Posted in Exploring Thailand

Terracotta gardens 

Northern Thailand and Chiang Mai in particular, is well known for having coffee shops everywhere you turn. Looking for something a bit different, my boyfriend came across Terracotta gardens. A coffee shop right in the centre of the old town in Chiang Mai.

Hidden down a small soi, we found the clay house as it is also known as. Terracotta gardens is a unique coffee shop, surrounded by Terracotta ornaments and old Buddhist shrines.

Take a walk around and you’ll find numerous ornaments of all differnet shapes and sizes. Including loads of statues with only their heads on display!




Have a nice coffee in their coffee shop, buy a handmade card or two or relax with a book in the lovely garden surroundings. Just don’t forget to take some mosquito spray with you, those things can bite!

Posted in Exploring Thailand

I’ve been nominated for a Liebster award! 

I hadn’t heard of the Liebster award until a couple of weeks ago. I saw bloggers being nominated and was curious to know what it was all about. 

The Liebster award is a way of discovering and recognising new bloggers. A way to showcase the hard work others are doing when writing about things they love. 

TEFL Teaching Abroad has been nominated for the Liebster award by Frank Priegue over at I’m not grandpa. Thank you Frank! 

I’m not grandpa is all about Frank, who became a Dad at 50 something years of age. He writes about his adventures and challenges of being a stay at home dad! His blog is both interesting and inspiring, take a read!

I started this blog as a way of sharing my experiences as a newly qualified TEFL Teacher. Since then, it has developed into a TEFL travel blog, where I write about exploring Thailand and its surrounding countries.

Here’s what I’m not grandpa said about Tefl Teaching Abroad:

Kirstie is a qualified TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Teacher from Leicester England currently living and teaching in Chiang Mai Thailand. She writes about her experiences living in a new land and traveling through and exploring neighboring countries.

I am so grateful to receive this nomination. I now have to nominate other bloggers and these rules apply: 

  • Nominate 10 other bloggers for the Liebster award
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their page
  • Answer questions about yourself, chosen by the person who nominated you.
  • Create a list of questions for your nominees. 
  • List these rules on your own blog site. 

Here are the 10 questions I’ve been asked to answer:

  1. What inspired you to start your blog?

Reading other travel blogs and looking for information about TEFL teaching. The two of those didn’t come together, so I thought I’d make my own! 

2. What blogging goal are you currently striving for? 

Trying to create a consistent schedule for posting blogs and having regular readers. 

3. What activities do you enjoy outside of blogging? 

I love exploring new places. Nothing makes me happier than booking a trip somewhere or deciding to go somewhere last minute and getting lost exploring the area. I enjoy reading and swimming. Can’t beat relaxing by my pool reading a book in 32 degrees heat! 

4. What tactics do you employ on those days when blogging is hard & frustrating? 

I create a new blog post and think of a catchy title. Then I bullet point everything I want to include in my post. Then il leave it and go back to it when I’m in the right mindset. This way I’ve already started. I find nothing worse than having writers block! The other thing I do, is scroll through photos to refresh my memory, depending on what my post is about. 

5. If you could have lunch with any famous person, who would you choose? 

This is a tough one! It would probably be Leonardo DiCaprio. He would have so many stories and experiences to share and he’d be a great laugh too! 

6. What are your 3 favourite blogs to follow? 

Tieland to Thailand, One modern couple and Getting Stamped.

7. What piece of blogging advice have you found to be most useful? 

Write about what you love! Who’s going to read something that doesn’t show your passion or enthusiasm? If your passionate, readers will see it and will continue to visit your blog regularly. 

8. Are you a full time blogger or do you hold down a day job? 

No, I blog part time although I’m working on it eventually becoming full time. I am Grade 1 Teacher, currently living and teaching in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 

9. What is your favourite post on your blog thus far? 

Off the beaten track – It is one of my first posts where I write about my experiences exploring my new home of Chiang Mai! 

10. What social media platforms do you use and which one is most effective for you? 

I use both Facebook and Twitter however I concentrate more on Twitter at the minute. I find Twitter great for writing instant thoughts and connecting with other travel bloggers. 

Here are my nominees for the Liebster award:

  • Shrey and Ash @ The logical traveler. They are a couple who love to travel and write about their adventures. They provide top tips on how to travel economically! Worth a read! 
  • Lianne @ Liasian. Lianne is a Korean American who grew up in America. She had a longing to meet her birth family so embarked on an adventure of a lifetime to Korea to meet them. She blogs about travelling Asia and teaching in Korea
  • Katelyn @ Wanderlustseries Katelyn is a Canadian born traveler who writes about her adventures exploring the world. She wants to inspire others to live their ideal lives. 
  • Shannon @Livesabroad Shannon is a travel blogger and nomad currently traveling New Zealand. She writes about her experience travelling and unique opportunities in each place she visits. I met Shannon when we were both Teachers in the same school. Her blog is what inspired me to create mine. 
  • Pedro and Paulina @Moments of yugen This inspiring couple write about their travel adventures. They met through travel and are now traveling around South East Asia for 101 days! A very interesting read! 
  • Genevieve @ Waygook cikgu travels  This inspiring traveler writes and vlogs  about her adventures travelling Thailand and other South East Asian countries. 
  • Amanda @ Sunshine in the cities This interesting blog is all about Amanda’s travels, exploring cities only known to most people by name. Writing about life exploring new places and about the inspiring people she meets along the way. 
  • Katya @ Tozhe-ya A keen traveler exploring South East Asia. Currently traveling though Myanmar and recently in Thailand. Writing about collecting different moments throughout the journey. 
  • Phill @ My Lanna life Phill is an up and coming blogger who writes about his experiences as a Teacher in Chiang Mai. It’s great to read these stories from other perspectives. Take a read.
  • Scott @ Jetsetting now Scott loves to travel. He writes about top tips to help you when travelling. A much needed blog to get you started on your travel adventures. 

Now for my nominees, firstly, congratulations and secondly, here’s a series of ten questions for you to answer all about your blog. 

1. What inspired you to start your blog? 

2. What is your favourite blog post so far? 

3. If you could choose to live in one place only, where would it be? 

4. What is next on your bucket list? 

5. Are you a full time blogger or do you hold down a day job? 

6. What piece of blogging advice have you found to be most useful? 

7. What social media platforms do you use and which one is most effective for you? 

8. What activities do you enjoy outside of blogging? 

9. What has been your most memorable traveling moment? 

10. What are your 3 favourite blogs to follow? 

Enjoy! 

Posted in Exploring Thailand

A foot massage from a Thai ex-inmate!

 

 


I’ve had a Thai massage before, I swore to myself NEVER AGAIN! But here I was about to go into a Thai massage parlour for the second time. OK so never again doesn’t rule out a Thai foot massage does it? My ‘never again’ promise was from an agonising experience, I don’t think I’ll ever forget. But after 6 months, it’s safe to say I’ve just about gotten over the physical pain, but mentally, not a chance!

Deciding a foot massage would be much more relaxing and hopefully a lot less pain, I decided to have a massage by a Thai ex-inmate. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear myself say!

I’d heard about Lila massage from another blogger, and was keen to try something different. The masseuses were once convicted of a crime and as part of serving their time in prison, they were professionally trained to learn how to become a Thai masseuse. Outside the prison grounds, they found it difficult gain employment having a criminal background, so Lila massage was set up to give employment to all those who have professionally trained inside.

You’re assigned a masseuse subject to the type of massage you have chosen. Inside, you’re immediately taken care of, feet washed and cleaned, you take a seat in a very comfortable massage chair and are given a cup of delicious complementary Thai tea.

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feet washed and ready to go!

I don’t remember much about the next hour, all I know is that my feet have never felt better, honestly. I do remember the embarrassment on my face when certain parts of my feet were ticklish and my reflexes were pulling away. I also remember the Chinese guy next to me, flat out asleep and partially snoring.

I caught a glimpse into the room opposite, where I saw someone having a full Thai body massage. His legs were being pushed and pulled in directions I didn’t even know were possible, in fact I don’t think they were! It looked terrifyingly painful and I was immediately very happy with my decision of a foot massage instead.

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An incredible foot massage
My 1 hour time slot soon came to an end; I just wish it could have gone on for longer. Stepping up from the comfort of the massage chair, my feet felt so smooth and putting on my new sandals from Zalora, just felt incredible. There’s nothing like putting on new shoes after having a foot massage! My feet continued to feel great for the next few days. I’ve now made myself a promise to go for a Thai foot massage once a month, why not? You should try it, if you’re ever in Chiang Mai, I’d definitely recommend Lila massage, they have five branches throughout the old town too! Well worth a visit!

Posted in TEFL experiences

A very Thai sports day!

When we think of sports day, we think of getting the children lined up and running in an egg and spoon race, trying not to let their eggs fall. Or tying two children’s legs together for the three legged race! Well not in Thailand! Sports day is nothing like that at all. Its an event, a huge event, booked in a grand stadium with 3 different teams all competing against each other.

Yes, Sports day was not what I imagined, although this is Thailand so I knew it would be an event of some sort! The location of the event was being held in the main stadium at Chiang Mai University! When we arrived I couldn’t quite believe the size of the stadium! There were banners all around, children wearing their brightly coloured tops and others practising their cheer leading performances!

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Huddling around with a group of other teachers in temperatures as low as 12 degrees, we posed for a photograph and I was off to find my students. Finding them running around so excited for the day, it was lovely to see how much fun it was being out of school for the day.

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Just like the Olympics but on a much smaller scale, we had to parade around the whole stadium in our teams. Waving flags for different Asean countries, cheerleaders at the front leading the way, the kids were all very excited!

A marching band played the Thai national anthem whilst we all faced the sun to watch the flag being raised.

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Marching band

We took our seats, I was part of the yellow team! Watched an awesome dance performance by the older Korean students and a few other dances and shows to get the teams and onlookers all warmed up for the race.

Running races were to start, each race had finished before I could even recognise which of my students were taking part! The cheering was pretty much non-existent, the weather had heated up by that point so everyone was pouring with sweat being directly in the sun.

Next was the relay race with a baton, in which every child in the school got to take part. I saw the children from my class running to their parents to show off their medals, having just stood on the podium in their winning positions. It was a very proud moment being a Teacher! One of my students wasn’t given a medal even though she came third place, so I had to sneak around trying to find a spare medal for her, so was so happy when she received it!

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The day was long, there was a lot of waiting around for dances, performances and races to start. I managed to go out for my lunch for an hour which was a nice break away from the heat and the chaos.

In the afternoon the secondary students and teachers were moved inside to watch the chair ball and basketball matches. I had never heard of chair ball before sports day, its not a sport in England. One child from each team acts as the goal keeper I guess, they each stand on a chair holding a basket and their team has to shoot the ball into the basket. I’m not entirely sure who created the sport, but with chairs repeatedly breaking beneath the students, I’m not sure it was as well thought out as it could of been. Maybe that’s why it isn’t a sport in England!

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Chairball

The supporting teams had significantly reduced in size by this point, with still 3 hours to go. We continued to watch and support our teams, all of my class has gone home by this point. Right at the end, the winners were announced and the medals were given. I was slightly disappointed that I couldn’t have a medal to take away myself if I’m honest. Maybe I’ll try and sneak another spare when were back at school!

All in all, it was a very grand event and an excited day for the children taking part. Maybe it was a much bigger event than necessary but this is Thailand after all. We even got some team photos at the end to prove we were there!

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Team Yellow!
Posted in Exploring Chiang Mai, Exploring Thailand

An Elephant stomped on my toe!

Living in Thailand, home to the Asian Elephant, I just had to spend a day caring for these amazing creatures. With a special occasion on the horizon, my boyfriend and I booked an afternoon at Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai, where we would become Elephant Mahouts for the day, caring, washing, feeding and walking them through their daily routine. Turns out it was one of the best days I’ve ever had!

Being picked up from our Condo at 1pm, we were driven to the site an hour away from Chiang Mai hidden within the mountains. We joined our party and wandered over to meet the first elephants of the day. If you’ve ever seen a baby elephant, you’ll know just how adorable these little creatures are! At just 2 months old, we got to meet Poof, who was no taller than my knees. He was the most loveable character. The sanctuary had even made him a step to reach his mother’s milk as he wasn’t quite tall enough.

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After capturing a great photo opportunity and having a briefing about the day, we set off for the camp. Arriving, we were greeted by at least 2 dozen elephants, all of different ages and sizes wandering around happily, without a chain in sight! There were mahouts chopping bamboo and male elephants drinking from a hose pipe, a very surreal sight I have to admit.

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We finally got to meet our own elephants for the day. A little apprehensive of the size of them, up close and personal with an elephant 3 times the size of you is pretty overwhelming I have to say. Regardless, I met my elephant, Chompoo and was thankful when I saw she was smaller than the rest. At five years old, she was still huge but the perfect size for me. We were given baskets of bananas and bamboo and I jumped straight in feeding Chompoo, although she was a fussy elephant and only wanted to eat bamboo that was sliced in half so rejected any that weren’t!

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Next on our agenda was their daily cleaning process, starting with using a collection of leaves bound together to get all of the dirt off their backs. Next was my favourite part of the day, walking down to bathe the elephants. Sitting on an elephant’s back with a brush in your hand, gently cleaning them from head to toe was so surreal, such an incredible experience!

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After being completely soaked by an elephant spraying water all over us, it was time to walk and ride our elephants. Now I know there is a lot of controversy over riding elephants here in Thailand, but there is no way I would have done so if I knew or saw that the sanctuary was unethical and treated their elephants with cruelty. With a credible reputation at Patara, I climbed onto Chompoo’s bare back, not a seat or any danger in sight and guided Chompoo through the walk, patting her and saying Dee Dee (Thai for good) along the way.

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Again riding an elephant was an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget and actually I won’t have to for a while either. After thanking my Mahout and posing for the last few shots, I screamed out in pain only to realise that Chompoo had stood on my toe! In excruciating pain, I can tell you for a 5 year old, she is very heavy! She must have heard my scream because she leapt off me, complete with pink nail varnish still attached to her foot! So, as I told you, it’s an experience I won’t be able to forget for a while, with a shining purple bruise on my toe! Despite that, I would highly recommend anyone to spend a day playing and caring for an elephant, it’s highly rewarding and incredibly exciting too! IMG_20160123_165642.jpg

 

Posted in Exploring Chiang Mai, Exploring Thailand

Visiting a Hmong hill tribe for New Year!

Visiting a hill tribe has been high on my list of new experiences since I became an Expat in Thailand. So discovering an organised donation trip was right up my street. Joining the party, we followed in convoy up into the stunning mountains of Chiang Mai. We (my boyfriend and I) asked our school for donations and the kids went crazy! We had bags and bags full of clothes, stationery, toys and food, it was so generous! The hard part was trying to fit it all onto a moped!

The drive itself was very scenic, driving past farms, rice fields and tiny little villages hidden in the mountain.That was until disaster struck, our moped caught something and we had an instant flat tyre! Deciding to leave our bike hidden under a tree, we jumped in the back of a songtao. Literally clinging onto the back due to the lack of room, it was an experience I have to admit, not one I’d like to try again though!

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Scenic mountain views!

A Hmong hill tribe New Year is not what was expected at all, in fact the hill tribe village itself wasn’t. It was a tiny village but they had a huge stage and electricity, where Hmong children were showing off well-rehearsed dances in their traditional dress. It was lovely to see and the kids were adorable, it was just not quite what I had in mind.

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Hill tribe dances!

We organised an area for all the party’s donations, I half expected children to be running around choosing their favourite toys from our selection, or taking full advantage of the hundreds of snacks that had just been donated. What I failed to realise until the end of the day was that they had their very own shop, where they sold most of these snacks anyway.

There were some games organised for the children including face painting with the additional use of flour and water. My boyfriend was covered in this flour paste head to toe by the time the kids had been let loose on him. There was a lot of free time to wander around the village. Watching the kids play football with an old used tyre, Lee (my boyfriend) even got involved for a game too!

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Wandering around, the strong smell of farms led me to a small family of pigs and piglets feeding from their mother.

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Adorable family of pigs!

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the children’s entertainment, hand-made wooden go-karts which looked like so much fun; I definitely would have had a go if no one was looking!

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Go-karting fun!

 

All in all, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting a hill tribe to be. But that maybe because I was a little naïve of the reality, although I don’t think anyone would expect to see expensive motorbikes all around a Hmong village or teenagers on their iPhone’s. Maybe they would, I don’t know. It was a good experience and I’d like to do it again, but maybe next time it won’t be with an organised trip and I’d like to venture a little further out to see if that makes a difference.

Have you visited a hill tribe in Northern Thailand?

I’d love to hear if your experience is any different to mine!

 

Posted in TEFL experiences

The hardest part is saying goodbye.

When you live abroad, you often think about those you’ve left behind at home, family, friends and a completely different way of life.

I love living in Thailand, it’s only been 10 months but it feels like a new home. I miss my family but I wouldn’t change what I’m doing because I love it. Yes there are down days of feeling home sick, but I can’t think about that too much, because my family are happy for me. I know they miss me, my mum tells me all the time, but being away just isn’t the same. Sometimes you just want a hug or to complain about your day. Don’t get me wrong, I can do that over Skype, but the 7 hour time difference is such a pain, there’s no opportunity to ring home midweek.

Weekends are great, I can catch up with family and tell them what awesome things I’ve been doing. Driving around Northern Thailand, visiting waterfalls and having a crazy school week at work.

Inevitably, the time comes where you need to go home and see your family, when Skype just doesn’t cut it any more. That time came for me this Christmas. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere but England for Christmas. I’ve heard stories of trying to find a restaurant that does an English style Christmas dinner and it just not turning out right, not feeling like Christmas at all.

Walking past the biggest shopping centre in Chiang Mai and seeing a huge Christmas tree is lovely, but it just didn’t feel right. It should be cold and rainy at Christmas, shops should be full of people buying last minute presents and the house should be lovely and warm by the fire, drinking mulled wine and wearing slippers! Not walking around in shorts, t-shirts and sandals or swimming in an outside pool. I mean I love it, but it just didn’t feel like Christmas at all. Even with the school Christmas play, singing Christmas songs with my students or exchanging gifts with them, making Christmas stockings for the class or decorating our class Christmas tree. It was enjoyable but I knew where I had to be. Home.

Around came the dreaded 13 hour flight home, losing 7 hours and trying to adapt to a change of scenery, catching up with people, whilst also conquering the horrendous jet lag that had suddenly grounded me to my bed for 3 days.
Going home was great though, you only realise when you do how much you have at home and how much people really care about you.

My parents dropped me at the airport and we all knew the hardest part was coming. Saying goodbye. Knowing that it’s probably not going to be until next Christmas before I go home again, it’s hard to say goodbye and have a year to wait to receive another hug.

Have a really emotional goodbye, horrible seeing my family upset because of something I have chosen to do, but I know they are proud of me for what I’m doing, despite the fact they probably hate that I’m going away again.

Coming back to Thailand, I saw everything in a new light. I thought I’d be more excited to come back but it felt so strange. I guess that’s because I’d just been home, my flat no longer felt like my new home, more like a holiday.

The longer I’m here, the more I get used to my new way of life. I still miss home but I know I will never get this opportunity again. So for now, I’m happy, I’m content, I’m living an awesome life and I’ve never felt better in myself! Here’s to the rest of my adventure Teaching abroad! 

 

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My Family
Posted in Exploring Chiang Mai, Exploring Thailand

My first Loy Krathong Festival!

I’ve always wanted to let off my own lantern, and I finally got to do it this week at the Loy Krathong festival in Thailand. Living here for 8 months, I’ve heard so much about this amazing festival, Thai’s look forward to it all year! It’s a festival that happens every year on the date of the full moon, in the 12th month of the Thai Lunar calendar. This year it was on the 25th November but the festival lasts for 3 days.

My first experience was just incredible, I’ve never seen anything quite like it before, it was probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had!

Starting off at school on Tuesday 24th. We made our very own krathongs (flower and vegetable  baskets made with banana trees, which are put in the river to say thank you to all the water spirits in Thailand.) It was loads of fun, sitting all the kids down and giving them all the materials to make the krathongs. My class are only six years old, so we gave them ice-cream cones to makes theirs, so it’s food for the fish too!

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After, we had a traditional Thai ceremony with children doing dances to the Loy Krathong traditional song. Of course I took part too, all dressed in my Northern Thai attire!

After school, I went to the Ping river, which runs right through Chiang Mai! There was loads of people selling their own Krathongs along with sparklers (so we didn’t miss out on our bonfire night at home!), it was a  lovely atmosphere. Had to bend right over into the river to let my krathong go, holding on tight so I didn’t fall in! Stopped to watch a traditional Thai parade in the city too!

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On the 25th was the much anticipated mass lantern release at Mae Jo University. Inside the Uni, you had to pay $100, we decided to stay outside and watch with hundreds of local Thais!

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Letting our lanterns off was an amazing experience although challenging at first. One had a hole in so we had to throw it in the river before it caused a huge fire, but the others worked great!

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At 9pm, the mass lantern release was due. We patiently saved our last and biggest lantern ready for the release. Almost immediately after letting it go, we heard to crowds cheering and looked up to the most incredible sight I’ve seen! Thousands and thousands of lanterns released into the sky at the exact same time, shining bright with the huge full moon in the background. The atmosphere taking them in one direction, it looked magnificent! If you’re ever planning to be in Chiang Mai for Loy Krathong, go to Mae Jo uni, its a must see! (and don’t pay for those tickets as its just as incredible if not more outside, from the view we had!)

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Midway through the lantern release, we were surprised by a huge array of fireworks, literally blowing the lanterns to pieces in the process, a sight worth seeing that’s for sure!

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Don’t miss out on Loy Krathong next year, along with the lantern launch of Yee Peng! Definitely worth planning your trip around, just remember the actual date in November changes every year!

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Posted in TEFL experiences

A day in the life of a TEFL teacher

5:45am – Alarm goes off. Stay in bed until 6:15am. Get up, get ready, make my morning smoothie and leave at 7:10am.

7:15am – Get on the back of the bike, along the Super highway, passing school kids driving motorbikes and Monks walking barefoot to the temple.

7:30am – Arrive at school, greeted by a child hiding in my class. She’s taken all the chairs down for the students and turned on the lights. I make a joke that’s she’s now the Teacher at six years old, to which she falls about laughing! Another Teacher comes in to give me one of his Aloe Vera plants as I’ve been after one for ages! Was just expecting a small plant but it’s HUGE!

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7:45am – Load up my lesson plans for the day, starting with English and then Maths. Add words to my vocabulary tree. (Great idea to help the kids think of new words too!)

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8:10am – Make my way downstairs, greeting children and parents along the way. Position myself ready for assembly and the flag ceremony. Children sing the Thai national anthem whilst facing and watching the Thai flag being raised. It is a very respectful thing to see and a lovely way to see Thai traditions. Practice the Loy Krathong festival dance in assembly. Never thought I would be doing a Thai traditional dance in front of 300 kids when I came here!

8:30am – Bring the children up to the class, settle them in and welcome teachers. Another of Thailand’s respectful traditions. Children wai to Teachers (by placing your hands together near your face and bowing) and say good morning in unison to everyone.

8:45am – Start my first lesson of the day, English. We are learning how to describe our feelings.

10:15am – Line the children up ready for morning break. Count down from 5 – 0 and the kids scramble to be in the line and in the right positions including the line leader and caboose at the back. One of the children has brought in some snacks from his recent visit home to China, so the kids patiently wait for their snacks before break.

10:30am – Start my next lesson for the day, Maths. Learning all about ordinal numbers so play an interactive game on a great website called IXL. Loads of games for all grades and keeps them occupied for 15 minutes or so.

11:15am – I separate my class ready for our Christmas dance practice. Can’t explain how exhausting it is. 25 kids, all between 5 and 7 years of age, trying to organise them and get them to memorise a dance in time to the music! Very difficult but great fun though! It’s nice to take time away from our lessons to do fun things with the children. Sometimes it can be all about work and completing books, it’s nice to do something different which we all enjoy. I quite like playing choreographer too!

11:45am – Get ready for lunch. Take the children down to the canteen and meet my boyfriend. He works at the same school as me so it’s very convenient to go out for lunch, well I need him too as I don’t drive the bike myself! Drive to Big C – nearest shopping centre to school with a Thai food court. Had a delicious chicken fried rice dish and shopped for school supplies.

13:00pm – Sat down to address my huge piles of marking! Got through about 20 minutes to then find a Teacher is sick so I have to cover the lesson. Nothing like being fed information at the last minute like in Thailand. Gave children a worksheet and tried to explain the work as best I could, then continued with my marking.

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14:00pm – Call 3 children in to my class to complete our dance. Then realised I am running late for my break duty so scramble out of the door and down the stairs just in time! Catch children throwing a ball to each other so have to put my Teacher voice on and tell them to go outside!

14:30pm – Afternoon lessons at my school are Thai lessons as it’s a bilingual school so they have English lessons in the morning. However they also study Chinese but being a homeroom Teacher, I have to stay in the class during their lessons. Try to block out the noise with my earphones and start to create the next midterm tests. Never thought designing tests would be part of my job description here too!

15:10pm – Chinese lesson finished early so we decided to have some fun. I put their Christmas play song on loud speaker and the kids went crazy! We’re doing the Grinch this year, and although I have never seen it, they kids are in great spirits ready for practising. They love singing the song; I had some children pretending to be conductors using pencils, and others on the drums using a table.

15:20pm – Kids go down for their PE lesson so I finally have a free classroom and some peace and quiet for the first time today! Finish that mountain of marking and complete the background for our new around the world display! It took me ages to colour in the letters in different flags but I finally got there!

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15:40pm – One child comes running into the classroom, ‘Teacher Kirstie, this person won’t play with me and kicked me!’ So I make my way down stairs to sort out their disagreement, to find both children had completely forgotten about it and are there happily playing together. Love teaching six year olds!

16:00pm – Time for home, pack everything away and write myself a list of reminders for tomorrow! We’re only on Tuesday but already the week is going really slow! Children come stumbling into the classroom fighting over who gets to clean the whiteboard first! Finally, Children say Thank you and goodbye to Teachers.

16:15pm –  Order a new school T-shirt and then its back on the highway for 10 minutes. Reach my condo and find I have a parcel waiting for me. Take a lovely walk through the gardens of our condo to the office and find my new bag from Zalora has arrived! Great website for clothes, apparently they have a big sale on the 12th Dec so check it out too! 

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17:00pm –  Change out of my work clothes and get ready to go down to our huge pool to relax before the sun sets. Complete 15 lengths in the pool, then relax in the Jacuzzi area. Become terrified when I see 3 spiders literally crawling across the water, I never knew that was possible! Realise that I am never going to feel as comfortable going in the pool again, spiders are my worst nightmare, especially ones that walk on water!

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19:00pm – Head out for something to eat, come back and watch Masterchef on demand. Can’t miss out on UK TV whilst I’m here! Then relax, write my blog and iron my clothes for tomorrow. On certain days at school we have uniform to wear which makes choosing an outfit for the next day much less stressful! Set my alarm for 6am and silently nod off to start it all over again in the morning!

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Posted in Exploring Chiang Mai, Exploring Thailand

17 things to do in Chiang Mai! 

One thing I’ve learnt living in Chiang Mai, is that it is totally different to being a tourist here. You’d expect it to be different but the things you see make it an awesome place to live! Being a tourist myself when I first came to Chiang Mai, I didn’t venture far from the central area of town, Thapae gate, the night markets and central temples. Having now lived here for a year there’s so much I’ve seen that’s off the tourist route, I thought it would be perfect to write about. So here’s my list of 17 things to do in Chiang Mai:

Mae Ngat Dam and reservoir

One of my favourite places to visit in Chiang Mai! Mae Ngat dam has some spectacular scenery overlooking the mountains and a huge reservoir. When you arrive, you have the option to hire a longtail boat to take you to a floating restaurant, you’ll have to pay 40bht each to enter Sri Lanna national park too. The other option is to stay on land and admire the views from their reservoir side restaurant. You can also stay overnight on a floating bungalow, I know the prices were quite high but it would be great if there’s a few of you together. Relax, have some lunch, watch the fish jumping in the water and the boats gliding across to the other side. Perfect way to spend a lazy weekend afternoon. The on land restaurant does an amazing freshly cooked Tilapia for under 200bht, it’s delicious and huge too!

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Wat Palat

Another high favourite of mine is Wat Palat. This incredible temple hidden within the Doi Suthep mountain is well worth a visit. Set in stunning grounds, overlooking the whole of Chiang Mai, this temple is very unique as many of its features are both Thai and Burmese. You can take part in a nature trek through the jungle to reach the temple which is an amazing experience. A very knowledgeable Monk told me only a handful of people visit the temple each day, making it well hidden away from the busy tourism of Chiang Mai. Read more about it here.

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Samoeng loop


If you have a motorbike, the Samoeng loop is an amazing day out, stopping off at many unique points along the way. You can check out the stunning scenery Chiang Mai has to offer, driving past rice fields and farms, with mountain views all around. Along the loop you’ll have spectacular viewpoints to stop and admire too! 100km in length, the Samoeng loop will keep you busy for the whole day! To read more, have a look at my detailed post all about it here.

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Chiang Mai Grand Canyon

Formally a quarry, which has now been filled with water. It is a quiet destination for expats and locals to visit on a relaxing weekend and only 25 minutes’ drive from the city. The water is around 40meters deep and the cliffs range in size. Some decide to jump from the cliffs for fun although there are warning signs around. Relax and have a drink or some lunch in the restaurant, rent out a rubber dingy or rubber ring and have some fun swimming in the calm, warm waters! Great fun for kids too!

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Muang On Cave

These caves are a must see in Chiang Mai, they are very grand! From the Chinese dragon steps leading to the front of the cave to the huge structures hidden inside, Muang On cave is spectacular! You’ll have to crawl under part of the cave to enter, looks daunting for any claustrophobic but after you’ve entered there’s nothing more to worry about. There are 2 floors in the caves; all very well lit so don’t be ripped off renting a flashlight from outside. The caves are very well respected with Buddhist shrines all around, including a large reclining Buddha too! I recently did a driving loop around Muang On caves– check it out if your in the area!

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Sticky waterfalls

Known to locals as Bua Thong waterfalls, these hidden waterfalls are spectacular! Around 90 minutes drive from the city, these waterfalls are popular with expats and locals alike. Being a little far from the city, you won’t see many tourists there which adds to the amazing experience. They are made from limestone rocks which means you can actually climb up and stick to the rocks. With 3 levels of the falls, if you climb to the top you get a stunning view of the forest scenery below. Climb down to the bottom and you’ve got a cool waterfall shower to soak in! And the best bit, it’s absolutely free! Read more about the sticky waterfalls here. 

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Mon Cham

Another of my favourite places to visit around Chiang Mai! Mon Cham is quite a way from the city, you can reach it on the Samoeng loop or you can go direct and camp there overnight. Driving very high through the mountains, Mon Cham overlooks a stunning sight! Have some fun on the wooden go-karts or relax overlooking their beautifully well-kept gardens. Stop for a bite to eat in a bamboo hut directly above those incredible views too!

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San Khampaeng Hotsprings

If you like hotsprings the ones in San Khampaeng are great to visit. They are situated just outside the town of San Khampaeng, about an hour’s drive from the city. Don’t be put off with the time though, as the drive is stunning! You’ll head into the natural countryside of Chiang Mai, with mountain views and paddy fields in the distance. When you arrive, you’ll pay 100bht to get in. Stop off at the shops and browse through some traditional Lanna clothing at a very reasonable price, or buy yourself some eggs to boil in the springs for 20bht. Muang on cave is located very close to the springs so bear that in mind when you go, you could visit them both in one day!

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Huay Tung Tao lake

If you visit Chiang Mai, you have to go to Huay Tung Tao Lake. Not too far from the city and only 50bht to get in, this lake is huge and full of idyllic scenery all around. Drive round the lake for the best views and pitch yourself up in one of the numerous bamboo huts. Have some great Thai food at great prices or share a few drinks with friends. This lake is popular with local Thai’s in the evenings but never too busy. If you have kids, you can even rent out a pedal boat too!

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Wat Umong

The hidden temple of Wat Umong! Situated very close to the city, Wat Umong is one of the most unique temples I have even seen in Thailand. From its gigantic Chedi, to its historical features, this temple is not to be missed! There are underground tunnels leading to large Buddhist shrines in every corner too! Don’t forget to check out the humorous artwork scattered around and the big lake at the bottom of the temple grounds. You can feed fish and birds in the lake, spot a tiny turtle swimming in the waters and buy some delicious coconut ice-cream too!

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Queen Sirikit Botanic garden

Situated just past the town of Mae Rim, Queen Sirikit gardens are a must for nature lovers! Explore the well-kept gardens, various banana tree species, or several greenhouses containing Cacti, Orchids, Lotus flowers, everything you could think of! Pay 100bht to get in, you can also drive around on your motorbike for 20bht extra and stop off at as many places as you want! The grounds are stunning!
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Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon hosts the highest point in Thailand, so it’d be a hard decision not to go! Located 2 hour’s drive from the city, you arrive at Doi Inthanon national park. Pay your 300bht to enter the park, and you’re free to explore the natural wonders of the park for the day! There’s loads of waterfalls to check out, my favourite being the Wachirathan waterfall as it is just magnificent! There are nature trails and caves to explore and most importantly the King’s and Queen’s Chedi’s situated at the top of the mountain. Due to the long drive, it’s worth considering staying over for the night. You can rent huts or tents in the middle of the park, but bear in mind they get full very quickly so it’s worth booking in advance! Check out Thailand’s peak here! 

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Khamtieng flower market

A spectacular flower market very close to the city. Located just off the Super highway, behind Tesco Lotus. It’s well worth a visit, there are four parallel roads, each with numerous individual shops selling an array of different plants and flowers! From miniature cacti to gorgeous orchid’s and everything in between! They have shops selling pots, stones, soil, anything that is garden centre related! Stop for a lovely break at Panmai coffee too!

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Chang Dao caves

Magnificent looking caves around 90minutes drive from the old city. These caves in Chang Dao are very unique. You enter walking up to a Buddhist temple, pay 40bht for electricity charges and enter the caves. Very grand inside, you’re offered the option to pay for a private guide in the non-lit areas or carry on yourselves in the well-lit zone. If you shine a flash light above, you may even see bats hanging from the caves, you’ll definitely see a fair few fly past you! Well worth checking out for the day, you can also stay overnight at Chang Dao Nest which is meant to be a lovely experience too!

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Mae Sa waterfall

Ever been to a waterfall with 10 tiers? Visit Mae Sa waterfall in Mae Rim for a great experience! Having 10 levels, you can relax on the lower areas, taking in the amazing scenery and sharing lunch with friends. You’ll find this place is popular with Thai’s but not so much with tourists. The further up you go, the quieter it becomes. Bear in mind it’s quite a walk to the top, but your met with some wonderful views if you venture that far. You’ll find you’re probably alone on the 10th tier as not many venture past the 7th. You can swim up there too! Great fun for all the family!
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Royal Park Rajapruek

Situated not far from the centre of Chiang Mai, the Royal gardens are stunning. Set in enormous grounds overlooking some amazing gardens of flowers from all around the world. 100bht to get in, the park is huge so you may want to use the shuttle bus to get around. Rows and rows of lovely exotic flowers, there’s a spectacular temple in the middle of the park too, well worth a stop. You could easily spend a few hours here on a nice, dry day.

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Warorot market

Visit Chiang Mai’s busiest and oldest market. Situated just beside the Ping river, the market spans a huge indoor market and numerous soi’s around the market too! A very local market, where fresh fruit and veg is on offer, along with clothes, meat, spices, flowers, anything you could want that isn’t catering for the tourist population in Chiang Mai. In the day, check out the indoor market. At night the market outside comes to life! Well worth a stop on your trip to Chiang Mai!

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Looking for a place to stay in Chiang Mai? Check out airbnb and get 712bht towards your first stay for using this link! 

Photo credits: Lee Rawson-Gill