Thursday, September 29, 2005
i forgot about the van for a moment. Corey as a nice story about it on his blog. it was and will forever be a great car! one detail was omitted, probably because it is little known. it's final name, acquired the summer i painted in Lansing and resided with my dearest Jacqueline, was the paint wagon. Brad gave it this name. i chuckle when i think of it. for me, it was more than a people mover, it was a stuff mover. i have put various amounts of my stuff in it. including one trip across town with my couch in the back and my bed tied onto the roof. i may be cured with never being able to buy a small car because the paint wagon is such a sensible vehicle. anyhow, it's gone to car heaven now, and will not be missed because in the end it is a car. it is the memories that it helped to create that will live on. :)
old posts

ok so it's my last day here at sahtit burapha. i guess no sentiments really, other than that i'll not miss the crowded early bus ride, the walk from office where sign in sheet is to office where i work, the screaming children, or the staff room drama. i will however miss the kids. they are great, most of the time. they smile and say hi and try very hard to use the things they know in english. i finished marking everything and got the gradebooks in order this morning. i will be keeping my messy paperwork so that when i'm fifty i can find them somewhere and think, 'you know Pinky was really smart, and Dew was so good about handing all of her work in early! i wonder what they're doing now?' the things i will miss will being a few girls coming to the staff room to hand in work or one saying hello while i'm walking over to where i eat lunch. some of the staff will be missed, as well. a soon to be 29 year old scottish girl who i eat lunch and chat with and a few of the TA's who are amazingly helpful and i couldn't work here without. it is odd that so soon after starting, i'm already finished, but it also feels like i've been here for some time. it's hard to feel like a newcomer in a place where nobody really helps anybody much (within the foreign teacher's) anyhow. :) it has been a great experience. i have learned loads about the Thai school system and foreigners within that system. leaves me with loads to write about and loads of questions to find answers to at other school.

ok off to where the pool is! GO STATE!!! big game this weekend!
old posts

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

This one's for Corey. I was walking home one night, a very long walk actually, and saw this giant anchor. It's about a mile from the beach and outside a scuba shop. I couldn't help but chuckle. I wondered what the conversation would be between Dad and Corey about this giant hunk of iron. 'Well that came from a ____! yeah but surely that scratch there means ______!' :)

There's the inside of the bar. This picture was very stubborn and out of order! The papers sticking up in the front are how they bo checks. Very smart if you have honest customers and a very good way of making money because patrons drink without paying everytime, therefore are inclined to drink more.

Those are the school kids. They were shooting some TV show or ad or something one afternoon. For anybody who's watched the voiced over Japanese games where they do all sorts of crazy stuff, this was much the same. And all in Thai, I could not stop laughing for thinking about what I would be saying about the different activites.

Meow. One of the many tigers at the Sri Racha TIger Zoo where the treatment of animals is astrocious. Far too many animals in far too small of spaces. They also do a circus type show where the felines jump through rings of fire. I did not enjoy this what so ever. The kids had loads of fun though!

There's Rick. Owner of the bar, renter of the building, manager of the Language Corps branch and TEFL branch in Pattaya, and my soon to be boss. He has lived on and off in Thailand since the 70's and is a good one to put the reality or anti-reality of this nation into perspective.

This is not a great picture, but there is Margaritaville. Just after this it began to pour, and everybody ran inside. It's an inviting place with people that I know there all of the time. Notice the dogs laying about. (a white blob on the sidewalk to the left of the giant cement parrot) These dogs are wild, hang around all the time and know that Friday night is fried chicken night. They come at precisely 6.30 when many people are finishing up and stick their nose in your lap in hopes of getting a bone or two or five.

Mom, this one's for you. It's the first picture I took with my new camera. I didn't have coffee though. I've not really been drinking coffee, and one can get it for less than half the price of Starbuck's. I have broken down and had a frappucino at least once though. MMM.
old posts

My new job. I am very excited about the upcoming change in jobs. I came to Thailand with an open mind, thinking I would take what I can get and hope for the best. I wanted to let things fall into place and consider different opportunities that I would surely be presented with. I did not consider that I would become Language Corps youngest corps advocate ever, Rick’s personal choice to replace Erinn, whom he has known for years and worked with in the past, and possible Midwest recruiter. On coming here I was dead set on working with adults, as behavioural issues are nil, and I have had little experience with kids in my life. Positions as a teacher for adults are few and mainly in Bangkok, a city I have little desire to visit and even less desire to reside in, the traffic and pollution are atrocious. So I looked around for something in the vicinity of Pattaya and found the fourth grade at Burapha. Conveniently my house mate also works at the school, and was keen on having a companion with whom she could commute everyday. Not my cup of tea to get up at 5.30 in the morning and spend an hour chatting on a noisy crowded bus for an hour, but the job paid well and the timing was right.
I had already been offered the CA position at this time, was already seriously considering it, but wanted to give teaching its fair shot before I made a concrete decision. I knew I had about a month to make the decision and two months before I would be starting with Language Corps if I decided to do so. Well, I decided to do so. I start officially working for the company I came to Thailand with on the 30th of September. This is the final day of the current group’s in class training, and I need to get myself acquainted with members of the TEFL class because it is I who will completing their observations and don’t want to walk into their class unknown. I will also be working for TEFL. I will do a small portion of the training course, and most of the observations once the teachers are placed in a job and are comfortable enough to show off their skills. Also, I will help with job placement and the like so will need to build rapport with the hiring staff at various schools in the vicinity. Rick has already said ‘make sure you get to know the lady at Burapha who does the hiring because we have loads of people coming and they’ll need jobs’. I spoke with her toady and got some applications. I may be filling in for teachers on vacation once and awhile, and may have a steady weekly or biweekly English class that I run for people around the bar and anybody else who wants to learn.
The LC part of the job is very much organization and hosting newcomers. Air port pickups, tours in Bangkok, days at the beach, giving secrets on how to get around Pattaya, what to avoid, cool things to do, where to find various necessities, etc. The recruiting is for LC as well. This is a young company, only three years in operation, and facing the troubles of new companies. The clientele is very small, a few of the locations have been disastrous, and the location of the main office in the states is very limiting for recruitment purposes. I noticed these things and offered to spend some time in January driving around to a few schools in the upper Midwest and giving LC a face and a broader advertising scheme than just the website on the internet. I have already been working with Jed at the main office to figure out what schools we think I should hit and the technicalities of getting in touch with the proper people at those schools in order to make an appearance. The only snag here is that Rick may need me to be in Pattaya in January because there is a group coming on the 6th and I would be gone until at least the 18th. We still need to have that discussion, and will do when the owner is in town in late October.
Needless to say I am very excited about this job. It’s very much a behind the scenes, but absolutely necessary position perfect for my person. I don’t mind being in front of a class, but I don’t enjoy it enough. And I think I’m more of a writer and organizer than an activity thinker upper. The kids are great, but I don’t feel challenged enough. I want a job that sometimes keeps me up at night, not one that I can leave from for three hours during the day and not be noticed or get behind. If I change my mind, teachers are always needed. One can walk into a school and walk out in twenty minutes with a job.
old posts

Monday, September 26, 2005
GO STATE GO!!!!!!! another win for the green and white. 61-14 over the fighting illini. awesome. a nice relaxing weekend with some writing and beach time. i went to bang sera with rick, da, erinn, geoff, and the kids. it was a very nice day with good food, swimming, and a kayak paddle. more about this later. i have to get over to my side of the sahtit world. we start exams today, and i don't want to be late. it's going to be a boring week. lots of sitting around watching kids try to take exams, and some grading. on friday i start my new job. i'm excited. i'll post a bit later about that job. hope you all had a great weekend. :)
old posts

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
honestly, i have to say that i have been better. i am tired of the ridiculous commute and tired of being tired. another few days, then exams, then change of jobs. i am stoked about this, and i'll be moving for real in the next few weeks which will make life a hundred times easier. the house i live in is nice, but in the boonies. it's expensive to get anywhere when you have to rely on motorbike taxis for everything. the walk is too far and too hot. ah well. it was an experience in itself to live in a house in thailand for awhile, but i am looking forward to solitary studio living. i wrote about my new job, and will post in the next few days so you'll know what i'm trully going to be doing!

Here is another bit i wrote about my recent trip to Cambodia to acquire a visa so i can remain here until Christmas.

If you are one of the many foreigners living in Thailand, every ninety days you must exit the country to obtain a reentry visa, allowing stay for another ninety days. One can either make the journey by way of public transport or by luxury ‘visa run’ companies. The first method is very much frowned upon in the eyes of farangs here. And I, as a commuter who employs the public transportation system to a town merely forty five minutes away, I readily decided not to make the trip to the Cambodian border in any sort of public transport. The bus typically eats up at least an hour of my morning and sometimes nearly two hours on the return journey. I could not fathom what a three hour ride along deserted highways to Cambodia would entail. So I chose to make the trip in the ‘luxury’ of an icily air-conditioned, private van accompanied by fellow ‘visa runners’.
One is able to book such trips in various locations throughout the bar infested city of Pattaya. There are several companies, and I consulted my trustworthy source before making the decision of which company to use. He gave me a list, encouraging me to choose the one showing the best movies and serving the finest meals. I shrugged and thought ‘nicer food yeah, but watching a movie while driving through the Thai countryside? I’ll likely be staring out the window anyhow!’ Thus off I went, passport in hand to book my first border trip.
The lady was very helpful, spoke English, and was not pleased to inform me that the only seat remaining for the day I had in mind to make the journey was in a smoking bus. I weighed the cost of waiting until the next Saturday (which after returning home and really thinking it through would have been the better choice in the first place) and opted to endure six hours in a smokers’ bus. How bad could it really be? We filled out the paper work; I paid the fee, and walked home through the bustling streets of the city, disappointed to not pass one single fruit cart as I had been in search of papaya all day.
The following day at work, Friday, my slow day with only two classes and little need of planning because I had already sketched out the remaining weeks’ lessons the previous day, I found myself looking forward to this new necessity, the visa run. For one thing it is a chance to get out of Pattaya and see more of Thailand, if only through the window, and it serves as a significant mile marker in my time here. I have now been here for three months, the typical transition period for ex-pats and was making my first visa run, a routine that will need to be repeated every ninety days from here out. Though I will ensure many of them coincide with small sabbaticals, I will make a few in this quick and altogether foreign fashion. I am sure the company who organizes the trips, including lunches and paperwork, do quite well. I believe they run at least one van everyday and many days more than one, each filled with ‘no more than six passengers’ as the brochure boasts. The others in my van were typical Pattaya stock, aging, mostly American and British men who have been in the country for some time, and plan on staying for some time, and thankfully not heavy smokers. One man who claimed to be from everywhere in the states said he left five years ago; ‘the minute Bush was pledged into office’ and will not return until we have a new president. ‘That is very unpatriotic,’ stated an Irishman standing nearby. There was no reply. My mind meandered to an anthropology class I took my senior year, Bush’s re-election year, and the young liberals who share the ‘escape now’ mentality. In the class we discussed everything from draft dodging to a website created by Canadians who were willing to ‘marry an American’ just to give us an escape from our self-created misery. My mind returning to the present, I found myself standing in Cambodia awaiting a visa to be glued into a page of my passport so I could cross the plank bridge into Thailand, get another stamp, get in the van, and return home. ‘So much for exploring the world outside of Pattaya today and escaping westernism’, I muttered to myself.
old posts

Sunday, September 18, 2005
i am terribly sorry to non state fans, but WE WON AGAIN! GO STATE! i am very proud of our team. another wonderful day at the beach today. the language corps crew went out to Koh Larn, sat around, swam, and a few got sunburned. 11 new people arrived this weekend, and i met most of them today. they are a good bunch. i'm happy that there are more people around again. it's very quiet between groups. i have so much to say and so little time today. i have started writing again, and thus am much happier again. i will be posting a few bits some time this week that have a bit more depth than the first two. i hope you like them. it's the final week of classes before the october break. my kids will have an oral exam, play games, and write post cards to my mom. it's going to be a busy week. more tomorrow! i am meeting erinn for as much needed dinner. :)
old posts

Sunday, September 11, 2005
another nice win for my team. GO STATE! condolences to u of mers who had their first lost of the season to the fighting irish. not so good for england, either. they lost to ireland this week and have a lot to do if they want to continue on their world cup quest.

a very hectic week at school. exams, corrections, more observations, things coming up at the last minute. thailand school systems are nutty. i have another week of review with the kids to prepare them for their final exam and the oral tests i will give the week before exams. some of them are far to shy to speak. i'm going to try to get them talking though. they get more enthusiastic when we are playing a game, and the better speakers help, which is good because they get double the amount of practice then. and the students aren't hearing everything from me all the time. it's actually rather amusing sometimes because they mock things exactly how you say it. so if i say happy, and really am, and my 'a' gets higher in tone, they'll mock it.
but if i say happy with a longer 'a' they'll mock that. to them, it's a different word with a different meaning. this is due to the fact that the thai language has five tones. the word they use for egg, 'kai' also means four other things, depending on how you say it. compicated and impossible to relay emotions without changing meaning.

i got a new book today and am excited to go home and read! it's 'deception point' by dan brown. i'm stoked because i enjoyed the 'davinci code' and 'angels and demons' so much. erinn (my core advocate) knows this great book store full of english fiction books. there are about ten in there that i'd like to read. and once you buy one, everything is fifty percent after that. you just have to take care of the books, and trade them in when you want a new one. it's like a library with a bigger fee. but take what you can get where the native language is not english and these books cannot be found in other places.

ok. editing to do before i've been at this internet shop for too much time. until the next....
old posts

Sunday, September 04, 2005
GO STATE!!!! fight fight rah team fight! 49 to 14 season opener! hopefully that will give the team a little gumption to do better than last year! i do love football. also go england! beating wales 1 nil in a world cup qualifyers, ensuring their position as a competing team in next springs world cup.

it has been another relaxing weekend. i however did complete some work. i must be qualified with TEFL by the end of the month in order to begin my new job in october. this basically means i have a lot of busy work to do. lesson plans, evaluation, reports and such all must be completed. it actually does feel nice to use my brain a bit though. i also started working on a few more writing pieces. i find i need more fact in them rather than simply a hodgepodge of my thoughts edited more than these posts. (do you think they flowed at all? because when i read them again jsut now, they seemed a bit choppy. i will have to edit some more)

school is going to be interesting this week. i am giving a surprize open book exam. it will be very close to what their final will be, and i don't know how they will handle a test. i want to see where each class is with things so that i know what we need to review lots and what we can review only a little. also i want to see how they do in a more preassured situation. my lessons are usually fairly laid back. i think i'm going to begin giving weekly spelling tests, too so that they are all spelling the words correctly. should be interesting.

hope you're all having a brilliant weekend, and a holiday weekend at that. enjoy your day off tomorrow. i wish like crazy that i had the day off tomorrow! i am not looking forward to getting up at 5.30. ok. thanks for reading. and if you've comments:
old posts

Thursday, September 01, 2005
here are two articles. please let me know what you think! i have done some revisions, so i hope sombody goes back and rereads. i know i have several times, and find something else to change each time!

There are days when I get off the bus and decide to walk home and save the twenty baht I normally pay a motorbike taxi to take me to the house. This walk begins on the busiest road in Thailand and ends at the gate to the house in a ‘suburb’ of Pattaya. I walk down one street a ways, turn left, walk to the next street, Soi Country Club, and turn right. From there I walk down a ways and turn right again, past the pool and I’m home at 210/80.
In making this journey several times a week, I have had time to observe the different streets and think about Thai streets in general. A normal street with a combination of residents, business, and what have you is called a ‘soi’. Many of them are numbered. For example, in the bar district of Pattaya, Soi 7 has several very nice very friendly bars. There is also Soi Post Office where the post office is, Soi Diana where somebody named Diana probably did something of note, and Soi Country Club.
Now I have explored Soi Country Club by running along it and have never seen so much as a sign to indicate the actual presence of a country club along this road. There are however, a rather high number of metal work shops. I see and hear people making metal fencing at all hours in open garage type shops. So if we were to adhere to the theory that a road should be named after something of note, Soi Country Club, as far as I can tell, should actually be ‘Soi Metal Shop’. The street to the south where I begin walking should thus be named ‘Soi Hair Salon’ (I think it’s actually some long name like Sukumvit something or other). But here we also face a problem. If we used this theory to name streets in cities in Thailand, then probably 80 percent of the streets would be named ‘Soi 7-11’. We would be lost all of the time instead of only part of the time.

Borrowing a phrase from Dave Barry, there are ‘eighty billion skillion’ 7-11s in any given city in Thailand. ‘Across from 7-11’ can mean about a third of the shops in any given town. A colleague commented today ‘Bangkok probably has more 7-11s than all of North America’, another chuckled in agreement. But there are not only 7-11s. There are the ‘wannabe’ shops such as; Family Mart, 108 Shop, and your typical mom and pop shop with a store on the ground floor and living quarters on the floors above.

When I read the ‘Lonely Planet’ guidebook in preparation of making the move to Thailand I, with relief, found that in Ban Phe, my original destination, there is a 7-11 across from the train station. This calmed me because at the time I was concerned for my mortal health. Not only for the adjustments of heat, the potential for disease, and being in a new place, but more importantly ‘Slurpee Withdrawal’. ‘Slurpee Withdrawal’ is the ailment brought on by the cessation of Slurpee drinking. Symptoms include late night cravings for cold drinks, fits over there being no other slurpers around for the infamous ‘slurpee run’, and finding oneself at the nearest 7-1 with no recollection of how one got there (though college cars may grow accustom to the route after as little as a month) or why one is there. We must remember that I am a recent college graduate, and any college student can attest to this being a serious mental and physical condition. Sleep deprivation and time disorientation are also common ailments. Many students suffer from this type of ailment for more than just finals week and being released into the real world may be traumatic.

Anyhow I have found that in Thailand ‘Slurpee Withdrawal’ is not a concern so much as the opposite given that every other street corner has a 7-11. I was standing on Soi Buakhow this past weekend in search of something interesting. All I could see were 7-11 signs. They intrude everywhere, like flies, or like stray dogs, if you live in Thailand. One can complete their business at a shop and simply cross the street to a plastic cupful of nearly frozen sugary goodness.


The neighborhood near where I live has all the Thai necessities. A laundry shop, a message parlour, a pharmacy, a repair shop, food stands, carts, and several shops. At the laundry place one can leave clothes and pay a small sum to have them returned in one day’s time smelling fresh and looking rather professional. The nice ladies will also take care of any mending. I had a skirt hem come unstitched and in one day I had the skirt back nicely hemmed for merely 20 baht (about 50 cents). Next door is the Thai massage place advertising the typical full body, foot, and Thai oil massage. I have not been to this parlour but know the Thai massage is like no other and will leave one feeling rejuvenated. After a two day’s journey to get here, a massage was absolutely necessary. Further on is a pharmacy nestled nicely behind a rice and chicken soup stand. A typical Thai pharmacy carries just about anything one could need for all sorts of ailments; except large size bandages for things such as motorbike tailpipe burns. Pharmacies here sell many drugs that in the West require a prescription. It is possible to get fairly potent drugs here over the counter for a fraction of the price. Allergy drugs are one example.

Across the street is a bike repair shop where the guys are constantly shining and checking the wheel balance on any number of new and raggedy bikes out front. Repair shops such as this can be found with much frequency throughout the city. On the corner is a distribution center, from what I can tell. Large trucks rumble up full of milk and yogurt, unload onto the pavement, and carts come up and replenish their stock. This milk and yogurt is sold in the afternoons at school for the students during their afternoon break. I have no idea how often or how much is delivered to this center, but there is always somebody sitting on one of the ornately carved benches outside. There is also a stand that sells drinks here, many of which come in a bag filled with ice. Coffee, tea, and many flavoured sugary juices are typical for these sorts of stands.
There are two other fixed food places. One is a soup stand selling chicken flavoured soup with noodles or rice or some sort of meat in a suspicious looking ball. I am honestly not terribly fond of soup in general and soup with suspicious meat is beyond my abilities of consumption. The other place has fried things such as fried rice, fried pork with garlic and pepper (obviously a favorite of mine), and fried seafood. Here the proprietors are a man and wife. She does the cooking, and he drives a motorbike taxi and a baht bus. He makes morning trips to the bus stop to drop off my housemate. Every night a Som Tom cart, a fruit cart, a fried squid cart, and a truck overflowing with oversized stinky durians park for a few hours. The Som Tom cart lady knows that I don’t like dried shrimp on my spicy papaya salad and that I go running every night. She looked concerned one night because I didn’t go, I said ‘I am feeling ill’ and she made a sad face, patted her belly to say ‘stomach ache’, then smiled. The people are indeed wonderful.

Later in the evening after these carts have gone, a ‘stuff on a stick cart’ appears, makes his rounds through the street honking his horn to alert people inside houses that he’s here, and stays until about ten at night. This cart has pork, beef, various parts of chicken, and other meats on a stick that is grilled right in front of you, smeared with butter, and seasoned. It is fantastic. This cart also carries kow neow ping, quite possibly one of the seven wonders of the culinary world (right above the Slurpee of course). Basically sticky rice molded into a square that is grilled and smeared with the same butter and seasoning. I just started drooling. There are several shops. One has drinks, phone cards, and water. Another has nearly everything one could possibly imagine or need including all sorts of soap, snacks, roach spray, ice, alcohol, and even pasta. I am pretty sure I’m the sole purchaser of this pasta and may soon buy her out. I usually stop at the market to get some fresh tomatoes to fry slightly with butter, garlic, and Thai chilies. Across the street is…you guessed it, a 7-11. Yes, to get to the house, one drives down Soi Country Club to the 7-11 and across the street, turns right. Oh how the world seeps irony.
old posts