So its been a quiet month over here in Thailand. Had I been able to convince anyone to join me at the Skrillex show in Bangkok,perhaps this would be a jucier post. But apparently, after age 22 you cant play hooky to go see concerts anymore. Lindsey Pearson, where you at?! *sigh*
But I’ve been keeping myself busy in ways other than raving. Mainly, teaching. A new school term started, and I started teaching 16-18 year olds full time at a government school in the area. My old schedule last term had me at 3 different schools throughout the week, and then doing private tutoring, so I’ve been enjoying having a consistent schedule. And an air conditioned office. With this collection of coworkers.
The term “consistency” is not exactly pertinent, however, since schools here are anything but. Some days the students walk in 30 minutes late to class, and other days classes are cancelled entirely so that students can roam food stalls that randomly appear in the parking lot. Ambiguously defined holidays, impromptu sports events, and random religious ceremonies keep the week from having any sense of order. One day I showed up to find an empty office and a post-it note on my desk with the name of a different school and a room number. After arriving at this mystery destination, I discovered we were judging a kid’s speech and spelling competition for the day. We also got paid 200 baht overtime, which wasn’t nearly enough for having to judge a crying 8 year old trying to give an impromptu 5 minute schpeel on “The Environment.” In English.
Despite this disorganization, I am consistently laughing and learning every day. The schools and kids are just different…but also so the same (same same but different, as they say in Thai). Students bow when teachers walk past, rise and say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ at the beginning and end of each class, remove their shoes before entering rooms…and do things like steal my microphone to sing songs while I pass out paper and kindly tell me when I have blue white-board marker all over my face. There are about 50 kids in each class and at least once every class period I find myself laughing with them (or laughing with them as they laugh at me…as was the case when I had the above-mentioned marker all over me). There are cultural differences, but the students are as same as any back in America; they can be loud, smelly, frustrating and still think they are sneaky on their cell phones. Even though I am the one being called Teacher (Teacha K to be exact), I am still humbled and taught something new every day….how to hide my favoritism for this student, for starters:
As one could assume from the looks of it, the fun I’ve been having has doubled since this kid came to town.
The first part of the month, I moved in to a new apartment closer to my new school. Peaks of this move include a significantly cheaper apartment, view of the Kungsri River, close proximity to school and a sushi (!) restaurant, and a landylady who tries to take shockingly aggressive peeks in to my room when I exit each morning. If she didn’t look exactly like Dora the Explora and wasn’t so darn cute, we’d have some serious problems.
The past few weeks I’ve been busy exploring my new area and making a Thai native play tour guide.
Also this month, I took a trip to Lopburi with my friends Meg and Andrew where we were just seemingly one of the few civilians in a city over run with monkeys. The monkeys literally are everywhere. Shop keepers have long tools on hand to prevent them from stealing, window have special locks to keep them out of the rooms, and they run in traffic stopping masses. It was an interesting weekend hanging out with the monkeys and some other dining companions…… but in the spirit of thanksgiving…. I’ve never been more thankful for hand sanitizer and vaccinations.
Being so close to Ayutthaya, Bangkok has been a steady source of entertainment this month. The success of our excursions depends greatly on the weather, the smells, the food, and the hangover, and this month it seems there was an excess of all 4 of these things.
Examples of our adventures include thinking a ‘rave’ in the city sounded like a fun idea (after taking a Thai guy out for Mexican food and margaritas, nonetheless). We showed up to the venue which was essentially an abandoned warehouse in the parking lot of a big street market and for the next few hours we found ourselves teetering around on a scary rooftop, sandwiched between Thai glamazons, tourists noodling all over the dance floor, and an embarrassing amount of people taking selfies. They knew no shame. True people watching paradise.
Another weekend, all excited to be in a nice area and in a new hotel, we took the ‘concierges’ advice on where to get dinner and drinks. We stopped at a restaurant on what appeared to be a popular side street. There was a weird vibe in the air but it took us ½ of our drinks before Meg and I realized why…we were the only 2 girls on the entire street. We were in the middle of a gay district filled with blacked-out windowless bars, special massage parlors, and rainbow themed pubs. Feeling out of place for numerous reasons, we went to the next street over. What started out as a small market street again thinned to a street with a vibe as creepy and as loud as the gross, old white men tourists. We were in a labyrinth of not-so-child-friendly “toy stores,” ping-pong shows, smoky and special karaoke bars, and disturbing storefronts that opened up off the street to face nothing but elevator doors. We tried to play it cool as if we were yes, indeed, on the hunt for an underage Asian or an extra special massage, but the experience was just bizarre and slightly scary. It wasn’t until we were back at our hotel with a nice 7-11 dinner of potato chips that we were able to laugh about it. We had a *happy ending*, after all.
Meg’s birthday was celebrated in a fancy suite after she was upgraded when they
regretfully couldn’t provide the specific bed size she had requested. To sit on an ACTUAL SOFA across from an ACTUAL TV and shower in an ACTUAL SHOWER is an overlooked luxury that I said many thanks for yesterday, today, and every day. We also ate sushi, finagled a free breakfast buffet and walked away from Asia’s largest market with 0 purchases made. ‘Twas a weekend of mini-miracles. HBD Meg! ^___^
This past week was World Peace Week, so many events were going on around town that let me pretend be a hippy. One night, Meg, Colleen and I participated in a meditation service lead by a monk outdoors at a local temple. Writing that sounds a lot more fun than it was in reality. We walked away with sore muscles, bug bites, and a much deeper understanding of how little patience we have. There was also this light ceremony, which was beautiful and required no pretzel sitting:
Since this was a long and dull post, here is a collection of cute pictures to reward whoever actually finished it (can you tell I’m used to bribing my students with candy?).
^ lipstick on a pig ^