Here we go again, another job, another country and another episode of the web diary.
I've been here exactly a week now busily settling in to my new home. It's very big with three bedrooms, four bathrooms, an office, lounge, dining room, kitchen, roof top patio and a small back garden, . Everywhere is covered in a thick layer of dust at the moment but I'm gradually getting rid of that (until I can find a maid). Luckily I've not seen many mini-beasts (cockroaches) though a spider the size of Africa was lurking behind the curtains when I moved in.
There are a number of large shopping centres near my house which can be reached by taxi very cheaply. There is a corner shop (open all hours) 100 yards away and plenty of places to eat within five minutes walk.
It takes me exactly 15 minutes to walk to school though a minibus collects me and other teachers living in the same road. The school buildings are out of this world looking just like a five star hotel with three outdoor pools. The school canteen serves a range of western and Thai food which suits me just fine.
Pupils' first day at school. A greater mix of nationalities than in Singapore and very well behaved.
On the way home I bought an ironing board so that the maid, who starts today, can do the ironing. As I walk down the road into "Happy Land" (the name of my housing estate), the guard (4'6") sees me, gets off his bike and rushes to my assistance. Though I try to refuse his offer of help, his English is non-existent and his sign language is adamant. I end up walking the rest of the way to my house with this tiny guard in his immaculate miniature uniform (with cap) walking three yards behind me, ironing board on shoulder, marching like a Russian ceremonial trooper.
I'm learning Thai very quickly as the locals don't speak English. I went around the market asking for ice trays today and was getting some very funny looks. Then suddenly it dawned upon me that I had got the words for "ice" and "toilet" mixed up..... What are toilet trays anyway?
As food and drink are so cheap here I find myself eating out every evening. It is a real challenge though as the people just don't speak any English and the menus are in Thai script. You can't miss me in the restaurant, I'm the one making clucking sounds like a chicken to make myself understood. The trouble is when I want chicken I get eggs and when I want something from the bar I get lamb!
This morning we saw the whole school together for the first time. All 1553 pupils gathered on the basketball courts for a "welcome" assembly. What a sight!
Congratulations to The Sahotas who won "Best Live band 1998" award at the Movie Bhangra Awards in London last week.
Day spent doing "The Tourist Thing"
Most of the children at school are Bilingual... but even better, so is my TV. For each program you can choose to hear the sountrack in English or Thai. "All Creatures Great and Small" is hilarious in Thai!
As for eating in restaurants:
With 11000 restaurants in Bangkok it seemed like a good idea to eat at a different place each evening. In this area there are plenty to choose from ranging from nice places where you can choose to sit next to the swimming pool (last night) to the make shift pavement restaurants where the cook has a single wok over a large burner and will fry anything you point at.
I thought a grading system would have been useful... like the AA system of awarding stars to hotels or Egon Ronay whatever. I have decided to classify the pavement food stalls by the number of rats you spot while eating your meal.
This evening I dined at a three rat and one baby ratling establishment.... very tasty!
not much time to write... packing bag for weekend...
Weekend Staff trip to Hua Hin
Andy and Monica, teachers who left ISS in Singapore the same time as me, are taking the long (very long) route home through China and Mongolia. Just received an interesting email from them recounting their adventures so far.
What an increadible sight... Each afternoon over a hundred ladies dressed in a light blue uniform form a line along the path leading out of school. They are the bus monitors who are employed to keep an eye on the children on the busses transporting them to and from school.
Another rainy season downpour this evening so just as I was about to venture out to sample another of Bangkok's 11 000 restaurants I was forced to stay in and phone for a pizza. How very western. Pizza, Garlic bread and a Pepsi (bottle) only 3 quid though!
Poor old Pauline (not that old really .. mid 20s I think) has been ordered to lie on her back without moving for ten days. She was in a taxi accident which are apparently quite common here. She is already very bored and wishes she could get back to school to teach.
I went around to visit this evening and got caught in a deafening thunderstorm on the way home. Forced to take shelter under the cover of a food stall where I had to buy beer while I waited for the storm to pass. .... The storm lasted a long time J
Julie, Deputy Maths Faculty Leader, organised a bit of a bash at her place this evening for all of us maths teachers. I'm sure all you non-mathematicians would have been so interested in our philosophical discussions (not). ... but we enjoyed it once we'd taken our anoracks off!
Another teacher not well. Heather was rushed into hospital this week and needed an emergency operation (womens' problem). Went to visit today... she's fine ... the school has arranged for her to be in a private room which looks to me far better than a five star hotel. The care she is receiving is in fact much better than in any western country
After being away all last weekend .. I've so much work to catch up with this weekend... no fun!
Four on a bike:
...wait a minute...that should be five on a bike (see bulge in mother's coat)!
Set up a page for maths at the school and included some photographs of the pupils. Click in the link below:
There are holes in the sky
That let the rain in
But they're everso tiny
That's why the rain is thin!
Spike Milligan (I think)
There were rumour's that a cyclone was heading our way but the guys on the BBC World weather programmes knew nothing about it and were right. The thunder was very loud and the rain came down in buckets the size of very big buckets. The roads leading to our estate soon became flooded and I had to wade up to my knees to get to my food. I thought nothing of it as rain water must be reasonably clean... until I saw that the water was actually coming up from the drains!!!! The sewers were overflowing onto my legs... yeuch.
First official Thai lesson today. Four of us new teachers are being taught by a local teacher for an hour every Thursday. I'm sure the lesson would be far more controlled if it weren't for the gin and tonics which form an integral part of the learning process.
Our first lesson was about fruit and vegetables (hmmm food... surprise surprise). We knew from staffroom chat that the word for banana was almost identical to the word for being scared and this ex-pat area of Bangkok is famous for seeing westerners on that back of motorcycle taxis shouting "Cha cha phom gluey" which literally translated means "slow down, I'm a banana"!
Here's Claire and John practising their fruit and veg words with the plastic copies provided by our delightful Thai teacher.
In the house opposite mine, eight Thai carpenters are refitting the house from top to bottom. They always line up at the gate to wave to me when I go to and from school. they speak no English but I've been practicing my Thai fruit and veg words on them... oh and I also know the word for pen, it's "bugger" ... but I digress (Ronnie Corbett).
The carpenters have their lunch brought to them everday by a guy who looks like the typical Chinese man from the Aladdin panto. He carries two baskets suspended from the ends of a long pole balanced on his shoulder. It was only when I took a closer look at his baskets that I realised that in one of them was a fire on which he was cooking hard boiled eggs ... well not boiling them really as there was no water. This cooking was going on as he walked along.
Click on the picture below to see the "hard boiled eggs and nuts (Laurel and Hardy) man" in all his glory.
An early morning shopping trip to Chatuchak weekend market. It is Thailand's largest weekend market selling practically everything under the sun (the very hot sun) from almost 9000 individual booths.
Five of us hired one of the school minibusses plus driver and drivers mate. The bus was only just big enough to transport us and our bargains back to our houses at the end of a fascinating morning at this Aladin's cave.
The trouble with learning Thai from a Berlitz language tape is that it repeats all the phrases twice which makes you want to do the same. The trouble with learning Thai from a Berlitz language tape is that it repeats all the phrases twice which makes you want to do the same.
Eskimos have many words for snow. The Thais have many words for banana so despite bananas hanging all over this market stall .. because I was asking for a type of banana they hadn't got they claimed that they had no bananas.
At last ... my gear arrived from Singapore so spent this evening unpacking.
Enough for September, let's jump ahead to October.
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