When I graduated from primary school after 4 years, I decided to be a Buddhist novice monk. I decided to be a a notice monk because I could study in a temple school free of charge. This helped my parents greatly as they were poor.
The temple school was called Dhammaraj School which was part of the largest monastery in Chiangmai known as Wat Phasing. I studied there for two years until I graduated.
When I was a novice monk, one of my friends wanted to improve his standard of English. He had heard that there was a foreign volunteer teache, Mr Low from Singapore, teaching English at another temple school called Sammakkhee School situated at a nearby monastery.
My friend asked two of his classmates, including me, to join him. So one afternoon, the three of us approached Mr Low and asked him whether he was prepared to accept us as his students. To our surprise, he agreed without hesitation.
When I graduated from my temple school, I decided to study Tourism and Hospitality at Chiangmai Rajabhat University.
Unfortunately, I did not have sufficient money to pay for the university term fees and so when Mr Low one day offered to pay all my term fees, I was pleasantly surprised and immediately accepted his offer.
During my fourth and final year in university, the University organised an exchange programme whereby local students could apply to train for one term in one of three countries – Egypt, Hungary and Canada.
I wanted to join this exchange programme very much and so I approached Mr Low to ask him for his advice whether I should join the exchange programme and, if so, in which country. Of course, I had already made up my mind that, given the chance to join the programme, I would like to train in Canada, as it was, to my mind, the most advanced technologically of the three countries.
Mr Low told me that if I felt that I was good enough to join the programme, I should not hesitate to apply to join it. As for which country I should train in, he said that if he were applying to join the programme, he would consider either Hungary or Canada. Hungary would be more suitable for students who were interested in a country with a long history and rich culture. Canada is a more modern country and would also appeal to someone who wanted to improve their grasp of the English language because they would be able to immerse themselves with Canadians whose first language, at least in Alberta where the training would be held, would be English.
This advice suited me to a T but the best was yet to come.
Mr Low capped his advice by saying that he would ask a friend of his called Alex, whom I had met a few months earlier when he and his wife visited Chiangmai, to join him in paying for my fees (including air fare) for the exchange programme.
They say that lightning does not strike twice. But I felt like the most fortunate person on earth to be given the opportunity not only to study in university in Chiangmai but also to train in a foreign country, something I never expected to be able to do.
I had a great time at The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge for almost for four months where I had the chance to experience winter and to play with snowballs and to make many friends not only with Canadians but also foreigners who worked in the Lodge. To be sure, the training was challenging, even physically demanding, but it gave me the confidence to speak to, and work with, foreigners from many different countries, something that is of crucial importance to me now that I am a tourist guide.
After graduation from university, there was the small matter of national military service. In Thailand, twenty year old males draw lots to see which of them needs to serve in the military for one year. If they draw a black card they will be exempted from service. If they drew a red card, they have to serve.
Guess what? My luck ran out and I drew a red card. I guess lightning does not strike thrice!
To say that I was not disappointed would be a lie but even here, my relative proficiency in English served me well because I was selected to work in the office!
After a year, I was finally free to perform the job that I love – serving as a tourist guide doing my best to ensure that my clients have the best time possible taking in the sights and enjoying activities ranging from religious and cultural events to extreme sports that only Chiangmai can offer. As an outgoing and active person, I specialise in trekking and cycling tours.