Monthly Archives: November 2012

Boundaries

So I’ve been here 2 months now, my life has order and most of the time i know what I’m doing.

 

Saturday was a day spent relaxing and watching movies, as well as a moped ride around town to take photos of the temples and explore a bit on my own. In the evening I met up with Lee and Nonku, the South African teachers in the secondary school in Khaochaison. They have puppies!!! Their dogs who live with them have had 2 separate litters, so 14 in total, but 2 have been rehomed already. So for a while I played with the puppies then we went to dinner in a local restaurant and I had Pad Khao Pow Gai. Rice with chicken in a gravy sauce that wasn’t spicy. Afterwards we walked back to their house and heard music coming from the secondary school, and there were lots of people about, so Lee and I went to check it out.

 

In the school there were so many people! Lots of hippies and bikers with dreads. Also lots of students. Everyone was drinking and smoking, and it was mainly men, with a live band (students) playing thai music. They were quite good! We deduced it was some kind of bikers convention, but wierd that they all wanted to come to Khaochaison, and that ti was held in a school! Lee and I sat on chairs and watched for a while while all the people were in groups in circles, sat cross legged on the floor, with the alcohol shared in the middle. A group asked us to join them so we sat in their circle and chatted for a bit. After a while the alcohol took effect and lots of people were dancing. I got asked to dance so was dancing too in a group when I realised the Mayor was staring across the room right at me, whilst i was dancing and drinking beer. (As a female teacher I’m not meant to drink in public here.) I thought UHOH.. better go say hi. Left my beer and went over and he seemed happy that I was happy. Other male teachers and policemen were there too. Then Lee starts receiving phonecalls from his neighbour saying its not safe, and too dangerous for us to be there. I think it was because Madam was worried about me so Lee told them we were with the Mayor, and there was police and it was fine. Everyone was really friendly towards us. Also there was a guy there with dreads almost to the floor, and he was dressed like a pirate, the Thai version of Cap’n Jack Sparrow! Eventually the music finished and there was an awards ceremony, we couldn’t understand anything then so we left, and the Mayor made one of the teacher escort me home on my moped.

 

On Sunday Madam arrived early to pick me up and we went to a place called Tale Noi, its a huge lake with lots of birds and a very pretty place. There was a small local market too, but it started raining so didn’t get to see as much as we hoped.

Also on Sunday a new teacher arrived, called Ana who will be in the Secondary school, but living in the hut to mine. Shed literally arrived in Thailand that day and was pretty anxious so Madam and I took her for dinner and tried to find out more about her.

 

This week at school has been good,  though the little angels halos are getting a bit tarnished! I guess the new teacher phase is wearing off because now the children are being loud. I’ve had to scream silence at the top of my voice a fair few times this week. It works most of the time, it shocks the smaller ones.

Also as they are getting more comfortable around me I’m getting a lot more hugs. The Pratom 4’s wouldn’t let me leave class today because they all wanted to hug me (thats 45 hugs!) and a few students like to shake my hand. Also when walking up and down the stairs students always try and touch my arm.. i think its the white skin thing. There are less boundaries in Thailand, with regards to touching other people. Also with taking food from someones plate.

 

The teachers are getting so much better at English too, and i think my Thai is improving. And becoming more comfortable around me.. here its normal to sniff people. Like go right up to them and sniff their cheek. One of the teachers, who I call Mummy Jai because she’s sort of adopted me, asked to kiss me, I said no, so she sniffed me. I think its affectionate like somewhere between a hug and kiss. Even so, was kinda freaky.

 

On Wednesday there was a huge storm here, it was pelting it down with hailstones and thunder and lightening. I was stuck at school with no coat, waiting for it to die down for about an hour when i decided to face it. Only had my moped but was drenched just running to the moped. All the teachers tried to talk me out of it, saying they would drop me home (but then id have no way of getting to school the next day) so i just went for it. Driving fast with hailstones hitting you hurts LOTS. I was worse than a drowned rat by the time i got back, and Nanny, my landlady was there laughing hysterically at me as i ran to the door. Got in, had a hot shower, put a jumper and jeans on, made a cup of tea and watched a movie, and was freezing all night!

 

Tonight I’ve been at aerobics again, then Mummy Jai made me dinner- chicken, rice and omlette, was very good! She teaches after school from 4 till 7 for the children whose parents are still at work. She cooks dinner for the kids too, and one of the cutest little boys is always there, so got to help them with their homework (subtraction in thai numbers.. they laughed lots at me trying to count backwards in thai) and drawing elephants on the board. Theres about 10 kids and they pay 80bht for 3 hours (less than £2) with dinner thrown in. She could charge so much more!

 

Still enjoying myself and looking forward to relaxing at the weekend and next week its Loi katon festival on Wednesday!

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Hat Yai (1)

So I’m becoming part of the community here in Khaochaison, I now do what the majority of the towns women do – go to the free aerobics class! Every evening at 6pm unless its raining. It’s like Zumba but Thai moves to Asian music, and for some reason the women cheer a lot and make wierd noises like they would do in tennis.

 

Also my landlady, Nanny, has been updating the security around my hut. I have a new lock on the front door. All the trees that blocked people on the road seeing into my room have been cut down and a wire fence has been put up (But everyone can now see right into my room… they cut down the trees as they think thats how the intruder got in.) A mini police station has been set up at the end of my road for the nights and to top it all off, arrived home yesterday to 4 new CCTV cameras being put up all around the hut, watching every entrance.

 

This weekend was spent Falangering around (being tourists) in Hat Yai.. I was reminded of what western food is! (KFC! Toast! Pizza Hut!!) I stayed with Tasha and Kylie, other TEFL teachers who I met on the Ko Samui course, Friday and Saturday night. Madam and a few teachers took me to Hat Yai in the car, to make sure I was extra safe they dropped me right at the girls’ apartment, and got to have a good nosey around. Before that I went to the  big shopping centre to buy alcohol for the party, and Madams face when I said what I wanted to buy… Unimpressed and dissapointed. I told her I’m aware that in the town I can’t drink (as I am a female teacher) but that it was the weekend, I was away from anyone that knows me, and I would be with my western friends. I think she understood…  I bought a few wine coolers called SPY.

 

We caught up friday night and Saturday after a lie in we went to Hat Yai Municipality park. We found an art exhibition where the guy running it was so pleased 3 farangs had entered, he made us pose and took pictures. Some of the paintings were really good! Then we wandered around the park until we came to a pond, and rented a pedalo and fed the fish. It was the hottest part of the day and we weren’t covered up enough, so we didn’t have energy to climb to the top to see the temples, but its on the to-do list for next time!

 

In the evening we headed back to the apartment to start getting ready for other TEFL teachers coming over, some heading to Hat Yai from quite far away! Was good to see everyone, and meet new interesting people too, and to just speak English without having to explain it over and over again. Also to have a drink, relax and eat pizza!

 

On Sunday The Notebook (film) was on TV so we watched that and I had a good cry, then said goodbye to Kylie and Tasha (Thanks for letting me stay!) and got a White Songthao (no idea how to spell it) to the minivan station (Talad Kasair is how to say it in Thai.) From there it was easy.. there was a counter saying Khaochaison and i bought a ticket (80bht, so £1.50) and waited at number 12 for the white minivan to turn up. The Bus is number 12 but it says Ban Keow, which it the town next to Khaochaison. After about an hour and half ride I was the last person on the bus, and was able to direct the driver (in Thai) to my front door. Easy peasy.

 

Today is Monday and I’ve finished teaching for the day.. 3 lessons on numbers. For the older ones we played Bingo and for the younger ones we played Ladders, a fun but actually quite dangerous game..they’d never let you play it in England, but kids here loved it! I’m going to go nap after school then get up for aerobics later on…

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Hugs

An eleven year old female student came up to me at the end of the first lesson today and said thank you and then gave me a hug. I don’t know if she knew about last nights events, but I really needed that hug! It made me smile and reminded me why I am here.

 

Last night i was woken at 3.30am by what I thought was thunder. There was a loud storm with thunder and lightening outside.  Then I realised I could hear other banging noises, and thought maybe the wind was blowing my bathroom door open and shut (even though it never had before!) so I turned the light on and went to investigate. On the way back to bed I realised it was my front door, and the banging was someone trying to get in. Bearing in mind it was 3.30am and pitch black outside pouring with rain, I got pretty scared. I called Madam on the mobile to tell her I was scared and that someone was trying to get into my hut, even when I’d turned the light on. The front door was locked so they couldn’t get in but they were shaking it hard and making lots of noise.

 

After I rang Madam… herself, the police, the landlady and her husband, and 4 teachers from the school all turned up at my door within 10 minutes. I think when I spoke to Madam on the phone this scared the intruder away (I have wooden decking outside leading to my door that creaks when people step on it, and I heard it creak as whoever it was ran away.)

 

The police asked me what happened and they checked the area, and everyone made sure I was okay. I’d locked the gate but I guess the intruder had somehow jumped over it. We were up until about 5am when I said I was going back to bed as needed to be up at 630am for school today. I was invited to stay with everyone, but knew if I didn’t go back to my own hut I would be wary of sleeping there tonight.

 

I went back to bed and everyone left to return to their homes too, but I didn’t really sleep. Today everyone has been really kind, all the teachers found out and keep asking if i’m okay and if I want to stay with them tonight but I’m going to return to my hut and hope all is well. My landlady is staying next door though tonight, and soon another teacher should be moving in next door. Hopefully it was just a bit of bad luck and won’t happen again. If it does though I have everyones phone numbers etc to contact if theres a problem. My agency have also been in contact to check all is well.

 

I am okay, so Mum and Dad please don’t worry, hopefully it was a one off!

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Students Nicknames

So one of my Year 1 students, is a cute little girl and her nickname is Cookie… Adorable.

 

Other good and easy nicknames for me to pronounce are Anne, Joe, John, Fern and Mai.

 

Some other more random ones are Shampoo, Cream, Bang, Play, Click, Night, Bin and Gecko.

 

I would like to know if the children choose these nicknames or if their families do.. either way, how do you end up with Shampoo as your nickname?!

 

Theres also Thai nicknames, can’t really pronounce them … Bayok, Gannam, Prayow, Namtow, Pom, Satang and tap teem.

 

Day 3 of teaching- involved lots of laughter as Teacher Zo tried to pronounce the kids Thai names.. no chance!

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Teacher Zo!

“Welcome Teacher Zoe Gossage to Tesabarn Khaochaison School”

 

The above is what was written on a hand painted banner when i arrived at 730am at the school gates this morning. I was really touched, it was so nice with balloons!  There were a few teachers about too and then the principal arrived and i welcomed nearly all 450 students into the school by ‘wai’ing at them as they came through the gates.

 

In assembly all the kids line up standing and sing thai songs and the thai flag is hoisted up the pole, then they sing more thai songs. The Mayor came today to welcome me too, so he did a speech in Thai and then I got up on stage and received flowers, and then was given a microphone to say a speech. A very simple speech, it went like this..

 

“Hello my name is Zoe. I’m 23 years old. I’m from England. I’m excited to meet you and teach you all English…”

I wasn’t sure how much they understood but they were very excited i was at their school.

I then taught 10 year olds first, then 9 year olds, then a different class of 9 year olds and then the youngest, 8 year olds. All had pretty similar lessons of My name is.. What is your name, and focusing on greetings such as Good morning/good afternoon/good evening/ good night. The younger ones found it tough and the games showed they weren’t really getting it, so i changed the lesson and made up a song and a dance! I had my camera too so i recorded them and they loved that, then loved it even more when i played it back to them. So definatly going remember that to reward them with next time!

 

Also because i wanted to play games, they first had to move the tables and chairs out of the way. They did not understand, even when i started moving the tables and chairs. They moved with the tables and chairs and sat in them all squished together at the sides.. i then told them to get in the middle and they started moving all the tables and chairs back into the middle. Eventually they understood to leave the chairs alone and get in the middle, but it took a lot of explaining and miming. I guess because they’ve never had an English teacher before the games are new to them, but because we’ve done it once they should get it next time! Also the game of chinese whispers is completely lost on them.. they shout to the front of the line in thai the answer and still wouldn’t play it without cheating when i deducted points!

 

The ball games worked well once they got used to it, at first some of the shyer ones were purposely letting the ball hit them in the head and bounce off of them, so that someone else picked it up, and therefor they didn’t have to speak English..but it was okay in the end! The best part was singing and dancing, theres some right little groovers, bet they loved hearing my voice!

 

The day was really fun, sweaty, rewarding and I cant believe I’m a a teacher!!! Also one little girl gave me a rose! So cute, and when i went to the shop this evening i heard “Teacher!” and one of my students came over to say “hello” and “goodbye.” Looks like they’re learning already!

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Town Festivals

Prapanee Festival

 

Yesterday was the first day Madam was busy in the night, so Teacher Jai, Teacher Pen and Teacher Jan took me out for the evening. We went to the city of Phattlung for dinner.. I caved and finally had western takeaway (not bad after 6 weeks though, and it was their idea!) so i had KFC 🙂 Then we went to the Prapanee festival which has been going on all week. Its a festival where people have “battles” against each other on drums, loudly banging in time, and they are quite big drums with heavy batons. I watched this for a bit but because we were in the city rather than the town, nobody knew me so literally everyone was pointing and staring at me, it was a bit uncomfortable. The best part was the market, they sold lots of wierd and wonderful food. I saw fried cockroaches, maggots and other creepy crawlies, and lots of thai people buying them! I was amazed that candy floss was being sold for 20p for a huge bundle, so i got that instead of the bugs.

 

Lakprah Festival

 

Today was definatly one of the warmest days so far, probably because I spent most of it outside running around. I was picked up early by Madam at 8am and told we were going to a Festival in Khaochaison called Lakprah. I spent most of the day asking people what the festival was celebrating but i always got the answer of “I don’t know” (which means they do know, they just don’t have the English language to explain.) One person said it was to do with hallloween (pretty sure it had nothing to do with that even though it was halloween at home, there were monks involved, so i guess it was religious.) And it may have been for the kids as it was the day before school started. But it was so hot pretty much all th ekids were flaked out in the shade. The day went like this… everyone makes these big floats, each from different temples around the area and then the monks sit inside and people pull them along. Afterwards people pray and give donations to the temples, and then there are games. Also all the while there is a running commentary, obviously it was in thai so didn’t know what it was saying.

 

I was highly encouraged to join in with pulling the floats along, but it was much more fun watching and taking photos. All the floats were decorated so colourfully and alot of time had been spent making them. At one point i went off by myself to take photos of the floats down the road, rather than in the main square and less than 10 minutes later Madam was ringing me trying to find me. I’ve got no chance of hiding in this place so my freedom didn’t last long. The whole town was out watching the ceremonies and it was a good chance for everyone to stare, point, giggle and shout ‘farang’ at me (westerner in thai.)

 

After a couple of hours I text the South african english teachers who work in the secondary school, and met up with them. We sat by the pond under the shade, which was a fab idea as the games were all in the pond.

 

To start the first game 10 ducks were thrown into the pond, then 10 boys/men jumped in after them and spent quite a while chasing them and catching them. Everyone got really excited and it was quite entertaining, especially because the ducks could outwit the men! After all the ducks were eventually caught the next game began. Men were blindfolded and put into little boats, and i guess it was a race. They had an oar to row but because they couldn’t see they kind of just crashed all over the place and went in circles until a boat capsized.

 

As well as the festival there was a big market on, so I went round all the stalls too. Most of them were selling drinks, food and clothes. There was a big cafeteria style area where everyone was eating so had chicken in a soy sauce thing for lunch.

 

Then we had to get back the the offices as there was a meeting between the mayor and the school about me. We went into a proper room, where everyone had microphones and took it in turns to stay stuff. It was definatly about me because I heard my name, “pasa angkrit” (English language) and people nodded at me. But for 2 whole hours i listened to 10 people talking in thai. It gave me a headache and at the end of it i was told my hours would be lowered to 13 a week (1 hour with each class) and given a conversation sheet they want me to follow with each class.

 

School starts tomorrow! No idea about their level yet so am just going to go in with a few ideas and adapt!

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