05.11.2012 - 27.01.2013 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.