Monthly Archives: December 2012

Christmas Day

Santa and carol singers Falangs in Khaochaison Performers Surrounded by nursery kids

Christmas Day in Thailand, it was always going to be different, celebrating something that the people in my town didn’t really understand, nor get the importance of! Considering I was away from home and had to work, the day went okay. In the morning my 20 or so good kids performed “Santa claus is coming to town” in assembly to the rest of the school. Then i was called to the front and put on stage to say a Merry Christmas speech. After assembly i travelled round the classes with the 20 kids performing in every class and giving out chocolate and biscuits. One student also dressed as Father Christmas. After that the day went quite normally, i had lessons to teach so taught them (Snowman movie – it was xmas day, i wasn’t going to stretch myself or the kids! lol) and i spent the day rounding up groups of children to record messages to my family at home, with them all saying Merry Christmas and putting it in a video. Lunch was soup.. with a chicken foot in. It was at this point I missed home and mums yummy Christmas dinner. It would certainly be better than a chicken foot soup.

The evening was spent at the South Africans house, drinking, listening to xmas songs, and generally reminiscing about what we would be doing if we were at home. Their neighbour also cooked for us and it was really good fried chicken. I got to skype home, Mum cried, which made me cry and homesickness hit hard. I really wanted to go home, just for that day! It was inevitable that missing home would hit soon, but I was glad I was with people who felt the same way and at least celebrated xmas too!

The thai neighbours friends also came over and joined us in drinking, but i returned home about 11pm as still had to be up at 6.30am for school the next day. Definitely no boxing day here!

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Categories: Exploring Thailand, Festivals, Teaching Thailand- Government School | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

3 months – Visas, preparing for Christmas and relaxing in Paradise!

I arrived in Thailand over three months ago! Time is flying by now, especially because its nearing Christmas and my lessons now consist of “British Christmas culture” Ie) explaining to the children how to make a snow man and then how it melts in the snow, lots of diagrams and actions needed but then showing them The Snowman movie for the rest of the lesson so that they understand! That’s for the little ones. For the older ones, they’ve been learning the whole song of “We wish you a Merry Christmas.” Yesterday lunchtime they had a competition in teams of 4 and they had to sing the song and the winner will be announced on Christmas day. Also for Christmas day I’ve been holding a club every evening for an hour, teaching 20 of the Pratom 4s and 5s the words and dance to “Santa Claus is coming to town.” They will be performing on Christmas day to the whole school and I can’t believe how quick they pick it up!

Pratom 2/2 performing in xmas singing competition

Other things that have been happening is my visa! For a while I was worried I would have to go to Malaysia to sort it. I notice in Thailand that they never get something done early. Instead they like to make you wait on the edge of the seat until the last possible minute when it needs to be done, making you panic all the time! My visa ran out Tuesday 18th December. On Tuesday at 2pm I got a phone call saying the paper work was done and I could now get to Satun (2 hour drive away) to get the visa sorted, but that the office there closed at 4pm so to hurry hurry hurry. I made it in time thanks to Teacher Kom driving like a mad man, whereby some of the paperwork I still didn’t have, had to be faxed over! However now my visa is valid until 31st March 2013, when my contract ends. So I’m about halfway through my time here already!

At the beginning of December there was a bank holiday and I was able to spend the weekend catching up with Tara, a fellow TEFLheaven trainee, at Ao Nang beach, Krabi. I hadn’t been to that part of the country before and I was seriously impressed! The islands there are beautiful, my favourite being Raleigh beach. We relaxed lots, caught up, sunbathed, swam, ate lots of western food and drank many cocktails! I urge everyone to go there, its paradise! I like it so much I will be returning in 2 weeks, as I want to show it to Paul and James when they visit! Its about a 4 hour bus journey, so bit tight to do it on a normal weekend, but school have given me the monday and tuesday off too, as they know my friends are visiting. I have to catch up on the missed lessons throughout the following week though!

View from Poda IslandSunset at Ao Nang beachLong tail boats at Raleigh beach

Jumping at Raleigh beach

I’m very excited for the week ahead- Christmas day on tuesday so party day for the children! Then Friday is when the school is celebrating New Year with a party and performances by the children during the day, teacher party in the evening. On Saturday I make my way to Koh Samui, to meet and Paul and James for New years eve at the full moon party on Koh Phangan. Life is good 😀

Who knew it was so competitive!

Who knew it was so competitive!

Categories: Exploring Thailand, Festivals, Teaching Thailand- Government School | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Happy Birthday to the King! (Festival)

A sky full of lanterns/wishes

Happy Birthday to the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as King Rama IX, whose 85th birthday was celebrated yesterday! Thai people love their King, so I knew the celebrations would be big as here it is a national holiday, as well as Fathers Day.

 

The day time was spent catching up on things like washing and food shopping, and I also went to Phattalung with Madam and Teacher Pen so that they could buy a yellow shirt to wear that night. Yellow (see luang in thai) is the colour for the King, and was worn by everyone! Luckily I had a yellow dress that Madam had bought me when I first arrived here.

 

The night time celebrations were held in the Mattayom (Secondary) school in Khaochaison, right next to where Teacher Lee, Nonku and the new teacher Chay all live (and they are all from South Africa and teach English at the secondary school.) So I rode my moped over to them and we walked to the school from there. As we arrived we were given candles and pieces of paper shaped like a heart and told to write our names. I still don’t really know why but we did. Then we posed with lots of students, both mine and secondary, as they were all excited to see the farang (western) teachers out!

Mattayom students performingTeachers and student performers. Nonku, myself, Lee and Chay

On the school field a huge stage had been erected with a screen behind that was showing the Kings Birthday speech. For 85, he looked good! Wish I could have understood it, but everyone at the school seemed very moved by it. We got hungry and there was lots of stuff we didn’t understand, so we left briefly to go get dinner at the local place we always seem to end up in. I had crispy fried pork with morning glory (a green leaf.)

Me with my students in costume ready to perform!

When we returned the night was getting interesting, students ran up to us to tell us and help us light the candles we were given earlier. Then a tonn of fireworks went off, and it was a really good display. Afterwards students from all the schools nearby performed dances, once again in different costumes with lots of makeup on! Even 3 year old nursery students did a thai dance of their own and looked fabulous!

 

After all the dances everyone watching was invited on to the field and we were all given huge chinese lanterns, to light using the candles. This was by far the best bit and most magical part of the evening. Hundreds of lanterns filled the sky with peoples wishes. I’d never done it before so it was really nice to be part of such a huge group sending them off at the same time. Welit many lanterns that evening and helped the students. Also the cameras seemed to like us and we kept being filmed for the big screen and we were constantly invited to join in with the next lighting of each lantern!

 

Once again Thank You to Khaochaison school for a wonderful evening, and Happy Birthday to King Rama IX. Best wishes for the year ahead!Nonku, myself and Lee with a chinese lantern My student and me! Myself and Teacher Lee

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Loi Krathong Festival

Okay so sorry its a little late uploading this! Should have been uploaded 28/11/2012.

 

Loi Krathong takes place on the full moon, at the end of November every year in Thailand. Its a night time festival, where Krathongs (mini floats made from banana leaves, flowers, candles and incense) are lit and put in the river to give thanks to the water goddess, and to ask buddha for good luck for the coming year. I’m not sure of the significance but people put in a nail clipping, a hair and a bit of clothing, as well as an offering of money for buddha.

 

In my town you could buy small Krathongs for 40bht (80p) but it was much more fun and personal to make them! My Loi Krathong day started at school, with the nursery children, helping them to make theirs and being taught by Mummy Jai how to make my own! A simple way of making a Krathong is to cover the float with banana leaves and pin it together. To make it more interesting you can fold the banana leaf lots of different ways to make more advanced patterns, and then decorate with flowers. All the children gave me the flowers, candle and incense to make mine, so thank you to Anubarn 2/2!

Me with the Nursery students and a very messy classroom

After 3 hours making theKrathongs (with pins, scissors, leaves and flowers cluttered all over the floor and room) it was time for me to find out what the rest of the school were doing. I found some Prathom students practising a dance that they would be performing later, with Teacher Sao helping them to perfect it. Also Prathom 5’s were making Krathongs. I was really proud of mine until I saw theirs.. they were fab and very advanced! I console myself that mine was the first one I’d ever made and the Year 5’s had been doing it every year! Even so, the teachers were impressed I’d made mine, and many said they didn’t know how to which is a shame.

 

In the afternoon I found an excited group of girls, all running in and out of the spare classroom. They were getting ready for the performance, having hair and makeup done and costumes fitted. I was put to work making them look white.. basically spongeing white creams on their arms. Its the Thai version of fake tan i guess. This took all afternoon, and I left school to get ready for the main fesitval!

 

The festival was held later that night near the market (and near the river.) There was a Krathong competition where people had made HUGE floats.. so big that it took 5 men to carry them, and some wereso elaborate, with wholedragons made out of folded banana leaf! The teachers got together and we floated our Krathongs down the river and made a wish.

Making a wish. letting the Krathong float away (my candle blew out :( Me and the Teachers with KrathongsPrimary students performing!

Then there was lots of stuff going on, on stage in Thai. My students performed the dance, and they were so good! I couldn’t believe how grown up they looked in all the make up and costumes! Then there was a beauty pageant for women ( in which 2 of my year 6’s competed in, getting 2nd and 3rd place! The one who got 3rd did a recital in English as her talent!) And then there was a beauty pageant for ladyboys. I was warned they were going to be ladyboys and some did look like men, but the majority of them you really wouldn’t have been able to tell at all. One poor lady had such high heels on she fell over on stage, and many of them sang as their talent. Overall though everyone did really well, and looked brilliant in their costumes!

Ladyboy beauty pageantBeauty Pageant

Categories: Festivals, Teaching Thailand- Government School | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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