Hua Hin, Thailand
I have now been in Songkhla for around 3 hours, and I am honestly in shock that it has already been one month since I headed over to Thailand. I am officially the worst blogger ever, but the past few weeks has been such a whirlwind; I honestly am just now beginning to process it all. I will try to make this as brief as I can, while including as much as possible.
Leaving home was difficult, as I knew it would be. My flight(s) were long, but for whatever reasons the stars aligned, and on both of my long flights (13 hours then 7 hours) I had an entire row to myself. As someone who has the worst luck ever traveling, this was a very pleasant surprise.
I landed in Bangkok a hot, sweaty, stressed out mess. I had an hour to meet my taxi driver, and it took me almost 50 minutes just to get through customs. Luckily though, I made it and was able to ride back with a girl from New York (who later turned out to be one of my best friends here–hey Meaghan) and a guy from South Africa.
Bangkok, in all honesty, was a blur. I was there for just around 48 hours, and out of those hours I think I spent 40 of them sleeping. I know I’m not supposed to tell you that, but I was so emotionally and physically exhausted — it just happened. However, my roommate, Sarah, and I did manage to wander around some, seeing Wat Pho temple and some of the Royal Palace grounds.
We quickly left Bangkok, going straight to Hua Hin, a city on the beach where we were to do our TESOL certification. Within the first week, we had a mix of orientation-type seminars (learning about Thai culture, the placement process, etc.) and some excursions. One of the excursions I was most excited about was getting to see an elephant sanctuary. I did love seeing the elephants — they are one of my favorite animals — but I will say, there was something a little unsettling about seeing them all chained up. I know this was for our safety, but it still made me a little sad.
Some other excursions we we went on included a pineapple plantation, the Hua Hin artist village, and a Muay Thai lesson (anyone who knows my lack of athletic ability can guess how that went). We then proceeded to dive right into TESOL theory and learning how to teach kids.
We were pretty much thrown right into it, only having made two lesson plans before being put in front of a class. My first day teaching I was with a partner, Cameron. We worked really well together, and I think it was a good way to build up my confidence before being on my own Friday. The two days of “English camp” were chaotic, exhausting, and so super hot, but it was honestly a ton of fun. Being able to teach for real made me so happy I chose to take this path. The kids were so sweet, and although their English is very (VERY) limited, they really are excited to learn. They also are really into selfies and dancing — we had a good time.
The two weeks following English camp was a mix of creating lesson plan after lesson plan, and really being able to bond with my group and our instructors. I knew going into Hua Hin I would meet some really great people, but I had no idea how attached I would get to everyone. Living on the same hall and being with each other in class from 9-5 every day, you really start to get close. Plus, whatever crazy genome we all share that makes us want to do something like this made me feel so at home and loved within a very short time.
We had some fun relaxed days on the beach, and more adventurous days going on hikes and seeing tourist attractions. Overall, it was one of the most rewarding months of my life. I hope as we go into our placements we will be able to maintain the strong relationships we built in Hua Hin; I look foreword to seeing everyone again and hearing about each of our journeys.
My roommate/other half, Jennalyn, and me at Monkey Mountain in Hua Hin. She was also placed in southern Thailand in Phuket — lucky girl!
All XploreAsia Hua Hin groups after our first day of teaching Thai students!
My class after our graduation ceremony with our sweet songtao driver for the month.