I’ve moved across the world! Where do I begin?! After a grueling 30 hour journey (42 with the time change) from STL to Dallas to Tokyo to Bangkok to Hua Hin, I arrived in my one room apartment in Hua Hin, a beach town just south of Bangkok.
It all feels real when you organize your new closet ?
And Ive got this great balcony with a mountainous view that’s perfect for watching the sunrise and sunset!
My purpose for moving to Thailand was to study abroad in Bangkok as I progress towards obtaining my Global MBA from Webster University. I will be here for almost 3 months taking 2 masters courses. City living isn’t for me…I’m a beach girl at heart, so it only seemed right to reside in Hua Hin, about 3 hours drive from Bangkok.
Cha Am, the town just next to Hua Hin, is the home of Webster’s Undergraduate campus.
I decided to take a Thai course at the Cha Am campus to help communicate with locals and to enhance my overall time spent living in this exciting country. My Thai name given in class is Nok. It means bird. How fitting 🙂 Webster has vans that run from Cha Am to Bangkok which will be extremely convenient for me to get to my masters courses.
Week one as a Thai resident has been a whirlwind of emotions! Excitement about exploring a new place, learning a new culture, meeting new people; Sadness about missing friends, family, and pets back home; and Frustration with language barriers and getting around in an unfamiliar place. The first two days were a bit overwhelming with information about the new city and soaking in as much as possible. However, it didn’t take long to get settled in, learn my way around, and start making new friends! Getting a Thai cellphone helped tremendously to stay connected with others.
My week in a nutshell:
Wednesday: Arrived around 5am. City tour of Hua Hin. We learned where the hospital, train station, bus station, and immigration places were. Visited an art village. And visited the Wat Huay Mongkol where there is a massive statue of the famous Monk Luang Phor Thuad. He is said to be famous for the miracles he performed when he lived approximately 400 years ago. Thai people come here to ask for good luck, happiness, and health.
Thursday: Orientation at Cha Am campus (where my Thai class is)
Teri and I made a trip to Market Village after the beach via the Songtao, a green pickup truck with benches in the back. It only costs 10 baht (approx .30 cents) per person per trip. We got lost for a minute coming back. I guess this is a good way to learn the streets!
Donald, a sociology teacher at Webster, and his wife and two cats drove me to their house just outside of Bangkok where I caught a taxi and the BTS into the city. The Masters orientation is tomorrow.
Saturday: Masters orientation today. I stayed another night by Victory Monument in a cute green hotel. Next week I will look for a serviced apartment in Bangkok.
Sunday: Webster organized a day trip around Bangkok. We visited the Grand Palace, went on a Canal Tour, and visited Wat Arun. All very touristy, but definitely must sees in Bangkok.
The Grand Palace is absolutely breathtaking!!
The Webster bus headed back to Hua Hin after the tour, so I went along for the ride. I ate dinner at Pony Cafe across the street with a few friends. Very cute small place with toy ponies all over.
Monday: First day of Thai class. Very enjoyable. My Thai name is Nok, bird, and it is so fitting since Jenna also means little bird. We had a BBQ in the evening with all the students.
Tuesday: Relaxed day. I walked along the beach and then headed into campus to catch a van to Bangkok.
15 Things I have learned in my first week in Thailand:
1) Up until 1949 Thailand was called Siam
2) Thais drink everything from a straw. Even bottled water!
3) If you buy sunscreen or moisturizer, watch for whitening! Thais believe the whiter the skin the better. No tanning beds here ladies.
4) Ronald McDonald knows Thai culture
5) Thai language has 5 tones! It is very easy to say the wrong word just by using the wrong tone. What have I gotten myself into?!
6) The National Anthem is played once per morning and once per afternoon on every radio station
7) The King and Queen are pictured everywhere throughout the country and it is absolutely against the law to disrespect them in any way. Don’t even step on a coin, as the kings head is pictured there.
8) Never touch a Thai on the head, as this is the most respected part of the body. And never point feet at them, as feet are seen as the dirtiest part of the body.
9) Thailand is referred to by many as “The Land of Smiles”. People are very friendly here and always willing to lend a hand.
10) Never raise your voice or cause conflict with a Thai. It will get you nowhere. Thais shrug off conflict with their common phrase “Mai pen rai” meaning “it doesn’t matter”.
11) Thai monks cannot come in contact with women, therefore if you see one coming, step out of their way. Also, you should never sit next to one on the BTS (Bangkok Train Station)
12) Ladyboys or “Kathoeys” are more prevalent and accepted in the Thai culture.
13) Many places of business and homes in Thailand have spirit houses. These miniature houses are usually in a front corner of the businesses and homes and are used to provide a shelter for spirits.
14) Motorbikes are everywhere! Literally. And they weave in and out of traffic. It’s hectic to watch them and I get anxiety as I see a lot of small children packed on there with their parents.
15) Street food must be experienced in Thailand! Very easy to find and usually the best. My first experiences have been Roti (fried thin bread with strawberry jam in the middle) and later a street cheeseburger. Delish!!!!
This concludes my first week in Bangkok! It has been an exciting week with so much to see and learn. Stay tuned for more adventures to come!