It is hard to believe I am here. Somehow with a mixture of buses, trains and a few lifts, I actually made it from the UK to Thailand without flying. It feels a little surreal, and I cannot quite work out if I feel a long way from home or not that far at all…
Now the next, and possibly the most challenging, part of my adventure begins.
I will be based in the village of Ban Santi Suk, a few miles from where I will be teaching English in Mae La Luang.
I will be living with a Karen tribe family.
In truth I have no idea what to expect. I know there is few or maybe no other English Speakers and probably no internet. I have bought a Thai SIM card so that I will hopefully have some means of communication with the outside world. However, I am also looking forward to being cut off from the wider world, in the hope that I can fully immerse myself in their life and culture.
I am armed with a few words in both Thai and Karen and I hope that I will learn a little while I am there. After all, there is no better incentive than when you are unable to communicate any other way.
Two days a week I will be in the Primary School and three days a week in the Secondary School. I have a few books, a yoga mat and a slackline to keep my occupied in my spare time (assuming I have some) and hopefully I can buy a bicycle to cycle to and from the school.
My emotions are, as you can imagine, a tightly twisted coil of nerves and excitement.
It feels like the biggest challenge I have taken on yet. Never before have I lived alone in a community with whom I cannot communicate. Inevitably I am nervous about this.
However, I am also incredibly excited. Last year, when I challenged myself to cycle to Turkey, one of the things that kept me going was the knowledge that I was raising money for The Karen Hilltribes Trust, and in turn helping a small community of people in Thailand. A year later, I am about to see first hand how the money helped. I hope I will now be useful to them as an English teacher, and I have no doubt I will learn so much from spending time with them.
If you sponsored me last year when I was cycling, I just want to thank you again. Without your support I would not have made it to Turkey, and I would not now be doing this.