My blog updates are on Thai time…unpredictable.

My blog updates are on Thai time…unpredictable.

Life in Thailand is increasingly becoming more normal as I settle into a routine here. My weekdays are pretty busy with full schedules at school, and recently, I’ve been staying in Rayong and sleeping in on the weekends, running errands, and cleaning. And I don’t really feel bad about it! Sometimes I think there’s this mentality that “Oh you’re in Thailand…you should be visiting temples, and taking 8 hour bus rides to islands, and staying in hostels…”, but I’ve discovered here that I’m not really of the “backpacker” mentality. I get more out of an experience when I’m well-rested and it’s well-planned. I feel as though I’d get more out of this country taking a trip somewhere new once a month rather than trying to “see it all” in a flash. If you’ve ever traveled with me, you know that. I like to think and observe, take in a moment or a place for a few hours, rather than thirty minutes.

Anyways, since I last wrote, a lot has happened!

I celebrated Christmas away from home for the first time. But, thanks to technology, was able to FaceTime with my family at our annual Christmas Eve dinner/party (where almost everyone was three sheets to the wind…typical family!) and watch my parents and sister open the presents I left for them on Christmas morning. I think I’ve discovered that I don’t want to be so far away from family during the holidays again. Family traditions (like our annual Christmas Eve dinner/party) are really important to me and I hate to miss out. However, I had an amazing Christmas Eve dinner at a really nice resort in Rayong called Kantary Bay. It was expensive at 900 baht ($30), but well worth it for the spread of western fare, cheese, salads, desserts, bread…plus a performance that included ‘Santa’ repelling from the roof of the resort, high schoolers dancing, and middle schoolers singing Christmas carols.


Group picture of “The Ultimate Gang” (minus a few) at the Kantary Bay


This little dot would be Santa.


Student performances…Asian Santa!


So good. Om nom nom.

I’ve been to Bangkok twice, once in December and once for New Years (and I love this busy city!). Trip 1: A quick, less than 24-hour trip to Bangkok in December to meet up with a friend turned into what I can only describe as, “The Hangover: Part IV”. After befriending some guys from the UK (who were visiting from Hanoi, where they are teachers) on Khao San Road (the backpacker district), they were nice enough to share the hilarious and memorable occasion of one of the guys getting a tattoo…on his butt, after drinking all night, with a beer in his hand. Because that’s legal here. Oh, Thailand! I also had my first (and possibly last) hostel experience. It was a decent, semi-clean establishment, but I prefer a private restroom and wearing my shoes in public areas (they had a ‘check your shoes at the door’ policy).


Drinks and a Wat with new friends!


New friends? Check. Tattoos? Check.

Trip 2: Christmas isn’t a public holiday here, but the days surrounding the New Year are and we got a few days off of school. I headed to Bangkok by myself for a change of scenery and pace. And it was wonderful. I got a three day free trial pass to a gym that offered Les Mills classes. I actually enjoyed the gym (Fitness First) but they require a 5 month minimum membership, and well, I don’t live in Bangkok, so that wouldn’t work too well! It was so good to take Pump again! I also saw two movies (in English!) with free vouchers. Movies are relatively cheap in Thailand (around $3 to $5 a ticket), but free movies are even better! I also met up with a sorority sister, Joy, who grew up in Bangkok and was visiting home for the holidays. She was kind enough to let me tag along with her and her Crossfit friends for NYE, and we went to a really neat club called Narz where the Thais go to party on NYE. It was glamorous and so much fun.


NYE Venue


Joy and me on NYE…DGs obviously


There’s just so much to do here!


“The Corner” in BKK. A little oasis with amazing food!

I hailed a cab in Thai. On New Year’s Day, I prided myself on using my limited Thai, at 3 am, with a McDonald’s value meal in hand, to get a taxi to turn the meter on and take me from Sukumvit to Sathorn (two different areas of the city, like going from “the Bottom” to the far east part of the “Fan” in Richmond, maybe even further…for like $2. This was after I was rejected by 3 taxis who all wanted like $10 for the trip (which is nothing back home, but so expensive here!)…persistence is key!

I’ve had three colds and a handful of stomach “abnormalities”. I have frequently been sick with colds/allergies and stomach ailments while in Thailand. There’s something about moving to another country where their sanitation practices are completely different that what you are used to…your immune system is used to your country’s germs, and well, the States have always fostered a big hand-washing, don’t let your child crawl on the floor, strict food-prep standards type culture. I’ve come to realize there are no food safety standards if you eat street food (even if you eat mall food…I saw a food worker use the toilet and not wash their hands…or what about the time the coffee girl tasted the coffee she made me, then put the same spoon back in the coffee to stir it more…) I’m was told by a non-American friend, “I’m pretty sure you’re the most ‘germaphobic’ person I’ve met.” But to be honest, it’s not just me. It’s American culture. We like our antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer. Most everyone I know that came here to teach has been ill at one point or another; I guess it’s just a rite of passage!

Anyways, if you know me, I get pretty down on myself when I get ill. Like, stay in bed with a box of tissues and nurse my wounds. And here, well, I’ve had to suck it up because I’d be in bed everyday if that was the case. I do feel like my experience here would be ten times better if I wasn’t so sick all the time.

I paid an arm and a leg to join a gym in Rayong. Since this blog started as an ode to fitness while living abroad, I should let you know I joined a gym in Rayong! It’s called Star Fitness, and is basically the only gym in this town. Which is good, because most Thai towns don’t have gyms! I ended up biting the bullet and paying for a 3-month membership, which ended up costing about 7,000 baht, which I think comes to something like $70-ish a month. The one month membership was 3,500 baht, so you basically get the third month free. Gym facilities are at a premium in Thailand. The land of cheap almost everything else is 3 times more expensive when it comes to one of my passions, fitness. Anyways, I digress. I do love it and it’s worth the price…to me. There are fitness classes (which I have missed so much!), albeit, taught in Thai. However the instructors are so friendly and do their best to use their limited English for the foreigners (which are…basically, just me).

The equipment is pretty good…the treadmills are fairly new, which I like since I’ve decided to train for another Half. Running outdoors in urban Thailand is, well, not possible unless it’s at a park. And every time I run at the park track (which I really do like!) I end up with sinus issues, which I’m sure are due to the pollution, since there’s a pretty big industrial/factory area just a few miles away. I am looking forward to the day when I go home and can run outside and breathe in fresh Virginia air! It’s also so funny to lift there because my arm muscles are bigger than a lot of the Thai guys. One of the cons at the gym is that I rarely see them cleaning the equipment, so I’m constantly washing my hands and trying not to touch my face with my hands. Just another Thai-ism… Anyways, I try to go three to four times a week; it’s not super close to my apartment, but I take the songteaw from my school after work for around 10 baht, and if it’s after 8 pm (when the songteaw stops running), I’ll either walk the mile back, or take a motorbike taxi (about 30 baht). I used to be scared to death of the motorbike taxis, but now, they are just a part of normal life.

I’ll try and update more often, but can’t give any promises! I hope you all are well and the invitation still stands to anyone that wants to come visit in April; just get yourself here!!

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