Jake, outbound to Thailand

Half-way through my exchange already… I don’t really like the sound of that. I can honestly still remember my first day here in Thailand very clearly, stepping off the airplane in Khon Kaen and going to the mall with my family to get some food. At that meal they started calling me a baby because I couldn’t eat spicy food and I was practically dying through the entire meal (no kidding it was so painful haha). That was a different time though and I can definitely say I have grown, matured, and learned so much from that point.

The last time I wrote to you I had so much to talk about. Since then I haven’t been doing as much traveling and life has just kind of gone to normal. However, that doesn’t mean life hasn’t been fun, my life over here is the most fun it has been possibly in my entire life. In this journal I will just talk about what I have been up to for the past couple months.

The first major thing that happened last week is….. SCHOOL ENDED!!!! High school in Thailand starts in May, and ends in March. When I was told that maybe a month before school ended, I was so excited. All my friends in the USA are getting ready for AP Exams and Finals, my friends on exchange also have to get ready for exams and I get to relax and travel for a few months. Speaking of traveling, my second Rotary trip starts on the 15th! School ends and then I get to travel around Thailand with my best friends from around the world, I don’t know if you can guess how excited I actually am.

That actually takes me to my next topic which is the second Rotary Trip! We are going to the tropical South of Thailand. The area we are going to is called กระบี่ or Krabi in English. All the exchange students have really been looking forward to this trip because as much as we love climbing up leech infested mountains while getting HEAVY rain poured on us (see my last journal), we also love to hang out at the beach go explore the tropical areas of Thailand. Whenever I ask my Thai friends about Krabi, they are always so jealous of me and say it is so beautiful and that most of them have never been. The ones that have been though, tell me that there are so many tourists there.

Living in a small town in the Northeast of Thailand, tourists usually don’t come here much. They usually just don’t come to the Northeast because the northeast region is very rural. So when I go to places with a lot of tourists on vacations with my exchange student friends it is always a weird experience. My favorite thing about it is no one looks at me like I am from another planet! It is so nice not to have so many eyes on you at all time.

One of the funniest things that has happened to me here was in Bangkok. I was at the King's Temple in Bangkok, Home of the Emerald Buddha. I was sitting in the shade and a tourist group came up to me also wanting to sit in the shade. I started overhearing what they were saying and could tell they were speaking Chinese. So one of them saw me and pulled out his phone to say something to me, but had to translate it from Chinese to English first. He typed it in on his phone and before he translated it I saw what he was trying to translate and just said it to him in Chinese. I was shocked at this point because I thought I forgot almost all of the Chinese that I have learned but it’s still there! He, however, was a lot more shocked and did the biggest double take on me I have ever seen, he was just speechless. Then they all started talking to me in rapid Chinese and I did my best to communicate in the little Chinese I remember. Shortly after their tour guide came and started speaking Thai with me which was a lot easier and they just didn’t know what to think of me I guess. At that point my friends came up to me and then we went and explored the temple which is beautiful by the way! It was my second time going and I think I have already written about it in a past journal.

Along with all the crazy stuff I have just talked about, I went on two vacations in the past couple months. One was to จันทบุรี (Chanthaburi) and Bangkok. The story I just told was on this vacation. I went with two other exchange students and one of their host dads. It was for 5 days and was very very fun! Anytime you can travel with another exchange student you always know it is going to be a good time. In Chanthaburi we saw another exchange student, Shayna, who lives there. She showed us around her city and saw one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen in my life. I will add a picture of it to the journal. After that we went on to Bangkok.

The city of Bangkok is one of the craziest and liveliest places I have ever been to in my life. I don’t know if I could ever live in a city like it. The traffic there is always bad and people drive really crazy. In Bangkok we went to see beautiful temples, the house of one of the former Kings, and we also went to some of the biggest malls I have ever been to in my life. There are three malls all connected by a sky walk so you don’t have to worry about crossing the street to get to the other one. There is also a train if you want to pay and are too lazy to walk.

In the mall I met up with Stephanie, one of the other exchange students from Florida to Thailand! I texted her telling her I would be in Bangkok and she said she was too! So we met up at one of the really big malls. Our time in Bangkok flew by and soon enough we were on the 8 hour drive back to my little town. After arriving at like 11pm I went straight to bed because I had to get up at 5 am for my second “vacation” which was the next day. I put “vacation” like this because it was a school field trip with my Thai class to the zoo of a nearby city. I got up really early and met up with my Thai class in front of the school. Everyone was really tired but I was about to fall asleep at any point . As soon as we got on the bus I put my head down and remember waking up at the zoo.

My class had already taken a bunch of pictures of me while I was asleep so that was fun. We walked around the zoo for a few hours and before I knew it we had to go home. It was only a day trip so we couldn’t stay for that long. As we got on the bus I assumed it was going to be like a school bus in the USA where we can talk but we just sit down the whole time. If I only knew how wrong I was. When we started leaving music blared through the speakers on the bus and everyone just got up and started dancing in the isle. It was a huge dance fest the entire way back to School.

If you are asking, yes I danced too! Rotary taught us well at the orientations (outbounds will know what I mean). I keep wanting to write how this was one of the funniest or best moments of my exchange, but I find myself saying it way too much. This is because all of the times I have over here are just amazing and I find them all to be some of the best times of my exchange.

I will write another journal really soon after my trip and another big national holiday coming up, Songkran!!! I recently had to choose a return date home, which makes me realize that my time in Thailand is coming to an end and I need to make every moment and experience here count.