Monday, May 12, 2014

Day 8 // The First Week

The past few days granted me virtually no time to just sit at write about everything that was happening and what I was feeling. Orientation feels like summer camp, and it finally set in yesterday that we were all saying goodbye for a while to most of our new friends. After an impressive karaoke session with a Thai local the third night and an early bedtime the day after, we packed up our lives again and headed off to Kanchanaburi for the night.
Kanchanaburi was lush, green, and absolutely beautiful. Our hotel had multiple pools that we most definitely indulged in under the baking hot sun. 

After we completed our last Orientation task of presenting a lesson in small groups, we bussed on over to the Bridge over the River Kwai (pronounced Kweeh). Some coconut ice cream covered in condensed milk and peanuts saved me from the sweltering heat. After boarding the bus, we all thought we were going home. 

The bus stops at a floating restaurant. Hungry and tired, we relish the thought of a giant family style dinner. The outdoor restaurant is located on the water and gives us a beautiful view of the trees and the setting sun. I became aware that the floating restaurant actually has sections that get pulled around by a small boat, so you can enjoy your dinner as you float along the river. With our bellies full, we all enjoy our surroundings as the sky turns purple and red. Quickly after the sky darkens, our floating dock dims it’s lights and starts blaring dance music. Flashing lights and smoke fill the space as we continue to float down the river.

The boat pulling our restaurant/dock down the river.

Sunset on the river

 New Friends :)

 Dance party!

The next day I was overwhelmingly excited for, the day we get to see the elephants. We started off our time at the Camp rafting down the river. We waited anxiously to jump in because it was getting hot, as always. The water was cool and we floated along with the rafts.

The rest of my time at the elephant camp was filled with mixed emotions. I have a strong moral code against any violence against these wonderful creatures, and much to my dismay this camp was using hooks and sharp sticks to control the elephants. All too often my stomach turned and my eyes welled up with tears when I saw this. I could be mistaken in this behavior towards elephants, and it perhaps isn’t as bad for them as I think it is, but I stay grounded in my beliefs. I’m only posting one picture of the elephants because I don’t believe we should be paying any recognition towards an establishment that profits off of the mistreatment of these magnificent beings.

After the 3+ hour ride from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok, we all stuffed into the warm hotel, picked up our luggage and met our coordinators. Rachael and I found out we would be taking a 12 hour bus ride to Chiang Rai. I honestly wasn’t too thrilled at this notion; I was more than willing to shell out however much baht it would cost to catch a 2 hour plane flight. But the ride wasn’t all that bad. I impressively slept the entire way, although we were awoken jarringly at 11:30pm for dinner in an outdoor bus station restaurant with absolutely zero English to be found. I managed to order some delicious noodles, but I still haven’t gotten the hang of eating 1000 degree noodles in 1000 degree weather. It’s really hot and humid in Thailand, have you figured that out yet?
We get picked up at the bus station about after waiting for about an hour, and our coordinators take us to the market and show us what food to get. We buy about 6 rice concoctions covered in crunchy fish stuff and egg all wrapped in a banana lead. It was good but SO sweet. Sweetness in Thailand is a whole new level.
The school is beautiful. Trees and greenery surround the campus and all dozen buildings. I met Monique, who has been here for 6 months already, and she has already been a wealth of knowledge. Let’s just say I have been slightly anxious about this whole experience and today most of that hit me hard. I am LIVING here, not just running around on vacation.
My house is hot. Really hot. If I didn’t have A/C in my individual room I might not be alive to write this post. A gecko just scurried by me on my wall too. We just got back from the Big C Supermarket, a Thailand Walmart equivalent, and it has been quite the task to communicate with people who know virtually no English and me knowing barely any Thai. 

Home sweet home for the next 5 months. 

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