Thursday, March 26, 2015

Unexpected Trip

Last week I was just sitting helping some of the teachers with packing up the school for summer when my host mom called me. She said "Jenny. Tomorrow you go to South with Danielle. Pack bag for 3 days." It was quite the surprise but I wasn't going to argue. But before I could pack we all left to go to dinner with my host's extended family. Then when we returned she told me I actually need to pack for 5 days!
Of the five day trip, 3.5 of those days were spent traveling to and from the South. Turns out it takes a long time to drive to Hat Yai from Lopburi. A very long time! On the second day we were driving there we stopped in the morning to go kayaking! I guess they thought I had never done this before because they put me at the front of the guide's kayak. It was funny because the rotary people we were with didn't seem to know what they were doing as they tried to avoid the trees!
Once actually got to Hat Yai we spent a day going to a mountain top temple and shopping in a really old city I can't remember the name of! It was so beautiful there! I love how gorgeous the South is! Before leaving on the fourth day we went a bit farther south for swimming and snorkeling! We went from island to island swimming in the bright and clear blue ocean! We even swam through a cave at one point and there was a lagoon on the other side! So cool!
After this we started to looooong drive back home. I do not recommend sleeping in a van. It is not the best way to get a good night sleep and it guarantees a sore neck!
I got to spend two day at home after this and now I'm off to the South once more for the Rotary bus trip with all the other exchange students! So excited.
This next month is going to be crazy! Two Rotary trip, three dance classes, and a Rotary District conference! So much happening!
(Incase your wondering about the dance classes, the exchange student s have to learn classic thai dancing to perform at the district conference.)
Well I'm off to the South now! I'll tell you about it when I get return!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Taxi Troubles

After having my third ride in a bad taxi, I thought I would write about things you should know about thai taxis. This will probably only interest you if you are going to be an exchange student in Thailand,  are going on vacation in Thailand, or if you like reading blogs about taxis.
Here's what I've learned from my experiences:

1. Avoid taking a taxi as much as possible
Take the skytrain, subway, or bus. Walk if you can. But only take a taxi if you must!

2. If you are alone or with just one other person, take a motorcycle taxi
Motorcycle taxis are cheaper, faster, and, as hard to believe as it may be, safer.

3. Always settle the price before getting in the taxi
This is super important! If you don't do this, you may end up yelling in english at a thai driver for trying to make you pay 6000 baht ($200) for driving 3 blocks. This rule applies to regular taxis, motorcycle taxis, and tuktuks.

4. Don't take a tuktuk
Yes, they are fun to try once and they are good if you want to have a personal tour guide around the city. But tuktuks are expensive, slow, and usually take you to an expensive shop that gives the driver free stuff if you shop there.

5. Listen to that little voice in the back of your head
If something about the taxi or driver makes your spidey-sense tingle, then trust that feeling. There are fake taxis that look very real and motorcycle drivers with similar vests to taxi drivers. (Real motor taxi drivers wear orange vests.) Keep a look out and get out of the taxi if something doesn't feel right.

6. Always get the number
Each taxi and motorcycle taxi driver has a number. In a taxi its on the drivers card and each motor taxi driver has a number on their orange vest. Remember this number so if something goes wrong or they try to scam you, you can report them. Tuktuks don't have a number but they do have a license plate so you can get that instead. (If there is no number don't get in/on the taxi.)

7. Know the right direction
Taxi drivers will tell you they know a place even if they don't. They just want to get you in the taxi so they can get paid. Plus many places have similar names (ex. Lumpini Park and Lumpini Center). So make sure you know which direction you should be going in to avoid being taken to the wrong destination.

That's about it! Not all taxis are bad but as a foreigner, you will be seen as easy to trick or confuse. So just to be safe, try to remember these rules if you are traveling in Thailand.
Till next time!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The End...Of School!

As of Saturday, March 1st, I am finished with my thai studies. At least the in class ones. Technically I was finished on February 19th because the last six days of school were finals which I did not take. It was a rather sad day. While I am happy not to have to sit in nine classes a day, most of which I did absolutely nothing in, I will miss seeing my thai friends everyday. They've been such a huge part of my year and have taught me as much thai culture and language as my teacher has! I'll still hangout with my closer friends but some of them I probably won't see again. At least I have literally hundreds of pictures to remember them by!
My class was super sweet in saying goodbye to me. At the end of the day we all went to the school market and after a while I noticed that everyone had left except Beer. So we ate our food then went to look for our friends. We got to our main classroom and everyone was there holding letters that spelled GOOD LUCK JENNY! and singing! It was so sweat and I even cried! The weird thing though, was that they were all wearing masks of my face! It was a little creepy to see 22 of me! After they finished singing we took a million pictures together!
Some of you might notice that I said I finished school on a Saturday. This is because I went with my class to math and science camp at a tech university. I'm sure the subjects were very interesting but lectures about entomology, astronomy, and physics are still a little outside my language level! But the time I spent with my friends was fun! Plus, I got a new name! It seems the camp people didn't know I was coming but one of the girls from my class didn't come so they gave me her name tag. So for the weekend I was Ni News.
Now that I have 3.5 months of summer I'm not sure what I'll do but I'm sure I'll have lots of fun! This month we have the YE trip to the South and next month we have the trip in the North! It's going to be great to have all the exchange students together!
And for anyone who is curious, I have scheduled my return ticket. I will be arriving in Seattle on June 18th just 2 hours after I leave Bangkok! Gotta love time zones!