I wrote this a week ago, I am now sat at a hostel in Koh Phangan, surrounded by the sound of toe nail clippers (wow my friends are gross) and people screaming about the full moon party (which in fairness, was AMAZING). But although things are slightly different from a week ago, I still wanted to make sure this was documented! I’m not very good at updating… so, here is an outdated update.
I have been in Thailand for over a week, exactly two weeks left to go! I have truly had the most enlightening and overwhelming time so far. As I established in my last post; food has been a challenge for me. I would say I have progressed, given myself the reassurance that it is okay to eat whatever looks delicious. Although tackling an eating disorder is never that simple, I have managed to explore new Thai foods and faced many of the challenges with an optimistic mentality. I definitely feel more confident in myself, that one day I will be able to dismiss the ridiculous notion that I’ll always feel this way, the notion my ED tries to implant in my brain everyday. So, as a whole, I’m definitely feeling a lot more settled and happier right now.
But hey, what have I actually done so far on my travels?
Volunteered to teach English at a Thai school
I had absolutely zero experience in teaching, stepping into this new activity with not only that disadvantage, but also the language barrier to be nervous about too. I tried to learn simple Thai phrases before arriving here, hoping it could help with discipline if any were disruptive, but my memory of them seemed to disappear the second I was faced with a class full of fourteen year olds!!! With just my friend, a 47 year old Russian lady, and I in charge of the class, nervous was an understatement. Additionally, when you’re only FOUR YEARS older than the class you’re supposed to be in charge of, you realise how stupid it feels to try and exert power. Also, the topic of “verbs and adverbs” is difficult enough to teach, let alone by three inexperienced volunteers…
We may have had awkward silences, a few mistakes and a couple of unintentional giggles, but it actually went pretty decently. After that, we all realised how much fun we were going to have.
Teaching this week has honestly been one of the most incredible, rewarding experiences of my life. Every pupil has been fun, enthusiastic and eager to learn, making every moment teaching so much more enjoyable. It has allowed me to explore different ways of communication that aren’t simply through the lexical choices we make. I’ve seen the significance of body language and tone of voice, something I’m buzzed to learn more about at University! I’m so happy I am able to give back, help to provide education and happiness in the children’s lives that don’t always have it. I cannot wait to continue teaching this week too!
I will definitely be leaving this experience enlightened. Plus, the kids are just so adorable and the teachers are so kind! I’m incredibly grateful for this amazing opportunity!
Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
I constantly saw posters for elephant trekking and bathing whilst travelling around here, feeling sick knowing how cruelly mistreated the poor animals are. Not only are elephants violently tortured to comply to human demands, people are unaware of it every time they excitedly sign up for treks!! I did not want to fund a single baht to such an awful industry. So when my friend and I uncovered the first ethical elephant sanctuary in Phuket, we were over the moon!! They rescue mistreated elephants, offering them better care and freedom – something they should have had in the first place.
After a tear-wrenching video about the organisation and their reasons behind setting up the sanctuary, we were split into groups to get close to the elephants!! It was one of those “this can’t be real!!!” experiences that completely blew me away! I was right next to an ACTUAL ELEPHANT!!
We then fed them and I almost cried. There was also an elephant called “Full Moon” who just loved to roll around in the mud and scratch herself with twigs. She was my favourite.
It will definitely be noted down as one of the greatest experiences of my entire life and one I’ll never forget. Additionally, we were treated with a delicious veggie buffet at the end of the experience! I enjoyed the tasty rice and fruit & veg, appreciating each bite! I even had an iced tea made for me that I devoured instantly (honestly it was incredible). So if you ever get the chance, go to the Phuket elephant sanctuary!!
Beaches and reflecting
I’m currently writing this sat on the balcony of my hotel in Khao Lak. The streets are roaring with motorbikes (that in Thailand, children can ride!!! Watching kids as young as 10 ride home from school was insane), yet I still find myself at peace. Whilst being here, I have really found time to think about myself, my ambitions and how I want to improve. I’m a walking cliché really, a girl travelling to “find herself”, but this experience so far has honestly changed my outlook on everything. Not only do I feel a lot more confident in general, I feel more independent. As much as I hate to admit it, I have spent a lot of life relying on others, daunted by the thought of my future and well… life on my own. If I mess up, I cannot turn to another person.
However, now that I am becoming more confident in my strength, the beautiful fact of the matter is, I’m feeling more reliant on myself. What I’ve never properly comprehended is that relying on others is too risky because there is never a guarantee of permanence in your life. Like some cringy Facebook post I saw once says, “you gotta have your own back because at the end of the day, you’re only ever gonna always have you”… I understand if you just threw up… But it is true.
I was also sat on a gorgeous beach in Khao Lak a few days ago, the sweet medolic sound of Rusty Clanton blessing my ears. It was like when I saw those reindeer in Stockholm, everything suddenly felt okay. I messaged my Dad saying, “I feel pretty damn happy” in which he replied “That makes me so happy” and then I cried a little. I know how ridiculous that sounds but hey, I’m an emotional person and when you feel like you’ve brought so much hassle to someone’s life with your shitty mental health, it’s an incredible feeling to find you can create a positive impact on them too.
So they’re my adventures so far, I’m pretty happy right now. And wherever you are, I hope you are too!