Wow, it’s crazy to think that we’ve been travelling for almost 2 months now. This is the longest that I’ve ever been away from Canada in my life. It’s safe to say that I’m absolutely loving it though and just goes to show that I made the best decision possible by choosing to move here a few months ago. The amount of people that we’ve met, memories that we’ve made, and experiences we’ve had have definitely made for an amazing trip so far.. and it’s just the beginning.
We officially finished our TEFL course on Friday night and headed out to Chaiyaphum bright and early Saturday morning. Well it wasn’t bright and none of us really remember the journey to the airport but hey, that’s what happens when you have a grad celebration
the night before. When we first heard that we were going to Chaiyaphum, Tessa and I had the biggest freak out ever. It seemed like it was in the middle of nowhere and we were going to hate it. Safe to say, even just being here for 2 days, we
were mistaken. We were met at the school when we got here and taken directly to our apartments. These apartments are brand new and are right next door to the school, score on the extra sleep time. After we dropped off our things, they took us out for lunch, to Tesco to get items for our apartments, and then invited us over for dinner. Everyone here has been so welcoming and helpful it has definitely put all of our doubts to ease.
We’ve been so lucky to be able to do all of this travelling. The past few weeks have all been spent at Chiang Mai and here are some of our life lessons to pass on:
Take a train: You can feel like your in an Asian version of Harry Potter. Especially when they don’t let you say no to breakfast in the morning. We bought 2nd class sleeper train tickets with AC but we woke up and thought we were suffocating in an oven. For some reason they thought it would be fun to turn of the air conditioning in the middle of the night and wake everyone up… just for fun. Other than this we successfully didn’t fall out of our bunks even though there were some close calls. So if you don’t mind briefly suffocating this is the way to travel. Side note: Day trains to Chiang Mai feed you so don’t eat all of your snacks for the journey ten minutes before they bring around lunch, you’ll regret it 10 hours into the trip.
Go to Doi Suthep, the Hill Tribes, and Queen’s Garden: These are located near Chiang Mai and are worth a visit. The Hill Tribes still have areas where they saved some of their old crops such as opiates and marijuana and have really good coffee as well. Plus the BEST vanilla almonds ever. The Queen’s garden is really neat too. It has every rose in the world EXCEPT the alberta wild rose so it was a bit of a disappoint. Also, the queen wasn’t in her garden for a tea party either. But other than that it’s pretty cool. Warning: the fashion police will make you wear pants that cover your knees…or a fashionable sarong (that’s so right). At Doi Suthep you can get your prophecy. Beware, if you get a bad one put it back immediately or else your accepting it to be your fate. You can also get bracelets blessed by monks and get a mean view of Chiang Mai.
Research elephant sanctuaries: This is one of the most important ones to us. A lot of people go to Thailand to see elephants which is great…unless you go to a shitty place. This is some thing that everyone needs to look into. Yeah sure, elephants were once used to carry things on their backs but it doesn’t mean that it should be you. These elephants are usually chained around their ankles, beaten, and look pretty hard for wear. There are a bunch of really good places in and around Chiang Mai that are legit sanctuaries where you just play with and bathe the elephants. Just make sure you do the research before going. TripAdvisor is a life saver.
Don’t go through an agent to take a TEFL course: We made this mistake. We went through Global Work and Travel and they were absolutely terrible. They overcharged for the course and once they got the payments pretty much stopped all communication. It was a hassle to get anything to do with visas or even any information at all. 11/10 would never recommend them. A lot of the TEFL courses have ways you can book straight through the provider, so do that instead.
TEFL Course: We had around a week and a half in Thailand before we started our course and let me tell you that once we spent that time on the island we were definitely dreading this course. We had creeped the previous months Facebook photos and the people looked pretty boring. We had really low expectations going into the course and let’s just say that we were blown away. The people that we met were absolutely fantastic and everyone just meshed so well. It was a difficult task to just go “out for dinner” some nights since those nights would turn into 4am stumbles back to our hotel. The fact that we are now certified to teach English abroad is pretty cool as well but the relationships we formed with everyone we met definitely made it worth while.
Eat all of the street food: If you don’t do anything but eat street food your entire time here you will die a happy person. So many people are terrified that they’ll catch something from eating street food but that’s the biggest myth out there. I’ve gotten sick from restaurant food, never the street treats. It’s waaay cheaper and you can find some tasty dishes.
Spicy and Lucky: You will die. End of story. But seriously. Especially before a plane ride.
Volunteer at a rural school: During our TEFL, we had our practicum and English camp day at a rural school. This school is government funded and doesn’t have any aircon either. There aren’t many students at it(compared to other schools) and you could tell that it was the first time in a long time that they had had native english speaking teachers show up. The kids were absolutely amazing and just wanted to constantly be hugging you, trying to talk to you, or even playing games. It was an amazing
experience to be able to go in and help these kids speak a bit of english and play games with them.
Pha Chor and the Grand Canyon: Who knew you didn’t actually have to go to America to see these sites. Pha Chor is in Mae Wang National Park which is just outside of Chiang Mai. It’s considered a “good” hike. There’s a few sets of stairs and watch out for the platforms at the giant rocks, you’ll topple over backwards when you see them…literally. The grand canyon is the grandest canyon in Thailand. There’s two parts. 1 with a super kickass beach and a really awesome cafe (also beach party August 6th, be there) and one where you can watch people try and kill themselves in the form of cliff diving.
Don’t (or do) get drunk the night before a flight: You will forget half of your belongings in your hotel room, even if you did pack the night before hand. Even if you did pack the night before, you will accidentally pack something in the last minute in the morning that isn’t allowed on flights (cough* pocket knife* cough). Buuut this fact does help if you are an anxious flier. I passed out before the plane took off, felt that we were taking off at one point, reclined my chair, and was woken up by the flight attendants right before we landed. It was safe to say it was one of the best flights i’ve ever had in Asia
P.S. There will be giant spiders that fall from trees and get stuck in your hair and also ones that you’ll find in your bedroom. If you find yourself in this scenario the one thing you must remember is to scream and run around/away and also find someone nearby who will get rid of said evil monsters. ENJOY!!