There’s food everywhere! You can’t walk 5 meters without spotting another place to eat! It’s been almost three weeks since I arrived to Bangkok and for one, I can tell you I haven’t gone hungry.
More importantly, I haven’t been dehydrated either. You’d think us Aussies would be well equipped to heat, but 33 degrees with high humidity is another ball game. Fortunately, where there’s food, there’s smoothies! And I’m talking about $2 smoothies of any fruit imaginable. I’m already a member of a local smoothie shop outside my apartment and I’m halfway through my stamp collection to receiving a free one. #savingthebigbucks
But let’s rewind a couple of weeks to before my smoothie stamp collection, before I started uni, before I knew what kob kun ka meant and back to my first weekend in Bangkok.
With no pun intended, my first weekend started with a bang. I had landed in the middle of the biggest festival of the year: Songkran, aka Thai New Year. This was the one weekend where you’ll see most shops closed and at least half of Bangkok’s 8 million population out on the street and armed with water guns. Songkran is a time of renewal, visiting the family and welcoming in the New Year. In other words, this means a city-wide water fight.. Actually make that a country-wide water fight. (Water = renewal = water fight? Obviously.) It’s three days of non-stop celebrating where the whole country comes out to play. I’m still surprised that only a month ago I had never even heard of such a huge celebration, one that I would easily put on par with Brazil’s Carnival or Germany’s Oktoberfest. I saw traditional dance, ate great food, played with complete strangers and really came face first with Thai culture.
Once Songkran celebrations had settled, it was time to get to more serious business. The start of the trimester. Being the only Sydneysider in town wasn’t a problem. With 40 other exchange students from around the world starting the trimester with me, Mahidol made the orientation process easy. They took us to a famous theatre show – Siam Niramit, which gave us an entertaining recap of Thai history. This included of course, plenty of food, and awareness into the Thai way of life. We were then given our timetables for the trimester, as well as our uniforms. (Yes I just wrote uniform.) We were all set for class.
So far class has been great! Firstly, I just have to mention my awe at the level of English the students have. These Thai-born students speak better than me! As soon as class starts, everything switches to English and out come the very clear American and British accents from someone who, two seconds previously, was making a joke in thai. So class discussion is easy and so is making local friends! I have plenty of group projects coming up and everyone is more than welcome to have me on board.
Now with a week of uni ahead of me, pad thai to eat and of course my smoothie stamp collection to grow, I am definitely looking forward to the rest of the trimester.
Oh and btw, Kob kun ka means thank you!
Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) and International Studies
Australian Government New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant recipient.