Hello = สวัสดี,
Now I can finally tell you guys a little about our first few days in Chiang Rai. When we arrived at the airport last wednesday everyone was pretty exhausted but all of that was forgotten the moment we saw our adviser A. and the car we are going to get to the volunteer-house with. It was something like a pickup but with a roof made of fabric and it had little benches. We really enjoyed the breeze, the view and the first taste of what our life will be like from now on.
I was really looking forward to the volunteer-house since we saw many pictures that a returnee volunteer showed us. The house looked exactly like I expected it after I saw the pictures. Even though it is different from everything we know back in Europe and maybe some people would not get used to it we were pretty excited about everything. And of course we need our time to get used to some things as well.
Enjoy the pictures 🙂
As soon as we got there we saw that not only the group we thought was staying at the house. Two independent volunteers are going stay with us for a few months. The funny thing about this is that I went to High school with one of the girls. A perfect example of how small this world actually is even tho it seems so big. Now we are 13 and I think we have an amazing group of volunteers.
The night we arrived we heard that even tho we just arrived we already had to meet our teachers the next day. Everyone thought we’re just gonna meet up with them to know who will be our mentor and the teacher we can always talk to at school. But it was different..
Everyone got up and dressed as the Thais say “politely” which means for the girls: a long skirt and a polo-shirt.
A. our adviser picked us up at 8 and together we went to a school that is nearby. At the school we got introduced to everyone and the principle gave us a flower necklace which was supposed to honor and signalize the mothersday . We met our teachers for the first time and got our pictures taken with them.
After that every teacher took her student to their schools. None of us expected to go to their school on our first day.
The teacher I got introduced to was a really nice and cute lady. She was as old as my mom and already in a mother mode when she saw me. On our drive to school we talked a bit about our families which wasn’t that easy since the English back here wasn’t as expected. Simple things weren’t a problem but as soon as I used some more specific words she totally spaced.
She took for coffee and then we went to the school. When we arrived there was a mothersday ceremony going on. One of the teachers came over and gave me something like a little flower corsage for my shirt also as a sign for mothersday and later that day they braided my hair so I fit in.
In Thailand mothersday is always on the Queens birthday so they have a whole ceremony and a little celebration to honor the queen and all the mothers in the world.
The rest of the day was made of karaoke one of the things Thais love, games and crafts. It was really nice to have such an unusual day as my first day I thought.
My teacher introduced me to the other teachers which was quite hard since most of them couldn’t speak English really well. She showed me the school and took me to lunch in the cafeteria. The food was not really my kind of food but it was alright.
During the day my teacher told me that I am only going to stay at this school for 2 weeks which really irritated me. I asked her why but she couldn’t explain it or maybe I just didn’t get it. I wasn’t really happy about the fact that I will probably leave that school in 2 weeks since I probably just get used to everything after a while and then I have to leave and get used to a different school again. However, I couldn’t do anything about it so I just tried to enjoy the day.
The first day was fine because I had the chance to experienced Thai-mothersday and everyone was really nice but the level of English knowledge really shocked me. I was so scared because I didn’t know how to communicate or talk about important things. I felt like even tho I am trying to explain what I want to say they could not understand me. How could I teach to kids who do not understand me at all? How could I prepare lessons with teachers I couldn’t communicate with on a higher level?
Despite all my thoughts my teacher found a way to tell me I should prepare family vocabulary for Monday.
On Friday we did not have school because of mothersday so Linda I thought to grab the chance and go to big Buddha and the temple which is close to us. We went there by bike which was a whole new experience in the heat 😀 It was exhausting but really nice because we got the chance to see surroundings and the beautiful nature.
Since we were pretty exhausted when we arrived Linda and I decided to come back with a motorcycle some time to look at everything a little closer.
Later that day one of our friends, another volunteer, taught us how to drive motorcycle. It was fun and also very important because we already knew that we will have to go to school by motorcycle since our schools are not close enough to walk or go by bike. The Thais always say “motorcy” and everyone is driving them here. There are more of them then cars.
Both of tried it once and it worked very well so we also went on the streets which wasn’t as difficult or dangerous as everyone warned us it would be.
On Saturday Linda, Jo and I hitchhiked for the first time. Hitch hiking is really common in Thailand especially for farangs (=western people) 😀
I think the second car stopped for us and luckily the families destination was further than ours: the Clock Tower in Chiang Rai.
When we arrived there we first went to a little hostel to use the free wifi for an hour. The owner of the hostel was American or maybe Canadian (he sounded like a Canadian!) and he was really nice (which is also a hint for a Canadian :D).
After we talked to our families for bit we went to the BIG C which is a giant supermaket in Chiang Rai where you can buy basically everything. You could compare it to huuuge walmart or target.
At the BIG C we bought a few of the supplies we need we for our new home and all the stuff we left at home because it was to heavy. We bought for example cleaning supplies, a garbage, shampoo, sweets and I also needeed a new uniform for school.
After we spent like an hour at the BIG C we went to the central plaza. A huge mall just across the street. The mall was as expected really western. We went to an ice cream store where Linda and I ordered huge bowls of ice cream. It was not only delicious it also was the first ice cream store where the bowls you order look exactly the pictures in the menu.
At the Central Plaza we also went for coffee and then we hitch-hiked home again. On our way home when we were sitting on the back of a pick up truck we saw one of our friends wandering through the streets all alone. We yelled his name and he jumped on the pick up. A moment like this is one of the things that totally describe how easy going and different Thailand or Asia is from the western world and our way of life.
On Saturday night we went to a night bazaar called walking street in Chiang Rai. A whole main road was blocked for all the little market stalls where you can buy everything. Exotic food and drinks, clothes, souvenirs, traditional Thai things and clothes. When we arrived the most of us had their first fruit shake which is something really special for us but typical for Thailand. I had a passionfruit shake for only 25 baht (about 65cents) and it was delicious.
In between all the little market stalls was music and dancing going on. It was different from every bazaar I was at in my life. We had a great time walking around, trying new things, buying little lucky charms, clothes or just enjoying the new impressions.
I bought a little keychain for my key and a traditional shirt I liked.
Sunday was our first lazy day in Chiang Rai. Linda and I cleaned our room and started organizing as well as decorating with the things we bought at the BIG C and the photos we took with us.
The moment we started to give the room a touch of who we are we started to feel at home.