A Travellerspoint blog

Teacher Megh

sunny 32 °C

I have now been teaching in Thailand for just over 3 months, with about 4 more weeks to go until I finish and can set off on my travels. I am located in a small town in the province of Chaiyaphum, called Nong Bua Daeng. I have definitely experienced 'real' Thailand in this little town, which is miles away (both physically and figuratively) from Bangkok.  

I am the only blonde, female westerner in town, and often get stared out on my jaunts to 7/11, and the word 'falang' can be heard everyday as I go about my business. I don't think this is out of malice,  rather out of intrigue.  The only westerners I seem to come across in this town are old men in their 70s with young Thai wives and girlfriends. Sometimes these men make me want to vom in my mouth slightly, some of them are very crude and talk in a very derogatory way about their partners,  as if they are nothing more than a dirty dog, purely there for the purpose of cooking for them food and fulfilling their sexual needs. This is the side of Thailand that can really leave a bad taste in one's mouth, which is unfortunate, because this is a beautiful country, with a rich culture waiting to be discovered by those who look for it.  

Anyway, enough of that! The town is pretty, surrounded by mountains on every side, and it has everything you need, including a 7/11, which I frequent daily. I teach in a school of 2500 students. I teach Mathayom 1, who are 13 years old, and Mathayom 6, who are 18 years old. The students are, on the whole, an absolute delight,  although the level of English is quite poor. It is difficult to make progress as I only see each class once a week, and if a day's teaching is missed for one reason or another,  a whole week's teaching is missed.  

Something that I have found really intriguing and heartwarming in this country is the way in which the ladyboys are treated in the community. I have at least one ladyboy in every class and they are treated no differently to anyone else. The other boys in my classes will choose to sit next to them and put their arms around them, a sight that would be a rarity in any British school, we could definitely learn something from the Thai people in respect to their acceptance of homosexual people in the community. It was especially interesting to see that they are so readily accepted in this traditional, small farming community.  

The school day starts at 8am with morning assembly,  which includes the singing of the national anthem (I think I can actually remember more of this anthem than of the English national anthem now), the raising of the flag and the singing of the school anthem. I normally escape at this point as the rest of the assembly is in Thai,  and although my Thai has improved a vast amount since being out here, I'm not going to pretend I understand a word of what is said during assembly.  
That will be all for now, but I'll leave you with a few strange sights/experiences that I've had since being out here:
A lady selling skinned rats as a dinner treat at the market.
Sweetcorn as a topping on ice cream.
Being referred to as 'sir' in a restaurant.
Some seriously questionable construction workers wearing flip flops and no goggles whilst welding.
'Gangnam Style' being incorporated into every aspect of life, including the school nativity.
A ladyboy student dressed up as a slutty student on Christmas Day handing sweets to other students.

Posted by meghanoleary 03:55 Archived in Thailand Tagged children rural teaching Comments (0)

My first week

Patong, ladyboys and ping pong shows

sunny 30 °C

So, my arrival into Bangkok wasn't as smooth as I would have hoped, a 3 hour delay in Muscat (a Muslim country with no bar), was a slight hinderance to my journey, but I arrived in Bangkok at around midnight. Collected my (17kg) bag and headed to Sukhumvit for a few hours sleep before catching my flight in the morning. The taxi driver, who's English was fairly limited, dropped me off in the general direction of my hostel, and pointed to where he believed it might be. And sweaty Bangkok was as crazy as I remembered it to be-going past countless numbers of scantily clad ladyboys entertaining Western visitors on my way to the hostel.

I couldn't really switch off and go to sleep straight away, so headed to the bar for a night cap in the form of a Singha beer. Met a guy from Masedonia who was out here training in kickboxing for a month. After chilling out for a bit and having the realisation set in that I had finally made it to Bangkok after a 16 hour journey halfway across the world, I headed to bed. Woke up in the morning to wash the night and the journey off me, felt very refreshed, then went to unlock the door and could not, for the life of me,work out how to open the door! As I stood there, in a state of undress, I began to panic slightly as I formed various escape routes in my head (could I climb over the cubicle? could I use my tweezers as a type of screwdriver to pick the lock? (f.y.i. didn't work) could I climb over the door?) I wondered if I would ever escape from this fecking cubicle! After pulling at the door for around 10minutes and wondering whether I would manage to catch my flight to Phuket in 3 hours time, I noticed a button on the lock, pressed it, and....ta dah! I was free!

I headed for the BTS to the airport and don't know if I've ever sweated so much in my life, carrying 2 heavy rucksacks in 32 degree heat is not fun, I now realise that I'm not cut out for army life. One and a half hours later I touched down in Phuket and caught a minibus to my cousin's bar in Patong at around 4pm. And so, after initial meet and greet with my cousin, his girlfriend, the workers in his bar, and his patrons, the drinking began. That night we headed for BBQ, Thai style, where you pick your own meats and cook them at your table on a grill, whilst making a soup from the juices running off the meat...it was delicious! We then headed for a cheeky mojito near the beach before heading back to my cousin's apartment for a Sangsom nightcap and a much needed rest.

In the morning,it was safe to say I was feeling a little worse for wear, but we headed out for some late lunch at a Muslim restaurant overlooking the sea and then Kiki (my cousin's girlfriend), and I, headed to Patong beach to watch the final of the Quiksilver men's surfing open. It was a beautiful day, and we happily sat on the beach having a couple of Singha beers before heading down Bangla Road for some more drinks! If you've never had the pleasure of visiting Bangla road, it certainly is an overload for the senses! People are constantly coming up to you trying to sell you their wares, including ping pong shows, ladyboy cabarets and charming bracelets with different slogans on (including 'I'm a C**t' and 'Up Bum No Baby'). Different bars pump music out all night long, whilst 20 year old Thai girls entertain 70 year old men.

The next few days continued much the same, and I met a group of nice expats living in Malaysia and Singapore and spent one night with them partying. On my final day in Phuket, my cousin and I jumped on the bike and headed to Central Festival shopping mall, where we had some food and drinks and traipsed around. You could almost think you were in a mall in England with all the different Western chains....miss selfridge, aldo, dairy queen...

And so I made the long journey back up to Bangkok yesterday, a 12 hour 'VIP' bus from Phuket town to Bangkok, and I arrived very early in the morning, meaning I had to sleep in the lobby of the hostel I was staying at until it opened, but I am now feeling refreshed after a good nights sleep and look forward to the next few days in Bangkok to see what it has in store for me...

Posted by meghanoleary 23:46 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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