Work was mellow, and went by quickly. One of my classes got cancelled so it was a pretty easy day. After work I found out that we were having two more couch surfers coming to stay with us, this time from Hong Kong and Japan. Nick, Kay and I went to the market to buy food and kitchen supplies, so we could make a big dinner for our friends.
Kay is going to slowly teach me how to cook Thai food, so I watched her shop and helped her in the kitchen. We had a bunch of our friends over and they brought alcohol, which saved me having to purchase my own for the evening. For dinner Kay and I made a big pot of Tom Yum soup with goong (shrimp) and Kao Pad Gai (chicken fried rice). Afterwards we went down to the riverside, walked around and then I split ways from the group and met up with some friends at a new club called Cool Club. I didn’t have to purchase anything at the club since I had a small bottle of whiskey that a friend had brought over and I drank it on ice, which I almost never do. We danced and danced while getting stared at by all the Thai people around us, and had a really good time. At one point I was definitely rocking out to Bon Jovi “It’s My Life.” It was one of those moments when I reminded myself…. when in Thailand. I left sometime around 2 am after I had drank my fair share of whiskey, and went home to pass out in my bed.
Around 7 am I was ripped from my much-needed sleep by firecrackers exploding all around my neighborhood. For some reason people felt that was an appropriate time to start the new years celebrations, but my head did not agree. It sounded like a battlefield outside my house, and made going back to sleep impossible. Instead I went out to breakfast at Kay’s café, with Nick and the couch surfers, and Kay made me breakfast and iced coffee for free.
After breakfast, Nick suggested we go to the monkey university, and offered to pay for me since I was close to running out of money. The monkey university is a training college, where monkeys learn to collect coconuts. They got to the university for three months and then get their coconut farming degrees and can go back to the families that they work for.
After spending the afternoon at the monkey college, I came back and tried to get some sleep before going out for the evening. Around eight I went over to a friend’s house to pre-drink before going out for Culture Shock. Culture Shock is a monthly event put on by another teacher, who throws a big party at a bar and has different DJs and it’s more or less a huge party for Westerners. The three-dollar bottle of whisky I bought, along with mixers and putting gas in my bike, left me with less than five dollars (USD) to my name. When I got to GM, the bar where Culture Shock was being held, I realized that I had left my bottle of whiskey at my friends, and so another friend shared her unlimited drink wristband with me. Thats one of the most wonderful things about Thailand. The community I am is generous, giving, and always looking out for one another. I’m realizing that as much as Thailand is my own experience, a big part of it is those you surround yourself with. Good company is essential to enjoying your time abroad.
On Sunday I ended up going over my budget by about $5. I went and picked up a loaf of bread and peanut butter, which is the most expensive thing I normally buy. A bottle of Skippy extra chunky (of course) costs more than a bottle of whisky and mixers. I also had run out of water, and took all of my water jugs to fill up for the week. I hung out around my house ad was really lazy and slept till after lunch, and then watched a movie and did small things around the house. It’s starting to get hotter in Thailand and so my motivation to be active is declining. The temperature is in the low nineties and its only going to head upwards for the next few months. I relaxed and killed time until our couch surfer arrived, ad then I decided to go for a bike ride and invited him to join me. I had wanted to watch the sun set from the top of the city, so he and I went to one of my favorite places in the province. At home, in San Diego, we have this point that I used to go to in high-school, appropriately nicknamed Top of the World. The park I took him to is my Thailand Top of the World. You can see the density of the city that quickly fades into a denser tropical jungle. Pictures do not do the view justice. We watched the sunset and then fed fresh fruit to the monkeys that live there (in cages). We ended the night with dinner at a soup cart which cost me a dollar, and then drinks out with a group of friends, that once again, I was treated to.
Had I not hosted couch surfers three times in one week, I don’t believe I would have gone over my budget. But at the same time, one of the points of this eight day challenge was to demonstrate how much you can do with a ten dollar a day budget. I still went out almost every night, and didn’t really have to cut any concerns. However, I am surrounded by very generous friends who al treated me throughout the week, and I could not be more grateful for the awesome people in my life. It was hard to stay as detailed as I would have liked to have been, but i hope this offered you a small picture of what life is like living and working in Thailand. It is far from any experience you would have traveling here as a backpacker, but I love everyday of it and look forward to all that is still yet to come.