Emails from Abroad, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, Thailand

Emails from Abroad #10: Island Vacation, Learning Thai, Future Uncertainty

To family and friends after half a year teaching Kindergarten English in Chiang Mai, Thailand; September 9th, 2012.

“Ehhh so I’m not so good at writing emails these days!  Sorry about that.

“Work is going well as usual although I am so ready for a holiday.  Come October I have two weeks of paid vacation and I’m taking a third unpaid week off as well just because I can.  My students don’t come back to school until the start of November so there’s no real need for me to be back at school as early as they want me to be.  I’ll be spending the first two weeks in the islands with one of my roommates and my friends Katie and Katie, and anybody else who decides to join us.  We haven’t decided which islands yet but we’re leaning toward Krabi and Koh Phi Phi so we can see the Andaman Sea and do some rock climbing. There’s a small chance we’ll try to hit Koh Phangan for a full moon party* but funds may not allow for that little detour.  After the islands, we’re heading our separate ways (the Katies to South Korea to visit friends and my roommate to the states for a wedding) and I’ll be heading to Bali for just over a week to stay with my friend Marlies (now a fully certified dive instructor!) and take an open-water course.

“In other news, I’ve just started private Thai lessons.  I’ve learned a lot already but still lack the confidence to speak it often.  Trying to get over that as I’m well aware that speaking as much as possible is the best way to learn but my listening skillz are pretty weak and what I hate more than being laughed at is feeling like a deer in headlights when someone assumes I speak a lot more Thai and I actually do, and having to resort to the phrase I know all too well…kaw thot, mai kao jai ka (I’m sorry, I don’t understand).  So anyway, I’m also learning to read Thai which is another headache entirely.  Not impossible but definitely challenging.  I have to admit though I love learning Thai and being a student again and if I had the money for it I would take lessons much more frequently.

“After my holiday in October, I’ll have 5 months left of my teaching contract.  Still a fair bit of time but short enough to make me start thinking about my next step.  At the very least I’ve come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t want to work for this school again for another year.  The Turkish administrators and teachers seem to have a sense of entitlement and don’t treat their Thai employees that well (who work their asses off for such little money as it is).  The school is also just very conservative in general and engages in some rather discriminatory practices (for example, all women are required to buy and wear uniforms, men are not; I’ve been told the female teachers are all but ignored in staff meetings as well).

“I’ve gone back and forth quite a lot between staying in Thailand longer and making moves to a new locale.  I’m going to travel the rest of SE Asia at some point to see Cambodia, more of Vietnam and possibly Burma or Malaysia…that much is non-negotiable.  If I stay in Thailand I’ll look for a new teaching job…if not, perhaps a quick vacay to the states, or a short-term teaching position somewhere like Vietnam or S. Korea where lots of $$$ can be made (to continue traveling, of course).  Feel free to weigh in on any of these ideas, I’m always open to suggestions.

“Feel free to visit!  Sonia and Felicia and Co. stayed with me just over a month ago and it was awesome.  I love showing people around Chiang Mai and it gets me out and doing things more too, which I forget to do sometimes.”

Full Moon Party, Koh Phangan, Thailand

*We most certainly did go to that Full Moon Party, and YET ANOTHER CAMERA bit the dust.

Bali, Indonesia

But then I reunited with this girl in Bali, and all was right with the world.

Hiking in Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand

Hosting my sisters from Berkeley (Leah, Sonia and Felicia).  Hiking at Doi Inthanon National Park.

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