Monthly Archives: August 2004

Sea food festival

Over the weekend there was a nice big seafood festival in Bang Saen. I wasn’t really there for the food though – They had a nice big stage set up and some bands coming to play. I saw Clash and managed to talk my way backstage but man those guy sleft fast, I didn’t get to talk to any of them.

There was a fantastic firework display aswell, some of the coolest ones I’ve seen in a long time.

Snakes

Depending on your take on these creatures you with be either facinated or terrified but I am pretty sure if you spend some time outside of Bangkok there may be a time when you run into one of these guys…as the heading says, snakes.

Personally I love snakes, and yesterday was yet another day of excitement.
I have managed to take photo’s of about 6 different types of snakes in the last few months so my friends know that if they see one they should give me a call.

Well this time it was “do you wanna see a cobra”…yes I thought.
So I ran across the road to his house.
He had almost stepped on it, the cobra-only a small one but still lethal- had reared itself back with it’s hood open and then gone under the shoes outside to hide away.

I ran home to get a long pole so that I could chase it out from it’s hiding place but just as I got back a Thai man pulled up to
find out what the comotion was.
When we told him he decided that the best thing to do was to kill it.

Although I was not too happy with the idea, snakes are normally not as bad as people make them out to be, it was probably all we could do as the grass round his house is really long and it’s about the 3rd time the snake has been seen recently.

So he took the pole from me and chased it out and proceeded to bash it…but just before he killed it the snake was rearing up and I managed to get some nice photo’s of it with it’s hood open…beautiful really.
After he’d killed it he pushed with the pole down into a water system and then said….”Well at least now the fish have some food.” True I suppose, the life cycle continues.

Now we just got to watch out for the big one we think is living under his house

English Teacher in Thailand

Hi

I am a teacher from England who took a years sabbatical to experience life in the ‘amazing’ country of Thailand. I learned much about Thai culture and life in a Thai School . I now would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of those experiences over the coming months.

What is it like living in Thailand?

When you first step off the plane it is the heat you notice first. All day and all night it is hot but fortunately you can get out of the heat in air-conditioned rooms, shops and cars. I love the fact that you can walk around in a T-shirt and shorts 24 hours a day without feeling cold. The temperature never seems to drop much.

One thing I learnt very quickly was to slow down, to take things slowly and not to worry. Thai’s have a saying ‘mai pen rai ‘ (my pen rye) which means no worries/never mind. In England, I am used to working to a deadline, to rush here and there before going on to do this and that. In Thailand everything slows down. It is a bit like moving underwater. ‘If it doesn’t happen, don’t worry, there is still time’. ‘Mai pen rai’

I feel like a child visiting an amazing place for the very first time. I want to lap up everything around me. The beautiful golden temples dotted around the landscape, the elephants roaming the streets, funny little taxis that look like golf carts, the friendly people and the incredible food stalls. There is so much to take in. Most are new experiences but some the same, like the Shell petrol garage or MacDonalds which you see dotted around town just like home.

Like a child I find myself having to rely on others to show me when and how to go about the basic and ‘natural’ actions of daily life. The very simplest of things like posting a letter can become an adventure.

I rely on people to interpret what is being said. I often don’t know what is going on, what is funny or what is serious or what people are thinking or saying. It sometimes feels like the world is going on without me.
One of the hardest things for me to get used to was communicating what I want. Imagine being in a place where not everyone understands you. Every time you try to do something, you get a different result than the one you wanted. You feel powerless and frustrated by this. Sign language helps, but what could mean a good sign in English may be a bad one in Thai.

My New House

This afternoon, I heard the best news for a long time. My townhouse will be ready by next Saturday! It has been a long time coming. I actually bought the house back in April. It was the summer holidays and it would have been the perfect time to move in. However, it was an empty shell at that time and needed quite a bit of work to make it livable. Well, comfortable enough for a Westerner like myself to live there!

I wouldn’t say it is my dream house. It doesn’t have a garden and it isn’t in the countryside. It also has neighbours on both sides. But, the dream house will come later. Maybe much later. The main reasons I bought this townhouse is that it cost only 1.5 million baht and is about a 10 minute walk from the school. It is also centrally located in Paknam. It is near enough to Sukhumwit Road to be convenient but back enough to be relatively quiet. Well, time will tell about that.

The house has four floors as well as a roof garden. The second floor was originally a balcony looking down to the first floor. But, I had the floor extended so that there is now a big room on the second floor. This will be the office for my company, which I will set up later in the year. The third and fourth floors were originally all open rooms. However, they have now put in walls so that the third floor has two bedrooms with shared bathroom and toilet. The fourth floor is like a studio apartment with bedroom, living room and bathroom all-together.

It has taken just over two months for them to refurbish the townhouse. All of the Thai style toilets were ripped out (no squatting for me). They put in proper Western toilets and hot water showers. Washing Thai style involves a big tub of water in your bathroom and scooping icy cold water all over you. No thanks, I’ll pay extra for the hot water shower.

I also had all of the windows and outside doors changed. The quality of the originals weren’t that good. Now the rooms are more sound proof and will be better with no gaps between them. I am not that keen on the mosquitoes! Anyway, all of the windows now have mosquito screens. In addition, each of the bedrooms have air-conditioning. The only room that doesn’t have it is the living room on the ground floor. Maybe I will regret not doing that later.

Obviously, all of these changes to the house have been quite expensive. But I think it is worth it in the long run. Now I will have to go out and start buying some furniture. I am not too sure how much money I will have left after all of this. So, I guess I will only buy the essential items first. I’ll go out tonight to Central City Bang Na to look at some furniture. I will also try and get some idea of prices of things like fridge, washing machine, beds etc. I have the t.v. already. Actually it was free. UBC was having a promotion, which ended last month. I signed up for their cable t.v. package and I got a free 29 inch t.v.! Seemed like a good deal. I needed a t.v. anyway.

Another school day

Well it’s Friday and another week of teaching down.

Not that I’m complaining, one of the great things is that I am actually really enjoying work, I teach Prathom 1( grade 1) and each day lends itself to new challenges and experiences.

One of the biggest challenges with teaching kids, I think, is trying to remain as calm and patient as one can all the time. It can be a lot of fun but tough too teaching kids. I have one student ( now bare in mind these kids are about 7 years old) who is constantly interupting me, fighting with the other kids, spoiling games and generally quite defiant, but he is after all just a kid and in general actually quite a good one.
It could be that he lacks attention somewhere or that maybe he
has different needs and can’t be still in the same environment as others.
I think he really tries sometimes but he just can’t help himself, sometimes when I tell him off he’ll keep on talking to himself, I don’t think he means to do this in a defiant way I think he just can’t stop himself talking. Quite amusing actually.

The education system is actually quite strange, from grade 1 kids are at school all day( until 4 pm!!) don’t really do sport and then the majority learn extras on weekends.
We didn’t even finish that late in high school( unless we had sport)
and our weekends and holidays, that was about having fun!!
Well the thai kids are made to study study study.

It’s not hard to see where the parents are coming from though, they obviously just want the best for their kids…..I think it’s a bit too much though…which is where i think fun really needs to come into the classroom especially with kids this age.

And that’s were the patience comes in, I want my students to learn but I don’t want them to ever be scared of me , or hate school….it should be fun and they should enjoy learning…not frightened into it