Hello from ThailandÂ We arrived in Bangkok weary and blurry eyed, dazzled by the shiny-ness of the new airport at 6am. We knew our time in Bangkok was limited (day and a half!) so the taxi route was our first insight into the city. Nice car, smoother roads than we have been used to. Needless to say, I was asleep in the first 5 minutes. Oops.Â Arrived at our accommodation Shanti Lodge (Shanti, Shanti, Shaaaantiiii, as we used to chant at the Ashram) and had a yummy breakfast. Went to our room, put down bags. Stretched out on our beds. Woke up at 3pm. Ooops. Again. Â Still felt quite spacey when we woke up so didn't venture ay further than the 7-11 store across the road. It was weird still being away but it being different. It felt familiar but not familiar all at the same time. Comforted by our first beer in over a month. It went down very very well. Â The next day we did a whistle stop tour: taking a ferry up the river to the Grand Palace: and amazing complex of spangly buildings: all different colours and styles and lots of images of Buddhas. One of the buildings would have warranted all of the attention, but there were loads of them!Â We also went to see the reclining Buddha over the road - absolutely enormous. We put some money in each of 108 pots which is supposed to be auspicious. We need all the auspiciousness we can get?Â After all of this cultural activity we decided to go and check out the commercial side of Thailand's capital and went to the MBK centre. Talk about sensory overload. So many shops so many nice shoes, clothes, make up, electronic gadgets, and shiny things. We walked around in a dazed manner for a few hours and then found ourselves singing Karaoke (in an isolated room) stone cold sober (although after a couple of beers we warmed to it)?Â I did a particularly good solo effort with "I don't want to talk about it". [they had a random selection of songs, wouldn't have been my first choice!!]Â Spent the evening on the Khao San Road (not a clue if I spelt that correctly?!) which is the main backpacker area in Bangkok. Got very excited to see a Boots store - wow!!! [no meal deals though :-)]Â Next day we flew up to Chiang Mai (Northern Thailand), the location of CELTA course??Â CELTA: Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. [I think].Â I'm writing this with the benefit of hindsight. Finished the course yesterday. I think it's safe to say that we found it a challenging and really tough four weeks (that's putting it mildly!). Apologies to anyone I mailed over that time - I was really quite grumpy!Â It was on a complex in the middle of nowhere. The only people we saw during the week were people doing the course our trainers and the accommodation staff. There were 10 on the course (this dropped to 8 as some people decided it wasn't for them). It was a fab group - everyone had a sense of humour and we all helped eachother whenever we could. However, it was a bit like big brother - no change of scenery, all stressed, tired and with different personalities. I think there were times when we could have happily fed each other to the huge catfish in the nearby lake. But we've come out the other end in one piece and are slowly regaining our sanity.Â The course is 4 weeks and over that time we had to teach 8 lessons - some 30 minutes and some one hour. We also had to go to sessions where we were taught in teaching methods and language analysis. It was all very intense. But the people we were teaching were lovely and really keen to learn. They were so committed - turning up every evening after work / university for 2 hours every week night for 4 weeks. Â
Now we are going to spend a few days / a week in Chiang Mai. Enjoy city life (Coffee shops! Jewellery shops! Bars! Swimming Pools!) while we decide what's next. Up the Mekong river into Laos and Vietnam?Â Find a job immediately? Try and teach in Vietnam? Laos? China? Korea? Taiwan? Japan?Â We only want a contract for 3 months or so - so will probably end up teaching in a summer school. Decisions decisions. Nice situation to be in - world is our oyster, but it's also a bit scarey and demanding for someone with my limited decision making ability!! Celia and I have a meeting booked in with eachother tomorrow to make a plan.Â I thinkÂ a beerÂ is at the top of the agenda...
Â And that's that really. At the end of my last elongated blog I listed what I was missing. So for reasons of balance here's what I am pleased I brought with me?Â North Face Hedgehog shoes: They are so very comfortable. Even though the laces are a bit sticky following a chewing gum incident on an Indian bus, they really are fab.Â Music: currently enjoying Jeff Buckley Grace (I know it'sÂ moody, but also a comforting classic). And also have had a few singalong sessions to the Beach Boys. But my dirty little secret is that, since Karen M sent me my memory stick with lots of tunes on it, I now have my "Now That's What I Call Number Ones" 3 CD album so I can sing along to Wham!, Will Young and the Pussycat Dolls. I'm sooo cooool. Â People: Where would I be without Miss Bowles??! (probably still in an office in Bracknell thinking "I really must sort my Visas out?")Â We've bugged the hell out each other at times, I'm sure, but we're doing ok. And have had lots and lots of laughing fits. Â She's being very patient with my untidiness (though I would like to point out that she has so far lost more items than me?touch wood). Â Â Right. I'm off to do something travelly. Maybe get my hair braided. Maybe get another henna tattoo. Maybe buy some tie dye clothes. Or maybe not.Â Take care everyone.Â Lots of loveÂ KBx