a few friends with some geckos and some worms that found their way into my apartment.

Tat Ton Waterfall

The last few weeks I moved into the same building that they were in and felt much more comfortable.

There were so many dogs in my area. Sometimes I’d bring a banana on my walk to school to feed the little guys. I felt so helpless. I wanted to take every single dog in and cuddle them.

One weekend I walked to this bar called Corner Bar with a few of the other teachers. It took like an hour to get there. That was a little fun adventure. They had live music and the girl sang some songs in English once she saw that we were there. It was a good time.

One or two of the weekends, Dina and Amy had English camp so I was by my lonesome. I doused myself in sunblock and brought my big water bottle and I was off. I walked for quite a long time. I think at least 2 cars stopped and asked if I needed a ride. I lolled. They thought I was insane.

I take horrible selfies

This sweet lady that owned a restaurant that we’d go to sometimes took me, Dina, and Amy to Tat Ton National Park. We just gave her some gas money and hopped in her van. It only took about a half hour-ish to get there. We only went to the waterfall. I wish we could’ve explored more. It was refreshing and awesome.

Black butterfly…cool

July 4th we had this party at a bar that we’d go to. It’s One Bar. I’d usually drink Jameson on the rocks. The owner (I think) was from the US. Or one of his good friends was, I forget. So they had a cookout. We listened to Party in the USA and other festive songs.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image.png
July 4th cookout πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

That weekend me and some of the other Xplore Asia peeps went to Chiang Mai for the weekend.

The next weekend was a long weekend so a few of us went to the amazing Phi Phi Islands!

This dish was amazing…pasta and cheese… need I say more??
Karaoke time. Jbiebs, of course

There was a restaurant called Ghet within five minutes from my apartment. We’d have to walk by this house with these vicious dogs that would always bark at us. The dogs behind the gate would bark and then the strays would run over and it was just this whole scene.

We’d go to Ghet every so often because it was arrrrooi. It was owned by this chill dude. The menu was western and Thai food so it was a nice mix up. He was also the cook. He had a library upstairs for kids to read books. It was an adorable set up.

There was another room upstairs that was used to teach English/Thai lessons. The owner made a deal with the foreign teachers that if we went there once a week and hung out with the students who wanted to learn English, he’d teach us Thai for free. That guy was so sweet, as you can tell. I was only able to do it once. We played board games and card games for a few hours. It was enjoyable.

My last night in Chaiyaphum
Rachel, Dave, Anna & me

My last night in Chaiyaphum, we went to this random bar that was right near my apartment. This guy from the UK owned it somehow. We had a party for mine and Amy’s departures. I also broke my tooth there. I turned around and bashed my tooth into a beer bottle. That was painful but also I’m clumsy like that so I wasn’t even shocked. I got it fixed once I got to Mahachai.

This was a fun night

Although I spent such a short amount of time in Chaiyaphum, it was yet another great experience.

Mahachai Jaidee

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First night meeting our new friends (we didn’t know Indria yet)

I met some great people in Mahachai (aka Indria and our Thai friends) and became better friends with others (aka Christina).

Jaidee was just a bar on the side of the road that we would pass when leaving Landmark.

Christina and I were walking to our apartments one night from Landmark and these people were like “HEYYYYY.” She was like “so this girl before you never wanted to go there do you?” Of course I said yes because they sounded fun.

When we took Indria to Jaidee 😁
Post fishing

Little did we know we’d be spending 95% of our weekend nights there. We’d always try some place new, but then we’d just end up at Jaidee. The thing is is that they were all great and entertaining and they were genuinely good people.

Indria, Me, Christina & Mo

Sometimes they’d take us on little day adventures to temples, their houses or cafes. I went fishing a few times with them which was so much fun!!! I caught my first and only fish πŸ˜ƒ

We’d go to Jaidee on Fridays or Saturdays (sometimes both).

A few of our pictures are encased in the Jaidee bartop πŸ’—
Polaroid cameras are great

I’d usually have a mojito….or 5 when we’d go. Mai nam tan (no sugar). Sometimes I’d switch it up and get a bottle of Singha, which was my favorite Thai beer.

This one night we got really drunk off of our boxed wine at Indria’s apartment. We all forgot to eat dinner???? We showed up at Jaidee and brought our wine with us. None of them liked it. They usually just drank Singha, Chang 😷, Leo, or Hongtong.

After Jaidee closed, we’d go to Landmark or Whaz. We were also introduced to Let’s Bar a few months later. Let’s Bar was always packed and the live music was great. You’d have to push your way through all of the people to get to the bathroom.

Christmas at Mahachai Jaidee

Landmark and Whaz were right down the street from Jaidee and there was a 7 along the way so that was always great. Whaz had live music too. Landmark had a bunch of tables and chairs so we’d go get beer at a nearby store and drink there for hours listening to some tswizz (Taylor Swift), Britney Spears, Thai music, or just whatever we were feeling that night.

Typical night at Jaidee

We’d sit and talk. We always laughed a whole lot. Indria, Christina, and I would be at one end of the table and everyone else would be on the other end but we’d all yell to each other.

At the end of the night, (usually somewhere between 11pm-6am) they’d all take us home or we’d go and get some yummy food.

β™₯️ β™₯️

There was this one time when I fell off of a bike.

I always told Indria and Christina that I was going to fall off of a bike at some point because I always had to hop on and off with my little legs. The bikes were too high and my legs just couldn’t do it.

So, there I was.

Love them πŸ’œ

Everyone was sitting at the table eating at a restaurant we’d go to sometimes and I face planted into the concrete. I still have a bump on my head that I think will be with me forever. LOL.

Our our weekend mornings/afternoons, depending on when we got home, we started off deciding where we could get greasy or western food. Hangover helpers hehehe. Our favorites were: Baantoon, Three Girls and a Boy, and The White Oven.

The night we forgot to eat dinner. Can you tell??

After doing our errands for the day, we’d usually end up back there again at night. Orrrrr, we’d go to Indria’s and watch a movie and then go there πŸ˜†

At the end of the night, (usually somewhere between 11pm-6am) they’d all take us home or we’d go and get some aroi mak-mak (very delicious) food. We’d try new food and drink beer.

My last night 😒

My last night at Mahachai Jaidee was bittersweet. It was such an enjoyable night but it was also sentimental. I was excited to go home but leaving was also hard. It was a quick but great goodbye. Some of us got matching tattoos which is always fun πŸ˜‚

Christina, Indria, and I still talk about the random, yet unforgettable times that we had at that bar and all of the places that they took us to. Mahachai will always have a place in my heart.

Juup Juup πŸ’œ

Mahachai, Samut Sakhon

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ΰΉ€ΰΈ«ΰΈ΅ΰΉ‰ΰΈ’ (water monitor)

After my six weeks in Chaiyaphum, I moved to Mahachai. Christina worked at a school there and they just happened to need another teacher. I wasn’t ready to leave Thailand yet so I packed my bags and went to Mahachai.

I stayed at Christina’s for a few nights while the coordinator looked for nearby apartments for me.

πŸ‡ΉπŸ‡­

Three days later I was lugging my little suitcase to “the apartment near Pizza Hut.” That was my name for it for the first few months before I knew the name. I still called it that even after I found out the actual name. My apartment was about a fifteen minute walk from Indria’s, twenty minutes from Christina’s, and ten minutes to school. It was in a great spot.

Just to give a little perspective of the Mahachai layout:

The main road in Mahachai is called Ekachai Road. My apartment was on the corner of Ekachai and Setthakij 1 Road.

The closest Tesco Lotus was about a thirty minute walk from me. I love walking but it was rough. It wouldn’t have been so bad BUT it was always sooooo hot in Thailand so walking there wasn’t too enjoyable. I’d literally step outside and start dripping.

Som tam from Tesco 😍

Tesco Lotus had a few cute stores. Also, a twenty Baht store was right outside. Inside they had: a KFC, and a Dunks (they only sold donuts). They also had a cafeteria that had delicious soup, spicy som tam, and omelets. Sometimes Christina and I would go there after school and split some of the dishes. I miss their soup. Walking further past Tesco Lotus they had this sushi place that we went to once and then tried to go again but they were closed.

Funny story: within the first few days that I was in Mahachai, a few of us teachers went to Tesco. I went to MK Restaurant by myself. It was pretty difficult ordering since I barely knew any Thai. I ended up just taking a guess and hoping that the dishes didn’t have meat it them. It worked. Later I found Christina and Teddy. They laughed at me, of course.

Truffle fries πŸ’—

So, The White Oven, Two Ladies, Christina’s apartment, and Number 8 was on the way to Tesco Lotus. The White Oven was a western-styled restaurant that was overly priced but they had truffle fries which were mouthwatering. Two Ladies was not actually the real name of the place but two ladies worked there so that’s what we called it LOL. Number 8 was our favorite spot.When we’d go to Number 8, we’d have a feast. I actually don’t know if that was the name of it either. As you can tell we made up names for a lot of places.

Cafe’ n Garden and Jaidee were close to Indria’s. Cafe’ n Garden had BAGELS. They didn’t have cream cheese so that was sad. I’d go there on weekends for help with my hangover.

Mahachai πŸ’•

Central Plaza Mahachai had a Homegoods store, Robinsons, Uniqlo, Starbucks, and a few other good stores. Taking a taxi was only about fifteen minutes (with all of the traffic).

The train station that we’d sometimes take to Bangkok was about a fifteen minute walk from my apartment and past the school. Walking through the fish market was always interesting (and smelly).

Three Girls and A Boy was our weekend spot. They hated waiting on us though because we couldn’t speak Thai. That was on Ekachai Road too but looking at my apartment on a map, it was to the left. We rarely went to that side of town.

Baantoon was another weekend spot that was on the main road. They had AMAZING Pad See Ew. Ahhhh. I ache for it sometimes.

Mahachai Hospital was about a twenty minute walk from me which I found out when I walked there at 5am.. food poisoning. Over that way they also had a night market, which I regret never going to, and a yummy sushi restaurant that we went to a few times.

Huge snail

Christina, Indria, and I went to this “Michelin Star” restaurant called Ruean Panya Restaurant. We got a bunch of seafood and almost got attacked by a dog. I say “Michelin Star” because it was pretty crappy food.

So, off I was to the hospital after being in Mahachai for less than a month. I was given some meds then went home and slept. I think my favorite part of going to the restaurant was that when we were leaving we saw this huge snail.

Thailand was cool for many reasons, as I have mentioned.

7-eleven is a huge thing in Thailand. They don’t have as many as Japan. Off the top of my head I can think of one 7/11 near Indria, one across the street from my school, two near Christina’s, one near the van stop, and maybe three or four near the train station/fish market.

Christmas at Nampu Plaza.. How cute?!

Nampu Plaza was also a great little building that was less than five minutes from school. They had a DQ and KFC. Sometimes after school we’d go and get ourselves a little treat at DQ.

They usually had T-shirts for sale right when you walked in. Upstairs was the food court. They had som tam and fried rice with shrimp and veggies. Delish. On the other floors, they had video games, and a great DIY store. DIY had everything..from tools to house supplies to party favors and containers.

Haven Outdoorism was a cute spot. It was on Ekachai Road. They had camping gear and yummy Pad Thai. Nutty Cake which was this dessert place we went to a few times was right across the street from it. A few doors down from Haven was another bar called Saan D Me Bar. We went there a few times. They had live music too, wooo. We went there every once in a while and also the night of my 26th birthday. It was a hoppin’ place.

So they had motorbike stops at basically every corner in Mahachai. I would walk by six stops on the way to Tesco. You’d just tell them where you were going and hop on. I became friends with the guys at two of the stops because I walked by so frequently. We’d just say hello and I’d be on my merry way.

Overall, Mahachai had some great spots and succulent food. I’m excited to talk about Thai food. That will be another post because I have maaaany pictures.

Khao Yai

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Khao Yai was one of my favorite vacays. Of course, I’ll probably say that about every vacation that I will write about πŸ˜† But look how beautiful it is:

We started off in Bangkok, just like every other vacation we went on because it was just easier. Our friend Jules lived in the south so she had to fly up to meet us.

Indria and I stayed in Mahachai on Friday night while Jules, Christina, and Indria’s sister, Jade stayed at a hostel in Bangkok. My friend drove me to their hostel the next day.

I think I liked our Khao Yai vacay so much cause we had our own wheels hehe. Christina rented us a car so that was fun. Anddd since we drive on the right side of the road in the US, it was strange being on the left side. I tried to drive because I wanted to see what it was like to drive on the left side and it was weird.

Our Air BnB was 23 Degree Condo and it was awesome. It was in a great location and it had a bath tub. Props to Christina for setting everything up. For every vacation.

Gym selfie

Our first night in Nakhon Ratchasima we went to the gym and walked around the complex. We got our little workouts in and then had ventured off to an Italian restaurant called Roma that had OK food. It was pretty expensive.

Cutie monkey

Since we were only there for three days, we had to get an early start. The next morning we were off to the National Park. Yay. 400 Baht later for us farangs and we were driving through the beauteous land. The views were breathtaking and the monkeys were cute but also a bit terrifying. The park was huge so it was good that we brought a car to drive around. We saw people bike riding which looked rough. There were many hills and curves so I couldn’t even imagine riding a bike throughout the park.

Thailand – US Friendship Trail

You can also camp at Khao Yai which is pretty cool. I’m not sure how much it costs but I think it would be worth it. Our friends camped there a few times and it looked and sounded enjoyable. I really wanted to camp there. We saw tents and cars along the side of the park. Maybe one day.

Haew Su Wat Waterfall is pictured on my main blog page and it’s at the top of this page too. It took about 40 minutes to drive there. Since we went to Khao Yai during the dry season in Thailand, it wasn’t that waterfall-y. It was still as pretty as a picture. It was also in the movie “The Beach.” Which I thought was so cool. I watched the movie for the first time before we went to Khao Yai because I had to.

We also saw Kong Kaew Waterfall, Khao Chiew Viewpoint and made it to Pha From Jai Cliff at 4,233 ft.

Suay

Khao Yai also has this trail called “The US Friendship Trail.” It was cool to see that. We weren’t able to walk it because it was getting late and the trail looked like it would talk a while to complete.

Sunday night we went to PB Valley Khao Yai Winery. I still love looking at the pictures that we took there because the place was so lovely. We sat down and shared a few bottles then we walked around the winery. We were able to bring bottles with us for the stroll. We trekked through the vineyard and found a footbridge. We found our photoshoot location. We were lucky enough to witness the sunset there. The sunset was purple and pinkish. I have yet to see another beautiful sunset as great as that one. It will forever be imprinted in my memory.

Miss you bud

When we were leaving there was this cute dog that was roaming the area. Obviously I had to take a picture with the little fella.

Views

We had this cool friend in Thailand that we would hangout with every few months. His name was Tiger. He was such a chill guy. He ended up being in Khao Yai at the same time as us so we invited him and his brother to our Air BnB. We all got really drunk and stayed up late dancing and singing. That’s how things always ended up hanging with our Thai friends.

From left to right:
Me, Tiger, Tiger’s brother, Christina, Indria

The next day was our journey home. After making breakfast for my little children and myself, I made us grilled cheeses to bring with us on the ride home. It ended up paying off since we were running late. We stopped at Toscana Valley and saw a piece of Italy.

And then we were off to Bangkok. Indria and I had ourselves a little concert on the way home since traffic was backed up. It was entertaining. We also played categories. Jules almost missed her flight and Christina stopped the car in the middle of the highway. That was exhilarating.

Kinda horrible pic but oh well

After dropping off the rental car in Bangkok, we were on our way home. Yay. We took a taxi and an hour later we were all at ease.

Khao Yai was such a memorable trip, hence the numerous pictures that I posted on here. I do wish we got to see elephants. That would have made the vacation ten times better. But I will settle for monkeys.

If you plan on going to Thailand I highly recommend you spend a few days there. You will not regret it.

From left to right: On our way to the waterfalls, Toscana Valley, PB Valley, Khao Chiew Viewpoint, sunset at PB Valley, Pha Trom Jai Cliff, entrance into Khao Yai, on our way to the winery at PB Valley

New Year’s Vacay 2019

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From Bangkok to Pattaya to Koh Chang

Sweet little dog at the hostel
Bangkok, Thailand

Since New Year is coming around the corner again, I thought I’d write a throwback about better times and a fun New Year.

The long 5 day weekend started off in the capital on the 27th of December. Christina and I took a train from Mahachai to Bangkok. Taking the train was always great- it was 10 Baht and took about an hour. It stopped at Wonwian Yai. The BTS skytrain (not the band) was about a ten minute walk. So convenient.

Christina and I got to Bangkok before the others. We stayed at Phobphan Hostel in Bangkok. There was this sweet little dog there. We stopped at EmQuartier to do some shopping. Christina finally got me to shop at Zara. I got a cute shirt and skirt and she got a dress. We had dinner and waited for Jules and Indria to get to the hostel and then we were on our way. First, we stopped at Havana Social and met some cool peeps. We ended up hanging out with some people from New York. We got free shots and bottles. That’s always nice, Then this dude took us to Levels and we got more free drinks. Yay.

Havana Social
Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand is great cause they have 7s on every corner. Indria and I went to the closest one and I waited outside for her while smoking and talking to some cool Thais. We got Christina food but she was passed out by the time we got back.

We ended the night late and started the next morning early. Christina realized that she left her purse in the Grab (that’s just a fancy word for taxi that they use in Thailand) that we took back to our hostel. Luckily she was able to contact the guy and get it back. This was the start of an unforgettable New Years.

We stopped at a random spot to get a song taew to the bus station
Trat, Thailand

Jules and I had to get food in our stomachs so Indria and Christina stayed behind to get her purse. Jules and I ended up finding a Pizza Hut that was in the middle. Then, we had to take a Grab from there to the bus terminal. We had no idea where we were going so that’s always fun. Christina already bought all of our tickets and the bus was about to leave. Indria ended up coming to the bus terminal but Jules and I were already on the bus. She ended up taking the next bus. Soooo, two of us were on the same bus and then the other two were on separate buses.

The streets of Pattaya

Once we got to Pattaya Jules and I took motorbikes to our Air BnB. That was amusing because we had our big bags with us. We got to the apartment complex and waited outside. Since Christina booked the Air BnB, the lady that was supposed to collect us came out a bunch of times looking for her. We realized this about 20 minutes later?? Eventually we showed them a picture of Christina and got let into the apartment. Soon after, Christina and Indria arrived. We got settled and went out for a night walk.

The impeccable rooftop view.
Pattaya, Thailand

We had a chill night. We went to a Mexican restaurant close to our apartment and I got some tacos. There was a rooftop pool that had lovely views. The sunset was amazing. We walked the beach and saw a bunch of farangs. The next day we were on the move.

πŸ’—

We were off to our destination: Koh Chang. We went from Pattaya to Rayong and made an adorable tiny friend. From Rayong we took another bus to Trat. From Trat we hopped on the ferry and were almost to the island!!! After hopping on a curving and swerving and almost falling off of the road, we made it to our Sleepyowl Hostel.

Got a little carried away

Sunday was our first night on the island. We found this packed bar and danced, sang, and drank a lot. Indria and I found some face paint that was glow in the dark so that was entertaining. I ended up covering my whole face. LOL.

Also we saw a few fake 7-elevens on the island which was humorous.

The next day Jules, Indria and myself went to a beach and that was nice n refreshing. Christina wasn’t feeling too good lolol. The beach was hot but beautiful. The weather was perfect and the water was warm. I’m used to freezing cold water up near Boston so it was a nice change.

For some reason I think that I’m a professional photographer heheh

After the beach we went to a Greek restaurant. We were obsessed with Aesops in Bangkok so we had to compare.

Our 7/11 gear πŸ˜ƒ

That night we strutted through the town in our 7 gear, met this bartender (picture below) that could spin his bottle opener, and met some more farangs. OH and we decided to get buckets and split them between two people. WHY? Idk. But we did it and we survived.

Rasta View, Koh Chang

Andddd the night after was NYE. We went to this Jamaican bar and witnessed another memorable view. After sweating A TON (cause that’s what my body does), we made our way back to our hostel and went to the bar that we became regulars at πŸ˜‚ LUCKILY, we all made it out for NYE. They played Sorry by J Biebs (MY ALLLLL TIME FAVORITE SONG. EVER.) and played some other exciting throwbacks and we screamed in the new year. I also found some balloons so I had some accessories.

Our voyage to the mainland.
From Koh Chang to Trat

We left Koh Chang on New Years Day. That was rough. Jules had to leave earlier than us cause she was going back to southern Thailand.

Koh Chang, Thailand

Me, Indria, and Christina took the song taew back to the ferry. It was a loooong and rough ride. We struggled all the way. We all agreed it would just be easier on ourselves to take a taxi…..who wants to take a taxi then bus then van to their destination?? Especially on New Years Day. Yeah, no one. We were able to get a taxi back from Trat to Mahachai. It was worth every penny/Baht. The driver stopped at 7s on the way. We played categories, sang, and took naps. It only took a few hours.

Safe to say our New Years vacay was memorable. We all laugh about it now because of all of the complications that we faced. From Christina losing her purse to all of us being on separate buses to being complete disasters in our 7-eleven shirts. New Years is coming around the corner again so reminiscing on our NYE from last year has been great. Ahhhh, Covid-free times, it’s always fun looking back on those memories.

From top left: tacos from Mexican restaurant, fake 7/11, picture with some farangs, hummus from the Greek restaurant, FaceTime with my friends from back home, our hostel in Koh Chang, the city life in Pattaya, beautiful view from the Greek restaurant, our bartender friend, this crazy cat that bit Indria (no rabies though), and the Rasta View restaurant with their sweet little doggie.

The Tremendous Thailand

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It’s funny because I didn’t even plan on going to Thailand until three months prior to leaving, but yet it was the best (almost) year of my life. I also never thought I’d ever want to teach, yet here I am. Choosing Thailand was like most of the other decisions that I’ve made in my life: spontaneous. I love taking risks and facing new challenges and I had never been to Asia before so I thought, hey why not? I’m always up to do whatever and sometimes I like being impulsive.

Wat Pho, Bangkok

I was planning on going to Peru or somewhere in South America but they weren’t hiring year-round so I had to look into other options. I talked to different people in different Facebook groups and ended up talking to someone that was going to Thailand. I looked into different programs and came across Greenheart. I signed up, had an interview, submitted my payment, and I was off. Greenheart then handed me off to Xplore Asia. From Xplore Asia I went to Media Kids.

I left at the beginning of June for my 6 week program. Those 6 weeks turned into 10 months.

JJ Mall

When I landed in Bangkok on the 7th, my roommate, Christina and I ended up walking around Bangkok since we were the first ones there. Most of the others landed the day after us. We ventured off into the heat and got to see some cool temples: Wat Pho, Wat Arun, the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.

Pad Thai Gung (shrimp)

I took my first tuk-tuk ride, which was amusing, pushed our way through the Chatuchak Weekend Market (also called JJ Market) and ate delectable Thai food. I just gotta say I was so happy to see a mall because it had AC and man it was hot. Also, tuk-tuks are wicked cool. I loved riding on those things, they are really exhilarating.

Muay Thai class

For orientation week we got to learn some Thai, went to a Muay Thai class and met some cute doggies there. I also met some cools peeps. I ended up going to teach with Christina in Mahachai (more on that later) and now I’m in South Korea with Jules (haven’t seen her yet, but once Covid has simmered down that will change).

Big Buddha Khao Tao

During one of the days of orientation, we took a hike up to see the a huge Buddha. It took about 15 minutes. In the heat it seemed like it was double the distance and double the time to get there. It was worth it though. The view was beautiful and the Buddha was huge! On the way up, we walked through a cave and pushed our way up the stairs.

TOO MUCH PLASTIC

Totally unrelated to this post but I remember seeing all of these plastic bottles on the way up to the Buddha. I cringed. And the thing is, this doesn’t just everywhere in Thailand, but it also happens back home. I sent this picture to a lot of people back home because I wanted to show them how all of the plastic that we use adds up. It’s hard to see the build up of these things back home because we throw them out (hopefully most people recycle) and then don’t even think about it. We don’t think about these types of things because it doesn’t impact us. The side note here is to RECYCLE. Or just cut down on the amount of plastic that you use 😊

One of the dogs from Rescue Paws

This cutie dog is from Xplore Asia’s partner company called Rescue Paws and we got to spend a few hours there. We took a few dogs to the beach and got to cuddle with some cats. That was hands down my favorite part of orientation, duh.

After orientation week, Xplore Asia shipped us off to our provinces. I was nervous, excited and confused all at the same time. And that was only the start of my life in Thailand. Thailand will be chill and calm but also make you question everything.

It’s hilarious because I look back on my first few weeks in Thailand and now I’m just like well that’s Thailand for ya. It just makes sense. My friends and I always joke because nothing in Thailand makes sense but it does at the same time. And that is just one of my many favorite things about The Tremendous Thailand.

I’m Freeee

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I waiting for 12pm since I got here. It’s weird that I can close out all of my apps now because I no longer have to have my quarantine app open at all times.

It feels wrong that I was able to walk outside. I felt like I was breaking the law. Is that what two weeks in solitary confinement does to you?? (kidding)

I just went for a little stroll around my neighborhood and was able to see (up close) the progress that the construction workers had made on the building that is very close to mine. They’ve made quite some progress within the past two weeks. That has been some of my entertainment these past two weeks.

My neighborhood looked a bit deserted from my window.

Turns out it wasn’t THAT much of a desert as I thought it was going to be. There were stores and several apartment buildings and restaurants once I left my street. Everything was about a 5-10 minute walk from my place which is super convenient.

There was a lot to see in my little town; It was riveting. I only walked a total of two miles aimlessly because it started getting dark and I was hungry so I started to walk the wrong way home. Fun. I’m glad that KakaoMap works without cellular data because I would’ve definitely been lost if not. I saw the Dominos that I order from twice throughout my quarantine period. I saw a few hair and nail salons. I also saw a bunch of parks and people walking around. And this box with pet food and water inside that was on one of the walking paths which made me smile and warm inside. HOW CUTE.

7/11. Yay!

I also went to a 7/11 which brought me back to Thailand because 7’s in Thailand were literally every other building. When I went to grab some Soju, they had Singha!!!! My day was instantly made. Quarantine guys, quarantine, it is worth it. The lady inside 7/11 thought that I was younger than 20, which is the legal drinking age in Korea. Good thing is that I downloaded English and Korean on Google Translate since I don’t have a phone plan yet this came in very handy. Of course it made me laugh because that happens to me everywhere even though I’m well over 20. Everyone always thinks I’m younger than 20. Not mad about it but I didn’t have my passport soooo that could’ve been a problem.

I got 2 Singhas πŸ˜†

I got a few snacks at 7 to try because why not. I have no idea what they say on the packaging but I got Cheetos and a candy bar. I thought that the Cheetos were spicy but Google told me otherwise. I guess they’re sweet and spicy. They are sweet. Back home, the spicy Cheetos are wicked spicy. I tried.

I’ve been eyeing this place since I got here because I thought it said “Paris Bagels.” Anyone who knows me knows I am have a sick obsession with bagels. After a quick KakaoMap search, I learned that it is called “Paris Baguette.” Still, it’s bread so I thought I’d give it a try on my walk back home. They had quite the selection. I got some egg salad and potato salad to try and this watermelon bar which was palatable because I also love watermelon πŸ‰ I also got a sandwich with lettuce, tomato, imitation crab, and some spicy sauce.

Today was an interesting day and I am a bit relieved that my city has more to offer than I thought; I feel giddy. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds! Tomorrow starts a new day AND my first school day. I am excited to do some more exploring before school. More pictures to come!

Two Weeks in Korea and then I’m Free-a

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Honestly, it hasn’t been as bad as I thought it was going to be. But ask my friends and family how I’ve been and they may say the opposite.

Picture of my cutie dog because I miss his face

I got a box from the government within the first few days of being here. It was filled with tasty food. How sweet of them?! I also received a thermometer and a white bucket with an orange biohazard bag to throw my trash in (Don’t worry, I am allowed to set my recyclables aside). Yay. My TikTok has videos of the goodies that were in the box that I received. I’ve eaten about 80% of what they sent (some of it is meat). Even before I got the box, the head teacher at my school went food shopping and had my fridge stocked before I arrived. She let me borrow some of her cookware for the two weeks. I felt at home right when I walked through the door.

South Korea is really on top of it when it comes to Covid. Four days after I got to my apartment, I was taken to get another Covid test. I was picked up and dropped off. It was exhilarating to see the outdoors. The quarantine app is pretty cool, when it works. My health officer has called and texted me when she couldn’t see my location. If you have an iPhone, I recommend leaving the app open at all times and having the Background App Refresh on. Expect a phone call or Kakao message if your location isn’t visible. I have to log in at 9am and 3pm every day. A few times my health officer has messaged me asking what my temperature was, even after I had logged my info in. I had some complications with the app at first because I was trying to write my address in Korean. It took a whole 12 hours to fix it so that was my thrilling activity for the day.

Here are some of the other activities that have been keeping me busy:

“Write Korean” App
  • Netflix & other apps (I’ve probably mentioned it 10x recently)
  • Reading
  • Meditating (I listen to a few different podcasts, but LOVE Chel Hamilton). Podcasts in general are pretty awesome.
  • Taking courses on Coursera. edX is great too.
  • Practicing Korean (I listen to YouTube videos by Korean Unnie, Mina Oh, & Korean Class101). I also downloaded this cool app called “Write Korean.” It’s my favorite so far because it doesn’t throw the whole alphabet at you all at once. I’ve also used other apps such as Duolingo and Memrise but I found that they had different pronunciation for each of the vowels which was super confusing. I do love Memrise for other languages though.
  • FaceTime and WhatsApp. Zoom and Skype. You know, those apps. It’s hard with the time difference but I’ve made it work so far!
  • Cooking has also been a huge part of my day. I LOVE to cook. Having a stove top in my apartment really makes my life easier and more enjoyable.
  • Organizing my apartment was also on the list but I am not in my official apartment yet. Living out of a suitcase was easier said than done.
  • Self care is always important! My favorite part is putting on a face mask and watching TV. I really needed a face mask after wearing my mask for 20+ hours.
  • Exercising is a great way to pass time. I have been slacking during quarantine but now I’m back at it with my little weights and resistance bands.
  • TikTok has been entertaining (when my internet works). I started making them the day I got here and I can’t stop.

I cut my hair because my friend told me about the #BradMandoChallenge πŸ˜‚ It looks nice and healthy now.

A great idea I had when I was back home was to buy a projector in case I didn’t have a TV, like in Thailand. I bought an HDMI cord and a Lightning to Digital AV Adapter off of eBay because they were cheap. BUT, make sure the AV Adapter is the Apple brand because it might not work if it’s not. Another amazing idea of mine was to read some posts on Facebook to see which VPN would work best. I decided to buy Nord VPN for a month so I could have different options aside from Netflix. I’ve been able to used Hulu, HBO Max and Disney Plus. Love that for me.

As time goes by, I regret unpacking my suitcases. I haven’t unpacked fully but let’s just say it’s going to take a few trips to get all of my belongings to my new apartment. It’s only a floor upstairs so it’s not a huge deal.

I cannot wait until I move into my apartment and unpack! I’m prettttty sure I brought more than enough of my belongings with me considering my two ginormous suitcases and also breaking one at home and another one other here. Guess we’ll find out.

A Fresh Beginning

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Khao Yai National Park, Central Thailand

Who would’ve thought that I’d be going to another country during a pandemic?

I did.

After spending ten months in Thailand, I knew that living in America just wasn’t for me anymore. I didn’t even want to leave Thailand in the first place, but I had to. When I returned home, everything was different; I was different. I felt trapped- physically, mentally, and emotionally. I realized that there was nothing there for me anymore. There was no adventure, no challenge. The pandemic changed my plans, as it did with many others.

I came home from Thailand in the beginning of March. Eight months later and here I am in quarantine waiting for the day (December 8) when I can be freeee.

The hardest part about coming home from Thailand was that I wanted to leave right away. Buttttt, the pandemic. I went from having the time of my life to being locked inside my house indefinitely, just like the rest of the world.

In June was when I had enough. I started looking into countries that would take me as an ESL teacher in the middle of coronavirus. While researching, I would talk to my friends that I met abroad and they had plans to go to South Korea.

Teaching in South Korea had crossed my mind once or twice before but I initially had plans to go to Ireland when I got back from Thailand.

The two countries that were accepting teachers in early July were South Korea and Thailand.

Pha Trom Jai Cliff
Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

I applied for numerous positions in both countries, awaiting anxiously. I can’t even remember how many recruiters I talked to. My friend found a great recruiter (orrrrr, so we thought) that helped us start the initial process.

Little did we know it would take much more time, stress, and back pain.

I would wake up early in the morning and post my resume on sites such as Dave’s ESL cafe, Gone 2 Korea, Go Overseas, ESL Rok, and several others. I joined a bunch of Facebook groups and would scroll on Google for hours.

I heard back from a good amount, but the process was difficult because I was out of the country. It ended up taking a lot of time and effort to even get schools and recruiters to answer me. My friend and I joked that searching for jobs WAS a full time job.

After months of staring at my computer, I received a job… from the recruiter who I first talked to back in July.

At first, I wanted to be placed near Seoul, just like 85% of others looking to teach in South Korea. Busan and Seoul are the top locations that everyone wants. I’m only about an hour-ish away so I settled. But, if you want a specific location then you will eventually find a job, it just may take some more time, especially during a pandemic.

For me personally, I thought it would be a good idea to be placed in an area that I was unfamiliar with. I wanted to challenge myself. And so far I haven’t regretted it.