Hi Mum (and others),
I know how much you enjoyed it the last time I did a travel blog so I’ve decided to write this one for you as well.
This is the first time I’ve been to Asia, not counting changing planes in Korea. The flight was pleasant enough and had the added advantage of not having another equally long leg immediately following it like my previous Europe flights have. Thai Airways serves up a pretty rocking curry for dinner and it was probably the best in flight food I’ve ever had. I watched an Oliver Stone film called Savages on the way over. It was awful. That guy hasn’t made a decent film in his life.
We had heard some horror stories about Thailand and Bangkok before we arrived but so far no one has even attempted to rob us or sell us into prostitution, which I guess is a bit of a let down in some respects. We were not ripped off by our cab driver, who was a pleasant enough bloke. He said he liked Australians, but that might have just been out of blind fear that I was about to start a race riot in his car.
We went straight from the airport to a hostel, arriving at 11pm local time, or 3 am Sydney time. We didn’t get to see too much of Bangkok, only the train station the next morning. At 8 am the national anthem plays and everyone stands up and faces an image of the king. Myself and Jenny awkwardly followed suit. We found out later that to disrespect the king is punishable by jail time, and we did the right thing by standing still and in silence. I shortly found another opportunity to insult the monarchy when I dropped a 1 Baht coin and stepped on it to stop it rolling away. Since his portrait is on one side of the coins, this is tantamount to kicking the King in the face. Apparently, the Thai people have this weird aversion to feet so I imagine this was even worse than punching him in the face. I used my street education to evade police with the time honoured technique of accidentally committing an offence that nobody else happened to see.
The train ride to Chiang Mai was to take 12 hours, departing at 8.30 from Bangkok. The train was an hour late, but apparently this is a pretty regular thing and no big deal. The driver then managed to somehow add another two hours on to the journey, so the whole delay totalled 15 hours. I hope this was a new personal best for the driver. Apart from the delays the train ride was a relatively pleasant, uneventful, and air-conditioned experience. We got our pre-course homework finished (or near enough to) and I solved the shit out of some sudoku puzzles. The view of the countryside was interesting in parts, but Thailand is mostly a poor nation and many of the towns we passed through reflect this. While most towns we passed had temples, one in particular stood out as it appeared to be much older and slightly more ruined than the others, and was surrounded by monkeys. I can’t tell you what it was called, where it was located, or what it’s significance was because I’m mostly an uncultured ignoramus. They gave us food on the train and I drank a glass of cola which had some ice in it. I completely failed to shit myself, which is handy because the toilet on the train was a hole you had to squat over with a hose to wash your anus afterwards.
We arrived in Chiang Mai and walked a short distance to our overnight hotel, it was quite a bit nicer than the hostel in Bangkok and had a breakfast included in the price, which was pretty excellent. After breakfast and a short cab ride (in a converted ute with bench seats in the tray and a canopy over the top called a songthaew, much cooler and safer than it sounds) we have finally arrived at the resort we will be staying at for the next four weeks while we complete our TEFL course. It’s nice, and the room we are in is huge.
Looking forward to starting the course tomorrow, we were given a bunch of information and timetables and such, and at this point in time it all appears pretty manageable. Not sure if any other students have arrived yet because we are just chilling in our room and I’ve had to write this enormous bloody blog post for your peace of mind.
I’ll be in touch.
Love Joel xx.