September 8, 2008
This past week marked the beginning of the political demonstrations in Bangkok and the Prime Minister’s declaration of a state of emergency in Thailand. Due to the proximity of the political riots to TU campus, classes were canceled Tuesday and Wednesday.The political protests stem from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who are upset with the current Prime Minister, Samak, because they feel he is a puppet for the last prime minister, who was forced to resign in 2006. Currently, PAD are refusing to step down until Samak resigns, which he is also refusing to do. No one really knows when this deadlock will end, but in the meantime, I don’t feel like the political situation has affected my life here or has put me in any danger.
In more important news: Every year, the Thamassat Law School Club hosts a weekend trip to a nearby beach town. A few exchange students gleefully joined this trip–law school or not, we just want to travel! We left Friday morning at 9am, Thai time–we actually left at 10am– to head to Prachuap, a beautiful and quiet beach by Hua Hin.
We took a 5 hour bus ride, complete with no A/C and 3 people to every 2 seats. Typical. Once we arrived, we checked into our bungalow resort and realized the sleeping situation was about the same as the bus situation. 4-7 people per room. One bed per room. Haha, I felt so bad for the people who had 7 people in a room with one bed! My room was only 4 people, so it worked out fine. After dropping our things off in our rooms, we head to the beach and splash around, play a game of volleyball with our Spongebob Squarepants beach ball, and of course, tag. Wheww, I was tired after about 10 minutes; I really need to hit up a gym!
After playing at the beach for a while, we shower up and gather for a buffet-style dinner, in a candle-lit setting right on the beach. The ambience was beautiful; I only wish I could say the same about the food. We had a squid and octopus dinner that was so spicy, none of the international students could eat it! We basically ate rice, fruit and whiskey for dinner. Mai ben rai.
After dinner, we grab some drinks and party all night on the beach. The next morning, we wake up to a breakfast of squid and octopus porridge (yum!). Perfect for a hangover ☺ Then, a group of about 35 of us hop back on the bus and drive an hour away to a national park on the beach which involves a 1 hour hike that leads into an enormous cave. It was quite a hike getting to the cave, but once we got inside, it was so worth it. It was beautiful inside, and reminded me of something out of Jurassic Park.
I wanted to stay there all day, but unfortunately we got ushered out after a few minutes. Then, we took a longtail boat back to shore, to avoid the 1-hour hike back. Funny thing about the boat ride back was that we got dropped off about 100 meters from shore. We all had to get out, hike up our shorts and walk through the water the rest of the way back. In that 100-meter walk, I spotted 4 jellyfish. Eeeee, glad they didn’t get too close to me. A few days before, a group of exchange students were swimming a few miles from the beach we were staying at, and got stung by a school of jellyfish. Ouch. At least it wasn’t a school of sharks.
After arriving back from our 5 hour hiking journey, we shower and gather up for dinner. Guess what it was? Squid and octopus, what a surprise!! We also had barbequed fish and crab, so it was a much better meal than the others. After dinner, we grab some drinks and start playing some ridiculous games. We must have played these games for a long time, because next thing I know it is 4 am! Time for bed, as Simon, a German exchange student, and I agreed to go for a run on the beach at 8am. My alarm rings at 7:45 am, and up I go to wake up Simon and head to the beach. Another German exchange student joins us, and we go on a fantastic 2-3 mile run along the beach. At the end of the beach, we find a rock mountain, which we decide to hike up, shoeless. Those were some jagged rocks, but it was worth it! The view was spectacular and hiking up it was fun as well.
After hiking back down, we run back to our hotel, rest for another hour, grab lunch, and begin the oh-so-fun bus journey back home. This journey was especially fun, as most of the people on the bus were decently hungover. After about an hour on the bus, we stop at a big rest area/sweets market. Me, at a food market full of Thai sweets? Dangerous!! I went to town. First, I had ice cream with sticky rice in it (there was also the option to put corn in the ice cream. Hmmm….maybe next time), then I had something which I can’t even begin to explain. Think a sweeter version of cornbread in some type of banana leaf. Then, I went to the actual market of sweets and I saw about 5 open containers…time to sample! I had no idea what I was sampling, but I definitely swung back around for seconds. Delish! After getting back on the bus and finally arriving home, a group of ~6 of us exchange students decide to go home, clean up and then head to a pizza place on Rambuttri Street, right next to Kao San Road. The pizza was so good—thin crust, old-fashioned wood-oven pizza! After dinner, we walked around Kao San Road for a few minutes to buy some souvenirs and then head home and get to sleep.
An overall great, chill weekend spent meeting other exchange students and some Thai students as well. I have a Finance quiz tomorrow, so most of today will be spent studying for that. Oh joy.