We finished up Orientation with a trip to Kanchanaburi - which is a beautiful city - I think for a lot of us the area made us fully realize that we live in SouthEast Asia. It had a very tropical/jungle/muggy feel to it, and there were some really beautiful mountains in the distance. We didn't have time to explore the waterfalls of the area but we did get to go rafting on the River Kwei and ride elephants - which is definitely a highlight.
The bamboo rafting was so relaxing, our guide was singing Thai songs the entire time and a few people remarked that it was "just like Venice"...only not at all. Elephant riding was amazing and terrifying at the same time. Nell and I were on the same elephant, Kondi, she was a cutie, and I think her mahout thoroughly enjoyed making fun of my Thai skills - I must be pronouncing Thank You (Kob Khun Ka) completely wrong, because whenever I say it to a Thai person they laugh and repeat me. Good thing I have a year to practice! At one point the mahout hopped off and must have given Kondi a command to run because she went buckwild - my back was banging into the seat and I currently am sporting a huge welt because of it - Kob Khun Ka, Kondi. The mahout then let me take the reins and I got to sit on Kondi's neck - I definitely got a new perspective on how strong and enormous elephants are. Once I relaxed I really enjoyed my time as a mahout and may consider a second career while I'm here.
My other big adventure yesterday was a trip to the grocery store in town - it pretty much blew my mind and completely overwhelmed me. While some of the other Americans rooms came with a microwave or a kettle - mine came only with a fridge - so there wasn't much I could buy in terms of food - I'm hoping I'll figure that out as I go. I did have fun exploring the options though, found some really great Pringles flavors: Seaweed, Blueberry & Hazelnut, Grilled Shrimp, and Soft-Shelled Crab. I'll let you know when/if I ever try them. As I said I'm still working on that whole "try new foods" thing. Once we left the store, 5 American girls with lots of purchases, we were told that the van had left so we were taking tuk-tuks home...it was quite the "We Live in Thailand" moment. We managed to squeeze it all in though and I'm feeling much more settled now.
Nell and I are going to walk around Suphan Buri today to check out our surroundings and try to get our bearings. Hopefully tonight I'll have time to post some pics on facebook.
Interesting Thailand tidbits:
- The number 5 in Thailand is "Ha", so instead of writing "LOL", Thais will say "555"
- The animal sounds are totally different - we demonstrated our version of a bee, a cow, a dog, a monkey to our Thai teacher and she then showed us how Thais would demonstrate--it was quite hysterical, hopefully at some point I can capture my students on video and send your way.
- The Thai words for curry and prostitute are the same - it depends on the tone used. So you could think you are asking for "curry powder" and really be saying "whore dust". I think I'll stick to plain rice for now...