I apologize for the lack of updates! Everything has been crazy busy lately.
On Sunday I met up with my property manager and the owner of my apartment to sign a lease. The apartment is actually much cuter than I had remembered. I’ll be moving in on Friday, so I’ll make sure to put together a video tour!
I had to bring 27,000TBH with me in order to pay for first & last month’s rent, as well as a deposit. It’s about $750 USD, so I was feeling some heavy anxiety between withdrawing money from the ATM and showing up at the apartment. The lease conditions were all on par with what they would be in the U.S. It was much shorter, but it was written in English and I didn’t see any tricky language.
I was glad that I got to sit down and talk to the owner of the place, Emmy. She is probably in her early 30s, and is super nice. She knows very little English, but enough to communicate basic ideas. She found me on Facebook and added me in case I needed to message her with any concerns about the apartment. She offered to rent out her motorbike to me at 2,000 Baht ($55) per month, which is a killer deal. I would need to get a Thai driver’s license after I got my work permit in order to rent it, but I appreciate the offer. Emmy and the property manager were speaking in Thai for a while and I kept hearing the name of the school I will be teaching at. When I asked the property manager about it, she said that Emmy was asking about what I’m doing in Thailand. The school I will be working at has a great reputation on the island, and she was excited for me. She admitted that she was nervous to find a new tenant because the previous tenant she had was a 14 year old runaway from Saudi Arabia. He didn’t tell her that he was 14 or that he was on the run. 3 days after he had signed the lease and paid the fees, the cops broke into the apartment and arrested him. She just wanted to make sure I wasn’t in any trouble.
After I signed the lease, I was going to find a taxi home, but the property manager offered to drive me. On the ride home she told me about how she and Emmy have been good friends since they were young. She told me, “I knew her back when she was a little boy.” I was super confused. The lady laughed and said, “yeah, she’s transgendered!” I’m 100% cool with that, but I was so shocked that I couldn’t hold it in. Without any ability to control it, my mouth dropped wide open and I shrieked, “WHAAAAT?!!?!!” I hope she didn’t take it offensively. I was just really surprised! The property manager, the owner, and the apartment are all great. I’m super excited to move in.
Tomorrow is my final day of the TEFL course. It’s hardly a day of class, either. It’s more like graduation day. I have to go in and fill out a course evaluation, and then I’ll receive my certificate. This week was packed full of assignments, teaching lessons, and studying for the exam.
Monday night I decided to study a little extra for the final. I was so exhausted that I panicked and thought I wasn’t prepared enough. On Tuesday morning we took the exam, and it was harder than everyone was expecting. It was a 100 point exam, with 72 points for the grammar portion and 28 for the phonetics. It seems silly to worry about passing an exam about my native language, but I don’t usually think in terms of grammar and phonetics on a daily basis. Not everyone passed.
I was nervous when I asked the instructor to see the results of my exam. He laughed at me and asked if I was truly worried about how I did. He handed it back, and I scored 97/100. I AM SO HAPPY!!!!
Now that it’s over, I’m free to sit back and be on vacation until November. I might try to find some freelance online jobs for extra cash, but I’m relieved that I am now a certified TEFL instructor.
All around Phuket Town they are starting to decorate for the Vegetarian Festival, which lasts for nine days in mid October. The extent of the decorations remind me of how towns decorate during the Christmas season. There are Chinese lanterns all through the streets, yellow flags with Chinese writing, and some stores have decorated their entire storefront with painted wooden structures.The heart of the festival is a block away from my current apartment. Unfortunately, I won’t be within walking distance, but I’ll only be 15 minutes away. It is celebrated throughout the island, so there will still be some festivities happening closer to my new place in Kathu.
The festival is a Chinese ritual, where for nine days the participants will abstain from meat, sex, and alcohol, because they believe it will bring them good fortune. Additionally, people participate in self mortification rituals to evoke the gods. I’ve read that the events are not for the faint of heart, because they’re very gruesome. People walk on fire and pierce their cheeks with large sharp objects. I read a warning on TripAdvisor that said “Pregnant women and menstruating women should not attend the ceremonies.” Naturally, I’ll be going. My curiosity is uncontrollable at this point. I’m sure I’ll have a lot to say about it once I see it.
I booked a flight to Malaysia today. I have to leave the country in order to process my 1 year visa, and I guess Malaysia is the easiest place to do it. I know nothing about Malaysia except for the fact that I’m going there on October 20th for 4 days.
That’s about all I have for now! 24 hours from now I’ll be starting my vacation. WOOHOO!!