The rest of orientation in Bangkok was superb. On the Weds evening we met our co-ordinators at the schools we'll be teaching at, mine is Kru Oh and she's lovely. We all had a nice dinner together, accompanied by gorgeous children in full-Thai regalia doing traditional acting and dancing which was so good. That night a few of us enjoyed a couple of Singha beers (less than a quid!!!) up on the roof.
Thursday morning we travelled about 2.5 hours to Kanchanburi, where we went straight to the bridge on the River Kwae. It was nice to see with regards to it's history, but it's still a bridge. I don't think it was the safest one at that, trains still use it, so everytime one came you had to get onto one of the platforms, there were just holes with open drops down into the river at the side of the tracks. Precarious. At the other side of the river was an elephant named Wadthi, she was 55. It upset me a bit actually as she was chained up, and fed bananas by tourists all day.
That night we ate at the hotel, right by the river. The hotel is awesome. The equivalent of about 50 quid a night for a room, dinner, use of spa, and it's in the most wonderful setting, as you'll see from the pics.
On Friday we went bamboo rafting, which was nice and relaxing and we had awesome views along the river and up to the nearby mountains. The guy steering us was really chilled, and it was a leisurely ride, although we did have to wear life vests which I thought was a bit unnecessary.
Afterwards we went elephant riding, and it was sooooo good. Unlike anything I've ever done before. It was literally as bench on top of an elephant, with lots of padding. The sanctuary they're kept in is beautiful and they are well looked after, which made me happier after seeing poor Wadthi the day before. Me and Stephanie rode 'Condemn', which we misheard as 'Condom' first time our guide said it, for about an hour. He took us up hill, down hill, into the lake... aparently for about 100b more you can go down to the river in the evening and wash them. I got to ride on her neck which was an interesting experience, and a dusty one. We had lunch at the elephant camp and kept seeing them just stroll on by.
After the camp we went to two orphanages. At the first one we taught a short lesson, my group chose 'The Wheels on the Bus', the kids were adorable and we had fun playtime afterwards, I made friends with a gorgeous little tot called Tairobe. Then we went to another orphage in the woods, which had over a hundred children. It was so incredible, they are self-sustainable and had built such impressive log cabins and the children get to do lessons and activities, and help grow the food. The work done there is inspirational, and the children seemed so happy.
That evening we went to a floating restaurant on the river for dinner, the food was great, and it was really funny as there was a massive downpour and the roof over the table next to us leaked, unlucky. Spent the rest of the evening back at the hotel chilling and playing drinking games, sheltering from the rain under a little pagoda.
The next few days have gone in a bit of a whirr. Hardly had a chance to say my goodbyes before we were scurried off to our minivan to Saraburi. Once there I was told I don't have an apartment so would be spending three nights in Kru Oh's friends house which they rent. On the drive to it there was an elephant on the road in front of us! The following night a guy from the States called Eugene moved in as he's living there for the next five months while we're teaching in the same school. It's nice to have some company, but today I'll be leaving to go and live with a host family - a doctor, nurse, and their three children. It's not my ideal housing situation, but if I'm not happy there I've been told I can move. Fingers crossed it works out.
Saraburi's pretty big and there's lots of nice street vendors and a big weekend market, which is handy as I need to buy a new school wardrobe now I've discovered that they wear different colour each day. The school's really big, over 3000 pupils, but I'm teaching art and computing (my worst two subjects) in the Applied English Program part of the school. So P1-P5 (age 6-10) will be taught by me twice a week as they have an hour in each of those subjects. I'm in school at the moment but there's nothing to do as the kids don't start til next week, and I've just been told I don't need to come in until then. I think I'll spend some time wandering around Saraburi and get acquainted with my new home.