A week in the life – Living and teaching in Thailand

IMG_7450

Before coming out to Thailand, I had often wondered what life would be like living there and how different it would be from an Expat perspective instead of the tourist perspective I’d had once before. After 5 months of living here, my conclusion is that it is totally different! Most of the things we get to do and see on a daily basis, we never would have experienced being a tourist for a few days. So I thought it’d be cool to write about my life here day by day!

Monday – Hear my alarm at 5:30am and hit snooze. Then hear the first plane of the day fly over from Chiang Mai International airport and know that’s our cue to get up. Make myself a mango smoothie and get ready, leave the flat at 7am. Jump on the back of the motorbike and off we go along the super highway all the way to school. Takes around 20 minutes to get there, arrive, park up and say bye to my boyfriend who works in the secondary building (I’m in primary). A student from my class comes over to me during the morning flag ceremony and gives me a gift from his recent trip to Phuket, an island in the south of Thailand. Apparently it’s a very traditional gift, a woman dancing in the form of a puppet, made from cow’s skin!

I teach all of my classes for the day, head home and go for dinner at a huge burger place to treat ourselves. Visit the local fruit market to get my week’s supply ready for my morning smoothies and take a long walk around Chiang Mai’s old town. Stop off at the flower festival and take some photo’s,  catch a lift home and relax ready to do it all again tomorrow.

photo (5)      photo 1 (1)       photo 2 (1)

Tuesday – Arrive at school for 7:30, all dressed in blue for those much anticipated staff photos that everyone has to have.

photo (7)

Teach my lessons for the day, complete with break duty in the sweltering 35 degree heat. Stop off at Tesco Lotus on the way home for some new work clothes, never thought I would be shopping for clothes in a supermarket but they have some good deals I must say! Go for dinner in our usual Thai restaurant, order morning glory (stir fried Chinese kale in oyster sauce) which is incredible here and steamed rice. Drive back and call home to England for a Skype catch up with my mum and brother and then relax after a very long and tiring day.

1259ca5efe7d4c3f4276c67b6544e252

Wednesday – Today is Mother’s day in Thailand and the Queen’s birthday, so school is closed for the national holiday. A day off mid-week is great! Started off with a lie in and then drove to the airport to book flights home for Christmas (4 months in advance but it’s better to be organised!). Overheard a girl who was trying to check in for a flight that was due to live in 5 minutes time, which again reassured us that being organised can never be a bad thing!

Decided to try a new Thai restaurant today, found somewhere that does a green curry with chicken for the equivalent of £1.60, bargain! Left the restaurant and found we were in the middle of a huge thunderstorm (it hasn’t rained in Chiang Mai for a good few days so we knew it was coming!) Felt like we were driving through a lake not on a road! Finally made it home, sit down and spot a tiny lizard crawl into the flat.  Then spent the next half an hour trying to chase it out! IMG_7689

Thursday – Back to school today so up at 6am. Made my morning apple smoothie, got ready and made our way to school. Very busy day today as I had so much marking to do, on top of teaching all day, lesson planning for next week and two playground duties which meant I hadn’t stopped from 7:30am – 12:45pm! Funny conversation with two kids from my class during lunch duty, one wasn’t allowed to be a Stegosaurus in their game and was being made to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex which he wasn’t happy about! Resolved their disagreement and went for a good old subway for lunch. Had to stay an extra hour at school as my boyfriend had homework club, so caught up on my day’s marking. Drove straight to our usual Thai restaurant, ordered a new dish of stir fried chicken and basil leaves although it wasn’t quite what I expected, still tasted good though! Finished off by some complementary fresh watermelon and drove home for the evening, to plan our next weekend adventure.

Friday – It’s finally the weekend! Considering we had a day off school this week, it has been a really long week! Spent all day teaching and marking books, so in fairness today has gone quite quick. The intelligence of some of the children in my class is shocking at times. I have some children (between 6 and 7 years old) who can have basic conversations in 3 different languages, Thai, English and Chinese, it’s incredible! One of my students asked me why I wanted to become a Teacher today and why I’m not living in England anymore, hard question to answer and explain to a six year old, I have to admit!

Decided to drive into the old town again for dinner although the traffic is crazy! It’s really congested, stinks of songtaews (Thai taxi’s) and tuk-tuks and driver’s create about 7 lanes of traffic in one! Stopped off at the local fruit market again to top up and drove back home to start the weekend in the best way possible, watching a movie lying on our new Thai lounging chair!

111111

Saturday – It’s the weekend so after having a lie in till 7:45am (anything past 6am is a lie in for us these days!). Got ready to make the most of the sunshine on our day off, made a mango and passion fruit smoothie to go and headed for Mae Ngat Dam. When we arrived we were amazed by the stunning scenery staring back at us! The reservoir was huge and there were several boats carrying passengers to nearby floating restaurants.

IMG_7757

Prices were expensive so we stayed on land for lunch and ate a delicious fresh fish caught from the reservoir just a few hours earlier! Headed back past the numerous padi fields and incredible countryside, spotting cows lazing by the side of the road, a sight I never thought I would see in Thailand! Always seems to amaze me this country!

IMG_7738

Hungry for a taste of home, we had take away fish and chips tonight, (2 pieces of fish in one day, my mum would be proud of my healthy eating, although the second was deep fried so maybe not!).  There’s a guy who drives around Chiang Mai’s old town every night and cooks from his motorbike stall, great food for a great price too! Took our take away to the park to relax by the lake and watch the sun go down, a lovely way to end our evening!

photo (6)

IMG_7779

Sunday – Started off the day with a lie in and my usual morning smoothie. Cleaned the flat and spent the rest of the morning looking out at the mountain views from our balcony. Headed out for lunch, still in the mind set of home, we ordered a full English breakfast from Archer’s! The atmosphere there is great, feels exactly like you’re in an English pub. Drove to Chiang Mai’s biggest market (Warorot Market) to buy some new toy prizes for the children in my class. They have everything you could want, including loads of fruit and veg stalls and half a huge watermelon for 8bt (16p)! The amount of different types of fruit in Thailand is incredible, fruits I’ve never even seen or heard of before!

photo (4)5555

Finished off the evening with dinner and a glass of Sangsom and diet coke, Thailand’s own 40% proof rum at 150bt (£3) a bottle! Few glasses of that and it’s safe to say you’ll have a heavy hangover in the morning (not a good idea if you have school the next day, so I’ll stick to the one tonight I think!).

So there it is, a week in the life of TEFL teaching and living in Thailand. To check out my other blog posts, click on the categories section at the bottom of this page. Hope you enjoyed reading!

Advertisements

DIY Hanoi street food tour!

Tefl Travels Abroad

Moving to a new country means learning about a new culture and trying new foods. I’ve been in Hanoi for three months and decided to seek out the very best of Hanoi’s street food. Rather than booking an overpriced tour guide to take us around the city trying different foods, we decided to do it ourselves.
So here you have a DIY Hanoi street food tour: 

1: Bun Cha

IMG_4926

A popular Hanoi speciality. Pork meatballs in a meaty broth, with vermicelli noodles, herbs, lettuce, garlic and chilli. Put in as little or as much as you want and add to it some crispy vegetable spring rolls for a delicious meal. 90,000vnd. 

Where: Bun Cha can be found all over Hanoi but my favourite is at Bun Cha Ta(21 Nguyen Huu Huan street)

2: Cha Ca

IMG_5305

My favourite Vietnamese dish. Fish, vermicelli noodles, dill, basil, spring onions and coriander, in…

View original post 615 more words

Exploring Thailand’s highest peak

Tefl Travels Abroad

The highest peak of Thailand is high up in the mountains of Doi Inthanon. The peak  is situated 2,565m above sea level and is home to two chedis, for the King and Queen of Thailand. Driving to the peak in the Doi Inthanon mountain is a popular destination for expats living in Chiang Mai. It is often missed by tourists being around 2 hour’s drive from the city. Despite the drive, it was a must-see on our sightseeing list being the highest mountain in Thailand. So we ventured to the mountain at the weekend, driving through some of the most spectacular scenery we’ve seen!

Starting off in the centre of Chiang Mai, you head towards Hang Dong and onto the small Thai village of Sanpatong, where there’s a huge locals market to explore. It’s around an hour until you hit those incredible scenic views but well worth the wait. Paddy…

View original post 607 more words

Finding a TEFL job in Hanoi, Vietnam!

img_6135

Finding a job in Hanoi, Vietnam was incredibly easy. Much easier than those days we spent strolling from school to school in the sweltering heat trying to find a job in Thailand! I’d heard Vietnam is the place to be if you want to teach English but didn’t realise just how much of a demand there is for native English teachers. Looking online before I left Thailand, I was amazed at how many job vacancies I saw. However the reviews were less than impressive. I’ve heard awful stories where people have taken jobs before they’ve arrived and realised they work for a horrible company. Or working so many hours teaching to then not get paid by their employer. I’ve heard of bad experiences so was not looking forward to this one bit!

I decided to post a speculative message on the Hanoi massive facebook group to see if there were any upcoming vacancies for reputable companies. I had a loads and I mean loads of message telling me to send my resume but I wasn’t convinced they were reliable companies. You see the same people posting their vacancies over and over again and you start to become wary of them, so I decided to steer well clear. One girl recommend APAX English so I applied and had a Skype interview scheduled for the next week, whilst I was still in Thailand.

Passed the interview and I was so happy to have been offered the job. I had to have training for a week which was pretty intense. It’s for a language centre working with children from 5-15 years old which is perfect for me and my previous experience. No lesson planning, I don’t know if you quite got that, NO lesson planning! When I heard this I was sold! I spent so much time in Thailand planning lessons and developing my own curriculum for some classes that this seemed like a massive relief!

img_6123

Using a smart board so there’s no lesson planning!

I’ve been working in my centre now for the last 2 months. It’s a new centre I’m based in which is great because the kids are all new to it too. I was promoted to become the Head teacher there so I now take on a lot more responsibility but with less teaching hours. I love this role but it’s so strange because I’m now Lee’s boss (My boyfriend) so I have to critique his lessons along with the other teachers in the centre.

untitled

Decorating my new classroom!

I have to say working for a language centre is great. I already feel much more appreciated than I did in the school in Thailand and the hours are perfect. We work from 5pm-9pm Tues-Sun and an additional 3 hours during the day at weekends. Sounds like a lot but actually we have all the days free to explore and we don’t have to turn up to school with a hangover which helps! I miss the two consecutive days off like I had in Thailand but then the salary is twice the amount so you know, I can’t really complain!


Heres a few tips to help you get started:

  • Language centres are everywhere in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, the most reputable ones are:

-APAX English

-Apollo

-Language Link

-ILA

  • You’ll need a few essentials before you can get a work permit

Degree in any field

Teaching certificate (TEFL, CELTA, TRINITY etc.)

Police check dated within the last 6 months (Don’t worry, you can have a Vietnamese one if you don’t have one already).

Experience – It’s good to have but not essential in Vietnam.

Business visa which allows you to work in the country (they only last for 3 months so be prepared for regular visa runs – you can avoid this by getting a residence card but they come at cost of around 200 USD).


Have you ever thought about teaching abroad?

Or are you thinking of Teaching in Vietnam or Thailand? 

Leave a comment and share your experiences too. Or check out my post on finding a job  teaching in Thailand!

Don’t forget about the all important tefl checklist either!

img_6117

Class selfie!

 

DIY Hanoi street food tour!

Moving to a new country means learning about a new culture and trying new foods. I’ve been in Hanoi for three months and decided to seek out the very best of Hanoi’s street food. Rather than booking an overpriced tour guide to take us around the city trying different foods, we decided to do it ourselves.
So here you have a DIY Hanoi street food tour: 

1: Bun Cha

IMG_4926

A popular Hanoi speciality. Pork meatballs in a meaty broth, with vermicelli noodles, herbs, lettuce, garlic and chilli. Put in as little or as much as you want and add to it some crispy vegetable spring rolls for a delicious meal. 35,000vnd + 10,000 for each Nem (Spring roll) 

Where: Bun Cha can be found all over Hanoi but my favourite is at Bun Cha 34 (34 Hàng Than)

2: Cha Ca

IMG_5305

My favourite Vietnamese dish. Fish, vermicelli noodles, dill, basil, spring onions and coriander, in a sizzling hot pot cooked at your table. With chilli and fish sauce to add to your taste. 120,000vnd for one person. Delicious!

Where: Cha Ca Thanh Long (21 Duong Thanh street)

3: Bun bo

Beef, noodle salad in a delicious broth with herbs, fried onions and peanuts for garnish. Not one of the most common dishes in Hanoi so it’s quite difficult to find, but well worth it. 60,000vnd a portion! 

untitled

Where: Bun Bo Nam Bo (67 Hang Dieu)

4: Xoi Xeo

thumbnail_IMG_5283

Sticky rice topped with mung beans and fried shallots. Popular street food snack in Hanoi. The mung beans tastes just like mashed potato. Nice dish but very heavy on the carbs. 15,000vnd. You can also try it topped with meat for added texture and a cucumber salad on the side.

Where: Xoi Yen (35b Nguyen Huu Huan) 

5: Banh goi and Banh tieu

Banh goi – a deep fried pastry parcel filled with glass noodles, minced pork and mushrooms. 7,500vnd for one.

thumbnail_IMG_5282

Banh tieu – or Vietnamese sweet donuts as they are more commonly known. Deep fried pastry balls filled with sesame seeds and a sweet mung bean paste. Tastes like you’re eating a deep fried ball of sweet mashed potato. 3,500vnd, bargain!

thumbnail_IMG_5280

Where: 52 Ly Quoc Su street

6: Pho Bo 

IMG_6305.JPG

cuo4l88vyaajudl

Vietnam’s most well-known dish. A rich beef noodle soup with vermicelli noodles and chives. You can find this very tasty dish almost everywhere in Hanoi, all for just 50,000vnd! Throw in some quay, deep fried rice donuts for just 5,000vnd, everyone will be eating them too!

Where: My favourite is at Pho Thin (13 Lo Duc)

7: Pho Xao Bo

thumbnail_IMG_5749

The fried form of Pho Bo above. Fried rice noodles with beef and vegetables. Add chilli and soy sauce to taste.

Where: Spicy Pho Bay (162 Xuân Diệu)

8: Banh Mi

IMG_5310

The best baguette in Vietnam. Their twist on both Vietnamese and French cuisine. A french baguette, filled with pork, pate, salad and coriander with hot chilli sauce. Great for a quick lunch and between 20,000-25,000vnd depending on your filling.

Where: There are many street vendors selling these delicious baguettes all around Hanoi but my favourite is at Banh Mi 25 (25 Hàng Cá) 

9. Bo bia

West lake in Hanoi is one of the biggest lakes I’ve ever seen. There’s a bridge that crosses through the lake and all along the edge are motorbike stalls selling Bo Bia. These are my favourite desert snacks in Hanoi. A  thin soft pancake filled with shredded coconut, sugar and sesame seeds. All for just 10,000vnd. 

Where: West lake, Tay ho. (7 Thanh Niên, Trúc Bạch)

10. Egg coffee (Ca phe trung)

thumbnail_IMG_4878

A Hanoi speciality that tastes completely different to how it sounds. This traditional coffee is topped with a smooth and creamy texture which tastes just like warm marshmallow, its delicious! You can try it hot or iced. If your not a big coffee drinker, try the egg chocolate instead!

Where: This recipe was created in 1946 at Giang cafe. There are other coffee shops advertising their egg coffee along the same street but I wanted to try it from the originators themselves. It’s at 39 Nguyễn Hữu Huân, with only a small sign visible from the street. Look out for it!

So if you fancy tucking into some delicious street food in Hanoi, without paying over the odds for an organised tour – create your own. It makes for a fun day out and a very full belly at the end!

Want to settle in Hanoi and find a job teaching English? Read my guide on how to find a TEFL job in Vietnam

Moving to hectic Hanoi, Vietnam

Having lived in Thailand for 1 year and 3 months, it was definitely time to move on and experience somewhere different. We wanted somewhere similar to Thailand’s cost of living and culture. So after 6 weeks living in Phuket, one of Thailand’s stunning beach destinations, we decided to move to Hanoi in Vietnam.

Flying from Phuket to Hanoi, we had to make a stop over in Bangkok for 11 hours. Such an annoying amount of time, Do we stay in the airport overnight? Or do we book a hotel and checkout at 3am in the morning?  Deciding it would be very uncomfortable and strange to sleep out in the airport overnight, we checked into a hotel just 800m from the airport and sought out our nearest 7-11. These little shops are a life saver in Thailand! The humidity can get beyond unbearable at times, so usually we search for the nearest 7-11 and run inside for the aircon! The beauty about Thailand is that your always around 100m from a 7-11, they’re everywhere! Anyway, taking advantage of our last trip to 7-11, we stocked up on Thai ready meals and toasties, anything that we knew we wouldn’t be able to find in Vietnam.

Waking up at 3am and boarding the plane at 6am, we arrived into Hanoi around 2 hours later. Taxis were expensive on our own, so we met some other travellers and got a taxi together. Dropping us off at our guesthouse 30mins later and stepping out onto a busy main road, I realised just how crazy Hanoi is! The traffic here is insane! Crossing the road is so scary, you literally have to look in every possible direction when crossing and walk across slowly to avoid every driver.

 

IMG_4813

Chaotic traffic in the capital

What strikes me as absolutely crazy is that most motorbikes here have no mirrors, a taxi driver told me the Vietnamese remove them as they don’t want to be seen as uncool! Although, the only way around is by motorcycle so my boyfriend and I unwillingly rented one for just $50 a month. He loved driving in Chiang Mai, Thailand but here it’s completely different, it’s the opposite side of the road for one! It definitely took some time getting used to, trying not to drive up the wrong way.

IMG_4808

No mirrors and five people on one bike!

 

After staying in a guesthouse for the night, we went flat hunting. Contacting an agent seems to be the most common way of finding somewhere to rent here. We followed the agent to several properties and found two we fell in love with. Took an extra day to decide which one to go for, but when we moved in, it was definitely the right choice. Much bigger than the flat we rented in Thailand, with brand new furnishings and living by a huge lake, all for under £400 a month. Accommodation is a bit more expensive than in Thailand and you don’t really find the added amenities like a swimming pool or gym but we found a gym just minutes from our apartment so it’s perfect!

There’s a local fruit and veg market about a 2 minutes drive from our place, we’ve taken full advantage of this and actually started to cook more now too. It’s definitely more expensive to eat out in Hanoi than Chiang Mai and to be honest, by now we’re craving some of our home cooked English dishes!

IMG_4701

Lovely little fruit market

The biggest difference I’ve noticed in Hanoi compared to Chiang Mai is the cultural differences. In Thailand, everywhere we turn there is a Buddhist temple or shrine, whereas in Hanoi it’s there, but it’s a lot harder to find. However, there’s so much character here due to the French ruling years ago. Many buildings have a European design and everywhere sells French baguettes. One of my favourite dishes in Vietnam is Banh Mi, a twist on both French and Vietnamese cuisine. It’s a French baguette filled with pork, pate, fresh coriander, salad and hot chilli sauce, delicious!

IMG_4718.JPG

Finding culture in busy Hanoi at Chau long temple

IMG_4924

The European influence at St. Joseph’s cathedral

We’ve also completed training at our new jobs and are now officially employed again. This time we’re both working in language centres instead of a school like we did in Thailand. Our classes are in the evenings and at weekends so we have all the days free in the week to explore. We work just 4 hours a day in the week and a bit more on the weekend but it’s perfect for me and Lee.

Overall, it’s been a good three weeks settling in to our new home in Hanoi. We’ve got a bike, a lovely apartment and a new job. And it gets even better because we’re off to Hong Kong in two weeks for a visa run!

FullSizeRender.jpg

Vietnam’s culture

 

 

 

 

Chased by Monkeys in the Batu caves, KL!

I love Monkeys or so I thought! Heading to the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur was at the top of my travel to – do list. Reading all about it and seeing other travellers’ photos, I quickly became jealous seeing their numerous close up’s of Monkeys and getting those awesome shots I’ve only dreamt of getting before.

thumbnail_IMG_2785

A golden statue 30 ft high stands at the foot of the caves, and then you have the test of 300 or so steep steps to climb to reach the magnificent caves. Dark and gloomy inside, bats flying above and wild monkeys stealing food from tourists, it was definitely an unusual sight to see. Add to that a few Hindu statues and a huge shine filled with people showing their respects, it’s a tourist hotspot and a great place to check out if you’re in Kuala Lumpur. If your lucky, you might even spot a chicken inside the caves too!

thumbnail_IMG_2769

thumbnail_IMG_2786 (1)

A chicken and a monkey inside a cave, not something you see every day!

Reaching the second part of the caves, you find yourself approaching a huge cave, with a large opening at the top revealing the glorious sunshine and 35 degrees heat. On the steps leading up to the shrine, I saw a man taking a handful of bananas as an offering up to the large Hindu shrine in the middle. I think you can guess how the story goes from here. Three monkeys come out of nowhere and one of them, (the leader it looked like) grabbed the whole bunch of bananas and ran away. The man was angry, very angry and started to chase after the monkeys himself. 

12923118_10153883588840845_8280051196078397415_n

Watch out for the monkeys on the stairs!

Note to everyone reading: do not buy bananas from the street stalls outside, unless your buying them to feed the monkeys!

On the way back down that enormous staircase, we spotted an attraction called the dark caves. You can pay 35MYR to have a 45 minute guided tour around the caves, wearing headlamps and trying to spot living things inside the cave. I took one look on the boards outside, spotted one saying these caves are home to one of the rarest spiders and I literally ran away from my biggest phobia of all time. That is not something I would pay to see!

thumbnail_IMG_2791

What was amazing to see were dozens of monkeys jumping all around the place. There’s street food vendors outside the caves,  selling delicious Indian sweets and snacks. I couldn’t help but spot monkeys perched on bins eyeing up their next victims buying food. I brought a selection of Indian sweets for the journey home and was surrounded by monkeys chasing me trying to sample my treats. I had to bury the plastic bag at the bottom of my handbag so they didn’t grab it. Although a lady in front of me wasn’t so careful. I saw a scary looking monkey jump right onto her chest, stole her plastic bag of snacks and ran away.  It looked very scary actually. 

thumbnail_IMG_2763.jpg

 

I highly recommend visiting the Batu caves if you’re visiting Kuala Lumpur. Just jump on a train to KL Sentral station and change to the KTM Komuter to Batu Caves. Only 5.20MYR for a return ticket and the train stops right outside the cave attraction. It’s open until 8pm and admission is free, although donations are welcome. Just be aware of those thieving Monkeys!

 

Thailand’s International balloon festival!

Hot air balloons are fascinating aren’t they? I loved growing up as a child and gazing at hot air balloons in the sky. I’d always dreamt of going on one but being terrified of heights, never thought I would. My parents surprised me on my 16th birthday with a balloon flight and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had! Strangely, looking down out of the hot air balloon didn’t feel like we were high, it was picturesque to say the least!

When I heard about the International balloon festival arriving in Chiang Mai where I live, we just had to go and take a look!  Getting up really early, we drove in the dark to Payap University where the two day event was taking place. Arriving at 6am, we were amazed to see around a dozen hot air balloons being blown up, it was lovely and hot surrounded by the flames from the balloons. Expats, locals and tourists gathered for the mass balloon release at sunrise. It was an amazing thing to see!

12803085_10153636051076713_2301782760193188896_n

Preparing for the mass launch at 6am

12795495_10153636051146713_3721006857013663919_n

Mass balloon launch

After the launch, it was time for the kids to have some fun. Hot air balloons with all different shapes and sizes started to arrive, one shaped as an elephant, another as a fox and a tiny rainbow coloured one too! The owner of the fox balloon was playing with all the kids at the event, chasing them with the fox. It was lovely to see!

12803193_10153636051246713_951956365562717773_n.jpg

12821331_10153636051351713_2774522211858183163_n.jpg

Character balloons!

The event continued throughout the day, but we decided to go home and return in the evening. Arriving at 8 o’clock we gazed around the numerous food stalls set up by different hotels in Chiang Mai. Sampling the food and taking a walk, we were soon surrounded by kids we teach. Chiang Mai is relatively small so at any event in the city, your bound to see some of the kids and other teachers too! It’s lovely to be spotted out and parents can’t wait to take a photo of their children and their teachers together!

At the end of the night, it was time for the Lanna orchestra to perform with the huge hot air balloons joining in with the performance. Positioning ourselves on the floor in the centre of the action, surrounded by mosquitoes, we watched an amazing performance. Some of the musicians were playing along inside the various hot air balloons and the balloons lit up in time to the music. Lee, my boyfriend, even managed to skype his brother in England and show him how amazing it was! There were even fireworks at the end to add an extra surprise to the night. It was an experience I will never forget and definitely worth attending if you’re ever in Chiang Mai when the International balloon festival arrives.

12821631_10153636480881713_1775300725871259737_n

 

Songkran water festival in Chiang Mai!

IMG_3202.JPG

1471850_10153088937630845_1070273571427957961_n

Songkran is awesome! A 3 day water fight across the whole of Thailand. A unique way to see in the new year. A month before, you’ll see shops full of water guns, buckets and flowery shirts too. All in preparation for the craziest festival of the year. Thai’s and tourists look forward to it every year, fishing out their water guns from the year before and putting on their flowery clothes ready to stand out on the streets and soak everyone that passes by.

It was awesome to be in Chiang Mai for Songkran last year as a tourist. I was based in a guesthouse in Thapae gate, right in the heart of the old town’s celebrations. Stalls were set up for free giveaway’s and swimming pools were inflated and filled with water on the side of the road. There were people selling water guns, pistols, buckets, waterproof bags, anything you could want for the occasion. Our guesthouse filled a dustbin with water and ice outside, ready for the tourist’s to flock in their hundreds. It was incredible.

The celebration of New year starts on the 13th April every year and lasts until the 15th. Although as we were staying in the backpacker area, tourists were out the day before. My boyfriend and I took a bamboo rafting trip on the 12th April. Cruising down the river on the raft, we sailed past rows and rows of bamboo huts filled with Thai families. After spotting us, it took around 30 seconds before we were splashed with water and a huge water fight broke out. Kids were jumping in the river with their water guns and their parents got involved soaking us too. It was hilariously fun and lovely seeing the whole family joining in.

Wherever you are in Thailand during Songkran, it would be awesome I’m sure. Chiang Mai was great. People dancing on tables outside guesthouses, firing water at literally everyone they saw. You can hire a tuk-tuk for 200 bht and set yourself up for a very cool experience. Everyone attacked the tuk-tuk’s with ice cold water. It was mental but awesome at the same time. A giant water fight with thousands of people, your inner child definitely comes out again. Don’t miss Songkran this year, just make sure you get a water gun early! Watch my experience of Songkran in this 1 minute video.

 

 

1 year as an expat in Chiang Mai

IMG_2182

12342784_10153606440335845_3558597581853071196_n

 

Yesterday marked exactly one year since I embarked on my first long term adventure abroad. One year exactly since I boarded a plane at Heathrow airport with my boyfriend and said a tearful goodbye to my family. One year ago today that I landed in Bangkok and explored more of what Thailand has to offer. One year has gone by; the plan was 6 months abroad so I never thought we would get to mark this occasion.

It’s crazy how fast a year can go, and it’s amazing to look back on the amount of things I’ve done over the course of this past year. I’ve moved abroad and become an expat in a foreign country. I’ve travelled more of Thailand in one year than I have in my entire life back home in England. I’ve moved into two different apartments in Chiang Mai. I have my own swimming pool and gym to use every day to my heart’s content. I’ve become a Teacher and taught some truly incredible children for the past year. I’ve made friends. I’ve become confident standing up and speaking in front of people. I’ve learnt all about the Thai culture and even learnt how to speak some basic words in Thai. I’ve become a blogger and written all about my travels and experiences. I’ve washed, fed and ridden an elephant. I’ve swam in waterfalls, hiked through mountains, ridden on the back of a motorbike, visited and donated to a Thai hill tribe, felt lost, felt homesick, felt amazing, happy and content all in one.

I’ve achieved so much just in one year, it feels incredible. This has shown me just what it means to achieve your dreams and so much more. You hear people say, “I wish I had done that when I was younger”, or “you need to settle in the real world”. But this is the real world. I’m exploring it as much as I can, I’m living my life to the full and I have no regrets. I’m 23 years of age, I’ve seen so much and yet I’m hungry to see so much more.

Chiang Mai is an awesome place to live, there’s so much to see and do, you’re never too far from being able to explore your surrounding areas and it very much feels like home now. The time has come where I feel like I’ve done so much, it’s hard to find new things to do and see. So we have made the decision to move. Having now travelled much of Thailand, I’m itching for a new country and a new culture to explore, so a move to Bali in Indonesia is very close to becoming our reality.

I’ve had an amazing year. My first teaching experience has been more than I would have hoped for. I didn’t think I would find something that I would love to do for the rest of my life. Standing up in front of 25 students and teaching them for a year is an amazing achievement, one that I will always remember. I wish I could pick the kids up and take them to a new place. They are the highlight of my job and it has been great getting to know each of them. We played games, we’ve had parties, we’ve grown and learnt together and it was very hard to say goodbye.

Moving to Thailand and becoming a teacher here has been the best decision I have ever made. We’ve explored a new culture and found a job we both enjoy. Teaching will be my future but for now, I want to carry on exploring the adventurous world we live in.

IMG_0655