I can't believe that I've been here in Chiang Mai, Thailand for a week now. Each morning I keep pinching myself, trying to fully grasp the thought that I'm here. It's been a whirlwind week...mostly overwhelming, yet confirming in so many ways that this is where I'm supposed to be at this time in my life.
My trip over here was long, yet all smooth flying. Said goodbye to family last Saturday morning at DIA, a four hour layover in Seattle and then flying Seattle to Seoul, South Korea for 12 hours, it seemed to go a lot faster than my just-over-four-hour flight from Seoul to Chiang Mai (I think at that point I was just ready to get on the ground).
I arrived last Sunday night around 11pm Thai time...which is around Sunday 10am CO time. The second I got off the plane I knew that it was monsoon season...this due to the heavy rain and the thick, heavy, hot, extremely humid air that reminded me of the rainforest section of the Denver zoo. I went smoothly through customs, picked up my many bags from the carousel and went through security without a hiccup. I was pleasantly surprised that four people came to pick me up at the airport in the middle of the night. Despite being wide-awake in the middle of the night (mid-day in CO) I went to sleep at a friend's house and woke early to go to newcomer orientation at Grace International School (GIS).
It was a blur to me walking into orientation after spending the entire weekend traveling to suddenly arriving here and realizing I'm now on the other side of the world. Jet-lag is a pain. Each day this week I tried to busy myself as much as possible to train my body to stay awake even though it wanted to sleep. Lots of forcing myself to stay up at night, a couple of super early mornings...let's just say I'm ready for this phase to be over and get into a routine.
This city is large and has so much to offer, yet it's only the first week and I'll have plenty of time to explore in the days ahead, for now I'm learning the "lay of the land" in and around the school. There is a natural beauty here so different from Colorado (completely opposite), but I'm diggin it! I'm excited to adventure in the city and beyond in the weeks to come, although my priority here is to teach. Today I was able to do my first "tourist" activity...Walking Street. Basically an outdoor market where I can buy everything from Thai style clothing to souvenirs to Thai street food. We ended the evening with riding a Tuk-Tuk home (motorbike with a covered two person seat bolted on) which was a fun experience!
The GIS campus is in a great location, not too far from Doi Suthep mountain and the airport. The facilities are fully equipped with everything a school should have, including the largest swimming pool I've ever seen and the best Thai food ever for lunch every day. It's a pretty fantastic place to teach...no complaints there! The staff and families are so welcoming and helpful. Thank goodness, because between jet-lag and being in a foreign country I've never visited before- I'm pretty vulnerable, lost and helpless. The GIS community has done a fantastic job helping me orient myself to my new surroundings. They've given me rides to the various stores/mall, helped me get furniture, food, decor, and other necessities for starting out. I've enjoyed dinners with a few families in the community and grateful for their hospitality in welcoming me into their homes.
The school is where I'll be most of the time, but I do enjoy my new home. I'm living with two other ladies and like having a place to return to each evening. Living in a Thai home is different in some ways, but I'm thankful for previous travel experiences that have exposed me to encounters here in Chiang Mai. These things such as: not drinking from the tap, not flushing toilet paper, really hard beds (uncomfortable even with some padding), hanging clothes out to dry (with the humidity it takes a bit longer to dry), various creepy-crawlers (cockroaches, spiders, mosquitos, worms) and geckos. This is all part of the adventure!
Transportation: I'll be regular biking it for awhile until I can get my Thai license. I'd like to get a motorbike in the next few months so I'll be able to get around faster, but for now a regular bike will do. It's quite the experience biking around on busy roads with cars and motorbikes whizzing past you. Also, wherever I go, I'm drenched in sweat but everyone else is too! Everyone drives on the "opposite" side of the road here and the driver's seat is also "opposite" too. That's an adjustment, even when riding a bike...it'll take a while to get used to that! Fortunately, it only takes about 15 minutes to get to school via bike.
I'm making new friends, meeting new people and families. My days consist of spending my morning in orientation (Info about Thailand culture, holidays, language, people, the GIS community, school, policy, food etc. etc. etc.), having a delicious Thai meal (new fav is Khao Soy) provided by the school each day and then time in my classroom, which I will spend more time doing next week. I have 18 fourth graders on my roster and cannot wait to teach them. I love my classroom which is furnished and equipped with almost everything I need to teach. My team teacher is fabulous and helpful. I'm planning lessons and anxiously awaiting the first day...which will be here soon! :)
I've been too busy to miss home...which is good. At the same time, I know it will eventually hit me as I do truly miss many of you in the States. I'll take my experience here one day-at-a-time and let it soak in.
Cheers to week 2, so glad to be here!
Praying friends please pray for:
1. Continued transition...it will take awhile.
2. Preparing for students to come Aug. 13th
3. Health and energy
Sara Gurule c/o