Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jackie Murphy


November-December 2013

How will you feel about going to a country for the first time not knowing where to stay, not knowing the language, not so sure how to communicate with them, with totally no friends, no relatives at all? Though my research tells me so much about the country, still, I can’t help but wonder how it is like to meet Thai people for the first time.

These were the questions I had in mind before going to Bangkok, the land of smiles. I wasn’t really excited to go there since it wasn’t for leisure in the first place. I got some heads up from few friends on how to temporarily settle there for four weeks, where to easily rent a place, some pointers and advices to remember about their culture, the do’s and the don’ts. Di nga lang kasing excited pag umuuwi sa Pinas dahil siyempre merong sumasalubong sa atin sa airport. Siyempre pa, our families, relatives and friends are informed beforehand na and that they’re as excited to enjoy every bit of your vacation. It was only then when I was at Narita airport that I felt I was leaving Tokyo because I need to show my passport at the counter again.

First stop: Suvarna bhumi Airport… Though Bangkok is relatively a safe city, I couldn’t help but worry a little bit because it was getting late at night na at baka iikot-ikot lang ako ng taxi kagaya ng mga ibang mga mapagsamantalang taxi drivers sa atin. I waited for some time as if I was waiting for someone. Decided to drop a few coins at a public phone to confirm my reservation at the hotel. ‘Sawadika’, someone answered!… huh?  Though I spoke  English di kami magkaintindihan ng kausap ko. Bisayain ko kaya ‘to? Huwag na lang… I asked for directions from an airport staff only to find out just a few speak English. He gave me assistance until I got myself a taxi to the hotel.

First day: report to the school na kaagad-agad. Asked for directions again from the hotel staff how to get to my school. Getting the train is the most convenient daw to get there. May LRT at MRT din sila…very efficient and convenient in fairness! The Thai school staff are so warm and so true with their friendly smiles.

The first taste of Bangkok: Maanghang and wow, authentic tom yum kun and pad thai,  may paksiw na pata pa…sarap! May mga pisbol (fish and squid balls), grilled chicken wings, may mga variety of isaw din sila as their street foods at may pritong tipaklong din…o ha! Lucky nga lang dahil my school is located in the heart of Bangkok, some famous western fastfood chains are everywhere too, kaya I also got a taste of the western food chains like Kentucky Fried Chicken, Mc Donalds and many others….

After school, sinubukan ko ring umikot sa palengkeng malapit sa tinitirhan ko…food galore to the max: lansones, atis, makopa, rambutan, manggang hilaw, dragon fruit at sobrang abundance ng supply nila sa gulay like sigarilyas, patola, saluyot, alucon, katuray at marami pang iba na hindi ko pa nakikita sa tanang buhay ko. Sobrang mura ang mga seafoods nila: lobsters, talangka, tahong, tilapia (super anlalaki), pusit at marami pang iba. I don’t wonder why some of these foods are exported to some other countries like Japan and the US making Thailand a strong competitor of the Philippines when it comes to the export market.

Though basically for the first three weeks, hotel school lang talaga. Ni hindi ko nga nagamit ang swim wear ko kahit na may pool sa hotel dahil sa halos walang time for that. Gosh, intensive training talaga? Everyone was in a hurry to go back home everyday to do their endless assignments and teaching practices. Sino ba naman ang hindi kakabahan eh nakamasid ang lahat ng mga trainees inside the classroom plus the CELTA trainer and the Cambridge assessor everytime we deliver our pieces….whew! Ayun kaya almost 2 to 4 hours sleep lang kami halos araw-araw. Ano ‘to? Tama ba ‘tong pinasok ko na ‘to? Sige lang may araw ka rin…hmmmp!

And for the last week, everyone was getting ready to finish off the course and every trainee was making his own last minute itinerary before heading back to his own country of origin. Right after the course, everyone was tossing ‘kampai’ to everyone. It was an honor and we feel so fortunate that some of our trainers joined us in that celebration. It was really, really tough to finish this intensive training but it was worth it.

And during our last day of sojourn, my other co-trainees and I decided to pay a visit at the Emerald Buddha Temple and from there visited the other famous tourist spots at the floating market and the Siam Mall.

Ang isa sa mga hindi ko makakalimutang experience was when I went to a Thai fastfood restaurant. The menu was of course in Thai language but the price is understandably in the numeric baht unit. Isang recipe ang umagaw ng pansin ko at tanging ang recipe na yun lang ang nakasulat sa alphabet and reads: ’unku’…may ganun? Natawa ako na kinabahan. Gusto ko mang tanungin at alamin kung ano man yun alam kong di rin kami magkakaintindihan ng restaurant staff. It must be something special in their menu for that matter but I need to emphasize a lot of gesturing to the waiter NOT TO EVER serve me that food (for a very obvious reason…gets mo?...ahahaha)

Though the training was not a so-so course, I had a great time and had a very memorable experience. I hope to visit there again and by that time it will be for pleasure with my few circle of friends to enjoy the city more.

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