Moving To Thailand | The First Month
Moving To Thailand | Our Progress So Far
We are fast approaching the one month mark for our new lives in Thailand, and when it feels like we aren’t making as much progress as I’d like here, I have to keep reminding myself that we have indeed accomplished a lot in just over four weeks. We have learned to drive in a system that I would call just short of chaotic; we enrolled our daughter in both ballet class and a full curriculum school (with uniforms, Thai language immersion, a swimming pool and even homework!); P and I are both enrolled in Thai language classes (me, beginner, P, intermediate); I joined a yoga studio (I now know that “hai jay kao/ hai jay hok” means inhale/exhale in Thai); and we have found the perfect location for our future dream house. So, all in all, not too shabby for just under a month. Not to mention all the wonderful people we’ve met, the morning runs on the beach, the night market trawls, and the odd game of elephant polo.
Moving To Thailand Priority #1: Make A Home For Ingrid
One of our first goals upon arriving in Thailand was to make Ingrid feel as safe and comfortable with the transition as possible. She does still frequently ask when we’ll be going back home to Portland, but yesterday she asked me if we were going to stay here for “all the day” (I think she meant for a long time). We had been out all afternoon looking at houses, and although we have had more than one long talk with her about moving here, it finally dawned on her that we weren’t just here for a quick vacation.
All in all, I think Ingrid’s transition is going well. She is loving the pool and the occasional pony ride on the beach, and just this week she learned how to swim (Mom, if you’re reading this, I know you’re breathing a huge sigh of relief). But most of all, we are loving the fact that Ingrid is in school Monday through Friday from 8:30AM until at least 2:30PM. I say “at least” because the afternoon school schedule is very loose. I was surprised and relieved to find this out, especially when I was late on the second day to pick up Ingrid. I had P call the school to let them know we were running a few minutes behind, and he said that they acted kind of funny on the phone. We found out a few days later that some of Ingrid’s classmates regularly stay at school until well after 5PM (one little girl was there past 8PM one evening, her teacher informed me), so showing up at 2:45PM was no big deal.
Ingrid is enjoying school so far and has already made friends with three sweet girls (all of whom speak exclusively Thai but appear to have no trouble communicating with our daughter). Sitting still and paying attention for 45 minute stretches is difficult for a four year old (heck, it’s difficult for me!), but I’m impressed with her flexibility thus far. She’s been a really good sport, and I’m proud of this incredibly strong little girl who takes life in stride and manages to enjoy every minute of it.
We have had the pleasure of meeting the parents of Ingrid’s new friends, and they graciously invited us for dinner last night on the beach. The girls played in the sand while the adults gorged themselves on fresh crab, shrimp, squid and fish. There is so much good seafood here, and we just can’t get enough. We enjoyed watching the kids chase each other and collect seashells, and we tried practicing our less than mediocre Thai with anyone who would listen. Despite our massacre of their native tongue, the Thai people we have met thus far have been incredibly generous when it comes to enduring our painful attempts to speak their language.
Moving To Thailand Priority #2: Learn The Language!
Since our Thai leaves much to be desired, Paul and I have enrolled for language classes. I just finished my second week, and I can say with near certainty that I am tone deaf (my sister, husband and anyone who has had the misfortune of hearing me sing would confirm this). I just can’t hear the tonal differences in Thai. There are all these cute Thai tongue twisters where they have four variations of the same word in one sentence, all with different tones to change the meaning of the word. I am pretty terrible, but I take great comfort in the fact that I am still much better than the two Brits in my class who have both been living in Thailand for well over a year and can barely say “hello” in Thai.
Speaking of, I found an unusual place to improve my Thai: a new yoga studio I joined. Despite the humid, stagnant air and temperatures of nearly 90 degrees, I love this studio. The teachers are great, and the other students are very friendly. I’m usually the only farang in class and the teachers kindly lead half the class in English, just for my benefit. It’s interesting: in some ways, the language barrier almost doesn’t exist in yoga class. The sanskrit names of the poses are universal, and once you’re familiar with the poses, the sequence is the only thing that might vary (unless you’re doing Ashtanga yoga, of course, and then the sequence is exactly the same every time). I find it fascinating to see all these beautiful Thai women doing yoga. In some ways, the classes seem very Thai (i.e. very un-American) in the sense that there is a lot more giggling and a generally playful attitude, as opposed to a more serious and competitive environment one might find in the US. And last night the teacher had to ask the ladies three times to stop talking so he could begin class–that would never happen at my yoga studio back in Portland (nobody ever seemed to talk to anybody there). So, in a way, it’s a much more relaxed atmosphere and makes yoga even more enjoyable. And watching these women do all the familiar asanas in a place so far away from where I used to practice makes the world seem much smaller.
I’m thankful to be practicing yoga regularly and channeling my inner zen because all of the house hunting has been a little frustrating. I mentioned in our last post the lack of road signs and the general chaos of driving, so actually navigating our way to a particular house is extremely dangerous and very time consuming. And once we arrive, the house is usually a huge disappointment. What looks like a beautiful, well-manicured home from the outside is usually a construction nightmare once inside. There have been a few exceptions, and these places really stand out for their quality and attention to detail. We are smitten with one place in particular. It is located about 30 minutes outside of Hua Hin proper, in a small town one kilometer from the beach. The development is called Hana Village, and it’s the brainchild of an American guy and his Thai wife. Together they have created the most beautiful homes for the best value in the area. All the houses are custom built with the buyers’ input to ensure that the clients get exactly what they want. Since P and I have unfortunately been bestowed with the picky gene, and because we fancy ourselves as having good taste and a good sense of space and proportion, we jumped at the opportunity to design our own house. We hope that if we go through the trouble of designing and building our dream home here, some of our friends and family will actually come visit (I hope that those same friends and family members are reading this post and get the hint!)