The Bangkok Protests – A Firsthand Account

I arrived into Bangkok from Bali only to be greeted by social unrest.  The red shirts had been protesting the government for a few weeks now and were now taking over the city.  All of the malls were closed.  Streets were blocked.  They were causing the city of Bangkok to go a little slower than usual. 

I was staying with my friend in the Sukumvit area between the Phloen Chit and Nana stations.  I didn’t really have any trouble getting over there, but I noticed the sea of red shirts on the streets and the barriers that had been haphazardly placed along the roads.  We successfully avoided the mayhem on Friday, but during a quick run to Subway for lunch, we were thrown into the middle of it all.

The police closing in on the Red Shirts

The Subway is located right next to the Nana station, right where a group of redshirts had blockaded the road.  We were just minding our own business, ordering our footlongs, when we looked out the window and saw lines of policemen marching towards the protesters.  It was an insane sight.  They were all in unison, full gear, shields ready.

The doors to the Subway were quickly barricaded and the Open sign was changed to close.  Worried we were going to miss the action, we scarfed down our sandwiches and headed outside, only to watch the tail-ends of the policemen go.  Well that was quick!

A group of Red Shirts heading over to the Phloen Chit Station

That was only the beginning.

We hung around there for awhile, listening to the cheering and laughter, and then decided to head down to the Phloen Chit station to follow the crowds of redshirts on motorcycles and in the backs of trucks.

That’s when it got good. 

The police side of the stand-off

We arrived at the station to witness a standoff between the protesters and a slew of police.  There was about 10 meters between the two, a few cameramen and journalists in the middle, and redshirts lining the streets.  It was a crazy feeling being right in the middle of the warring entities!  The police were standing their ground and the redshirts were posted right across from them, but there wasn’t much animosity in the air.  People were laughing and goofing around.  We also found this again with the police when we moved further down the street.  They were lounging about, playing cards, texting, napping, and chatting away.  There was no sense of urgency and no inclination of violence. 

The Red Shirt side of the barricade

There were negotiations going on between the lines and a man came on a loudspeaker, spoke for awhile in Thai and we started hearing cheering.  A few moments later, large trucks split the lines and whisked away the police forces. 

A retreat!

Laying down, texting, chatting are just a few of the relaxing activities the police did during the stand-off

It was such a cool sight watching the red shirts scream and hoot as they watched the police trucks retreating.  The policemen were smiling and laughing as well (probably happy that they didn’t have to sit there much longer!) and I actually caught a red shirt handing a red bandana to a policeman in the truck (the name watermelon is given to army and policemen who are secretly supporting the red shirt cause, green on the outside, red on the inside).

A woman handing out drinks to the thirsty policemen

After the retreat, we decided to head home, only to hear of violence erupting on Khao San Road only hours later.  We were shocked.  We had felt no sense of danger whatsoever, but that is the scary thing about protests, they can take an ugly turn within moments (maybe we shouldn’t have hung around so long!).

My Guide to Bangkok

To say I was overwhelmed when I arrived in Bangkok would be a drastic understatement.  I’m from Los Angeles, and even though I was raised in the suburbs, I still thought that I was from the “big city.”  All those misconceptions came crashing down when I witnessed the constant bumper to bumper traffic, the massive amounts of people, and the sense of lawlessness that reins the city streets.  It took me weeks to get used to this bustling city and my sentiments went from pure hatred to a peaceful understanding.   I learned to appreciate the city, even almost love it, despite my initial misgivings. 

A traveler can definitely be overwhelmed with all the activities to do in this insane metropolis, so I’ve decided to compile a few of my favorite places and things to do while in Bangkok.   

Khao San Road

The bustling Khao San Road at night

Khao San Road is a backpacker’s haven.  There are cheap guesthouses , even cheaper food and most importantly, countless places where you can grab a beer and people watch.  And people watching is at its finest here.  A traveler can run into a person from pretty much any country in the world here, having a beer with a group of Scottish businessmen one night, sharing a taxi with an elderly couple from New Zealand for lunch, while shooting some pool with frat boys from New Hampshire before dinner (although I have to say Americans in Thailand are few and far between)I have never in my life heard so many languages being spoken as I amble down the street (and I’m from Los Angeles!) or paid under a US dollar for a big plate of Pad Thai, cooked right in front of me while I shop.  I wouldn’t recommend staying too long here because I believe there are other great places to stay in Bangkok, but its definitely a must for every traveler looking to experience a true backpacking scene.

Chao Phraya River

I have experienced this magnificent river from two settings: a personal longtail boat ride through the various channels and the Chao Phraya River Express, the public means of transportation up and down this waterway.  Both are wonderfully unique in their own ways. 

Aboard the Chao Phraya River Express

I’m not exactly sure how I ended up paying 1500 baht for a solitary boat ride touring a part of Bangkok I had yet to see (I think it had something to do with a genial con man on the side of the road in cahoots with a tuk tuk driver who quickly swept me away to the pier), but as a photographer, it was 100% worth it.  I got a little insight into Bangkok life outside of the honking horns and the chaos.  I witnessed houses built on stilts above the water and a floating market that even included a Nestle boat.  It was extremely peaceful and even though I couldn’t get the fact that I paid 1500 baht for the ride (I would definitely advice haggling, this was one of my first days in Bangkok and had not mastered this art yet), I loved every second of it.

The Chao Phraya River Express is a different story.  Its somewhat crowded, only 14 baht (sometimes 18 baht, but I never caught on to why it was more expensive some times over others), and it brings you to all the major destinations along the river: The Grand Palace, Wat Pho (home of the reclining Buddha), the flower market, China Town and many others.  Its an easy way to get to the Skytrain from Khao San Road as well if you’re not up for shelling out the dough for a taxi.

Chatuchak Market Weekend Market

One of the many dining areas at the Chatuchak Market

I’m not sure if this is Asia’s largest open air market, but to me, it feels like I’m in another world.  This place puts Southern California Swap Meets to shame with its rows and rows of glorious knick knacks and souvenirs, wicker furniture and idolistic statues, t-shirts with creative and most of the time derogatory sayings, and every animal you can think of whether it’s supposed to be a pet or not.  It really takes a lot of self control to not buy something from every single stall.  Suitcase restrictions aside, I have definitely considered buying an authentic Thai silk bedroom set (complete with pillows and duvet), a mahogany dining room table, and even a puppy.  This place is dangerous and despite a slight sense of claustrophobia while perusing the infinite aisles, it is an absolute must for anyone visiting Bangkok on the weekend.  

Note: From the Khao San Road/Soi Rambuttri Area you can jump on Bus #524 to the Weekend Market.

Siam Center

They don’t have shopping malls like this in California.  And they certainly don’t stack four different ones within a 2 minute walk from each other!  These six to seven level malls are packed, and I mean packed, with fashionista tourists,  teenagers, and families all searching for that next big purchase, and  although most of the high end shops always seem to be empty, this is the place to be seen. 

The view from one of the overpasses in Siam Center

Siam, the hub of the Skytrain, is at the center of it all.  People watching and most importantly, traffic watching here is surely at its best in this lively part of town.  A traveler can see a movie (don’t worry, they’re in English and dubbed in Thai), dine at a French sandwich restaurant, buy a camera to replace that one you dropped into the Chao Phraya River (even though everything else seems to be cheaper in Thailand, electronics are not one of them), and board the Skytrain to experience Bangkok at high speeds.  A definite must for any traveler yearning to see chaos at every turn.

Note: From the Khao San Road area you can jump on Bus #15 and it will bring you right into the center.  You can also catch the Chao Phraya River Express to the last stop and board the Skytrain there. 

Temples  

The temples of Bangkok are endless.  There is seemingly one on every corner and the phrase “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all” definitely does not apply here.  I was conned into embarking on a tour of temples (a con that Lonely Planet warns travelers about, but I decided to read this little tidbit an hour after I got back from the joy ride), which I ended up loving, so I soon forgot about the dishonesty that had taken place (he had told me that the Grand Palace was closed and that he could drive me around to various destinations while it opened up), plus it was raining and I didn’t want to get soaked.  I never saw two Buddhas that were the same.  Each temple has a different take on the holy idol and I was interested in seeing them all.  I was taken to a secluded temple and told that if I make a business-type wish in front of a certain Buddha, it would come true. (I won’t tell you what my wish was, but I can assure you it has not come true yet, at least as far as I know).

The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

Wat Pho, my favorite temple, is the home of the Reclining Buddha and this is an absolute must see.  The building housing the Buddha is barely big enough for it and its next to impossible to get it all in one picture.  I also loved the grounds surrounding Wat Pho, decorated with pyramid like structures and “temple guards.”

I would also recommend the Golden Mount.  It’s a nice little walk and at the top there is a gorgeous panoramic view of surrounding Bangkok. 

At Wat Mahathat (near the Amulet Market), English speakers can actually take a free course on meditating.  The man who leads the class speaks flawless English and is extremely insightful.  Walk-ins are welcome and he will teach you as long as you would like.  You can see my blog post on my meditation experience here.    

 

Bangkok has a little something for everyone and my growing admiration for the city makes me miss it sometimes (I’m only an eight hour train ride away).  I look forward to being back in the City of Life in a couple weeks!

My first taste of teaching

The only teaching experience I have is teaching little girls how to hit a softball.  At least they spoke my language!!  I’ve had the opportunity to help out on a few English camps through the company I work for.  I was a little nervous at first because this would be the first time I was meeting Thai kids and I was worried that a) I wasn’t going to like teaching or b) they weren’t going to like me.  The camps are pretty much summer camp which consists of fun games where we try to integrate English.  Of course, the kids always are speaking Thai except when they’re required to speak English.  I wish that I had listened when I was in middle school and high school and the teacher told me only speak Spanish in the classroom.  I’m pretty sure I would have learned it a lot better!  I had the chance to teach my own class a few times and of course it was a little challenging at first but I realized that I could definitely get the hang of it.  Oh and I realized another thing…. I loved it!! I had so much fun teaching the kids that I can’t wait to have my own class!!  I can’t wait to have a classroom and make my own lesson plans and do everything that is involved with teaching.  This was an amazing discovery!  The only thing that sucks slash is a little bit funny is when the kids try to talk thai to me and I have no idea what they’re saying.  Its like in Finding Nemo when the baby turtle (Squirt) is talking and Marlin says: “It’s like he’s trying to speak to me, I know it.  Look, you’re really cute, but I can’t understand what you’re saying.”  I think about that everytime and I laugh a little (inside of course).  The blank stares are tough too, but I know its going to be so rewarding when they say words that I taught them! 

There is so much I need to learn, especially the around the clock peppiness that is required with teaching Thai Kids!  I talked to a few teachers and they said that no matter what kind of day you’re having it doesn’t matter, you need to be all smiles when you enter that classroom.  This will definitely be a difficult task for me because I wear my emotions on my sleeve, but hopefully I won’t be having many bad days in Thailand!!  Another tidbit of advice was to teach every class like a fun English Camp.  I love that idea.  I want to sing and dance with the kids and make them excited to come to my class!!  I can’t wait to get down to Chumphon and start teaching November 2nd!

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Meditating – A LOT harder than it looks

To prepare for my trip to Thailand, I read a few books on Buddhism.  I didn’t retain much of that knowledge I gained from the books except a few key concepts: Peace, Happiness, Kindness, and Meditation.  I love the ideas of always being peaceful and kind while projecting it out to the world.  One of my main goals for my adventure in Thailand is to find complete happiness.  Oh don’t get me wrong I was perfectly happy before.  I have a great family, an amazing boyfriend, and the best friends in the world.  I came here to find who I am.  I came here to discover that place within myself that is a constant bright light of happiness and I believe that this can be found through meditation.  Since I was probably five years old, my dad has told me to meditate.  See yourself getting the winning hit or achieving A’s and his advice always centered around visualizing myself being successful.  Well, now I want to change the focus of my meditation.  I want to focus on myself and just being within my own self.  I want to focus on the amazing people I have in my life who have helped me along the way.  I want to focus on happiness and peace so that I can bring happiness and peace to others.

Looking through my Thailand guidebook, I found a temple, Wat Mahathat, in Bangkok that offered instruction in English to those that want to learn to meditate properly.  My friend Sean and I thought this would be a great experience so we went on the search for this temple.  After wandering around the temple grounds for who knows how long we finally found the place (a couple also joined us along the way) and met an extremely nice man who spoke perfect english.  He then explained to us (for two hours or so, little long if you ask me, but we were waiting for a meditation class to finish) about meditation and we asked as many questions as we could think of.  My main question was: What do you focus on when you’re meditating and what do you do when other thoughts pop in your head?  He answered that the focus of meditation is the body.  When other thoughts pop into your head, you need to ackowledge them, maybe play around with them for a minute or so, and then push them to the side (later when we were actually meditating I tried to push other thoughts out right away and I guess thats the wrong thing to do).  If your body is hurting, change your focus to that area for however long you need it there and then push it away, and in turn that pain will be whisked away with those thoughts.

We began our meditation practice with walking meditation, which is extremely hard.  You have to slowly pick your foot up, slowly move it in front of the other one, put it down, and repeat.  You must only think of your feet during this process.  We did this for about 30 minutes and of course numerous topics were pouring into my head and I have no idea how they got there.  Somehow I moved from Chinese Buffets, to the World Series, to wondering what I was going to write in my blog about my meditating experience. Trying to get those thoughts out of your head is extremely tough.  If I had gone awhile just focusing on my feet, I would realize it, congratulate myself, and all of a sudden i was completely off of my feet again.  I wish I had a taping of my thought processes during this meditation.  By the end, I had had a few good spurts of complete focus and I feel that after awhile I will be able to do that for the full time. 

Next was the sitting meditation. Leeeeeetle bit harder than the walking one, although you have your eyes closed so at least that sense is dulled.   You have to sit in the most uncomfortable position with your back completely straight.  Not easy when I still have a herniated disk in my lower back!  We only sat for 6 minutes but it felt like a lifetime.  My hips, back, shoulders, you name it, it was aching.  I was determined not to give up or fall out of my posture.  Of course during the meditation countless topics once again leaped into my mind.  I told myself that when I made it through I would be so proud of myself.  And of course I’m telling myself that when I’m supposed to be concentrating on my breathing and trying not to concentrate on my hips that feel like they’re going to dislocate.  Well I made it through those gruesome six minutes and yes I was proud of myself, but it made me determined to practice so that I could meditate for longer.  It was such a peaceful experience just focusing on only myself for once. 

My goal is to meditate for 5-10 minutes everyday for starters then I can increase the time.  Maybe living by the beach will help that :).

The first few days: So out of my element

During the flight over, I still couldn’t believe that I was actually going.  When the plane was landing and I saw Bangkok for the first time I was still in awe that I would soon step foot in Thailand.  I couldn’t believe that I actually did it.  I actually followed my dream!  I met Jeff, the AYC Intercultural Thailand Human Resources Manager, after customs and I began my adventure.  We headed to Khao San Road which is the backpackers district and the place where I would be staying.  We found a place and I was shown to my room.  My jaw almost hit the ground when I saw the size of the room, oh and no window!

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After Jeff left, I broke down.  What have I done?! I suddenly felt so alone even though I had been in Thailand for maybe two hours.  I felt so out of place and impossibly overwhelmed.  I quickly  went down to the internet room where they conveniently have cameras set up for skype purposes and I hoped that Kyle would be on.  Thank God he was because I definitely needed someone to cry too and he talked me right down from it, something he has always been good at.  He can talk me out of all my frantic moods and this was probably the worst of them.  He told me that this is the first time I’ve ever been alone and that its going to be great for me!  I was so nervous slash uncomfortable slash upset that I felt sick to my stomach.  Then Miley Cyrus “Party in the USA” came on and I felt more at home.  Thank you Miley!!  I calmed down and once I returned to my room it didn’t seem so small anymore. 

The next day I woke up at 6 after a night of waking up every single half hour.  No idea why, I wasn’t that uncomfortable.  I think it was just the shock of being in such a new place.  I finally decided to just get out of bed and start my day.  I walked around and happened across a Wat (temple), which is a commonplace in Bangkok, there seems to be one on every corner. I went in and sat in on their morning prayers.  It was very peaceful and it was amazing how it was just one continuous prayer for probably a good twenty minutes, and I’m sure they went on much longer after that, that just happened to be the amount of time that I watched them.  I kept wandering around a bit and decided that this cart on the side of the road looked like a great place to stop for breakfast.  Naturally I had Pad Thai, a wonderful breakfast, and while I was eating I met a guy from California as well, Stephen.  He was on his way through Thailand to visit his family in India and after talking briefly he told me he could show me the ropes a bit on the public transportation.  I told him that I had to stop by the AYC offices and he still agreed to go with me.  After almost THREE hours at the office, I was finally finished and I felt SO bad, especially since it happened to be his birthday!  We decided to head over to the Chatachuk Weekend Market, which is the biggest flea market/swap meet that I have ever seen.  Its just miles of amazing handmade crafts and knicknacks and I just wanted to stay there all day and spend every last cent, but I knew I had nowhere to put my treasures so I decided that I would have to come back before I left to stock up on wonderful souvenirs.  I wish I had a house to decorate in Thailand because there was some of the most amazing furniture and household items.   We spent the rest of the day exploring a little bit in the downtown area, including their malls, which are utterly ridiculously huge and there are about 5 of them right next to each other.  This is also where I discovered the absolute insanity of Bangkok traffic and driving.  They don’t use lanes and if they want to go they’re going to go.  Stoplights pretty much don’t do anything.The basic laws of traffic don’t abide.

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  After that, Stephen decided to go get a massage and I wanted to head back to Khao San to relax for a little bit.  A new adventure was ahead for me because I was about to man the bus alone.  On my way to the bus stop, there happened to be a concert going on in the pavilion at one of the malls.  It was hilarious.  The group that was singing was like the Backstreet Boys or Nsync (of course 10 years ago boy bands) of Thailand because as soon as they took the stage all the girls started screaming.  I had to stop and watch for awhile because it was just so intriguing.  It made me remember when I was 13 and would scream when the boybands came on stage.  I pulled myself away from the show and ventured to find the bus stop, which I thought I found.  45 minutes later all the other buses had come except for mine so I decided to just take a cab.  Well instead of a cab stopping, a “tuk tuk” stopped and I decided that I needed even more of an adventure especially because tuk tuks try and fit between traffic and NO ONE in Bangkok uses lanes, it seems to be a lost cause there.  On my ride I saw a few interesting things: an entire family on a motorcycle, dad driving with little boy in front of him and mom on the back carrying the little girl, incredible, a lady riding side-saddle on a motorcycle (which I have seen countless times since then) and a tuk tuk with twelve little boys in it!  Transportation is insane here!!

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I relaxed for a bit and later I met up with another AYC teacher named Sean to have a few drinks.  It was nice to meet someone else in the same situation as me.  

The next day I ventured out again with the intent to take one of the river boats down the river to the Grand Palace and see the place.  Well, that didn’t quite happen the way I planned.  As I was trying to find my way to the river I ran into a Thai man who started talking to me and insisted that I take a Thai boat on the river.  I didn’t quite understand what he was saying but he planned this whole route out for me where I would do the river ride, go to a tourist office (yeah no idea why this happened) and then go to the Golden Mountain where the Golden Buddha was.  Without really letting me protest he called a tuk tuk driver over, negotiated that the driver would stay with me the whole time for only 30 baht (which is pretty ridiculous keeping in mind that my tuk tuk ride the night before was 100 baht).  So off I went not sure where I was going or what I was off to do.  I ended up in a weird part of town and somehow by the river where the driver took me to another Thai man who told me that a river boat ride was 1500 baht.  Definitely not what I was aiming for since the public river boat was maybe 15 baht.  This ride was different since it was in a longtail boat and it went down the canals so I thought it would be interesting, so I agreed to do it.  It was of course totally worth it!!  I got to float down the canals and see some pretty cool things! 

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The only part of it that made me sad was that other boats were passing by with couples and groups of people and I was all alone.  It was actually really nice alone and I didn’t mind it, but it definitely would have been nice to have someone along for the ride.  Its been really great to have some time to focus on myself.  I need to do some soul searching for sure and find who I am and this is going to be a great opportunity for me.  I have months and months ahead of me as well to do just that!  I took a lot of great pictures on the way.  When the trip was over I got back to the dock and found that the tuk tuk driver did indeed wait for me!  He insisted that we go to the tourist office, which I really didn’t need to go to, but I said fine ok and he drove me through a really interesting part of town yet again.  I guess its fun to do that because I never would have seen that part of town otherwise, so it was exciting nonetheless.  When we got to the tourist office, it was a hole in the wall and I was literally in there for five minutes and we were on our way again.  This time to the Golden Mount and I thought our agreement was that he was going to wait for me and take me back to Khao San Road but when we got there he asked me to pay and that was it. Soooo I was stranded and I wasn’t exactly sure where I was.  The beauty of living in the backpackers district is that everyone knows where it is so I didn’t worry too much.  I continued onto the Golden Mount and found an amazing view of Bangkok. 

Bangkok

I’m beginning to find that most Wats are pretty similar, but they are all beautiful, so I guess that never gets old.  When I was finished I decided that I wanted to try and find my own way back.  After wandering around for a good 45 minutes and not able to find even where I am on the map I decided to get a tuk tuk back (I’m already pretty comfortable in them).  I found a free wifi place (which hasn’t worked since then) by my hostel and got to call Kyle on Skype when I got back so that was great.  I still tear up a little when I talk to him because sometimes I just feel super lonely.  And yes I know at this point its only been TWO days but its been a real overwhelming experience for me.  I also have found that living in my little room I have had to become very resilient to unidentifiable bugs. 

Monday I was supposed to substitute teach at this school completely on the other end of Bangkok.  After a 500 baht taxi ride (which is ridiculous) and a ride on a muddy dirt road, I made it to the school and was showed to a classroom.  I was given no direction and no materials so I was a little lost.  I had a few lesson plans  but I needed paper and a photocopier so I was a little panicked for I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but I guess that’s the excitement of the first day teaching.  Well a teacher came in and told me that I wasn’t needed and that it was a big misunderstanding and I was left in the middle of nowhere (something that happened again on Thursday)!  I called Jeff and he had me come into the office, where we were going to sort things out.  Another long taxi ride back and I was there unknown of the other little adventure I was about to take.  Working for AYC I need my own bank account so they can just direct deposit money into my account.  To get to the bank, I was to take a motorcycle with a Thai lady I didn’t quite know and who didn’t speak much English.  Grrrrrreat….. Mind you this is my first time ever on any type of motorcycle.  I grabbed a helmet and latched onto the back of the bike because I wasn’t too comfortable clinging to her for my dear life in the crazy Bangkok traffic.  To give her credit, she didn’t drive too crazy and my first motorcycle ride wasn’t a traumatic one, I made it back in one piece (I’m sorry I don’t have a picture from this momentous occasion).  Back at the office I found out that I needed to go out to a school on Chonburi and do an interview/demonstration for a teacher.  The only reason why I was going to go was because they didn’t have any other female teachers in Bangkok yet and I was to represent AYC.  I was set on going to Chumphon (who wouldn’t want to live on the beach?!), but all the ladies at AYC kept asking my why I wanted to go there and not to Chonburi.  I think they just didn’t want it to look bad when I interviewed, was offered the job, and then it was a different girl that showed up.  I didn’t let them talk me out of it but I of course agreed to go with them, especially since I was going to get paid for the day anyways.  At the office, I met these two UK guys that worked for AYC in the office and we shared a taxi back to Khao San and I we got along great.  One of them, Steve, had a couple friends in town and I told him that I’d definitely meet up with them later.  When we made it back, it was absolutely POURING!  This was the first time I’ve seen it rain here, which is pretty common I hear, and it was definitely a baptism by fire because we had to walk through Soi Rambuttri road (the actual road we’re staying on near Khao San) while everyone watched us as they sat under covered areas.  When I made it back to my room, I literally looked like I had jumped into a pool.  It was absolutely insane!  Steve called me a few hours later and I met up with the him and the girls and we boarded the Chao Phraya River Express and took a trip down the river.

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 I loved the two girls that were with him, one reminded me of the sister in Notting Hill and the other was absolutely amazing.  She took a sabbatical from her job in the Fire Department in the UK and was taking a nine month backpacking trip through the South of Asia, New Zealand and then ending in America.  It was a trip she had been saving for a planning for over twenty years and I was completely in awe.  She had just come from India and Nepal and I was of course hanging on her every word.  It made me want to go to Nepal SO badly and even though she said India was depressing and shocking she told me that everyone should go there at least once in their lifetime.  She was doing a bunch of organized trips so I feel like that’s the great way to do it when you’re alone.  Her stories just completely made me dream to do that one day!  I don’t really want to do it alone so I might have to convince Kyle to do it with me years and years down the road.  We grabbed some dinner and few beers and I had such a great time with them.  They were going on a three day trip the next day and I really wish I could have joined them but I want to try and work as much as I can before the teacher’s seminar.  They’re getting back in town on Friday so I hope they call me!

Tuesday had an interesting start with my cab ride to the office.  My cab driver got completely lost and I ended up being late to meet the girls that were going to take me to Chonburi.  I was completely frantic, which I need to learn to control especially here in Thailand.  I’ll work on that.  On the way ot Chonburi, I actually had a lot of fun with the girls in the car.  They were really sweet even though at times hard to understand.  One spoke pretty good English so she was kind of a translator.  Once we got to the school the teacher was extremely late so we just had girl bonding time while we talked about our boyfriends and shared pictures.  When the teacher finally came we began the interview.  Her first question definitely stopped me in my tracks: “What would you do if one of my students fell in love with you.”  I literally stammered and said “I obviously …uhhh…wouldn’t condone that….”  I really had no idea what to say to that!  She went on asking me question after question and then talked in Thai with the girls for a long while.  Apparently, she loved me and wanted me to teach at her school.  When I got back to the office they of course told everyone about it and a few of the other girls approached me and sounded like they wanted to get me to go to that school, but I stuck to Chumphon and its pretty set that that’s where I’m going to go.  Coming back to my little room makes me especially lonely.  I’m fine all day but when I’m reminded that I’m alone here I get upset.  I finally got to talk to Kyle after a few days of not talking to him and I found that if I have Skype up when my computer time runs out I can still use it, so I got to talk to him for an hour and a half!! It made me feel so much better!  Its great having him in life to calm me down and always be the voice of reason haha. 

I set out Wednesday to explore the Grand Palace and the Wats around it.  I didn’t end up going into the Grand Palace because it was 350 baht and I felt like that was an investment I should make when I have someone with me to take actual pictures of me in front of things instead of me holding my camera out (There will be lots of those once I post my pictures on facebook).  I stopped off at Wat Pho which is the home of the Reclining Buddha.  Now this was one of the most ridiculously huge things I’ve ever seen!  Pictures can’t even capture how big it is (I guess I’m not a good enough photographer yet to capture it but I’ll get there). 

Reclining Buddha 2

After exploring Wat Pho I set out to go to the Grand Palace and it started raining.  I passed a tuk tuk driver and he told me that the Palace was closed right now and that he would take me to a few other temples while it was raining and then take me back (Later that day I was reading my Lonely Planet book, which said that tuk tuk drivers use this as a ploy to get tourists in their tuk tuk where they can bring them to certain stores that give them a commission if they bring people there…which mine did but he told me that he would get free gas if I got something, which I didn’t.  Later on my way to the Grand Palace I ran into another that did the same thing, I kept walking and the Grand Palace was of course not closed.  I just thought that it was hilarious that I read the book after it actually happened to me!)  Even though I fell for it, I had a blast and the tuk tuk driver was super nice and everytime we drove by something he would tell me what it was so it was worth it.  He took me to a few temples, which I love and I got to get out of the rain as we drove around.  It was a cheap way to pass time and I got to make a wish on a Buddha that is supposed to bring good luck in business.  I was in a temple all by myself and I knelt down and prayed that I would find happiness by myself.  I’m frustrated with the fact that I’m not doing so well at this whole being by myself thing.  Because this is a trip for me to become dependent on myself, I felt I needed a little help, especially because I wasn’t doing to hot at it so far with little breakdowns almost every night.  I decided that I would do this in every temple I visited.  

Wats are my favorite part of this crazy city.  They are nestled in the middle of the hustle and bustle and they are extremely peaceful.  So far I haven’t been the biggest fan of Bangkok, but I’m sure it would grow on me.  Too much is going on and people are in a hurry ALL the time.  The city is completely overwhelming, there’s ten times the pollution than Los Angeles, the traffic is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen and people are everywhere.  Wats are where everything stands still and I can actually think.  I love that.  I really need time for myself and even though I’m spending all day by myself some days this city still doesn’t allow me to be by myself.  I can’t wait until I get down to the south where I’m teaching and I can just sit on the beach or go on a hike and really focus on myself.  That is what this trip was about.  Seeing the world and finding myself.  I guess I need a little more than four days to do that so maybe I should give myself a break.