Hello! It's been a while since my last post, which is due to my computer breaking and a fairly lengthy repair process. Since I've last posted I've done quite a bit; I've explored Phetchabun, been to Laos, and of course continued to teach! I'll share those stories in the coming weeks, but first I'd like to share how things are going and what is new in my world.
First thing is why I haven't updated in so long... A couple weeks ago the video card on my computer died, and the closest place to repair it happened to be in Bangkok (about a 5 hour bus ride away). I was finally able to get it dropped off, and then waited three weeks while it was repaired and until I had a free day to go pick it back up. So far all is well, and while it was nice to be computer-less for so long, I'm overjoyed to have it back.
I recently made my first visa run to Vientiane Laos so I could switch to a proper working visa. The trip was a blast, and Laos was a great place to visit. The coffee was excellent, the food was great (even though I only ate Western food), and Beerlaos is as good as it's made out to be. I'll do a proper write up on this trip soon!
I survived a military coupe. Which isn't saying much... Nothing here in my small town changed aside from a bit of a military presence and a curfew. Aside from that life goes on as normal and no one really bats an eye. So to all those who are (were) worried about me: chill!
I also surived my first motorbike crash! I was t-boned by another motorbike while on my way to the gym. Luckily everyone was okay, I came out of it with only some scrapes and bruises and soreness. Always wear your helmet!! It was quite intense, but not totally surprising given how crazy traffic is here.
Left: A picture from my most recent trip to Bangkok. Right: A little night market here in Phetchabun.
Some other random musings about my time here thus far:
Every day is an adventure. Whether it's getting your laundry cleaned, trying to figure out what food you're eating; one thing I've come to learn (and accept) is that even the smallest of chores can turn out to be an ordeal. Getting worked up over this is silly as it's all part of the experience, and at the end of the day it all makes for great memories.
"Mai pen rai" is a phrase here that roughly translates to "no worries". It is regularly used for little things (Bump into someone? Running a bit late?), but more importantly it applies to life itself. Thai culture is incredibly laid back and, to a certain extent, carefree. The fact that the country is overwhelmingly Buddhist means that the people here have a knack for just enjoying the moment and not stressing over the past, future, or things that are beyond their control. This is one of my absolute favorite things about the country.
Every day that goes bye makes Thailand feel more and more like home. I am beginning to learn my way around Phetchabun. I am comfortable dealing with the crazy traffic. I have a pretty nice routine. I'm even beginning to learn Thai!
There isn't a day that goes by where I don't have a "wow" moment that just completely humbles me and reminds me of how lucky I am to be doing this. Thailand is an amazing place that I sincerely love. The people are incredible, the lifestyle is beautiful, and so much more.
Above (left to right): My flowers from 'Teacher Apprecation Day'. Like LOVE Phetchabun!
Things I miss from home:
- This goes without saying... but friends and family. Since being here I've had friends pass-away, family members with health issues, missed birthdays, and much more. It's quite tough to not be there for the good and bad; whether it's to offer support, share in mourning and remembering, or celebrate the good. I am quite jealous whenever I see friends posting pictures from concerts, parties, and other things that I'm not a part of.
- Alcohol! I am not a big drinker, but I do miss craft beer, good bourbon, and cheap wine.
- The weather. I've said it before: Thailand is hot. I miss temperatures in the 70's and 80's (instead of the 100's). I miss having to wear a jacket at night. I miss being cold!
- Nature. Thailand is absolutely gorgeous, but the America's National Park in System may be the greatest thing in the world. The high level of maintenance and care shown to nature in the US is something I've yet to find elsewhere.
- Food (namely Mexican). I would absolutely KILL for real Mexican food. Also pizza, burgers, pasta, sushi, and basically any other food that isn't Thai (or a subpar attempt at Western food). Also desserts such as pie, homemade cookies, good peanut butter, and maple syrup.
- My music. Not being able to play saxophone or piano for this long is killing me. I bought a guitar, but soon remembered that I never enjoyed playing guitar in the first place. I guess it will have to do for now.
- Louisville and Kentucky. I miss my city so much. The food, the sites, the mountains, the music, the people, everything!
Phra Phuttha Maha Thammaracha aka 'Big Buddha'
Things I don't miss from home:
- How expensive everything is. I can get a meal here for $1, and it's much better than any meal you'd get from a typical American "Dollar Menu".
- The culture surrounding work. In the US people assume that work is first and your "life" is second. It also feels as if most jobs simply pay for your presence as opposed to your actual abilities. Here it is quite the opposite, especially as a teacher. I genuinely feel appreciated and valued, something that I rarely felt in the US.
- General hostility. As I mentioned earlier, Thai people are always smiling, and always glad to lend a helping hand. In America this certainly happens, but in my experience you're far more likely to be met with a cold shoulder or hostility.
- Complexity. In America everything is an ordeal. Go to the grovery store and you're bombarded by 100000 kinds of jelly. Here there are two kinds. At first this is off-putting, but after time I've grown to love the simplicity.
So this is just a broad overview of what I've been up to. Life is quite good right now and I look forward to the coming months. Check back soon for posts regarding my trips to Laos and the mountains and waterfalls surrounding Phetchabun.
Enjoying some dessert at a local cafe!