Writer’s Block

Alright! I’ve been wanting to, and have been trying to write a post about several things for at least two weeks. For some reason I haven’t been able to. I start and then feel frustrated or unable to put into words what I’m trying to express.I have half a dozen half-ass written posts saved to my computer but nothing I feel valuable enough to share with you. This is bothering me because I want to be consistent with my blog not only for myself, but mostly for my readers. To get the ball rolling again so to speak, I’m going to share with you an e-mail that I sent to a dear friend last night about how things are going in Thailand. The flow of my writing felt a lot more relaxed, maybe because I knew I was writing to only one person and not a wider audience.

Hopefully I’ll be able to shake my blog posting cold feet soon and get back to you with some cool stories and reflections about my time in Thailand.

IMG_2908.JPG

Here it is:

“Sandy!

I hope all continues to be well with you!

I’ve had this e-mail written with the intention to send it to you for a day or two now. The internet in my room isn’t working so I can only send e-mails and texts from my office in school or someone else’s wifi hot spot and I genuinely tend to be forgetful/scatter brained during the day. I apologize for the delay.

However! I’m truly so glad things are coming together for you and your book and I think the cover looks great. There are so many resources available if you search hard/long enough eh? And for only 81 US, that’s not too bad at all. I’m so proud of your persistence and courage. Chapter 7 afterthought looks great. This additional research based insight is going to be really valuable to your readers and overall success of your book. I think it really puts your story into perspective for the reader as well. How are things going aside from your book?  Is spring looking promising? Snow going away If there was any? 😛

I miss B.C, especially the island. What I would give to take my last year’s trip again.

I’m missing home in ways and in others I’m not. I’m really starting to get comfortable here.  I’m getting used to teaching, the pace of life, finally liking the food, learning to speak the language, and getting more involved in the community. Some of the closest people in my life right now, even more than those in Canada aside from family, are Thai. And for that reason alone it will be quite difficult to leave.

But, I’m eager to see what will happen next. I don’t think I’ll be going abroad in the fall like I initially planned. I was, however, offered plenty of jobs to replace the one I have now, which is good to know if ever I were to return. With the amount of free time I have to contemplate my life and goals right now, I’m seriously considering going back to school for environmental science. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and have been passionate about despite my social science degree, but was scared shitless of math. With having been in Thailand and from what I’ve learned of my capabilities, I know I can do anything I set my mind to if I want it badly enough. I’m feeling brave and might go for it. We’ll see.

It’s surreal that I’ll be leaving in a month. I cannot put into words how quickly time has gone by. I have even fewer words right now to describe the experience as a whole, because there’s simply so much to say and so many emotions involved.  A lot of teachers I know finished their contracts last week and have moved on to different pursuits at home or to different countries. The last week or so has been full of goodbyes, self-reflection and a little exhausting. Things are good though. I appreciate every day even more knowing I’m leaving.

Work is slow and to make up for it, I’ve been helping other teachers with high school teaching and I’ve taken up weekend work which extends my experience and helps time go by. There is only so much I can do on my own time in +40 and 80%+ in humidity. The heat is debilitating and rather ridiculous, not to mention April coming up being the hottest month of the year. Although, through experimenting with teaching different ages, I have come to absolutely love teaching grade 2 and 3. If ever I go abroad again, that is definitely the age I will be teaching. And I can’t wait to volunteer my time to ESL learners in Canada of any age.

My official last day of teaching will be April 7th, which is coming up really quickly. On that day, a Friday, I plan on taking a bus to Chiang Mai and then to Pai. I’ll be there for the water festival from the 13-16th  which is supposed to be a lot of fun. Apparently Chiang Mai is an amazing place to be during it, and low and behold I’ll be there out of coincidence. I only have my first week of hostels booked so that I can be flexible on my plans that will inevitably change. After spending time in Pai and Chiang Mai, I’m going to go back to Phetchabun to pick up my bigger luggage that is staying with a friend. From there, I’ll head to Bangkok. I’ll meet my uncle there and explore the city with him for a few days before I head back to Canada on the 28th of April. It’s pretty special that we get to meet, as I haven’t seen him in quite a few years.

I think I mentioned this to you before, about the possibility of taking the train from Vancouver. Well, I am!! A friend is meeting me in Vancouver. We are going to spend a few days in Vancouver and take the train on May 2nd to Edmonton, where I’ll visit with my sister for two days and have my parents pick me up that weekend. What an adventure, and the train was only $177.00.

As always, I’m thankful that we continue to keep in touch. ❤

Take care and we’ll talk again soon,

Jennifer”

I’m Melting Away. . .

I knew Thailand would be hot. This isn’t me complaining or feeling sorry for myself, but I’ve been feeling weak and ill adapted as the season changes from hot to hotter (over 35 degrees without counting humidity), and I’m not even in the hottest area of the country. Some of my quirky thoughts on the matter are as follows:

  1. My opinion on best coffee shops are now very influenced by the quality of their air conditioning. If I can’t see myself cooling off in there, I choose somewhere else no matter how good the coffee is!
  2. I feel like I could legitimately pass out if I walk further than across the street and back between the hours of 11:00am and 5:00pm.
  3. A cold water bottle is a god-sent. I often buy new, cold water bottles instead of refilling my  used bottle with warmer water. I know it’s not environmentally friendly and I do feel guilty for it every time. Judge me if you will.
  4. When I walk into businesses in a sweat, the employees and I exchange a smile and light chuckle. Then, I express what limited Thai I know and say “Lon mak mak mak” which means very very very hot!
  5. People walk around with umbrellas for reasons I now completely understand, the sun. People also manage to drive their motorcycles with one hand on the throttle and the umbrella in the other. Skill!
  6. I spend most of my days lately in varying ‘degrees’ (ha!) of discomfort and sweat.
  7. Cool night markets are very much appreciated
  8. My initial goal to travel south to the islands in April has now changed to going north to Pai and Chiang Mai where I can escape some of the heat.
  9. I take only hot showers. I quite literally cannot take a cold (or a lukewarm) shower. The water container gets too hot from being in the sun all day. On the bright side, the hot water cycle on the washing machine now happens ‘naturally’ and free of the extra charge.
  10. I now understand why people wear layers in the heat. This seemed counter-intuitive for a while, but I understand now that it is for protection.
  11. Eating, sitting and drinking are all I have the energy to do.
  12. When I get home from school in the afternoon from teaching every day, I immediately put on less clothing, crank the AC and lay for at least an hour.
  13. I understand why ice is so expensive.
  14. I only drink beer with ice, as the Thais do.
  15. I’m sure I’ll be buying the cold, moist cloth sold in a plastic bag at 7-11 sooner rather than later.
  16. I shamelessly eat ice cream at least once a day.
  17. I feel an incredible amount of respect for farmers, food vendors, labourers and even stray animals who are in the heat all day.
  18. In Canada, tinted windows are illegal. In Thailand, you would burn from the sun without them.

There you have it. The heat has been a bit much for me lately, but I still appreciate and love Thailand for all that it is.

My Mother Would Not Approve…

When I was a child, and all throughout my teenage years, my parents instilled in me that if ever I was in a situation where ‘mom n’ dad’ would think it unsafe, that I should leave or stop what I’m doing. To be honest these words of advice have managed to keep me out of a lot of trouble and have given me, for the most part, a healthy conscience.
..Until I moved to Thailand. Most of what takes place here and what I do, my mother would not approve of.
Sometimes you don’t realise how truly sketchy something is until it’s too late and already happening. My mother’s face literally flashed before my eyes in disapproval as I was sitting in the middle of two other people on the back of a motorbike going up pitch-dark mountain roads to get to a full-moon party this weekend. The guy behind me was 6’2, I’m 6’1 and the girl driving was quite tall as well. With nowhere to put my feet, I had to flex my thighs for twenty minutes to keep my feet from dangling too close to the ground. Did I mention the motorbike was barely making it up the hills? We all had to lean forward and I had to hold on to the guy’s thighs behind me, Ron, for dear life.
But we made it to the party! And saw some amazing stars on the way from it being so dark.
On the way back, I think from the amount of weight we had on the motorbike a few hours prior, the back tire went flat.
I thought we were going to have to walk home, without Ron this time, but my friend driving said “Nah girl, get on. We’ll drive slowly”. So there we were, in the middle of nowhere in the pitch dark mountains of Thailand, alone, with a flat tire and still managing to drive back over hills and turns to our motel. We were driving at a snail’s pace and we were able to talk about our favorite places to visit in Thailand the whole way back. I was impressed at how smoothly we were handling the situation.
When we pulled up to the motel, our friends thought we were heavily intoxicated because of how wobbly the motorbike was from the flat tire.
The next morning, I found myself awake before everyone else, as is the norm. I got up, went outside, and drank some water and read my e-book that I can never seem to ever finish, The Great Gatsby. Around 9:00AM I started getting antsy and decided to go on a coffee search up the road.
As I slowly made my way, I noticed that nothing was open, so I turned around, disappointed, and decided to walk back to the motel. There were three Thai men sitting at a table drinking beer as I walked by the closed coffee shops. They were laughing and listening to music and said hello. They asked me what I was looking for and they found someone to open up the shop for me to get an iced coffee. I thought to myself, how kind! When I paid for my coffee one of the men waved and said ‘friend! Sit!’.
I was slightly reluctant but smiled and sat anyway.
They offered me beer and I accepted. It was 9:30 AM in the morning but hey, whatever.
For the next hour we shared beer and cigarettes and serenated each other with songs from Adele, Maroon 5 and Beyoncé. It was incredibly random and absolutely wonderful. We both knew very little of each other’s language but it didn’t stop us from spending time and laughing together.
They were drinking because they were waiting for a bus and had a 4 hour drive ahead of them. Their plan was to visit a city called Udon Thani and they invited me along. To be honest, I was tempted! But I explained that I had plans with my friends that were still asleep.
When my group of friends  went their separate ways for the day, me and another girl decided to stop for some lunch on or way back because it started pouring rain. Motorbikes, mountain roads and monsoon-like rain are not a good combination. We had plans to go visit a temple but were now unsure with the sudden weather change. After lunch we were getting ready to leave and it started to downpour rain again. So, we sat our asses back down and cracked open a beer. We sat there in a quaint Thai restaurant and talked for over three hours until the rain subsided and then finally continued on get back home to Phetchabun.


What a crazy weekend. There is some more to this story but I won’t bore the world with all the details.
At the end of the day I was very entertained with how the mishaps of the weekend were what made room for the most wonderful and memorable moments. Maybe as in life in general, but I find myself reflecting on how a person absolutely has to be willing to roll with the punches, have an open heart, and appreciate the little things to live in Thailand and get the most out of it.
Even if more often than not, my mother would disapprove ;).

It’s My Way or The Thai Way

I’m sorry for the terrible blog post title, but the pun made me chuckle enough to publish 😂.

Thailand is an interesting, beautiful, disorganised and at times very frustrating country to work and live in. And yet, after three months of being here, I’ve noticed myself adapting and changing in ways I was not expecting to.

For instance:

  1. I no longer think about speed limits. I just drive the speed I’m comfortable with. In fact, the speedometer on my motorbike doesn’t even work.
  2. I expect people to cut me off and no longer get angry when it happens. Back in Canada someone cutting me off could ruin a good mood or make a bad one significantly worse.
  3. I forget to put my seat belt on in cars. NOBODY wears a seat belt, even small children. Unless… the car infuriatingly beeps until  you put it on. Sometimes I snap myself back into safety mode and buckle up, but not as often as I used to.
  4. Driving on the left hand side of the road is a no-brainer.
  5. Sitting on the back of a motorcycle with two other people barely makes me nervous any more. But it still really burns my thighs. My legs are long and have to dangle without my feet touching the ground! I can compare it to feeling like you’ve been downhill skiing and your legs are ready to give-out half way down a steep hill.
  6. Ice cream at 10 in the morning isn’t that weird. Kids even eat it for breakfast on a regular basis. Rotten teeth are also the norm (not for me! I brush!).
  7. Frequent last minute class cancellations used to bother me. The longer I’m here, the better I am at shrugging it off. 🙂
  8. I no longer get annoyed with people staring at me.  I just ignore or smile back and it works every time.
  9. Cooked vegetables in any kind of sauce make me incredibly happy. They’re hard to find.
  10. I shower every day and wash my hair every day. Call me gross but I didn’t find this to be entirely necessary on a daily basis back in Canada.
  11. My spicy food tolerance is much better!  I prefer spicy food now, actually.
  12. I think more often in Baht than Dollars when making every-day purchases.
  13. I don’t walk anywhere I don’t have to (It’s so damn hot). I use my motorcycle to go just down the street because I can.
  14. I’m curious about foreigners I don’t recognise!!!! I get it now! That’s what people think of me!!
  15. I’m a pro at carrying hand sanitizer and tissue paper almost wherever I go. There’s never any toilet paper or soap in bathrooms. Ever.
  16. I now shiver in 20 degrees Celsius
  17. 3 in 1 crap coffee is my go-to and I used to think it was disgusting (because it is, what’s happening to me?)
  18. I expect appointments and anything involving standing in a line other than in a grocery store to take hours.Because it does.

There you have it, some things that I’ve noticed myself doing almost automatically now. I think it’s pretty interesting, funny, and I’m curious to see what effect this will have when I eventually go home or some other place. 😉

10 Things I like About Living in Northern Thailand

1. I enjoy the simplicity of my mornings. I get up at 6:00 am. I slowly wake up and make my coffee to the birds chirping and the roosters..roosting? I watch the sun rise over the mountains as I get ready for my work day, or any other day.

img_1106

2. I love zippin’ around town on my motorbike. Despite the safety risks, I find it to be a very efficient and fast way to travel around my city and it’s cheap on gas. For longer trips, there’s always the bus.

3. The bus system! I can book a ticket whenever I want to go wherever I want in Thailand for a pretty reasonable price. The bus seats are comfortable, makes stops every few hours, and they give you snacks. Oh, and everyone is really quiet as well, which I appreciate.

4. In the specific area that I’m living in, Phetchabun, yes, it gets very hot, but the mornings are quite cool. I know that it’s probably tough on my immune system to constantly adjust to temperatures, but I enjoy waking up to cool air and easing my way into a scorching heat by the afternoon. By nightfall it’s cool again.

5. The cheap beer. Thai beer is also unregulated so sometimes you get a little more tipsy than anticipated.

6. The quietness of my location. There isn’t much hustle or bustle here aside from the odd long weekend traffic or festival and I’m very much okay with that.

fullsizerender-2
7. That 99% of the time, Thai people are quite friendly and very helpful.

img_0691
8. The opportunity to always be immersed in a new culture and language that I have to adapt to. I love the learning process.

9. Mountains, waterfalls and National Parks are everywhere and not too touristy.

10. There are very few foreigners here, as the city I live in is quite low-key.

Start a Blog. Check!

Hey folks,

I’m Jennifer, I’m 25 years young on the 24h of February.

I was born in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and spent 10 years in Alberta, Canada. I have very strong ties to the prairies, mountains and ocean.

About 8 months ago I left a relationship, quit my job, and decided to go overseas to teach English in Thailand. It has truly been the adventure and challenge of a lifetime and I can only imagine what the future holds for me.

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a long time but never got around to it. Being abroad has taught me a lot about myself and how to take initiative. So this is me, taking initiative with a blog!

This blog is about travel but it’s also simply about my life and the observations I make on a weekly basis. Food, philanthropy, culture, language and art are all things I’m passionate about and plan to write about here. I hope you enjoy being part of the journey, and thanks for stopping by :).