Songkran

Songkran is Thailand’s New Year’s festival, celebrated on the 13th April each year. I was lucky enough to experience Songkran this year, in Bangkok, as I went to Khao San Road to celebrate it with my housemates. I will share my experience of Songkran.

Many wonderful things happen on Songkran, and I managed to witness a few of the events. Firstly, Songkran is essentially like a water festival, where water is thrown onto everyone, regardless of where you are, and what you are doing. Many places hold water fights, and people will bring along their water guns and other water devices to celebrate. The water is used as a metaphor for cleansing oneself from the past, and to start new. In addition, I saw people bringing along baby powder mixed with water, and they would walk on by as they touched people with it. However, I was unsure whether it was a sign to symbolise something, or just additional fun amongst the new year.

Everyone has a genuine smile upon their faces, and they will wish you a happy new year, even if they do not know you. It was literally the biggest water fight in the world. Do not bring any valuables with you, unless you want it to get wet, or if you have a waterproof bag. Even then, it is not enough! Water comes from every direction, and it is just a joy to be amongst the festivities. Unfortunately, I cannot comment about the other events held on Songkran, because I was unable to witness it all. This post does not do any justice for how amazing Songkran truly is! (I guess you will all have to experience it for yourself!)

I highly recommend everyone adding Songkran onto their bucket list, because it is an experience of a lifetime.

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Now, on to the outfit. It is a custom to wear a flowery type of pattern on Songkran, and so this was my attempt.

  1. Sunglasses – purchased in Malaysia at an unknown store, for an unknown price (sorry for my bad memory!)
  2. Choker – purchased in Bangkok for around the price of 100 Baht (just an estimation)
  3. Off-the-shoulder top – the top came with a matching head tie (which I decided to wear on my thigh as a gun holder), and was bought for the price of 200 Baht at the market stall in Central Plaza, Salaya
  4. Shorts – I bought it a year ago on eBay, and I am sorry to say again, I do not remember the price for it

(Sorry for being so useless and forgetful about the price of each item and where I purchased them from!)

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Hua Hin

Hua Hin is a beautiful seaside resort, that is 3 hours south from Bangkok. I had the chance to visit the place, and it was a very touristic area, but still pleasant at the same time. Personally, for myself, it did not scream THAILAND but rather, a catered version of Thailand for foreign visitors. Nonetheless, it contains a beautiful beach, which was located right at the back of my hotel, so the pool led straigh onto the beach.

CAVES AND MOUNTAINS

Furthermore, I researched online about a famous cave an hour away from Hua Hin called, Phraya Nakhon Cave, and decided that it would be one place I must visit with my housemates. However, I was very clueless that to get to the cave, one must climb moutains…in this case, I had to climb TWO! It was a major shock for me, realising that I had to climb up a very steep and bumpy mountain, with no safety equipment at all. To top it all off, I am a very clumsy person, so I was petrified each time my foot would slip across the rocks, and as a result, I ended up lagging behind my friends (it was definetely an unforgettable experience). Each step, was to my belief, an inch closer to death, and I just wanted to end this trip. Fortunately, when I eventally reached the bottom of the mountain, after climbing both moutains twice, I was very proud of myself for not giving up (not an achievement that should really gain praise, but come on, I was a fish out of water).

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NIGHT MARKETS

Thailand is famous for night markets, and Hua Hin was no exception to this. Cicada Market was perhaps one of the best night markets I have ever been to, and it did not disappoint! Luckily, on the evening I went, there was a music festival going on at the same time, inside the market.

Photos featuring my housemates (aka The Fabulous 5).

If ever you get the chance to visit Thailand, I’d say spend a weekend in Hua Hin as part of your trip. I would advise that a few days are better than a week, since you can get most of what you want to do, done, within a couple of days.

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was once the capital city of the Kingdom of Siam. However, it was attacked by the Burmese, not once, but twice! (Pretty scary and badass).

Last weekend, I went to visit the ruins of Ayuttaya with my housemates, and it was overwhelming. So much history in once place. If you ever come to visit Thailand and want to get to know more about her story, come and visit Ayuttaya.

Below are some pictures I had taken of Ayuttaya:

Being Different, in a Collective Place

As amazing and beautiful as Thailand may be, I found one ultimate challenge I approached nearly every single day. Being different.

Now, I do not mean that I am something special and unique, who is beyond everyone else – that is not what I am trying to say.

As many may know, Asian countries tend to exist in a collective society, which branches under ‘collectivism’ and by definition (on a political stance) means – The ownership of land and the means of production by the people or the state, as a political principle or system.” Now, on a student level, I am trying to say that the students here tend to stick together in packs, doing the same thing, following the same routine of waking-up-partying-sleeping-repeat. I am not trying to put down this lifestyle, by no means, if you can still do this and keep up with all of your studies, good on you.

How am I different?

Firstly, I do not drink alcohol. This immediately placed me out of the circle of your regular student. Secondly, I do not like clubbing. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to dance, hence why back in Sussex I was in the salsa society and enjoyed your regular party around those whom I am comfortable with. However, I am not one who would be up for cramming myself into a packed room full of other sweaty and rowdy human beings trying to touch-you-up. I am not about that life.

Thirdly, I am a Christian. Thailand is not a Christian country, and nor are most of the students here at MUIC. But that is okay, because one of the reason I chose to come to Thailand, was to bring the gospel here.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel the pressure to drink and party all-the-time, because everyone else is doing it. I do feel the pressure. However, as long as you remember who you want to be, stand firm in your own identity, you can be strong. I’m not saying don’t do these things. But for myself personally, I most definitely should not drink, because I cannot handle alcohol and get easily drunk – which ultimately leaves me in a vulnerable position.

So I guess, being different is not always a bad thing. This is because you want to live a life that is your own, not someone else’s. Remember, to always do you and follow your heart. With Jesus, I know who I am.

First Day at MUIC

From the moment I woke up, I could feel the pit of my stomach start to make an uncomfortable movement inside, informing me that it was nervous. My mind began to create various scenes and images of chaos, about what could possibly go wrong today, and I felt crap… However, I prayed to God for His strength to be revealed, and I received a beautiful text message from my boyfriend wishing me well (which was around 2am UK time) – and I started to feel at ease. Both helped to calm me down, and I knew everything was going to be okay.

As part of my year abroad, I am studying at MUIC (Mahidol University International College). Back at home, my degree is English Literature, but here I am studying Intercultural Studies and Languages.

My uniform.

I arrived on campus around 12pm to have lunch with a friend at the cafeteria. A bunch of us sat together, and let me just say, Thai food is amaaaaazing!!! It is all cooked fresh, there and then. Hands down, it beats the food back in England, (sorry my fellow Brits!).

My first class was cancelled.

My Spanish class was enjoyable.

Not much to say, apart from the fact that I need to CHILL and stop thinking the worst is going to happen. Everything went well, and the students here are very friendly and helpful, although Thai students tend to be quite shy.

Thank you, MUIC, for a decent first day. *Major thumbs up!*

Year Abroad

It is officially 1 week until I fly out to Thailand! Big girl adventure!

So it only seems fair that I share with you all, how Thailand became part of my plan.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy.

I originally planned to do a three year Literature course at Sussex. Of course, I did want to do a year abroad, but decided against it, because I didn’t think that I would be in a financially stable position, otherwise. Another thing, I had no idea where I would have wanted to study.

During sixth form, I had my first Asian celebrity crush. And you’ve guessed it, he was Thai (Mario Maurer by the way). Oh goodness, now you all probably think I’m some crazy stalker. Sigh. As a result, I began researching more into the Thai culture, and watched their movies. Ever so slowly, I was no longer gushing over some celebrity, but found myself falling in love with the beautiful country. From the gorgeous beaches, to the way the Thai language looks and sounds, as well as the endless summer weather. My heart was set on visiting this country.

As soon as I went to university, I forgot about Thailand and how much I wanted to visit it. However, in my second year, I had a friend who was submitting her application for a year abroad, and of course I was so happy and excited for her – because it was an amazing opportunity unlike any other – but I couldn’t help being slightly envious at the same time.

It was too late for me to apply, I thought. I missed the deadline, and I didn’t tell anyone that I wanted to do a year abroad.

Then something amazing happened:

Original email I received about spaces available in Thailand.

When I received the email, my dream of visiting Thailand came flooding back. I sat down with one of my housemates, and discussed it with her. It all seemed quick, rash, and done on impulse, but I didn’t care, all I wanted was to be there.

Here is the story I posted on Humans of Sussex University:

Immediately I went straight to work on my application, but found out that 1 place had already been filled. My chances were getting slimmer. During my last day in Brighton before I went home for the Christmas holidays, I eventually received my reference 30 minutes before the study abroad office closed. I ran pass 4 bus stops in my heeled boots in order to catch the 25X and arrive on time. With 10 minutes to spare, I made it. Unfortunately, I didn’t fill out one page of my application properly. I thought it was all over. However, one of the women in the study abroad office said that she’ll sort it out for me and that I could give my application to her. This was one of the many blessings I received.”

I’m excited. I’m scared. I’m nervous. I’m sad about it. I’m happy about it. I’ve been feeling every emotion possible about this trip, but all I know is that I will love it. I want to have no regrets, none at all about this.

I just know that I am SO blessed, and I thank Jesus for the adventure I am about to take.