Daily Life: Kamphaeng Phet

It always happens, time flies by and next thing you know the thing you were waiting for and excited about is happening.  And the next thing you know, that experience is over and somehow 6 months have passed.  I knew it from the beginning.  I made sure to appreciate each day and live for the day, I wanted to be fully in this experience.  I made a point to keep a journal once I got to my town – and tried to write at least a little bit everyday.  There’s always the ups and downs.  The homesickness and frustrations that seems to set in from time to time, the excitement of the adventurous moments – your first motorbike ride, hanging out with elephants, seeing these amazing beautiful places, experiencing this new culture, new new new.  All of that’s amazing, but it’s good to appreciate the little things, the little aspects of your daily life.

It’s good to truly take in the fact that you’re living across the world in an ordinary town in a country so incredibly diverse from your own.  That was the hardest for me to process.  I remember each day at the beginning I would still get this feeling, like “Am I really here?” “Is this real life?”, “Am I really just casually riding my bike around this town where I somehow live now, on my own, in the middle of Thailand?”  That feeling still comes sometimes, but not so much anymore.  For the most part I’ve acclimated to this life, so much so that I’ve probably gotten used to things that used to seem so strange and I probably don’t even realize it.  This is just my life right now.  In a few months, this will all be behind me but I’ll always remember that time that I built a life for myself in the small city of Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand.  And I’ll smile back, and remember something that no one else could ever know or understand, something that’s completely my own.  It’s my town, my temporary home.

So, let’s walk you through a typical day in my life.  I wake up and get ready for school.  I get on my bicycle and ride down my street… always on the lookout for the many terrifying dogs that love to jump out and chase me down on my way to school as I manage to dodge them (this is really the only time I’ve felt threatened in Thailand).  Once I get past that, it’s a pretty easy ride to school.  I sign in and head up to the office.  In an eight period schedule, I teach four 60 minute classes, and the rest of the time is devoted to lesson planning.  My classes are M1/9 and M1/8 (every day), M3/9, M3/10, M4/7, M5/7, and M6/6 (who I see twice a week).  These are equivalent to 7th through 12th grade.  My M1 classes often seemed to involve kids running around, hitting each other, and being overly entertained by throwing water bottles and you know, occasionally learning some English 55555.  Despite the craziness, they are still pretty adorable and a fun class to teach.  Some days things go smoothly, while other days not so much, but its all part of being a teacher I suppose.  Anyways I usually get lunch with a couple of my coworkers at the school canteen – usually my range of food choices consists of papaya salad (som tam), sticky rice, eggs, or noodle soup (pretty much my only non-meat options).  After my work day is finished, I ride my bike home around 4pm.

When I’m not working, lesson planning, or on weekend adventures, I have some free time.  In my free time, one of my favorite things to do is go to the river at sunset – usually this serves as my motivation for runs after work.  If I’m not running, I might check out the night market also along the river which is filled with plenty of food and some clothing and other types of shops – a place I usually wind up with some interesting new foods to try although I’m usually not 100% sure what they are.  Sometimes it’s overwhelming, but it’s always rich in culture.  Further down along the river, theres a handful of Thai masseuses who set up at the perfect time (around 5pm) for after work foot massages.  There’s also Sirijit Park – the big park in town which usually get pretty crowded after work hours – where there’s workout classes, exercise equipment, playgrounds, and paths for running.  There’s plenty of other exercise parks,  a nice swimming pool, basketball courts, tennis courts, and badminton courts all nearby.

Some days, I’ll meet with a couple of my farang teacher friends for some badminton or basketball and maybe we’ll stop for a beer at The Avenue, or the “Hitler Bar” (They have a picture of sexy Hitler – you have to see it to understand but due to the fact that Thai people do not learn world history in school they in turn have a VERY different perspective on Hitler).

Some days I’m tutoring after school or working on some more lesson planning.

And there’s the other days… when I just sleep or Netflix cause I can’t always be productive.

Around dinner time, there’s a good chance you’ll find me at my favorite cafĂ©, Elizabeth Coffee, a place where I’ve become quite the regular.  It’s got a nice “Western” vibe when you need a little bit of home every once in a while (or more than once in a while) – they have menus in English, play American music, they have amazing coffee and drinks, but also amazing meals and desserts.  They have some Western food options but I usually still opt for the Thai food.  Mostly it’s just a nice relaxing place to hang out on a laptop and lesson plan on weekends.

If I need to buy something that I can’t find at the 7/11 or Tesco Express in my neighborhood, I’ll probably find it at the Big C – my town’s closest thing to a mall.  The bottom floor consists of a some restaurants, pharmacy, electronics shops, etc.  The upstairs is basically Thailand’s version of a Wal Mart.  And if I’m in desperate need of some Western food, there’s always the Pizza Company – which has pretty good pizza but costs about 10x the price of Thai food (probably about the cost of a meal back home – gives you a scale for how cheap the food is here!) and of course a Dairy Queen.

Other than that, I think my favorite thing to do is just walk around with my camera and explore my town.  It seems everyday I go out for a walk or bike ride, I wind up finding something interesting or different happening.  I’ve enjoyed getting to experience some of the local festivals and holiday festivities during my time here.

I appreciate the little aspects of my daily routine and the simple beauty here and I’ve come to love this ordinary town in the middle of Thailand, a town no one else will ever know the way I do, and I’m thankful to have this town to call home.

I’ll miss you KPP.

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