Getting a feel for my surroundings.

During the days and weekends, my time has been held hostage by all of the Thai teachers.  It has been absolutely wonderful to get the full scale tour of the Phetchaburi area.  I have been taken to a wildlife sanctuary, a huge lake on top of a mountain, a sustainable organic farm, several palaces, and the beach.

Outside of Kaeng Krachan National Park

Two new friends, Apple and Penny, carted me to King Rama V’s palace and the beach in the town of Phetchaburi.  An interesting thing I soon discovered with these ladies is that they liked to make me pose “like a supermodel!”  71 pictures later, this is a small sampling of what they consider good picture taking!

DSCN2353

Heading to Ayuthaya tomorrow, where temple and palace ruins stand of a once dazzling and dynamic city.

©BeautyIsInTheJourney2013

A Different Tune.

The hallway leading to my room is open to any creature that wishes to come in; windows are left ajar to keep the air from getting stagnate, geckos and little finches come and go as they please.  I open my door in the early morning and a commotion ensues with about a dozen or so animals scrambling away from my presence in an instant.  I like this symbiotic living situation.

Good Morning

I am in my second week of teaching, and I am still not entirely sure what is going on.

“Everything is flexible!  No worry!”

“But would you like me to do anything else?” I ask.

A very confused look crosses Ajan Surasit’s face.  “Do more?”  (“Ajan” means teacher).

“Yes,” with a nod of my head.

“No worry, just talk!”

And with a huge grin that consumes his face, the conversation is over.

I was trying to offer my help with any other tasks that needed to be done because my days are very relaxed, with my actual teaching schedule being once a day for about 2-3 hours.  And with the curriculum already laid out for me, I spend Monday’s working on my lesson plan, which I will then use for the entire week.  The rest of the time I am at my desk trying to look busy.  But no one has bothered me, no one has come to ask why I am not doing anything, no one has called me out on reading a book.  The Director of the college even stopped by to make sure I wasn’t working too hard.  What a world of difference from the efficiency-pumping machine that is the American working culture!  At this point in time, it makes me feel very useless, but I have a feeling in another month, I will be singing a different tune.

My students have nicknamed me Ajan Mali (Teacher Jasmine); everyone in Thailand has a nickname!  Jack, Air, Arrow, Mint, and Tim are just a few of the girls names, and Yod, Moss, Oat, and Ohm round out some of the boys.  I had them make me a profile page of themselves so I can start learning who they are, and I received very colorful, artistic renditions of names, where they are from, and their ages!

Last Wednesday was a holiday–not sure for what, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the king.  Ajan Phao invited me to join him and his family on a trip to a floating market.  How could I pass?!

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, King Rama IV palace, and Don Hoi Lot–close to Nakhon Pathom with Ajan Phao

A different way of life, a different perspective on time, a different outlook on responsibility.  Soaking as much of it in as I can.

©BeautyIsInTheJourney2013

 

A Glimpse into the Jungle.

For our second field trip, my program shuttled us to the province of Kanchanaburi, which is about a 3 hour drive from Bangkok, to partake in a history lesson and play in the jungle.

Bridge over the River Kwai

1942–The year during WWII that Kanchanaburi was under Japanese control.  It was then that the Japanese forced laborers and Allied POW’s, under hellish conditions, to build the infamous Burma “Death” Railway through mountainous jungle.  The intended purpose of the railway was to get supplies from Myanmar (Burma) into Thailand.  Part of the railway required the laborers to build a bridge over the river.  Almost half of the prisoners working on the railway project died from disease, maltreatment, and accidents (about 90,000 individuals).

1945–The year the Allies successfully bombed the bridge, thus halting the incoming flow of Japanese supplies.  The POW’s were forced to rebuild/repair the bridge, after which it was bombed again….and rebuilt again.  Finally, it was bombed a third time and put out of use for the rest of the war.

I was a little dismayed at the tourist market surrounding the bridge, but the history and deep emotion can still be felt amid the hustle.

Taweechai Elephant Camp

Here, I was able to experience an elephant ride and bamboo rafting.  I started out being really excited about the elephant ride, until I actually got on one.  My feelings immediately shifted to one of unease and distress.  The poor girl was so tired and her handler was a bit harsh.  It was quite an event, but one that I won’t do again.

But then I went for a swim in the Khwae Yai River, and it was awesome!  I risked someone dropping my camera in the water just so I could have a picture to document that I actually got into the water!

Party on a river barge

This was an excuse to cut loose and kick back with some good food, awesome dancing, and a crazy downpour!!

©BeautyIsInTheJourney2013

Take off those Western glasses. You are looking through elephant now.

Late last night, I arrived at Prachomklao College of Nursing in Phetchaburi, which will be my home for the next 6 months.  I was met by my three, wonderful coordinators, Angela, Apple, and Kàan (pronounced like ‘gun’), who picked me up at the Ebina House in Bangkok and escorted me to my new living arrangements.  These little Thai ladies were shooing me across streets, laughing at what groceries I picked up, and wanting to know what I thought about the US government shutdown.  It was exhausting trying to keep up with them.  The entire past week has also been a whirlwind of tiredness, sensory overload, and extreme curiosity at how I find myself to actually be here + all topped off with not being able to get an answer on the curriculum I will be teaching, which may pose a problem because I start on Monday!  Even with all of this hoopla, I am having an amazing time!

In Kanchanaburi.

In Kanchanaburi.

I have been here for one week, and I feel like it has been one month!  Check out what I have been up to in the last 7 days:

Bangkok is…

a raging metropolis with driving I have never before seen performed along any thoroughfare…EVER!  I am fairly sure one of my driver’s was borderline blind and another was not the man in the official taxi license picture.  However, they got me from point A to point B.  Colorful, cheap clothes are everywhere in the markets of Bangkok; picked up some awesome items for under $5 along with jewelry and beer!  The food is plentiful, weird, spicy, but damn good!

The main purpose for staying in Bangkok was to attend an orientation that would explain the Thai education system, give us pointers on lesson plans, and to make fast friends with other teachers.  Our days were packed full from 9am-6pm, but it was well worth it to get to know some great people and learn the essentials.

We also had a few field trips!  The first major stop was the Grand Palace.

 

My Grand Palace tour guide, Eddy, is the one who told me, “Take off those Western glasses.  You are looking through elephant now.”

Thank you for those wise words, Eddy.

©BeautyIsInTheJourney2013