“The Darkest Night is Ignorance”- Buddha

It seems as though my culture shock had come quickly and left just as fast. I am finally settled into my new apartment (basically a dorm room lol) and have been teaching my wonderful kindergarten class for about a week and a half now.  I feel like I have been learning a lot more than I could have anticipated and for that I am not only happy but humbled. It is funny how ignorant we can be to a culture we have never experienced. I don’t necessarily mean ignorant solely as being disrespectfully unmindful and unwilling to be open to differences. What I mean is simply and innocently not knowing. Although a touchy subject, so many of us are so familiar with how we live that it is hard to fathom how or why others live the way they do. However, what I can tell you from my short amount of time of living on the other side of the world is that no matter how far some countries are, most people all want the same thing; love, happiness, respect, and togetherness . Witnessing these characteristics in many Thai people, on multiple different accounts are definitely the reason why I feel so comfortable living here. It has caused a sense of belonging for me and has really made me feel at home.

I left Hua Hin last Monday at 6:30 am. That morning/day was probably one of the most nerve wracking days I have had yet. Sadly I had to leave all of my beloved Suchaya House ladies (miss you <3!) but it was time to start this new adventure! There were so many unknowns about where I was going that it was driving me mental (but like we have all been saying, This is Thailand, Mai Pen Rai- it means no worries!). However, the day went pretty flawlessly. Before making my way to my new town Ban Phai, I had to visit my agency in Bangkok for an orientation about my job placement and all fun things related to that. That lasted a lot longer than I expected. Once that was finished I had to hop in a taxi with all my belongings and make my way to Mo Chit bus station and somehow figure out what bus I needed to get on to start my journey 6 hours north-east of Thailand. Sound intimidating? Yup it was. However, my agent helped me out a lot. Anytime I would call her for help she would make me give my phone to a worker at the bus terminal and tell them where I needed to go. So this worked like a charm and definitely helped me navigate my way around much easier than I thought. It just so happened that like many others in my program, I was actually in Bangkok while the bomb happened, so of course I was receiving like 50 messages at a time asking me if I was safe. My internet on my phone had been acting up all day so I wasn’t sure what everyone was even talking about. I didn’t know a bomb had happened until 10 minutes before I hopped on my bus to leave Bangkok. As you can tell this situation didn’t help my already constant anxiety throughout the day. Anyways, it was close to 10:00 pm when I got on my bus and left for Khon Kaen (a major city an hour away from Ban Phai). I needed to go there first because it was too late for my agent to take me to Ban Phai so I would be spending the night in a hotel in Khon Kaen and leave for Ban Phai in the late afternoon. So I arrived in Khon Kaen around 3:00 am, got dropped off at some super sketchy side road bus stop and waited for my agent. She picked me up and brought me to the hotel where I would be spending the night. Anywho, fast forward to 4:00 pm that day, my agent finally brought me to my new home and showed me my school. I started work as a teacher that Wednesday.

Fun side notes:

  • My town is super tiny, surrounded by farms, the closest major city is an hour away and practically no one speaks a word of English. There is pretty much zero “westerner” food and no peanut butter here (I just finished my last jar today, God help me). What do I eat daily? Rice, Pad Thai, Patsiu and rice…rice and rice… lol. First night here here I thought there was a bird in my apartment. I heard squawking and it scared the shit out of me. Anyways, I ended up finding out that sound was not from a bird but a lovely lizard. Yup they effing squawk lmao. Since we’re talking about critters I should mention the cockroaches… They are a serious problem for me. It doesn’t matter where you are these suckers can be found everywhere and they ain’t small! These guys are huge, disgusting, vile, terrifying and useless in my eyes lol. I have been waking up constantly in the middle of the night scared shitless thinking one is in my bed, not a fun time.

Now to talk a little bit about teaching English in Thailand. The students I teach are the same 28 students everyday. I am considered a home room teacher which is cool because I am really bonding with these kids. The parents of my students pay for their children to receive extra English teaching. As a result, not only do I teach my kindergarten students English but, Phonics. Science, Math and Health as well.  For all of the reasons this job should be easy is exactly what makes it equally as challenging. Its not a walk in the park and it is definitely not a vacation. Its work. Just like anywhere else in the world. I can honestly say that I am slowly changing. I am truly not going to go back home to Canada as the same Chay. Something about this job makes you grow up in a way I would have never thought possible. You really learn to become an independent person and that is basically because no one can fully understand your language. The language barrier here is real. This leads to constant disorganization and confusion. Half the time you’re not really sure what the heck you are doing or if you are doing it right. But I have learned that the best thing to do here is to smile! When you are an approachable person, a likable person and most importantly a kind person you got this! People here will find some way to help you if you are in need. You might be mentally and physically drained and potentially on the brink of dehydration from the constant sweat but its worth it. As a teacher here, these kids absolutely adore you. You walk around half the time feeling like a mini celebrity. The amount of times I have been told I am beautiful, been given high fives and endless amounts of hugs have all made the intimidating factors of this job all the more welcoming.

xoChaylavie

Slowly Getting Comfortable

Well, would you look at that. I have already been living in Thailand for 3 weeks! How crazy is that? In the short time that I have been here I definitely feel like I am learning so much. Not only am I learning extremely important things related to Teaching English as a Second Language but more importantly I am learning a lot about myself. The last couple of weeks I have been struggling with adjusting. Although I am having fun and enjoying every moment of this adventure, there has been many moments where my anxiety has been extremely high. There have been times where I have felt lonely, confused and worried about everything in general. However, I know that these emotions are expected, so I have found some comfort in that.

I have always been home body but I have never been homesick before. Lo and behold I Chayla for the very first time ever have experienced an extreme case of feeling homesick. Everyday so far has come with it’s own struggles but I slowly find myself getting over those obstacles and falling in love with Thailand. This is a major break through! I think it is fairly easy to fall head over heels for this country though. Everything about it is enticing.  It’s beauty and the people who live here make it one of the most amazing countries I have visited so far.  The sense of community you feel when you are around the Thai people is incredible. Furthermore, I have never felt this safe in another country before. I can honestly say that I feel less nervous walking alone around the streets here at night than back at home!

As you can tell I have quite a bit to catch you up on. So let me start off by telling you about the fantastic week I had suffering with a severe ear infection. I am going to assume it was from the shower but I don’t know for certain. Anyways, last week this friggen thing destroyed me! It started last Wednesday but it was very mild. I really didn’t think much about it until Thursday, when the pain started to get more intense. That Thursday I wasn’t sure what to do, so I went to the pharmacy and picked up some ear drops specifically for ear infections but the dumb thing made it a hundred times worse. Thursday night I tried to go to sleep, took probably one too many Tylenol, but nothing helped. A few hours later the pain was so unbearable I was literally in tears. Completely agonizing! My lovely roommate suggested that we should go to the hospital. Totally annoyed with this whole scenario I agreed, mostly because we are lucky enough that the hospital is our next door neighbour! I was so thankful that she came with me. Nothing is freakier than being sick in another country and not knowing what to do or where to go. Also, I felt terrible because it was getting late and that following morning would be our very first day teaching English (6 classes of approximately 40 students). Of course, the one night we needed a decent sleep, I had to go to the hospital, oh joy.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of the hospital is extremely long line ups, sick people looming everywhere and hour long waits just to get sent from one room to another. Now, ask me if this is the case in Thailand? Nope! Not at all. Completely in shock I was in and out of the hospital in under an hour. To be honest I’ve waited longer in bank lines lol. The doctor prescribed me with antibiotics and painkillers, thank the Lord! However, my dreadful night didn’t end there. Once we got back home I took my antibiotics and painkillers. About an hour later I was extremely nauseated and had to dodge myself out of bed and sprint to the bathroom. Whatever you think happened next is EXACTLY what happened. Vomiting, lots of it. My poor roommate. Sarah if you only knew how mortified I was… Lmao. Anyways, not realizing until the next day that the doctor had prescribed me Amoxicillin, which I had told him I was allergic too (I love language barriers). Well, this explained the horrific vomiting scene the night before.

The day of our “camp” arrived (that Friday) and as you can assume I was feeling like complete and utter shit still. I could barely keep my head up. However, this was going to be my first day of teaching and I didn’t want to miss out because of a stupid ear infection. Luckily for me my instructor helped me out by giving me a partner to help teach my classes (Thank you!!!). The day was complete chaos but worth every second! The kids were unlike anything I have ever experienced. Totally wild, but adorable. I have never been greeted with so many high fives and hugs in my life!

As week three is coming to an end, everyone in my program has become close. Friendships have been made between all of us and it is going to be bittersweet to have to say goodbye. However, it is time to do what we all came here to do! This week we have been told about our work placements and where we will be moving. It seems like everyone is going to be scattered evenly throughout Thailand. Starting this Sunday most of us will be moving from Hua Hin! So soon, it seems crazy, I have been told that I will be moving to a town in the province of Isan called Khon Kaen. It’s north eastern Thailand and approximately 8 hours away from Hua Hin and close to Laos. I got placed into a Catholic private school with about 400 students and only 1 other foreign teacher (how cool is that?!). I will be teaching 4-6 year olds and have about 35 students per a class. I am so excited! Definitely cannot wait until the next part of this journey and meet these cute little kiddies!

xoChaylavie

Expect The Unexpected

It’s already been almost a week since I left home and I can honestly tell you that I am still in shock that I am here. For many, you have this idea that I am In Thailand, soaking up the sun, probably laying on a nice beach somewhere, white sand between my toes and maybe, just maybe a cold drink in my hand. Nope, not even close. Instead, I am literally dying of heat, sweating 100% of the time (and I mean dripping sweat), not using an air conditioner at night in order to save money, having an extremely hard time adjusting to the food here and constantly feel like there are so many unknowns about this trip that I am on. However, although daunting, something about it is making me feel more humbled as a person and I am loving that. Visiting a country is completely different when you are not visiting as a tourist! So many people have these ideas of how amazing it would be to live in another country but do not realize how complicated it is to fully immerse yourself in that culture and live like a local. I am still experiencing some of the luxuries as a tourist however in a little over three weeks that will change dramatically. In September I could be moving to a place where I may be one of only a few English speaking people in my town (lmao I’m terrified)! The mix of emotions that I have been experiencing this week are surreal.

Most of you know that I have come to Thailand to teach English as a second language. As a result, I am taking a course that lasts a month and will certify me to teach English within Thailand and just about anywhere else. I just moved to a “resort” town called Hua Hin, approximately 3 hours south of Bangkok and will be living here for the duration of that month. Everyday I have to be at school around 7:45 am and generally have class all day until 4:00 pm with a little over 20 people that are pretty awesome. Our apartment is a far walk from school so everyday we have to take a Songthaew. This thing is hilarious. It’s a little passenger vehicle that is basically a truck that people can hop on and off of like a bus. They’re super cheap so they are very desirable to use in order to get around town.

So far my classes have consisted of Thai Language, Thai Culture, a Teacher Workshop and a class about our teaching placement once we finish the course. This week we also got to go on a couple of field trips and see some pretty cool things! Yesterday we got the opportunity to travel to a little rural area and visit a Pineapple farm. The pineapples here were amazing (so sweet and refreshing in this insane heat!!!)! Any pineapples that aren’t considered “good enough” for human consumption are saved and given away as a donation to the Hutsadin Elephant Sanctuary. After the pineapple farm this elephant sanctuary was our next little adventure. We all donated a little bit of money in order to take a few large bags with us to feed the elephants. This was an awesome experience. The elephants here are adorable! One in particular named Songkran was the cutest little thing I’ve even seen. This little baby Elephant is only 7 years old and can paint flowers and even play soccer (yes I just said an elephant could paint)! I’ve never seen anything like it in my life lol! It was super cute.

Today, we got to visit a dog rescue here in Hua Hin called Rescue paws and The Khao Tao Temple. Rescue Paws is amazing. All over Thailand there is a high population of stray dogs but Hua Hin in particular has a massive population of them. So, Rescue Paws was created by some amazing dog lovers who provide a place to take in these stray dogs and provide care for them in to ensure they live a better and healthier life. The goal is to have all of these dogs spayed and neutered to decrease the amount of homeless dogs in the town. Anyways, this place was great and even has some of the dogs up for adoption. They had mentioned that if we are interested we can adopt one and bring it back home with us. Not going to lie, I considered it a few times lmao. The dogs even have pretty sweet access to the beach which is clearly used to help aid their rehabilitation as well. After Rescue Paws we went to Khao Tao Temple. This temple was so serene. Located on a mountain, surrounded by trees and the ocean. We stayed there for a little while, hiked up the mountain to see the huge Buddha, learned a little bit about meditation, Buddhist monks and then headed back home. It has been crazy rainy all day so my roommate and our other friends decided to call it an early night and relax.

So here I am, inside my hot and sticky room, drinking warm beer and contemplating whether or not I should eat my instant noodles bought from a convenience store. Have a good night everyone- Or I guess good morning/afternoon for the most of you lol.

xoChaylavie

Culture to the friggen shock!

Day 1: I’m in Bangkok. Is it hot? TOO hot. Is it busy? Insanely! Are people friendly? Extremely! Am I homesick? Yes…

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Now I am not a dumbie and I know that I was going to be in for a change. After all, I did move to the other side of the friggen planet. But I can assure you that I was not mentally nor physically prepared for the differences in culture that I have experienced in this single day alone. Jet lag was brutal for me and after traveling for a little over 19 hours total I was and still am a mess. Upon arrival to the Bangkok airport I was lucky enough to have airport pickup waiting to bring me to my hotel! I’ll have to admit, it was kind of neat seeing a man standing in the pick up area holding a sign up with my name on it. It took about an hour to get to my hotel but to be honest it seemed like hours upon hours. I kept dozing off on the drive so I was pretty out of it for that duration lol. Anyways, after all that time and travel I finally arrived to my sketchy but cozy little hotel in the city around 8 pm last night. The hotel is cute but it is located on some super narrow creepy side street which made me feel like I was in a horror movie while we were pulling in last night haha (don’t fret, this totally adds to the adventure of it all!). The foyer of the hotel is an open concept so there are no walls… Essentially it has no windows and is basically outside. Once I got dropped off I stood there all alone. No front desk employee, no other tourists, no one, absolutely effing no one. Clearly not knowing what else to do I decided to just stand there and wait. About 20 minutes later some wonderful Thai man, about my age staying at the same hotel tried to help me find an employee so that I could check in. His English was very limited but he did the best he could and literally just smiled the entire time! I told him that he could leave and that I would just wait for an employee to come. After almost half an hour of waiting a sweet little lady came to the front desk. She checked me in immediately and guess what? She smiled the entire time lol. Yup, welcome to the “Land of Smiles.” I get to the sixth floor and I am ecstatic to see that my room is fairly large and there is an amazingly working air conditioner (bomb!). Anywho, you’d think after all of this I would be a zombie and ready to crash, considering I barely slept the entire travel over here. Instead I just chilled out for a bit and tried to relax. I was too wired, lonely and freaked out to go to sleep right away. It also didn’t help that it sounded like there were animals fighting right outside my hotel. By the time I did end up falling asleep I practically woke up every hour throughout the night. Around 6 am I was wide awake and decided to get my ass up and out of bed. Lucky for me one of the girls from my program messaged our Facebook group asking if anyone was around and wanted to get breakfast. So four of us got together and had breakfast! After that we decided to do the tourist thing and explore. We took the Sky Train and one of those sweet longtailed flowered decorated boats to get to the Grand Palace 🙂 ! The Grand Palace was amazing. Pictures honestly do not do it justice in any way shape or form. The detail of all of the buildings is immaculate and unlike anything I have ever seen. I also learned some cool things, you’re not allowed to wear shoes in Temples, you must always dress appropriately when entering a Temple (they take this very seriously- shoulders and knees must be covered), also when sitting on a Temple floor your toes must NEVER point towards Buddha, feet should always point behind you. Afterward, we decided to get something to eat at this cute little restaurant we walked by. I got chicken Pad Thai! As expected it was completely different from any Pad Thai I’ve had back home. But it was just as good! Following that, we went to Wat Pho, where the huge Reclining Buddha is. This was super cool as well and freaking massive! We walked around for hours and sweat poured from us the entire time. Hair a disaster, heat rash all over and thirsty 100% of the time…Yeah not a pretty sight. I have never experienced hotter weather than what I did today! We all just about died. We also walked through a market which felt like I was surrounded by a hundred auctioneers. Total and complete chaos! We finished our sight seeing and decided to call it a day. Getting back to the hotel was a mission, an extremely tiring one. We ended up taking the public ferry back to train station because it was cheaper and immediately regretted that decision. The whole thing was packed. Everyone friggen crammed together like hot, sweaty, nasty sardines. On top of that workers on the ferry were constantly screaming and shouting things God only knows and caused instant headaches to us all. Finally we got to the station, boarded the train and made it back to the hotel. First day was awesome but I am in shock at the fast-paced life here. I thought Toronto was fast, boy was I wrong. Instead of culture shock slowly approaching me I got slapped in the face and run over by a tuk tuk from it.

xoChaylavie

Roll with The Punches

It is one month until I say my good-byes. One month until I roll that big suitcase of mine-which will have my life packed in it- and board that plane. One month until my life will forever be changed. One month until I will find out where my mental threshold resides and whether or not I can push beyond those capacities. One month until I experience a new world of everlasting heat and humidity and exactly ONE month until I find out if true love can withstand the test of distance.

Do not think for two seconds that I am not scared to death because I absolutely am. Thinking about what is to come is a scary thought, a lonely thought and intimidating one. However, it is those characteristics that drive me. They are exactly what excite me about venturing into new and unusual waters. I guess you could say I am a wanderer. I lust for it.

Today, July 9, 2015, officially marks two weeks until I leave. Holy cow, does time ever fly! I am not fully sure how I am supposed to be feeling but I sure can tell you I am probably experiencing every emotion even freaking possible! I was shopping for professional work outfits yesterday, which has not been the easiest of tasks, but such is life. Anyways, a retail associate and I started talking about my big move. She asked me a question I have been asked a 100 times this month.

“Are you ready yet?”

In my usual, anxious, classic Chay self I replied “Absolutely freaking not! Not even close.”

Well, I probably shouldn’t over exaggerate. I am very organized and I have the majority of my packing and all my necessary documents ready to go. However, despite my endless hours of planning my mind is not quite as organized.

She ended our conversation by telling me something stuck to me like leather clothes on a hot day (that’s attractive lol).

“You can never be fully ready or prepared enough for the unknown.”

Smart girl. She made a point. An excellent point actually. So I guess I am going to have to get used to this-the unknown. My life for the next year or so is going to be full of it. Time to roll with the punches!

xo Chaylavie

Thought of The Day

I don’t care if people think travel is a waste of money. To me, it is money well spent. & through such a transaction I don’t gain something materialistic or tangible but I do gain memories that will last a lifetime. To me, that is freakin priceless! ❤

xo Chaylavie

Adventure-lust

I have always been an adventurous person, even as a little girl. I was that kid who always wandered away from my mom at almost any chance I got. The numerous times that panic set in when I realized my mom was nowhere to be found simply because I strayed too far, is still all to vivid in my mind. Thank God each terrifying scenario always ended happily, once again reunited and safe. However, into my early adulthood that adventurous side is still present.

There is something about new experiences that I can’t seem to get enough of. Overall, I think being adventurous is simple. You want to go on a two week stay in an Eco Lodge right in the heart of the Costa Rican rainforest? Go for it! Now, being able to do something to fully satisfy that undying urge is what’s complicated. One whose heart thrives for excitement and the unknown will never be 100% satisfied. Because to be satisfied means you are content. And this world is far to big for me to be content with only seeing a part of it. Instead, my heart only wants more. 🌎✌😍❤🙌

-xo Chaylavie

6 Things Only People With Wanderlust Will Understand

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1. Money=Travel

You truly feel like the very purpose of your existence is to explore this enormous world that you reside in. No matter how many places you visit, you will never be freaking satisfied. You always want more. Some may tell you that you are silly for spending so much money on travel. Yes, I of all people understand how expensive it can be (you do not want to know how much I have spent on my adventures in the last 4 and a half years). However, no matter how expensive, as long as the adventure and excitement is promising, you WILL find a way to make it happen. To you, travel is money well spent.

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2. The Fever Is Real

Once you get bit in the ass by your good ol’ pal the travel bug (and you will), you are infected and you will go to any lengths to ensure that you can continue your travels. Travel to you is not just a “vacation”. In fact it is a lifestyle! You know that there are endless possibilities and get excited at the slightest thought of what you will see next. Your desires are fed by knowing there will always be a NEW place, adventure, culture, food, timezone, climate, landscape and beauty that you can experience.

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3. You’re Always Planning, Always

During a trip you are already making a mental list of the next possible destination/s that you can visit, meanwhile your current trip has not even come to an end. It becomes a sick obsession. You start to become absolutely fascinated with the idea of picking up and just leaving. No plans, no destination in particular, just get up, grab a few essential things, book a flight and go.

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4. It’s Not A Dealbreaker But It’s Close

Your significant or potential significant other MUST and I mean MUST at the very least have some travel goals in mind. We who suffer from wanderlust need a companion who can understand our strong impulsive desire to get around. If not, we are going to have a problem. In our minds travelling the world equals a perfect life. However, add a travel enthused lover into that equation and you end up with pure bliss!

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5. You Are Social Media’s Worst Nightmare

You devote your time on social media to stalk travel pictures others have posted. Your very own Instagram is flooded with so many of your own personal travel images that your friends begin to become annoyed with you and at times even contemplate unfollowing you. You also become quite the hashtag whore in order to share your pictures with other like-minded individuals (#travel #travelbug #adventure blah blah blah #hastagmentalcase). In doing so you end up with follows and likes from some pretty cool and experienced adventure seekers/backpackers.

6. Comfort Zone? What’s That?

Travel is something you crave. You find it absolutely irresistible and would go to any lengths to do so. This world is a lot bigger than what we could ever imagine. I say, why not discover it? For those of us who lustfully wander, we prefer to find the beauty beyond the confines of our comfort zone.

-Chaylavie xo

Where My Heart Lies

Ever since my first major family vacation at the age of 16 I have been brutally attacked, infected and consumed by the travel bug. As a result, over the last seven years I have traveled to many interesting and exciting places. I promised myself that as soon as I got my blog up and running I would take some time to focus and reflect on the many adventures I have been on.This blog post in specific will not focus on the various places I have been too however it will focus on one destination in particular; the place where I left my heart…Austria. I visited Austria back in 2011 for a university Field Studies course. This course was designed for 3rd and 4th year students to expose them to a range of issues particular to the visited countries and regions. Anyways rather than boring you with all the nitty gritty details let me illustrate why Austria is one of my favourite places on this planet.

Enjoy!

xo Chaylavie

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