Thailand: A Brief Retrospective

So I’ve been back home for 2 months now and it feels – strangely – like a lot longer. The weeks following my return to England were blighted with boredom and joblessness, and I longed for the routine and sunny climes of Chiang Rai.

Things I miss:

  • Passion fruit shakes.
  • Thai massage.
  • Teaching all the children.
  • The Night Bazaar.
  • Svenson’s.
  • Trucks.
  • Chocolate and pineapple pancakes.
  • Delicious Nescafe 3-in-1.
  • TeePee Bar and Mr. Tuu’s giant deathly rum drinks.

Things I don’t miss:

  • Being hot and sweaty all the time.
  • Mosquitoes.
  • Rice.
  • Living in constant fear of being burned alive in your bed.
  • The daily bathroom check for spiders and suchlike.
  • Ants.
  • Dust.
  • Being covered in dust.

But most of all, I miss all the friends I made. All of my friends back home are busy with final exams and projects for Uni, and I find myself longing for an Aussie or a Yank to natter to.

In the last couple of weeks, however, everything has begun to look up. I got a job at a place I love, and a uni place at my first choice so I can finally fulfill my dreams of being a teacher. Volunteering in Thailand helped my confidence, my communication skills, my organisational skills, and most of all it stopped me being a boring nerdy loner. It’s wonderful being home and knowing I’ve had that experience, and that I have friends as far flung as Japan and a sofa to sleep on if I decide to jet off into the vast unknown again.

As far as the world takeover bid is concerned, I think I pretty much took Thailand. Maybe, in the near future, I’ll take somewhere else too. And if that happens, this blog is where it’s at.

That concludes Ez Takes Thailand, for now. I hope it’s been educational and a little entertaining. Perhaps I’ll pop up some game reviews or rants periodically. Who knows?

This is Ez, over and out.

MOTHERLAND!

I’m HOME!!!

The dead air you experienced was my travelling, which was boring, varied, and far too long.

So let’s start at the very beginning (cause, y’know, it’s a very good place to start).

The final week was wonderful. I said goodbye to all the kids I’d met over the last twelve weeks, and all the people too, and all at once I was packing at it was my last weekend in Chiang Rai and I was about to leave. Which was a really weird feeling. I’ve actually lived there for three months and to be leaving a home is strange indeed.

3 free tequila shots later, and I was on the way to Bangkok.

The First Plane was boring, so I won’t go into detail about that.

I waited at Bangkok airport for 4 hours. That also, was boring. However, there were loads of Indian people with massive TVs checking in to my flight. I reckon the TVs end up cheaper than in India because in Thailand if you buy something over a certain price, you get all your tax back. (Also, side note, it is the first time I’ve ever been body searched before I’ve got on a plane. That was for the plane to Mumbai.)

And then, weird thing of all weird things, I saw Rebecca. By some twist of fate, she had decided to stay in Thailand an extra week and ended up on the same plane to Mumbai as me. It was nice to talk to someone, and it was wonderful to see her again. Then onto the plane with the Indians with all the TVs.

And whiskey. They had a lot of whiskey.

4 hours later, in Mumbai. BORING. Worst. Airport. Ever. Waited in line for Customs for 1 hour before I got through, and the complimentary meal they gave me was half a coleslaw sandwich, a packet of out of date crisps, and a sachet of tomato ketchup. Thanks, Mumbai. Plus, there is nowhere to change your currency, so I couldn’t even buy a bottle of water. For 8 hours. I did, however, make a plane friend, so at least I had someone to talk to.

Plane to Heathrow. Also, boring.

Until we crossed the Channel.

I didn’t realise how much I loved British countryside until it began scrolling alone the Plane Cam feed on the TV. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was so itchy to get off the plane that I almost mowed down an old Indian lady.

To the baggage claim!

For an hour.

I was freaking out that my bag might have been left in Mumbai, but it was okay, because it arrived. Then Lozzle was waiting with a sign for me at Arrivals!

To lunch.A whole cheesy garlic bread.

I spent a few days down South recouperating, and now, wonder of all wonders, I’m home. I am safe, sound, and I have retrieved my Christmas chocolate. Life is good. My mum has put these strange ‘welcome home’ signs all over the house (including in the fridge) and a lovely made bed and my Piplup.I am sipping hot chocolate from my Shakespeare mug.

All’s well that ends well!

Weeks Twelve and Thirteen: What Have We Learned?

  • Vienesse vanilla tea is delicious.
  • The internet sucks.
  • People sometimes really do wonder what they’ll do without you.
  • You can paint Batman symbols inside your commemorative handprint on the wall in the Volunteer Room if you really, really want.
  • Packing is a lot easier when you throw stuff away.
  • No matter what you do, your final weekend will never be what you expect, even before you get to it.

Sorry for no updates – remember the massive storms? They wrecked the internet entirely, and we can now only get it for five minute bursts, so I’m typing really really fast and hoping the internet doesn’t go down.

All that’s really been going on is going home preparations. People have been panicking at the thought of me not being here. I think, personally, the whole place will have been an illusion when I leave, and cease to exist entirely.

P’Aye frightened me half to death.

P’Aye: Is your laptop the Samsung?

Me: Yes… whyyyyy?

P’Aye: I think you might have to come and… fix it.

Me: OHMYGOD WHAT HAPPENED TO TINY MY POOR BABY!

*run run run*

*open laptop*

And, inside, was a sweet love-heart shaped message and a bracelet in my favourite colours, from P’Aye. I told her never to scare me like that again.

I also have to choose a new indoor leader (difficult). I’ve packed, donated some stuff, done my handprint, and tomorrow is my last one-on-one with the villager, who didn’t turn up last time. Bummer.

The weekend might be rather uneventful, seeing as everyone else is going to Chiang Mai, leaving me and two newbies and Alistair to rock all civilisation with.

Challenge accepted.

It’s the FINAL COUNTDOWN.

*do do dooo dooo, duddle-ooh-do-doooo!*

Yeah. So.

No updates last week, unfortunately, because the massive storms wrecked the internet at Ground Zero and we have been marooned from the outside world. But nothing really groundbreaking happened.

Except that I went to Childcare (for the second and probably the last time).

Scariest. Place. Ever.

Sure, the kids look sweet and they’re all only about three, but my God. They swarm around you like hornets and yell ‘FALANG’ and shove paper in your face and demand you draw like a monkey dancing for pennies. I retreated and sat alone while the children did their Lord of the Flies style thing.

It seems strange that I stand on the brink of my final week in Chiang Rai. I’ve lived here for 3 months now and in an odd sort of way it feels homely. I am sick of the bugs and I want nothing more than a giant block of cheese and a real bed, but I know when I get home I’ll be thinking ‘I wish I was in Thailand where it’s sunny all the time and people always smile at you.’

I have to pass on my staff and mantle to another volunteer who is unfortunate enough to become Indoor Leader. I have to bequeath all of the things I’m not bringing back. And then I hop on a plane, and another plane, and another plane, and then I’m in London.

Weird.

Ships That Pass in the Night

Weather Update: Humid, sticky, sudden rain.

Curly Hair Update: JUST PASS ME THOSE SCISSORS.

The weekend was… eventful. In the sense that everyone went mad except for me.

In brief:

  • Much drunkeness.
  • Decisions that should not be made owing to such drunkeness, including deciding to stay in Thailand for an extra year (yes, someone decided that)
  • Eating tuna sandwiches that make your stomach bad.
  • An incident involving a lady of the night chasing one of the volunteers, which meant I gave my bed up to the loudest snorer in the world.
  • Going to the cinema because it’s the only place with air conditioning.
  • Awesome people leaving.

When we returned to Ground Zero, the sky was overcast and it suddenly went very dark. As I was brushing my teeth, I heard thunder. And not the usual, kind of grumbly thunder. No. The sort of thunder that makes the dorm shake.

I wandered back into the dorm.

“S’going to rain,” I said knowledgeably.

And rain it did. Wind battered houses, rain destroyed roofs. Everything was rather dramatic.

Didn’t stop the heat, though.

Think it might rain again tonight, too, judging by the same spooky dark clouds and the smell of petrichor.

This week, teaching the whole schedule with only 3 volunteers.

Penultimate week…

Makha Bucha and Forest Fires

On Tuesday night, as I was watching Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark for maybe the twentieth time, one of the girls ran in and said, ‘There’s a fire!’, to which we all responded, ‘yeah, that happens’. Thai people love burning things. In the summer, they burn their crops to fertilise the land. There have been a lot of fires. What she didn’t tell us was that the fire was huge, and right behind the dorm.

Let me demonstrate.

Oh crap.

So we donned our shoes, grabbed our torches, rushed to help…

And they said it was all under control. (Didn’t look that way to me.) Confident that nobody was going to burn to death if I returned to my film, I watched the end.

On Wednesday our teaching was cancelled due to the Buddhist ceremony of Makha Bucha, which commemorates the first sermon Buddha gave to his monks. It involved making lotus flowers look really pretty by folding the leaves inside (or, in my case, making it look really bad.)

Look at the mess I made.

The lotus flower is meant to symbolise Buddha; then you have 3 insence sticks that represent Buddha’s teachings, and then a candle that represents the monk.

Off we went to the temple. You light the candle and the insence, and walk around the temple 3 times, then give your items to the Buddha.

I burned my lotus flower, lost half an insence stick, and my candle went out in about 20 seconds. Fail.

Monk candles for Buddha.

We proceeded to a second temple, which, frankly, was rather impressive.

...

Rawr.

The Wooden Buddha

I almost collided with the procession there, and had to run away as fast as possible. Whoops.

Then they started letting off lanterns. Owing to my previous lantern successes, Joe and I decided to set one off. And we nearly set fire to someone else’s head. So we quit while we were ahead and ran away.

But they looked pretty.

We retreated back to Ground Zero.

Next day, I went to the hospital to teach, and we made this.

Sky!!!

Today I taught the Mirror Foundation’s familys’ kids, and they’re sweethearts.

The weekend approaches!

2 weeks left!