A motiavation smoothie please

Since I got back from my short break from school I’ve had some trouble getting started on the new assignments. They’re really interesting, and I’ve done tons of reading and looking for references, but I’m not actually writing anything. Which is very unusual for me… Today, to get some new scenery while writing me and a friend decided to go to a café across the street to “buy some motivation” as we jokingly call it. Ended up buying a strawberry smoothie.

Photo 2013-10-30 14 35 09

I have to say, that even though we had a little trouble focusing in the beginning and then had some internet troubles, I actually got started. I’ve written about 300 words. The essay isn’t finished by a long-shot, but it’s a start.

Since I got here I’ve learned so many new things. Both in the classroom and from the culture here and from my new friends. I love how we have discussions (or mostly we’re just agreeing with each other) on facebook, how we send links and articles to each other. I’ve become so much more aware of the problems, both global and in Sweden, since I got here. Right now, even though I have lots of studying to do, I’m reading about laws concerning people with HIV and sex. Me and a classmate actually have different views on the topic, which is so much fun! I love hearing different views on things, it forced me to read more and really form an opinion!

Hotel review of Grand Thai House Resort on Koh Samui

After quite a lot of research (mostly on my friends part) we booked a hotel called Grand Thai House Resort in Lamai Beach area of Koh Samui. All four of us were very happy with the hotel after having stayed there a week, and I can recommend it to anyone who wants a calm, clean and nicely located hotel.

The hotel wasn’t quite on the beach. But it took literarily no more than a minute to walk down to Lamai Beach, one of the best beaches on Koh Samui. From the balcony (both our rooms had very nice balconies facing the pool) we could hear the waves washing up on the beach. We spent many evenings on the balcony, mostly talking, drinking a beer and playing cards. It was very good times.

20131024-125113.jpg

 

Since it was still rainy season (we only had one day during which it rained more than an hour during the day) it was very calm and quite few tourists on Koh Samui. We often had the pool to ourselves, it wasn’t difficult to find sunbeds on the beach and the volume at night was very low.

More about the hotel? The bed was soft (for being Thailand), we had aircon and a minibar. One thing I did miss was a kettle so I could make coffee in the room. The restaurant at the hotel was good, but it was quite expensive… Breakfast was included so we ate there every morning. We got to order from a menu so the food was newly made and always tasted fresh and nice. It did get repetitive after almost a week, but since I’m not really a breakfast lover it didn’t bother me. I got my coffee so I was quite happy.

IMG_3691

I don’t have any pictures on the hotel room, so this will have to do. We created quite a mess very quickly.

Field trip to refugee school in Thailand

A couple of weeks ago, before my vacation from reality, I went on another field trip. I just realized I forgot to tell you about it. A while ago I found an organization that seemed interesting for my field study next semester, so my teacher invited them to our school to present their organization. The organization is Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation. They’re doing an incredible job when it comes to refugee questions.

TCR

Thailand is a bit special when it comes to refugees. They have several refugee camps on the Thailand-Myanmar border, but they haven’t signed the 1951 Refugee Convention and still today they don’t have any domestic laws concerning refugees. Thailand doesn’t even recognize the refugee status, so all refugees outside the refugee camps are considered illegal immigrants.

Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation (TCR) works on several different levels to help refugees in Thailand. They have a border education programme, an urban refugee program, an advocacy programme and a statelessness programme. They’re also working on the first Thai refugee bill. It was their urban refugee programme we got to see (a small part of it) a couple of weeks ago. We got to visit a school class with refugee children. These children live hidden in Bangkok, with their families. They had been in Thailand between a week and a year. They’re all waiting on being resettled. It was a class that spoke a little English, so it was very fun to speak with the children and observe their class.

Since these children live hidden, the “school” has to be hidden as well. They had just changed location because a former neighbour had threatened to call the police. It was sad to hear that the older children (10-12 years old) were always reminding the younger (youngest was 5 years old) to be quiet so the police wouldn’t find them.

The location, the classrooms (they had two) was so small. They were smaller than the bedroom I had growing up, and they were 10-12 children in each room, plus a teacher. It felt very crowded when we were there as well. They had a chair each, basic school supply like pens and paper and a whiteboard. I thought the teachers were doing an amazing job in there! The children were so bright, their spelling in english (when they practiced the weather) was near perfect and when they practiced telling time they were all also very good.

Me and my two classmates that were visiting, brought some notebooks, coloring pens, pencils and erasers. I wish there were something more I could do, but at the same time I know that these are the “lucky” children. They get to go to school, to get out. We were told that since a family only got a little money (I think from the UN), like 2000 baht, they had to be maybe five families in a small one room apartment.

It’s impossible to even imagine what they have been through. First having to flee from their home. Come to a country where they have to live hidden… The children seemed so happy, they were smiling, singing, were very shy and laughed a lot. Children are incredible, their ability to adapt. I just wonder how their parents are. Imagine the stress to keep your family safe in this situation? I was very pleasantly surprised that they had also started an english class for the parents.

TRCq

TCR has a lot of information on their website, so make sure you check it out. If you would like to donate to help them in their work, you can do so here. TRC work completely from donations, they don’t get any support from the Thai governmnet.

From Bangkok to Chiang Mai by bus

Right now the most common google phrases that send people to my blog are phrases and questions concerning taking a bus from Bangkok to Chiang Mai or from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. Since there seems to be many people googling it (and I did as well before going) I thought I would write up a proper entry about how I got to Chiang Mai.

Since my trip to Chiang Mai was spontaneous (to say the least) I hadn’t booked anything before hand. It turned out okay for me, but of course I can’t promise you never have to book ahead. Right now it’s still rainy season here in Thailand and most people aboard the same buses I took where Thai so I don’t think the tourists has gotten here yet. Anyway, on the way north I took a taxi from Rangsit to Mo Chit where the buses heading north leave from. If you’re coming from Bangkok with the skytrain, you have to take a taxi from Mo Chit the skytrain station (which is Mo Chit 1) to Mo Chit the bus station (Mo Chit 2). It’s not far, shouldn’t be more than 50 baht (don’t decide on a price before the trip, make sure the driver uses the meter).

At the Mo Chit bus station we just asked for a bus that would take us to Chiang Mai. We got there at 9.30 pm and before half an hour had passed we had found a company that would take us there. We paid roughly 500 baht per person. Make sure not to fall for the VIP signs, all buses seem to be pretty much the same standard.

I can’t remember the company name of the bus that took us north, but it was nice. Got a blanket and about halfway there was a stop for going to the toilet. We left Mo Chit at 11.30 pm and because of the bad weather it took an extra two hours for us to get to Chiang Mai, but we were there by 9 am and I slept the whole way. Me and my friend got the seat in the front on the top floor, and we had the best seats in the bus. Lot’s of space! With the air-con it got kind of cold, so even if we got blankets I was glad to have packed a longsleeved shirt and a pair of socks in my carry on luggage.

On the way south I went to the Chiang Mai bus terminal about two hours before I wanted to catch a bus. Once again I hadn’t booked anything beforehand. I ended up catching a bus from the company Sombat Tour. I paid 563 baht for the ticket, and I’m very happy with the bus ride. During the ride I got snack and drinks, halfway we stopped for food and if it hadn’t been because of an accident with a truck blocking the road, we would have been in time. Ended up coming to Bangkok about 11 hours after we started in Mo Chit.

All in all I can definitively recommend taking the bus between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.