Greetings from Thailand: Monkeying around
The initial excitement of moving to a new country is over.
I’d like to say this is the best experience ever, but really I’m just going to school somewhere else.
Yes, there are things I haven’t seen. Yes, there is a wealth of language I have to learn.
Despite these points, the experience feels rather similar to life at home.
I have grown accustomed to the exchange rate.
I can tell when something is relatively expensive and will adjust my purchasing behavior because of that.
It doesn’t feel like I am spending fewer U.S. dollars.
I have a grasp on product value in Baht.
Similarly I have found my groove for my class schedule.
I wake up, go to class, a club, come home. Repeat next day.
I still travel during the weekends.
This provides a break from the monotony.
I don’t have the same solid group of friends here as I do back home, so traveling provides an interesting alternative.
Last weekend I went to Hua Hin.
This next weekend, I will go to Pattaya.
Both of are two of the most popular tourist cities.
Hua Hin was well put together.
The attraction areas were clean and tidy.
There were neon lights, sweets vendors and little arcade games.
Across the street were some attractive bars that played a mix of Thai pop-music and American rock ‘n’ roll. There were a lot of travelers there and the businesses certainly knew their target demographics.
During the day, I went to a monkey temple.
My fellow travelers showed me how to properly pray and donate to the monks.
I don’t know how to read Thai, so they said a couple syllables at a time and I repeated the sounds.
The temple was beautiful and surrounded by little monkeys.
My friends warned me to keep my camera attached to me, otherwise a monkey might run off with it.
In case you are wondering, I still have my camera.
The city wasn’t completely touristy.
The surrounding areas were the same Thai scenarios found elsewhere: street-side shops across from piles of driftwood, stray animals wandering around with sores on their limbs, people cramming as many people as they can on a motorcycle.
We ate at a little, street-side restaurant that had large tanks full of crabs and shrimp out front.
No surprise, it was delicious.
I’m hoping Pattaya will provide a rich experience, but some people say it is even more touristy than Hua Hin.
This isn’t bad, I just prefer being immersed in local experiences.
It helps me learn Thai because I am forced to speak it.
I still need a little book with common phrases, but I can order my favorite dishes and ask where things are and how to get there.
In short, if you plan on spending a week or two in Thailand, check out Hua Hin and Pattaya.
They are beautiful and it won’t be terribly hard to navigate if you happen to not know any Thai.