Back to School

This week, most of the students in Thailand went back to school after the long summer break. For me, it came a lot quicker than expected. I had an enjoyable break. I spent some of the time building up my internet business and other times going away on one day trips. I really like working flex-time and I had a nice routine going on at home. This included morning weight lifting exercise and then early evening I used the running track or stationary bicycle. I also went out for walks. But I have my own private gym on the roof. I am not really a fitness freak. But, I spend a lot of time on computers as part of my work. So, it is important that I try and stay healthy. Now that I am back at school, I am not too sure if I will be able to keep this up. I don’t get home now until 5 p.m. (after a 5 minute commute – ten minutes if the traffic is bad as it can take five minutes to walk across the road) and then in the evening I have to spend at least three or four hours in the office doing company work. It is not easy juggling two jobs.

It is always strange coming back. This time even more so as I only came into school a few times in the last two months. So, there were a few changes – some more noticeable than others. I think probably the major one was that all the computer desks and work stations in the office and our staff room had been picked up and swung around so that we are now all facing north. At first I thought it might have been instructions handed down from the government. When you sing the king’s anthem properly you should stand up and face north towards his palace. However, apparently this is a “fen shui” thing. According to the experts hired by the school, we should all now be happy and productive workers. It makes me wonder if this will work properly if there is a skeptic in the workplace. Or if one person decided to face south instead. I wonder if I should mention to anyone that I have two computers on my desk. So, sometimes I am facing west. Am I throwing a spanner in the works? I am not sure whether to believe in this or not. But I suppose if my North-facing computer doesn’t crash and my West-facing Computer is full of viruses then I should seriously consider!

Another difference for us teachers is that on the first day back at work we all had our fingerprints taken. No, it wasn’t because we had done something wrong. The school administrators had decided that they would upgrade the old analogue clock for clocking in. Now when we arrive at school in the morning our fingerprints are scanned and the date and time noted. We then have to do this in the late afternoon when we go home at 4.45 p.m. Apparently, some teachers were getting their friends to log in for them. Or they went home early and someone else logged out for them. Of course, I never did such a thing. I would never cheat the system in that way. Now, which James Bond movie did he fool the fingerprint scanner? Was it “Man with a Golden Gun”?

At school these days I have three jobs which I try to juggle during the day. Actually four as I am the official tour guide for any visiting foreign dignitaries and tourists. Firstly I am the head of the computer department. This involves monitoring the work of my staff and also making sure we are always moving forward with new and innovative ideas. My other job is the head of the foreign teachers department. My duties involve producing their schedule, monitoring their work, holding weekly meetings, and basically being a buffer zone between them and the Thai administration. My final job is as humble English teacher. I do this one because I like the challenge of trying to make students enjoy English. I only have one class of Primary 6 students. They are twelve years old. It is a good class and I have been impressed with their ability so far. I teach them five days a week. I will be writing all about life at school over the coming weeks. So, if you are planning on becoming a teacher in Thailand then you should come back soon for lots of first hand experiences.

I think we are now officially in the monsoon season here in Thailand. Most nights this week we have had heavy storms. I did take my umbrella to school every day though fortunately I didn’t have to use it. There were a few rain storms during the day though mainly these came overnight. One of the good things about the storms for us is that the temperature drops quite a bit. At the moment it is averaging 34 Celsius. This can drop 3-9 degrees Celsius during and after a storm. What has made this week hotter is the high humidity. Much higher than usual. This morning I left my air-conditioned office to go downstairs to take some pictures. I took the lens cover off the camera and it immediately misted over! I think it was about five minutes before I could use it. That doesn’t happen often.

Due to the heat we have all been sweating more than usual. Even the Thai people. That is unusual as Thai people don’t sweat as much as Westerners. I am not sure what it is. Maybe thinner blood. Maybe just the way they do everything slower. Or maybe it is just because they use the prickly heat powder after showering. I don’t use the talcum powder as I had rather a bad experience with a certain brand. I didn’t realize it had menthol in it and I sprinkled it over a certain part of my body that didn’t really appreciate it. I was in agony for a while. Anyway, Thai people like to be very clean at all times and so it doesn’t look good when foreigners are walking around soaking wet from sweat. As this was my first week of walking to school during the summer months I had to rethink my strategy. So, for the first time in Thailand, I now wear an undershirt. Naturally this sounds like a crazy idea in this heat to wear something that is meant to keep you warm. And yes it did make me feel warmer. However, it did a really good job of keeping my shirt dry.

Well, I’d better cut this short now. The cleaner didn’t come last week because I was away on Koh Chang. She will be coming tomorrow and I need to give the house a quick clean.

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