A Travellerspoint blog

Graduation Day!

So I am now officially TEFL certified! We are still however waiting on our placements. In true Thai fashion, we were just changed to a different agency based out of Bangkok. Basically we are employed through an agency that finds us a job, but the agency is technically our employer. Our old agency was based in the South, and for those of you that don't know there is a very violent ethnic separatist insurgency going on in the Deep South. As a typical worried American I just didn't feel comfortable being so close to the strife( in my defense hundreds of teachers have been killed) so we are now having to completely reroute. We now need to be in Bangkok on Monday, so only 1 more day of soaking up the beach and sun:(
More to come...

teacher Alex

teacher Alex

2AFDDDED2219AC6817F8FCC0CE934076.jpgI'm part of the V, clearly making it

I'm part of the V, clearly making it


Winners

Winners


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Posted by inbetweendreams 07:25 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Thai Times

Mai pen rai

I researched and read a lot about Thailand before moving out here. The two main points that were constantly repeated were:
1. Thais will do anything to "save face"(I will write much more about this later)
2. Thai time is way different than in the western world.

I am 2 days away from completing my TEFL course and earning my certificate to teach English as a foreign language. At times I feel like the old person struggling to grasp the concepts while the younger kids catch right on. In my defense, most of my classmates are fresh out of college( or shall I say Uni) where as I graduated 7 years ago(seriously where did the time go????). I've been trying my best though, and feel like I have made really good progress. I'm ready to take on my own classroom! However, i still do not have my placement. Since we are one of the last in the class still waiting, I am starting to get a bit anxious. TEFL Heaven has paid for our resort until Saturday and after that who knows. The majority of the group is going back to Bangkok for inductions, but our agency is based in the South so luckily we do not have to go. I would be happy to never see Bangkok again. I recently found out that Bangkok means "city of angels". Ha I laughed, I think they meant city of devils. Something must have gotten lost in translation.

The most educational part of training has been the two days we spent teaching an English camp about an hour north of here on a camp ground. An English camp of real Thai children! We each had to lead a group activity as well as teach two 30 minute lesson plans. We were told that there would be about 70 kids in the camp ages 6 to 10 and they would be enthusiastic and ready to learn. We based our lesson plans around this only to arrive at camp and find only about 30 kids aged 8 to 17 and I would most definitely NOT describe them as enthusiastic and eager to learn. If I got up there and gave the lesson plan I wrote it would have failed miserably. In true Thai time fashion I had to think on my feet and come up with a whole new way to fill my half hour blocks. It didn't go great, but it didn't go terrible so I took it as a win. If anything, it was true to how teaching in Thailand will actually be. Apparently last minute changes are extremely common and there is no way to ever be fully prepared for anything. Plans and time can change at the drop of a hat. That my friends is Thai time.

The last day of English camp was one of the best I've had since arriving in Thailand. After we were done our teaching, the Thai organizers set up an obstacle course for us to complete. We were told to wear clothes we don't mind getting dirty. Now when I say obstacle course, I don't mean some fluffy American bullshit. This was straight ninja warrior, Vietnam war style obstacles. We climbed a mountain with a blind fold on, propelled down that mountain with a rope, swam across a river filled with snakes, crawled in the dirt and muddy waters of the Thai jungle, took part in a human catapult, and crossed a pretty lengthy river using just a rope for our hands and a rope for our feet. It was no joke and completing it was a serious accomplishment for me. Not only did I complete it, but my team actually won the competition. Winners!

After a very eventful week, we rented a private pool villa for the weekend. The villa was indescibingly beautiful and we had a great few days getting in some pure relaxation. The villa was about 20 minutes outside of Ao Nang on a quiet peaceful stretch of sea. I watched 2 of the most beautiful sunsets of my life. The villa host, Chep, was wonderful and took us to the Thai version of Costco and we stocked up on food and drink. Cousin Brian came too and we just swam and drank and cooked and called in a masseuse and played cards and listened to music. It was perfect and a great way to end a stressful week.

Zach and Brian enjoying private pool

Zach and Brian enjoying private pool

Massage by the pool!

Massage by the pool!


I like wine with my sunset

I like wine with my sunset


My love!

My love!

The villa cat, Phen

The villa cat, Phen


Beautiful sunset

Beautiful sunset

English camp ladies

English camp ladies


My first lesson

My first lesson


Snakey waters

Snakey waters


image

image


s

s

Posted by inbetweendreams 06:36 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Let the teaching begin

First week of training

So I am almost through my first week of training and, despite my nerves, it's going really well. Our teachers are a lot of fun and keep us active and engaged. It's basically just a day of playing games. Apparently games are the only way to hold Thai children's attention. The biggest struggle for me so far is understanding the bloody English accents! Out of the 22 other trainees, there is 1 other American, 2 Canadians, and the rest are from the UK. I literally catch about every 3rd word they say. Smile and nod.
I am straight struggling in Thai language class. It is a very difficult language, it is primarily tonal and my monotone voice can't quite replicate the sounds. I do, however, feel like I am learning how to speak with an English accent. Everyday a few of us present lessons and while introducing vocabulary the trainee will say the word we are learning and the class repeats it. The words are real basic because they are meant for kids. So for example, the word "mirror", my lovely American accent pronounces it Mir- er yet my English counterparts instruct us to say Mir-ahh. Watch out, I'll be speaking British in no time.
My time in Thailand so far had been great. The rest of the group is wonderful. As expected I'm the oldest one, and I feel like it sometimes. I just can't pull constant all nighters and drink like I used to. I feel like I am back in college starting as a freshmen. Except the dorms are much nicer. We are all staying at a really nice resort in the town of Ao Nang in southern Thailand. We are less then a 5 minute walk from one of the most gorgeous beaches I've seen. We are all going to Ko Phi Pi this weekend. Looking forward to some relaxation!
I really haven't been taking any pictures but more to come!
Bangkok temple

Bangkok temple

Sunset

Sunset

TEFL training

TEFL training

Relaxing

Relaxing

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Posted by inbetweendreams 07:50 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Same Same But Different

Last day in Vietnam:(

Same same but different is a common expression here. You can even find it on the tourist shirts. It pretty much sums up my 2nd visit to this beautiful country. In 1 year the changes are noticeable yet the charm still remains the same. Last time I felt as if I stepped back in time, a simpler time. Now, that simplicity still exists but the creature comforts have advanced so much. The roads are better, the cars are nicer, the locals dress better, there is just an overall sense of more wealth. I'm thoroughly enjoying my last day in a Hanoi before flying to Bangkok tonight to begin English training. What a vacation it was. First and foremost, we went back to My Canh before we left Hoi An and it was bigger and better then ever. I did not pour one beer.
The waitress at My Canh

The waitress at My Canh


Shrimp and beers

Shrimp and beers

Beers make Zach happy

Beers make Zach happy

We've been in Hanoi the last few days, it's been rainy but the rain didn't stop us. We visited the Hoa Loa Prison today( Hanoi Hilton) and the rain contributed to the eerie feeling that takes over when walking through. Zach's cousin Brian met us in a Hanoi.
Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi

Ponchos!

Ponchos!

Cousin Brian arrived!

Cousin Brian arrived!

Hanoi Hilton, this room had an eerie precense

Hanoi Hilton, this room had an eerie precense

image

image


Prisoners

Prisoners

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image


My favorite meal ever

My favorite meal ever

This is happiness

This is happiness

Now off to Thailand where the real adventure begins

Posted by inbetweendreams 22:21 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Happy in Hoi An

Quote of the day: "If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present"

Currently on iPod: the new Jack Johnson!!

Hoi An is a tourist town. The city center of Ancient town is over run by shops, tailors, and restaurants. The locals speak scary good English and they will do everything in their power to get you to come into their shop, have a suit made, or eat in their restaurant. It can be quite daunting if you let it be. Even yesterday while we were motorbiking through town, a shop owner pulled up next to us and tried her best to get us to pull over. I just ignore it. When you look past the city center, Hoi An is one of my favorite places on the planet. I look at it like New Orleans, which is one of my favorite cities once you branch out of the French Quarter. Bourbon St is the equivalent of Hoi An ancient town. As long as you avoid it, or keep your visits to a minimum, the rest of the town is pure magic.
We rented motorbikes yesterday and road until our asses were sore. The combination of beach, mountains, river, and countryside is breathtaking. It's a wonderful thing to be eating lunch on the river and have a water buffalo come graze on the tree 10 feet away from you like it ain't no thing.
When we were here last year we found a gem of an establishment called My Cahn (which translates to "fine soup", though I'm pretty sure they don't even serve soup). Naturally it's located outside the city center and it is a local spot. The waitresses speak not a word of English and the patrons are all Vietnamese. When we walked in, there wasn't the usual "hello! Sit! You eat here!". Instead the waitress brings over 2 beers and 2 glasses of ice (beers are typically warm) and you eat whatever the special is that night. There is no menu. Last year we spent 3 nights at My Cahn drinking and taking it in. The waitresses are all cute, dressed in heels, and giggly. The moment you take a sip from your glass they come rushing over and pour you more with a smug smile and giggle. I became accustomed to this lavish lifestyle. How could I possibly go back to pouring my own beers??? Though they weren't to Zach, the waitresses were VERY touchy with the Vietnamese men. We are still not sure if there was some type of prostitution going on or if it was just the Vietnamese equivalent of Hooters. Either way, My Cahn was one of the highlights of our trip last year and we were eager to go back last night.
On our way we got caught motorbiking in a huge rainstorm and the streets were pretty dead. Sadly, so was My Cahn. We were instantly disappointed to find our favorite waitress was not there, though the rest of the staff was the same. The fresh steamed garlic shrimp we had were delicious, though the beer service was slacking. We hung out for a few hours drinking beers and playing cards, but it definitely was not the same vibe. I'm chalking it up to it being a rainy Sunday night and we are going to give it another try tonight. If for nothing else, 8 beers and a plate of amazing shrimp cost us a whopping $12. Oh how I love Vietnam
Below are some pics from the day. It was cloudy so they really don't do the beauty of Hoi An justice but more to come.

My driver

My driver

Cloudy beach day

Cloudy beach day

Afternoon entertainment

Afternoon entertainment

Beer break on the river

Beer break on the river

Making all sorts of new friends

Making all sorts of new friends


Fishing on the river

Fishing on the river


Riverside

Riverside


Reflection

Reflection


Cau lau, a Hoi An specialty

Cau lau, a Hoi An specialty


Da beach

Da beach

He owns this town

He owns this town


$3 shrimp on the beach. Tasted like lobster

$3 shrimp on the beach. Tasted like lobster


My Cahn!

My Cahn!


Zach happy to be back at My Cahn

Zach happy to be back at My Cahn

Posted by inbetweendreams 19:48 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Welcome to Hoi An

Aussie Aussie Aussie!

Tattoo of the day: "forever trust in who you are"

Quote of the day: after being told by a super white Aussie her dad fought in Vietnam, "oh so your dad is Vietnamese"

We arrived in Hoi An today and I fell in love again. I just want to f Thailand and retire here. Like now.
Our day consisted of pool, drinking, typhoon, and more drinking. We met some awesome Aussie friends in the pool and made a day out of it. They are all travel agents so you never know I may be joining them in Oz next journey. The below pics sum up my day.

Motor bikers will carry anything. Not sure how he can see...

Motor bikers will carry anything. Not sure how he can see...

Rainy wedding in Saigon

Rainy wedding in Saigon

Sunny Hoi An! Drinks by pool

Sunny Hoi An! Drinks by pool

Typhoon- drinking til the lightning comes

Typhoon- drinking til the lightning comes

sunset

sunset

typhoon town

typhoon town

street treats

street treats

I couldn't keep up w our new Aussie friends

I couldn't keep up w our new Aussie friends

Zach could

Zach could

Hoi Ans version of the maradi gras indians

Hoi Ans version of the maradi gras indians

Posted by inbetweendreams 19:38 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Greetings from tomorrow

Made it to Saigon!

Zach's quote of the day, "There is always a million reasons not to do something, I like us because we think of a million reasons we should do it." So true. Anything can work if you want it to. After a long travel day we made it to Saigon. The flight from Seattle to Tapai couldn't have gone better. We had a whole row to ourselves so I was able to lay down and really get some quality sleep in. Woke up to a delicious bowl of congee and alil Great Gatsby (actually wasn't bad) and Monsters U(super cute).
It feels so good to be back in Vietnam. The traffic, the familiar plastic chairs, the amazingly cheap food, and oh god the coffee. I'm sitting here writing this now desperately waiting for 6 am so I can have a glass. Thank you jet lag for even being up right now. One thing not so great about Vietnam is the massages. I forgot what I was getting into when I booked us each a 2 hr massage yesterday. I had been looking forward to having my jet lag massaged away for weeks, but instead I'm laying here literally bruised and beat up. Unlike Thai massage, a Vietnamese massage basically consists of being slapped, pounded, and punched with some hard rubbing mixed in. I tried motioning for him to go softer but no speak English. After my paid beating came the awkward tip situation. The massage total was $12 so I wrote down the Vietnamese equivalent of a $4 tip. My figure was crossed out and he wrote in the equivalent of $13. We went around in circles of me crossing it out and him writing it back in again all the while neither of us understanding each other. Sore and tired I finally gave up and paid him a higher tip then the massage cost. The same thing happened to Zach. In the grand scheme $25 for a 2 hr massage is still super cheap but its the principle of the matter. The whole ordeal left a bad taste in my mouth and it quickly brought back just how sheisty the Vietnamese can be. They can be very nice and genuine but most times they are scheming something.
I did not like Saigon when we were here last year and already I am getting that same feeling. Happy to be leaving for Hoi An today.

On our way to Asia!

On our way to Asia!

Asia loves hello kitty

Asia loves hello kitty

Breakfast in Taiwan

Breakfast in Taiwan

Crazy traffic

Crazy traffic

Posted by inbetweendreams 15:06 Archived in Vietnam Comments (2)

Last weekend in Seattle

2 more days til Asia!

rain

Song of the day... "It's been a long, a long time coming. But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will"

It's been a typical rainy Seattle Sunday and I'm actually enjoying the dreary weather. 2 more days and we will be in sunny Vietnam! Well, I guess I shouldn't jinx myself on the sunny part, after all it is still rainy season in SE Asia. I can't even put into words what I am feeling. Folks, the English teacher is speechless. This past week as been a roller coaster of emotions...I'm excited...then nervous...then stressed..then scared...then excited again. This week has felt like a blur of one giant day. We drove to Portland and back and secured our non immigrant visas, which in lay man's terms means I can work in Thailand. Getting that done is a huge relief.
Teaching English in Thailand has been a dream of mine since my early 20's. With my 30th birthday approaching and an amazing man to escort me, I decided to pursue my dream. I have no teaching degree, experience, or background, and in all honesty I am not the most fond of kids. I sound like the perfect candidate right? Ha. I do, however, have drive and passion, and I love to travel and experience new things. Teaching English in a foreign country will definitely be a challenge, but I figure even if I fail at least I can say I tried it and it wasn't for me.
To teach in Thailand, the government requires all teachers to be a native English speaker, have a bachelor's degree, and a TEFL(teaching English as a foreign language certificate). I choose to go through a program that provides the 3 week TEFL training course in Thailand and then offers a guaranteed 6 month placement. I do not yet know where or what age I will be teaching. The only information I have so far is that I will be placed in the South. Not knowing the full details makes the adventure that much more exciting.

Last night we had a small "Steph and Zach are moving to Thailand for cheap massages" party. Admit-ably, yes, I am moving to Thailand for cheap massages, but there is so much more to it. I decided to make a goal/bucket list for things I want to do/accomplish while in Thailand. This list does not include any goals for myself in regards to teaching. I have another list for that:

-Trek in Chaing Mai
-See Pai
-Learn to really cook Thai food
-Have a full conversation in Thai with a native(can be a short one)
-Have the knots in my back completly massaged out of me (there's the massage goal)
-Ankor Wat
-Live a simpler life
-Cure my addiction to screens(phone, ipad, ect..)
-Malaysia
-India
-Write a blog (let's see if I keep this up)
-Become a better photographer (just bought new camera, on my way!)
-Learn to meditate and do it daily
-Singapore
-The Gibbons Experience in Laos

And so much more! If anyone has any Asia recommendations please do share

Posted by inbetweendreams 19:00 Archived in USA Comments (2)

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