Teaching English

While we were in China, we were invited to teach English to grade 1 high school students. Before we could go, we had to go to the police station to register that we were in the city. First, they made copies of our passports and visas. Then, they had to write all our information down on paper in Chinese because they didn’t’ have a computer system.

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The process didn’t take long and we were on our way! The high school was another three hour bus ride and this one was just as unique as the last. Most people in China ship things through the bus system. They will pack on their items and the bus driver will deliver it wherever they ask for a certain price. On our ride, someone stacked 8 metal boxes of tofu, a box of fish, and several bags of vegetables. This is completely normal.

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You can smoke wherever and whenever you want in China. Clean air is something we were taking for granted here in America because every time we got on a bus, several people would smoke. At one point, everyone on our bus started smoking and it was awful.

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We were spending the night in this town, so we took our stuff to an apartment and had a quick snack before heading to the school.

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Most students don’t live close enough to the school to commute everyday so they live on the campus. Classes start early in the morning and do not end until 11:30pm. Chinese students can only continue their education if they excel at school and make certain grades. They all attend elementary school, but once they hit middle school, they have to succeed. Most students do not make it past middle school and are forced to find a job or attend a technical school. The same process applies to high school students. If a student does not succeed academically, the only way they can continue their education is if they are athletically inclined.

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The english class we were teaching was only for the students who had the best english. We spent the hour teaching them all about Christmas by giving them vocabulary words and fun games.

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They were all super sweet and really welcoming! We all had the best time learning about Christmas!

The following day, we came back to the school to take some students to lunch for their break. There is usually around 10 kids that come, but this day there were around 20.

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We took up 2 of these large tables and ate so much food while making great friends!

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Then began another journey back to Caitlyn’s apartment.

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Arriving in China

We were so sad to leave Thailand, but very excited to explore China! The night before we left, we asked the front desk at our hotel to schedule us a taxi ride for 5:30am the next morning. It took us 30 minutes to get to the DMK airport in Bangkok, which was 500 baht. This is equal to $13.83. For only a few cents, we could have taken the sky train a few stops to save us some money on a taxi, but we didn’t want the hassle that early.

We flew directly from the DMK airport to Kunming, China with Air Asia. This is a low cost carrier that will charge you for everything they can. Both checked and carry-on bags can only weigh a little amount and they will charge you for water, snacks, etc. while on the plane. They pack the aircraft with seats that are super tight, so we wouldn’t recommend this airline for any long flights. Also, when we received our luggage in China, our suitcase was broken. The handle was jammed and wouldn’t move up or down and there was a huge chunk missing from the top. We asked to be reimbursed for the damage, but they said no.

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Before leaving the DMK airport, we had some extra time to spare so we did the most American thing we could. We got Starbucks and Krispy Kreme. Also, Taylor found a yummy smoothie shop!

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Thailand doesn’t celebrate Christmas, so we were very impressed with their selection of festive donuts.

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It didn’t take us long to get through the Kunming airport because there were no crowds and customs went smoothly.

Once we landed in China, we found our good friend Caitlyn, our driver, and headed into the city to find lunch! Surprise, surprise, we found a pizza place. It was called Brooklyn Pizza and was very modern and westernized. We ordered fresh mozzarella sticks (which were some of the best we’ve ever tasted), parmesan chicken pizza, and buffalo chicken pizza. We also ordered water, but in China they believe that in the colder months you are only supposed to drink hot beverages like tea and water. I couldn’t adjust to the hot water so I ordered bottled water the remainder of the trip and received the strangest looks.

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We highly recommend this place if you’re looking for the comfort of American food and craving pizza!

Following lunch we headed to the train station for our 3-hour train ride into Jianshui.

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The train ride was filled with incredible views, funny stares from locals, and a really cute child sitting beside us. We are so glad that we took the train because we were able to see a ton of the countryside.

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Upon arriving in the city, we took our bags back to the apartment then hopped on mopeds and went for a ride to dinner at a restaurant in Old Town. The architecture was all from Chinese dynasty times and absolutely stunning. We ordered several family style dishes that were amazing!! We were too hungry to take pictures of the food, but it was all great.

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After dinner we hopped aboard the moped again to tour Old Town under the lights. Taylor really enjoyed driving the moped around and was soon acclimated to driving in Asia. We wrapped up our scenic ride home and settled in for the night.

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Thailand Tips & Tricks

Within 4 days, we got the perfect taste of Thailand because we traveled through the city, countryside, and beach. This was our first trip, which gave us plenty of tips-and-tricks for the next time we visit! If you plan on visiting, these may be helpful!

  1. Be aware of the time difference and try your hardest to adjust on the plane ride over. Taylor and I knew we would be getting to Bangkok at 1:30am their time so we fought to stay awake so we would be able to fall asleep when we arrived. If we had fallen asleep on the plane, the jet lag would have gotten the best of us and it would have been extremely hard to adjust.
  2. It’s hot…ALL THE TIME. Every day was at least 90 with extreme humidity. They also have a rainy season, so be prepared.
  3. Don’t forget sunscreen! Chances are, you are a lot closer to the equator than you realize.
  4. Dress appropriately. Most temples have a dress code that is strictly enforced so do your research. This will save you time and money.
  5. Exchange your money through an ATM. Believe it or not, the fee is less than an exchange center at the airport.
  6. Download a currency exchange app and save your receipts. This will keep you aware of how much you’re actually spending and not just guessing.
  7. If you’re arriving at the BKK Airport, get off the plane as quickly as possible because you will have to stand in customs for at least an hour. There will be at least 20 stations, but only 3 people working. It’s pretty much like being in line at Wal-Mart. Make sure your arrival card is filled out before you land.
  8. Do your research! Trip Advisor will tell you the best activities and places to eat.
  9. If traveling to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, or Wat Arun, take a river taxi. This is the most scenic route and probably cheaper than a taxi.
  10. If you have one weekend in Bangkok, go to the Chatuchak weekend market. It’s only open Saturday and Sunday from 9am – 6pm and Fridays 6pm-midnight. The 35-acre area of Chatuchak is home to more than 8,000 market shops where you’ll find the perfect gifts and souvenirs. Be prepared to bargain everything and anything with a friendly smile.
  11. If you are paying with a credit card, make sure they accept the card carrier BEFORE you decide to purchase or eat. Some places will let you use your card, but will charge an additional fee to use it.
  12. Don’t be afraid to take public transportation. We found the sky train very simple and way cheaper.
  13. There are 2 airports in Thailand with a free shuttle to transport you between the two! The trip will take about an hour and all you need to do is show them your flight itinerary.
  14. If you’re planning on visiting the beach, there are several busses at the airport ready to take you!
  15. Make friends!! Don’t be afraid to step outside your bubble and meet new people from all over the world. There’s no telling who you’ll meet along the way.

We’ve Started a Blog!

Hello!

After a lot of time and planning we have finally decided to start documenting our travels online for the world to see. Taylor and I have always shared a common love for traveling and the desire just keeps growing, so why not share!?

Learning to document all of our adventures will be a new experience, but definitely an memorable one. As our readers, if you have any suggestions on where we should travel or what to experience, you can contact us at aworldofcrazy@gmail.com.

There’s no telling where we’ll end up or what adventures we might take, but we hope you’ll follow along with us by subscribing via email in the menu bar and through our social media links. Thank you for your love and support!

Love,

Tay & Ash

photo: Courtney Dienner