January 7th, 2015
Ah, yes. Teachers Sports Day. On the same day that we had to leave for our Visa Run to Laos, we had a lovely day off from school dedicated to teachers participating in a sports day. Four schools, one of them being ours, competed against each other in a number of predetermined sports.
The sports (at least, the ones I could recall) were volleyball, basketball, chairball, and some sport where it’s basically volleyball and soccer combined. Oh, and if you don’t know what chairball and the second sport are, that’s totally normal because these sports are pretty much played in only Thailand (as far as I know, anyway).
During the indoor volleyball match, all of the Thai and foreign teachers who weren’t participating in any sports had to sit in the bleachers, holding spray painted cardboard, which when placed together, made the Thai flag. And we had to dance with our white glove covered hands and pom-poms. And cheer…sort of. We just sang and moved our pom-poms around. Our school was honestly more obsessed with our cheering than the actual game. Odd, coming from America where winning in sports and cheering people on in them is so common.
Oh, and a few of the Thai teachers, both men and women, wore some interesting outfits to get us to cheer louder.
Eventually, us foreign teachers got bored and decided to walk around the premises, which was actually a lovely park that contained the Chonburi Football Club stadium and various other buildings and courts where the Teachers Sports Day was held. We watched some chairball, which is kindof like basketball, except there’s no dribbling, only passing, and instead of baskets, they have people standing on chairs, holding actual baskets above their heads. That got boring eventually, so we watched the volleyball-soccer games, which were surprisingly very entertaining! The Thai men who were playing were extremely skilled at the sport! It was my favorite sport to watch there.
Then, we moved on and watched basketball because they had one of the foreign teachers playing for our school! He was the only foreign teacher to be able to play (of the games I watched, anyway), so we obviously all had to watch. And guess what? We won!
After that, Matt and I grabbed our heaping backpacks and headed out to Laos!
Visa Run to Laos: January 7th-January 9th
Alright, I have to be entirely honest with you: our excursion to Laos wasn’t exactly as exciting as you may think or hope it would’ve been. So, in order to keep you interested, I have decided to just make a short list of things we witnessed and did both in and on the way to Laos.
1. We took a 12-hour bus ride there. Yes, yet another forever-long bus ride.
2. We hardly slept at all on that bus because of the screaming Russian women at the front of the bus.
3. We arrived at the border before dawn and waited a half hour for the gates to allow us (and about fifty other people that were there!) to cross over.
4. Passport control will always have a long line, apparently even at the Laos border at six in the morning.
After passport control on a bus into Laos (notice the impending sunrise)
5. Laos looks a lot like Thailand, from the vegetation to the buildings.
6. I passed right out in the passenger’s seat in a minivan full of strangers (and Matt).
7. The Thai Embassy looked real fancy!
The Thai Embassy; Elephants on the wall of the embassy
8. Laos has SANDWICHES. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but since Matt and I are such huge sandwich lovers and Thailand doesn’t have any anywhere, it was pretty exciting.
9. The agency that we went with to take care of our Non-Immigrant B visas was fantastic. They did literally everything for us while we basically tagged along. I gotta give them big kudos for that.
10. We were finished with our visas for the day and, when we arrived to our hotel, we immediately took a five-hour nap. It was magical.
11. We attempted to walk around our block after we woke up, but there was honestly nothing where we were. There were buildings and cars all around, but nowhere to eat or even just go except in our hotel.
Tables outside of our hotel; the hotel itself from the outside
12. We had some amazing food for dinner from there, though. It was called larb. It was spicy with ground pork, rice, basil, chilies, and deliciousness. Would definitely recommend to a friend.
Larb (so good)
13. Fun fact: Laos accepts Thai baht (ya know, their currency)! Super convenient. And we got Laotian currency in change!
14. After hanging out in the lobby of the hotel and speaking occasionally with some kind and outgoing Korean twenty-somethings who were there for school, Matt and I went to sleep for an absurd amount of hours until the morning, when we needed to leave with our agency to collect our passports with our new visas from the Thai embassy (hello, run-on sentence).
15. We got our new visas with no problems!
16. We immediately headed back to the border for another forever long ride back to Bangkok.
17. There was traffic at 2 a.m. in Bangkok after another exhausting trip. We took a cab from there and ended up walking into our apartment in Chonburi at 3:30 a.m.
Teacher “Appreciation” Day!
Apparently in Thailand, there are two holidays dedicated to teachers during the school year: one where the students “appreciate” their teachers with gifts and other fun things and another where the teachers and students have the day off, but the teachers congregate in a specific school, listen to Buddhist monks pray and sing, sing karaoke, and eat mountains of food.
We celebrated the latter.
Here is the layout for the day’s very interesting events:
- Arrive at our school with other Thai and foreign teachers
- Hop into a line of minivans and travel an hour away to some school in the middle of nowhere
- Take swigs of other foreign teachers’ incognito alcoholic beverages
- Arrive at middle-of-nowhere school
- Eat some rice soup for breakfast (just like our school had for almost every morning. We weren’t enthralled).
- Sit and wait for some instructions
- Walked around out of boredom
The school grounds
- Took more swigs of alcohol from fellow kind and generous foreign teachers all while admiring caged roosters, which were used primarily for cockfighting
- Sat in a large auditorium, listening to monks sing and pray for a couple of hours in pure confusion, and watched Thai teachers accept awards
The auditorium with monks at the front; Matt and I; our foreign teacher friends; more monks
- Got soaked in holy water from a monk
- Got yelled at by the head director of our school for talking too loudly
- Congregated under a large tent with numerous tables and chairs
- Sat with some foreign teachers (we had to split into two tables, unfortunately) and ate a plethora of flavorful Thai dishes, including grilled whole fish with chilies, soup, fried rice, and so many more that I can’t remember or explain. However, it was hands down one of me and Matt’s favorite meals in Thailand. We honestly couldn’t get enough!
- Listened to random Thai people dance and sing karaoke while we shoveled spicy and delicious food into our faces. And one of those people singing was the director of our school! It was hilarious, to say the least.
Thai dancers (I’m so sad I didn’t get documentation of our director singing)
- Eventually, we headed back to our school with full bellies and fuzzy heads (from alcohol and confusion from the day). Then, headed back home.
All in all, the three adventures were awesome, hilarious, confusing, and amazing experiences.
Thanks for reading, guys! 🙂
Next post: Our Wild Dogs!