Daily Archives: September 2, 2004

In Event of Fire, Don’t Panic!

I had a worrying phone call this afternoon. One of my neighbours rang to say that they spotted smoke coming out of either my house or the one next door. Naturally I was a little panicked. I haven’t even moved into my new house and I was now having visions of it burning to the ground. I grabbed my car keys and ran for the door. (Actually, I just walked. This is Thailand – teachers don’t run even if there is a fire.)

I have to admit fire has been at the back of my mind for many years. I work in a school that has nearly 1800 students in a small cramped area. When I used to go to school back in the UK, we had regular fire drills every year. Even the local fire brigade attended. As the drills were frequent, everyone knew exactly what was expected of them and where to go. No such thing here in Thailand. From what I can gather, none of the local schools have a fire drill. I ventured to ask our school administrator whether she had a plan in the event of a fire breaking out. She quickly hushed me. Apparently, talking about it will make the event happen.

I brought up the subject a number of times and, to their credit, we now have a fire alarm and a brand new set of fire extinguishers. We even had a demonstration on how to use the colour coded fire extinguishers. One for the classrooms and the other for the computer rooms. But, still no plan of what to do in the event of a fire. Where would all 1800 students go? I was going to ask them again, but, of course, if there is ever a fire, I will be the one to blame for bringing up the subject!

Surprisingly, I have never witnessed a fire in the ten years I have been living here. In fact, I don’t believe I have ever seen fire trucks racing down the road to put out a fire. I know they do have fire trucks in Thailand because there is a fire station just around the corner. I think the only time I have ever seen them on the road was during the Songkran festival when they were blasting pedestrians with water from their hoses.

As I was driving to my townhouse (yes OK, I know it is a ten minute walk but this is Thailand) I started to wonder what I should do in the event of a fire. Up to this time it wasn’t really my responsibility. I have always lived inside the school and if there was ever a fire, it would have been the responsibility of half a dozen other people to sort out. Now, as a householder, I would need to know what to do in case of a fire. Strangely enough, as I was waiting for the lights to change, I spotted a sign on the other side of the road for the first time. It said: “In case of fire, please ring this number xx xxx xxx”! Not exactly a short easy number to remember, but I would have to try and make a note of that.

A few minutes later I was parked outside the house. Everything was locked up. I had the keys for the front door, but the metal shutters had been pulled down and padlocked. This I didn’t have keys for. I stepped back to see if I could see any evidence of a fire. Nothing. I then walked around to the mosque on the other side. Again, nothing. False alarm. There didn’t seem to be a problem.

I was relieved. But it made me think about fire precautions I should have in the house. Things like smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and fire blankets. I don’t think I have ever seen any of these things in a Thai house. I also don’t remember seeing anything like this in Central or Home Pro. I will make a note to take a look at the weekend to see what I can find.

Thai Driving

One thing that I am fairly sure of is that I will be able to drive anywhere
in the world and deal with any road situation after living in Thailand.

The funny thing is that the system still works though( not sure about Bangkok)…a kind of organised chaos.
The general rule on the road normally is the that the bigger you are the more right of way you have, which means that cars and trucks generally
wont yield or stop for motorbikes.

This is quite an interesting siuation beacuse it means that you have to be fully aware at all times.
Your anticipation of what others might do has to be at a high at all times
because everything that you wouldn’t believe that someone would do, they’ll do it.

But in a way I think that this can actually be quite good because unlike western roads here you actually expect someone to do something against the ‘road laws’ and manage to avoid it.

Also in all the close calls and cut chase driving that I have seen here I have not seen one case of road rage or anger directed at another driver for doing something silly.
I used to catch myself getting upset when people did things before but i am slowly starting to realise that a) there is nothing you can do about it
and b) people need to get where they are going and no matter how close something is what is the point of getting upset about it if nothing actully happened?

It’s really an interesting system to be apart of and experience for me right now and it just makes me realise how with even seemingly good and ordered road systems in other countries the end result is not always as good as maybe it seems (patience and courtesy wise anyway )

Impossible to remember letters

As I mentioned the other day, there are several letters that I have always had serious problems remembering.


and these are just as bad for me
So I went ahead and set my font size in Word to 48dpi, then named them each in their own boxes, printed and taped them to a large peice of cardboard to put above my desk. Hopefully that will help them all sink in better.

There is a cute thing I remembered I thought I would share. I think that one of the hardest things about learning a second language is the assumptions we make based on what we already know. Sure it is a great way to pick up quickly on things but when you prefer to use your skills as you are learning this can prove to be a problem. I learned this the hard and embarrassing way.

There are two prefixes/suffixes used in thai to describe personality traits and habits. These two terms are ขี้ (Kii) & ใจ (Jai). ใจ meaning heart or spirit of the heart, and ขี้ meaning well….the outcome of going to the restroom. Some of the meanings are listed below then we will get on with the story behind this.

ขี้โกง – Kii Goong – A Cheater
ขี้หนียว – Kii Niao – Selfish Person
ขี้เมา – Kii Mao – A Drunk
ขี้หึง – Kii Ung – Overly Jealous Person
ขี้โกหก – Kii Goo Hok – A Liar

As for Jai…..

ไว้ใจ – Wai Jai – Trusting
มั่นใจ – Mun Jai – Confident
พอใจ – Paw Jai – Satisfied
ใจดี – Jai Dii – Kindhearted
สบายใจ – Sabai Jai – Contented

Seeing a pattern yet? Having a predsiposed knowledge of the meaning behind the prefix/suffix is where the story begins. Learning the meanings and the fact that the majority of the words containing Kii, tend to have a negative context. Jai being used usually is a positive term used. Knowing this and not studying enough on all the words using these is where my problem began one night.

At a wedding, I was sitting with an old friend, I looked away and began talking to someone else as did he. Well my daughter walked up and said something to me, and as she walked away the man sitting next to me said she was Kii Aii, and I was quickly offended. Spoke up, and the whole situation became heated very quickly. We both walked away, thankfully, and discussed it an hour later when he informed me that Kii Aii simply meant she was shy. I nearly lost my friendship with him over a simple misunderstanding, and me jumping to conclusions. All part of my learning process I guess. Quite embarrassing though, considering nearly half the people at the wedding heard us getting loud.

So as a precautionary word to the wise, NEVER ASSUME the translation.

Ohh here are some pictures of the children from today camping….

Daniel has learned how to pick the hoofs on the horses.

Our Girls Tai and Mary

Manivanh and Mary

Manivanh and my father