Thailand. What is the first thing that springs to mind? The last time I was in Thailand I headed North into the hills. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai have been on my radar for as long as I can remember so the choice was easy. As everyone was heading to the beaches in the South, I headed North. That in itself is not unusual. Here is a link to the first day of that trip.
Tomorrow, after five months of living and working in Dhaka I am getting out of town for a well-deserved and mentally required vacation. It is Thailand 2.0 and this trip will be very different from the first one. I will be flying into Don Mueang International in Bangkok as we do. Big city debauchery will have to wait as my airport pickup will head 2 hours south, to the beaches of Pattaya, the sin capital of Thailand. It is also the AIDs and HIV capital of Thailand.
Pattaya is where the action is fast, furious and you can get into as much trouble as you can handle. Fifteen minutes away is Jomtien Beach where things are a bit more relaxed. This will be my first stop. My Fast and Furious days are few and far between and although they show up every once in a while, that is perfectly fine with me. That being said I am not going to avoid Pattaya Beach. I just have a plan and I am going to accomplish it. There is something I have been putting off for over 30 years but will put off no more. I am going to spend a week in Jomtien where I am going to get PADI certified.
I have a few more teaching years left but my desire is waning. It is time to start thinking and planning ahead for "quo vado" - " where am I going". I have no illusion of becoming an Advance Course Instructor or Elite Diver based on the PADI levels of certification. I can get to a Dive Master level with some effort. With that. there are opportunities all over the world. I do not need to be in the water every day. I can envision working in a Dive shop, organizing tours, customer service and yes heading out when needed. There is value to being a fit senior member of any dive shop. There is my next brass ring.
I have arranged my Open Water and Advanced Open Water with Jomtien Dive Center in Jomtien Beach. There will be five days of training and fun, however, I will be focused at every step of the way. I can drink beer and play around after my training. Lao Tzu said "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step"\ and my first step is about to take place. It may seem trite to use this quote, however I find it relevant with everything when we are going to make choices to change.
Once PADI certified, now it will be time to relax and have some fun. I will move from Jomtien to Pattaya beach hotel for four nights. I have been to fun zones in Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia. I am not walking into Pattaya with my eyes wide shut. There are some great things to see and do, aside from the bars and hookers on Walking Street. Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely going to spend some time there, but I am not going to experience it in all its "gory glory".
After a bit of time in Pattaya I am going to find my way back to Bangkok. What will I do there?Naturally I am going to be staying near Khao San Road, one of the fun streets in Bangkok. I have been to Bangkok before and there are things I want to see and do. After four days and nights at Pattaya Beach, I do not need to spend 3 more doing the exact same thing.
One of the reasons I chose Thailand on this trip is quite personal. In early March I met a new teacher here in Bangladesh, Jamie Graham Sivers who was from Oakville Ontario. He was only here a couple of days before returning to Thailand. He had mentioned that he needed to have his heart looked at as well as make sure his school in Thailand was ready to function without him as it would be taken care of by his wife Nina. I never asked him why he was coming to Bangladesh when he had a school and family in Thailand. Not my business.
We chatted back and forth on FB a few times about Bangladesh and about a new idea he had in business English in Thailand. Jamie had every intention of coming back to Dhaka to work as a Principal for a year but he died of a heart attack in late March. Without going into details I connected with his now widow, Nina. She had mentioned that if it was ever possible could I somehow get Jamie's suitcase back to her. It was a sentimental reason and I could give all the clothing to charity. I said yes of course. I was planning my EID vacation and I had not considered any other place aside from Thailand. I do not know what to expect. It can be a 15 second meeting or a long cup of coffee and conversation with Nina.
..and with that I am off to Thailand. This one is for you Jamie.