Tag Archives: Thailand

JOY AND TEARS IN THAILAND

I arrived in Bangkok on January 25th. 2020 and I had to wait for a 6 hour flight to Phuket with thousands of Chinese who had come to Thailand to celebrate the New Year. The Corona virus threat began to become real to me as well. I bought a protective mask and kept putting the desinfecting agent on my hands. The real panic was not far away.

Phuket I then calmed Korona virus. The virus appears here every day in a way that people use a lot of mask. In fact, I am content with just regular hand washing. The first few weeks, when there were a lot of Chinese, I also avoided going to areas where there were a lot of people.

My job has been awesome. I work for the Asia Foundation Center for Young Children in Phuket. I didn’t know what I was going to do there. I was a little afraid that I would only have to do school assistant work. However, I have to do the work that is meaningful and where I can use all the experience and skills as a physiotherapist and the coming Social Services. My boss, who is a South African woman who really appreciates Finnish education, is interested in how we use different teaching methods in Finland.

I am in daily contact with children for about one hour and observe how I can facilitate the work of teachers through functional methods. My main job has been to develop functional methods that facilitate teaching, such as PECS images and other functional methods to aid teaching. I have also made  home visits to children’s own homes, as well as some of the homes in need of help for the elderly.

Teachers don’t speak English well and the kids don’t speak at all. However, the language problem goes with drawing and gestures. I guide the children with PECS pictures. Besides me there is three Thai and two Swedish social worker students, of which I have been good friends.

The school has 45 children aged between three and seven who are from very poor families. The educational center has been in the area for 20 years and many would like to have their children there, but the criterion for access to the center is poorness. Only the most vulnerable are accepted there. Children are taught to behave, take care of their hygiene, and the basic skills they need to go to school.

 

The parents of most children are in prison, drug users, prostitutes, or very poor. Most children live with their grandparents because parents are unable to care for them. Most children live a life where no one really cares.

From the Finnish point of view, children’s hygiene is quite horrible. Their clothes are dirty, their skin is dirty and bruised, and their teeth are very broken when they are 4 years old.

However, at the training center, they are loved, washed, given healthy food, taught teeth brushing, hygiene, basic life skills, English, and above all, set boundaries and regularity. The children who are accepted here are very lucky. They have a chance to get out of education and poverty.

The work has been interesting, but also mentally difficult at times. I endure anything that happens to adults with 30 years of work experience, but it has sometimes been difficult to deal with ill-treated children. Some children have had to wipe away tears.

I have always loved painting, and here also I have been able to carry out all the more to love a hobby, which I have not had because of the family, my work and my studies time in years. My boss here first asked me if I wanted to do a mural on the work area of ​​the workplace. I accepted the challenge and my boss agreed to my plan. I will design the mural around the Asia Foundation Center logo. I wanted to take a picture of our four northern times of the year so that the children would learn that there is more to the world than the hot and rainy season. The Autumn Magazines will write down the names and year of the employees who will be leaving, and the Green Magazines of the summer will write the names and dates of the big children, who will stop attending the Center on March 27, 2020. It has been wonderful to do mural painting even though due to the heat I couldn’t do it for an hour in the morning.

There have also been negative things here. Traffic is something horrible and left-handed. I have been forced to drive business trips 4 km direction moped, and every day I have been quite horrified. I’ve so far survived it. The next sad thing has been the heat at work. I like hot weather and sunshine but working 8 hours working without air conditioning has been a real ordeal! I will never get used to it. My job is so poor that only my boss’s room has air conditioning. Each day I sweat for 8 hours and I drink at least 2 liters of mineral water a day. The best moment of the evening is when I get out of work and go to the pool for a swim and return to my air-conditioned apartment.

I have four children and a husband. I’ve never been a week away from them, let alone travel alone. I am proud of myself because I have survived here all alone. I’m here alone, but I have not had been lonely. I have received so many new friends, with whom I spent my free time. I’ll be here a changed, more independent and stronger personality than I had ever before. The words are hard to even explain all the things I have learned about myself here.

The most important thing I want to bring from here to Finland is the kindness of Buddhism. I’ve never encountered something like this. It has really impressed me! I want to strive to do the same for all the people I meet in the future, so it felt good. With small gestures you can make another one very happy. We Finns should care more about each other!

The other thing is greater appreciation of the level of Finnish education. It is the best in the world and it is truly valued in the world. As I have heard many times here. We can be really proud of our Finnish education!

I’ll write the rest of my blog now at home. I was forced to quit working in Thailand for the Korona pandemic. The training center was closed and I went home on my first direct flight. I’m sure I’ll be back there. I want to visit all the places I know and most of all meet all the wonderful people again.

Titta

 

Exchange to the Deep End of Cultures

Greetings and a humble wai. I study in one of the top universities in Thailand, Chulalongkorn University, and it looks like it, but sometimes just doesn’t feel like it. I study culture and literature in the arts department, which is all new to compared to my home studies which are more about film and television. Studies are homework heavy oriented and there are only three days of school in a week and this suits perfectly for my passion to travel. Usually I do my homework in those three days and head off for the long weekend.

There aren’t too many westerners in the arts faculty so to my luck most of my friends are local and with them I get too see the authentic Bangkok. I quickly got used to the millions of people always around and now I feel almost cozy passing through a mall after school at rush hour to get to my apartment. I have already spent a share of my time in Thailand in the past, so now my travels take me mostly abroad. Travelling is super cheap here and doesn’t bankrupt me even if I occasionally fly instead of taking a bus or a train. In Bangkok I try to live like most of the local students: eating at some shady, but great food stalls, going to a cheap weekday movie or sharing a beer tower in the local night market. There is a certain kind of party- apartment building in the other side of the campus where there is a party every night, but I try to avoid that place because there is a bit too “eat at the Burger King”-vibe for me.

Studying in Chula is very different from my home school in Finland: here it is all about lecturing and taking notes while in Finland we mostly learn through practical exercises. The general school atmosphere among students reminds me of my years in upper secondary school where most of the pupils weren’t interested in what they were teaching but more likely were forced to sit there. I haven’t seen this kind of attitude since, because in TAMK everyone has gone through the entrance examination process and to do that you must have interest in the field and not just because “you have to”. Although here people are still young (aged 17-18) when starting university and most of my local friends still seem to be on the fence what they really want to study and to do in life, as was I when I was that age.

Studying abroad is the best and the easiest opportunity that I have grabbed on during my studies and would highly recommend it. Thailand must be one of the best places to do your exchange studies: you get your worldview widely broaden only from the food culture. There are countless of adventures to explore only in Thailand or with the price of a Finnish train ticket go and explore Philippines for example. Make your time in exchange look like you!

Greetings from Bangkok!

I did my practical training in Bangkok, Thailand. My practical training lasted little bit over 3 months. My workplace was 25 km from Bangkok downtown. I rented apartment close to office because Bangkok´s chaotic traffic would take too much time if I had to drive in rush hour. My title was HVAC engineer and most of my job task were related to cooling systems because Thailand’s very hot climate. My days started at 9 am and workday ended 6 pm. I had 1-hour lunch break.

In Thailand working culture hierarchy and respecting older people are very important. Rising voice or losing temper are things you should try to avoid. My co-workers were very helpful and interested in Finland. I learned from them lot of about Thailand and its culture. In Thailand people have more relaxed attitude in work and free time. Sometimes it caused some problems, example in Finland I got used to that if we agree to meet at 6 pm it really happens 6 pm and not 7 pm.

In weekends I tried to explore Bangkok or travel around Thailand. Bangkok is very big city and there are lot of things to do. Many markets, shopping centers, temples, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Domestic flights in Thailand are very cheap and it was easy to fly to different cities to explore more Thailand. Good location of Bangkok offers change to go explore neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia or Malaysia. My favorite place where I traveled in Thailand was Phuket. Phuket is big island in South Thailand which offers many nice beaches and beautiful nature. I had also time to travel to Cambodia and Malaysia.

 

Combination of business and scuba diving!

I made my practical training last spring in Thailand on Koh Tao island. I spent almost three months there and worked as an office trainee in Finnish scuba diving center, Koh Tao Divers.  Koh Tao Divers have another diving center in Malta as well.

Why I chose diving center as a place for my internship? Well, I thought for a long time what would be a perfect place to do my practical training in Finland. I was sure, that I won’t do it at any restaurant or hotel. I wanted some new and different.

It was rainy day of October 2017 and I was browsing my Facebook. There it was. Turquoise advert of Koh Tao Divers, which told that they were still looking for office trainee for next spring. I didn’t think twice, so I sent email and there wasn’t even two weeks and I got to know that Im leaving to Koh Tao island on next March.

After those three months I spent there, I couldn’t be more happy I did it. It was absolutely one of my best decisions of my life.

So, what was my job description at Koh Tao Divers. I was working at the office, so main things what I did was customer service, finding suitable instructor or divemaster for customers, sell our courses and fundives, take care of our accounting and payment of wages, buying retails for our shop and keep in touch with our partners.

The most valuable thing what I learned during my internship was organizing schedules between instructors, customers and boat. Situations will change so quickly, so you need to react quickly as well. Organizing skill is very valuable in any job, so you can exploit it in a future.

I think that working culture at Koh Tao Divers was pretty same that in Finland. It can be affected by the fact that the company is Finnish and most of employees are Finnish. Of course working in scuba diving center is much different than example in hotel or restaurant. Dives are conducted on the terms of instructors and students, when for example in restaurant there is superiors who decide on things. The most important thing in restaurant is that the customer is happy. Of course that is important thing on diving centers as well, but safety is the most important thing on diving.

All though I loved my job in office, it was even more interesting when I got chance to learn scuba dive and do any courses what I wanted.  I did SSI Open Water Diver course, Advanced Adventure course, Deep Diving course and Enriched Air Nitrox course and many, many fundives! It was really rewarding when you really understand what everyone is talking about, you can give advises to customers and be a part of that small diving family. Now I really can say, that I finally found my very own sport what I can be into in future.

If you wanna read more my internship at Koh Tao Divers, take a look my blogpost on their website: https://kohtaodivers.com/blog/108-internship-at-ktd-learning-new-skills

 

 

Sawadee kha from Thailand

I have spent almost three months in a small island called Raya Yai (or Koh Racha Yai) in south Thailand. I work as an office trainee in a Finnish scuba diving company, Raya Divers.

Raya Divers has offices in five
locations; Phuket, Koh Lanta, Khao Lak, Krabi and here in Raya Yai. I mainly chose Raya Yai because I wanted to live on a paradise island rather than in the city. I have never visited Thailand before so I wanted to get to know the more peaceful and calm Thailand first.

80 % of Raya Yai is jungle. On the other 20 % there are a few small shops and restaurants, an ATM, a few resorts, some bungalows and a lot of (Thai) diving companies. There is about 250 people living in here. On the road you can meet cats, cows, monitor lizards and water buffalos. Snakes are very common too, but luckily I haven’t met any!

Most of Raya Divers’ clients are Finnish, so I haven’t got to use English that much in here. The much simpler and quite unique-sounding Thai English is very contagious, though. I learned a few words of Thai as well. I actually often find myself mixing the two languages when talking to the locals.

After the sun sets
Office kittens ❤️
Took a ride on the motorbike
Day off

My office tasks consist of customer service, sales, reservations for transfers and diving, keeping the places clean and general helping and organizing. A typical working day is at least nine hours long. Each day is a bit
different, as it always depends on how much customers we are having.

During my training I also got to do a PADI Open Water Diver course, which was free for trainees. I was able to go diving almost weekly, which was great! I will definitely continue diving in the future and maybe do an Advanced course as well.
I have really enjoyed my time here in Raya Yai. We had a small but great team on a small but a great island and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Greetings from the Land of Smiles

I have been studying now for three months in Rangsit University. University is located about 30 minute drive away from the center of Bangkok. Campus area is really big, you can find shops, cafes (Starbuck, Amazon+ others), banks, many different kind of food places, hospital, dentist, library, swimming pool, gym and athletics field.

Rangsit University
Rangsit University

The quality of teaching here is not the best one but it is okay. The teaching methods are quite different than in Finland. We have traditional homework that we write on paper and ten return them to our teacher. Also there are not that many group work and no projects, only lectures, exams and presentations. What I find funny is that everything related to school is discussed in Facebook and not in school intra etc.  All my teachers here talk really good English but content of courses are quite boring. We just have midterm exams and I think they were easy.

At school we have to use school uniforms and they are really hot to use because weather is almost every day about +35 degrees and it is getting hotter when summer is approaching. Men have to wear black trousers, plain white shirt and University’s necktie. Teachers and other students here have been really friendly and helpful.

First day at school with other Finnish exchange students
First day at school with other Finnish exchange students

I have here school only Monday 9.00-18-00 and Tuesday 9.00-15.00 so got some good time to travel in Thailand.

We have been travelling in many places inside of Thailand with other exchange students and it has been really cool. First two months we travel inside Thailand borders but after that we have been in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Macau.

Koh Lanta
Koh Lanta
Mae Hong Son
Mae Hong Son

I am staying here two more months and calendar seems to be almost full. We have plans go to Vietnam and Bali. If we have time i would also like to visit Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Singapore
Singapore
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Macau
Macau

 

Sa Watdee All The Way Form Thailand!

I am currently doing my practical training as an office trainee at Raya Divers. Raya Divers has five offices altogether and mainly all of the reservations as well as bookings are done through the Phuket office. My tasks include customer service, making reservations (both b2c and b2b), translations, updating webpages, answering emails & chat enquiries, equipment inventory & sales and working as an occasional tour guide. I work six days a week and only in the office during low season. When the peak season starts in mid-November, I will be working usually one day on one of our island or snorkeling tours and five days in the office.

Found this little fella wandering aimlessly in my apartment.
Found this little fella wandering aimlessly in my apartment.

I am really happy that I arrived during the low season as I have had a large variety of assignments. I have also gotten to know a completely new industry and answered customer chats for the first time in my life. Work days are quite long and my days off are always packed with activities because I want to see as much as possible here.

So you thought its always fun and games here? Wrong. Rain season ends just before peak season and if I hear another person complaining about rain in Finland I might have to do something about it.
So you thought its always fun and games here? Wrong. Rain season ends just before peak season begins and if I hear another person complaining about rain in Finland I might have to do something about it.

The weather is either really good or really bad, no inbetweeners. The forecasts show rain for every single day but it really rains like maybe twice a week. But when it rains, there’s nowhere to hide! Umbrellas are useless and Fishing waders would be useful as the roads tend to flood. Oh and yes, everybody wears those highly fashionable rain cloaks.

But then again...life is pretty good when it's sunny on a day off!
But then again…life is pretty good when it’s sunny on a day off!

As I mentioned before, I have one day off per week so it is always pretty nice to see the sun on those days. Raya’s office is located in Chalong and that’s where I also live. It’s a bit further away from everything and many people do drive a scooter. I have reclined to drive one as the traffic is really mental here.

Everything is cheap(er) here and i'm happy to make you all jealous by telling that there's a rooftop pool at my apartment building.
Everything is cheap(er) here and i’m happy to make you all jealous by telling that there’s a rooftop pool at my apartment building.

I lead almost the same kind of life here as in Finland: I wake up, go to work, go to the gym, eat, sleep and repeat. Only exceptions are tour days (once a week for me) and days off. Last week I had a chance of working as one of the tour guides on a snorkeling tour. It was a lot of fun but we had to go through training first. A swimming test, maritime rescue exercises, safe snorkeling instructions, recognizing poisonous sea creatures and so on. Not many people think about the tour guide training.

The captain's cabin at our day boat.
The captain’s cabin at our day boat.
Raya Yai - tie paradise island where Raya Divers was born.
Raya Yai – tie paradise island where Raya Divers was born.

 

Love,

Roosa

Greetings from Bangkok!

All things considered Thailand has treated me pretty well these almost three whole months that I have now spent here. Somehow time has been really flying, but after this midpoint of my stay I’m still lucky to have another three months in the heat of Asia before packing my bags and coming back home into the middle of the coldest time in winter.

Studying at Assumption University’s beautiful Bangna Campus takes place three days a week and then there’s always a long weekend to discover other nice places, too. So long the best trips have been to Ayutthaya, Krabi and Koh Samui in Thailand, yet adventures in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Cambodia and Vietnam are still waiting for me!

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Rolling my way to BKK

When I first came to Thailand in autumn 2014 I never thought that I would end up staying in the country for one and a half years. My time here begun with an exchange at a Thai university but instead of returning home after the semester I decided to stay in Bangkok in order to work on my bachelor thesis. While doing the field research for my thesis I managed to find a training placement. How things ended up being was nothing that I planned before but I’m happy how everything turned out.

Lumphini Park and Bangkok skyline
Lumphini Park and Bangkok skyline

I started my training in the beginning of August and now I’m already half way through. I’m interning in a Thai skateboarding company called Preduce which produces skateboarding content for clients, imports and distributes well known skateboarding brands and also manages its own apparel and hardware brand. My main work tasks are to make social media reports for clients and to help with distribution. Though, the company is really small which has given me the opportunity to get familiar with various different kinds of work tasks.

Preduce Office
Preduce office

Preduce is partly owned and run by Europeans so the adaptation to different working culture has been easy. I have Thais as colleagues but not as superiors, which means that I don’t have to pay too much attention for acceptable behaviour caused by hierarchy. Also the skateboarding culture itself is pretty equal and chilled, which creates a relaxed, open and friendly atmosphere in the office.

Since I work five days a week there hasn’t been time for travelling, which is fine because I got to travel a lot when doing my exchange. Right now my spare time is filled with Thai language classes, other regular hobbies and spending time with my friends. Basically doing same things I would do back in Finland as well. But with a little twist.

Practicing my written Thai
Practicing my written Thai

For now I’ve been happy for my time spent here. Time will show if I get to stay in the city still after the internship or if there’s something else waiting for me somewhere else. But right now, I’m stoked to be here!

A view from an abandoned skyscraper
A view from an abandoned skyscraper

Greetings from Thailand!

Sawatdii khrap!

It’s now almost four months since I arrived here in Thailand. In that four months have happened a lot! My attitude and way to see world have changed many ways and also my interests about different cultures and travelling is just growing up every day.

I organized my courses so, that I have only two long days school in week. That way there’s long weekends time to travel and explore Thailand. Most of the time I’ve been just inside the borders. There is so much to see in Thailand, that even five month is not enought to see all the places I liked to. Thailand has also nice neighbour countries, which everyone has something totally different to see. I’ve had only one week trip in Laos this far and unfortunally it might be my only one during that exchange.

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That beach is  from beautifull island Koh Samet, where we spent amazing weekend with other exchange students.

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My first trip outside of Bangkok headed to old capital Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya was full of different kind of monuments, Buddha statues and tempels.

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Most of the Islands have amazing fireshows that you can watch in the evening time. Same time you can lie on triangle pillows and enjoy your great time with friends. That picture is from Koh Tao-island where I was four days to graduate my scupa-diving license.

Assumption University’s Suvarnaphumi campus, where are most of the classes nowadays, is huge place. For me that campus was something totally new and something that you usually can see only in movies.

There is a huge contrast between teachers in ABAC. Some teachers speak really good fluent english and really want to teach and help students. Unfortunally there is also few ones who are not interested about students at all and their english is really difficult to understand.

In traditional Thai school culture it’s not accepted to ask questions in class or doubt with teacher, so specially dealing with some older Thai-teachers it’s still working that way..

At the end I want to recommend Thailand as exchange-country for everyone. Studying here is maybe not the best quality you can get and everyday life is not always as cool as in pictures, but that has still been great time here in Thailand!

 

Best Regards!

Aki Kortetmäki

Building services engineering