Monthly Archives: January 2005

The funnier side of teaching

While enjoying myself for a couple of nights in Bangkok lately i was asked a couple of times by some ex-pat on what i was doing in Thailand. As usual i saw in their eyes some kind of pitiful look when advising them that i was a teacher. Most ex-pats hasten to think that working as a teacher must be a gruesomely boring job here in the Land of Smiles. Personally i believe the opposite.

Let me tell you about the funnier side of teaching and the students i have had.

I remember teaching in Bangkok Noi for a couple of years at one of the High Schools there and lived in Pinklao just a short trip away. On one day of the new term one of my grade seven girls came up to me at the end of class and said “Ajarn Kha, last night i saw you at the restaurant near my house” (and my house too) and i replied “Oh really” trying to be as nice as possible! She next said out loud “Yes, i saw you drinking beer and fighting with your girlfriend!” after that i had to improve my image and my goings-on in public thanks to her.

At the same school i remember the day of the new school year and there was a brand new face in my class, her name was Somying. So i had Somying stand up and have her answer a few questions from my sheet. So one student asked her “What does you father do” With tears in her eyes, she replied “My daddy run away”, very quickly i changed the question to “What does your mother do” Somying then burst into tears and said “My mummy still hasn’t found a job” and run out of the room! From that day onward i have decided to refrain from asking such personal things again.

Khanaratbumroong-Pathumthani High School

Then, before Bangkok Noi i taught in Pathumthani provincial town in an all girls high school. It was one of my other duties to help improve one of the girl’s skills for the provincial Speech contest. She won that and went through to partcipate in Bangkok at a speech contest where the winner was to receive a small scholarship to study in England for one month. One of the regulations of such contests is that the participant has never studied abroad or speaks English at home etc… ie he/she has learnt the language only at her school. But my God, was i to meet some right cheating students (and their teacher who took them of course). The winner was a Thai/Indian from Samut Prakan,who, when i asked about her studies gave me a right lecture for ten minutes. Blimey, she spoke the language as well as myself! The cheating git must speak English at home. You can imagine the injustice that i felt.

After i had been in Pathumthani for a just a coule of months a couple of Farang friends of mine invited me out to a disco on Rangsit. I thought “Well, i might as well go as im single now”. Next to our table i noticed a very pretty girl who continually looked over at me smiling. Thinking i had a chance going on here, invited her to dance, which she enthuastically agreed to. After bopping away together for a while i decided to strike up conversation before asking for her phone no. When i asked her whether she was a student or had a job she looked back at me in bewilderment and replid “Ajarn kha, its me Nitnoi from your 6/6 class! How embarrassing! She was one of my grade 12 students. Thank God that we didnt have a slow dance, i would never of lived that down!

AnubanSuphanburi Primary School

After the trials and tribulations of teaching High school for a few years i decided that change was called for and so here i am teaching at a primary school. Well, it certainly wasnt mentioned in the job advertisement about the other duties that often arise. I cant remember now, how many times this year while teaching grade one that one of the kiddies has shouted “Khru kha, so and so has done a pee pee” What am i supposed to do? Mop it up?! Then just a few weeks ago when having a coffe at information one morning i noticed that one of the kiddies was spending an unusual amount of time in the teachers toilet around the back. So, i went over and shouted out something to which he opened the door and in tears said “Khru, i poo-pooed my pants!”

At the end of the day though, i do miss teaching my privates and the in-company work in Bangkok. It would take weeks to write up a complete list of my funny stories, so here are just a few of the funniest.

I remember the time when i was asked by some pretty lady to teach her one-on-one at her condo in the centre of time. Well, i said “All right just as long as you pay for twenty hours up front” to which she agreed. It didnt take her long to tell me about her Taiwanese husband who according to her, was a right ‘playboy’. I soon realised that the only reason she was learning English was to be able to scold her hubbie. So, there i was teaching her phrases such as “I know you are such a cheat, dont you lie to me” and the likes of “Did you have fun last night darling, with one of those ugly massage girls?”. If that wasnt enough, she soon advised me that she was taking medicine for her depression. I didnt realise what kind of medicine it was until she invited me to ‘smoke ganja’ during the break!! She didnt learn for long though after her hubbie refused to pay for any more lessons!

Then there was this funny Thai-Indian man who called me up for some lessons after he read my ad. on His flat was on Soi Nana and asked if his wife could learn too, to which i replied was absolutely no problem. What a funny couple! When i asked his wife “Pls tell me about your husband” she replied “He is such a loser and on top of that has bad breath and picks his nose” angered by this, her husband went on to say “My wife is so lazy, all she ever does is sit around all day on her big fat bum” I remember one time when he asked me to leave early so that he could just finish off arguing with his wife.

Then was the time that an agent of mine asked me to go and teach in house on Lard Prao. Before i was about to go she called me up and said “Steve, i forgot to tell you something, what ever you do, dont chat up the mother!” (as she was some famous actress before, married to this stinkingly rich old guy)the kid i had to teach was a pathetic two years of age! throwing me lesson plans out the window, just played games instead, to the likes of ‘tease the dog’ and ‘throw the cookie’. Then on a couple of visits granny informed me that he was sleeping and it was best not to wake the poor boy up! Excellent for me, just spent the next hour and a half listening to granny’s stories about the stinginess of her son-in-law.

Talking about stinginess, one day just last year in Bangkok a very posh looking woman came in to see me at school and asked me to teach her at home. Straight away she informed me that she was a former Minister of Parliament in the area and wanted to learn English to pass an interview at the British Embassy so as to win a FREE scholarship to study in England. What lies did i have to help her speak! “My father is a middle-class merchant” (in fact her father is a super rich Chinaman who employs a thousand workers). “As an MP I used to visit the local people very regularly” (the motorbike taxi driver told me that one reason she was voted out was that the local people only ever saw her riding past in her Benz). Then every morning i arrived, i had to wait at the entrance of her factory for half an hour cause she had just got out of bed and one of the staff had to lock up her dog before i could go into her garden. What a ferocious monster! It scared the living daylights out of me! I asked the security guard one day about whether the dog bites. To this he replied “Too right it does, just last year it attacked and killed one of the workers!”. She didnt learn for too long though as she said that she just didnt have enough money to learn anymore.

Then, there are my fave kinda students, the darned lazy ones that only learn cause their bog boss has forced them too. For two years i had a dream job at a small but well-known co. on Ruam Rudee. Every evening after work my student(s) would wait for the boss to go home then say “Ok teacher Steve let’s go for a beer” or “Sod this! let’s go home”. Then on occassions when the boss was absent my student(s) would call me up and say “The boss is away today so dont bother coming in, but just claim anyway as we dont want him to know we bunked off” -excellent, freebie beer money.

HQ – 2nd Army Area Nakhorn Ratchasima

A few years ago while teaching in Nakhorn Ratchasima i had the privilige of teaching at the HQ of the Second Army Area to relatively high ranking officers. You could imagine that i was pretty nervous having to face thirty of them. So, i took the class rather seriously and played up a posh accent to impress them. Then, after a few classes, when the numbers had died down one of the officers made a complaint to my face. “Mr Steve Sir your lesson plans arent very interesting we would like to learn some serious every day English” so i asked “And what kind of things do you have in mind?” The class started off by asking “How do you say, ‘I like girls with a big pair of b*#$%*?” and “Hey darling, what’s your phone no?” In the end my students there were a bunch of the nicest guys ive ever taught. They too put on a show for their boss. On a couple of occassions when we were discussing Karaoke bars the big boss would come in to inspect their studies. Just as we were laughing away the big sturdy scary-looking Lt General Canniethinkaessname came in and the class went completely silent. The big boss asked me for a quick chat and instructed me to ‘getting them talking’!

Next, i picked up this extremely well paid job in the evenings teaching the Japanese staff of a co. in Nava Nakhorn. They too had a fixation about learning the naughtier side to the English language and on a couple of occassions said “We dont want to learn today, we want YOU to take us to one of the a-go-go bars down Patpong!”

Back to Nakhorn Ratchasima, i remember one of my students, an F16 pilot, asked me to teach him outside for a hour in the evenings paying my salary in Heineken beers. When i asked where he would learn he took me to one of the naughty massage parlours with a big fish tank inside full of scad-looking girls watching TV and doing their make-up. So, there we were learning with the Bangkok Post with all the girls bewidered with what we were doing in such an establishment.

Win a Thai watch

During February, visitors to our blogs will be able to take part in an easy competition to win a fabulous Thai watch.

This quality watch, with a leather strap and stainless steel back, is unique as it has Thai numerals. An ideal souvenir for people who love Thailand or for people who are trying to learn Thai numbers.

If you win this watch, you will be the envy of all of your friends. The watch is very difficult to find and it is unlikely that you will meet anyone else wearing the same watch. To win the watch, all you have to do is answer this simple question:

[b]QUESTION: What is “naam blaa”?[/b]

You will find the answer in one of the blogs. All you have to do is read all of the blogs! You have plenty of time. Send your answer to before 28th February 2005. We will pick the name of the winner out of a hat on 1st March. We will announce the winner here.

Fishing jetty in Paknam

After taking a siesta, we went back out yesterday afternoon as we wanted to take a closer look at one of the big fishing piers. There is one in particular called “saphan bplaa” which literally translates as “fish bridge”. We drove around for a while until we finally found it.

The above two pictures give you an idea of the size of some of these fishing boats. The ones on the right are more like ships and probably go out far into the Gulf of Thailand. Can you see all of the blue barrels? We too wondered what these were used for.

Up close, we could see one of the boats off-loading. Now it was plain that the barrels were full of fish.

In this next photo, you can see them offloading mussels. If you like seafood them Paknam is a good place to live as there is always a lot of fresh fish.

These last two photos were taken at the fishing jetty closer to Paknam Market. There were no big fishing ships here. We inquired what time of day they usually come in. The reply was that they will be here in 7-8 days! They must be going far out to sea. He told us that if we wanted to see some activity today we must walk a bit further. That is where we found them washing and sorting the squid and also off-loading and weighing some smaller fish.

I think I will come back here next Sunday morning to see if I will get any luck with the big ships.

River life in the Paknam area

The city where I live is called Paknam (hence the name of my company Paknam Web). Paknam has been around for hundreds of years and used to serve as the point of entry for all visitors to Thailand. Ships had to offload their guns here before proceeding upriver to Bangkok. Paknam also had a customs house for foreign tourists. Even Anna (the infamous school teacher from the movie “The King and I”) mentioned in her book passing through Paknam on her way to the palace in Bangkok. In 1819, the city was enlarged and fortified. It was also renamed as Samut Prakan.

Today, Paknam is only a district of a much bigger city. We live in Tambon Paknam. The name of my school is Sriwittayapaknam. Despite the name change, many people around Thailand still call our city Paknam. The word Paknam translates as “river mouth”. This is because we are very close to the estuary that runs into the Gulf of Thailand. This morning, I took some visitors on a boat trip from Paknam Market to the river mouth. I thought I would share with you some of the pictures.

The first two pictures show two examples of boats found on the Chao Phraya River. The one on the left is a fishing boat. There are quite a few fishing jettys along the river here. If you go to the market at the right time you will see the boats coming in. The fish are cleaned and sorted on the jetty and then sold straight away. The picture on the right shows some of the private boats in a dry dock. You don’t see many luxurious boats like this here compared to places like Phuket. I have always dreamed of buying a boat. I guess they would be expensive. I’ll have to start saving my pennies.

These next two pictures are here just to show you two different sized boats that share the same shipping lane. I wonder who gets right of way?

We are now at the river mouth which took about 30 minutes to get here. This is part of Chulachomklao Fortress. This was built in 1893 in order to protect the approach to Bangkok. The guns here only fired in anger once. And that was against the French in the same year! The ship is H.T.M.S. Maeklong which used to be a training ship and is now permanently moored at this site. On the right is a crane in a private port. You can see that they are offloading some containers. The main port is further up river towards Bangkok.

The last two pictures were taken along a canal branching off the Chao Phraya River. There are several fishing villages along here and you can see many fishing boats tied up on both sides. There are also a few old temples. Somewhere up this way is an old community in a place called Sa Kla. We didn’t have time today as we only hired the boat for two hours. We have already decided that we will return tomorrow by car and try to explore this area a bit more.

Child abuse

Hello everyone. this is my first blog ever so hopefully i can communicate my thoughts well enough. i have never been to thailand however my family and i are hoping to visit within the next year. that is not the reason for my blog however. I am a college student in detroit, michigan. part of one of my courses is the study of a foreign culture in relation to business. our instructor however is attempting to teach this in a different manner. we are required to complete a project that entails setting up a proposed organization that is consistent with a percieved problem in todays world. one catch being that it has to involve both implications in not only the foreign culture but ours as well(usa). Our group has chosen child abuse in thailand as our project. we are aiming to set up an organization called the childrens innocence fund(again this is made up). however our requirements are to learn as much as possible about the foreign culture so that when the project is off and running, we are able to function in the thai culture and way of life without being completely viewed as outsiders or without upsetting or dishonoring the people that we work with.the reason we chose this subject is because the same practices happen in america(i am also a social work major and this has very deep meaning to me)

My initial thoughts on some of the causes are the effects of economy and the resulting levels of poverty that can ensue. we realize that we cannot properly function with another culture unless we are able to learn and respect their culture. that is the information that i am trying to find. i do have some documented accounts of the child slave trade from time magazine, however, i am looking for a deeper meaning to this than a paper article.

I realize this may be a very dark, touchy subject, however as anthropological research goes, i am not allowed to use any real names in my research topics or even the real areas of the study. all items will be changed to protect any information received. this may sound hollow coming from a computer blog, but i am just trying to learn from the source as opposed to a culturally biased printed report.

Thank you to all for just reading this,extra thanks to all who may respond.