After arriving late Friday night after an unbelievably long, no-human-being-should-have-to-eat-that-much-airline-food kind of flight, the 19 other ETAs and I were bussed to the international housing provided by Chulalongkorn University. The university in located in the central part of the city and is the country’s premiere school. Word on the street is that only one out of every 1000 student is accepted. Some might even call it highly selective.
The room that I’m sharing with Glenda, another ETA and fellow Centennial Conference grad (Dickinson. Don’t hate.), is on the seventh floor of the building, only a short jaunt up several flights of stairs or a quick ride on an elevator that closes so quickly you need a running start to make it in alive. The accommodations are very comfortable, each of us having our own bed, desk, lockable closets, a shared bathroom and refrigerator. Miracle beyond miracles, we also have wireless!
Not wanting to waste anytime, our exploring began Saturday morning. So ready to have a proper meal, it should come as no surprise the top priority on our list of things to do was finding food.After wandering a couple blocks away from our dorms, we found a street vendor selling phad thai and fried rice. After a bit of, shall we say, creative communicating in broken Thai and English, seven of us ate for just over 300 bhats. That’s about $10, folks. Not a bad price. And let me tell you—it was delicious!
Saturday night was especially exciting for me, because my host teacher, P’Moo happened to be in Bangkok with some others teachers from my school and the ETA that spent this past year in Yang Talad. Earlier in the week P’Moo had mentioned that he would be in the city and invited me to join them for a dinner. Over Italian food and conversation in a mix of English and Thai, I had the chance to learn a little more about my school, the province of Kalasin, and the teachers and students with whom I’ll be I will be working. It was really great to meet everyone early and have a better idea of what to expect (if that even means anything at this point!)
Sunday morning a group of us took the Sky Train over to the Chatuchak weekend market, the largest outdoor market IN THE WORLD. Seriously, this place was insane. Thousands of vendors set up carts and shops selling anything you can imagine. Clothing, suitcases, souvenirs, silk, food, sunglasses, bags, even pets! Given my incredibly oversized suitcases, the only purchases I made at the markets today were a spicy, spicy curry and homemade coconut ice cream topped with peanuts, pineapples and, get this, sweet red beans.
After the spending a couple of hours wandering the markets, Glenda, Jane, Kelly and I treated ourselves to the experience that I have been waiting days, weeks, months, maybe even my entire life for: THAI MASSAGE.
I use the word massage lightly. According to Wikipedia (totes legit), Thai message is a “type of massage in Thai style that involves stretching and deep massage.” According to me, Thai message is the process of a small Thai lady bending you into positions you never thought you’d be in and then slapping you around a bit. More of a yoga session, some of the massaging is less than enjoyable, but when you leave, after cracking joints you didn’t know you had and having muscle knots pounded out of your legs, back and arms, you feel absolutely fantastic. By all accounts, it’s totally seems paradoxical, but I’m not going to question it.
The message parlor we went to was very clean and relaxing and was set up so that the four of us could all have our massages at the same time in the same room. Even though the atmosphere was dark and relaxing, complete with the ubiquitous classical music playing in the background, as much as we tried, there were some parts where we couldn’t keep our cool. At one point Kelly’s massage practitioner was slapping her so much that we just started laughing. Trust me, you would have too!
As we’re wrapping up the weekend here, I’m getting very excited for this week. Orientation begins early tomorrow morning and over the next month we’ll study the language (a MUST I found out this weekend!), learning about Thai culture and customs, as well as learn how to be effective teachers. It should be an incredibly helpful and necessary experience.
Even though I’ve only had the smallest of small tastes of the city so far, I think it’s safe to quote the Hangover II (again, totes legit) to describe the past couple of days here: Bangkok has me now.