Monthly Archives: March 2013

Arrival in Chiang Mai

I arrived in Chiang Mai on a flight with Nok Air from Hat Yai. Check in was easy and the flight went smoothly.

After getting a taxi to my hostel, Chiang Mai backpack house, I asked for a map and was told what was in walking distance. My hostel is just outside the old quarter, which is an area that’s easy to identify as there is a wall running around it, next to the Chiang Mai gate. I walked around and explored the area all afternoon, generally finding lots of temples! In the fist temple a Thai woman invited me over, and we ended up having a long conversation, where she translated so the Monk next to her could join in. She told me how they were preparing for Thai new year and how Chiang Mai will be a great place to experience the festival. I also went to the TIT office, Tourism in Thailand, and booked a trip for the next day.

As evening approached I made my way to the Sunday Market in the heart of the old town. It’s the biggest most interesting market I’ve been to in a long time, I was really impressed. It sold everything from food, to gifts, to clothes, art, everything! I munched my way around, sampling lots of street food, but eventually after 3 hours got tired of walking, and went back to the hostel after seeing about 3/4 of the market. Good news is I’m here for another 2 sundays so I have time to see the rest yet!

At a DSCN7183 DSCN7192 DSCN7199 DSCN7218 DSCN7220

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Weddings and train journeys

On Thursday night I was invited to the wedding reception of Amp and Dalton in Hat Yai. They are the owners/bosses of Visions, the agency who I am employed through. It was held in a huge ballroom in Lee Garden Plaza, and it was beautiful!! They had planned so well for it, with big blown up photos of the couple together, taken on a professional photo shoot around the south of Thailand. I was intrigued how the reception would go and if it would be typically Thai or a mixture of cultures, as Amp is Thai and Dalton is from Zimbabwe, and there were also lots of English teachers attending. The answer is it was a hybird of all cultures. We arrived at 6pm and were showed to a table in the corner next to the stage, which would later become farang corner, where all the teachers were placed. It was really nice to meet other teachers, and I now have some new friends in Hat Yai, as well as catch up with people I previously knew. The evening started with a big bottle of whiskey and mixers on the round tables, and everyone got stuck in. Then alot of food followed, i think there was a total of 8 courses?! The food was so good, and even though it was Thai style it was nice not to have rice and to try lots of things, and it wasn’t spicy either! First were cocktail sausages in a chinese sauce, then a fish soup, then prawn balls, then mushrooms and fish, then chicken and cashew nuts, then a whole fish, then noodles. And for dessert was rice in coconut sauce. It was yummy and I’m not really doing it justice by saying what it was! As the first courses came out, Dalton and Amp arrived but were outside for a long time posing for photos. She wore a western styled dress that was stunning, and had about 10 bidesmaids (thai women) in a variety of dresses that were all dark blue in colour. I hardly took any photos of the night because everybody had their cameras out constantly but i did get one of the happy couple as they arrived.

 

Amps Mum and various family members provided a running commentary, in Thai and English, as well as singing in Thai as the evening progressed. When Amp and Dalton had finished posing, they were welcomed onto the stage with both families and all the traditional wedding stuff took place. They cut the cake (5 tiers!) and crossed arms to drink champagne, though they didn’t do a first dance. They did prepare a really cute video, in Thai and English, with them telling us how they met and why they love each other, and it was created to be all animated and was really clever and sweet!

Dalton and Amp wedding wedding cake

At 9pm the Thai guests started to leave, and only at this point could Amp and Dalton sit down and enjoy dinner, and relax a while. As the stage was free, the teachers took over, doing Karaoke and dancing, as by that time 2 bottles of whisky had been consumed and kicked in!

By 10pm the hotel staff were trying to clear up around us so it was time to go. As everyone was very merry we decided to head on to The Pubb, a bar around the corner but on the way thought we would provide everyone with entertainment. As we left the hotel the security guard got the shock of his life as we all burst out into song of Grease to him, his face was priceless. There was about 10 of us and we continued to sing outside the hotel on the steps leading down to the main street in Hat Yai, and everybody stopped what they were doing and stared. It was a real glee moment, somebody should have filmed us. At the time it was so much fun but I feel a bit foolish explaining it to you now. It was a really good night! In the tuk tuk on the way back to Nadias house at about 2am I also saw an elephant cross the road too (only in Thailand.)

 

The following day we decided to have another new experience and took the train from Hat Yai back to Khaochaison. Usually we take a mini van because its reliable and has air con. That costs 80baht for 2 hour journey, so £1.60. The train costs 14baht, a whole 30p, also for a 2 hour journey. The train is pretty simple and old, it has wooden benches to sit on, and fans on the ceiling that probably stopped working 10 years ago. When its moving its a bearable heat though as there are big windows for the wind to come through. However for some reason the train was stationary at Hat Yai for over an hour! No reason at all was given, in Thai or English, it just stayed still for a very long time while I actually melted, it was so hot. Also a wierd man decided to stand right next to me. I think he was hoping i would move my bag so he could sit next to me (very squishedly as the seats are quite small) but I wasn’t going to move my stuff when there were plenty of empty seats in the carriage. So he continued to stand up right next to me and stare, and stare and stare. He stayed there for the whole hour we werent moving and then about an hour into the journey he finally got off the train. It was really uncomfortable and at first I tried to smile back thinking he would move on, but no. So I gave up and looked out of the window and ignored him. Two older men were sat nearby looked like they felt sorry for me and kept smiling but the man did not move. I was not impressed as he was standing so close to me he was blocking the fresh air and he smelt bad too, wearing a jumper and a coat in the heat, and the way he was looking me up and down, not even subtle, was freaking me out. I was happy when he left the train. Apart from the wait and the stares it was quite pleasant, it was nice to see a more rural side of the area, and the view were pretty good too!

two old men happy on the train Train journey

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Six months

So for half a year now I’ve been living in Thailand! Eek 🙂

I celebrated yesterday by going out to a Sports evening with all the teachers in my school and workers in the Tesaban (Council) Offices. We left at 4pm and arrived by 5pm at Phattalung, where all the nearby district offices had spent the day and weeks before competing in Volleyball, Football and most importantly tug of war. Tug of war was the most important for Tesaban Khaochaison because we won! Every team paraded around the sports field and track, which took over an hour because some teams had live bands and dancing (some of the dancers were ladyboys, some students.) Then the Mayor of each town was invited to pose for photos with all the teams and introduced. With the opening ceremony finished, it was the final football match, to see who would be the winner. During half time there was a tug of war again, and the women from Khaochaison came first! (Well done girls!) The guys from Khaochaison came second.  Everyone was really excited we won so we all went running on the field to congratulate the team.

 

This week at school is my second to last! Though I’m not actually teaching, as its exam week for all the students. Yesterday I watched films in the office and re-tested a few students during lunch break that failed their English exam. I’ve been told to retest them, and if they fail, I will have to retest them again. And again. And again. Until they miraculously understand and pass! That’s right, in Thailand you can’t fail a student, and they are allowed as many attempts as possible to pass. Needless to say everyone “passed” yesterday. I was pretty much told to let them pass even if they’re not very good, to save me having to keep testing them. So I lowered my expectations and they earned good grades. Even the ones that can’t tell me their names without a lot of prompting and asking in Thai! It’s ridiculous but that’s how it works here.

It is the students’ last week in school too, so I’ve been receiving lots of hugs, and now can’t walk anywhere without at least 5 children trying to hold on my 2 hands. They manage it somehow. Next week I am still in school but just “marking” exams. My exams are speaking so I decide there and then the grades but hey, I’m getting paid so have to be in school, even if it is just to sit in the office and watch movies.

 

Two weeks ago I escaped the small town with Lee and went to Hat Yai to party! We went straight after school on Friday evening, had a western meal out, then got ready. We found ourselves in a really nice bar called The Pubb, where Thai people were singing live English songs. The women were amazing, singing covers of Adele. We drank alot and towards the end were dancing and singing too, but no one else in the place was that animated so the singers were singing mainly at us. When Gangnam came on, the male singer pulled me up on stage to dance. Slightly embarrassing as Lee chose that moment to go to the Bathroom so I was on my own, and drunk, so I knocked the pole over with the music on. Whoops. Thanks to teaching I’m not a stranger to being on stage in front of lots of people and dancing! When there was a chance I ran back to my seat though. Since we had drunk alot we decided to have a break from ordering more drinks, but the waitress kept coming over with new ones, and we realised someone was buying them for us. It was two malaysian guys who spoke English and no Thai, who thought we looked crazy and they joined us at the next club, Bix where we danced and drank some more! The night was really good and ended up in McDonalds at 4am in the morning trying to soak up the alcohol.

Lee, myself and Ishak

The next day after a fry up we went shopping round town, and I purchased a big travelling back pack for my adventure to Chiang Mai. Also managed to catch up with Kylie, who I did my training with, and her boyfriend Tom, who moved over here recently to also be a TEFL teacher. Spoke to them for ages, and was great to see them. They are staying next term so hope to see more of them! Late Saturday we got a mini van back to Khaochaison.

My visa runs out next week so I also had to go extend it this week. This meant another 2 hour journey to Satun immigration office, where it clearly states in English that the whole process takes only 15 minutes, all over the walls. I was there for 2 hours. This is because not only did I have to get a new visa, but I needed a re-entry permit too, so that I can leave for the UK and come back and still work. Also because I’m leaving soon, I had to get another piece of paper stating to the Government that I will actually be gone before 90 days. After all this was finally completed they gave me back my passport with all the relevant stamps, and I asked them where is my work permit. Cue lots of talking in Thai and nobody telling me what is going on. Eventually I asked them to speak in English and tell me whats happening, I guess they had lost it. Not only did they lose it, but they had given it to a previous customer, a filipino lady by accident. The organisation in these places needs to improve. They apologised and after ringing my agency, came to an arrangement that meant I would receive my work permit back eventually. It arrived yesterday in the post.

 

At the start of the month my school hosted its Open Exhibition day, where students had the day off lessons and a huge marquee was set up with different subjects and activities. It was a really fun day and I think everyone enjoyed it. During the morning students went to each subject and took part in the activities. I found myself making bookmarks and throwing darts at balloons as well as painting statues (of an elephant, obviously!) In the afternoon there was a competition for best dances, and best “sing a song” (Karaoke) I videoed the best performances but wordpress won’t let me upload the file unless I pay so you’ll have to look it up on facebook!

Some Pratom 4 students Kow Hon, nursery student Pratom 5/2 with Thai Puppets! Checkers played with bottle caps Tapteem posing! Exhibition day!

 

I also made another video for my Mums 50th Birthday. It was hard being here this week knowing everything was going on at home. It was Mothers day, Mums birthday and her party. I just wanted to be there, I’m ready to go back now. Luckily just over 4 weeks and I will be there. I’m definitely counting down the days! My Year 5/2 class helped me for the birthday message and they were great, and were excited to know the video was being sent to England.

Pratom 5/2 Happy Bday

 

I’m currently at school writing this and I think the other teachers know I’m just going to be watching movies today, they just bought me a bag of popcorn! Ha, even though I miss home, I still love Thailand.

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

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