That's me - it's official! I received my certificate yesterday. We had a practical exam where we massaged another student, but it was someone from the other class which definitely put the pressure on. Thankfully the guy I massaged was very nice, I forgot a couple steps and he positioned his body to remind me :) I did the same for him though, so it all worked out in the end! You all know what your birthday gifts will be from now on, and be grateful. A full Thai massage takes 1.5 - 2 hours. At a spa you would be paying a LOT!
I also invested in massage pants - the pants traditionally worn in Thailand and still worn by Thai massage therapists. They are loose, comfy, light, and very brightly patterned! I wore them around all day yesterday and a few people working at street stands smiled or demonstrated that they approved of my clothing choice. A few of them just laughed at me. I fully intend to wear them for giving massages, I'm not sure I'll have the courage to wear them publicly outside of Thailand though :)
To celebrate I had supper with the guy in my class near his hostel at Khao San road. I hadn't realised how lucky my desire to save money had made me. I booked my hostel as it is the cheapest I could find in Bangkok at 130 baht/night (~$4 USD). It is in the business district of Bangkok and there are no other hostels nearby. I've really been able to eat genuine Thai food off the streets and see Bangkok the way the Thais do. At Khao San road, it's like the Vegas or Times Square of Bangkok. There are hostels everywhere, and all the massage places, food stands, clothing stalls, etcetera cater to the tourists. Everything is in English, everyone speaks English. The only Thais I saw worked there... It was good to see that - it's the famous backpacker hangout and obviously has incredible night life, and then so nice to return to my hostel in a neighbourhood that shuts down at night and is full of life during the day.
Today and tomorrow are holidays here. They are to celebrate the start of the rainy season and the last days the monks wander around freely. During the monsoon season it is a time of prayer for them, and they leave the temples only to beg food. Apparently it used to be customary for every boy to become a monk for a period of time, and often they would join the monks at the temples during this time so that the country would all celebrate. At least in Bangkok that is no longer the case, I've heard it is still common practice in rural areas.
Although I love the food here, I've also had some uncomfortable experiences. Two days ago, I ate lunch with my classmates near to our school. I ordered bamboo chicken, which was delicious and very spicy. Three bites into the meal my face was red, I had to suck in air between bites to prevent my mouth from burning up. Halfway through I couldn't continue and asked the woman for some extra rice to soothe my mouth. It helped a bit, then another woman came over and dumped some juice over my rice which looked like pork drippings. It was delicious, very sweet, and worked beautifully. I've now discovered that sweet counters spicy and was able to finish my meal thanks to her help.
Later, I bought some samosas at the side of the road for a snack. I bit into one, and wasn't quite sure what the taste was. I got halfway through before I was able to identify the meat - tongue, fat, entrails, etcetera. So gross! Thankfully I'd also purchased lychees so I ate a dozen of them to get rid of the taste. I also ate pad thai and said yes to seafood in it - assuming of course that it would be shrimp. There was one shrimp, there was also quite a bit of calamari - with the heads still attached! I've never eaten squid before with the dude looking at me as I munched through his delicious body. There were also tiny little orange shrimps throughout - shells and all. They're actually quite flavourful, I ate one on its own and the taste was really strong, but mixed with the noodle they're quite good.