After one and a half days in Thailand, I now know a grand total of FIVE words/small phrases in Thai.
- Sawasdee ka = hello (for females)
- Kop khun ka = thank you
- Hong nam = toilet
- Lor mak mak = very handsome
- Shui jin jin = very beautiful
Three of these are potentially useful. The other two... well you never know. Clearly, I am very prepared to spend an entire month in Thailand.
All kidding aside, it's been a pretty exciting start to my overseas volunteering experience so far. The people are great and the food (at least what we've had so far) is amazing. Calling it now but I'm coming back to Australia five kilos heavier and there will be
1. Casually hung out with the Governor of Ubon Ratchathani Province
Who's kind of like the Premier of a state (if we were to come up with an Australian equivalent). He gave us an official welcome which was attended by some dignatories and all the representatives from the schools we'd be teaching at (principals and teachers).
Speaking of schools, I found out my school allocation yesterday. Two-thousand and four hundred students. 2,400. Two-four-zero-zero. That's how many students are at the Ubon Wittiya Khom school in Thailand. Bro. That's practically a small Australian town.
The important people gave their speeches, we each introduced ourselves and then there were many photos and exchanging of gifts. No really, from the amount of photos being taken, you would've thought we were exotic panda bears in an African zoo. It was nice though. Everyone was so welcoming and I got to meet briefly with the teachers from Ubon Wittiya who gave us each a little welcome gift.
One of the teachers told me that although the school is big, many of the students don't know any English at all. This is because unlike smaller schools in the area which are sometimes attended by students from more privileged families, Ubon Wittiya is the recipient of many rural kids who get sent to the city for their education. So in other words, it's kind of like the Cabramatta High of Ubon, Thailand...
Moved to a hotel for a fancy luncheon with the school and program representatives.
2. The Forest Temple
On the suggestion of the Governor, we went to visit one of Ubon's forest temples. Today was actually the last day in some sort of memorial event for the monk Ajahn Chah and pilgrims from all corners of Thailand had come to pay their respects (hence the prevalence of white clothing). Traditionally, you're supposed to walk three times around the temple but we only got time to do one round due to time constraints. It was quite a soothing experience though.
Fruit vendor selling guava, sour mango and some other interesting fruits.
3. Visited Central Plaza and saw an army of Snoopys
We went shopping afterwards for necessities. Thailand seems to be stuck in a perpetual festive state. A lot of Christmas trees and lights are still up, even a month after the holiday ended.
We came back at about 5 pm, played spoons for an hour, went to dinner, had a brief...briefing and then spent the rest of the night playing the most frustrating memory game ever with a whole bunch of people from different rooms. I will bring this back with me and torture you all with it because it is a strangely frustrating yet entertaining Frankensteined version of taboo and charades.