Monday, November 17, 2014

Livin' the Thai Life

Nai Harn Beach
Coming up on a month in the "Land of Smiles' and every day gets a little easier. The transition was rough the first week at our new schools. Being thrust into a new job with zero experience in a country where almost no one speaks's not the simplest of transitions. We're now in our 3rd week of classes and my lessons are going smoother by the day. My 10th graders are great - so eager to learn and excited for the lessons. My 7th graders are...well they're a fun bunch. A little more difficult to control, but overall good kids and they can understand most of what I say, which is a lot more than I can say for some of the other teachers in other cities. All of the kids here are given nicknames by their parents when they're young....the nicknames are typically a random English word, but sometimes an actual name. These can be very entertaining. Some of my favorites of my students include Milk, Cartoon, Thanks, Copter, Spy, Bonus and Magic.

Loy Krathong Festival - Chalong Pier
Our first weekend here we went to Loy Krathong Festival. This is a Thai celebration in which they send off little boats made of flowers and banana leaves with candles or incense into the river and other bodies of water. These boats are used to signify casting away hatred and negativity, and you can make a wish as you send your boat off into the water. Also, couples will often cast away their boats together. They say if your boats stay side by side you're meant to be together, but now many couples will just tie their boats together before they put them in the water....I guess this makes for a less awkward Loy Krathong. We went down to a nearby bay to send off our boats, but many Thais will also go to rivers for this festival.

Crystal clear waters at Nai Harn!

This past weekend we had a 3-day weekend due to the Asia Beach Games. This year, Phuket was chosen to host the Asia Beach Games. This is basically a week of sports competitions that take place on some of the larger beaches. The games include things like beach volleyball and surfing, but also things like basketball and handball. All of the schools were advised to close on Friday due to the heavy traffic and craziness with Asians coming in from all over for the games. Many of our upper level students are actually out this week working the games. Most of them are acting as translators and are even getting paid for each day they're there.  While the games sounded fun, we were ready for a calm beach weekend away from crowds. Myself and another teacher chose a smaller, less touristy beach in the very south of Phuket called Nai Harn. Friday afternoon we packed our backpacks and got a taxi - didn't even have a plan, but that's kind of how you have to do things around here. The taxi dropped us off right on the beach...we hadn't really thought things through, so we ended up having to make a 20-minute walk back towards town to find a place to stay and drop our stuff off. After going to a couple places, we finally found a little bungalow for 800 baht/night ($26 U.S.) with A/C and hot water - we'll take it! We hastily dropped our stuff off and immediately set off for the beach (again). Luckily our place was close enough to walk. Nai Harn is an adorable little beach with a cape to the left side. While there were plenty of foreigners there (lots of Russians actually), it had a little bit of a local feel. The water was beautiful and the temperature was perfect. The first day there were some sizable waves, even a couple surfers were out. The next two days, however, it was pretty calm.

Promthep Cape
So that's how most of the weekend was spent, days laying out on the beach, nights spent trying the local fare and hitting up the only bar in town "Reggae Bar", appropriately very chill and beachy. The 2nd night we were there we went to Promthep Cape, the cape that juts out just to the left of the beach. There's a lookout area above it where you can catch beautiful sunsets, so that's just what we did. Following the sunset we found an adorable Italian place that actually had pretty delicious pizzas. The only downside of the day was that I left my sunscreen in a cab. We only spent a few hours on the beach the next day, and I even borrowed my friend's 30 SPF sunscreen, but it was no match for this whitey. Needless to say it's 2 days later and I'm still looking (and feeling) like a cooked lobster. Oh well, mai pen rai (have you gotten used to this saying yet?).

Oh! I almost forgot a bit of exciting news. I'm now the official owner of a scooter! Most people in Thailand use motorbikes or scooters to get around. I bought mine off of another English teacher who is moving to a nearby island and won't need it anymore. It's not fancy, but definitely comes in handy here.  The non-existent sidewalks and plethora of street dogs roaming around makes walking more dangerous than I'd like. I'm still getting the hang of it, but I've driven it around a bit (even ventured out to the store tonight and drove back with TWO grocery bags! #wild). I'll include a photo of the scooter too. It's got some sassy stickers on the front including a Guns 'n Roses sticker and a peace sign....sweet. My goals is to get confident enough in the next couple weeks to take it to a beach. Most of the beaches are about a 20-30-minute drive from Phuket Town, so having your own transportation helps a lot with day trips, etc. I'll keep you updated on scooter progress, but for now I'm taking baby steps. Until next time, sawatdee kha!

My little Yamaha Mio


  1. Love reading your blogs Sarah! So happy you are getting this experience and be careful on that scooter!! And your pictures are amazing!

  2. Thanks! And don't worry, I drive like a grandma on that scooter :) I hear Molly might be coming to study in Thailand? I hope she does!!