1.What made you decide to stay in Bangkok and how long did you stayed here?
I always dreamed of living in a country with hot climate but never was serious about this idea. When my husband got invitation to work in Bangkok, I was highlighted abut the idea that my dream could come true. We have moved to Bangkok in the late December of 2014, since than I am trying to get on with hard character of Bangkok and to find myself new in tropical climate and Asian atmosphere.
When you move countries you try to make long term plans, but life shows that God knows better where and for how long we will stay. I hardly can imagine doing what I do here: helping whales in the Golf of Thailand, working with SAR dogs, so I try not to think about the fact that one day maybe I will leave Thailand.I am just enjoying amazing experience I have a chance to get and being thankful for every day.
2. What is the biggest challenge you had as an Expat in Bangkok?
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(2) Not knowing the language of the country I live in. I am rather fluent in couple of languages: English, Russian, Ukrainian, Polish. So visiting and living in Europe for 3 years never had such situation that nobody understands me and I don’t understand anybody.Never had such experience. Its hard, depressing and just awful .Though at my work I speak English and most of my friends are English speaking I try my best to learn Thai.
3. Bangkok is a striking place. What was your impression of the city and county?
Did you mean first impression? I was totally shocked that the beauty of skyscraper can be connected with tropical forests just in the middle of the city or under the bridge. It felt as any second an elephant can walk out of bushes. Bangkok is totally different form other part of Thailand. Never lived for long in any other places than this city, So can speak just about it. Bangkok is definitely a crazy place, a city of amazing possibilities where you can find all the most modern and technical world just one step from the rich jungle life. Its something totally different from calm and stable life in Europe countries. Here to stay in one place, you have to run…and to achieve you have to be a bit crazy by yourself. But as I always was curios, active and rather brave to try my strength in everything new- I feel very happy here.
4. What make trigger your interest in becoming a part of Thailand SAR K9 Unit? and tell us more about your partner Kiwi.
I was dreaming to have a dog of my own for many years but my Lifestyle never allowed to have enough time for a dog. But moving to Thailand and yet not having a job I had a lot of free time and decided its the best moment to look for a puppy. Because I was sure I will travel a lot as always and that Bangkok is not Pet friendly city I decided to look for a tiny breed. I checked all Bangkok shelters for 4 month. But never found as tiny dog as I needed. And than by total chance i saw an advertisement, I called and this was the first lady who talked English fluently. I was surprised to hear that she has 2 puppy litters and she lives on my street. So of course I checked puppies, and checked them 3 more times until decided to take the smallest puppy girl.
She was 100% white at that moment. When she got a bit older about 4 month, I heard about free community classes in Bangkok, lead by english speaking teacher. Thats how I met Sue. We started attending classes and one day I heard that on weekends they train their dogs for SAR and desperately looking for victims to train the dogs.
I was happy to help, I was always interests in dogs behaviors and training. I was totally amazed and in love with what they do. But even never dreamed of being the part of the team. But once one of the team members he showed me how to train Kiwi. First step ( i took her on the SAR training just for socialisation, as I was being a victim ) and Kiwi was rather good and brave. Since than we started to train. Now Kiwi is about 6 month in the training. She is 1.2 years. Since September we make every week trainings for 4-5 hours SAR and on Tuesday obedience and agility. Kiwi already can go in narrow dark tunnels, had experience going with me from height from the roof. I knwo there is one chihuhuha K9 in Japan working for Police and i believe litlle Kiwi has all chances to become first SAR Chihuahua in history. I hope by watching Kiwis example other owners of dogs small breed will see their potenial.
Small breed dogs are not only for sofa life. They need their own mission and sense in life. It makes dogs life happier, dog healthier which definitely means longer life. Actually Chihuahua are rare breed which was not breeded by humans, tats why their health is string and instincts too. They are brave, confident and high drive as they are easily excited.
In SAR small breeds definitely have big future as they can get to places a big dog just cant reach. Kiwi has it hard training with big dogs, she has to jump as high as doberman, search as good as Labrador and be as calm as pointer just to be enough good and change peoples mind about Chihuahuas that they are not good for SAR. I believe with love, hard work and open heart you can achieve anything you wish with any dog. Any dog has its instincts so we just need to know how to deal with it.
Maria Readers Tips for Travellers to Bangkok :
(1) For People who are interested to come to Bangkok as a traveller for the first time, what is your advice?
For your readers: Check expat forums, craigslist and TripAdvisor before choosing any destination. That would safe your time and money.
(2) What’s the best savings tip you can give to anyone trying to save up during their trip in Bangkok?
Saving tip- use city bus its amazingly cheap from 7-12 bath if you are lucky to have conditioning. Eat on the street not in the fancy european style cafe. Than you can definitely eat one dish just for 35-50 baht. If you want to save money but still go to the sea side. Choose not touristic destinations and better land than islands. You will get the same amazing views but food and accommodation will be 30% cheaper. For fruits and vegetables check local markets, you can amazing veggies there for couple of coins.
(3) Top 5 Most Useful Words to learn and use for Foreigner Travellers travelling to Bangkok / Thailand?
Learn how to say yes, no, straight and PLEASE remember by heart the address where you stay. That can save you time, money and sometimes life. And learn numbers in thai otherwise you cant shop properly and fun!
P.S already Kiwi was on Thai National Tv twice, there was an article in Bangkok Post..so step by step Kiwi becomes a little SAR star. But the main for us is training . And I believe soon we will get the certification.