Finally in Chiang Rai

6 Jul
Well guys, I know I’m a bit of a flake, but things have been so crazy around here. I apologize for the extra long post, but I want to tell you a little bit about what I’ve been doing since I’ve been in Thailand.

My first real day in Bangkok was on Friday. I was still super jet-lagged and kind of sick, so I slept a lot of the day and walked around the area where my hostel was. Day 2 was better. I walked to the taxi boats on the river (after getting a little lost) and took a ride down to the grand palace. It was seriously the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. The closest thing I can think of to compare it to is Versailles in France, but even that doesn’t come close. I will post some pictures on my blog so you can see. It’s basically a giant complex of buildings that houses the old palace and a temple. Everything is so colorful and ornate I can’t even believe it. I think I took about a thousand pictures. It was breathtaking. Like literally, I was breathless looking at some of the stuff. I was totally beat when I got back to the hostel, so I just hung out and got something to eat with a girl I met. The next day I took a tour from my hostel to the river Kwai, a WWII cemetery, death railway, a waterfall and the tiger temple. I must say, I was disappointed with the River Kwai and the death railway. If you don’t know, it’s this huge railway from Thailand to Burma that the Japanese soldiers made the prisoners build during WWII. Thousands of people died during the construction. Anyway, the cemetery was the coolest part because there were inscriptions from the family members of the people who had died on each head stone. We took an hour ride on the train, which was somewhat miserable, but had some good views of the scenery.

The last thing we did was the tiger temple. It was kind of annoying because we got there at about 3:00 and it closes as 4:00. While I was waiting in line to have my picture taken with the tigers, a worker asked me if I wanted to watch the tigers’ evening exercises because someone had canceled. It was so awesome. It was an additional 500 baht ($15) but it was so worth it. They construct this fence cage and let about 20 people in. Then they release the tigers into the water to play. They are literally RIGHT there. The workers were in there playing with them, making them jump and climb trees and stuff. Definitely the coolest thing I did that day. I didn’t get to see anything else because it closed, but I’m so glad I did it. Tragically, my tour bus left me stranded there because we got done a bit late. I was pretty distraught, but I managed to pantomime my need for a ride to one of the other bus drivers for another tour company. He told me he’d give me a lift back to Bangkok and he called my tour company. About a half hour into our journey home, we stopped at a light about 7 cars behind my original tour bus and I had to run out and switch cars. It was insane. I was pretty calm about the whole thing, but now I’m so glad it worked out. I don’t know what I would have done if I has been stranded 2 hours outside of Bangkok with only about $15 and no idea how to get home. I guess that’s one of the adventures of traveling alone 🙂

That night I went out to the Sukhumvit area with some other people at the hostel. It’s a big area where there are a lot of clubs and bars and stuff. Usually it’s packed, but the night was pretty quiet (for Bangkok anyway). We had a good time though, except that the ATM took my debit card. Again stranded with no money. I was nervous because I had to have cash for the taxi to the airport in the morning. I paid for everyone’s drinks with my credit card and they gave me some cash, so all was well. We ended up going to bed around 3:00 am and I had to get up at 7:00 for the airport, so that sucked. I arrived in Chiang Rai yesterday and was picked up by the director and some of the volunteers. Immediately after I stepped off the plane, it was better than Bangkok. I don’t know if it’s just because I got used to the humidity or what, but the weather here is so much better. I think it’s partly because I’m out of the pollution of Bangkok too.

My first day in Chiang Rai we just got to hang out and settle in. A bunch of us went to a waterfall. It was the first time I’ve been in Thailand that I wasn’t hot. Although I’m acclimatized pretty well, it’s still freaking hot. We all played charades last night. I feel a little like I’m camping. Like there’s tons of games and stuff to get to know people, and the accommodations are about as nice as camping. Actually, not quite as nice as camping, but not too bad. Nothing I can’t get used to. I’ve started a video tour of the foundation. I’ll email that as soon as I’m done so you can have a better idea of where I’m staying. Very beautiful, but very natural (i.e. rustic). It’s definitely not about luxury and relaxation. Today all the new volunteers have been in orientation all morning. The most helpful thing has been learning some Thai phrases. I’m getting a little better, but it’s still tough because all the vowels sound the same.

The other volunteers are really cool. I’m sad though because my favorite ones are all doing the outdoor program instead of the teaching one. We get to hang out at night and in the morning, but I wish I got to work with them. There’s this one old Japanese guy who’s doing teaching that is so weird. He’s really nice, but he asks like 50 thousand questions that are so random. Sometimes I just want to tell him to shut up and let everyone else talk. Of course I don’t though. I just hope I don’t have to go teaching alone with him too often.

All the people I’ve met (the Thais, people in the hostel, other volunteers, etc) have been super cool. The thing about travelers is that they love to meet and hang out with new people. You don’t really feel like strangers because everyone is a stranger and it makes you all friends. I think the time here is going to go by so fast, but I can’t wait for Molly and Rach to come visit. There’s so much already I want to show you.


One Response to “Finally in Chiang Rai”

  1. Jennif July 7, 2010 at 1:00 am #

    Sounds so incredible. Post some photos, lady!

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