Monday, November 28, 2005

here's a promised photo of one of our teachers. she's really good and was teaching the letter 'u' that day. the kids catch on so quickly and can remember so many different words from previous lessons. the advatages of early language learning are just astounding.

my goodness what a weekend! there's our Thanksgiving day meal. it was planned for about forty and a few fewer than that showed up. the food was eated up, grandmothers around the world would have been proud. and the pie was amazingly good. not bad for a bakery here in Pattaya! i did nearly drop them as i was coming back from the store on the back of a motorbike handling a bag with five pies in it! ah well. we had lovely whipped cream as well. i botched the stuffing, but nobody seemed to mind very much.

sunday i relaxed all day and got ready for another big week. i'm afraid to say that it might be some time before there's another post. i'm going to be gone everyday and quite a few nights for the next week. it's the trip to Laos this weekend, and mad observing during the week. i did start slow with only two today and two tomorrow.

it's an odd day because i have so much on my mind and nothing to write. little tasks have taken over my thinking today. there's so much to take care of with a trip for 13 people coming up, and this is the only day of the week i'll be in the office! everyday it's madness. call this person to schedule a time to come in to set up a class, call that person to reschedule a class, call this school to ask if they have any openings. find out what the most recent TEFL class is interested in teaching and whether or not i know of any jobs for them. keep reading up about Languagecorps and the rules of recruiting at college campuses. laundry. plan clothes for the entire week because i'll be gone for six days! at least i'm going to different schools so i only need like two teacher outfits! pay the rent before i leave. go out to the old house and get the deposit back. varify that everybody has passports and pictures in order for the laos trip. details details. i like this job. it keeps me on my toes and i make my own schedule. :)

i am sure that all of you readers had fabulous thanksgiving dinners and time with family and if you travelled that you are safely home now. i see on the news that there are snowstorms aplenty. bring it, i say! the more snow, the better... swoosh, swoosh, swoosh...:)

ok. i'm off back to the office to get information about everybody so i know where and what age they are looking for with a job. and get them to write a resume and cover letter. it's odd that i'm a total job hook-up. most of the people in this class are at least twenty years older than me! it's difficult to not feel out of place, but they seem to have respect for me and what i do, which is great. cheerio!
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Friday, November 25, 2005
bad news! the batteries in my camera conveniently quit as i tried to load photos onto my computer for uploading to the internet. sorry! there well be some more soon. classes and the turkey dinner tomorrow night for sure!

what a crazy week it has been. after a nice relaxing weekend, it was off to the races to get in as many observations as possible. this task of observing is relatively simple. i have to sit in of six hours of teaching time for each person who has taken the TEFL course with us and is in reasonable range. (though i am hopefully making a trip to Chiang Mai to see two girls who went out of the service area). this week i managed to get in fourteen hours and will sneak in two more tomorrow morning before the big turkey dinner. i have seen high school classes, kindergarten classes, and elementary level classes. the only difficulty is getting my brain into the situation in each different classroom as personalities, class size, type of school (which lends to availability of materials and what not), and level of the students. a class of twenty at the 11th grade level is on the opposite end of the spectrum than a kindergarten class of forty four. i have to be objective and think about the needs of the different kids and the teachers. it's challanging in that respect which is very nice. the awesome thing is that for the most part, out teachers are great. they learned so much so fast aand are applying it with ease in the classroom. the kids seem to be attentive and soaking up the english, for the most part. one thing i have noticed, and was aware of while i was actually teaching is the inclusion of everybody. slower and handicapped kids are not given special treatement whatsoever. in my homeroom class at Sahtit Burapha there was one boy who was noticably slower, but nobody seemed to want to do anything about it. i would sit with him for a few minutes after class, and he was one of the smartest kids, he just needed somebody to sit with him. after that, i would have the quicker smart kids help him during class. this needs to happen in more classrooms. yesterday i was in a kindergarden class that had one autistic boy. the thai teachers took zero note of the fact that he did very little other than gaze around and gnaw on his pencil for the hour. i mentioned to our teacher that he should ask about tutoring that child. we'll have to see how it works out, and if they make the effort to help this child.

the other trying thing about observations is the traveling. i leave Pattaya every morning usually at 5.20 or 6.30 depending on the start time of a class and get home around 6 at night. it's a very long day. getting from school to school can also be a hastle because the traffic in Bangkok is probably worse than Atlanta traffic. i try to use the sky train as much as possible when getting around the city, but they left out some areas when they planned the train, and i go to those neglected areas! argh. cabs for me. it's amazing though and there are many times when i'm in a cab thinking about the class i just saw, then glance out the window and there's a man walking down the street with a basket full of flowers on his head and i remember that i'm in Thailand. my awe has been struck many times in this past week. it's sort of fun and very cosmopolitan to be jetting around one of the most international cities in the world for work reasons. i do try and stop every once and awhile to take it all in at a cafe or lunch spot, though with time so limited it's rare that i can sit for more than a few minutes. in the next two weeks i'll be in Bangkok three of five days and stay over night some to lessen travel time. that will be fun for sure because i won't have to rush to get on the bus back to Pattaya. there are a lot of beautiful parks, that i have seen from the sky train, that i'd love to sit in and read my book and munch on dried mangos.

i am not a huge fan of the city itself. it's so huge and smelly and dirty. i can see the smog every morning as the sun rises and the bus takes the bypass to Morchit bus station. it's sad that there is so much haze over an interesting skyline. on the streets there is trash everywhere and the sidewalks are just grimy. i'd like to say that i love Bangkok and look forward to spending some time there because it's such an old interesting place, but truthfully i don't. it's difficult to get around and not pleasant to stroll. i do try though. last week i had about half a day to wander and ended up in a huge shopping center and then by a canal. that was an enjoyable day.

next week i want to hit china town and kosan road if i can, though my time is limited again! i am observing a girl in the evening, so my days are full of work. at least i'll get everybody in before the trip home for Christmas!

ok, back to the office to finalize Laos travel plans, then out to the train station to get tickets for everybody. then to bakeries on Pattaya Klang in desperate search of pumpkin pie. Turkey day dinner is not complete withough pumpkin pie! happy weekend and safe travel home to all.
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Thursday, November 24, 2005
and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my webmaster brother. may all of your wishes come true after you oust the candles!! i hope it's poppy seed cake, cause it's not a birthday without poppy seed cake!
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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! gobble gobble. i can almost hear the overeating from around the globe! i hope you all have a great holiday and pig out on great lovingly prepared food. watch some football and have some left over turkey sandwiches tomorrow.

tonight i am venturing, very doggedly i might add, to the big mall on Beach Road to see what's going on. i'll probably have a coffee and read some in my new book. the real dinner is on saturday, when nobody has to work. i am going to Bangkok in the morning, but will be back in the afternoon to prepare stuffing and possibly cranberry sauce.

so enjoy your turkeys and look forward to a big post tomorrow because i am far too exausted to write one now, and am not going anywhere tomorrow, so have all day to compose and upload soe photos!

and grandma, for sharing time this year it's family.
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Friday, November 18, 2005
A traditionally dressed girl and I pose in front on one of the many fabulous Loy Krathong boats on Wednesday night.

Boats made out of lottery tickets for sale along the street of my favorite market.

Tables full of intracately designed and handcrafted boats filled Walking Street during the night of the festival.

Loy Krathong is a holiday for Thais. It falls on the full moon in mid-November. The boats are put out to sea, candles and incense lit, carrying away sins and bad luck. Lanterns filled the night sky and beatifully adorned women were everywhere. My boat, that I stupidly did not photograph, was flung out to sea like a frisbee because I didn't want to get my feet wet! Thankfully it landed right side up, and it had no candle to be blown out.

All in all a good festival followed by an exhausting day in Bangkok. I got lost on a boat going up some canal in a direction that took me out of the city. Ah well, it sure was fun though!
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005
another day, another baht earned. when a baht is a few cents, it doesn't seem like much.

an interesting evening last night. the owner of Languagecorps is here to check up on all of his sites. he makes the rounds every few months. there is much talk right now about the future of the company and its relationship with TEFL international. i cannot go into details for obvious reasons, but it's amazing to be a part of it all. you can see the successful and the not successful working to both be profitable and lasting. i know which ship i will be on when they both sail.

today is a holiday here in Thailand. not a day off of school or anything, but it's Loy Krathong. it's something to do with Buddha, of course. people make little boats out of banana leaves, put flowers, cnadles, and incense in the middle and float them down a river, a canal, or out to sea. Pattaya is going to be nuts tonight, and i plan on getting in on some of the early action to get some photos. i am trying to build up a nice portfolio of pictures for those who are interested to view during the Christmas holiday. it should be an interesting night for the foreigner and anthropologist in me.

well, it's nearly Thanksgiving. i've been here for a week shy of five months. it feels like forever and it feels like no time at all. there is for sure a lot more to come. we are planning a trip to Vientiane the first weekend of December. should be an absolute blast! great bread and cheese and perfect timing for a visa run (part of the time planning). hopefully a lot of the Languagecorps kids will be interested in going. otherwise it'll be just me. i guess that's not a problem either.

can't wait for wireless internet and signing off for the day as i'm off to Starbuck's for hot goodness and comfortable chairs. :)
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Monday, November 14, 2005

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here are some photos that were promised awhile ago. the internet has been weird and uncooperative lately.

another eventful week has passed, and i have again gone the entire stretch without an update. i will get better at this. i spent last week doing some planning and trying to get the last few straglers into good teaching positions. there was also my first day as TEFL observer jetting around Bangkok attempting to be on time and not lost. i was actually for the most part successful! yipee skippy. this week will see at least two more days in the city trying to get people certified. all the hustle and bustle and dirt everywhere. i'm really not keen on Bangkok. it does make having somewhere to come home to that much more important, though. there was also a death, a funeral, and a pool party. a friend of the group passed away from severe ill-interest in living on thursday night. we rushed to attend a Buddhist ceremony on saturday afternoon at a temple in Bangkok, but were late. the bally car wouldn't start. fate, maybe. sunday was the pool party, which i helped to shop and cook for. it was fantastic! a nice sunday afternoon barbeque, beer, and swim. the meat was delicious and the pool was cool. perfect for a summer, wait it's November, afternoon. drinking carried into the night, far after i left to get some very much needed sleep.
this week it's back to the grind stone with observations aplenty. i'll probably be traveling for the next three days, and am looking forward to it. it has yet ceased to amaze me that i am living and working in Thailand. yes i get tired of the way some things are here, but in the end, it's all hilarious. i can laugh at the bus ride home being an hour longer than need be, and laugh at the Thai behaviour of saying yes to something even if the answer is a definite no. it's the aim to please.
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Monday, November 07, 2005
what a week last week! there was a mass-exidous on wednesday as five people left for jobs and three people headed to an english camp. go job team, i'd say. it is a bit advantageous that school is just atrting up again and many schools are in desperate need of teachers. i can picture classrooms full of riotous children unsupervised. AHHH! friday we ousted two more on their way to new jobs and new homes. we also completed observations for two more TESOL certificate candidates. it was a good week last week. saturday and sunday were peaceful and restful. i watched some movies, did some writing and joined the gym. unbelievably good plan because now i can run after dark, something i would never attempt on the roads here. and since it gets dark at six it's sometimes difficult to get everythin in, but problem solved now!
i never thought i'd be telling myself this, but i'm actually a bit glad to be heading to Bangkok in the near future to do some work. not the work, but going to bangkok is a surprize. i can't stand the place. it's huge, smelly, busy, dirty, and full of people. but there's a lot to do and see there. markets everywhere and stuff going on that is a bit more interesting than Pattaya. i enjoy some things in Pattaya, like the size and location of the city. it is what it is and it's gotten old except for those days when i'm quite happy to sit at the bar and just watch what goes by on the road. the fascination of thai economy will never get old. i spend a lot more time reading and trying to improve my thai, which is a good thing! the problem is, i translate into italian still! i'll never be fluent if i go through two languages before i get it right.

here are some pictures of the trip to the zoo a week ago. i finally took the time to get my computer back online and it's far easier to complete the picture posting process now!
actually, nevermind, there seems to be a problem. i'll look into it and post next time.
my alternative is a bit about meals here in thailand. i had fun thinking about and writing eat, so i hope you enjoy and don't drool on your keyboards too much!

Eating is a national past time here in Thailand. It could be a national sport, and the skinniest woman would probably win every competition. They are so tiny and they eat so incredibly much. Margaritaville serves a breakfast meal that is a pork chop, country style potatoes, two fried eggs, and toast. One of my friends, who is actually a Filipino, will sit down at eight o’clock at night and eat the entire thing. She might weigh a hundred and ten pounds soaking wet fully clothed and trying not to get thrown into the pool for the fourth time. This won’t be the only meal she eats in a day either. It will be after a nice breakfast and lunch, and at least a few snacks throughout the day. And there will be a snack before bedtime. There is a saying that Thais only eat once a day, all day. And it’s true. And they eat the same types of things all day. My first day here began with a buffet breakfast. Thankfully there were mini-pancakes and some French toast for us silly farangs. The spread was completed by several different Thai dishes; mostly vegetables and potato dishes, though no rice as a base. I sat in awe as I watched breakfast devoured with similar vigor as other meals throughout the day.

Meals vary in size and length. There are the quick meals eaten around a small table a vendor has set up on the side of the street. These meals are typically some sort of grilled meat or fish and rice or one’s choice from a variety of soups. And there’s always som tom thai. I have been brave enough to test some of these meals. I ate one meal in this manner that consisted of soupy red stuff with suspicious white balls that you pour over noodles. I’m pretty sure there were fish scales in it and I have learned that the balls were probably fish too. Thank Buddha I didn’t eat them. I wasn’t fond of the meal and haven’t ventured that far since.

Larger and longer meals are had at restaurants, the Thai barbeque, or at the beach. These meals can carry on for hours. Dishes are served as they come out of the pan, in no particular order and rarely all within five minutes. At a Mexican place one night, I was nearly finished with my dinner before the rest of the group had been served. It feels incredibly rude, but it is the Thai way. Many restaurants have one wok sitting on a propane induced flame. The Thai barbeque is like an eating marathon. A big group of us had barbeque on night and we were around the tables at Margaritaville for three hours. This meal is cooked and eaten at the same time. A special pan, something similar to a bundt pan with a center that has slits for grilling meat, that sits on a charcoal fire holds soup and meat. The flavour from the meat drips down into the broth and one adds glass noodles, greens, and baby corn to make a very delicious soup. Chicken, pork, beef, and all sorts of seafood are grilled in small pieces. The chosen cutlery is chopsticks, both for preparing the food and consuming meat and soup dipped in hot sauce. For some this is a challenge. Another chow fest that can last an entire afternoon is a beach meal.

Twenty minutes south of Pattaya is a beach front. Upon arrival they set out mats and tables and distribute menus. No less than five different types of seafood are ordered. Dishes arrive throughout the afternoon. Prawns fried with garlic and pepper will arrive, then scallops, then crabs, then lobster, and usually fried rice with shrimp. I have long been reading and swimming by the time the final dish has appeared. Crabs actually just walk up the beach right over to the pot because they are so fresh.

My meals are sometimes Thai food, sometimes farang food, and often something I have cooked. The key to eating here is eating small amounts more times a day. One never knows what is going to roll by on the next cart. It could be fruit, it could be grilled squid, or it could be pizza.

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