I am one week into my adventure in Thailand, and though there’s been much experienced I’ve only just begun to dip my toes in the water. It’s hard to know where to start…but here goes:
As soon as I turn the corner to walk the road that takes me to the sky train station, Bangkok comes to life. Every morning I pass a woman feeding 2 stray cats a plate of baby shrimp. Just a few steps further I see one of many dogs (I lost track at 20) that I’m sure is rabid. Street vendors are selling breakfast, which looks a lot like lunch and dinner (I opt to stick with fruit and yogurt since I don’t fancy rice/noodles/chicken three times a day). Tuk-tuks and motorbikes fly by, often weaving through pedestrians who saunter down the road. The street is not wide enough for two-way traffic, so I’m often forced to squeeze up against the concrete wall as cars pass by (and once a Buddhist shrine, which I climbed on to prevent my feet from getting run over).
When I make it to the main strip there’s a monk on the corner who accepts only food, not money, as people bow down and worship him. I step on the escalator and ride upwards to get to the Sukhumvit line. Some days the train will be packed, others I can manage to find a seat. Despite the bodies, the air conditioning makes the train feel cold.
When I de-board at Ratchathewi (pronounced exactly like “Ratatouille”) I walk through the Asia Hotel to take a short cut to work. Naturally, I pass many Farangs (foreigners) on my short walk through the hotel. Three Fortune Teller Booths are set up to entice tourists into some Asian magic.
Once I’m back on the street the sights and sounds of Thailand fill my senses (and the smog clogs my nose). I pass a fruit stand where I buy a bag of fresh pineapple and papaya (20baht) if I’m still hungry, and then I turn the corner and I’m at work.
My first three days of work consisted of individual meetings with each of the staff to learn about their areas of responsibility and how I can assist them as the communications intern. Time spent in between the meetings was dedicated to reading – not an easy task to do when you’re jet-lagged. I can’t say that I absorbed too much, but by the time Thursday and Friday rolled around I was feeling much better.
ECPAT is made up of an international staff. People come from Thailand, Argentina, France, Italy, Nepal, USA, England, Holland, Ecuador, and Bulgaria. With so many nationalities, the lingua franca is English. As one of the few native English speakers (there are just three of us) I am thankful that I speak German and ashamed that I do not speak more French.
Unfortunately the Communications Officer resigned from her position in December, meaning that my supervisor is the Deputy of Finance. I’m beginning to see how this is allowing for much more flexibility in terms of choosing the projects that I want to be involved with. For example, I will now be taking over the Social Media aspect of the job, providing updates on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. So if you’re on Twitter, follow ECPAT! And if you’re on Facebook, “like” ECPAT International. (I won’t start updating until I have a greater understanding of the projects/organization.)
From my first week at work I’ve come to understand that this is going to be a season of learning. And there is so much to learn. And I know this knowledge base will provide a great foundation for me to continue work in this field.
There are definitely times when I feel a little daunted by all of this newness, but there is one word I tell myself which helps alleviate my fears and creates some boldness: Adventure. Yes, this is most definitely an adventure, and I am so thankful to experience it!
Today’s adventure? To make some friends. Wish me luck!