We're moving to Pua! Marissa and I were hired to teach English to secondary school students in Pua, Nan. Nan is the most North Eastern province in Northern Thailand. Known for its quiet, laid back lifestyle and amazing, abundant national parks, I knew I was going to love it.
Arrival in Nan
We took 3 hour bus from Hua Hin to Bangkok and then a 10 hour bus to Nan City. We later found out that Nan can also be reached by a 1.5 flight for about the same price as a bus. We were met by our agent, P. Noi. (P means "older" and is like saying "Sir" or "Madame". It is expected/respectful to address older people with P before their names). We are managed by a brother-sister duo from Nan. Both of them have other jobs and manage farang (farang = foreigner) teachers as a side thing, I think. We were told that gifts are absolutely necessary to win the favor of Thai people. At a random bus station we bought some bean cakes. I have no idea what bean cake is but it came in a nice box, so we went for it. Our agent totally appreciated it (Note: the bean cake was re-gifted at a Christmas party we attended 2 months later). P. Noi is a widow who lives with a ridiculous boyfriend who deserves his own blog post. She calls him the housewife and he calls her the husband. They're adorable and made us feel so welcome.
It took just over an hour to drive from Nan City to Pua. We were literally driving on dirt roads and through corn fields to get here. As rural as it felt, Pua is actually considered a "large town". Pua has a TESCO, which is comparable to a below average Walmart. Pua also has four 7-Elevens. If your town has a 7-Eleven, it's a luxury and means you are definitely not in a village. If it has a TESCO, it's almost a city. Though our little city felt restricting at first, the more we explored, the more we realized how much this place has to offer. It has everything we could want and need except Western food, but that's ok.
My first thoughts were how beautiful the mountains were. I felt so at peace in a place surrounded by mountains. I took this picture walking from my house to TESCO on our first day.
Marissa and I were welcomed to Pua by the head of the English department, P. Jay. She's an absolute gem. We actually live on her property in a bungalow behind her house, so it's nice knowing we can knock on her door if we need anything or if it is raining and we don't want to motorbike to work. We live in a two bedroom house with an outdoor living room separating the two rooms. We have a Western toilet (#blessed) and air conditioning. Click here for more about our home in Pua!
We spent our first day hanging out with P. Jay's brother, P. Lan, who is as fabulous as it gets. He helped us arrange nail appointments and haircuts with his hook up. He's always down to gossip or help us with some type of "mission beauty".
I am teaching grades 9 and 10 at Pua High School. Pua High School has 2,000 students. I teach all 9 classes for both grades, each with about 40 students, so I have almost 700 students! My first impression of the school was... "no white boards?!" Chalk was a shock and quickly reminded me to abandon all my expectations and just go with it. Teaching hundreds of 14-16 year olds is ridiculous. I love it. They have the skills to hold basic conversations, so I have the potential to actually get to know them. They're sassy and can be little sh*ts, but the majority of them are so excited to learn English. It's the best feeling to walk into a classroom where students are genuinely so happy to see me. I didn't think it'd be possible to learn all their names, but I learn more and more each week!
First night in Pua
The most overwhelming part about being in Pua was the language barrier. We didn't know where to get eat, how to order food, or what to order. It's so awkward to stop at a place that looks like it serves food, realize they only serve one thing that you really don't want, but feel too awkward to leave and buy it anyways. There are so few farangs in Pua and people get so excited to see you. Without knowing Thai language, it's hard to walk away politely. So our first week, we bought and ate a lot of food we didn't want.
Our second night, Marissa and I were meandering around, hoping to find a place to get food. We were told to eat where Thai people eat because logically the busiest restaurants must serve the best food. We walked by a shop that was packed. We actually walked by three times before we got the confidence to walk in. The owner quickly cleared a table for us. We felt so embarrassed that we were kicking people out of their seats mid-dinner, but we were also starving and the owner insisted. The owner found four people in the restaurant that spoke English and invited them sit with us. It turns out that they were celebrating the opening of this new restaurant and we walked in on the party. As soon as we said that we are English teachers, everyone got so excited. Teachers are highly respected in Thailand, but I didn't really understand until that moment. They served us so much amazing food and desserts and insisted it was free. This was the first of many, many acts of kindness. The people of Pua are so friendly, welcoming, and eager to learn English.
I think I'm gonna like it here.