Hello once more sweet people of Britain. Its been over a week since i last reported so once more I thought I would share with you a taste of what I have been up to since my last epistle. I trust you are all well...
So, the last time I wrote I was awaiting my first day at work with some degree of trepidation. Not having any contact with the school which was on holiday and therefore having no idea what I was in for and no chance to prepare any lesson plans the nerves really started to kick in the night before and sleep was at a premium. But the morning soon arrived and off I went bright and early in search of a motorbike taxi to take me to school. This was the first problem, as although I found once swiftly explaining where I wanted to go proved more than tricky. The school is called Princess Chulapbong College (pronounced Chu-La-boooonng for some reason) and I couldnt get the message accross. Eventually he grasped it and took me there at breakneck pace meaning I arrived somewhat dishevelled. Thankfully I was greeted by the agency people who boxed me off the job and they introduced me to all the Thai teachers in my department who all speak great English and are extremely friendly and welcoming. Too much at times as they shower you with all manner of foodstuffs that although mainly revolting it is impolite not to eat.
Thankfully the first day there I found out that there were no lessons, just registration for students. So I spent the day just exploring the school and meeting people, as well as some basic lesson plans for my first lessons, this basically involved introducing myself and playing various games to get to know the students as well as finding out their general level of English. I am in charge of Matiom 5 and Matiom 6, which is essentially 16-18 year olds. The school is a private school and parents pay a lot of money for their kids to study there so in general the students are really pretty smart and have a good grounding in the Queen's. In some cases they are all too aware of this fact and can be a bit smart arse for my liking but I have found that a smile and smarter retort can put them at ease.
I was helped throughout this first few days and beyond by two Western teachers who teach the younger kids there, Calvin and Steph. They are a couple of years younger than me and are a couple from Durban in South Africa. They also did their TEFL training with the same company I did so we have a lot of the same skills and ideas and beyond that they are just really sound people so we get on like a house on fire. Cal especially is a great laugh.
So the first week I was just eased into school life and even today where I have started "real" lessons things are very relaxed. There are 9 periods in the day lasting 50 mins each from 8.30 - 4pm. On average I teach 3/4 periods a day, leaving plenty of time to plan future lessons and just mooch about the English dept, which us Western teachers generally have the run of thanks to the Thai teachers ridiculously busy schedules. This means I essentially dont have to take any work home, so evenings and weeksends are mostly free.
In addition, I found out on Wednesday that as Ross had left, the guy who I replaced, the position of football coach was up for grabs and mine if I wanted it. My football dreams flashed right before my eyes and visions of glory shone brightly. If Peter Reid can make it over here surely I can?? I took the job on and with fierce determination gathered the boys on Friday afternoon for some drills and skills. It turns out they are all pretty good, in fact they have some mad skills and certainly more fitness than me, with the lung capacity of a three year old. They do lack sopme positional discipline and tactical awareness, and thats where I come in. I will be Hall of Fame before too long I tell thee...
In summary, the school side of things has started really well, and long may it continue. Other than that the only things I have been up to is to socialise and meet a lot more "Ferang" (Foreign) teachers. Cal and Steph invited me to "Wednesday Club" at their gaff which is simply a night where a few of us gather for dinner and some beers, usually the sickeningly tasty but strong Chang, which left me with a nasty Changover on the Thursday. (Fear not though mum, I only have one lesson on a Thursday and its late afternoon so I felt fully justified!)
Again, at the weekend we gathered at the station shop as Ross had told me this is where the Westerners head on a weekend for fun and frolics. It is a strange shop, selling everything literally from Cigarettes and beers to actually fitted wedding dresses. But it is so cheap, 30 baht, (around 60p) for a litre of Chang with ice and stuff. A beautiful drop after a hard week at work. There I met plenty of Londoners a bit older than myself, a couple of American broards around my age and a Dutch girl called May who is a really nice girl too. We all had a good weekend and I ended up at Trang's only nightclub, "Say Yes" on Saturday for the Halloween party. It was a surreal experience surrounded by Thai's painted whiter than I was dancing to Thai versions of Thriller and Monster mash. Needless to say I got involved and as we dressed up the doorstaff gave us two free bottles of whisky to enjoy. A cheap and messy night was had by all and I actually came home in profit, winning 200baht for third prize in the best dressed competition. It would have been embarassing being called on stage to collect my winnings could I remember it! I also felt guilty as my makeup and costume were provided for me by a local salon owner. A fruity fella with a penchant for all things makeup, so he did me out a zombie wonderfully, and for no charge, so I bought him a bevvie with my winnings as thanks and promised him I would head to his shop when a haircut is required.
Then from Sunday morning till now, literally 9pm on Monday night, it has rained, and rained, and rained, without a single break in play. The noise of the water is like torture, and it is raining hard. Proper storms. The locals say it could literally last all week and the rivers are close to flooding so it could get a bit messy out here. Luckily I live on the 4th floor so I hope I will be sweet!
That just about takes me up to today, where the big news is that I have finally grown a pair and rented myself a moped/motorbike. Having test driven one and nearly died a couple of weeks back I opted for a small engine, and an automatic at that, none of this gear changing shizzle for moi. Anyway I went to pick it up off my friend "Bang", (Thai people have ace nicknames, in my classes the register is a highlight. I have a few called "Boss" a couple of "Cartoons", a "Beer" and even a "Helicopter", not to mention some "Bombs" and a harshly jusged "Gay". The parents need help.) and he presented me with a pretty new (6 months old) scooter. It looks pretty gnarly from the front and back but only as I was riding it home in the pissing rain did I notice some pretty iconic emblems on the ride. Yes, I was riding a Winnie the Pooh and Tigger mobile. Sweet...It gives it that character I desired and in many ways embodies my riding style, quite camp like Winnie and very jumpy like Tigger. Perfecto...
Anyhows, I best be getting off, I plan on watching a DVD and hoping the rain finally subsides. I hope you are all well and you had a happy Halloween. The pictures from Upper Pah look ace, wish I could have been there chaps. My Skype name is Ianh84c if anyone wants to add me for a chin waggle. Peace. x