Beach Ventures and Thai Style Field Trips

 

I love my town of Phang Nga, but after a few weeks here, I was feeling a little claustrophobic and in need of a mini adventure to shake things up a bit! Luckily, I am in an amazing location in southern Thailand, so it is really easy to get to a bunch of cute little beach towns for an escape. After a long week of teaching, I was really excited to meet up with some fellow teacher friends, hop on our mopeds and go! We decided to go to Ao Nang for the weekend, which is a little beach town located in Krabi Province. I packed up my backpack on Friday night and we left early Saturday morning. We decided to ride our mopeds because the buses are always very unpredictable here and we didn’t want to get stranded anywhere. I used to be really nervous about riding my moped, but I’ve gotten used to it and found that if I just stay to the far side of the road, other cars/motorcycles etc. will just drive around me if I’m going too slow. I’ve found it is actually a really fun way to get around, way more exciting than a car.

Two hours later, we arrived at the sparkling Ao Nang beach. It is unlike any beach I have ever been to because it has giant limestone karsts jutting out of the water all over the place. It is incredibly beautiful, one of those places where you have to pinch yourself so you know you’re not dreaming! We immediately dropped our stuff off at our hostel and headed for the beach. It was so nice to just hang out, swim, read books and walk on the beach after a long week of teaching. One of my friends and I decided to walk all the way to the end of the beach to one of the limestone karsts. We went swimming and collected shells then started walking back and realized that all of a sudden we were actually on an island because the tide had been coming in so quickly! We had to wade through knee deep water to get back to the mainland, luckily we didn’t leave any later…

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The lovely Ao Nang Beach

That night we drank fancy cocktails on the beach and watched the sunset, which was stunningly beautiful amongst the karst scenery. On Sunday we enjoyed a few more hours at the beach before heading back home. It was a wonderful little beach escape weekend, and I am looking forward to many more like it!

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Enjoying the sunset! not pictured: mojitos 

At school this past week, I only had three days of regular classes because on Thursday and Friday my class and I were going on an overnight field trip to an English camp at a resort in Ao Nang! We all drove down to the beach together really early on Thursday morning in two vans that we all squeezed into. The resort we stayed at in Ao Nang was really close to the hostel I had stayed in over the weekend, but about a bazillion times nicer! I had my own bungalow with three of the girls. The students all had a blast practicing their English by singing songs, making crafts and going on scavenger hunts around the resort with all of the English camp counselors. It was a pretty relaxing two days for me. I hung out with the other Thai teachers from my school and we even went on our own little adventure to a nearby beach that is famous for its fossils.

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Interviewing tourists at the resort about Thailand. I had to explain to the kids that it is not ok to ask people how old they are… 
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Relaxing by the pool while the students were in English Camp 
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My Thai teacher friends 

On Friday morning we had to wake up at 6AM to bring the kids to the beach where they had to run laps and do all sorts of exercises. I think the counselors were just trying to tire them out… Afterwards we went to the fancy breakfast buffet the hotel had set up by the beach and I was in heaven. They had real coffee instead of instant, which I was way too excited about. There was also tons of fresh fruit, a make your own omelet station and French toast. Definitely the best breakfast I’ve had since leaving the US!

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Getting ready to run laps on the beach at 6 AM 
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Because everybody loves Hello Kitty 

It has been another great week in Thailand but I am missing everybody back home, especially with Thanksgiving being next week! It is going to be one weird Thanksgiving for myself and the other American teachers here, so eat some turkey for us 🙂

 

 

 

 

Not Just an English Teacher Anymore…

On Tuesday afternoon I was in my 4th grade class, teaching all about the weather and having students make weather reports for different countries. It was all going very well until the head English teacher at my school came rushing into the room. She asked me to come out into the hallway so I could speak with her. I thought I had done something wrong so I quickly followed. She then explained to me that a spot had opened up in the school for a third grade teacher in the advanced English Program and was wondering if I would want the position. I was relieved that I wasn’t in trouble and said yes immediately! In my new position, I have my own class of 27 third graders, my own air conditioned classroom with a smartboard (!!) and I teach math, science, english, health and art. I loved teaching English but in my new position it is so nice to have my own class that I see for multiple hours everyday instead of visiting over 700 students every week in 15 different classes. It is also really fun teaching all of the different subjects, even though it means quite a bit more lesson planning!

Excited to learn about weather!
Excited to learn about weather!

In typical Thai fashion, I was handed a pile of textbooks the night before I was expected to start and not given any information on what the kids have learned so far. So on the first day of school I pulled aside a few of the top students in the class and they were able to show me exactly where their last teacher left off. So far, having my own class has been incredible. I don’t have nearly as many students anymore so I can learn all of their names and help them better because I know their capabilities. Most are very proficient in English, and students know that they are not allowed to speak any Thai in my class so the language barrier is not nearly as big as it had been before. That being said, I still have to make sure my lessons are very visual because I know that most of them don’t understand directions if I just say them. We spend quite a lot of time acting things out everyday… Also, I swear having air conditioning in the classroom makes everyone well behaved, it is life changing!

So many presents from students. Tamarind flavored candy is popular here
So many presents from students! Tamarind flavored candy is popular here. yummmm

Outside of the classroom I have been pretty busy as well. Last weekend I went on a long tail boat tour of Phang Nga bay with a few friends. I can honestly say it was one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been. The bay is full of limsetone karsts that jut steeply out of the water. The geology of this area is crazy! But it is also super complicated so I’m not going to explain it….

Limestone Karsts everywhere!
Limestone Karsts everywhere!
More karsts! These are near my apartment, along my running route
More karsts! These are near my apartment, along my running route

On our tour we visited the famous James Bond island where “The Man with the Golden Gun” was filmed, went through a few caves and got caught in a bit of a rainstorm. We also visited a Muslim fishing village that is built entirely on a pier attached to one of the karsts. They even have a football field that is built on a pier! There are no cars because it is so small, and it was very crowded. It was cool to visit, but I definitely don’t think I could live there. 

James Bond Island
James Bond Island
Muslim fishing village
Muslim fishing village

The next day we went to the Laying Buddha Temple and got to hang out with some monkeys. These monkeys were very sassy and loved teasing humans. One of them hopped on my friends shoulder, went through her bag and stole her chapstick ball because he thought it was food1 I definitely don’t think something like this would have been allowed back home, these monkeys are fully adapted to humans feeding them now and I doubt that they would be able to survive on their own in the wild. It was fun seeing them up close but I couldn’t help feeling a little bad for them.

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Monkey with his bounty

All in all, it was a pretty fun week with a few twists thrown in, but I’m starting to understand that this wouldn’t be Thailand if my week wasn’t full of surprises!

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