November 1, 2010 5:48 PM PDT
We're planning on your arrival and we'll meet you at the train station early on the 17th. :-)
Feel free to post your questions here so that others, with the same questions, can get the answers they're looking for.
Looking forward to meeting you in two weeks!
P.S. Please upload an avatar to your Isara profile so we can put a face to the name. It will also help us recognize you at the train station. ;-)
November 2, 2010 12:38 PM PDT
Ahh wicked, thanks Kirk.
Ok, questions as follows...
1. Is it ok to just turn up and buy a train ticket on the day from Bangkok to Nong Khai?
2. Are there any lockers/storage facilities at the airport or train station in Bangkok?
3. I will only have a 30 day visa for Thailand. Is it possible to leave the centre after 3 weeks, go to Laos for a few days/a week then come back to Isara for the rest of my time in Thailand (leaving Bangkok on 22nd December)?
4. Is it advisable to bring a small amount of money in Baht and withdraw from a cash machine instead of travelling around with my months supply?!
5. Can anyone recommend clothing wise what is best to bring?
I am in Abu Dhabi for a week prior to coming to Thailand so getting in a bit of a muddle about what to pack to be able to adhere to dress codes, climates etc.
I land about 7am on the 16th and was planning on spending the day pootling around Bangkok then getting the later of the 2 evening trains to Nong Khai (which is why I'm wondering about a locker...).
I am in Thailand 16th November - 22nd December and am hoping to incorporate a month working at the centre and a week sight seeing or on a beach, not sure where/when to fit this in.
If anyone has any advice or suggestions regarding my plans I'd be very grateful to hear! Really excited, but also a bit nervous.
Thank you, George.
November 3, 2010 6:41 AM PDT
I'm a volunteer at the ILC currently and will also be here when you arrive. I'll try and answer some of your questions and if you have any more just ask ;-)
1. It probably is ok to just turn up to buy the ticket but if you want A/C sleeper class you should try and book your ticket as far in advance as possible.
2. Lockers in the airport would not benefit you because the distance from the airport to the train station is quite far. As far as I know there are lockers at the train station but I am not 100% sure.
3. If you only have a 30 day visa you only have to cross into Laos and come back to obtain another 30 days, you dont actually have to spend any time in Laos. If you want to spend a few days there sight seeing i'm sure it is possible, you'll probably have to check with Kirk first.
4. I dont think you can buy thai baht before you enter thailand (i think its a restricted currency). You can withdraw money at the airport to last you for a couple of days (maybe1500 baht) and then there are lots of ATMs in Nong Khai which you can use.
5. Clothing. I'm probably the wrong person to ask but it is quite cool here at the min but usually a t shirt is fine, you'll only need something heavier now and again. Its also not raining much so if your suitcase is small you can leave your rain gear at home. Also when teaching the females have to have their shoulders covered and below the knee shorts so maybe keep this in mind also when packing.
Hope this helps and we look forward to seeing you soon. You'll love it here.
November 3, 2010 7:57 AM PDT
I am also currently at Isara and will also be here when you arrive. If you are travelling by train I would reccoment getting a second class sleeper with a fan, as air con can be too cold. There are lockers at the train station, however I'm not sure how much it costs. It is really easy to get money out here so I wouldn't stress too much about that-although you can get Bhat before you leave home, as I have done it before. One of the other volunteers, Erica and I actually found an ATM that doesnt charge you a withdrawal fee here in Nong Khai. With clothes, you wont need anything too heavy but you will need something with long sleeves as the eveings are getting a bit cooler, but generally peopel are getting around in t-shirts and singlets.
I look forward to meeting you!
November 3, 2010 6:07 PM PDT
Hi Georgie. Just curious why you would need a locker? Do you plan to travel around Bangkok for a day or two before coming up to Nong Khai? If so then you might want to just keep your things in your hotel room. I don't remember seeing lockers at the train station but I could be mistaken.
To get another 30-60 day visa you will have spend one night in Laos. If you just cross the bridge and come back you'll only get a 15 day. Which might actually be enough for you since you're arriving on the 16th and leaving on Dec. 22nd. Just cross the bridge (and come back) on Dec. 14th and you'll be fine.
November 4, 2010 12:34 PM PDT
Brilliant, thank you!
Locker because arrive early morning in Bangkok on the 16th and can't get the train until the evening (I think...) and don't want to be lugging stuff about all day. I've been to Bangkok once before and am thinking it's be a nightmare to be moving around with a big backpack or suitcase.
Is it advisable to try and bring some teaching/classroom supplies?
I'm leaving London next Wednesday evening so getting REALLY excited now!
November 4, 2010 6:44 PM PDT
As Jan just mentioned, the airport and train station are very far apart so I'm not sure what the best solution would be. IMO, I think getting a locker at either location would be more of a hassle than lugging your stuff all over town. Then again, I don't know how much stuff you're bringing. lol People usually bring everything they "need" and later realize they didn't need half the stuff they brought. :-) Nong Khai has a Tesco so keep that in mind while packing.
See you soon!
November 5, 2010 3:50 AM PDT
I volunteered at Isara over the summer and had an amazing time. As for baggage there is a baggage storage counter in Bangkok train station and charge is very reasonable, so you could easily drop it off there.
After Isara I went across into Laos for a couple of weeks so if you need any advice just post. Heads up you'll need to buy a visa for Laos, you can get this on entry though and it costs approx $40 but very easy process and Laos is an amazing country to visit.
As for things like money and clothing, I know that I found it very easy to find an ATM and withdraw Baht so I wouldn 't worry about getting out money but I would advise maybe bringing some US dollars or travellers cheques just in case- you never know when your card might not be accepted. I took way too many clothes travelling with me, Thailand and Laos are incredible places for finding beautiful fabrics and clothing and it's so cheap in comparison! So take Kirk's advice, pack bare essentials and buy what you need as you go, that way there's more room in your rucksack for souvenirs and presents!!
Oh yes...and I highly recommend insect repellent!! Laos has a lot of bugs as does parts of Thailand too.
Best of luck! Enjoy your travels!
November 5, 2010 1:01 PM PDT
Have fun. You won't regret your decision to volunteer with Isara.
November 5, 2010 5:12 PM PDT
Thank you SO much for your responses!
If anyone who is currently at Isara wants anything bought over from England please let me know. PG tips and Hobnobs are the things that spring to mind, not sure if any of you may be hankering for something from home.
November 8, 2010 3:35 PM PST
I'm leaving home this Wednesday and will be in Nong Khai the following Wednesday morning, will get online over the weekend and check it's still ok for someone to meet me at the station.
Is it better to get insect repellant prior to coming or is it easy/good to buy once there?
I'm so excited! The work you guys are doing looks and sounds amazing, have been following all the threads every day. Thank you for writing in them. x
November 9, 2010 1:35 AM PST
hey! i emailed months ago, but was just checking in to see if it was still okay for me to stay at isara and volunteer for 3-4 weeks in dec?
i have my last exam on friday ARHH so excited for it to be over, and will head to thailand at the end of nov. i have some distant relatives in thailand that i have to meet up with (they've requested that i bring them 5kg of australian beef hahaha!) but i should be able to come to nongkhai in early dec.
is it okay if i let u know when i touch down in thailand what dates ill be coming cos i'll book plane tickets and stuff when i get there???
thanks, can't waitttt! :) :)
November 9, 2010 2:18 AM PST
To those who are coming, kids books are very difficult to buy in Thailand. If you can bring 4 or 5 books with you, you can getc them from charity shops for next to nothing, it would help us extyent our libary. Pop up book are particuylarly good for our young students but anything like goosebumps, Peter and Jane books etc would be cool.
November 9, 2010 3:29 AM PST
Georgie, It would probably be best to buy the repellent before you get here. Tesco sell repellent here but the deet content is only around 15. If you want a higher content it is best to buy beforehand. There is a boots near Kao San road in Bangkok.
See you soon. Jan
November 9, 2010 12:08 PM PST
I've got some kids books that are aimed at 5-7 year olds.
And some on English Grammer and punctuation for 11 +, would they be any use?
Got my insect repellant! Thank you.
November 10, 2010 2:51 AM PST
They will probably help, its always good to expand our library ;-)
November 10, 2010 5:09 AM PST
Books, games, flashcards, simple dictionaries are all useful. Resources are really hard to find in nongkhai so anything would be appreciated. don't bring pencils or colors as these are very cheap to buy.
November 10, 2010 7:41 AM PST
Thanks Teacher Dave! I'm so looking forward to meeting you and Isara's volunteers! If everything works out, I hope to be making a trip there in March and I'll bring flashcards and maybe some children's books. I've thought about hand puppets, but they're very expensive here. I'll also try and find a few simple games. Any other suggestions?
November 14, 2010 11:10 PM PST
I'm getting to Bangkok tomorrow morning and have decided to fly to Udon Thani, spend the night there and make my to the Isara centre from there on Wednesday morning (by cab or bus I guess).
Is that ok to just turn up on Wednesday?
November 15, 2010 12:09 AM PST
Hi George. Any particular reason why you're staying in Udon for the night? There is a van at the airport that will bring you straight to our door (200 baht). But staying in Udon will cost you much more than that in tuk tuks and hotel rooms. Actually I don't even know if they have tuk tuks or taxis at the airport in Udon so I'm not sure how you'd get to the hotel in Udon. It's much easier if you just take the Nong Khai van from the airport directly to Isara on Tuesday night. We've had many volunteers take the late flight to Udon and get to Isara at around 8 o'clock at night. It's never too late (or too early) to show up. :-)
Here are some helpful cards you can print that will help you get to Isara. Give them to the taxi drivers in Bangkok and the van driver in Nong Khai (the van booth is near the exit door of the airport).
Have a safe trip. See you soon!
November 15, 2010 7:18 PM PST
Hi Kirk, thanks for getting back to me so quickly.
Had thought of staying in Udon for the night to get some sleep and arrive a bit more bushy tailed rather than just bushy haired and bug eyed - wasn't aware of the tut tuk/taxi situation though.
Am now getting the 13.45 flight from Bangkok and planning on finding the van and coming straight to you to say Hello and take things from there...
See you soon (hopefully)!
November 19, 2010 1:51 AM PST
Great photo!! You all look so professional :) Missing you all!! Welcome to Georgie, I hope you like marmite!! Eat my marmite!! Someone needs to eat the marmite!!!