Monthly Archives: January 2013

Four months – Teaching and Temples

Another month, another blog! Not much has been happening recently, after spending far too much money at New Year I’m trying to save up now for the 6 week unpaid holidays in April, so I’ve spent lots of time just relaxing in Khaochaison.

These past few weeks a few random things happened. Madam called me and invited me to go to Tescos in the city so I could go shopping. She picked me up then told me she had to go pay someone some money, and that I would go to.

We ended up going to a Temple about an hours drive away, to an old mans funeral. I was wearing a top with skulls on, skull earrings and bright red trousers. Even over here you’re meant to wear black to a funeral so I stuck out even more than usual. I’m not sure why Madam thought I would want to go to a funeral, or why she didn’t tell me on the phone to be dressed appropriately and especially to pay respects to someone I had never met nor heard of. We spoke to the widow, who looked too young to be a widow, and Madam gave her some money and then we ate dinner there. The food was good and people were friendly but I was a bit bemused by it all.

Also this week (I still didn’t do a whole weeks teaching!) the year 4s, 5s and 6s went on a school trip to Buddha camp in Lampam for 3 days. I was originally invited to go on Wednesday and stay overnight with them, then on Tuesday it was decided I shouldn’t go for some reason, and I was told to have the day off (as my classes were at the camp, I had no students to teach.) Finally Tuesday evening I was told to come in Wednesday afternoon to cover someone else’s lesson as they were low on teachers as everyone was at the camp.

I tried to find out what Buddha camp was and I was told the students learn how to pray, for 3 days! Last night the teachers and Madam took me out for dinner in the city and then we went to the camp, so I was able to see what they were up to there! For the 2 hours I was there, the students were all dressed in white, sat in the same position, listening to the Monks talk to them, and I guess tell them of Buddhist teachings? I asked if thats what they had been doing every day and the teachers said yes, its to teach them discipline and keep them silent (if only it were that easy in class….)

The only time the students moved or spoke was when I arrived, a few shouted “Teacher Zo!” and waved when they realised I was visiting, but I didn’t actually get a chance to talk to them, and I quickly grew bored listening to a Monk, who I didn’t understand. An older Monk came over to say hello to me, and question what a Farang was doing there, and the teachers explained I was the English teacher, and then he smiled at me and seemed happy I was visiting his temple.

Monks at Buddha Camp & students          Girls at Buddha camp, Lampam

Also I have to include this in my blog, not to scare people, but just because its so out of the ordinary… On Monday after school I opened my front door and a long skinny black snake fell in my face, from the ceiling. I screamed and got it off of me, but I definitely freaked out, and my landlady Nanny heard me and came running over to find out why I was screaming. Whilst the snake literally slithered across the decking and jumped into the tree she saw a butterfly and thought I was screaming about that, even though I was telling her a snake had fallen on me and was pointing at the tree. She didn’t understand what a snake was so had to take her into my house and draw a snake on the paper. Then she started to freak out too. The builders came over and between them all the hunted for the snake, and hopefully its now gone. Thai people are really scared of snakes over here, as a few are poisonous. Understandable when I’ve seen one of the nursery students with a black hole in her hand, from a snake that bit her whilst she was sleeping.

Today I came home to a frog outside my front door, and one on my window too. And I managed to catch a baby gecko thats been living in my house for a while. When I get bored in my house I chase geckos around the room… this was the first one I’d managed to catch!

Baby Gecko        Baby Gecko      Frog on my window      Cards for Teacher Zo!

Teaching is still going well, my Pratom 2/2 students have decided that every day one of them is going to give me a card or drawing. Today’s one had I love you Teacher Zo on the front and an elephant inside (they know i love elephants.) I also covered 2/2 today as their teacher was at Buddha camp. I didn’thave anything planned and the teacher didn’t leave me any notes so I took them outside and taught them the Okey Cokey. They enjoyed it, especially the “oooooh the okey cokey” where everyone holds hands and runs to the middle. After first fighting over who got to hold my hand, they got a little too into it and lots fell over, and the boys gotviolent letting go of hands and shoving into each other. After telling them not to do that, or they wont play, they were good. This class is my best behaved class, and they always remember the things I’ve taught them, so since it wasn’t my proper teaching time afterwards I let them play on my laptop (supervised) and they showed me their moves to Gangnam style, played with their yoyo’s (do you remember them?) and took photos on my webcam, which made them very excited!

Best behaved class!          Pratom 2/2 students   

It’s a simple life here.

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

Childrens Day and Teachers Day

Yay, yet more days off. I just worked out that this will be the 7th consecutive week that I haven’t had to teach the whole week (holidays, visa runs, bank holidays, students performing, all mean no lessons!) What am I going to do when next week all the days off are over?

On Saturday 12th January it’s Childrens Day in Thailand. If this fell on a Friday then it would be another bank holiday (and some schools even did give Friday off too!) but my school celebrated it on Saturday. At the market, where all the festivals are held there was a huge marquee all day, with lots of little ones and the actual market. In the huge marquee there was a stage and children won awards and money, and also performed dances (the same as New Years party.) In the smaller tents there were exhibits of children’s work, photos of Christmas and New Years and lots of different activities the children could do. The day wasn’t just for my school, but the surrounding areas too. However most of the children I saw were my students! I started by painting a figurine, and guess what, mine was an elephant. He turned out blue and is very cute. The most popular ones were Angry birds. There was also puppet making, a games room, and a room for sweets and ice-cream. Also the Fire Brigade lit a huge fire and then put it out. Also there were army guys there, showing off, and playing a game where the boys were blindfolded and then put boxing gloves and headgear on and were let loose. Really very funny to watch, as they run straight past each other and start attacking whoever they can hear nearby, so a few audience member got hit.

I ended the day trying to learn how to play a thai game that involves a wooden boat with cups in it, where you put marbles. I had Oke, the Mayors son and one of my favourite students Namfon, and Teacher Pen all try and explain how to play. I played, I didn’t win. I don’t know how you win because to me its just picking up marbles and moving them around. Not so successful, but will try and master it one day!

Pratom 4s in red!

Today, Wednesday, is Teachers Day. I don’t think there are any celebrations, but it does mean another day off! I’ve celebrated by lying in bed all morning, and then going out on the moped to get lunch. Now I’m off to relax some more with a massage at the hot springs, then go to the Wednesday market with the South Africans. Perfect.

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We’re all going on a summer holiday – Paul and James visit Thailand!!!

So this post is parallel time wise to the New year one below. I met James and Paul on Saturday 29th December 2012, and it was evening time by the time I got to the Green Hotel, Koh Samui. It was really nice to return to Koh Samui, as thats where I did my TEFL training for 3 weeks so I knew Chaweng beach quite well. The green hotel was situated right on the main walkway which was good as when I arrived we were able to go straight out for dinner. We went to a local Thai place that I had eaten at many times before. Its plastic chairs and tables on the side street but the food is always good. The restaurant is called Big Mamas and the owners recognised me and asked how I was etc. We ordered a mixture of thai food so everyone could share and try it all. Chicken Paneng curry, Shrimp Pad Thai, Canna moo crop (fried pork) and Tom Yam soup (seafood.) I think Paul and James enjoyed it and were full afterwards.

We went for a walk along the beach, and it was wierd to see so many places open and full. When I had been to Samui previously it was low season, so hardly anywhere on the beach was open, but now they were full of tourists. When we returned to the hotel room it was my Christmas! Paul and James had brought with them presents from home. Thank You Mum and Dad for my kindle and other nice gifts, thanks Prawn for my Kitkats and diary and Auntie Jane for my watch and Cris for chocolate and Louise for the tea and makeup and Paul for the kindle case and bringing it all with you! I was spoiled 🙂

The next day we went to Ark bar for a big English breakfast (theres only so long you can survive on rice, I craved western food!) and then took a tuk tuk to Lamai beach, which I think is prettier. We rented sun loungers on the beach and relaxed all day, swimming when the waves weren’t too big and reading books, and ended up back in Chaweng for dinner at Ninjas, another simple thai place that also does western food.

Posing the same as the buddhaMaking a wish on the tiles of the new temple RAWR DSCN6098 DSCN0180 DSCN0182

The following day we booked a half day tour around Samui, to see some of the sights including, the big buddha, a temple, grandmother and grandfather rock and the waterfall. I’d already climbed the waterfall so while James did that, Paul and I posed with a tiger and went and visited the elephants that were giving tours. We didn’t actually ride an elephant then, was just saying hello to them. That evening was NYE, so after the tour we ended up eating again in Big Mamas and then heading to Ark Bar for celebrations and partying.

The whole of the tuesday was spent getting back to my town, Khaochaison. We were picked up at midday in Samui and made it to my house at 9pm.. following bus rides, boat rides, bus rides and more bus rides and then a ride in an old fire engine, as you do.

The rest of the week was spent with Paul and James at my school during the day, seeing me teach and meeting my kids! The students were so excited there were two male falangs, and many of the female teachers called them handsome. In the evening we went out with Madam and the teachers one night, and the South Africans another night, and during one day the guys visited Hat Yai, the city nearbyish, but got soaked seeing temples and going in the cable car.

On Friday we were able to leave school early and got on another minibus that took us to Krabi, form there another tuktuk to Ao Nang beach. In the evening we went back to an italian restaurant that i had been to before with Tara, and they remembered me. Even though it was high season they gave us the same offers on food and cocktails as before so we all had mojitos and pizza/lasagna. Saturday was Pauls birthday so we booked to go elephant trekking. The trek itself was okay, we went through a rubber plantation, and it was  obviously the same track the elephants did every day as it was very muddy and there were big elephant feet sized holes along the way. Paul and I shared an elephant, and James had one to himself. Ours was called Nada, it was a boy who had half his trunk missing, and was 30 years old. Our mahout seemed happy enough with him keep stopping and eating food along the way, and James was naughty and went off the track several times, but his mahout didn’t seem to mind either. Next we saw a baby elephant show, with just one baby performing “tricks” I was worried they would be really cruel to the babies, but he seemed happy. The only trick i didn’t like was him doing a handstand, as theres no need for them to do that in the wild! The best part was the baby putting hats on the audience and playing a harmonica (ok they don’t do that in the wild, but they use their trunk to make noises.) Later on we were also able to go bathe the elephant. This time it was a female one called Ya who was 35. It was a really amazing experience because the other couple got scared so it was literally just Paul, james and I, playing with the elephant, splashing and scrubbing her. We were also able to ride her, but had to climb on her first in deep water, which was really difficult!

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The rest of the day was spent right at the end of Ao Nang beach, near the mountain where all the monkeys hang out. Despite the “Do not feed Monkeys” sign, everyone fed the monkeys so they were playing with us quite a bit. In the evening we went for dinner to a Thai restaurant overlooking the beach called Thai Thai, and shared lots of food.

Sunday was a nice relaxing day at Raleigh beach, got a longtail boat over there for 200bht each and it’s still my favourite! Did nothing but read and swim and relax and make sandcastles (well james made a mermaid, me and paul made her family friendly by collecting shells to make a top for her!) Dinner was back in Ao Nang in the italian restaurant again and we all got tipsy drinking wine.

The following day we booked a tour called “7 island sunset tour” advertised for 1000bht, but paid 800. We were picked up from the hotel and met an australian couple and an indian couple who were both on their honeymoons. They were our friends for the day as we went to 7 different islands on the longtail boats. Some of the islands were more like rocks, but they had great coral underneath, so snorkelling was really good. There were also huge pink jellyfish. We asked the tour guide if they would sting and he said no, but they did. It made you itch and left marks on your body! It was worth being stung though as got to go around one island, through another and then swim under another into a cave. We saw lots of different types of fish including a clownfish (nemo!) For dinner we had a BBQ on a private island (Tub island) and watched the sunset. It was really cool! At nighttime we headed back to Ao Nang but stopped along the way for another snorkel in the dark, where there was bio luminescent stuff. For those people who are not geeks it means that when you move in the water the plankton (?) lights up! It looks like you’re swimming in lots of shooting stars, and looked amazing. James described it like being in Avatar when everything lights up, but water instead. Was a great end to our little holiday!

After getting used to sharing with smelly boys its now too quiet in my hut, missing them already!

A memory form the trip; singing this verse in the morning so that James would pick it up and hum it all day long 😛

“Everywhere  I go, Every smile I see, I know you are there, SMILING back at me…”

Categories: Exploring Thailand, Teaching Thailand- Government School | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sa-wad-dee-pee-my! Happy New Year!

I was able to celebrate New Year twice over! On Friday 28th December school closed for the students “exhibition and party.” This meant all the students moved over to the Tesaban (council offices) where a huge party was held. Each class performed a dance on stage and played games to win prizes. Lunch was served with fizzy drinks, ice cream and doughnuts and the children finished at midday.

Nursery kids performing

At 1.30pm i began my transformation… I was taken to a salon to have my hair and makeup done. My hair was pulled into a tight bun on top of my head and the makeup was bright eyes and red lipstick, and they also shaved my eyebrows (?) The rest of the day was spent  getting most of the teachers into thai costume, so that in the evening, at the Tesaban party we were able to perform a thai dance on stage. My costume was a gold long skirt, and a red top, but I really loved the hair. A huge (fake) bun was put on top with lots of flowers and pretty ribbon.

Myself, Teacher Wa and Teacher JaiTeachers in traditional Thai costume!

That evening I went on stage with an umbrella hiding my face so that when I started the dance it was a surprise to everyone it was me! Everyone cheered and I was later told quite a lot of people were surprised i did it. I wasn’t on my own though, Teacher Jai and head teacher Panida performed our dance with me then we moved to the back of the stage and the other teachers came on and did different dances. Thank you to Teacher Sao for teaching me how to Thai dance, i hoped i performed okay!

Real New Years Eve was spent in Koh Samui, with Paul and James who were visiting from England. It was great to be with them, and we had plans to go to the Full Moon NYE party on Koh Phangan. The boat was booked for 9pm, so we were rushing around buying alcohol and neon tshirts to get in the party mood! Also that day there was no power or water in our hotel so everything was quite late by the time we got ready. We waited in the hotel lobby for the tour guide to pick us up, and had heard that all the boats were running late because of the rain and nasty weather (it had rained most of the afternoon.)

When i phoned the company (because they were late) we were assured someone was on they way to us. Then half an hour later the guy we booked with came to us himself to say sorry but hes decided not to run the boats across because of the bad weather meaning big waves. He said if we still wanted to go there were other companies who would take our money and get us there, but they weren’t concerned with safety, and last year 2 boats had crashed. We decided it wasn’t meant to be so took a full refund and then headed to Ark Bar on Koh Samui beach for partying.

It was packed! Me and James stuck to drinking Spy (wine) and Paul got a bucket of Samsong (whiskey) and redbull. He threw most of it on the floor throughdrunkeness/not liking the taste of it! The countdown was really good because we were able to see all the fireworks going off all around the beach. As we thought we were going to Koh Phagnan we’d taken with us disposable cameras (safer.) We filled 3 up, but will have to wait a while to get them developed, to see what we actually took photos of on the night.

Paul, me and James

Best wishes for the year ahead guys, may 2013 be eventful as 2012 was!

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

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