Insights, bloops, and blunders.. Aussie in Bangkok

in Daily Life

Wow I'm sitting on my bed in my penthouse (Huh! Top floorhas to be penthouse)apartment connected to the net!Not me, my computer.My little radio is presenting the news in English read by two people with unpronouncible names, slightly American accents and strange pronunciation. I've just had my fill of Mangosteens - sweet and juicyand less than a dollar for a kilo. The little old ladywith the fruit stall beamed and added a couple.

My hotwater shower is now working and the huge airconditioner is pumping out cool air, but unfortunately not enough to smother the drain smells oozing upthrough the bathroom floor. My brain refuses to adjust to the time change. It'sonly three hours but it means I fall asleep at 8pm andwake at 3.30am. Everything at school is as was. My favourite foodstall lady is still there and asked me (in Thai)"Where have you been?".

The food is just as wonderfuland in spite of walking home everyday I'm not one bitslimmer. The streets are just as filthy and broken, stray dogs still lie contented and oblivious to people stepping over and around them, monks still do their thing walking barefoot, and avoiding foreign women like me,to collect food parcels (some of which goes to the dogs). Life is good.

Well, good intentions and all that.

It is absolutely, definitely, positively impossible to get Thai English students to confine their speaking in the classroom to English. In fact it's impossible to control their speaking at all.I tried and failed. I give up.The first day I wrote 'English Only' in big letters on the whiteboard. "What does this say?" "English only,"they said. This was followed by a volley of Thai,explaining, discussing. I tried, I tried and I tried for a week. If at first you don't suceed ... that person never set foot inside a Thai classroom. However I am much stricter than before and that's been good. Toilet? Five minutes! Back late and I mark you absent.

This stops students meeting up with friends,having a little snack and coming back five minutes before the end of class. Phones off, make up away. I heard of another teacher who had such a hard time controlling his 30 students he took all the chairs out of the room except for five which he kept for the serious students. The rest had to stand up. On

Thursday we have Wai Khru Day (Teacher Worship Day)when the students present to teachers, on bended knee and with lots of prayers to Buddha, incredibly ornate and beautiful flower arrangements. A bit of a laugh really but a nice tradition I guess.

She's smug, this friend of yours. She stands on the side of the floating market with her Thai friends pouring scorn upon the plump white camera-laden tourists folded up into long canoes being paddled by grumpy grannies. This way-out-of-town floating market, once a real market for locals to buy or swap fruit and veggies, has become just another tourism opportunity,unfortunately. Fortunately, your friend made it there before the tourist buses (think Kuranda) and had time to buy some chompoo, lychees and mango steens before the venders really got underway. She still attracted the usual'Hello madarm, have look madarm, soup madarm? buy hatmadarm?'. Mai ka - no thanks. Then onto the largest National Park in Thailand forthe night - Kaeng Krachan National Park - inaccessible to anyone who can't read Thai signposts! No tourist buses there just campers and amazing wildlife - blueheaded skinks, hornbills, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, butterflies and bigger than your hand geckos. Life's amazing.