Tammy’s Asia Tour: Part Three

Travels

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Preface: At this point I was tired of dragging my camera around, so I apologize for the low quality images, but there are high quality memories behind them!

After a few fun-filled days in Kanchanaburi, I was ready to show Tammy more of what my weekends at home look like in the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Just to give you a glimpse at the size, Bangkok has slightly more people than Los Angeles, and slightly less than New York City so it is a huge place. Filled with markets, street food, temples and incredible malls.

On our cab ride, she was able to see our descend from the “burbs” into the high rises of the city. We checked into our hotel before walking straight to my guilty pleasure in Bangkok, Charley Brown’s. Mexican food is first and foremost my go to meal. I thought I wouldn’t eat chips and salsa for six months, but I was proved wrong. *I strategically picked the hotel location, so that I had easy access to queso.*

After lunch, we purchased our BTS day passes and explored Sukhumvit. Sukhumvit is the area filled with the most insane malls and roof top bars you’ve ever seen. We did a little shopping, but most looking in awe that places like this exist. We didn’t really have any big plans, but came across an aquarium at the bottom of one of these said malls. IMG_7290We both looked at each other and thought “Why not, we have nothing else to do.” Yall, I’ve been to the Atlanta and Charleston Aquarium, but this tops them both. We couldn’t believe how incredibly nice it was. Our faces of excitement blended right in with the kids we were surrounded by. There was a huge tank with stadium seating the reminded me of all the times my grandparents would take us to Riverbanks Zoo where we would sit and carefully follow the swim patterns of the fish for what seemed like hours. After, we went to the mall next door and ran into a Bangkok Fashion Week show. There must’ve been someone famous near because there was tons of screaming girls crowded around flashing lights.

The next day, I took her to my absolute FAVORITE place in Bangkok, Chatuchak Market. It is a weekend market composed of a maze of over 13,000 vendors. They sell everything from vintage tees and denim, Thai street food, art, jewelry, hidden bars, the list goes on. You name it, they got it. We spent hours here, but it gets HOT and overwhelming. We were ready to sit down and enjoy some lunch and A/C. We settled on a food court in the Emporium Mall. By food court, I mean anything and everything you could ever want. High-end western to Thai Street food, acai bowls, burgers, ramen, anything you could want.

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We were pooped and ready for some R&R back at the hotel. This included watching a real TV with English movies and some time enjoying our roof top pool. We ended our trip on the best possible note, dinner and drinks at Above 11.

Above 11 has the best rooftop view of anywhere in the city (32 stories high) and luckily we were staying right around the corner. We got dressed up sporting new clothes and jewelry from our shopping escapades and headed out to enjoy our last big moment together. This was my first time here and I am glad I experienced it with Mama Bear. She is probably still laughing at how scared I was. In my defense they have bar stools taller than me right up next to the glass wall that hit right below the shoulders. You KNOW I scooted my chair as far as possible away from the ledge to where I could still reach the table. I feel like this would not pass U.S. building codes. One girl was even standing on the ledge with her phone high in the sky for a selfie. I couldn’t look, I just knew I’d have to watch her tumble to her death.

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We enjoyed fine cocktails and appetizers while reminiscing over the last ten days together. WE MADE IT! After many flights, taxis, trains, songtaos, tuk-tuks, buses and cities later our time together had come to an end. I am so thankful for our time we were able to spend together. I will cherish it forever.

I know it wasn’t easy for her to leave my dad for so long let alone while my Papa was sick. She stayed so strong for me when our family was delivered such heartbreaking news. I know as a manager, it isn’t easy for her to leave her colleagues and patients at work. This is the longest she has ever been away from her husband or her job. She is selfless, kind and everything I hope to be. I know this trip was out of her comfort zone and not easy for her to pull of logistically or financially, but she pulled it off without a hitch. Thank you, Mom! I am happy I was able to help you add some stamps in that passport of yours and memories in your heart. I love you to the moon, girl!

My last big trip before I leave Asia is Bali! Stay tuned, I’ve found heaven and you’ll want to read about it.

***

Still on a bender of 70’s music, I thought I’d end this one with a nod to one our favorites, Elton John. This song always reminds of my traveling and those pivotal, life changing moments the occur.

Tammy’s Asia Tour: Part Two

Travels

We knew after our time in Cambodia, it would be hard for the rest of the trip to live up to that experience. Since I choose Cambodia, I let her pick something she would like to do and promised to make it happen. Our next stop was to Kanchanaburi, Thailand where the Bridge Over the River Kwai is located.

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The next morning after arriving back to Bang Yai, we changed out our bags with new clothes keeping the necessities and set out for the bus station. Once we arrive at Sai Tai Mai, we immediately got on a mini-bus and were on our way. I forgot to mention to her that Thai drivers have a led foot and that these rides are not friendly to those who get carsick. Without Dramaine, we arrived in under two hours and feeling good. But, we both forget to save the name and address of our new hotel *Whoops*.

We are standing in the new bus station being bombarded by taxi drivers with no direction to give them. I quickly sprinted across the traffic to pay my phone bill so that we could attempt to look it up on my phone. We couldn’t access Tammy’s email and I had no bit of this info that I could find in my texts, Facebook messages or email.  hotelkanFinally, we figured it out and moments later we were in a songtao on the way to our hotel. Just a little bump in the road that was easily forgotten once we arrived to our new room in the middle of a Thai fairy garden. It had a very authentic feel with amazing flora all throughout the grounds. We quickly put on our suits to enjoy the last moments of sun by the pool.

We found a great place for dinner that was a few miles from our humble abode. We thought we could walk to the main road and quickly hop onto some form of transportation. After walking down an alley (that freaked Mom out) and making it to the main road, we realized this was a lost cause. Making our way back to the hotel, the front desk easily arranged a tuk-tuk for us. Our tuk-tuk driver, Mr. Dueng, was so precious! I kept saying “skrt-skrt” and laughing over bumps. He really got a tickle out of that. He even gave us his card so that we were insured we’d have a ride back.

It was just us and a long table of middle-aged men in the restaurant. It was so cute, because they were celebrating a birthday! Tammy was shocked the new the song in English, and we decided to cheer and sing along with them. They loved it. We headed home early time, as we had a BIG DAY the following morning.

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Ok, I just want to start by saying this is one of the most amazing, life-changing experiences I have ever had. That sounds corny and cliche, but, my day at the Elephant Haven Thailand will go with me in my heart forever. They are such gentle giants. Basically, like GIGANTIC dogs, and yall know how I feel about dogs. There is just something about the feelings animals bring. They are just so pure, and true.

IMG_2917We started out the day by preparing their meal. Cutting baby watermelons and rolling balls of rice, meal and bananas. It is incredible how much these boo-boos eat! We started out feeding them bamboo and one just wacked me in the head with it while trying to situate the stem in her trunk in the most perfect position.

The best part of Elephant Haven Thailand is that all of their Elephants were former show Elephants or part of riding. Now they just roam-freely and do not have the torture of being chained up, caged and carrying uneducated tourist around a loop. When we were walking them through the forest, if Mali wanted to go off and do her own thing, they’d let her. Mali is the smallest, shy elephant who is weary of her fellow sisters.

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We had our main guide, then a crazy, Elephant whisper. You could tell how much love he had for these animals. He reminded me of Rafiki from Lion King, wise but a kooky. Rafiki actually means friend in Sawhili and they is exactly what he was to these animals. He carried a bag of fruits and wandered the forest barefoot, fearless of the inevitable poop stepping. He’d always yell (rather sing), “isss okay, issss okay. No wooooorry, no worry, Mali.” At first we thought he was talking to us because we were moving out of their way, but he was soothing the elephants and guiding them through the forest and down to the river.

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Some people swim with dolphins, psh, screw Atlantis. We swim with Elephants in the Noi Kwai. It was crazy how much they LOVED the water. They would roll over and dive all the way down until only the tips of their ears and trunks were visible.

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It was so incredible, my mom will agree. We just talked about our photos for the rest of the trip and how much we missed them. It was incredible to be able to spend so much time with them in such a close up way in their own environment.

I once again experienced another, woah how small is the world moment. I heard a guy talking with a thick southern draw and thought he’s from where I’m from. Next time I turn my head I see him with a woman wearing a Carolina Gamecocks hat. IMG_3075 You don’t see that in Thailand everyday. I gave her a quick Go Cocks! Soon after, we realized we both are College of Charleston Alumnus. She is living in Bangkok with her husband who is in the military. So wild! There was another mother daughter couple with us who were sweet as can be that we enjoyed conversating with.

musuemThe next day, was a little rainy on and off, but we made it work. We trekked around the museum before making our way to the bridge itself. It was weird most to me that people walked a little ways, took their selfie then went back. *Ugh, travel isn’t ALWAYS about the photo. Live a little* Tammy and I had a different philosophy and walked all the way to the end. When we made it, we saw something off in the distance IMG_3158that intrigued us, so we figured we’d check it out. It ended up being so cool. It was like a Chinese Cultural Center along the river, similar to the one I visited in Udon Thani. Bright and bold. We met the cutest dog along the way name Takatin or something. Her owner gladly let me stop to give her a quick belly rub.

 

As we made our way back over the bridge, we stopped and had a traditional Thai lunch along the river. We got stuck their for a little long than we wanted because of the storm, but better than sitting in a hotel room! On the stride back to our place, we walked through some shops, where Mom found the perfect beaded necklace for her next USC game outfit. I got coconut ice cream (of course) as my treat to myself. That evening we enjoyed a quiet dinner, strolls through the night market and an early night to sleep.

Back to Bangkok we go!

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I just finished reading Greg Allman’s autobiography, as well as Joe Perry and now I’m getting started on Eric Clapton. I cannot stop listen to those told tunes. Here is a playlist that will take you back in time, I place I like to dream of.

Tammy’s Asia Tour: Part 1

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She’s finally here! My mom arrived to Bangkok late, so I went to check in before a night on Khao San to celebrate Cam’s departure. I tried to make it there before dark which didn’t quite happen. Soon, I found myself wandering alley ways. My map was telling me I was there when I clearly wasn’t. I saw a little stand and asked a motor-taxi driver as I figured he would be of assistance.He wasn’t sure, so next thing I knew there were 7 locals surrounding me offering help and to call the hotel for me. IMG_2531Around 2am, she finally arrived and it was time for bed, except we had a small issue. We couldn’t figure out how to turn to lights off without the AC going off too, which is a total necessity. We were left to sleep with the lights on, which wasn’t too bad for Tam since she had a sleep mask.

The next morning, we woke up early to try and beat the heat and check out The Grande Palace, a must see while in Bangkok. I had been putting off going, so we could enjoy it together for the first time. It was truly amazing. It was a sensory overload of glittering gold and bold colors. Everything was crafted with such ornate detail. Soon, we were ready for a nap! After several attempts at find a meter cab, we finally found the most precious old man who was willing to take us. *Sidenote: You ALWAYS want to ask for meter over set price. If not you will be exponentially ripped off*

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Our cab driver was quite the chatter box, but he had great English. All of which he learned from old western movies and music. He even whipped out a Hank Williams bootleg of his to show us. When we finally arrived in Bang Yai, I had a few errands to run, so we went to the HUGE mall by my house and had dinner at a staple of ours with my teacher friend, Hannah.

We woke up extra early the next morning for our flight to Siem Reap! I am so happy I choose to bring her here. It blew all my expectations out of the water. The people, the service, the sitesall of it was impeccable. IMG_2786I know, when I told her I was dragging her to Cambodia, she was apprehensive, but down for anything! I had a quick scare thinking I lost my wallet 15 minutes before boarding. After frantically running through the airport, it was under my seat the entire time. Whew!

The visa/customs process was super quick and easy. We were greeted by our absolutely amazing hotel staff with traditional Cambodian scarves, cold towels and drinks. Every second of our experience at The Golden Temple Villa was filled with excellence, class, kindness, and detail. That afternoon we enjoyed time by the pool, an early dinner and spa treatments. We hit the hay as we had a super early wake up call the next morning. I told you traveling is all about early mornings!

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This, unfortunately, was a very sad day for me as I learned one of the most influential people in my life had passed away, my Papa. I felt many emotions, but mostly guilt that my mom was all they way out here and not at home with my dad. I feel guilty that I am essentially on vacation while the rest of my family is back home taking care of everything. Luckily, she was able to be home in time for the celebration of his life and that my brother read my sentiments which meant the world to me. It will hurt me everyday that he is gone, but he was the most selfless man I’ve ever known. The last thing he would want is me crying over him. He would want to be celebrated and that is exactly what I tried to do.

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The next morning, 4:45am to be exact, we made our way to Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world dating back to 12th century.  Sunrise is the best time to visit as the view is spectacular. You stand and watch the sun glide its away over the pillars and settle into its position for the day. The colors evolve from warm to cool hues. There were hoards of people and it was difficult at times to get a photo without a posse in it. *Reality of traveling. And this was the uncrowded spot*

There were tons of kids walking around begging over you to buy their tourist trinkets which is always so sad. That is one thing I noticed in the parks and sites we went to in Cambodia. There is much heckling in Cambodia than in Thailand. In Thailand, you obviously have to bargain the price down, but you don’t have people chasing you down or bothering you while you shop.

Angkor Wat was amazing, as it should have been, I just wish it was a little less crowded. Our driver later told us March is high tourism season in Cambodia. There was this extremely awful smell walking into the front gates though. It reeked of just decay, which I guess is appropriate for something so old.

As we walked out of our first temple of the day, there was a man outside selling boiled peanuts. So crazy! I thought this only existed where I come from, since you can barely find them outside the southeast. IMG_2766This moment immediately put me at ease because I felt like it was a sign from my Papa. Anyone who knew him knew he boiled peanuts by the bushel. As we made our way to the next temple, there was a big colorful “gamecock”. I see you up there dropping hints at me and making me smile!

My favorite temples we visited was Angor Thom where Tomb Raider with Angelina Jole was filmed. I loved it because it was so intertwined with nature. There where sturdy roots and whimsical trees, wrapped and twisted through the ancient stone. After, we had made our rounds and sweat out a gallon of water, we made our way back to the hotel for some R & R. We enjoyed some pool time, a quiet dinner and composed our plans for the next few days.

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The next day we set out to the explore the markets of the Old Quarter where Tammy had her first rolled ice cream, Nutella and Banana mix. Best flavor I’ve had to date. I will miss these stands being on every corner when I go home. We had big plans later that evening, tickets to the Cambodian Circus followed by an hour couples massage (lol). Did I mention this came complimentary with our $48 a night hotel room?

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Not only were the performers at the circus extremely talented and energetic, but the premise behind the entire act was for a great cause. The school where they trained takes under privileged children and gives them an outlet in the arts. A chance to channel their talents into a better life off the streets. The funniest part was the whole crowd was over 65. I just don’t see this many people at that age saying, “Honey, why don’t we got to Cambodia where its 100 degrees and filled with 20 year old backpackers.” It was so cute after the show concluded they all piled back onto their tour bus. I hope to be them when I’m older.

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I had booked a painting class for us the next day, but in typical Kara fashion it is rare that everything goes smoothly. The weeks here run Monday-Sunday, so I wasn’t paying attention to the number date just the position. Naturally, I had chosen the wrong date and immediately contacted the host the morning of our intended appointment when I realized my mistake. When we arrived back from our morning facials with no reply, I figured we would have to make new plans for the day. Just has we had given up hope, they had told us we most certainly could still come today, and I am so glad this was the case, as it was one of my favorite experiences I shared with my mom.

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Our tuk-tuk driver did not seem to have a clue where he was going even though it was set up by our host. We road down rocky roads into a village and down a drive way to a big sign that read “The People’s Democractic Party”. It kind of had a creepy vibe, I won’t lie and my mom immediately shot me a “what the hell did you sign us up for” look. It was just us two not a full class and it was set up right outside his house on his studio/porch. He had us a stack of photos to choose from and said go for it. The class was based around a spoon painting technic that is used to created many traditional Cambodian pieces. He was so kind, warm-hearted and helpful. It was a truly authentic experience.

That evening we boarded our flight back to Bangkok. We said our goodbyes to our favorite hotel staff and were sent off with more gifts and love from our favorite place! We even had a personal ride to the airport in a brand-new Range Rover, once again included in the cost of our room. Truly a sad moment to leave Cambodia, but super excited for the next leg of our journey!

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Music this week!! I’m super into this new band I discovered call “The Districts”. Kinda like low-key California indie rock. Anyways, this song just reminds me of what its like to keep up with all your relationships that are at a distance and the difficulties that come with that. Being away from home is beautiful, but strange. It is nice to get away, but that comes with its own obstacles. So is it easier to runaway or face up to what’s ahead?

So Long, Farewell K 2/1

Travels

I didn’t think I would be this sad when the day came, but I truly am. Before I departed for Thailand, I didn’t think I loved kids or that they loved me. I never wanted to be a teacher, but I will be leaving with a whole new perspective. I started out reluctant to leave my easy subject teacher position to move to a bigger challenge that completely shaped the way my entire Thailand experience turned out.

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Also, my girl Cam leaves this weekend too, so it is a sad time. We have been together almost every day, since I landed and it will be sad to see her go. I wish her nothing but the best for her future! It feels like college all over again, where everything you know slowly starts to trickle away. Even though I have a good bit of time left, it feels like it is all over just because so much is changing. I know I will be in for some shock and a struggle when finally landing back in the states.

While they were absolute little shits at times, they were angels most of the time. They were so mature and poised, way more than I ever thought possible for 4 and 5-year olds. Of course, there are certain things they struggled with, but I am truly amazed by their intelligence in two languages. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for them to have a complete foreigner standing in front of them 50% of their day.. I mean I constantly get stares at the mall from adults imagine how a child feels.

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My poor class has been through the ringer with teachers. Since they started English Program and Kindergarten, they have had three teachers, including me. They embraced me from day one, hanging onto my skirt and calling my over to show me their drawing or their correct answers. I remember my third day with them Ms. Nong said “Oh, student, students like you, Teacha.” That’s when I was sold.

I leave today knowing 30 names and 30 separate personalities. I will never forget this experience or these sweet little faces. I wish I could thank them for giving me an extra bit of youthfulness I thought I had lost. Also, they have pride in even the smallest accomplishments, a trait I hope to gain in myself.

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We ended the school year by celebrating little Punch’s birthday, playing games, watching movies and eating snacks. All the students brought cookies, toys, seaweed you know name it to give to their classmates. The kids were so excited and had so much loot that they had to carry around little 7/11 shopping bags just to keep up with it all. They kept saying “Teacha, Teacha, I go shopping. Look, Teacha.” *Heart instantly melts* We sweet lump of sugar ,Elf, of course brought donuts.

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It has not been 100% easy, breezy, but my frustrating moments have never been about the kids. They are who made it all worthwhile. So here I leave you with a few short words some of my students. I know they will continue to shine bright in K3! Also, hugeeee thank you to my Thai Teacher Ms. Nong and my assistant. Yall took care of all the dirty work and were always there to lend a hand or help me when I needed. I look forward to more time with them in summer course.

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I know, I probably say this about all of them, but Jayda is so sweet and a little genius. She stays curious always wandering up to me, making conversation asking about what am doing or reading. She’s also a string bean who is taller than all the boys. Just like me as a nug.

 

Pluemsiri, a quiet Einstein. He is so quiet, to the point where you think he is an airhead. It takes a lot to get him to crack a smile, but when he is running and playing with his friends and I see that pure childhood joy, it makes it all worth it. IMG_2471.JPGHe aced every workbook and exam. When he is spelling words he’ll even say “m double o n, moon.” I’m like dang, where did you even learn that? Most kids don’t even know the letter O most of the time.

View, she’s like head b*tch of the class. Definitely an Aries, if I had to guess. She is in control and in charge. Kind of a bully, but kind of smarter than everyone. I can always tell when she is gossiping or telling her friends off in Thai. She is a little sassy pants.

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Punch, absolute beauty. She has the highest pitch voice, so friggin’ cute. She always helps her friends who are struggling with their work. IMG_2429Not give them the answer, but actually explain and teach them. See what I’m saying, my kids are like baby grown ups. I will never forget her smile most of all.

 

Mavin, pronounced “Mawin”. First of all, his dad is babe. I know this from our “Parent Meeting” where I had to present to a class full of people who didn’t comprehend most of what I’m saying. He looooves dinosaurs and always walks around impersonating them. He was the most excited about our Dino Field Trip, but was such a scared boy I had to carry him the entire trip. I didn’t mind though.

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Then theres, Cheetah. She says “My name Cheetah, like a tiiiigerrr. Rawr!” She, as Phon-Phon says is very naughty. I must agree. She is always scheming up something. She stays shaking her booty, sexy dancing like she’s Brittney Spears. She cries when she doesn’t get her way or win a game. Hmmm…. This sounds all too familiar to a former 5 year old I used to know.

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Last, but not least brings me to Manta. My little curly top boy. He is so precious. He knows all the teachers names and doesn’t fail to say “Hi, Teacha” when one walks past. He loves to dance and practice his English. IMG_2416He is always looking out for me like when its time to potty he goes, “Teacha, class go to tha toilet.” Or “Teacha, wata on desk. Your wata.” Telling me I left my bottle because he didn’t want me to go to lunch without it. He may be 5, but I can tell he will live his life spreading smiles and being genuine to everyone he meets.

 

Here is my class (and all of Thailand’s) favorite song at the moment. They know all the words and dance moves.

Tien Outta Tien: Would Do Again

Travels

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So weird to think I have just short of two months left in Thailand! I have been going a litttttle coco bananas lately. I have major (un-diagnosed) ADD and am going stir crazy as all hell. With the school year wrapping up and impending exams, there has been a lot of down time for me at work, and by a lot I mean, I stand with the students at morning assembly, teach for about 30 minutes to an hour throughout the day ….. then I sit. There is only so much reading, writing, and music a gal can indulge in to fill the day!

Therefore, I decided to join in with my best girls in taking a Monday off of work and heading to Koh Lan, an Island right off the coast of Pattaya for a long weekend. I’ve been to Pattaya twice before, and it is so cheap and easy to access from Bangkok. $4 and a less than three hour bus ride later, you’re there. We woke up early on Saturday morning to make our way to Sai Tai Mai bus station. There was the cutest little boy a few rows in front of us, that we played peek-a-boo with until we started cruising down the road. I’m sure his mom appreciated the free entertainment. I was also #blessed to have a row all to myself.

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Once, we arrived to the bus station we hoped on a songthaew (truck bed cab) and made our way to the pier. We haggled for a 200 baht speed boat. It was a weird vibe from the started. They kept on piling people on this boat. The current that day was pretty strong. There were times where I won’t lie, I was scared as all hell. The two little boys riding along with us were calm as can be, while one European woman was one crushing wave away from tossing her cookies on the Asian man next to her. They pulled the boat right up to the shore, so we had to take off our shoes and jump in the water to officially be on shore.

Our hotel wasn’t on the beach, but had a (mostly) free shuttle. We dropped off our things, slipped into our suits and headed to what we thought was the “best” beach, Tawaen Beach.

***Side note about what I’ve learned from traveling Thailand. Never go to the “best”, always go to the second best. Less touristy and normally way better vibes***

As we arrived, it was flooded with people. We were trying to negotiate chair rentals, but they wouldn’t let us put the umbrella down or move them 5 inches into the sun, so we were like screw it. We decided to find a dry patch of sand and post up.

As soon as we settled in, we were swarmed. By what or who you ask?  Old, fat Indian men. Some just had their phones and others were carrying around selfie sticks with Facebook Live running. Not even trying to conceal what they were doing. It was beyond annoying, but we yelled, then ignored and soon enough the creeps fizzled away. The tide started rolling in diminishing our sand space, and we decided trek back to our pad. We were so tired and sun-dried, so we mostly napped and hung around the room the rest of the evening.

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The next day was when we really got the full Koh Lan experience. We looked up a couple more beaches as we did NOT want to make our way back to sex traffic central. We went to Tien Beach. As soon as we pulled up, we were like, “Ya, this is the place.” The color of the water was a piercing blue, it was as though my vision had been doctored by PhotoShop. I could write a novel about how impeccable the water was. I mean the temperature was so perfect, you would’ve thought God had choosen it himself. We finally found some guys who at least let us put the umbrella down and claimed our space for the day. Chair rentals were, I think $3 for the entire day. Good luck finding those prices stateside. There was a group of too young for us Russian boys next to our chairs trying to flirt. They pulled the classic “Can Iz borrow ze sunzscreen?” move.

We later made our way to the best place on any vacation, the beach bar. After maybe 15 minutes of back and forth trying to explain what it is we wanted, we ended up with strong daiquiris. Did I mention the beach was flooded with dogs and puppies.

IMG_2294Needless, to say we got a little lit. Hannah and I weaseled our into a 100 baht Banana Boat ride.  For me, this was highlight of the weekend. It brought me back to the days of tubing on Lake Murray.

To end our day, we settled into a table at a restaurant by the water where you could see the entire Pattaya Skyline sprinkled over the star sprinkled waves. I enjoyed a few White Russians to top off the night. After a long day of sand, sun, sea and alcohol, we were ready to shower off and snuggle into the sheets. One issue arose, our hot water was suddenly non-existent. We went down stairs for help, to see the front desk closed at 9:30 PM. I barely shampooed my hair before I jumped out.

Yall, I don’t even want to tell you what the issue ended up being. The next morning when they came by the “fix” it, there was a light switch essentially, outside the bathroom door that controlled the heater. Maybe that was common sense, maybe it wasn’t either way…. one simple flip and it was back on.

We headed out early to catch the 9:30am ferry back to Pattaya. While it took a little longer, it was a calmer journey than the trashing speed boat. Before heading back to Bangkok, we stopped by our fav little food spot, Sand Bar by the Sea. Unfortunately, our buddy, Guy, wasn’t working that morning.

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Stay tuned as Momma Tam is Asia bound in a week! We are going exploring Central Thailand and hoping the border over to Cambodia. You won’t want to miss these stories, I can assure you.

Here is a lowkey, chill playlist I put together recently. I like to give it a listen when I am winding down for the night. Enjoy!

Thrown for a Loop

Travels

After two EP kindergarten teachers decided to jump ship, that meant they needed to be replaced. I KNEW they were going to ask me. As you know from my previous post, my work life is chillax. One of the reasons they left, or so they claim, is because of the amount of work. For me this is hard to wrap my head around, after sitting at a desk 7am-4pm with little flexibility and a list of tasks that must be accomplished while also dealing with the social media blow up that can occur at any moment. Not sure how they can’t handle it or saw it as overwhelming.
The reason I was opposed to making the switch was why would I have all my freedom taken away for the same pay? It didn’t make sense to me. So of course I was asked, and of course I said absolutely hell no. Then we were asked would if we wouldn’t mind helping out if needed. I was extremely reluctant and said no because I figured it meant they would put me over there and I would get stuck. Also, my kinder-babies were in the middle of exams. I knew how I was grading and their levels and I didn’t trust someone else to handle them the same way that I had. I had finally got the swing of things and my classes were just started to learn my name. It was ready for everything to change.
A few hours later we were called back into the office to be told we would be “helping” until Christmas Break started. Not going to lie, I was being extra dramatic about this response. I was so mad, mainly because I was asked, gave my answer then told you’re doing it anyways. Just tell me from the start, I don’t like being given false options. My other worry was the fact that we were going to be gone to Pattaya all weekend and I wasn’t sure when I would have the chance to prepare a song and lesson before Tuesday morning.

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The English Program is very, very different from the IEP program. It almost feels like you are in a different school. The classrooms are nicer and my Thai teacher speaks a little bit of English, which is not the case in IEP. I am thankful for this. Ms. Nong has been such a huge help to me. The morning starts at 8am with a morning assembly. One student stands on the the stage and guides the rest of the classes through the program. The kids start by reciting the national anthem, in Thai obviously. Then they say a prayer blessing their teachers, parents and benefactors (such a big word for kinder-babies!). First in Thai then in English. The classes then sit down for meditation with a sweet, little song playing in the background. It is absolutely the cutest thing ever.

***US Schools take note!!!****

Next, we rally the troops to go to the “toilet”. This happens about 1000 times in a day. The boys and girls use the same bathroom where the stalls have no doors. One girl was even using the restroom while a boy student was standing there talking to her. It isn’t weird to them at all because they don’t know any different. That would NEVER fly in the states.
Next, all the sweet babies take off their shoes and head into class to chug their warm chocolate milk.

For my first day, I was thrown right in because they had an assembly upstairs with the other classes. And going upstairs meant, 29 Thai babies, the Thai teacher and me all in an elevator. Not like a big industry elevator, I’m talking your below average hotel elevator. All I could imagine during our ascend to the 6th floor was I hope we don’t get stuck and run out of oxygen.

Wednesday is when I finally had to my first real teaching, outside of worksheets. We rallied into a BIG circle and I began my lesson, starting with the song of the week. I had planned to just play one off my phone. Unfortunately, I was having technical difficulties and had to come up with a song about a tree on the FLY. I wasn’t told they had to perform it on Friday in front of the parents until the kids were being put on stage that Friday morning. The Thai teacher even made me sing it alone, so she could video me and practice with the kids. I can assure you my rendition of “I am a Big Tree”, is not the next nursery rhyme hit.
It was so refreshing to be able to communicate with my class. Even though they aren’t fluent, it makes all the difference. The class I was helping with was so well-behaved. They stole my heart. After thinking it through and talking with another kindergarten teacher, I decided to take up the offer and switch classes. I am able to make a connection with them because of their ability to communicate with them and the fact that we are together all day and not just once a week.

The lesson I learn from this is don’t knock something until you try it. The school also offered me a pay raise, which solidified my decision even more. I do not think my Thailand experience would be what it is if I wouldn’t have taken this step. I can now say I look forward to work a lot more. Ironically enough, I actually do less in front of the class teaching than in my other position, and still enjoy my two hour lunch.

I now am able to do arts and crafts and cooking snacks with them twice a week. This is the part I was dreading the most, but has actually become my favorite. I love seeing them smile and have a moment of fun during the day. I enjoy feeling as though I am a real teacher. I know feel very appreciated. They give me such a big reaction every time I walk into the door.

I now know all my students names, but it is difficult having a Pun, Poon, Pan-Pan and Phoon when you don’t speak with the same Thai inflection. I don’t have favorites because they are literally all sweet angels. I got so lucky, but there are definitely some that interact with me more than others. I am going to introduce you to a few now!

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Elf, is a big belly, toothless cutie. He loves snack time and constantly talking to his two best friends Pee and Shiryu. They can be my problem boys sometimes. He seems like a tough guy, but he got a little scared and grabbed onto me and Pan-Pan’s hands during the Dinosaur field trip.

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Next brings me to Pan-Pan! Also toothless, but with a heart of gold. She is my little mini me, and always fights her way to sit next to my during circle time. She pays attention intently during the song of the week as she wants to be the first to know it out of the girls. We do singing competitions between boys and girls.
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The boy vocal leader goes to the Teacher’s Pet, Phon or Phon-Phon as everyone calls him. He is giving us his most fierce model face in the pic above with Pan-Pan. His English is really, really good. He definitely prefers to be right by my side. I typically have to encourage him to have snack time with his friends instead of sitting in my lap. He wants to talk to me so bad, that when he runs out of English words to use, he will start speaking in Thai. He knows good and well I have no clue what he’s saying.

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Then brings me to my sweet little Month, pronounced like Munt. If you say Month, she won’t respond. Once again, that Thai inflection is everything. She has great English skills as well. She is always at the front of the line on the walk to lunch and she has to yell “Wait for me Teacherrrr” because I tend to walk too fast for her little legs. She also likes for me to sit next to her while the watch movies, so she can attempt to narrate for me. She says she wants to help me because she knows “I can’t hear Thai.” She doesn’t speak with much of an accent, so she is very easy to understand.

There is so many more students and so much more about my day, but I will save it for another post! I am already getting incredibly sad thinking about leaving my little class that I love so much.

 

****Sorry for my horrible quality photos. Most were taken on my iPhone****

Music for this post provided by the one and only, Buckley Willis. I am blessed to call him an ex-roommate, friend and the boyfriend of my best friend. *Speaking of Codie, how awesome of a job did she do on the album artwork?** He has been working hard on his latest tunes and put together a little home produced album titled Fools Gold. My favorite track is “Just Right”. If you like Neil Young or Bob Dylan, these vibes will not disappoint.