Teaching English in Thailand: Day 6, My first day

Day 6: Monday 29th June 

My new school dress from the market 

Today I woke up with a lovely puffy eye from a mosquito bite on my eyelid, just in time for my first day at school! Perfecto. Waking up at 6:50 was a struggle, but a lovely traditional Thai breakfast (just kidding) of frankfurter and chopped apple soon got me going! Mm-hmm, deeeee-lish!

On the way to school, Kanang and I picked up Roweena, who is a Pilipino teacher at the school. She speaks amazing English and looks 20 years old, not 30! I tell you, there must be something special in the Asian diet which works wonders for ageing!!  Roweena is so friendly and instantly we were chatting away to each other in the car. She cannot speak Thai so it is perfect for me that she only speaks in English with the Thai teachers and students!

Feeling spesh
When we pulled into the school grounds in the car, the children were all looking at us as we drove past. It felt quite strange, and Kanang had already told me that the children couldn’t wait to see me and they had all been talking about me.  Next thing I knew, I was stood in front of all 500 of them, attempting to give an introductory speech. I pretty much just introduced myself and said about England being cold and rainy and Thailand is crazily hot! They all laughed. One point to teacher Olivia!

I was introduced to all of the English teachers and also the director of the school who was extremely friendly. While the whole school watched the selected children raising the flag, the director made small talk with me in English which was nice, seeing as he is seen as such an important figure at the school! 

My office / My view of the library

My “office” is in the library, where I sit along with Kanang and Roweena. They gave me my own desk, which makes me feel oh so important! My first lesson was in second period in the library, which was convenient! It was Kanang’s lesson, with a student teacher from Khon Kaen called Bum (lol) and then also me! It was after about a minute that the lesson was pretty much handed over to me. I didn’t mind because I was just reading text from the (really rubbish) textbook, which the children then read back to me, as instructed to do by the student teacher. Kanang was back at her desk at this point; it’s a hard life being a teacher in Thailand! The children were about 13 years old and were quite shy to begin with. As soon as I looked at any of them they would giggle and shy away with their friends. I broke the ice by shaking the odd student’s hand during our introductions every now and then, which cracked them all up! By the end of the lesson they were all crowding around me with their books for me to mark and sign. I think they enjoyed the lesson!

My second lesson was straight after this one. The children were older than earlier, but their level of English was almost worse. It was quite hard to get through to them and to give simple instructions. Again, I was left to take the class with a bit of help from Bum, (I think the main teacher of this class, Tan, was off sunning himself or something.) The children were less excited by my presence than the class before, but more excited than my final class of the day, who were not shying away but showing off and they didn't want to speak in front of the class whilst they told me their names and nick names. All of the children were sitting on the floor as there were no tables and chairs in this room, and one boy was moving away from me as I made my way around the children in the nice big room. I called him up to the front, shook his hand (hilarious) and handed him a microphone. That’s when he wished he sat still! He was begging not to use the mic, but I insisted. So he introduced himself to me, the class, and many others on school grounds who could hear his sheepish whisper into the loud mic.

"Do you understand?"
A huge problem for me, was that the children couldn’t understand my question of “do you understand?” Surely they know what that means?! I asked Bum to ask them in Thai, so she said in English, “understand?” and got a response!! Why do I only receive a giggle or a blank stare? Frustrating.

For the rest of the day I had free periods which was pretty boring to be honest. I sat in on some lessons to avoid being a landing place for mozzies at my desk, which only distracted the children more than they already were. Having a white girl sitting next to you when you’re a Thai 14 year old boy is quite funny apparently! I had a group of girls shyly come up to me and ask for a selfie after their lesson; I felt like a celeb! A very sweaty celeb, with a mosquito bite on her eyelid: beautiful.
My favourite: young coconut and The Alchemist

After school, Kanang and I popped into Tesco Lotus, grabbed some ingredients for dinner (Thai red curry, mmm) and some BEER! I jokingly asked Kanang if we should get drunk and she giggled like a little girl- she’s so funny. We made a beautiful red curry, and also a side of sweet and sour. The food was amazing, with real authentic flavours and ingredients, without the MSG and whatever crap they put in this kind of food in England. I will never look at sweet and sour chicken in the same way again!
Thai mama cooking the Thai Thai
Tomorrow I don’t have to go to school because the children have an all day sex education and drugs lesson. As much as would love to participate, I feel like It will be an extremely boring day full of Thai language, SO, I’m staying at home to catch some Thai sun (and to catch up on English TV, of course!)

P.s, below is a picture of the infamous Durian Fruit, or 'King of Fruits'. It smells like literal crap, but tastes good. Kanang was trying to tell me that its texture is like a natural cream, but could not say 'cream' so we had a pronunciation lesson whereby we repeated the word 'cream' so many times it started to sound very wrong. CREAM!

Sawasdee ka!


Teaching English in Thailand: Day 5, Lily Pads and Pad Thai

Day 5: Sunday 28th June


I had a lovely little lay in which I so desperately needed, but I felt bad for abandoning Kanang for the whole morning. I'm glad I didn't rush to get up though, because we just chilled in the house until about 4pm which was nice. We decided to go out and visit some markets: the first sold mostly clothes and bags (I bought two) and the second was mostly food, with some clothes and bits and bobs. 
Pad Thai and a side of duck

Kanang and I had Pad Thai, which is fast becoming my favourite food out here. Pad Thai is a pretty safe dish as you know you won't get any nasty surprises/crazy spice/ meat bones! We also had some ice cold fresh coconut water which was scrummy. I've not had fresh coconut water since I went to Malaysia so I was very happy! We walked around the market after dinner to look at the beautiful area and do MORE shopping. There is a beautiful koi carp pond which you can walk around and over on the pretty bridge, whilst admiring the lilly pads and sparkly lights in the green backdrop. Kanang and I stopped to look at pretty much every clothes stall, because you know, we're women and we like that. Winky wink.
I wonder how many of these I will end up with...

I bought a dress for 150Tb (about £3) which is perfect for school, and a cute little necklace. I think Kanang is pretty intent on finding me some good school clothes because she happened to catch a glimpse of the hilarious  skirts that I brought from home from a car boot sale! Maybe I should just wear my new dress, every. single. day. Its perfect, after all!

After we got home I went to bed, knowing that I would struggle to wake up at 6.30 for school the next day! To nobody's surprise I struggled to sleep all night so was pretty darn tired in the morning, with the puffiest eyes known to woman. 

Just to let you know, I've decided to write this blog every day at school during my free periods about the events of the day before, because at least then I can include every crazy detail about my crazy Thai life without missing the cRaZy anecdotes about me sweating too much in bed.


Teaching English in Thailand: Day 4, Meeting Kanang

Day 4: Saturday 27th June

Being the diva that she is, my mentor demanded that the school allow us to fly up to Khon Kaen from Bangkok rather than get a gruelling 8 hour bus ride in the heat. This mean that we could leave at a leisurely time and- oh, wait, we still left at 9:30. Cheers then! These early mornings are killing me!
We ended up being about 2 hours too early so tired old me had to wait in the airport and sit nicely like a good girl rather than splay myself out on the floor for a snooze. After a short flight of 45 minutes, my host Kanang met me at the airport. It was like that scene in Love Actually where they all dive into each other’s arms for a loving embrace…. Not really. But she did shake my hand!

A ten-minute drive in the scorching heat took us to Kanang’s cute little house- just like her! I have my own room with a desk and a wardrobe (and a bed, of course) and even air con! I liked this lady straight away! I also have my own bathroom and we have a nice big kitchen and living room.

Not long after I arrived, Kanang ("call me "Nang" ) took me to the mahoosive shopping centre in Khon Kaen where we wandered round every single shoe shop in the place (Kanang likes shoes, even more than me) and also ate an incredible meal in ‘MK’. You choose your ingredients off the menu and then you cook it yourself on the little in-built hob! It was so cool and the best thing was that it was pretty healthy, with lots of vegetables and protein. We also had a side order of duck that rocked my world! Free refillable Chinese tea was the cherry.

After doing a little food shop where we found some interesting things, such as Durian fruit (smells like crap, YUM) and these little fruits which I have been searching frantically for since I ate one in Malaysia in 2013(!) we headed home. I was bloody knackered so called it a night at about 9pm (I know, lightweight!) and began a night of freezing my ass of in the air con vs sweating like a beach without it. The joys!

Rest day tomorrow, yay!


Teaching English in Thailand: Day 3, Breaking Ice

Day 3: Friday 26th June

After a very hot and slightly sleepless night, the dreaded alarm went off at the crack of dawn (7:30), signalling the start of a long and tiring day.

We all met in the huge ballroom after a croissant-filled breakfast and found our seats next to our mentors. My mentor, Thanomsri was very happy to see me and it was lovely to be met with such a big smile! She is the head of English at the school I have been placed in, but not the lady who I am staying with for the duration of my placement; I will meet her tomorrow!

We listened to the Thai minister of education and ambassadors of various places speak, as well as a man from the British Embassy who warned us about the dangers of getting too drunk, drugged up and banged up in Thailand alongside some funny photos of the aforementioned situations.

The day continued like this, broken up by some very welcome coffee breaks, and in my case, a half an hour nap. We then took part in an ice-breaking workshop, which involved each ETA and their mentor getting to know one another through games and other activities. My mentor and I managed to communicate very well because she has a high level of English, thank goodness!

We all had dinner together that night, and most ETAs sat with their mentors. Some speakers and also some brilliant singing accompanied the evening from a group of boys from the local school, even if the (English) lyrics sometimes came out as a mumble or mix of random sounds. I had a good laugh about it with my fellow ETA across the table, anyhow.

Once we were free, many ETAs including myself went out, either into town or just down the road to the bar. I opted for the latter, after the previous day’s taxi shenanigans! The bar ‘Rim Bit’ was on the river and was such a lovely place! We sat out on the decking area in the lovely warmth of the Thai evening and enjoyed the live bands and Singha Beer, accompanied by some nice chit chat with one another.

It will be sad to say goodbye to everybody tomorrow as we all depart to our various placements. I am lucky enough to be placed in the city of Khon Kaen, in which a few other ETAs are placed so we can meet up still J

Now i'm going to sleep a little bit nervous, a bit scared, a bit excited and very hot!


Teaching English in Thailand: Day 2, Crazy Taxis in BKK

Day 2: Thursday 25th June 2015

"Sawasdee ka" Thailand!

Blimey, that was a long flight! After I had signed off from my last post a few of us ‘Tetters” re-grouped at the back of the plane, mostly by chance! I guess we were drawn to the smell of vodka and (surprisingly nice-smelling) toilets! We even bagged ourselves a few KitKats and other tasty treats from the little kitchen area; score!! We wasted about an hour or so chilling there, having a few drinks, getting in the way of the air stewardesses and anybody needing the loo. After this I managed to squeeze in about an hour’s sleep, which I was less than impressed about, seeing as we had a whole day of exploring Bangkok ahead of us!

Once we were safely off of the plane and into the furnace of cloudy, humid Bangkok, we were picked up by some lovely British Council people who drove us to The Royal River Hotel, which we would be staying at for two nights whilst we completed orientation and registration onto the programme.

We were all so hot and bothered by the time we got to the hotel (we thought the journey would take 15 minutes but took about an hour!) that we chilled for a bit before heading out to explore. The same group of us who met at the airport reconvened and went in search of some tasty street food. This led us to splitting into two groups and heading into a busier area called Siam Square in two different taxis. As expected, we lost the other group and ended up spending the whole day as a four. Our driver insisted he was following them the whole way, thinking we were stupid enough to believe him.

We thought that was bad… Our taxi home was even worse! After two or three taxis declining our request to go back to the hotel which was a fair while away, we managed to get into one and show the driver a map and address to try and get him to understand where it was. We agreed a price of 200TB (rookie error, always get a cab with a meter) and halfway through the journey we realised he was going in the complete opposite direction! That was when he started playing up; demanding more money off us, and saying he would leave us in the middle of the traffic, so we just said we would get out of the cab if he was unhappy with it.

That’s when he locked the doors.

He locked all the doors!! We didn’t want to complain because clearly, he was in a strange mood, but at the same time we didn’t want to carry on going further away from our destination. He was playing with us. After about an hour of nervously waiting in traffic that he purposely put us in, we decided to pay him the full fare of 200TB and he finally let us out, even though we were further away at this point than we were at the start. When he unlocked those car doors, I think we all felt such a wave of relief that we would live another day!
Bangkok traffic is crazy!

We managed to hail another cab with a cute older driver who didn’t look up for any hassle. He got us home perfectly, and some of us even had a little snooze! Once back at the hotel, there was only one plan: dinner, shower, bed. All before 9pm, too!

I've got to be up bright and early to meet my mentor tomorrow for a long day of orientation and ice breakers so I can't wait to have a nice snooze with my rock solid hotel pillow...

I wish those “Tetters” luck who went out for drinks tonight; rather you than me!