Trips are fun. Sometimes it is the place you go that makes the experience, but other times it is just the whole experience in general. For instance, the spring my junior year of high school, the whole music department: band orchestra & chorus, took a trip to Colorado to participate in a music festival. The trip was filled with much time on the bus, long rest stops and sightseeing with friends, but the actual music festival was actually just a small part of the time. Recently, my tessaban took a trip down south which reminded me a lot of the Colorado music trip…it was a “whole experience” kind of trip.
We left Tuesday, Sept 11 at 8 pm for our 17 hour bus ride down to the beach. A total of 77 people were loaded on to 2 buses and a van. If I wanted to get sleep, I should have chosen the van, but instead I decided to take one of the bright neon, double decker buses. I sat in the middle of the upper level, right in between the quiet office ladies that don’t drink excessively and the loud, slightly obnoxious, drunk, dancing male tessaban gardeners/drivers/members of the tessaban soccer team. Soon after we left, the music turned on. It was so loud I could feel the bass beat on my neck. At 11 pm the Nioke (mayor) came on our bus and asked me if I wanted to sing karaoke, I said “no, why don’t you”…probably the wrong thing to say. As a result, the whole bus started singing karaoke until 2 or 3 am. During this time I was in a state of half delirium but fully enjoying the guys in the back of the bus rocking out to karaoke . It reminded me of an After-Prom party or Post-Graduation party where everyone is tired but the atmosphere is fun.
Once we had arrived at our destination, we unloaded our stuff into our hotel houses on the beach and went to the strategy/team building meeting. It was definitely under an hour, I would say 45 minutes at most. I didn’t understand much, but at the end of the meeting, they gave us journals and pens and told us to write down any inspirations we might have. Then it was on to the sightseeing! We went to an aquarium, shopping on a Myanmar border town, and watched the male tessaban soccer team play…I had fun watching the game and I am pretty sure some of my other co-workers had fun watching me. Dinner was served on the beach at our hotel. There was a variety of sea food, but the grilled octopus was my favorite dish. I ate the huge tentacles– it is much better than fish because you didn’t have to worry about the bones. Keeping the night authentically Thai, after dinner there was karaoke again.
The next day, it was a breakfast buffet on the beach and then back on the buses for another 6-hour drive south and a 2-hour ferry ride. We went to this really nice resort on an island in the Gulf of Thailand. Twenty years ago, the island was nothing but coconut trees and beaches, but since the installation of an airport, major development has taken place. The resort had really nice beds and lots of hot water. The next day, we were served breakfast on the beach – French toast, croissants, cereal, baguette bread, and Lipton Tea.( I don’t know why, but the Thais only seem to serve Lipton Tea.) The rest of the morning was spent taking beautiful pictures on the beach. Next, we climbed into some vans and went sight-seeing. If you go sightseeing in Thailand, you’re are bound to see temples (Wats) and in southern Thailand, you’re going to see beautiful beaches. The water is pure turquoise. Definitely beautiful. Definitely cool—I would recommend it.
We got done at 2 p.m. and loaded the buses at 4 p.m. and then drove 22 hours back to our town—FYI the plane ride from the States to Thailand is 22 hours! I’m really glad I’m reading Tolstoy’s War and Peace (paperback=1440 pages). It made the bus ride go quicker and more enjoyable. They showed a video on the bus which was like a Thai version of “Who’s Line is It Anyway?” I got most of the jokes, so it was pretty fun. On the way back, the music wasn’t as loud as on the way down, so I actually got a decent amount of sleep.
The whole trip cost me the price of a t-shirt I bought. They paid for hotels, transportation and food.
Like I said at the beginning, it was the whole experience that characterized this trip. I had a blast. I think the main reason I had such a great time is I really enjoy my coworkers. Other Peace Corps volunteers have described these trips as torture, but I would recommend them to anyone.
On an unrelated note, I found a new source of western-style pizza. There is a German man in my town who has been here for 8 years and he has a restaurant which is open Thursday through Sunday. It is a little expensive but very good. I had a pepperoni pizza. It didn’t have much sauce (I think that’s an American thing), but it had delicious cheese, it was baked in a hot oven, so the crust was great and it tasted fabulous.