First week in Thailand + Weekend Trip to Ko Samet

August 12, 2008
 

Sawatsee Ka!

I have been in Thailand for about 6 days now, but I feel like it has already been several weeks! The slow-paced lifestyle in Thailand makes the time go by very slowly, but I like it. More time to savor this experience. Today is the Queen’s birthday, which is a national holiday here in Thailand. There should be fireworks and a big celebration later tonight, so I will try to take some pictures and post them soon.

To chronicle my journey thus far:

Monday, August 4th

Flew out of Austin, heading to Bangkok!

 Wednesday, August 6th

30 hours later, I arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, a very confused person. I got a taxi and made my way to Kao San Road, a famous road frequented by backpackers and farungs (foreigners). However, not the most friendly place to land at 3 in the morning:

Ko San Road

Once I arrived at Kao San Road, I found a small room to spend the night in, and walked over to a 24 hour internet cafe to let everyone know I’ve safely arrived. I eventually went to bed at about 5am and woke up at 9am. I got in touch with a fellow exchange student who was staying in an apartment complex across the river from Kao San Road. I took a taxi to meet him, and happened upon 3 other exchange students on the way there. We all got to know each other for a few minutes and then went to go buy cell phones and grab lunch. Afterwards, a few of the other exchange students and myself went apartment hunting. Spent the entire day walking around the city, completely lost (typical), and couch surfed at my new friend’s apartment. Day one in Thailand complete!

Thursday, August 7th

Had orientation at school today and met tons of other exchange students. Went on another endless housing tour, trying to find an apartment! This city is HOTT!! Walking outside for a few minutes will leave you drenched in sweat. Good thing I’m from Texas.

Friday, August 8th

Finally moved into my studio apartment at the Rattanakosin, near Pata shopping center. It’s such a cute little place, on the 35th floor of the building. Standing on the balcony (where the rail reaches waist high) is only slightly fearful…don’t think I will be doing much of that.

My studio!

After moving in, I went to the grocery store to get some essentials. Haven’t a clue what I got, as everything is written in Thai…but I’m excited to find out! Went to sleep at 8pm, woke up at midnight, went to a friends place for about 15 minutes, and went back to sleep at 1am. Woke up around 6am, then went back to sleep until I was woken up by a friend at 9am….time to leave for the Islands!!

Saturday, August 9th

Jetted to Ko Samet, an island about 1 hr cab ride+ 3 hour bus+ 45 minute ferry away, in southern Thailand. So much fun! We arrived and met up with about 10 other exchange students, and had lunch and just relaxed on the beach. Had a nice dinner + fire show on the beach, then proceeded to go to a club which had been taken over by gay asian men….gaysians!! After a night of dancing till the wee hours of the morning, we woke up at 5:30 am, to watch the sun rise over the beach. While lying there, a few thais approached me and we started chatting. Well, more like playing charades, since they dont know English and I definitely do not understand much Thai. Then, one of their friends who knows English joined us and we all hung out on the beach for a few minutes, as they took pictures with me. I went back and ate breakfast (rice and chicken for the win), and then went back to the beach, where the sun was now baring down on us! Got the first of what I anticipate will be many 1 hour long massage right on the beach for 200 baht= about $6! It was AMAZING! After a bit more time splashing around in the ocean, we headed back to BKK (Bangkok), to prepare for the beginning of school (wwhhhat, I thought this was party abroad, not study abroad).

Fire show!

Monday, August 11

First day of classes!!  We went around introducing ourselves and all the Thais gave their nicknames, since their real names are super long. Basically sounded something like this: “Hi, I am “e”. I am “Je” I am “Ju” I am “Ping”  I am “Cake” I am “ooh” I am “moo” I am “ee”….lol, I love it! After class was over (9am-noon), the other exchange students and myself ate lunch. Once again, my meal was painfully spicy! To help reduce the painful feeling on my tongue, I left campus and found a fruit vendor outside. The fruit vendors are kind of incredible; they sell fresh pineapple, hichama, papaya, coconut, mango, and more! I may have eaten from the fruit vendor 3 times today.

Then, I went to Bunglampoo Road (near Kao San) to find a uniform vendor. After about 1.5 hours of wandering around with another friend, we finally found it! Before I could try on the uniform (black skirt and white button down top. SO cute!), I had to pee. After 5 minutes of playing charades with the women who owns the shop, she finally took me to the “bathroom”, ie, squatter toilet. I then proceeded to pee all over my feet, since I dont think I have quite grasped the squatter toilet concept. It is basically a toilet that is little more than a whole in the ground. There are rigged sides on the edge, where you are supposed to stand (I think), and then you squat ALL the way down, till you are practically sitting on the ground. Toilet paper= non-existent, ugh! It’s all good though. Mai ben rai….thai motto meaning, “no problem, it’s okay”.

Squatter Toilet

After I got my uniform, we went back to campus and I had a bba orientation from 4-6pm. Met some really cool Swedes and went to their apartment a few hours later to have a few drinks, which turned into an exchange student party! Then, we went to a hookah and dance club on Kao San Road….everyone stayed until 6am, but I had to cut out at 3 am…these kids are party animals!

Tuesday, August 12

Finally met Warren, a Thai student Abby (UT student who studied here last semester) introduced me to… I can tell we are going to be good friends. Warren and I went to a couple gyms in the area to try to get a membership, but they were so rude to us! So much for the land of smiles…they saw my white face and were just trying to rip me off! Mai ben rai….. I will figure out some other way to exercise while here…maybe Muy Thai (that boxing) at school? There are also squash courts at my apartment complex, so maybe I will learn how to play squash! I am going to be way out of shape after this semester, oh goodness. I’ll have to hit gregory gym with a vengeance when I get back to UT! Tonight, I think I will go up to the penthouse suite (top floor of the apartment complex) to hang out with other exchange students and watch a fireworks show to celebrate the Queen’s birthday…. I think that is happening, I actually think I may have just made the fireworks show up in my head….they should do that though.

Until next time!

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