• Athena Ives

Teaching in Thailand

As I walked into the Kindergarten classroom 30 pairs of eyes are staring at me curiously and wondering what this crazy lady is going to do next. I begin with a few songs and then into "teacher says". The hour flies by and I find myself excitedly planning for the next day’s activities. Every day we have lunch with the other teachers in the “cantina” where they love to see our reactions to the food. One of the teachers always serves us our bowl of rice and then informs my roommate which side dishes are spicy. They all know I will try everything and love spicy food. The teachers laugh when I say “I like” in Thai and find it amusing when I try different types of sauce on things they would usually not. As I look around the table I feel so at home and am beginning to care about each of these amazing women. One resembles the Queen of Thailand and I have formed a special bond with her. I called her my Thai mom which the English teacher translated to her and she couldn’t stop smiling.

I’m beginning to learn the ways of traveling in Thailand and I absolutely love it. There are little taxi stops where men with orange vests on mopeds wait to take you wherever you need. This is by far the cheapest and most adventurous way of commuting and one I have come to love. Nothing better than straddling a man you’ve never met, the wind blowing in your hair, passing rice fields, and what would be a $30 cab ride in the states costs less than a dollar. My students bring me freshly picked bunches of bananas, mangos, rose apples, and their favorite foods which I always try in front of them. I do my best to have the most pleasant reaction no matter what the taste. As much satisfaction it brings them to have “teacher” like what they brought, it gives me such joy watching their reaction.

The week passes quickly and it is Friday afternoon before I know it and I find myself on the bus to Bangkok. When we arrive my roommate and I find our way to Khosan Road and start to look for a hotel with rooms available. We found one off the main strip and take the first hot shower I’ve had in three weeks. The hotel has free wifi as most of them do and found that some other interns were meeting up at the D&D pool.

I decided to get out of my comfort zone and sport my bright red wig I use in photoshoots and while I’m standing waiting for some of the other interns to arrive a group of girls approach me and ask for my picture. After pictures and a bit of chatting I find out that they are here on vacation from Turkey and we exchange information and promised to keep in touch. After dinner, we wander into Lucky bar and ordered some drinks.

The weekend before I had a date planned with a guy I really care about and truly want to be with but life happens and he doesn’t feel the same. So I decided to attempt the tinder dating games and agreed to meet with a guy while I was in Bangkok. After getting lost trying to find the meetup point I told him the bar I was at because he knew the area well. After a no show I got back to my room and saw two messages: I see you” and “I’m leaving”. I messaged him back and asked him why he didn’t say something or come over. He replied, “I saw you dancing on stage with the gogo dancers and left”. Upon which he deleted me and blocked me hahahaha. Oh well, I need a man, not an intimidated little boy.

Saturday I was beginning to come down with a cold so I took it easy and decided to wander off and do a bit of shopping. Ended up getting my nose pierced and spent five well-spent hours getting my hair braided with colored extensions. As I sat getting my hair done I watched the streets turn from the family tourists and shoppers to the night scene of Bangkok. The music got louder, people were becoming intoxicated with their friends, two Indian gentlemen were heatedly arguing over stealing customers, and by far the most interesting was the booth next to me. This booth was selling fake IDs and I witnessed the following transactions: drunk American asking for a DEA ID, and Irish man asking for a green card for his Spanish girlfriend using a picture of her off of his phone, others asking for drivers licenses, and some even asking for fake passports…..