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  • October Travel Plans by Mitch Burbick 2010

    Oh glorious month of October. You have always been good to me. Back when I lived in Washington you were full of maple trees bursting with orange, yellow and red, dark skies, rapidly shortening days, and pumpkins glowing with a soft orange light. You have rarely been a disappointment and I don’t think that track record is going to be broken this year seeing as how as Super English teachers we have the entire month off. Like no work at all, which means plenty of time to travel for the entire month. Other schools in the area get a week or two off, but nowhere near the amount of time we’re able to enjoy. This also holds true for the summer break in March, April and some of May. I think it’s more than fair to say that Super English teachers get the most time off out of any other schools in Surat Thani.

    Oh October, how you continue to shine.

    This is of course isn’t without the slight misfortune of not getting paid for the entire month of October, but with a little bit of foresight and planning, this issue becomes a nonissue unless you plan on spending your entire savings on a plane flight to Europe like a certain couple roommates may or may not be doing. But really, it’s up to you.

    Now, because you asked so kindly, I will tell you about my plans. My last day of teaching is scheduled to be just before the beginning of October and I will be going to Bangkok for a few days of imported beer scavenging and Mexican food eating before hopping on a flight to Taipei, Taiwan. This isn’t just a puddle hopper jump, at 5 hours away by flight, it’s a fair distance. It’s like flying from one side of the United States to another. Air Asia is the undisputed king, queen, prince and entire royal family of low cost flights throughout this part of the world and at a roundtrip cost of just about $300, leaving the slightly frustrating inability of their website to accept my credit cards out of it, can do no wrong by me.

    (Reader’s note: There are plenty of places around town that will book the flights for you - for like a $2 dollar fee - if you simply give them cash. Certain teachers even report that you can buy flights at 7-11 so don’t fret.).

    I see you sitting there reading this with the question ‘Why Taiwan, is Thailand really that boring?’ already forming in your mind, but relax, I won’t even make you ask it.

    I have two friends from University teaching in Taiwan that I desperately want to see. They’ve been there for a couple years, ever since we graduated really, and for me, the opportunity to see both a new part of the world AND these people is worth the cost of leaving the country for this break. They live in a town on the east side of the island called Hulein where there is (supposedly) epic surf and a hefty amount of motorcycle to be ridden. I am told there are great big forests to drive through, weather cold enough to wear jeans, a flannel, and a hoodie in (almost worth the cost of the flight right there), great big cliffs to jump off and plenty of delicious not-Thai beer to over indulge in.

    And now, please don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying Thai beer is bad, I’m just saying that if your beer standards have been more or less put on the floor and jumped on, and you like poor tasting inexpensive beer that more or less does the job, then it’s your kind of beer. That’s all I’m saying.

    So, as far as actual travel logistics go, getting to Bangkok is so easy that I’ve actually seen a monkey do it. You can take a bus or a train or a plane. The flights are around 1,100 Baht and take an hour while the trains and busses vary depending on time and class but are usually around 550 Baht and take ten hours, sometimes more.

    Getting to the Surat Thani airport requires either a friend with a motorbike, 300 Baht and Super English’s superstar Thai assistant Wen, or catching an hourly bus from downtown. The train station is actually in the neighboring town of Phun Phin (ph’s are unfortunately not pronounced as f’s here, just as p’s, taking a sizeable amount of joy out of saying Phuket) and you can get there on a bus leaving every half hour from the bus terminal in the center of town. All very easy.

    Safe travels. Cheers!