So once again I have returned to Nong Khai to teach English to the local kiddies and emerse myself in Thai/Isan culture. I arrived back at Openminds training centre on Saturday after a trip back from Laos and sadly there was no one there to greet me, booo! So I dumped my bags and headed off to find a tuk tuk to take me to tesco to get some food as I was starving! Hardly any of the locals speak English in NongKhai as it is not a tourist destination (which is a nice change!) so its hard making youself understood. They know its called Tesco Lotus but the way I pronounce it makes the tuk tuk drivers look at me blankly. In the end I had to write it down and luckily was whisked off pretty fast.
When I got back to the centre I had a lovely suprise waiting for me...the French couple Louie and Sophie and their gorgeous 2 year old daughter Zaya whom I had done my training with back in August were still there! It was soo nice to see them and we had a lot of catching up to do. Was great seeing the Openminds staff again, made up of Westerners and local Thai and Laos people and also meet the new volunteers that had been working there since I left. Ive made really good friends with, and am sharng a room with 27 year old Katie from Chester would you believe?! Its a small world! Weve been having some good giggles.
I was going to spend just one week at NongKhai at my old school Ban Pako then go down to Krabi in the south of Thailand to teach in a school there for 2 weeks but I felt so at home being back in Naogkhai I decided to stay and am really happy I have. Not only does it save me A LOT of money (flights, have to buy my own food in Krabi, travel to the school) im also enjoying working at a new school just 5 minutes walk from the centre! Ban Pako was closed this week for meetings so Iv been placed in Tessaban 3 and am enjoying celebrity status as the first volunteer theyve ever had! The staff and pupils are absolutely lovely and have made me feel so welcome! On my first day I was greeted by the 2 English teachers Ill be working with, one primary, one secondary, and given a schedule of which lessons I will teach. Unlike Ban Pako where we were often left completely on our own, the teachers here are keen to team teach and it makes a real difference having them in my lessons helpin to explain things to the students in thai.
Ive ben taken out to lunch by the teachers, and even when we stay in for school lunches, Oi, the primary English teacher insists upon going out to a street restaurant and buying me extra 'special' food - I think they want to feed me up and eat for my christmas dinner! I keep telling them, no, my boyfriend is arriving in 3 weeks, I need to get slim! But they just laugh and kep on offereing me food! They did refer to me as looking 'strong' though the other day, not sure whether to take this as a compliment...haha.
Im having great fun with my classes, especially the primary kids, Im working with a number of classes with kids aged between 9 and 16 and am spending my spare time at the centre making new resouces for games for the students. Im only teaching about 3 hours a day which is fab, means in between lessons I can play on the internet in the directors off, or go back to Openminds, and as its so close I get to have lovely lie ins...on Wednesdays I dont start teaching until 11 am!
Life at Openminds is very relaxed, and I feel vey content to have a routine again; because im teaching at the school I dont feel too guilty about sitting around relaxing for the rest of the time. Weve been to the local backpacker bar a couple of times, and me and Katie are trying to get fit playing badminton most days, but only after pm when the sun starts to go in, its too hot the rest of the time! This weekend I plan to explore the local countryside on a nice long bike rid. Another perk to staying here is being fed! I buy my own breakfast (musilee and yughurt - go me) but they cool lunch and dinner for us (apart from at weekends) and its always a delicious buffet of various meat and vegetable dishes, noodles and sticky rice, yummm, I just cant stop eating! Im currently writing this at school on my break between lessons, better go now though as its just about lunchtime and Im looking forward to seeing what treats theyve got in store for me today!