Teaching

There Is No Ending

I started my last day at Watphachi School with the same exhausted, nonchalant feeling that I have had for this entire week so far. I ended it not wanting to leave.

Once again I didn’t have any proper lessons – Bubpha went to yet another school in the morning so I was left to my own devices with Prathom 1, which ended with me playing guitar whilst they all threw a ball around. After that the day was pretty much spent waiting for my leaving ceremony that was to take place in the afternoon. When it finally came time for that to happen I was directed into the school hall with all of the students following behind me, who then sat in rows representing their respective ages and classes.

Last week when Fern had asked me what my favourite type of flower was, I assumed it was because she had wanted to buy of bunch of them for me herself. When they entered nearly all of the students were holding a single red rose in their hands, and it became clear that she had been asking on behalf of the whole school.

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Before I got to find out what the relevance of this was, however, I was approached by Kru-Gel, one of the Thai language teachers, who handed me my parting gift from her; a wooden boat model. Add that to the list of things that will be near-impossible to pack.

She followed this by singing me and the rest of the room a traditional Thai song, which Bubpha joined in with on backing.

krugelsing

piratepatrick - EditedAfter that I was sat at the front of the room whilst each class came up to me in groups for photos and to give me their flowers and cards. As the groups that came up got older their cards became better in design, and there were plenty of creative drawings of me with interesting attempts at spelling my name. Apparently there are at least two children who think that I look like a mashup of a pirate and a character from Dragonball Z, whilst another child simply referred to me as ‘Ben’ on their card. Whoever it was, I probably should have focused more on teaching them phonetic spelling.

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This was all very touching but as the amount of students coming up to say goodbye increased, I struggled to hold everything that I was being given. By the end of the ceremony I was covered in various soft toys and grasping onto what felt like a whole bed of roses.

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phonephoto - EditedThe room cleared out after all of the groups had said their farewells and all their photos had been taken, and as they walked out waving at me I solemnly realised that this was probably going to be the last time that I would see all of them. Nai, Fern and several other members of Prathom 5 and 6 remained however and we took some more photos and generally messed around for a while. These being the students that I have got to know the most over the last nine weeks, it felt fitting to spend my last afternoon in Phachi with them.

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We went out to play football and I actually managed to score two legitimately good goals that didn’t require the students purposefully running out of my way whenever I kicked the ball on target. Afterwards we sat in the shade and talked for a while about what music, food and films we all liked, plus the kids got me to ride on their bicycles around the school, despite the fact that I was far too big for them. They didn’t break however, so I can chalk that up as another success from the afternoon.

And, well, I guess that’s it. Everyone went home at half 5, Bubpha and I had steak in the evening after which I had a drink with Pekeng before heading back to the schoolhouse. Surrounded by half-packed bags as I currently am it’s striking me that this will be the last time that I experience the everyday life that I have become used to around here, and it’s likely that I will never be in a situation like this again.

More than that, it’s the last time that I will see many of the people who i have got to know; the teachers, the students, Bubpha’s family, and even the familiar sights of Phachi’s market and the train track we have to cross to get to it nearly every day. Tomorrow I will be heading back to the Ambassador in Bangkok, where this all began back at the end of June, and everything will all just be a memory. I think it’s only through writing this that it has hit me how much I will miss everything.

***

Which brings me to my final point.

For those of you who don’t know, as part of the TET programme every year the British Council run a blog competition open to all applicants, the two winners of which will be announced tomorrow during our farewell dinner at The Ambassador. Since from what I can gather from past years the winners are told beforehand so that they can prepare a speech, and since I have heard nothing, it’s likely that I haven’t won.

Whilst this was why I started writing the blog in the first place, the motivation I have tried to focus on throughout it is to create something that I can look back on in a few years time and be proud of. I guess only time will tell if I succeed in that, but for the most part this has been something that I have loved doing and has made my time here feel a lot more rewarding, not to mention that I’ve had some really nice feedback from people who have been reading.

I plan to document my travelling in the South in the same way as everything else but since more recently I feel like I’ve overwhelmed myself by trying to write something every day I will probably wait until I am back in England to do it, so this post marks what will probably be the last thing I will write for the blog whilst living in Thailand. Therefore I would like to say a massive thankyou to anyone who has taken the time to read what I have been writing, whether it was one post or everything since June, and anyone who has ever said a kind thing to me about what I have been doing with the blog.

Finally, if you’re reading this as a potential future ETA thinking of taking part in the project, the only bit of advice I can give you is DO IT. Whilst you will inevitably encounter ups and downs in Thailand it will no doubt provide with an amazing experience that you will never forget, and you will be able to see the country in a way that millions of other travellers have not.

If you’re lucky enough to be placed in Watphachi School (assuming they take part in the future), you can expect to be around some of the greatest people on the planet who will treat you just as much as family as your own household do. Bubpha is the best mentor that you could have out here, and there are so many other kind, inviting people who will make you feel like you’re at home. My thanks go out to all of them.

Anyway, I’m going to stop rambling now. Once again, thanks for reading, and stayed tuned for more.

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PS

 

Open Houses

A lesson with Prathom 5 this afternoon meant playing yet another barely comprehensible game with them on the field.

However, this time I think that I may have been able to understand it. Let’s see how far I can get with an explanation.

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The game is called ‘What Is He’ and involves one student being blindfolded and standing in the middle of a circle. The students making up that circle then rotate around whilst singing a song from their workbooks.

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As can be seen in the lyrics, the song eventually decides that the ‘he’ in the title is a fisherman and the student in the middle is asked if he will eat a live fish or a dead fish. I have no idea where this fisherman assumption comes from, but trust me, just go with it.

From what I can gather, if the student says they’ll eat a live fish, they then have to walk to someone in the circle, blindfold still attached, and work out who they are by touching their face. If they get it correct, that person is then blindfolded and sent into the middle.

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If they say that they will eat a dead fish, the circle students runs at the blindfolded kid in the middle and try to grab them, whilst blindfolded kid has to try to grab someone who is running at them. I think.

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Ok, so maybe I haven’t got this one as nailed down as I first thought, but considering I spend most of my time during these games trying to work out what is going on I’d say it’s an improvement. They’re fast becoming the best parts of my teaching week though, mainly because they’re entertaining to watch, and the one pattern I have noticed is that all of these games seem to end with the kids running around and tripping over each other. I wonder if that’s intentional.

***

Watphachi School have a policy in force at the moment that requires each teacher to visit a certain number of student houses and interview their parents. This evening marked Bubpha’s turn to undertake interviews, so I went with her as she visited some of the homes of students, ranging from Prathoms 1 to 3. All of the houses we visited were down the same street as the school so we didn’t have to walk very far, and as well as having too many drinks handed at me during pretty much every house visit we made, I got to see some notable contrasts in the backgrounds of some of the schoolchildren.

The questions Bubpha asked the parents were fairly standard; mostly they were about how their children travelled to school, and how much English work they did at home. As she was sitting down with the first three houses we visited I noticed how clean and spacious their front rooms were, mostly containing modern furniture pointing towards widescreen TVs and large Buddhist shrines on display to the room’s side.

interviewhouse - Edited

Eventually we made our way round the corner from the school and into the Phachi temple grounds, where we visited several houses that I hadn’t even noticed during the other occasions I’d visited the temple. These homes definitely weren’t examples of extreme poverty – they had roughly the same facilities that I have in my schoolhouse – but they were a notable contrast to where we’d just visited only slightly up the road. The metal sheet roofs and slightly run-down look suggested that these were more shacks than they were houses – Bubpha told me that they were owned by the temple and that the residents paid 100 baht a month as rent – and the one room I saw in each house consisted of only a double bed which took up most of the area.

I guess interviewing parents with completely different home backgrounds, as we did today, may provide some interesting differences in their answers about the school and their children, which was probably the intention with these home visits. Regardless, it was an insightful, if a little jarring, look into the divides of wealth that exist within the families that send their kids to Watphachi School everyday.

woodenshack

We were caught in the beginning of a thunderstorm as we walked back to school and ended up sheltering in one of the hallways for a while. Chao Qui the stray dog joined us, as it turns out that he’s actually a complete pansy and is scared of thunder, so I watched as he tried to hide under chairs rather than lay out in the open and sniff around me until I gave him attention.

He seems to like me a lot now, and since I’ve got into a habit of fussing him when I’m lounging around outside he’s started following me everywhere. Infact, as I write this I can see him from the gap in my door, as he’s sleeping on the top step of the schoolhouse. At least I know he has my back.

He is terrible as posing for photos though.

Posing for photos is apparently too much effort for him though.

PS

Driving Into Rainclouds

betterprathom1group - EditedThe day started with another good Prathom 1 lesson, which was probably due to playing a writing game that actually matched the stupid levels of energy that they all have. They did all swarm around me again, but since I got my camera out that was more my own fault, and the result was a series of photos of them all clinging to me and waving. I guess I’m warming to them a bit more, but still, less handshakes would be nice.

The strange game I played with Prathom 5 yesterday was transferred to the field this afternoon, as the amount of running and tripping it involved made Bubpha worried that someone would smack their head if they played it on hard ground. This turned out to be a very good call, as most of the time was spent with the kids dancing, jumping, running and tripping each other up, with eventual winners being the students that didn’t end up falling over. It’s all fun to watch, but I would still appreciate someone sitting me down and explaining thoroughly what the rules are, because I’m still confused.

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***

fishcloseup - EditedThis evening we made our second attempt of the week of travelling to Itiya’s school in Ayutthaya, after Pilot the headmaster’s spontaneous staff meeting on Monday stopped us from going the first time. It didn’t really go much better today, to be honest. Bubpha initially wanted to leave at half 2 after all of our lessons were done but she was roped in to helping set up the displays for tomorrow’s Mother’s Day ceremonies, and after we actually left at half 3 Itiya phoned to say that she was feeling tired and would rather rearrange for next week. As inevitable as that was, we were on our way to the city at that point, and we weren’t about to let something silly like all our plans going down the toilet stop us from getting there.

Itiya had also warned me on the phone that Ayutthaya was currently being drenched in consistent, humid rain, but Bubpha said it would probably be clear by the time we finished our half an hour drive. It wasn’t, obviously, and we ended up having to skid round the city highways with windscreen wipers on full blast and a sense of hope that the stormy weather wouldn’t obscure any TukTuks or trucks right in front of us. The new plan was to try making it to Zenith, a company that provided local schools with foreign language teachers that both Bubpha and Itiya told me it was worth checking out if I was interested in working here in the future. We couldn’t find that either though, and after a while Bubpha drove us to the Baptist Church we went to yesterday to access some wifi and work out where we actually needed to go.

bubhaicecream - EditedAs it turned out, Zenith had infact changed their name to LearningLink about a year ago, so the reason why we were getting nowhere with finding it was because we’d been keeping our eyes peeled for a building name that no longer existed. Regardless, Bubpha found their number and shoved her phone to me after she rang them up and realised the receiver on the other end only spoke English. I ended up getting an email address from him so this whole excursion had some success, albeit success that I could have achieved from the comfort of my own schoolhouse, with considerably less rain.

We dropped by a food court on the way back where Bubpha promised me steak, which ended up coming from a restaurant called California Grill. It wasn’t the greatest place in the world, but considering it shares its name with a slightly dodgy kebab shop in Ipswich it was a nice surprise, plus the food court was a sight in itself. There were fountains everywhere packed with fish that looked like miniature hammerhead sharks, and as we stopped for ice cream before leaving I spent a lot of time gazing into the pools and trying to work out what species they were.

chestersgrill

***

Of course, all of this mainly distracted me from the fact that I have a whole bunch of stuff that I need to sort out before tomorrow. Pilot wants me to have a significant involvement in the celebrations tomorrow before I leave for Chiang Mai, and has asked me to write ten sentences about my own mother to read out. That should be interesting in itself.

Just as importantly, I need to pack. The sleeper train I’m taking with Harry tomorrow will take me on a glorious 14 hour journey before we get to Chiang Mai, which I’m pretty sure is longer than my flight from England to Thailand took. I was dreading it at the beginning of the week, but the more I think about it the more I’ve realised it should be the perfect opportunity to catch up on some sleep.

Right now, that’s something I really need to do.

PS

Faithbook

“Your washing isn’t ready yet.”

I had asked Bubpha if she could pick up my washing from the lady in Phachi I employ this morning, after realising that I was in dire need it back today. So when she arrived and told me this it wasn’t what I wanted to hear, and I faced the prospect of wearing dirty clothes for the third day running. Wonderful.

At least I could distract myself with the various games we played in lessons. As I waited for Prathom 6 in the school hall this morning i started bouncing one of the footballs that had been left in the room around, so when they eventually arrived this turned into an impromptu game of basketball with Nai, one of the students I play football with, holding a basket up at the other side of the room whilst I tried some shots. I actually made a few of them too, so clearly all of this unplanned sport I’m doing at the moment is starting to pay off.

fatherline - EditedPrathom 5 in the afternoon was an interesting one. Bubpha had them playing a game that she had made up which involved two groups forming lines, denoting themselves as ‘mother’ and ‘father’, and then trying to cut through the other line. I won’t lie, I didn’t have a clue what was going on with it most of the time. The kids seemed to have fun with it though, and Bubpha wants to film us playing it tomorrow so she can send it to some other teachers around Thailand who she’s told about it. Who knows, maybe I’m witnessing the start of something big in the primary school game world.

There's also a song that accompanies this game. Notice how it goes to a very dark place seemingly out of nowhere in the last verse.

There’s also a song that accompanies this game. Notice how it goes to a very dark place seemingly out of nowhere in the last verse.

***

praisehands - EditedOn the day that I met her way back in June Bubpha explained to me that she was a Christian, so despite my general lack of religion I let her know I’d like to come to her church service sometime. This evening she took me up on this, and after stopping off in Phachi to pick up my finally completed washing (never have clean clothes felt so glorious) we travelled with her son Pekeng and his girlfriend to Ayutthaya’s baptist church. This shouldn’t have been a new experience for me, but my only previous interaction with any sort of service was a yearly christmas eve nativity production that took place at our local church, which I grew out of after turning 10. I went with all the possible cliches in my head, basically – a decrepit churchroom, two hours of near silent prayers, and everything inbetween  – so I was surprised to walk in and find a live band playing to about 50 dancing churchgoers, all within a room about half the size of Watphachi’s school hall. They were all really into it too, and the bright blue church shirts everyone was wearing made me feel like I massively stuck out in my terrible white Thailand floating market top (like I said, my clean clothes were getting scarce). Still, this didn’t include everyone, as the band’s bassist was wearing a similarly coloured shirt but with the word ‘Faithbook’ plastered on styled in the logo of… well, you can probably guess.

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audience - Edited

After the band stopped playing we were introduced to the pastor, a slightly quirky looking man wearing an interesting tie and trousers combination, and myself and several others were mentioned and greeted for being new to the church this week. Part of Bubpha’s reason for bringing me tonight was because some missionairies from Korea had stopped by the church, so we got to see a few song and dance numbers from them. The first two dances were pretty crazy, plus the dance music itself was far too catchy considering they were all traditional religious songs, but the last performance the group put on was an interpretive piece focusing on a girl who had refused God at the beginning of her life but turned back to him, and was accepted, after she had fallen on some bad times. I guess that’s not really too far-out for a church service message, but it didn’t stop all of the dances from being massively entertaining, and this is coming from someone who you’d have to pay to get to a dance recital under normal circumstances.

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Of course, there’s always that one guy whose dancing has to upstage everyone else. Tonight it was apparently Morgan Freeman’s long lost brother.

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We didn’t even end up reciting traditional Bible prayers in the end. Once the dancers had finished the pastor returned to the front and told a few stories I didn’t understand, what with them being spoken in Thai, before the Korean missionairies handed out parting gifts of hand-fans and skincare packs before they left for their next destination. The church provided food for everyone afterwards and I was introduced to a Chinese teacher working in Ayutthaya who spoke english, so we discussed our different teaching experiences. Apparently in his school most of the students can already speak fluent english, so I’m sure Watphachi would surprise him.

Bubpha even bought me a church shirt which was nice of her and gives me more of an incentive to go back, if only so I can wear it at the only place where it makes sense to. I don’t think experiences like this ever make me want to become religious, but I can definitely see why people would join. I enjoyed tonight mainly because the church gave a real sense of community, and through my own cynicism I think I’ve maybe not thought of that as a benefit of religion before.

 

PS

Casual Fridays

So after 5 weeks, it’s finally happened.

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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…

***

betterchaoqui - EditedToday 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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cowscowscows - EditedIritchi 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.

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***

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.

 

PS

Shrimp Soup

“I played badminton yesterday. I like badminton.”

Since that was the only thing my still-not-quite-awake brain could think of saying for my morning speech, I left it at that today. Pilot the headmaster took over from there and according to Bubpha’s translation made a few comments about how good my Thai handwriting was during yesterday’s Thai Language Day events. Apparently he’s now set all the students a competition to write more fluently than I can by next week. I feel like he’s exaggerating my talents a bit.

IMG_4101 - EditedMy morning involved a lot of dancing. I think the one, and probably only, thing that anyone misses from English Camp is the songbook that we recited from for about half an hour in each section, which included tunes ranging from how English Camp gave us “joy to be together” to a song pondering why elephants are big and chickens are small. These appear to have been moved to class lessons instead now, so in both Prathom 3 and 6 today I was standing at the front of the class for a good deal of time, attempting to remember each song’s dance moves but mostly just throwing myself around and hoping my actions looked passable.

Contrary to what this looks like, we weren't actually singing Thriller. Would've been cool though.

Contrary to what this looks like, we weren’t actually singing Thriller. Would’ve been cool though.

I think the fact that I’m now fine with dancing like an idiot in front of the kids, as well as uploading photos to this blog showing myself dancing like an idiot in front of the kids, shows that I’m gaining a lot more confidence in standing in front of a class. But the differences between my afternoon and evening showed that being more comfortable in the school plays a large part of that as well.

throwingball - EditedWe were back in the hall for Prathom 2 and 5 this afternoon, where with the former we played some more games involving throwing basketballs and asking questions. Our subject today was about how they were feeling, and although there were still some shyer kids who couldn’t answer questions as there often is, in general the class seemed to be a lot more enthusiastic. When I play football or hang out with the kids after school it’s generally with the older ones from Prathom 6, but I’m still getting to recognise most of the younger classes and, although I shouldn’t be saying it, I totally have favourites.

With Prathom 5 we split the kids into groups and I interviewed them about what food they liked before they played a traditional Thai game that involved two kids catching another from a circle of students and then asking if they would like to live with either their mother or their father (it was a bit confusing.) I also learnt a bit of Thai at the same time, so now I can at least remember that Shrimp Soup is Tom Yum Kung and that Pizza is… Well, the same, but that still counts.

howareyoufeeling

In the evening I was picked up by Wirot again and we drove over to a nearby city for another English night class. This time it was with three university students, and it took place in the slightly odd location of the back of a phone shop, so I was occasionally distracted by customers walking in and out. The students ranged from 19 to 23 years old and had apparently been taking these classes for only a month, so I shouldn’t have really expected any fluent language skills, but it did surprise me a bit how much less confident they seemed than the students at Watphachi. I asked them a few basic questions that Wirot translated, which is when I found out that the 23 year old student had apparently been learning English since elementary school, which made the subjects they were learning about seem a lot more basic. I also asked them about their favourite food, and felt far too proud of myself for understanding Tom Yung Kum as Shrimp Soup when one of them started talking about it. I’ve memorised some more Thai, and it’s only taken me just over a month!

After our initial discussions we started on some workbook related things, and I realised that in general their pronunciation was a lot better than the majority of the Watphachi students. Still, whilst at school I think both mine and the students’ confidence is improved by playing off of each other, something that I’d like to think makes them want to better themselves in their English, here I obviously didn’t know these students well enough for that to happen, which meant that my role felt a bit limited. It certainly didn’t make me want to dance, at least.

uninightgroup

At least the class meant that I got to see some more interesting sources of food. Wirot took me to the local market before the session which was swarming with various Thai sweets as well as buckets full of live turtles and eels, and afterwards we went to a restaurant on the outskirts of Phachi where I had Som Tam for the first time. I still can’t get over the generosity of everyone here, to the extent that I’m beginning to worry that I’m being a bit ungrateful since the teachers spend so much on me. I’ve just been paid for the month though, and coupling that with my growing cooking skills, I’m sure I can conjure up some food-based repayment soon.

PS

Sleeping on the Eastside

The Watphachi school teacher who came for dinner in my schoolhouse at the end of last week made a point of mentioning that my bed was facing the wrong way.

It turns out that Thai culture seems to hold a lot of superstitions about sleeping. My bed faces the west of the room and thus I sleep in that direction, but apparently over here this is considered to be bad luck and the teacher offered to help me turn my bed around to fix it. I declined since at the time I really couldn’t be bothered with physical effort, and told him I’d try to do it in a few days time.

Coming back last night to find that I had no working internet connection, no towel to dry myself with after a shower because it was currently being washed in Phachi, and no work trousers for the next day due to the same reason, I began to wonder if I should have taken him up on his offer. I slept with my head facing the east that night, thinking that it might make an improvement to my luck.

***

Bubpha did bring these things to me the next morning so my day didn’t become the disaster that it could have been, making me think that eastern side sleeping is infact the way forward. I wasn’t really in the mood for my morning speech to the kids though and I rambled on about going to Bangkok and the waterfalls this weekend, which I then had to repeat since apparently the kids weren’t listening the first time. To be fair, I don’t think they really missed much.

We had finally appeared to have moved on from Christmas songs with Prathom 6 this morning, however I quickly found out that it had been replaced by teaching them instructions on how to make an origami swan. Of course, I was expected to make one too, but as someone who has never successfully made a paper plane that stayed in the air for longer than a second, I was not very experienced in making something majestic out of a sheet of A4. As I spent the next 20 minutes folding paper over until it became a complete and utter mess, and getting increasingly frustrated as I went on, I think my lack of skills really started to show.

And just to top it all off, I had to sing Joy To The World to the class at the end of the lesson, as if to remind me that I will never escape out-of-season references to Christmas here.

I didn't make this. I didn't even come close to making this.

I didn’t make this. I didn’t even come close to making this.

My afternoon lesson with Prathom 4 took place in the school’s canteen, as we had decided to put their current lessons about food preparation to a practical use. They all arrived with baskets of fruit and various juices in order to make bowls of fruit punch, and whilst I didn’t get to have any myself they certainly looked nice enough. Bet I could make one just as good though. Maybe we should all have a cook-off.

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punchtables

punchgroup

I was invited to play football again this afternoon, and whilst I started off just as terrible as I normally fare with it towards the end I felt like I was actually getting considerably better. Granted, a large part of this was because the kids were literally leaving me with an open goal, presumably because I suck so much that they all started to feel bad. I scored a few goals, but I’d really like to actually be good enough for them to be earned next time around. But there should still be plenty of opportunities for that.

Once again I cooked at the schoolhouse for Bubpha and I in the evening, which at least made up for my lack of involvement in today’s fruit punch shenanigans. Although I still didn’t do everything completely independently, I feel that I’m certainly starting to get a grip on this whole ‘cooking decent food’ thing everyone always goes on about. The downside to this is that having my own cooking area dramatically increases the amount of cleaning I have to do.

chopping

Bubpha told me today that one of the Kindergarten teachers wants to play badminton with me sometime this week and I’m also set to be teaching Wirot’s night class again on Thursday, as well as some university students on Wednesday. Hopefully I should have quite a busy week based on that, but there’s also a bunch of other stuff that I really need to get on top of, namely booking travel to Chiang Mai for the long weekend which I’ve left to the last minute. With that in mind, I think I’ll try east-side sleeping again tonight, as I’ll need all the luck I can get.

PS