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Teaching Tales from Thailand: Are we There Yet?

Last weekend I had an amazing adventure with all the teachers and the two directors from my school. The planned retreat was an opportunity to get to know each other better and talk a little about STEM. For non teachers, this is the big push in education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Teachers are encouraged to develop STEM activities to supplement curriculum. There is an A (Art) that is sometimes added to make STEAM. However, administrators tend to push the art to the bottom of the pile. Anyway…I’ll jump off the soapbox now. Here’s how the weekend unfolded….

The Beginning

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We left Kalasin at about 4:30 a.m. on Saturday. At 7:30, we made our first of 11 eleven stops at a roadside stand to get some roasted chicken and sticky rice…a small snack before breakfast. About 30 minutes later we stopped for breakfast which consisted of a soup type dish with noodles…:/. When got back on the road, the karaoke started. It was 8:45 a.m. Throughout the day and the numerous rest stops (always with a 7-11) the singing continued. Yes, I sang a few songs. 🙂 We rolled into the town of Prachuap Khiri Khan (our final destination) at about 7:30 p.m. Our dinner outside included many visits by flying bugs that looked like hornets and lots of seafood. Finally, we got to the resort at about 9:30 p.m. and crashed. Day 1…over.

The Middle

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The next day we woke up and had breakfast outside about 5 steps from the sand. It was SO beautiful and peaceful. At about 8:30, we piled into the back of a pick up truck to drive to the harbor. There we were outfitted with life vests, masks and snorkels and we headed out into the Gulf of Thailand. Our first stop was at a beautiful rock formation with caves for some pictures. Next stop…snorkeling. What a treat!!! I have never seen so many varieties of fish and coral before. The coolest thing I saw were HUGE clams that were variegated purple, white and black inside. I wish I had a waterproof camera! After about 30 minutes, we packed up and headed to another snorkeling spot for another 20-30 minutes. We were back on shore by about 12:30 to shower and prepare for our STEM presentations. Before presentations, we had a snack of fish, fish and fish. Presentations lasted about 30-45 minutes with LOTS of pictures. Did I mention that Thai people LOVE to take pictures?! Done with work and nothing to do? KARAOKE!! Yep, Thai people also LOVE karaoke. Yes, I sang again. The director of the school requested “Hotel California” so of course I obliged!  At about 5 we had more fish for dinner while the singing and now some dancing continued. By 6:30 we were back at the dock to go squishing (my word for squid fishing). It took awhile but eventually people (not me…boo!) started catching squid and the ink was flying. Once there were about 10 squid in the bucket one of the crew members started cleaning and preparing the squid for the bbq. They cooked and served the catch while people kept fishing. I didn’t catch any so I didn’t try any. 🙂 We finally made it back to to dock by about 9:30 and were in our rooms by about 10. Day 2…check.

The End

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We were up bright and early on Monday, July 4th for our trip back home. From experience, we knew it would be a long day, but we had no idea how long it would actually be. Our standard 11 stops included a gorgeous temple, a monument of past kings, a Thai food shop, and a fish market where we stayed for 3 hours…not intentionally. There was a minor accident involving one of our vans, so we had to wait for insurance, etc. While we waited, we decided it would be a good idea to eat. Molly (another farang teacher from Georgia) and I went to get some fried rice while the rest of the gang opted for fish. While waiting for our dinner, we saw a commotion in the eating area next to us and quickly learned that there was a snake on the loose. So…I ate dinner with my feet on the chair and my eyes on the floor. They never found the snake. :/ We left there about 6:30 and finally made it back to Kalasin at 2:45 on Tuesday morning. Oh…did I mention there was karaoke on the ride home?! Also, after our stop for lunch, someone put some videos on that looked a little like soft porn…beautiful Thai girls in skimpy bottoms and no tops. Awkward.

Day 3…put a fork in me

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There were several things I took away from this adventure. First, there are so many beautiful and interesting places to visit in this world. I hope to continue to experience as many of them as possible during the next  8 1/2 months. Second, I have always considered myself to be a fish eater. Well…I guess I should amend that to fish (with no head attached) eater in America only. I continue to at least try most things. Finally, even though I was frustrated and uncomfortable at times during the long van ride, it became very clear to me that this trip it wasn’t about getting to our destination; it was about the journey there. Of course the destination was amazing, but there were so many new experiences on the way there and back that I will forever be in my memories of Thailand. So…this trip reminded me that this is what life is about. Too often we get caught up in “getting there”–the promotion, the vacation, the bigger house or the newer, expensive car–and we forget to enjoy the journey. It’s important to enjoy the ride because (to quote Seals & Croft) “We may never pass this way again.”

Love to all!!

P.S. I am going with the other foreign teachers next weekend Fri-Wed to an island called Koh Chang. I’m sure I will have lots to tell. 🙂

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About the author

Julie Asaro

Julie Asaro has always been someone who loves adventures and is willing to try most things (at least one time), but her move to Thailand definitely tops the list!! At almost 50 years old, she's getting to do what many people only dream about. Now we can all live vicariously through her tales as she spends a year teaching in Thailand.

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