So after 5 weeks, it’s finally happened.
Today I put on my Friday uniform shirt, a.k.a the Ayutthaya top, a.k.a The Embarrassing Dad Shirt, after weeks of either forgetting to buy it or having it being washed at the worst possible time. None of that matters now, as today I finally felt like I fitted in with everything. The teachers all seemed to be very excited for me too, which of course resulted in a photo session, plus I learnt what the exact relevance of the shirt is. Apparently the flowers displayed on the front represent the symbol of Ayutthaya, and whilst Bubpha told me what their Thai name was it has completely slipped my mind.
Not only that but, as if someone read my blog from yesterday, we used a different song for the student’s morning exercises today! However this didn’t really feel like much of a success, as the new track was some weird Thai club music that wasn’t very good, and I began to miss the reggae beats and happy verses that I’ve become used to hearing during every 8am start. I may have to youtube it again, as my day doesn’t feel complete without hearing it…
Today was boiling, the kind of weather that gave me a disappointing reminder that I’m not as used to the heat out here as much as I’d like to think. I was pretty jealous of Chao Qui the stray dog, who had plonked himself in front of a fan in the school hall with the clear intention of not moving from it for the rest of the day, so after trying to follow his lead and stand in front of any fan I could find for as long as possible, I realised that it would probably be more worthwhile to distract myself with the teaching that I was actually here to do.
In Prathom 5 this morning I returned to acting out one of my favourite classroom activities – picking out kids at random who clearly don’t want to answer questions and making them talk. We were still on the subject of food, and as I was walking around the classroom getting the students to say things about hamburgers and pizza I tried to make a game out of it by walking between the desks mysteriously and turning around at the last moment to put someone on the spot. The whole class seemed to find this amusing, so it’s nice to know we share the same ‘laughing at other’s misfortune’ sense of humour.
I’ve begun to realise that the whole of Prathom 3 seem to decide at will whether they actually want to learn anything in a lesson or not just before it starts. Today was a case of the latter, so I felt like giving up on them when half of the class made no effort to respond to the questions I was asking. My last lesson with Prathom 6 made up for it though. Earlier in the week I had promised I would play guitar to them all, so I spent most of the afternoon playing whatever indie song came to my head and watching them dance to it.
After school I sat in the field with a bunch of the students as well, and we played some more ball games that dissolved into a lot of embarrassing dancing from myself. They all danced too though, so I think that makes it fine.
This evening Bubpha took me to another one of her friends’ houses, a teacher called Iritchi who works in an Ayutthaya school with over 4,000 students. Possibly because of this, her living area was very secluded – we arrived in a small road with three huts that had been lifted onto a second storey in a similar way to my Watphachi schoolhouse (except they obviously all looked a lot nicer.) The other two huts are owned by Iritchi’s brothers who both work in the South, which meant that for most of the year she lives by herself. Bubpha made some comments about how secluded that must be, although personally I don’t think I’d mind it.
Iritchi also took me on a bike ride around her local village where I got to see some pretty beautiful landscapes amongst sites of cows and salamanders casually strolling across the road, all whilst on a bike that had brakes so sharp I nearly threw myself off it a couple of times before getting used to them. We had dinner next to the lake outside her house after that, and I got a bit too transfixed with the presentation of the fish that we were eating as the sun went down.
So that’s week 5 done, and I think this one has left me with two impressions. The first is that I really need to get more sleep than I am, as the amount of stuff I’ve ended up doing this week has left me pretty knackered. The second is that I don’t like how quickly these weeks are going by.
Regardless, I’m set to be heading up some mountains this weekend for a bit of camping, which I’m told are home to a lot of monkeys. They certainly know how to sell these trips to me.