So I’ve been in Bangkok for a couple of days now and it is completely insane. Sunday was my first day of orientation. We had a ‘welcome to Thailand’ talk by our coordinator Phil, who is really nice although he seems reluctant to give us any information about having too much fun. I think he’s scared that we’ll hold him liable if we get into trouble. For a guy in charge of 60ish 20-somethings for a week he seems pretty tightly wound.
Ping pong like you’ve never seen before…..
October 20, 2008 by Marianne
Sawatdee ka! (that means ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ )
We also had our first teacher training lesson which was interesting; I’m hoping to pick up some ideas as to how on earth I’m supposed to teach these children. Then we had out first Thai lesson. Our Thai teacher is really hilarious, which helps, and she’s been teaching us pretty useful Thai phrases that we need to know in everyday life, although they are all pretty hard to pronounce. The sawatdee ka is basically all I have mastered so far!
I’ve become friends with four other girls here, so Sunday night, the 5 of us plus my roommate at the hotel, Masha, and another girl, Emily, went out to dinner, and then the fun began.
We had some yummy curries for dinner, so far no complaints about the food at all, although I think by the time I get back I won’t ever want to look at rice again.
Our hotel happens to be quite near the red light district (Phil at least did that right), so we walked through and got bombarded by street promoters holding out what are essentially menus showing you all the things you can see inside their clubs. The club doors were all open, so we could see dozens of women standing up on these platforms just waiting to be hired I suppose. They really were jut waiting. I can’t say I’ve ever visited a strip club in the west, but I imagine that if you peeked in the door you’d see women with beautiful bodies doing seemingly impossible things with their bodies and a pole. In Bangkok all you see are some rather unremarkable looking girls just standing. Almost, or completely naked. Doing nothing. They clearly missed the marketing course.
Anyway, the menu is perhaps too graphic to directly quote here, but it essentially described all the different things the women were able to do with their womanly region. I think I should censor this blog a little, so for more details you’ll have to e-mail/facebook message me. Just think ping pong balls, cigarettes, bananas and so much more.
At the end of the street, we found a place called the Happy Beer Garden where we sat and were served by our bartender/new friend Joy who preceded to get even drunker than us. We were also joined by a small Thai boy, I’m guessing about age 7, who was originally trying to sell us stuff, but ended up just hanging out and being really adorable and hilarious. Very wholesome environment for a child.
By the end of a couple of beers at the Happy Beer Garden, five of us decided to see what these red light girls had to offer. It was just something that had to be done while in Thailand. You may have heard all the stories about ‘ping pong’ or maybe you’ve seen it if you’ve been here, but we had to see for ourselves.
So that’s what we did. It was certainly ping pong like you’ve never seen before….to say the least. We’re still trying to figure out how it’s physically possible. Before leaving we got hassled by these two very intimidating Thai women who worked there and tried to completely rip us off with the bill. What I’ve learned is that everything here is negotiable and that every Thai person sees a foreigner and seems to automatically multiple their prices by about 20, so you have to be pretty aggressive if you want to get a good deal anywhere.
And that was my first night in Thailand!! I know I’ve left a lot for the imagination there, but I know people like my parents are reading this (hi mum and dad!), but do use your imagination!
Tuesday we went on a group field trip to see the Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha. The palace was really amazing. Incredibly ornate and really beautiful. Almost everything is covered in gold leaf, so in the 31 degree humid heat and sun, the place was really fantastic to see, if not a bit hot! The emerald buddha is in fact made of one solid piece of jade and was set in a temple inside the palace. My friend Lisa and I got front row seats to kneel down in front of it. You had to make sure that your bare soles of your feet (you had to take your shoes off) never faced the buddha, or the guards told you off.
Tonight, we just ended up having a few drinks on the roof of the hotel with a bunch of other people from the programme; the other participants are all really great, we’re all getting along very well, and there’s even one other English girl here from Kent! After last night, we were up for something a bit more low key, so hanging out by the pool was nice! Although after the stories we told, a few people went off to see for themselves what this ping pong was all about. We were pretty proud of being the first group to brave the dark side of this city.
That’s it for now. Tomorrow’s another long day of teacher training and Thai lessons, then possibly a Thai boxing match in the evening. On Thursday and Friday I’ll be going on my two day trek and riding elephants!!!
I miss you all terribly, please don’t forget about me – I desperately want e-mail updates on your lives, even if it’s super boring, I need contact with the Western world!! Send me your mailing addresses, and as soon as I know mine, which I still don’t, I promise to pass it along!