Arriving in Thailand November 2019

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For the next few weeks I’m in Thailand, undertaking some teaching at Srinakharinwirot University in Bangkok. I’m going to be working with a small group of students to explore how they can develop their social media skills, and become bloggers, vloggers, podcasters and social communicators. The idea is to look at the development process for producing content that can be shared and spread through the social networks that are relevant to the students here in Thailand. I’m expecting this to be as much a learning experience for me as it will be for them.

I’ll be based in Bangkok, but I’ve been fortunate to be able to stay with a friend for a couple of days in Pattya, which has helped me to get acclimatised. It takes a couple of days to get used to the time difference and to recover from the jet-lag. The warmth and the sunshine have helped a lot, especially as I’ve come from the beginning of the UK winter. It’s been raining a lot back in Leicester, and the days are getting shorter as the year heads to a close. It’s not my favourite times of year to be in the UK. The fact that the condo has a pool has been a bonus.

I flew with Emirates from Birmingham, via Dubai. Every time I fly this route it’s noticeable that the comfort of the aeroplane has improved. Emirates uses Airbus A380-800s on this route, which are double decked, and are well equipped with a decent entertainment system and plenty of leg room. On the second leg of the journey from Dubai I had three seats to myself, so I was able to spread out and get some reasonable sleep. Because these planes are so large, any movement and banking feels very gentle, and the noise levels are far less prominent than most other aeroplanes I’ve been on. It was a much more comfortable flight than I’d anticipated.

When I arrived in Bangkok and was processed through immigration at Suvarnabhumi Airport, it was easy enough to change the pound notes I’d brought into Thai Baht. I’d been advised that the exchange rate would be better to change money this way, and with the thirty percent drop in the pound since 2016, every little extra helps.

From the airport it was a steady drive down to Pattya, which is a tourist city East of Bangkok, with a number of resorts and hotels that are popular with Russians, Indians as well as Western European tourists. With the drop in value of the pound in relation to the Thai Baht, there has been a dip in the number of people coming from the UK to Thailand. So the bars and the restaurants are a lot quieter than they have been in the past.

Pattya is busy and noisy, but pretty easy to get around on a bus, which is basically a pick-up truck with bench seats in the back and a steel-frame roof to cling on to. The buses change a flat-fee of ten Baht to travel on one, and they are speedy and easy to use, even though it sometimes feels like I’ve been hanging on for deer life. They dodge in and out of the traffic in the same way that other road users do here. There’s lots of people on mopeds and motorcycles.

Many Thai people have grown up on these motos from when they were little children, so the fluid driving style is second nature. The tourists who hire bikes and aren’t aware that the rules of the road work in a different way than they do in Europe is the cause of many accidents. Thailand has a terrible reputation for road accidents that is second to none anywhere else in the world.

I prefer to walk around on foot if I can, as it’s the best way to get to know a place. Over the last couple of days I’ve done my fair share of walking, on the streets and in the shopping centres. I’ve also done my fair share of eating. I like Thai food, and the variety of types of dishes here is incredible. There are food shops everywhere, and discussing what you will be eating next is a major preoccupation.

I had my first ever massage, which was really nice. I have very sensitive and feet and legs, so it took me some time to get my twitching under control. I was told that I my back is as stiff as a board, so I’ll try and get a massage here on a regular basis. I think the masseuse found the point in my knee that has been giving me some trouble as I’m walking about. I’m getting older and stiffer.

I’ve been taking the odd photograph as I walk about. I tend to use my iPhone, even though I’ve been carrying my camera. I need to learn how to make myself unobtrusive and invisible, so I can get some better photos of people. I’ll keep posting stuff on Instagram and Twitter, as well as uploading to the gallery here.

Now that I’m a little less phased-out from the flight, I’ll be posting a regular blog of stuff I’ve found interesting. There is so much going on that filtering it and choosing a story is difficult, so it might be a bit random. That’s never stopped me, much like the people here in Thailand.

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