Where is home?..

Some people go on holidays, some go for round-trips around the world, and some buy one-way tickets to distant places. The latter has happened to us… twice.

We both left our homes in Lithuania, hoping to come back soon after the graduation. Yet five years down the line we were still in the UK. We realised that this was our home now – a chic fifth-floor apartment with a huge window and a riverside view. Well-paid office jobs, enough time to travel somewhere close enough and keep ourselves entertained – we couldn’t have asked for more. However, deep inside, it just didn’t feel like home.

A couple more years passed, and the thought of filling the “utmost exciting” job positions back home was out the window. This time, we had one-way tickets to Thailand.

Koh Phangan

A total of 9 boxes packed with carefully thought-through items were shipped to the “original home” in Lithuania – the point of departure where we left seven years ago. The flat was getting empty. We exchanged goodbyes with our colleagues and friends, yet we still couldn’t believe we were leaving.

It was only when we had a few hours left before our train to the airport, that it suddenly hit us – the sense of leaving home. Looking at our suitcases and spending our final moments in the flat, hundreds of little memories started coming back: testing our patience when the gate won’t accept the code twenty times in a row, trying to put the blinds up slowly as to not catch the Christmas lights sellotaped to the window; sticking out my head through the window in the morning to see how windy it is; picking up and eating rocket-salad leaves after having dropped them on the carpet during dinner (daily occurrence); trying to manage the fridge contents after a party while keeping record-low food waste levels…

And after all those years we had to put our home key in an envelope, slip it under the door, and walk away. We were walking towards the train station knowing we will not be coming home the same way tomorrow, knowing we wouldn’t really have a home for some time.

But as soon as the train started moving, that feeling of being on a journey, that feeling of an adventure came up, and suddenly we both felt happy again. We were beginning our next adventure…

Home is holding your hand
Home is holding your hand

Siem Reap: children’s massages and $0.5 beer

The following morning after visiting the Landmine Museum we were very lazy, especially ‘Sleepy Dwarf’ Auste, so we just went for a massage. There was a place that charged $4 an hour, which sounded somewhat dodgy, so… we went to check it out!

We walked upstairs into a dark room and laid face-down on rusty ol’ mats. The room was separated by red curtains and we could hear other people being ‘dealt with’ – I couldn’t tell what kind of massages they were getting, but their presence was evident by an occasional click-clacking of skin contact. I have to admit I was a bit intimidated by the overall ambience. Laying down, I heard two girls walking in – I couldn’t tell their age, but they were giggling and having chupa-chups. I expected some instruction whether to take any clothes off (like you normally would in a spa), etc, but she just jumped on my back and went into action. The girls were very young, they wore jeans and simple t-shirts – honestly, I felt very uncomfortable, as if I was exploiting kids. That wasn’t the case though, as lots of families have many children who help with their businesses from early age. Even though we had clothes on, the session was really good and we felt ‘streched-out’ the next day.

Siem Reap

On our last day we left the hotel in the heat, again. We seem to have this thing of going for sweaty mid-day walks with our backpacks on. We had about 5 hours before our flight, and since we were flying with AirAsia and only had 7kg of cabin baggage allowance, we decided to treat ourselves to another massage. We chose a place that charged the same as everywhere else – $6 per hour. This one had staff with uniforms though – a sign of professionalism, one may think.

When we came in, the service was too good – we were seated, given flip flops, even our feet were washed! To be honest, the last part was too much for a simple guy like myself. We walked upstairs, no red curtains or chupa-chups, and we were given pyjamas to change into – this was going to be awesome. Without going into much detail I’ll just say that I couldn’t wait for it to be over: the girl was either exhausted or just lazy as she kept yawning every five seconds. She didn’t put ANY energy into it and just generally messed about with my arms and legs. I had my eyes closed and when she locked my knees to stretch out my thighs, I felt that she laid down on the mat. From the long awkward pause I could tell she was taking a nap. Taking a nap! ON MY MAT!

This is by no means our natural behaviour, but straight after this we had another massage! This was a proper salon and both the exterior and interior looked very welcoming and professional. It was more expensive as you would expect, and the back massage cost $6 for 30 minutes. We were offered tea upon coming in and leaving, had our feet scrubbed with scented salts, there were massage tables with face-holes, relaxing setting and the massage was done by professionals – definitely worth the money.

Feeling riel'ly rich
Feeling riel’ly rich

Cambodia

During our stay in Siem Reap we had surprisingly many beers and cocktails – another thing we don’t normally do. If you like South East Asian food, Cambodia is the place to go, well at least Siem Reap. Some foods are cheaper than in Thailand, depending on where you eat – we usually go to places where the locals go. We definitely avoided the infamous ‘Pub Street’ filled with fancy restaurants and bars that have cotton napkins and stuff. We opt for squeaky tables and rusty fans – we’re in Cambodia NOT because we want to feel like we’re in England.

At a home-style restaurant in the heart of the city you can have a meal with rice for $1-3. The best part was that a pint of draft beer was $0.5 – it’s $2-3 in Chiang Mai! Smoothies and fruit shakes were $0.5-1 too… We also have good news for vegetarians as restaurants have good range of vegetable dishes.

some things on the menu make you wonder…

We finished our trip with a nice plate of ‘French fried’ and a crisp yet smooth bottle of Angkor, made of ‘only the finest hops and fresh spring water’. It’s interesting that all beers in the world have the same qualities, maybe that is what makes beer – beer?

Cambodia, Siem Reap

Cambodia, Siem Reap

A funny thing – when we thought of going back to Chiang Mai we called it home. Even our trip to Bangkok felt like going home!

More photos on our Flickr page and read about our exploration of Angkor Wat and Co here.

My CELTA interview nightmare…

After having completed the CELTA course I can reflect on the most awkward interview I have ever had. You may want to grab some popcorn for this.

I had my skype interview on Wednesday morning mid-June (for September’s intake), just after Auste’s interview. Hers went just great, but mine went like this…

The trainer was not the one I was told it was going to be, but he sounded nice and we exchanged our hellos. He asked me why I wanted to be a teacher and why I chose CELTA and some other questions of similar nature. I had prepared three pages of answers divided into four detailed sections: CELTA, Thailand, Teaching, Chiang Mai. So my answer should have been very organized and professional, right? Basically, in a trembling voice I babbled something like: “All my friends told me it’s very difficult but worth it in the end, and I am looking for a change in career”. What a guy…

Then we went straight into possible teaching scenarios. THREE to be more precise. I expected an easy one, not three. The first one was how I would teach an expression of [something I can’t remember] to a class of lower level students. This one went OK.

The second one was how I would explain the difference between ‘I stopped to smoke’ and ‘I stopped smoking’. This is where it got funny. I explained both of them, but I got the ‘I stopped to smoke’ wrong as I thought it meant: I stopped to smoke [for a second as I saw a big brick falling on one lady’s head across the street]. Yep. That’s me. The trainer was so keen on eliciting the right answer, and luckily Auste started acting out stuff in the room and I realised that I’m an idiot and then I explained it OK.

The final question was how I would teach new ‘appearance’ vocabulary to a class of intermediate students or something. Basically I was shitting my pants by that point and had a complete black out and I started saying things unconsciously, like: “I would try to act something out or ask a student to come in front of the class to do something and I would write the words on the board”, or something as intelligent as that. The guy was really confused as to what I was actually saying as neither me nor Auste understood what I had said! She kind of suggested some things on paper and I started talking again (after taking an uncomfortably long pause).

I mentioned something about using magazines and describing celebrities, but I didn’t make any sense so the interviewer kindly changed the task to how I would get the students talking. By that point my mouth was probably as dry as Sahara desert itself, my palms were sweating like a fat kid on a treadmill and my pen had run out of ink, including that I had broken the lid of it. I kind of blacked-out again thinking about failing the interview, cancelling all my plans, having being dumped all at the same time, and then suddenly heard: “I believe you are a good candidate for this course and your English is very good [and so on…] and we’re looking forward to seeing you on the course.” Basically I just said thank you and all that, hung up, and collapsed on the sofa for a good 20 minutes.

Given the appalling interview, my performance on the course was surprisingly good – I passed all teaching practices, and only had to resubmit the first written assignment (as most of the others had too!)