Well it’s been a while since I’ve posted, and I would say that it’s because I’ve been a bit busy with school etc… but my colleagues would give me all sorts of abuse because that is definitely NOT the case. In fact, I’ve barely taught at all since I last posted, due to exams and extra-curricular trips which I’m not involved with. Basically, I’ve just been a bit lazy.
Although I suggested in my last post that I probably wouldn’t go on any trips during January, I did actually manage to spend a few days in Nakhon Si Thammarat (about 3 hours north of Hat Yai) and spent a weekend on Koh Lanta after it turned out the high school was going on a huge scout trip, which meant I didn’t have to be in school. The trip to Nakhon was really good – I saw one of my best friends from my time studying in Holland, and given we quite reasonably thought we would never see each other again (being from other sides of the world) it was really cool to hang out,. I managed to make it to a waterfall (with a rope jump and everything!), and the general vibe was a lot different to Hat Yai, and it certainly made me think about my plans for the next semester and what I want from the remainder of my time in Thailand. Unfortunately I lost my camera on the way back, so I don’t have any photos (I do now have a new camera, but only got in on Saturday and haven’t taken a photo with it yet).
As for my trip to Koh Lanta, I was basically told late in the week that I would have the next Monday, Tuesday and Weds off. So on Saturday afternoon I packed my bag and went to the bus station, and got the first bus to one of the jump off points for the Islands (Krabi, Satun or Chumpon) – the first bus was going to Krabi, so I spent the night in a hostel there and then got the mini-van over to the island. As the Lonely Planet guide mentions, it is incredibly beautiful. But it is also pretty fucking boring (there’s only so much time I can spend reading a book on a beach) and is very much a family/couples resort, so not a great destination for a backpacker, and I probably won’t go back any time soon.
Although I may not have had many adventures recently, there have been some gradual developments as far as my teaching and interactions with the Thai populations are concerned. The biggest development is undoubtedly in my grasp of the Thai language, which I’m quite proud to say is coming along quite quickly. I can have brief and basic conversations in Thai, and as a result I no longer have to drink sweet coffee, which has drastically improved my quality of life. I can also understand some things that are said, although this is not necessarily a good thing. I really wasn’t expecting to be so disappointed and hurt when I heard a kid calling me a retard – I mean that’s just what kids say about their teachers, especially if they think the teacher doesn’t understand – and I have been told by others that while Thais do smile at you quite a lot, what they say doesn’t always correspond to their friendly facial expression (although this is probably no different to anywhere in the world). But generally, picking up some of the language has been a huge positive, and it has improved my relationship with most of my students. I can now joke with them and tell them a bit more about myself, as well as make it clear that I don’t actually hate them (even if I do hate teaching them). Unfortunately, I am fairly sure that as a result, most of the students have completely stopped listening to me when I speak English, and I have noticed that students do seem to think that the students don’t really speak any English to me any more.
Also, I do think that the novelty factor of me teaching and living in a foreign country has pretty much disappeared (both for me and my colleagues/students). There are aspects of living in Thailand that didn’t used to bother me that I now find incredibly frustrating (mainly the need for outrageous amounts of sugar in EVERYTHING) – and I think that for many of the students, I am no longer the exciting, new ‘farang’ teacher. Now, I’m just another teacher trying to get them to learn a subject that they have no interest in and can see little or no use for. I would like to go into this in a bit more detail (and will do at a later date), but for obvious reasons I will just say that I am not hearing ‘teacher handsome’ as much as I was, and I have had some pretty awful classes (although I still have some really good ones too).
Finally, this week my colleague Lana finished teaching at the school – in between lecturing me on the superior bone density of the cave men compared to today’s human beings, she also taught me most of the my Thai and helped me find my bearings in Hat Yai. So I’d like to thank her for all her help and wish her the best of luck with everything in the future.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed this post – sorry if it seems like a bit of ‘filler’, but to be honest right now there is not a lot going on, as most people seem to just be counting down to the end of the semester and saving money. Also, sorry about the lack of photos.