How to Reduce Your Environmental Impact In Thailand

How to Reduce Your Environmental Impact In Thailand

How to Reduce Your Environmental Impact in Thailand

Picture this: I’m walking down the street in sunny San Diego with an iced almond latte in one hand, proudly sporting my stainless steel tumbler and straw. I feel as though I’m saving the world with my farmers market tote in the other hand. Fast forward one month and I’m ordering a Thai coffee in broken Thai for 30 baht from a street vendor. My stomach churns as I watch the smiling woman hand me a plastic cup with a plastic lid and a plastic straw. Then, my heart sinks further as I consider my environmental impact as she places the drink in some sort of plastic bag handle device.

Plastic cup with plastic lid and plastic straw in a plastic bag in Thailand

From the day I was born my parents engrained reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, or refuse into my mind. However, I never really considered how my habits back home would translate abroad.

My First Impression of Thailand

Having only spent one week here in Thailand I am constantly amazed by the prevalence of single-use plastic. There are plastic water bottles everywhere. At 7-Eleven they’ll give you a plastic straw in a plastic wrapper for your plastic drink bottle all held together in a plastic shopping bag. Or at a local market they’ll wrap your dried fruit in a plastic sheet, tie it with a rubber band, and place it inside another plastic bag. Even bananas come in plastic bags. And to think I was annoyed by the shrink-wrapped cucumbers at Trader Joe’s back home.

XploreAsia teacher visits elephant sanctuary in Thailand
Rescue Paws volunteer in Hua Hin, Thailand

Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries in the worldknown for its tropical beaches, lush forests, high mountains, and glittering Buddhist temples. The various street vendors and markets on every corner allow visitors to support the local economy. They also have an amazing ecotourism industry where visitors can participate in sustainable travel.  Visitors can opt for a homestay, support a humane elephant sanctuary, or volunteer with a nonprofit organization, such as our very own Rescue Paws. While Thailand has exceeded my expectations with its sheer beauty, pollution is still a very real issue.  

My first visit to the beach was quite a humbling experience. This particular beach was absolutely gorgeous with white sand and calm waves, but there were hundreds of tiny pieces of plastic stuck in the seaweed that washed onto shore. Yes, plastic is convenient. Yes, it is a low-cost option. Yes, there are other pressing issues besides the environment. But I think as both guests and educators in this country we can do something!

Progress Towards Sustainability in Thailand

By no means are things all gloom and doom here in Thailand. The country has definitely made some significant strides towards sustainability. Tesco sells reusable bags, local coffee shops provide discounts for bringing a reusable cup, most busy locations have recycling bins, and national parks recently placed a ban on plastic.

Plastic Ban in National Parks

This large sign appears at the entrance of the Sam Roi Yot National Park near Hua Hin
Plastic ban sign in Sam Roi Yot National Park in Thailand
In 2013, a group of environmental activists in Thailand formed a nonprofit organization called Trash Hero with the mission to bring communities together by reducing waste through action and awareness.  As of June 2018, more than 104,000 volunteers have removed almost 597 tons of garbage from beaches and cities across Thailand and ten other countries. There’s a chapter right here in Hua Hin that holds weekly beach cleanups every Sunday. This is a great opportunity to collaborate with the local community for a greater cause!
Trash Hero volunteer educating youth about plastic and sustainability in Thailand

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We interviewed one of XploreAsia’s very own program coordinators about her experience with Trash Hero

Whether we are teachers, interns, volunteers, or just tourists in Thailand there are some small changes we can make in our new everyday lives here to help make a difference and lower our environmental impact. The first thing on everyone’s to-do list after arriving in Thailand should be to buy a reusable water bottle. I bought a large water jug and have been refilling it with clean drinking water at many locations around Hua Hin for 5 baht.  Furthermore, we can purchase reusable shopping bags and take-away containers to use at local markets and street vendors.

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Adorable kids from Trash Hero teach us how to say no to plastic bags in Thai

Helpful Thai Phrases

Mai sai tung ka/krap = don’t need a bag
Mai ao lawd ka/ krap = don’t want a straw
Mai = no
Sai = need
Ao = want
Tung = bag
Lawd = straw
*make sure to add ka (if you’re a female) or krap (if you’re a male) at the end to be polite*

Our Role as Educators

Most importantly, we can educate our students about how to reduce our environmental impact and the importance of minimizing single-use plastic. This global issue will affect their future unless we do something about it now! Many of our teachers have set up recycling bins and demonstrated to the students how to appropriately sort waste. We can and should incorporate sustainability into our lesson plans. For example, when learning the English words for animals we can teach students about marine life and what we can do to protect them. In addition, during a lesson about household items we could play fun games that teach them about saving water and energy.

Teacher from XploreAsia teaching Thai class about the beach
XploreAsia Teacher in front of class in Thailand

By teaching in Thailand, we have the ability to encourage our students to discover other ways to protect the planet. During XploreAsia’s overseas in-class TESOL training participants will learn different activities and lesson plans to encourage conservation. Since this is a cross-cultural experience, your students may even come up with some ideas that you haven’t considered. Let’s work together to make a difference and preserve Thailand’s natural beauty!

Written by: Maya Vrechek

Best Cafes in Hua Hin for Productivity & Good WiFi

Best Cafes in Hua Hin for Productivity & Good WiFi

Best Cafes in Hua Hin for Productivity & Good WiFi

(All in walking distance from the XploreAsia office too!)

Whether you’re interning, teaching, or working abroad (like at XploreAsia), Hua Hin offers an array of highly productive, adorable cafes located on almost every corner. I love finding a nice, cozy, cafe or coffee shop to write, read, or work at for the day. A change of scenery is my best inspiration and productivity booster. Luckily, Hua Hin is filled with the best cafes all over the city. Work hard, play hard right?

best cafes in Hua Hin

For those of you searching for these hidden gems, I’ve created a short list of the best cafes in Hua Hin with reliable wifi, delicious snacks, & perfectly brewed coffee based on my own experiences here in Hua Hin–not to mention, they are all a short walk away from the XploreAsia office. I hope these cafes bring you as much productivity, inspiration, and yumminess as they did for me. Happy exploring!

Soi Hua Hin 43

Open: 7am-4pm

1.) Wagging Tales

Located right across from the XploreAsia office, Wagging Tales is XploreAsia’s local cafe supporting their NGO, Rescue Paws.

XA transformed this big house into a cafe serving delicious Thai and Western food and drinks. 100% of the profits from Wagging Tales go to helping the stray dog population in Thailand through XA’s NGO, Rescue Paws. Wagging Tales is committed to bringing all profits back into the community. Not only does this cafe offer amazing smoothies, breakfast muffins, etc. it’s also a great place to meet fellow dog lovers and support a good cause. The mango smoothie from Wagging Tales is a perfect start to my day!

Make a donation to Rescue Paws, here.

11/34 Hua-Hin Soi 45

Open: 8am-3pm

2.) Black Monster

Despite the name, this coffee shop is the farthest thing from a black monster. Located just a block over from XploreAsia, the Black Monster is one cafe you can’t miss. The speedy wifi and assortment of trendy drinks combined with their mod decor, makes this cafe a favorite in Hua Hin—mine included. Not to mention, ALL. DAY. BREAKFAST. The most important meal of the day, and one that is sure to give you a productivity boost. Black Monster offers a breakfast special for 275 TBH which includes a trendy drink of your choice, toast, and a hearty breakfast. It’s a win-win situation.

3.) Chub Cheeva

Described as “tasty food in a chillax environment” Chub Cheeva was one of my best random finds in Hua Hin. Just a few minutes away from the office, this place is a A+ choice for great food, drinks, and atmosphere. Whether you need to get some work done with their super reliable wifi or take a break, Chub Cheeva has it all. As they say, “Loosen up your day in our chilled garden”.

 

2/8 Soi Naeb Kehardt,

Tambon Hua Hin

Open: 11am-9pm

4.) Two Beds & Coffee Machine

Right down the street from my accommodation (which is also conveniently on the same street as the office), I spotted this adorably hidden cafe, Two Beds & Coffee Machine and had to check it out. Turns out, Two Beds is a small and cozy British espresso bar and tea lab. Although they don’t have food, they do have an assortment of espressos, tea, and matcha. Plus, if you’re hungry for a snack, head over to their close neighbor Wagging Tales Cafe! The icy cold A/C, reliable wifi, and caffeinated drinks make Two Beds a great location to hammer down and get some work done.

11/62 Hua Hin Soi 43

Open: 9am-6pm

5.) Hot Cappuccino

I spotted Hot Cappuccino walking home from dinner one evening. When I went back to check it out, I found a clean, quiet, coffee place conveniently located right next to the Pizza Company (I was really craving pizza that day). The staff was very friendly and the service was stellar. This open air cafe allows you to take in the streets of Hua Hin while also getting some work done. I tried their frozen cocoa smoothie and was not disappointed!

Hua Hin Soi 56 Phetchakasem Road (next to the Pizza Company)

Open: 8am-5pm

 

6.) Khang Wang 

Another random discovery in Hua Hin, Khang Wang Clean Food & Juice Bar, stole my heart. There’s a lot of hidden gems in this city. I find that the best places I’ve stumbled upon are by accident, and I haven’t been disappointed yet. Khang Wang is an inviting, slightly hidden clean food & juice bar. Both the WiFi and A/C are top notch too. But, the best part of it all is the service you receive. The gentleman that helped me was so genuinely nice and helpful that I couldn’t help but include him in this post. Not to mention, he just earned himself a new regular customer. I suggest trying the Rice Noodles & Green Curry entree and Honey Lemon drink! 

11/100 Petchkasem Road Tambon Hua Hin

Open: 8am-5pm

 

Written by: Leah Amich

Work in Thailand: Orientation Week at XploreAsia

Work in Thailand: Orientation Week at XploreAsia

Work in Thailand

Whether you’re coming to pursue work in Thailand as an English teacher or through one of our various internship programs, your first week will always include a cultural orientation. At XploreAsia we believe that immersing yourself in the culture is critical to your success here in Thailand. During your first week in Thailand you will partake in various cultural orientation courses about Thai culture, politics, and language. We wouldn’t throw you into working in a new country without giving you the basics first (who do you think we are)!

XploreAsia’s Cultural Orientation courses are designed to prepare future English teachers and workers for all aspects of life in Thailand. Each course delves into the heart of each countries culture and values through online classes before you arrive in the country, and once in the country, through active-learning cultural excursions to various sites of cultural and historical significance.

Thai Cooking Class

One of, if not, the best part of Thailand is the food. Thai food consists of four distinct tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. Most Thai dishes are not considered satisfying unless they combine all four tastes.  A typical Thai dish includes rice or noodles, vegetables, meat, and lots and lots of herbs and seasonings. The most common street foods being, “pad thai” and “som yom”, or papaya salad.

Thai cooking class is one of our most popular cultural orientation classes. During this course you will learn the basics of Thai cuisine and how to make both of these popular dishes. A very important phrase to know as a foreigner or “farang” in Thailand is,“Mai ped”, or no spice. For those that are looking to work in Thailand, “mai ped” tells the locals to hold back on the chili flakes that they love to saturate local dishes with.

XploreAsia’s Thai cooking class not only acted as an immersion into the culture, but also a useful lesson on how to make an easy, fast, and affordable meal when living in Thailand.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, meaning “the art of eight limbs,” is a boxing sport of Thailand that combines physical and mental discipline using the knees, shins, fists, and elbows.  During this lesson, Muay Thai instructors demonstrate and teach common defense moves that may be useful when working in Thailand.Through this active cultural learning excursion, you will learn how to side kick (Tae Tad), kick to the inside of the knee (Tae Pub Nai), elbow strikes (Sok), and many more aspects that make this sport so popular among the Thai locals. Make sure to pack your workout clothes when coming to Thailand as many of our participants have said this is the best workout they’ve ever had.

Work in Thailand: XploreAsia teachers partaking in Muay Thai

Work in Thailand and learn how to Muay Thai

Rescue Paws

It wouldn’t be cultural orientation week without a visit to our non-profit organization, Rescue Paws. When you work in Thailand, homeless dogs are around every corner and in 2013 we co-founded Rescue Paws as a way to help the stray dog population here in Hua Hin through sterilization and education.. With an increasing number of stray dogs in Thailand, Rescue Paws befriends local packs in the area, , and then makes an effort to decrease the stray population through vaccinations, sterilizations, and adoptions.

The majority of dogs brought into the Rescue Paws clinic  are in life threatening conditions, and living a poor quality of life. Once an animal is treated, they are returned back to their original packs. Unfortunately, some are not in the condition to be returned to the streets. In this case, these animals are put up for adoption and put into a forever home. A visit to Rescue Paws not only helps spread awareness of the organization, but participants get the chance to learn about the importance of animal sterilization as well as hangout with the amazing pups!

Rescue Paws is completely run on volunteers and donations so there are ample opportunities to volunteer or donate to the organization during your time working in Thailand.

Sidenote: follow Rescue Paws on social media and if you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering, adopting, or donating to Rescue Paws, contact coordinator@rescue-paws.org.

Work in Thailand: Sprite enjoying his day at the beach

Sprite enjoying the beach!

Temple Hike at Wat Thum Khao Tao and Monk Meditation

Next on your cultural orientation is a temple hike to Wat Thum Khao Tao and a visit with the local monks here in Hua Hin. Rescue Paws’ clinic is actually located on the temple grounds, so it’s a nice transition from one excursion to the next.

Wat Thum Khao Tao, meaning “Temple, Mountain, Cave, Turtle”, was used as a halfway house for monks traveling from the North to the South. The cave is still frequented by traveling monks, but also is a sanctuary for those that work abroad to experience the spirituality of the Thai culture. Dragon fixtures, Buddha statues, and monk figures, were present around every corner of the cave. With this, a giant Buddha is located at the top of the mountain. The statues around Wat Thum Khao Tao represent the hope for further awakening and the devotion the Thai people have towards their faith. This cave is certainly a bucket list destination for those working abroad!

After your temple hike our participants partake in a guided meditation with the local monks that live at Wat Thum Khao Tao. Through meditation, you are educated on the basics of meditation and how the mind and body work together as one. The monk will also talk to you about the importance of meditation and how this practice will bring peace, happiness, and serenity to your life.

Work in Thailand: Teachers at Wat Thum Khao Tao

Group photo at Wat Thum Khao Tao

Beach BBQ: Leaving Behind Fears of Working in Thailand

Last but not least, cultural orientation week ends with a beach BBQ. The beach BBQ is a time for everyone to celebrate and reflect on the past week. Not to mention a time to have fun and enjoy amazing food with your new friends!

XploreAsia goes to great lengths to provide the most comprehensive culture orientation possible by bringing aspects of all major areas of existence here in Thailand right to the classroom for our clients. We provide traditional classroom learning on life and business in Thailand alongside an array of hands-on experiences that require you to completely immerse yourself within the culture.

Work in Thailand: Teachers at Wat Thum Khao Tao

Are you ready to work in Thailand? Visit our website. We hope to see you on our next cultural orientation week!

Thailand Budget Tips for ESL Teachers

Thailand Budget Tips for ESL Teachers

travel, teach, Hua Hin, adventure, XploreAsia

So, you’ve come to Thailand to teach English and now you want to use your weekends to explore and travel, really discover those hidden gems of Thailand. There is only one slight problem – you’re living on a Thailand budget and need to ensure your rent and bills are paid off, while still being able to put food on the table. Traveling to Thailand on a budget can easily be done, but does require research and planning. We’ve learned a few things during our time here in Thailand and want to share a few pointers from one budget traveler to another.

travel, Thailand budget, beach, paradise, beautiful, ocean, adventure

Thailand Budget Tip #1

When it comes to choosing your accommodation, it is important to remember that you will most likely, only be sleeping here. You will most likely be out and about most of the time exploring all that is Thailand. You’re in a beautiful, amazing country, why would you want to spend all of your time in your room, right? Of course, we all want a clean, comfortable room and bed, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices—especially when you’re on a tight budget. I have yet to come across an affordable hostel that is not only clean, but also accompanied by a gorgeous view. The Thai people take care of their hostels and hotels better than I take care of my place back home. Sure, the bed may not be the most ideal size or comfort level, but you will survive, I promise.

Also keep in mind that you don’t have to stay in the heart of each city or town that you are visiting. The hotels and hostels that you would find here are likely to be more expensive than a hotel or hostel off of a side street, a short walk from the heart of the town/city. If you place yourself in a less populated area, you may also get to experience that town or city from a more true and honest perspective. Whatever you decide to do, make sure to do your research on the hostels in the given area. My favourite website to use for the Thailand budget is hostelworld – it shows you all of the hostels available for the specific dates and locations you want and you are able to sort the results by many different filters (price, room, facilities, rating, type and payment). Hostelworld allows you to book right through their website, has an extremely easy cancellation process, and they give you all of the contact information you need. Not to mention, they provide reviews for each hostel, as well as all of the amenities that are both included and not included. For example, a beautiful  hostel (rated 9.1) in Koh Tao island is only $9.70 USD per night for a 6 bed dorm with air conditioning – extremely affordable if you ask me! You just have to take the time to sit down and look at the options available, compare what is offered, and make the smartest decision for yourself.

Pro-tip: Hostels generally have a cancellation policy which requires you to inform the hostel between 3 – 7 days prior to the day you are to arrive; giving many of us more than enough time to change plans, if need be.

hammock, relax, Thailand, teach abroad, relax, XploreAsia

Thailand Budget Tip #2

Our given mode of transportation is very important to the Thailand budget. This past weekend I took a van, a bus, and a train so I can tell you all the ups and downs of each. First off…the vans. Not only do they run all over Thailand, but they are extremely affordable, comfortable and air conditioned. I took a van to Kanchanaburi on Saturday and the total cost was 220 baht, which works out to be approximately $6.25 USD – this is for a 3 hour (220km) drive.

Next up…the busses. Now, I don’t mean coach busses, I mean those colourful busses with all of the windows down and the doors open so that you see the streets of Thailand. The bus I took was from Kanchanaburi to Erawan Waterfalls & National Park was about an hour and a half drive from Hua Hin, depending on if the driver is going the speed limit. This mode of transportation cost 50 baht, approximately $1.40 USD.

travel, budget, Thailand, adventure, teach abroad, XploreAsia

The Truth About My Thailand Budget

Now, I will be completely honest when I say this trip wasn’t exactly the most comfortable. It was a very hot day, and although there are fans on the roof of the bus, with open windows and doors and long stop lights, it got a little toasty at times. The seats themselves were made of a material that you stick to if you are at all sweaty, and you feel every single bump in the road.  Inexpensive – yes, comfortable – no. But it did the job. Although I was happy to get off of that bus, this is not to say I would never take another because of how inexpensive it is.

Lastly, the trains. I took a train from Bangkok to Hua Hin late in the evening one Sunday. From my own personal experience, the trains do not run as often as the vans or busses, however, they are comfortable and air conditioned, and they even give you a blanket and a snack. The price of the train depends on the time you are traveling – as my roommate took the train from Bangkok home to Hua Hin on a Monday afternoon and it only cost her 95 baht per person ($2.70 USD), whereas when I took the train this past Sunday evening, it was 400 baht per person ($11.40 USD). That being said, it is best to book any travels via train in advance to ensure that you get the class and time that you would prefer. Another mode of transportation that I have yet to experience  – is the ferry. Using the ferry to get to Koh Tao is seemingly the most affordable option and the easiest mode of transportation. With this, you will embark on a  6 hour catamaran ride. Who wouldn’t love to be on the open water for a whole 6 hours? Perhaps an individual who gets seasick. The price for this, one way, is 1047 baht – approximately $30 USD…so cheap! I believe that, if you can stomach it, ferries would be the most beautiful mode of transportation as the views will be amazing every which way you look.

Thailand Budget Tip #3

The food you choose to eat while in Thailand will honestly make or break your budget. Yes, it is okay to splurge on Western food every once in awhile when you are having a craving from back home, but try not to make it a habit (as this will become a very expensive habit). Eating as the Thais do – street food for every meal – is beyond affordable. One day for breakfast, I got 10 freshly cooked, deep fried pastries and 3 sticks of chicken all for 30 baht – $0.85 USD. 

western food in Thailand, travel, budget, travel, explore, XploreAsia, adventure

If I compare this to an average western breakfast of an omelette with a smoothie from my favourite western restaurant – The Baguette – this total comes out to be 145 baht – $4.15 USD. Now I know that $4 USD for breakfast is unheard of back home, however, this does add up especially when you have much cheaper options available to you…literally across the road. The same goes for dinner. You can get Pad-See-Ew for 40 baht ($1.15 USD), or you can get a burger and fries for 150 baht ($4.30 USD). Trust me when I say, you will enjoy the Thai food so much more than the Western food – nine times out of ten, it is not exactly how we make it back home, it is better. Why come to Thailand to eat burgers and pizza anyways.

thai food, delicious, explore, adventure, travel, budget, teach overseas, XploreAsia

I used to be such a picky eater, and since coming to Thailand, that part of me disappeared – in a good way. When I go to the local markets I am willing to try what I like to call ‘mystery meat’ as I have no idea what I am about to eat, but it is always so delicious. I have been overly pleased with every meal in Thailand so far, whether it is so spicy that I am crying between bites, or so delicious that I eat it too quickly to even enjoy the flavours.

SO! Are you more confident that you can travel on a Thailand budget? I sure hope so. Get out there and start exploring!

Interested in teaching or working in Thailand? Visit our adventures page!

Thai Culture: The Do’s and Don’ts

Thai Culture: The Do’s and Don’ts

You’ve booked your flight, packed your bags, and are ready to embark on this new adventure with XploreAsia—teaching English in Thailand. This once in a lifetime opportunity attracts people from all over the world, and for good reason. Teaching abroad will change your life. Now, that’s not to say that it won’t be without challenges— but overcoming these challenges is what makes an experience like this so rewarding, unique, and meaningful. You get what you give in Thai culture. Through XploreAsia’s internationally accredited TESOL course you will learn the necessary skills to teach English in Thailand while also making a difference.

Here at XploreAsia we know how scary it can be to come to a new country (we’ve been there). We believe that having a basic understanding of Thai culture is essential to your success, therefore, we provide all of our future teachers with a cultural orientation week upon arrival to Thailand. Your first week in the program will include lessons on Thai culture, language, politics and more. Because we want each and every individual that comes through our program to succeed and embrace the beautiful and unique lifestyle that Thailand has to offer, we’ve created a basic guide to the cultural “Do’s and Don’ts” of Thailand.

DO: RESPECT CULTURAL DIFFERENCES

Thai culture is greatly influenced by Buddhism and is the world’s most heavily Buddhist country. About 97% of the population is Buddhist, making Buddhism one of the cornerstones of Thai culture. The Buddhist beliefs and values play a vital role in the day to day life of Thai people as well as the many tourists that flock to this country every year. Some of the most prominent values being respect, self-control, and a non-confrontational attitude. Thai cultural expectations revolve around these values and it is truly beautiful to witness and be a part of. Although Thai culture may be very different from our own, there are behaviors one can avoid in order be respectful and truly assimilate into the Thai lifestyle as smoothly as possible.  

Thai culture: Buddha statue at Wat Thum Khao Tao

Buddha statue at Wat Thum Khao Tao 

DON’T: PDA

First things first, we all know how sweet it can be to show affection with our partners and friends in public. However, Thai people are very discreet and prefer to keep PDA to a minimum. Therefore, it is best to refrain from being overly affectionate in public as to not make others uncomfortable. Being a highly Buddhist country, the religion influences certain behaviors as unacceptable. In this instance, PDA.

DON’T: PECULIAR MANNERISMS

Another example has to do with certain parts of the body. In Buddhism the most sacred part of the body is the head. The feet are considered to be the lowest and filthiest. Therefore, it would be highly offensive to touch another person’s head and disrespectful to point, push, or step on anything with your feet. Most importantly, one should always avoid facing the bottom of your feet towards another person, as that is seen as a major sign of disrespect.

Pro Tip: Don’t step on Thai money. Since the King’s image is on the face of all Thai bills, stepping on it would be considered disrespectful to the monarchy. And Thai people take their monarchy very, very seriously.

Thai culture: Monk at our local temple located in Hua Hin

Visiting our local monk in Hua Hin

DO: RESPECT THE MONKS

Monks are a significant aspect of Thai culture. You can encounter monks casually passing by, in temples, or even at the train station. Although we treat them with the most respect, it is important to remember that monks are prohibited to touch or be touched by women. Therefore, women should be careful to not come in physical contact with a monk.

DO: MAINTAIN FACE

The notion of “face” is important in Thai culture and there are many aspects that involve the concept of “face”. In general, it is best to avoid being overly emotional in public. Particularly, being angry or confrontational towards others. Maintaining “face” shows respect and dignity. AKA, keep your emotions in check.

Thai culture: Having a laugh while eating at the beach barbecue provided by Xploreasia

Showing our best smiles while enjoying a barbecue dinner provided by XploreAsia

DO: WAI

While in Thailand you will 110% experience a Thai greeting known as the “Wai”. Don’t be shy, the wai is a common Thai greeting, almost like a handshake. “Wai-ing” someone is easy – just press your palms together in front of your chest and bow your head slightly. Do keep in mind that there are different variations of the wai in Thailand. Thai culture greatly honors and respects the elderly, so when greeting someone older than you, make sure to do a very traditional and powerful wai as a demonstration of respect. Nevertheless, don’t worry (“mai pen rai”), if you get it wrong, making an effort shows a great amount of respect in and of itself.

Fun fact: The phrase “mai pen rai” is a very common expression in Thailand, translating to  “don’t worry”, “it’s okay”, or “take it easy”. Something extremely fascinating about Thai culture is how open and safe it is towards the LGBTQ community. It is a great place to be respectful and accepting towards everybody. With that, don’t forget to live the mai pen rai life! Life doesn’t have to be rushed and in a hurry at all times. Just smile, enjoy your time, stay calm, and mai pen rai!

Thai culture: Visual of how to do a Wai

 

DO: PICK THE RIGHT SHOES

Stay comfy while you teach in  Thailand by wearing flip flops and slip ons! While exploring in the warm and humid weather of Thailand, it’s easy to slide on a pair of flip flops and easily go on with your day. Not only will this keep you cooler, it’s also an easy way to take off your shoes – given that this is a common practice to do before entering temples, homes, and occasionally businesses. In addition to taking off your shoes when visiting temples, make sure to always wear appropriate clothing to cover your knees and shoulders.

Thai culture: Slipping off your sandals

 

Are You Ready for Thai Culture?

Last but not least, DO make sure to have an open mind. Be open to learning new things, experiencing new cultures, and DON’T forget to have fun. Thailand has a vast and rich culture and there is so much to learn about this beautiful country. Remember that it’s okay to make mistakes because that’s part of the learning process. At XploreAsia we are here to help enhance your cultural experience in addition to supporting you throughout your teaching journey.

Thai culture: Xploreasia teacher practicing her Thai language at Hua Hin local market

Xploreasia teacher engaging in Thai culture by practicing her Thai language skills in Hua Hin’s local food market

 

If you are interested in any of our programs, visit our Adventures page and follow us on Facebook for more information! 

What to Pack for Thailand: Packing Tips for ESL Teachers

What to Pack for Thailand: Packing Tips for ESL Teachers

Preparing to take your TESOL course and teach English in Thailand is not a one-step process by any means, but it can be simpler than you might realize. For chronic over-packers, there is the 3-pile process: one of necessities, one of maybes, and one of wants. What to pack for Thailand? One suggestion is to pack only the first pile and scrap the rest. 

I never abided by that rule because I could never decide what would go in which pile. So instead, here are some my packing tips (and tips from others!) on how to prepare for your adventure abroad teaching English in Thailand:  

 

1. Don’t forget these important items:

  • Passport, License, and Visa (and copies), teaching documents (official degree certificate and transcripts), and extra passport photos
  • ATM/Debit/Credit Cards (let your bank know you’ll be in Thailand!)
  • Cash to exchange (roughly $200-600)
  • Any daily medication (with copies of prescriptions), bug spray, sunscreen, and lotion
  • Laptop and chargers (with converters/adaptors –Thailand uses 220V, and the plug-in style is the same type you would bring to Europe and North America)
what to pack for Thailand

2. For teachers, bring at least two formal outfits.

Here are more teacher suggestions on what to pack for Thailand:  

Women:

  • 2-3 longer skirts that cover the knee
  • 2-3 blouses that cover the shoulders and chest
  • 1-2 dresses that cover the knees, shoulders, and chest
  • Closed toe shoes

Men:

  • 2-3 dress shirts
  • 3-4 pairs of dress pants/trousers
  • 1-2 ties
  • 5-7 dress socks
  • 2 pairs of shoes (1 brown, 1 black)
Teaching Tip

When teaching English in Thailand, presenting a small gift from your home country to the school makes a fantastic first impression and can help you create some lasting friendships right away. Consider these gift ideas:

  • Treat: chocolate, maple syrup, or cookies
  • A travel book with pictures of where you’re from
  • School supplies: children’s books, magazines, colored pencils, construction paper

3. Bring a small duffel bag or backpack for weekend trips

This was a definite necessity when I studied abroad, and one of the first things I put in my suitcase. It’s so helpful for shorter weekend trips, and I guarantee you’ll be making at least one or two trips while teaching in Thailand! 

Culture Tip

Sizes in Thailand tend to run on the smaller size, and finding larger Western sizes can be challenging in small towns. Regardless, it is still possible to find these larger sizes at bigger shopping malls in cities. Also it’s important to recognize that Thai culture values modesty, so remember that when packing clothes. 

what to pack for Thailand
what to pack for Thailand

4. Bring a rain jacket, sweatshirt, and good walking shoes

These items were not forefront on my mind when I was wondering what to pack for Thailand, but you’ll definitely be grateful for them once you’re in the country. Bus rides and airplanes can get chilly, and broadly speaking, Thailand’s rainy season can run from May/June to October.     

There are some gorgeous national parks all around Thailand, and you’ll want to bring some comfortable walking shoes for hiking and exploring.  

Culture Tip

For women, a long scarf to cover your shoulders or knees can be useful when visiting a temple or the Grand Palace.  The one I brought became one of my most essential items: I used it at the beach, as a cover-up, and also as a blanket on some very chilly bus rides.

What to pack for Thailand: Helpful Items

  • A Kindle: English books aren’t as easy to come by, so if you’re a big reader, having a Kindle is wonderful for traveling.
  • Consider bringing an extra inexpensive, unlocked phone with you to Thailand to function as your Thai phone. It’s simple to buy one once you’re in Thailand, but it’s sometimes nice to know that you already have one you can use.
  • A small coin purse for loose change, and a money belt for weekend trips.

______________________________________________

I had the chance to sit down with Tara, one of our TESOL Course participants, and chat about how she prepared for taking the TESOL course and for her adventure teaching in Thailand:

What are some things that you didn’t think to pack first but are grateful for now?

Photos from home. It’s not something that I thought I’d want once here in Thailand, but just having a few photos from home can be so comforting. I also brought a travel journal that I’m looking forward to filling with thoughts and memories from my experience.

What is one item that you wish you’d brought to prepare you for teaching in Thailand?

More skirts! I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find longer black skirts that are light and breathable. Most of the skirts I’ve found here in Thailand are made of heavy material and are pretty expensive. I also wish I’d brought more breathable, light blouses for teaching.

You only brought one backpack on this trip. That’s pretty impressive! What advice do you have for anybody that’s worried about over-packing?

Roll all of your clothes. It saves so much room. And invest in some zip-up cubes. I swear by them. It makes my bag so organized, and it helps me keep track of what I have. Another tip I’ve learned is to bring a separate bag of dryer sheets to keep your clothes smelling fresh!

Generally, just remember to bring what’s necessary and don’t worry too much about bringing duplicates.

What is one thing you wish packed more of?

Bug spray! I use it so much here. I’m almost out. It’s not too easy to find great bug spray here, so I definitely wish I’d brought a couple more bottles. Another important thing I brought was electrolytes. They’ve been super useful here because it’s so hot, and you’re constantly sweating. I’m almost out of them too – it would’ve been nice to have more.

Thank you so much, Tara! You gave us great input on what to pack for Thailand. We’re so excited for your adventure teaching English abroad, and we can’t wait to congratulate you on finishing your TESOL Course!

I’d love to hear from you: What to pack for Thailand? What are some of your packing tips? Have any of you traveled to Thailand before? What are some essential items you always bring with you when traveling abroad?

Ready to start your adventure living and teaching abroad? Sign up for one of our amazing TESOL Course and teaching programs today! 

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Life in Hua Hin: Top 5 Markets

Life in Hua Hin: Top 5 Markets

Thailand is full of open-air markets, and Hua Hin is no exception. As well as being our main location for TESOL training, the sunny beach town will soon become your home from home and there are plenty of interesting places to explore here. Hua Hin is the introduction to the country before you begin your adventure teaching in Thailand.

Here in Hua Hin, markets can be your one stop for everything you need whilst you’re preparing to start teaching in Thailand and we’ve prepared our run down of the top five you should definitely check out during your stay here.

The Night Market

Teaching in Thailand; The Night Market Hua Hin

The Night Market is located in the center of the song theaw loop meaning it’s extremely easy to find. The market includes both indoor and outdoor areas and a huge selection of dining options. The stalls spread across two streets and sell a lot of clothes, shoes and accessories and is a great place to go to buy affordable gifts for friends and family back home.

Teaching in Thailand; inside the night market at Hua Hin, Thailand

There is also a plethora of Thai street food snacks and the surrounding area is filled with restaurants. We highly recommend the desert café located in the covered area which sells some of the best coconut ice cream and mango sticky rice you’ll find in the whole of Hua Hin.

The Grand Night Market

Grand Night Market entrance

Although smaller than it’s similarly named neighbor, The Grand Night Market also has a lot to offer. Located on the main road, the market appears to only consist of stalls, but if you journey deeper you will find a hidden covered area with small bars and eateries. The place also has a more traditional Thai feel than the other markets on the main streets and you’ll likely see fewer Westerners here. Insider tip: this is the place to go for the cheapest cocktails in the whole of Hua Hin.

The Grand Night Market

Although smaller than it’s similarly named neighbor, The Grand Night Market also has a lot to offer. Located on the main road, the market appears to only consist of stalls, but if you journey deeper you will find a hidden covered area with small bars and eateries. The place also has a more traditional Thai feel than the other markets on the main streets and you’ll likely see fewer Westerners here. Insider tip: this is the place to go for the cheapest cocktails in the whole of Hua Hin.

Cicada

Teaching in Thailand; Cicada, Hua Hin, Thailand

For a truly unique market experience, head over to Cicada on the weekends between 6 and 11. As well as offering clothes and shoes with a distinct artisan feel, there is also a wide mix of home goods to give your new home whilst you’re teaching in Thailand a more personal feel. There is also a big outdoor food court serving meals from many different regions of Thailand and traditional Thai and Western desserts. Depending on where you will be teaching in Thailand, Cicada is a great place to get a taste of the region you’ll be moving to after completing your TESOL course.

Teaching in Thailand; the stalls at Cicada, Hua Hin

There are also two outdoor performance venues: one large amphitheater offering free performances of traditional Thai plays and musicals; and an outdoor music stage complete with bean bags and its own bar serving cocktails and beers.

The Tuesday Night Market

Teaching in Thailand; the Tuesday market, Hua Hin

A little off the beaten track, but with the widest selection of clothes, shoes and accessories, if you’re looking for a market more focused on shopping than food, The Tuesday Market is for you. If you packed light, the market is an ideal place to go to replenish your wardrobe before you set off on your adventure teaching in Thailand.

Teaching in Thailand; the Tuesday market at Hua Hin

Despite not offering a whole lot in terms of main meals, there is an eclectic array of snacks and sweet treats to nibble on whilst you’re meandering around the stalls. This is another location with very few westerners making it feel like an authentic small town market, different to the ones in the bigger cities.

Plearn Wan

Teaching in Thailand; the stalls at Plearn Wan, Hua Hin

Although not strictly a market, the little hidden mock village definitely has a similar vibe with its open air cafes and shops. The prices are also a little lower than the other markets and admission is free so if you’re on a tighter budget before you get your first pay check teaching in Thailand this could be the perfect place for you. It is another place offering dining options that can’t be found anywhere else in the region and prices for a main course begin as low as 50 baht, with snacks starting at 10 baht.

Ready to Start Teaching in Thailand?

Teaching in Thailand; the market at Plearn Wan

There are so many more options for shopping, food and activities in Hua Hin that you’ll discover whilst you’re training with us and completing your orientation week.

Click here to find out more about our programs and see how you can start your amazing adventure teaching in Thailand.

My First Week Teaching in Thailand: Elizabeth Collins

My First Week Teaching in Thailand: Elizabeth Collins

Elizabeth Collins graduated from our accredited TESOL course in Hua Hin in July. Below, she writes about her experiences following graduation and adjusting to life in her placement town, Lat Krabang. To hear more about Elizabeth’s journey teaching in Thailand, make sure to head over to her personal blog.

When I first decided to start teaching in Thailand, I knew there would be a period of adjustment. Aside from the initial challenge of adapting to living on the other side of the world, I’ve also had to challenge of getting used to life in my placement town.

I live in an industrial area and there is not much close by in the ways of food; I remember initially feeling fairly isolated from everyone and everything. There is not a night market within walking distance and the closest food vendors seem to close before 5pm.  Those first couple of nights I survived off 7-11 grab-and-go food. This only compounded my feelings towards my new town and increased my feelings of homesickness. One thing that helped me feel more settled in Lat Krabang was establishing a routine.  My first task was conquering the transportation system around town.

Elizabeth exploring Lat Krabang.

Elizabeth out exploring her new town.

One thing about me, I am pretty directionally challenged. I grew up in San Diego and I still get lost going places. The idea of taking a songthaew (and there are three colors to choose from, all going in different directions, and instructions are only written in Thai), to the Airlink, and switching to the next train system, was daunting to say the least. Fortunately, another Teacher was kind enough to spend about an hour with me showing me the ropes. I spent my first weekend here taking different songthaew’s and trains in and out of the city. Not only did this build my confidence, but it also allowed me to see more that this little town has to offer- and there is actually quite a bit!  By Sunday I found myself slowly falling in love with my new home. I found a gym, a night market, and a nice area to eat every night. I still get pangs of homesickness but spending time getting to know my new area and some of the people in it was the best thing I could have done.

There are very few Westerners here, so hearing and speaking English is limited. But I walk by the same people every night and we smile, I buy food from them, and we share a laugh as I practice my Thai and they practice their English. There also happens to be an amazing coffee shop below my apartment where I spend a lot of time chatting with the owners. These are the moments I feel most at home; having a cup of coffee and chatting with new friends.

Making connections in Lat Krabang has helped Elizabeth feel more settled in Lat Krabang.

One of the most incredible things that I continue to be in awe about, is the kindness of complete strangers. There are times, especially when I first got here, where I had no idea how to order something, or I was clearly on the wrong songthaew, and a stranger stepped in to help. It can feel overwhelming in some moments to be surrounded by people who don’t speak your language, to not understand basic instructions, to have a bathroom situation that is nothing like home (side note, never leave home without toilet paper…you’ll thank me for that one day!), and in addition it is 90 plus degrees out with 88% humidity. All this whilst you are crammed on a vehicle, and the driving leaves you closing your eyes as you pass a bus with only inches to spare.  The random acts of kindness do not go unnoticed. They have brought me to tears at times with gratitude that someone who doesn’t know me is willing to let me know “hey, time to get off the bus!” It’s also great to hear a stranger striking up a conversation with me because they want to practice their English. Those are the moments, tough as they can be, that help you grow, and Lat Krabang has started to feel more and more like home. These moments also remind me that wherever I am in the world, engaging in random acts of kindness is always worth it.

Elizabeth receiving her TESOL certificate at XploreAsia.

Elizabeth receiving her TESOL qualification following completion of our in-class course held in Hua Hin, Thailand.

However, the biggest adjustment so far has been taking on the role of Teacher. My first week teaching was both nerve wracking and exhilarating. I had at that point, months of emotions built up about the first class. I had never taught before (with the exception of the two-day English Camp in Hua Hin) and this was a bit of a career change for me. I am a Therapist back home and will one day return to the field, but over the last several months I felt a tug on my heart to try something new.  I felt like I was not living life to the fullest.  I wanted to find another way to give back but I didn’t quite know how. The inspiration for this career change came after a lot of soul searching after the death of my best friend. I did some research one day and it feels like the rest is history. Everything seemed to fall into place perfectly.

My first week teaching was a whirlwind.  I teach 22 classes per week and about 20 of those classes have 50-55 students. I see all but one class, once a week for 50 minutes. And truth be told, 50 minutes is more like 40 minutes because there is no passing period.  The proficiency of my students varies greatly. Some can carry a small conversation, others struggle to understand what we might perceive as simple instructions. One of the benefits of not understanding Thai and living surrounded by it is that I now have such a greater understanding and appreciation of my students struggle with learning English.  How many times have I, like them, not understood a simple command or instruction, or not understood that something costs 20 baht when I hand over 40 baht…or even worse, I give 10 baht and they patiently try to explain I owe them more.

Something that helped me a lot during that first week of teaching, was to check my expectations at the door. With the large class sizes and the variability of proficiency levels, as well as my own fears and doubts about being successful as a teacher, I took a moment to myself before every class. I reminded myself why I was here, I took a deep breath, and focused on making connections with my students. Whether that was through sharing a smile, a short conversation, or laughing with students about any number of things that I didn’t yet understand yet. For example, where do you turn on the AC? Don’t worry, the kids will let you know.  Why do some white boards require special chalk and others a pen…and which is which? Again, the kids will let you know.   Remembering to tell the kids they can sit down after they greet you in the morning… yes, I forgot and yes, they will certainly remind you!

Elizabeth teaching in Thailand.
Teaching in Thailand

Elizabeth making connections with her class.

I reminded myself to keep my sense of humor. It is so true, if you don’t laugh you might just end up crying, so when the choice is yours, laughter is always the best medicine. There were times- there still are times (every day, actually)- when the students are talking in Thai, and no one is listening to the lesson plan I’ve worked so hard on, and someone appears to be looking at me and possibly laughing (is there something on my face??!) and that is when I take a deep breath, remember my goals, and focus on connecting with the kids. I use those tough moments, because they will come, to remember why I’m here, what my goal is, and I channel that energy into practicing English with the students that are engaged (don’t worry there are plenty of students who are very eager to learn). I do my best to reign in the students that are off task, and then I remind myself to smile and laugh with the kids.

I won’t say that the first week of teaching or living here was easy, because it wasn’t. There were moments where I doubted myself, moments I had to throw what I learned out the window and just experiment with what worked best for me and my students. But there were also countless moments where I can’t remember the last time I had laughed that hard, moments I felt such intense joy that I hadn’t felt in a long time, and excitement over being on this journey and truly feeling how this experience is changing me from the inside out.

So, if you are thinking of coming and teaching in Thailand, take the leap. It’s not perfect, and there are difficult moments, but those are the moments in which we grow. When we don’t shy away from the fear, when we face our insecurities and then prove to ourselves we can do it, that is where the growth happens. And at least for me, that is why I am here. To grow as a person, to discover a little more about myself, and to build trust with my students to ensure they can learn as much as possible from me. It can all start with just sharing a smile.

Elizabeth's class graduating from XploreAsia.

Elizabeth’s TESOL class graduating in July, 2017.

If you’re interested in starting a new adventure teaching in Thailand, check out our accredited TESOL course.

First Month Teaching in Thailand: XA Alumni Hannah Church

Hannah graduated from our in-class TESOL program in Hua Hin in July and has already been teaching for a month in Minburi, a district of Bangkok about 45 minutes from the dynamic city’s center. Hannah teaches a mixture of ages, having kindergarten, first grade and fifth grade classes, and was more than happy to share her experiences teaching in Thailand with us. Check out the interview below to hear about how she’s doing after graduating:

How was your experience with XploreAsia? Did it prepare you to move away on your own to begin teaching in Thailand?

Hannah getting her first taste of teaching in Thailand at the English camp in Hua Hin.

Hannah getting her first taste of teaching in Thailand at the Hua Hin English camp as part of her TESOL course.

I LOVED every single day with XA! Orientation week was a blast, all of the people in my group were funny, brave and kind; we just had a great time together! The TESOL training was difficult but we all learned a lot, especially teaching at camp.

I’m not sure if it’s possible to feel fully prepared going out on your own to a city where you don’t know anyone, but I had the confidence that I could give it my best shot. XA gave us multiple pep talks about how difficult it would be, which I think helped prepare us mentally.

What was your first day arriving at your placement like?

Oh goodness! Someone picked me up from the bus station and we went to my apartment to sign all the papers which were completely in Thai. There were some kinks where I was paying more than I’d thought but I was so tired from the early morning van ride that I just went with it. It was still less than $125 a month! Then he took me to the nearest supermarket so I could get things like bedding and toilet paper and he helped me bring it all the way up to my 7th floor apartment room! It was an awkward first day; he even asked if he could use my bathroom. So, a total stranger was just pooping as I was putting the sheets on my bed! But again, I just rolled with it. In the end I was thankful for his help!

I did get lost getting to and from school on day one, but if you just embrace it and don’t freak out and know you can always ask for help, you will get home eventually!

What have your first few weeks of teaching been like? What has been your favorite moment?

They are long days for me. 7:30am to 4pm with only an hour or maybe two hour breaks a day. I’m teaching between 7 and 9 classes a day so it’s a lot of energy.

I arrived in time to be here for their Mother and Father’s Day celebrations where they dressed us all in traditional Thai outfits and it was absolutely amazing! The teachers are always very nice to me, the kids are very sweet, and I just dove right in and I feel like part of the school already!

My favorite moment was during the Mother’s Day celebration. I got to sing You Raise Me Up with 300 three-to-five-year-olds on stage for their moms! It was a moment I will never forget and I am so happy it’s on video! All those little voices singing with me is the cutest!

Hannah with her students during their Mother's Day celebration

Hannah dressed up with her students for their Mother’s Day celebration.

What were your biggest fears about teaching and/or living abroad and how did you overcome them?

Just being brave enough to go outside my comfort zone has been the most challenging. When you’re here, it’s just you. No one can fix the problem for you and that’s hard to fully comprehend until you’re in a situation. I’ll get lost, or get food poisoning, or get thrown into teaching a class I wasn’t scheduled for, and I have to just take a deep breath and figure it out. But every time I try something new and overcome a challenge I feel my comfort zone expand, so I can keep pushing it further and further which is really awesome!

Have you traveled to anywhere else in Thailand yet whilst you’ve been here?

Playing with elephants in Chiang Mai.
Relaxing in Phuket.

Yes, I’ve been to Chang Mai with some TESOL classmates and we played with elephants (no riding!). We got to play in a mud pit and bathe them in a lake and it was incredible! We also took a cooking class there which was delicious and fun.

We also went to Krabi and Phuket and did some island excursions where we went snorkeling and canoeing in caves and lagoons and the views are breathtaking!

But Bangkok itself is actually really underrated! It’s an amazing city! Every weekend, I go and explore a new neighborhood and I am always surprised at the adventures I find myself in.

I’m hoping to go to Ayutthaya next weekend to see some ancient ruins.

What is the best thing about living and/or teaching in Thailand?

Just knowing that I am helping every day to give these kids their best chance and they don’t even know that, it is incredibly rewarding. They only think of you a teacher, but I know that every word they retain might help them as adults to have a better life.

Sometimes it is difficult meeting people that are just here on vacation, and you know you have to go back to work on Monday, but traveling for a purpose is the ultimate good feeling. And I get to travel everywhere on the weekends and get paid to do it, so there’s nothing to complain about!

What advice would you give to new teachers thinking of coming over to teach in Thailand?

I want to say “do it”, but be prepared: it can be scary. Try to save up before coming so that you don’t have to limit yourself. A lot of my friends ended up scrimping until their first pay-day so, even though I still had money saved, they couldn’t come with me on trips. I would also advise you to start preparing yourself at home. Go to new places, try new foods, and perhaps leave your phone at home so you can see what it’s like to not have google to solve a problem right away. It will give you confidence for challenges you face here.

Hannah getting her TESOL.

Hannah was happy to receive her TESOL certification from XploreAsia, Hua Hin!

Hannah high-fiving a student at English camp.

Thank you to Hannah for taking the time to answer our questions! At XploreAsia, we love to hear that our alumni are doing well and embracing life teaching in Thailand. If you’re interested in starting your own adventures in Asia, check out our in-class TESOL courses in Thailand and our brand new course in Vietnam.

Teach In Thailand: The Spider Chronicles

Teach In Thailand: The Spider Chronicles

Former XploreAsia participant, program coordinator and current teacher Simone Salerno describes her experience moving into her placement town, in Northern Thailand. Settling in to your new home and adapting to life in a new town can be a challenging experience but one full of opportunities to grow and become part of a community. 

I share my shower with about five spiders. I say “about five” because one of the spiders is a master at hide and seek. The spiders really used to freak me out. I’ll never forget my first shower experience in my teaching town. I was in the midst of shampooing my hair, when I turned around, opened my eyes, and saw a huge, spindly spider staring back at me. Let’s just say that shower ended quickly and I never finished washing my hair that day.

Over time the spiders and I reached an agreement. They ate the unfriendly bugs, and I left them alone. I never thought I’d share a shower with spiders, especially spiders as big as my palm, yet here I am. You may be sitting in your seat, shuddering to yourself and thinking, “NOPE! That will NEVER be me…” Well friend, allow me let you in on a little secret; living abroad has a beautiful way of changing the rules you live your life by.

Before moving to Thailand, I had set a strict list of rules for myself. After everyone had shared their extensive “Do’s and Don’ts” for traveling, along with their personal horror stories, I thought I knew what I could and could not do in Thailand.

Based on their stories and advice, I could not ride a motor scooter, walk around at night by myself, walk around during the day by myself, walk around at all by myself, eat ANYTHING that I couldn’t peel myself, eat anything I couldn’t see prepared, eat anything that didn’t come out of a pre-packaged container, go ANYWHERE that was a malaria zone, go into the ocean alone, go into the ocean at all…. And the list went on.

 I’m sure in reading that list, you can remember being told at least one of those “precautionary” bits of advice.  It’s hard for me to look back now and see how rigid I was about traveling to a new country; and how if I would have followed those rules at all times, I would never have truly experienced the country I have grown to love.

Living abroad has an incredible way of helping you understand preconceived notions are just unnecessary limits; created out of fear before having enough evidence to know if what you believe is true or even useful. You can’t live your life on preconceived notions. Prejudging a whole country based on advice from a few weary travelers was the biggest mistake I made before embarking on my adventure.

Teach in Thailand Pad Thai

It only took a short time after arriving in Thailand to realize how off my judgments were, and how quickly I would change my set of “strict” rules. Within a day of arriving in Hua Hin, I was already eating fresh cut fruit from a local fruit stand, swimming in the ocean, enjoying fresh Pad Thai on the side of the street, and walking around alone to explore new places. Putting an end to my preconceived notions is the best choice I have made in my travels.

Teach in Thailand

After living in Thailand for many months, I can say that I really enjoy 7/11 sushi (don’t knock it until you try it), sharing my home with a few lizard roommates is actually a plus, the best fresh fruit comes from a stand, a freezing cold shower is actually something to look forward to, strangers can easily become family, and every situation has a silver lining.

Don’t let precautionary tales of travel keep you away from living abroad. “If you listen to people, and if you allow people to project their fears onto you, you’ll never live” (Taraji P. Henson).  If I had listened to everyone who told me no, in some form or another, I never would have truly experienced the place I now call home.

Simone Salerno

Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

To begin your adventure in Thailand, follow this link:

https://www.xploreasia.org/teach-in-thailand/

Teach in Thailand

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