Today I am 23 years old. Before I turned 23 this is what I accomplished with my life:
1. Moved to a different country.
2. Pet a Tiger.
3. Rode an Elephant.
4. Became a bartender at a bar in Thailand.
5. Learned how to drive a moped - and drove it around an island.
6. Became a teacher in a foreign country.
7. Graduated college Cum Laude.
8. Became the President of Sigma Iota Rho and International Studies Club.
9. Graduated High School.
10. Went to Europe with the Spirit of America National Honor Band.
11. Worked as a waitress, Personal Assistant, tanning front desk person, Textbook salesperson, Supplemental Instructor, Customer Sales Support Representative, Dog sitter, House sitter, Intern at the Department of State, Bartender/Winery worker, and ESL teacher in Thailand.
12. Started a Young Democrats Society at Granbury High School.
13. Volunteered at Freeman-Fritts Animal shelter petting kitties.
Those seem to sum up the major points.
This past weekend in Kanchanaburi I celebrated turning 23 by exploring Thailand like never before. The adventure started with a visit to the controversial Tiger Temple. Some say that the tigers are drugged in order to keep them so tame - yet one employee gave us the whole schpeal on why this was incorrect. What matters most? I PET A TIGER! And I have proof!
After the Tiger Temple we visited a market and the Death Railway. By the railway there's a small cave with a Buddha statue. Next was the Bridge over the River Kwai (Pronounced River Kway unless you feel like saying something offensive). At sunset, the view of the river leaves quite the impression.
Saturday night Hayley, Angela, and Callie graciously helped my celebrate my birthday and even bought me a birthday cake! About 5 seconds after cutting the cake, we devoured the entire thing. We didn't feel guilty. Then we proceeded to do what everyone should do on a birthday - we went out on the town....to the only cool bar known as 'Sugar Member'. It was the only bar playing legitimate dance music and its sign beheld a giant pot leaf. A classy bar in Thailand if I ever saw one!
Sunday was a day of exploration, adventure, and exhaustion. Waking at 8am, we were determined to reach Erawan Falls before the rush came in. This amazing 7 tiered waterfall was quite the jungle trek. Each level gave way to something truly spectacular and beautiful. The incredibly long journey was well worth it when we finally arrive at tier 7 to see the first waterfall crashing down on the rocks below.
Even though we were well exhausted from the waterfall trek, we continued on to Pratat cave, where we were able to get a personal last minute tour of the cave. When told that the climb was 600 meters - I thought nothing of it. 600 meters is nothing! - Until its all one staircase to the top of the mountain. I used up every last inch of strength in me to reach the top in one piece. Also, I instantly regretted having a "Cheeseburger" for lunch. However, once inside, I forgot all about the climb. After going through a miniscule entry hole that I didn't even realize was there at first, the cave opened up into several large rooms filled with stalactites and stalagmites. It was truly awe inspiring. There was even a swarm of bats resting at the top of the cave. Near the end we found something that was less cool and more freaky - a bug. Cave bugs are scary - and that's all I have to say about it. Once back in our hotel (Sam's River Rafthouse on the River Kwai), I could have collapsed and slept for hours - but where's the fun in that. We went out for our last night in Kanchanaburi.
Sunday we packed our bags and were ready to go home. However, there was one museum that we had missed: The History of the Death Railway. I learned so much more about WWII and the atrocities that happened in the Thai borders. English, Australian, Burmese, and even some Americans suffered to build the Death Railway that would aid Japan in getting supplies across their conquered Asian lands. The stories and pictures were enough to make your skin crawl. It makes me believe that our public school systems are letting our students down. I've studies WWII many times - and yet I had never heard of the Death Railway or most of the happenings in Asia. Had I not been an International Relations major in college, I would have never known that WWII was more than just a European event. We need to educate our students with the stories from all around the world. Outside the museum was a graveyard for all the POWs that slaved over the Death Railway.
And now, today it is my birthday and I'm back to teaching. One year older, one year wiser.