Six highlights from six months in Thailand.
I`ve now hit the six month mark of living in South East Asia. Acknowledging this, as I sit in the tranquil province of Nara, the former capital of Japan, fills me with both hope & dread.
I am hopeful by how seamless the transition has been, by the friendships I’ve formed with some of the loveliest people and by the impact I believe I’ve made in school and on others around me.
The fact life continues to race ahead of me is what fills me with dread; being attached to a school, working a 9-5 for 9 months of the year is something I’m still struggling to accept (obviously, it’s in paradise, so I’m not complaining, but my god, what I would give to live on the road for the remainder of my life!?
To reassure myself that I am living the best life, here’s a highlight from each month so far.
Number 1: New Year’s Eve on Koh Samet
A Thai Island that’s popular with tourists from around the world, 30 of us TEFL teachers chose to catch up here to see in 2019. I rarely use the term ‘best in my life’ but, this trip, was without doubt, the best New Year I’ve ever had. I was in such a state of happiness that I was raving on the dance floor overlooking the beach for about 2 hours before buying my first drink. The lights, the colors, the smells, the smiles, the midnight countdown on the sand, the silhouettes by the sea, the moves on the dance floor, the 6am strolls and the bunker of a hostel with the flooded bathroom… The memories.
Number 2: Teaching English for Communication
Bit of a geeky one but my role has been teaching 500 kids basic communicative language – every week. The class sizes are up to 50, in rooms with zero resources (not even a Thai speaking teacher in many cases). But I have LOVED it. There has been car crashes and confusion but, despite the language barrier and other obstacles, I maintained the interest, the respect and the support by every pupil I’ve taught (even when some know they could pretty much get away with murder) The school asking me to stay on with them was a welcome footnote too.
Number 3: Hiking along the Great Wall of China.
This experience has to be up there in the top 5 of my personal favorite moments ever; an incomprehensible achievement where I surprised (and disappointed) myself on various levels – both leading up to my time here and following it. From learning about and biting the bullet with the country’s new visa-free opportunity to missing flights that nearly made it not happen at all. I went against my normal approach and splashed out on the most expensive pair of trainers I’ve ever bought (which were a godsend in the end!) and booked myself in to the best Japanese spa – where I truly spoilt myself for the three days that followed. On top of all of that, I trekked a non-touristy part of the wall and I bloody smashed it! 🙂
Number 4: Getting on top of business.
So the volunteers at Podio Preston might not agree with / appreciate this but I have got on top of so much stuff since being out here. From doing my company’s dreaded accounts (several months early) to genuinely figuring out what matters and what doesn’t. I’ve remained Facebook-free and focused and I’ve invested in useful tools and resources to help. Fitness, diet, financial, and routine-wise, I am also optimistic – even the old love life has a little flicker growing in the background (although the latter has categorically been a hurdle to much of the above… haha)
Number 5: Being amongst the finest of people.
It breaks my heart that I’m such an ignorant sod because I’ve met and work with some of the loveliest people – and I know I miss out by being so anti-social. The staff intake for our school this past semester was known for being a great bunch (which we were, ha) There have been few issues but lots of support and activities – with some of the older teachers making an effort to welcome us too. The two best mates I’ve made are Hanna and Dan; both are staying on, both are bloody fab. There remains a much wider group of absolutely beautiful people too though; some have now sadly left, some are staying on and a couple are moving down to us from other parts of Thailand!
Number 6: Weekend walks in Bangkok
Out of all the other things I could focus on for my final highlight, this is my simplest yet most satisfying past time. I love nothing more than getting on the train into Bangkok and losing myself on the streets. I love the tranquility of the parks contrasting with the absolute mayhem of the highways – that, often cut through the heart of them. I love falling into random market places, discovering beauty in the most ugliest of items (or buildings) and watching people go about their day – whilst I sit with my notepad and a coffee from afar.
You know what, I take back what I started saying at the top of this. The only thing I dread is the day it all ends.
Here’s to the next six months, six years and beyond.