Well, I have about 24 hours left in Phuket, and I’m feeling surprisingly at peace. On Friday I was a hot mess.
Friday was my last day of teaching the kindergarten orientation. It wasn’t too emotional to say goodbye to that group of kiddos because I’d only been teaching them for a few weeks. The heaviest part of leaving my classroom was looking back at all of the work I’d put into it. I remembered the nights I stayed at the school until 8pm making decorations for the class, and how excited my kids were when they saw the changes. I felt happy that I was leaving the classroom warmer than it was when I got there.I also left the new teacher with a desk that was much cleaner than my predecessor had left it!
Saying goodbye to the staff at the school was bittersweet. There were two teachers in the office that I just didn’t jive with, so I was happy to wave them goodbye. It was especially hard to say goodbye to my supervisor and the boss. My supervisor basically taught me how to be a kindergarten teacher. She has been so helpful and supportive throughout the semester, and I’ve cried on her a few times. I was sad to say goodbye to the main boss because I really enjoyed working for him. He’s in the process of hiring 6 new teachers by May, so I felt pretty bad contributing to that number. He let me know (again) that I was the only member of the kindergarten staff that they were actually considering to take over as kindergarten manager. I truly wish I enjoyed teaching more.
The final week in my apartment was stressful because I was tasked with getting rid of everything that wouldn’t fit into my backpack. I had somehow managed to acquire quite a bit of junk since I moved here. I think since I thought that I would be staying in my apartment for a year, that I might as well make it look and feel like home. I ended up selling most of it on buy/sell Facebook groups, but for a fraction of what I paid only six short months ago. The most expensive item that I’d purchased was my motorbike helmet for $45. It’s pretty unusual to see a Thai person wearing any sort of helmet, let alone a helmet with full facial coverage. It made me feel like a power ranger, and it gave me the courage to drive on the highway.
I had the helmet posted online for over a week. I dropped the price from $30 to $20 to $10, and nobody wanted it. I was talking to my boss about it and he joked that if it didn’t sell, then I should just give it to him. Thursday night someone had offered me the equivalent of $6 for it. At that point I just decided that I might as well just give it to my boss.
I didn’t realize how excited he was going to be when I gave it to him. He gave me 5 beers that he had under his desk. This is why I loved having this ridiculous British man as a boss. That probably sounds bad that he had beer at an elementary school, but there’s a story behind this. The English company gave him money to buy lunch for the whole office, and he’d asked us if we wanted lunch or if we wanted “take away beers.” We had decided on the beer, and the 5 beers under his desk were left-overs from that day. Needless to say, I’m happy I decided to forego the $6 sale of the helmet and just gift it to him.
I came to Thailand with a duffle bag full of mostly clothes. I had a ton of clothes to get rid of. When I’ve lived abroad in the past, it was easy to just pass off the clothes to the local friends I had made. This time was different, because as I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t really made any Thai friends. I ended up giving the bulk of them to the Thai secretary of the school, who looks through them first and then donates them to the Burmese, who are a hugely disadvantaged population here in Thailand. I felt pretty good about getting rid of a bunch of stuff, because it was easily going to go to good use.
I was finished with class at noon on Friday, so I went back to my apartment and started packing my backpack and getting the rest of my stuff out of my apartment. I started to panic a bit when I realized just how small a 40L backpack is. I’m not even 100% convinced it’s actually 40L because it’s a knockoff backpack (yes, just like knockoff purses, you can find knockoff backpacks in Thailand). I think the most stressful part of packing the bag was trying to situate my laptop in a safe way. Before I came here I bought an HP Stream Notebook for $170. It has been incredibly useful for lesson planning, watching movies, and blogging. Now that I’m going to be on the move, it’ll be weighing me down a bit, but I’m still happy I brought a cheaper notebook rather than an expensive one. The problem I’m running into when I pack is that the bag is packed so tightly that I feel like there could start to be some pressure on the laptop itself. I’m going to have to pull the laptop out of the bag each time I go through security for the 11 flights ahead… It’s just going to be an adventure. We’ll just say that.
It was about 2pm and I had my bags packed and I was all set to leave. My landlord wanted me to wait around until the evening so that she could check the place. After I’d packed everything, I realized that the place was in the exact same condition that it was when I arrived. My landlord is keeping the entire deposit (2 month’s rent) because I was leaving before the year was up. She refused to negotiate with me, and wouldn’t let find someone to take over the lease so that I could recover some of my deposit. As I was sitting there looking around the place, I decided not to wait around for her. She has a copy of the mailbox key, so I threw the keys in the mailbox and headed out.
I felt a little rebellious leaving like that, but I had a feeling that she was going to try to charge me for something else. She was already screwing me over on the deposit, so I figured that if there was anything that needed fixing she had more than enough money to take care of it. That’s what a security deposit is for, right?
I am SO GLAD I left when I did. Later that night she started rapid-firing angry Facebook messages to me. In case I haven’t mentioned it, she’s a 26 year old ladyboy diva who is constantly posting pictures of her new Gucci bags and Chanel perfumes. She started messaging me “WHERE YOU GO? YOU HAVE TO PAY CLEAN FEE AND ELECTRICITY. YOU PROMISE. YOU NO STAY ONE YEAR.” I was absolutely baffled that she was demanding that I pay more. I found the clause in the lease where it said that the deposit would cover any outstanding bills and cleaning fees. She tried to say no, that I had to pay it because I didn’t stay one year. She was so angry and threatening that a part of me thought I should drive back and pay it… but there’s no way. That’s the reason I paid a security deposit in the first place. She said she’s going to the rental agency to talk to them about it, and I told her to go ahead. If it turns out that she’s right, and somewhere there’s a clause in the lease that I missed, then I will go ahead and pay it. Until then, I’m not going to be taken advantage of by her. It’s not my first rodeo with rental agencies. Turns out, you can fly halfway across the world, and they’re still trying to screw you out of your money.
I am staying at a hostel in Phuket Town, the area that I was staying in when I started my journey here. I love staying in this area, because everything I need is within walking distance. As I had previously mentioned, I was a mess when I arrived her on Friday night. I was sad about leaving the school, angry with my landlord, and anxious about my travels ahead. I decided I was going to make myself go get a massage. I figured if holding a pen between your teeth forces you to smile, which in turn makes you happy, then getting a massage would force me to relax… even though a “massage” in Thailand equates to getting beat up by a Thai woman.
I went to the same spa that I got my first pedicure in Thailand, because the building is up to safety standards and the place is relatively clean. I saw on the menu that they had a 1 hr massage/1 hr facial combo for $30. At first it seemed expensive, because I’m used to living off of a Thai salary, but then I realized I better take advantage of it before I leave! $30 for two hours in a spa is an absolute steal.
I chose an aromatherapy massage, which wasn’t a traditional Thai massage at all. I had gotten mentally prepared to get the usual beating, but it was the complete opposite. It was basically an hour of her putting oil on my skin. BORING! The facial ended up being the brutal part.
I chose a “honey cucumber” facial because it was the only one on the menu that didn’t include facial bleaching. It sounded nice and relaxing. After that experience, I will now permanently associate honey with pain. She poured honey all over my face (including my eyelids!) and gave it a vigorous massage. I have some peach-fuzz sideburns going on, and I quickly found out that baby-fine hair and honey do not go together well. The honey stuck to the hairs, and each time she swiped her hands across them it felt like she was slowly trying to wax it off. If that wasn’t bad enough, she then proceeded to take her long nails and poke me all over the face. It felt like she had thrown some bird seed onto the honey and let the birds eat it off. It was the most ridiculous facial ever! She was compensating for the gentle massage, I guess.
Needless to say, it took my mind off of the emotional day, and I could relax at my hostel a little better.
Yesterday (Saturday) morning I woke up and went on a tour to Koh Racha. It’s the last time It’s the last tour I’ll be doing in Phuket (and probably Thailand), but it was the perfect tour to end with. Koh Racha is an island about 30 minutes away by speedboat. The speedboat ride was wild (he was going way too fast for the size of the waves), and I laughed as the boat full of Chinese tourists clung to their seats in horror. I’ve done a fair share of tours by this point, so I was used to it. Wild ol’ Thailand, baby. I’m going to miss it for sure.
We did about an hour of snorkeling, had a buffet lunch, and then had 3 and ½ hours to
hang out on Racha Island. I had coconut ice cream and hung out on the beach, and it was the perfect way to say goodbye to Phuket. I think the waters of Koh Racha are the clearest of any of the beaches I’ve been on, so it was like I had saved the best for last.
I woke up this morning and feel at absolute peace. I am shifting into adventure mode, and I’m so excited for the next five weeks. I don’t have to worry about driving around anymore, and I can wander the streets and enjoy my final time here. My flight leaves for Bangkok tomorrow, and I feel like it’s time to go.
I have a solid itinerary down for the first 4 weeks of the trip. I have everything planned up until Bali, which I’m going to try to complete today. I decided that it’s cheaper and much more fun to book hostels, so my rule of thumb for this trip is to not exceed $10 per night for accommodation. So far it’s been easy! The place I booked in Siem Reap is $5 per night. I think I will splurge and stay in a beachside resort for my last couple of days in Bali, but until then, I’m back to the life of dorm rooms and shared bathrooms.
I’m sure I’ll have plenty of downtime to blog during plane, train, and bus rides. Moving around and seeing new sights definitely motivates me to write! Stay tuned!!