Friday, January 30, 2009

Sawadee Kha!

That means Hello in Thai. Which is one of the two words I know. 
I just finished up my first week of TESOL training. Today we did our first practice teaching in front of the class, mine went less then perfect. It's pretty difficult to use simple language and explain English in front of everyone. Next Friday we all get to teach a lesson at a local school here in Thailand. I'm pretty excited to see what is like in a foreign school. 
Everything else is going great! I've been going to the University after school to throw the Frisbee around and watch the English boys play soccer with the local Thais. The weather is prefect, just about 80 degrees. The resort were a staying at is right outside the main part of Chiang Mai so we get a nice taste for the local culture. At lunch we just walked to the dozen of street stalls and grab an omelet with rice for 10 baht (30 cents). We love to hang out (looter) at 7-11 because they are literally every two feet, I had a proper slurpee last night! (Oh yeah, along with learning Thai I've picked up a good amount of British lingo)
I just found out I don't have to be in Korea until Feb 28,  a week later then I originally thought. Which is cool because now I have a two weeks to go the beach and check out some of the islands down south. But my visa runs out on the 20th so I have to make a weekend trip out of the country, I was thinking Laos?!?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Night Market

Last night one of the instructors took us to this great rooftop reggae vegetarian restaurant. It over looked this massive night market.  After dinner we wondered around the market for a couple hours, it went on for blocks and blocks! There was tons of hand crafts (probably all from China), a lot of silk, jewelery and of course every kind of Thai food. I love the atmosphere at the markets and getting to bargain with the vendors, you really feel immersed in the culture. 

We had our first day of class today and I think its going to be a lot of fun. Everyone in the program is really outgoing.  We learned some basic Thai phrases and a little history about the country. We did some group exercises and acting in front of the class. I got paired up with the English guys, who were making me laugh all day, everything just sounds so funny in an English accent!
A few notes on Thailand so far:

For transportation around Thailand we ride in these trucks called, Tuk Tuks. You just flag down the drivers get them 20 baht (less then $1) and they take you anywhere in town. There basically small pickups with benches and a hand rail, you just cram as many people as you can inside usually ten or so, and hold on!
Beer here is more expensive then food but still under $2 for a big bottle. The local beer called Chang is unregulated so you can have one bottle that's less then %5 alc or one that's like %14. So its always a surprise and usually you don't know until its too late! 

Tonight there are celebrating the Chinese New Year here in Chiang Mai which is one of the biggest holidays here in Thailand, cant wait to see what it all about!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Meeting the Group

It was such a relief when I finally got to meet others in the TESOL training program. 
We all meet up at the airport on Saturday morning to take a 10 hour bus to Chiang Mai, in north Thailand, where we'll be doing our training. Of course, I had the most luggage, so embarrassing! seeing how most of these people have been traveling for months with just a backpack and here I am with the two largest suitcases and a full backpack, typical so-cal girl. 
There are a couple Canadians, some cute English boys, a bunch of east coast people and a really interesting Aussie couple. Everyone is pretty well traveled and a few people have even done the peace corps, and almost half of us are vegetarians,  so that's really exciting!
We arrived pretty late in Chiang Mai but I managed to grab a couple beers at the local bar near our accommodations and chat with some local Thais, who very kindly tried to teach me some basic Thai with no suck luck.
My first day in Chiang Mai was great. A group of us went exploring the city and it looks like there is going to be so much to do here. There are local cooking classes, yoga studios, muy thai boxing matches, elephant rides, hiking and even shooting ranges (not that I'll be trying that anytime soon, but just in case). There are little coffee shops and markets everywhere that have tons of exotic fruit and really cheap food, like $1 for pad thai. The best part is the Thai massage place where you all kinds of foot, head, back massages for hours for less then $10. I think I could really get use to this! 


So I am not really sure about this whole bloggin thing... but ever since I have arrived in Thailand I am so overwhelmed by all the sights, smells and people that I had to find a way to share this experience with everyone. First, I think I should go back in time a little....

I arrived in Bangkok late Thursday night. The flight was surprisingly easy and not that long, I didn't even have jet lag. Friday morning I hit the ground running and went to see the Grand Place. It was the most elaborate and ornate place I've ever seen. The emerald Buddha and countless shrines were breath taking and it smelled of beautiful incense. I wish I had pictures to share but my camera is out of order so you'll have to wait till I get the disposable developed. 
After the Grand Place, I wandered the streets for a few hours. There are markets and vender's at every corner and food stalls every 10 feet. After a long day of walking I headed back to my hotel where I got an amazing Thai massage for the same price as my grande iced soy mocha!