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Diary 2004

Here we go into the brave new world of 2004 ( or something )

January 6
Well its nearly decision time on whether I stay or go.  At the moment I am actually 50-50 even though some of the last few postings have been fairly negative.  All I know is that I want to do more travelling out here before either I go home or start school again.
At the moment I am thinking about maybe Phillipines, Vietnam or Bali.  Just wait and see - I will probably end up 5 miles down the road somewhere  !!!
School has just started again, what a farce.  I suppose this should have been put in last years page but never mind.  The school organised a new year party for all the teachers Prathom ( primary ), Matthayom ( secondary ), Thai and foreign alike.  ( We work through an agency that has the contract with the Prathom school to supply teachers ) Our agency had told us that we had to go alone and no one could bring girlfriends or wifes as there was no space.  Well, I duly turned up to find everyone else( thai teachers and matthayom teachers ) not only could but some brought their kids as well!!
Of course, what it is, is that the agency doesnt trust us not to bring girls that would be looked down upon ie lower class Issan bar girls or goodtime girls to phrase it politely.  I mean for Petes Sake!! The agency dont give us any measure of respect or trust.  It is really pissing off a lot of folk who will not want their contract renewed.

January 12
Just went for another run on my multiple entry yesterday and got it but yeeesh!

A total of 14hrs door to door.  Getting there was no hassle but when I got to the corner before all the offices I notice a long line of Thais waiting.  I thought that the were waiting to get into the shrine thats just beside the Thai exit building as there was a steel barricade down keeping them 2 abreast.  

I just walked round past them all and into the exit building where it was mobbed, I could hardly get into the room.  Every line was full - 3 windows for the Thais and one for everyone else.  I had hoped by going on a Sunday and arriving at 12.00 that it wouldnt be busy with Thais crossing to gamble and the KSR buses wouldnt have arrived yet..  Wrong.   Looking across the road to the Thai entry building, the queue was 40 yards long for the foreigners and about 15 yards for the Thais.

All the Thais leaving must have been going to the casinos after all, as the Cambodia visa issuing, the entry and exit  offices were completed in 5 minutes.

But they are now asking for 200B for a same day exit.  They were asking everyone where they are going and when they were going back to Thailand.  They will accept 100B after no more movement on your part or if you can brass it out try nothing and see what happens.

When I got back to Thailand, the entry queue had reached back another 10 yards.  The queue was moving very slowly and it (not so) soon became apparent why.  It was a combination of people not filling in the arrival cards until the got to the window and the officers were asking detailed questions of many people - where did they say as in room number, how long, what were they going to do, where did they work and so on.  When it was my turn they both ( the keying in officer and the stamping officer ) had a very good look at all the stamps in my book before they gave me another 90 days.  It was a more detailed look than when the scare about fake stamps was at its highest!  At one point, I looked back to check the length of the queue and saw it almost reach the gold painted fence which is the one that marks the end of Thai territory!

Just over 2hrs in total to go through both sets of immigration!???  ???

And to top it all, when I was queing to get back in, the rainy season arrived :(

Feb 2
Well, here we are going into February already.  I think its fair to say that every teacher at the school is ready to drop dead through lack of energy, get up and go, motivation as we and I have got our full fill of the kids misbehaving.  Things that I used just let pass by now are clamped down on - or at least I try to.  Everyone has that end of term feeling where we are sort of turning up but cant really be bothered.  Even the kids have it.  Interesting to see who got it first, us or them.  I think them as they never really settled down after Xmas and New year.
Next week sees the start of the exams and the papers are sitting in the office just now but have not yet been stapled.  I have a strange feeling they wont be ready for Monday.  But then thats cynical old me.  In theory this Friday is the last day of teaching with 2 weeks for our exams and two weeks of Thai exams and we never see the kids again but based on last year, we will see them again for some point.  But again thats cynical old me.
This last week has been a bit difficult to get onto the site for some reason which has meant the new diary content is different than what I had intended.
Well, proved wrong again.  The exams were ready and we launched into the exams this week.  The way its working is that our group is looking after 1 specific exam for all the students in our group.  We can only do this as we all teach the kids at the same time.  What is happening is that the kids have been split into 3 groups.   A, B and you can guess the other.  While one group does the speak tes, another does the listening and another the reading and writing and then they rotate.  Sounds easy. 
In theory it is.  But unfortunately, we are in a semi battle with the Thai teachers who use our rooms after us in the and before us in the morning.  They re arrange the desks to suit them and dont change them back.  They know we are doing exams and have been asked not to move the desks but.  It means we spend about 10 frantic minutes trying to move the desks back inot exam order and get the kids from their rooms to our room, take the test within 50 minutes.  Not easy.  After that its relatively ok until the next day.
The other great battle looming is that one of the teachers in our group has decided that the test is too hard and will mark on a "curve"  ie if you get o/20 you will get 19%, 1/20 24%, 2/20 29%, ....   10/20 69% up to 17 and above out of 20 where you will get 100%!   I had the battle with him during the last exams and to paraphrase him said well you know nothing, your opinion means nothing to me, this is the way we are doing it.  Unfortunately, this guy is fairly strong willed and bullied a couple of the others into the scheme.  The others having just lost all sense of energy, will to fight and just want to have an easy ride.  Knowing the same battle would occur this time, I just made the head teacher aware of it and will let him sort it out.
This guy is really a grade A selfish, arrogant, know-it-all ******   This is the guy that after 1 month of teaching,told a new teacher at the school how to teach and this new guy had two years experience!  He also passed off a lot of the worksheets as stuff HE had done when in fact it had been made up the prevous year by myself and some other teachers.  He arrived for work in the morning and immediately goes to a pc to talk with his mum and friends back home in America on yahoo messenger until he has to go to teach.  Almost every spare second he has is spent on a pc chatting.  HE has no sense of others wanting the the pc and has to be specifically asked if he will get off a machine before he moves.  If a general comment is made he will just sit and wait for someone else to move ( there are 3 pcs we can use ).
I know this maybe sounds like a moaning old git who has a real grudge against the guy but I think this has been boiling up to the point where I had to release it somewhere and bearing in mind I dont really have the type of personality to say it to someones face, this is as good a place as any.
Anyway, back to the moan.This guy is really bad as a teacher.  Its become a joke now that our corridor is now Major Cinemex 3,4,5  ( major cinema chains here and the teaching room numbers involved )  He shows videos all the time.  The trouble is, my kids talk to his kids and my kids now want a video every lesson.  Its not just me, honest! Most people having seen him in action just laugh at what he does.  Ah well, one more day of exams and then marking next week.
I think the next bit I write about will be the state of English teaching and expats here and the cameradery (spelling ?) there is in Thailand and all the oneupmanship between the various grades of people here.


Camaraderie? There is very little. You maybe have friends from the same school but it does tend to be very hierarchical here in the school world.

At the lowest level up to highest you have


who is here for a few weeks / months and just needs a few quid to get by. They will be hired by the lowest of the low schools who dont care about the students and will pay the lowest wages imaginable.


The one who came over because nothing was working at home or is running away from emotional / financial problems / wanted something different to do but he wasnt sure what. Until he knows he will teach some engleesh.


This can be a crossover with the misfit but this person will have no degree, no TESOL / CELTA or anything else and no experience of teaching. Again these people will be hired by the low-end schools and like the above, have no hope of a work permit or working legally. Possibly they will be working on a tourist visa - which is illegal.


A step up, both in the quality of work you can get and the salary. Will tend to have a B.A. 50/50 whether staying for long and working legally. Again will probably have no teaching experience.


Another step up, both in the quality of work you can get and the salary. Will tend to have a B.A. 70/30 whether staying for long and working legally. At least these folk have gone to the bother of getting 4 weeks training, but it doesnt always guarantee a good teacher or whether someone will stay in the job.


Yet another step up, both in the quality of work you can get and the salary. Will tend to have a B.A. These are folk who maybe have a B.Ed or M.Ed or a PCGE ( a UK post grad teaching certificate ) These folk tend to see themselves as proper teachers and look down on the TEFLers because they have only have 4 weeks training. But again it doesnt always guarantee a good teacher or whether someone will stay in the job. These will be the people the real international schools employ ( unless someone lies about their qualification of course, but that would never ;) happen. ) The trouble is they tend to make you actually really work for a living, I have heard stories of 50 to 60 hour weeks. Bit of a drawback there.

So how much is how much? Well, figure 20,000 to 25,000Baht per month at the low end up to 140,000Baht at the high. At the high end you will be truly leading a life of luxury in Bangkok. Where am I? Somewhere in the middle in the DEGREED TEFL and living quite comfortably thank you.

My Holiday

Ok, heres the first bit about my travels round the Phillipines.

I was told that one of the first ways to know you are nearing Manila Airport or to give it its proper name Ninoy Aquino International Airport ( Code MNL) was to look at the sea and watch for the change of colour from a brilliant blue to a dark brown. Unfortunately, that indeed was one indicator I did notice as the coast became nearer.

Once the plane got lower my immediate impression was that the airport was actually very close to built up areas but in some ways this proved to be an illusion as the majority of places people will want to go to are still over 10k away. It was a funny thing that one of the first "high" buildings I saw was a church.  A portent of things to come - after all I was landing on Easter Friday on one of the biggest Catholic Nations in the world. 

On landing, I was struck by how quiet the airport was, there were relatively few planes docked at the piers and only one other plane taxi-ing to the runway, this was about 4pm on a Friday afternoon. Leaving the plane was quick and I was glad to see relatively clear signs telling me which way to go ( always a good bonus in an airport ). The route from the plane to immigration was about 600m or so with no working travelators which could prove to be a difficult if you have trouble walking. On the way there, you pass what seems to be a new trend in airports the arrival duty free shop. This one stocked only the major brands of cigarettes, liquors and sweets so I wasnt really interested. The immigration booths were well manned and I was through in 5 minutes, next stage was baggage reclaim which you can see while standing in line for immigration.

This is where the building starts to show its age. The passenger area up until then is relatively clean and modern albeit still not really looked after, there still were signs up about SARS for example that should have been taken down a year ago. Once in the baggage reclaim area it becomes more spartan and utilitarian. The toilets although clean are in need of refurbishment and specifically locks on the doors of the cubicles! After getting your bag its a short ( 40m ) journey to the green or red channels for customs and thereafter into the arrivals hall.

The arrivals hall itself is actually quite small with a couple of ATMs to your left, a couple of Tourist Information and hotel places to your right. There were no shops that I could see to buy some soft drinks or a little snack to keep you going until your hotel. The first trick you have to do is look as though you know where you are going otherwise you will be approached by the hotel / tourist information touts. Now by touts I mean they are offering overpriced services you can get on your own at a much cheaper price. It is nothing to do with whether they are working for the Official Tourist Agency or not. In many countries that organisation is just designed to suck as much money out of people as possible. In the space of 30 yards I was approached by no less than 4 different people asking the same stupid questions

Would I like a hotel/taxi?

Why is it that in tourist places, that these touts dont use their brain or at least their eyes to think oh, they just said no to someone else, I will leave them alone? No, its always, they just said no, if I ask them again, they might say yes!

Anyway, if you stay on the ground floor, your transport options unless you are being picked up are very few. There is no direct bus service or railway station to the airport. If you fancy a 300m walk down the exit ramp, you can get a passing bus, or a jeepney into town. ( A jeepney is basically an extended minibus colourfully painted with no windows or rear doors. Its one of the main forms of transportation in the Philippines ) I would not recommend this for the first timer though. The main option is to get the Official Airport Taxi For this, the fares are set in advance and are displayed on a board beside the rank 30m outside the exit doors. The fare is paid in advance and you are given a receipt and no further money should be paid. For the area I was going to ( Ermita ) the fare was 380 Pesos which I found out later is almost 4 times what it costs to get back to the airport. ( The current exchange rate is US$1 - 55 Pesos and 100 to the pound)

Another alternative is ( after you have checked the departure board for the airport fares ) to make your way up to the 1st floor ( departure level ) and exit the building that way. After this, flag down a taxi dropping off passengers and ask him to put the meter on and off you go. Officially, though, you and they are not supposed to do this. If you do have to negotiate a fare, you have the board fare to base the fairness of what you are offered. Normally, the more confident you are even if you are bluffing the better the fare. If you get to about 40% of the board fare, that is an OK deal, not great but OK.

Unfortunately, I was there for the first time and couldnt find my way up to the first floor.  Sometimes, they apparently lock the connecting doors to stop people getting quick and cheap taxis.  So I ended up paying the 380 Pesos.

Leaving the airport you are then put into the lap of the gods that is known as Manila road traffic but thats another story.

Well to be honest first impressions are not that good. Just from a quick walk around the area in Ermita the predominant smell is urine - stale and fresh. It is not the most deliteful of areas to say the least. And of course I have landed on Good Friday! So some of the places are shut AARRRGGHHHHH!

And to top it all the batteries I brought including the ones in my camera are flat so I couldnt take any pictures from the plane and have to buy new ones as well.

A lot of the bars, restaurants and shops are shut because of Easter. But unlike BKK they have gone and shut the mass transit system for the weekend !! Next time anyone complains about the BKK holiday efforts I will give them this example.

According to The Lonely Planet The Ermita Tourist Inn is a good value clean an comfortable hotel, maybe 10 years ago.  Against my first judgement, I decided to stay the night and regretted it.  The air con was noisy, the controls didnt work, the bathroom was not the best and neither was the bedding.  A mistake - but at least at 660 Pesos, it was cheap.  The next morning I checked out and went to a hotel round the corner - The Frendy Hotel, no thats not a mistype.  The difference was amazing, modern comfortable, clean and with proper air con, cable tv , room service etc.  All for 1200 Pesos a night.

There definately is a different feel about AC than Manila or Pattaya or BKK. Its something that as yet I cant pin down but I feel more on edge here walking around town than any other place in Thailand. I even felt more at ease in Cambodia. Maybe its the guards with assault rifles or shotguns or just pistols outside every club, shop and hotel, maybe its just the more obvious "poorness" of the country and town. I might have been in a bad area in Manilla but it is one of the most run down capitals I have seen.


A Bank Guard In Manilla
Yes, that really is an automatic machine gun and he has 3 friends about 30 yards away with more!

After there, I went to a town called Angeles City which in all honesty, I dont think I would want to go back there again.  What is there to do?  Umm, not a lot except drink and eat.  The tourist facilities are non existant and those that are there are not worth bothering about.

One trip I did do was a walk up to the volcano that erupted about 10 years ago about 25k away from the town.  The volcano trip lasts about 12 hours in all but the ride there is about 90min and then about a 90+ walk up the hill depending on how fast you walk.

It is actually a very beautiful site but all in all I wouldnt recommend it at the moment because
1) you get given a guide which you have to pay for from the Department of tourism, most cant speak english and ours didnt at all so he didnt tell us anything about the whys and wherefores of the volcano. Also he walked anything from 10m to 400m ahead the whole time occasionally looking back to check if we were still there. There were 3 people in the trip and we all slipped and fell a couple of times on the rocks, fortunately with no more serious injury than scrapped skin and bruises.    I have since found out that the mountain used to be about 6000ft high but is now only about 1000ft. the crater itself is maybe about 1 mile wide, the force in the explosion must have been immense.

2) the jeep they use ( also provided by the dept of tourism ) has only 2 seats and then anyone else sits in the back on bare metalwith no grab handles to hold onto and no cushions even to sit on also teh height of the roof is so low that i was forced to sit bent over about 45 degrees the whole time. The result is that my back and backside is now covered with bruises from hitting the bare metal sides and floor of the jeep.

All of us complained when we got back but were basically just told, it was all the fault of the tourism people and case closed.

Getting money out of ATMs is a problem, a lot of the machines are mastercard / cirrus and not visa /electron which is a problem for me as my two main cards are on the visa system and they seem to be offline a lot in the evenings and weekends when you do find one. But my Bangkok Bank card does let me take money out, it will be interesting to see what charges I have got though when I go home. Here in AC I have only found 3 ATMs so far which sounds incredibly few.

Just to prove that everywhere is Asian seems to be the same same but different. 

There is a money changer just at the bottom of Fields Ave that had consistantly amongst the best rates but..... The conversation went something like this

I went there one time and wanted to change 4000B,
she says "I have no money, come back in 30 min."
OK. I come back 30 min later
and she says "I dont know Thai Baht, I cannot change them."
What do you mean i say.
" I dont know if the notes are correct" she says.
OK, is there someone who does?
"yes, my boss."
Ok, where are they?
When are they back?
"dont know"
Why didnt you tell me you dont know what Baht look like?
"My boss knows"
Was your boss here when I was here earlier?
"No, boss come then go"
OK, can you change UK pounds?
NO, have no money


My return flight was at 11.15 on a Thursday evening and I had been warned about leaving enough time to get through the airport. Coming back from Ermita, I left my hotel at just before 8 in the evening and flagged down the first taxi I saw but he didnt want to take me to the airport, nor did the second or the third. The fourth initially tried to get a fixed fare of 200P then dropped it to 150P before finally relenting and turning on the meter with wails of its too far, petrol is expensive, wouldnt get a return fare and so on. He even tried to say that the meter fare would be more expensive than the special fare he was offering. After a quick 20 minute journey, the fare turned out to be 97 Pesos, a nice little bonus he tried to get. And just as I got out the taxi, a Korean gentleman immediately hired him back into the city.

Now the procedure to enter the airport and fly out of the country is nightmare from start to finish. Even before getting dropped off, the taxi had to stop at a checkpoint and the boot opened and checked. To get into the airport building itself, you must have a passport and ticket for a flight leaving that day. If you dont have that, you dont get in. Kiss your friends and family away at the front door. 1st check. Immediately on entering the building you have your bags x-rayed and you walk through a metal detector and are frisk searched. 2nd check. You then move to a counter in between you and the check in queues, all your bags are opened and searched and tickets and passport checked, 3rd check. You then join the check in queue and halfway round that, your tickets and passport checked again, 4th check. Then further round the queue, the main bags are weighed and tickets and passport checked again 5th check. Then finally you check in, where guess what, your tickets and passports are checked again. 6th check.

After checking in, I had a look round the ground side of the departure building and there is absolutely nothing to do. There are no shops, no snack areas, nothing except a currency exchange ( which you may need ! ) The only thing ground side are the check in desks. Because of this I went into the departure area, and queued up to pay what to some people may come as a surprise - the departure tax which must be paid in cash, no cheques or credit cards allowed. Remember to keep that 550 Pesos otherwise its back to the ATM for you! (They do take US$ as well though), departing Immigration is just behind and after another 25 minutes queuing up to clear, I was finally into the departure lounge.

At this point it was around 10.20pm on a Wednesday night and I assumed that quite a few of the Duty Free shops would still be open so I could buy those last minute gifts and of course use the last chance to get rid of the last of the Pesos. Wrong. Infact, only one of the smaller shops was still open with 2 other gift shops. There was also only one small bar with vastly overpriced snack foods and one soft drinks bar still open. For example, a standard can of coke outside the airport may cost 12-15 Pesos, but inside I was charged 50 Pesos.

About 20 minutes later the flight was called and I went to the pier entrance. There I had my hand luggage x-rayed again, a footwear x-ray and a body frisk. 7th check. They actually had a sign said Final Security Check but they lied, it wasnt. At the departure gate lounge there was one more manual inspection of the hand luggage, tickets, passport and another body frisk. 8th check.

This is one airport that you definitely do need to allow 3 hours to get through. I reckon that adding it all up, I had 10 15 spare minutes on being in the airport 2 hrs 50 minutes. And this was on a weekday evening, so heaven only knows what it is like on a busy Friday evening or Saturday afternoon.


Elite ( the agency ) have just given us a lot of gumf about professional development for this year. We have to draw up a self development plan, carry it out and then it will be reviewed at the end - in other words we do all the work on it, there seems to be no input or help from them! What a joke.



When I came back from the movies I found everyone out in the street and the fire brigade at the apartment. There had been a fire in the kitchen - which is in the basement. Fortunately it was contained there and did not spread but it now is apparent that

there is no fire alarm

there are no fire extinguishers

the staff didnt ring round the rooms or go round the rooms to evacuate people, they did nothing !!!!!!

One woman was sleeping in the 2nd floor and woke up about 1 hour into it all and basically went histerical, which I dont blame her for. If the fire had spread she could have died. She only woke up because she smelt smoke.

The problem is that many places are just as bad, but it does make me wonder if I should look for somewhere new.

9 June

At the end of last term the agency got a new Director of curriculum or curriculum development Manager or some such stupid title. A step forward? Sort of. The trouble is, he has never taught in Thailand, came straight here for the job, goes out wearing football tops at night and is now 6 months later married to a Thai girl he met on KS road he got pregnant. And this is the man who judgement we have to trust. Hmmmmmm.

He has just introduced a Personal Development Plan for all the teachers and its full of lovely buzz words like "feedback" "formulate and present personal plans" "mentoring" and so on. But the reality is that its just a big con.

Instead of the representative - note, not teacher - of the agency consulting with his boss, getting outside viewpoints on strengths and weaknesses, agreeing a plan, allocation resources as it is now done in all the touchy feely companies in the west. It is done as follows
The employee decides what he is good and bad at
The employee decides what to develop
The employee decides how to do it
The employee finds out how to do it
The employee gets the books, training courses etc ( which the company may provide - no promises there )

Do you see a pattern developing here? The company is leaving it all up to the teachers - oops, sorry, representatives to do it all themselves and then they can claim it was self improvement / development.

This year, I am teaching Prathom 2 & 3 kids which is a move upwards. Prathom 1 are nice but the first 3 months of school is murder, colour the ball RED !

For some reason, the Prathom 2 kids which I have this year are far worse than last years crop. I suspect, but cannot prove, that the reason is last years batch of P1 teachers. Three out of five didnt give a toss about the job they were doing and showed the kids movies rather than go through the bother of teaching them. This unfortunately got to the point where our corridor was renamed SFX row or Major Cinemex row. So far, most of the trouble makers I have identified have been taught by these 3 "professionals".

15 June

Exciting day today, I have 2 periods to teach, the first one and the last one. Well, what did I do? umm, checked www.ajarn.com wound a few conspiracy theorists up - aparantly the World Trade Centre was demolished with controlled explosions and had nothing to do with the 2 planes full of fuel and hundreds of people inside them and then I jaunted way down Sukhimwit to the end of the line and beyond to get my electric shaver sorted.

My reliable old Braun has seen service for probably 10 years plus and not really given me any real problems but it as starting to sound like a lawnmower on a cold morning and the battery
wasnt holding any charge so, time for a service. Typically, the service centre is not open during the weekend. Which meant that depending on my timetable I possibly would never get it fixed there. But because of the long break I jaunted down there and in 30 minutes had a new battery installed which seems to have solved the problem. ( I will wait until I use it properly though for final judgement).

With the Braun going, I had to cue dramatic music here, use a razor and for the first time in my life I bought some shaving cream to go with it to cut down on the shaving rash and cuts. It actually seemed to work and it did feel better than previous attempts.

On Friday, both the Project Manager and Assistant Project Manager ( who are both totally ineffectual ) werent in. Today we found out why! They had bogged off to Hua Hin at lunchtime. Feckers!! The reason one of them gave, was that this would be his last chance for a holiday until August!!! Unfecking real guys, you are in a SCHOOL with a SCHOOL TIMETABLE, that means you have holidays when the school is on holiday. I would like to see their reaction if I asked them to take a Friday afternoon this week off because my next holiday will be October. Aye right pal.

16 June

Well, it was Wai Kru day today or as its commonly known Why Kru? Officially its the day when students pay respect to their teachers and probably every school in Thailand has some sort of ceremony and we were no different.

There we were bright (HA HA!) and early (ish) at 8am for the national anthem and morning assembly and straight into the Wai Kru formalities. At the start it looked like the usual arrangement of the important Thai teachers up on a stage and us poor farang standing in the corner like a starving waif with a window pressed against the restaurant wanting to be let in and fed. Then whats this? Wow! We are invited (told) to sit in actual plastic chairs in front of the stage. Still not worthy enough for inclusion in the actual ceremony but at least visible. Then again thats all we are sometimes, a visible white presence to show to the parents. No doubt the school photographers and video takers were making sure they got plenty of shots of the big wigs and the white faces.

Did it make any difference in the kids behaviour the rest of the day? Dream on.

One of the tools we have to try and control the kids is a mark sheet. Basically, for every class they are given a mark out of 10 and the best homeroom gets to put a pennant outside, WHOOO HOOO! Sometimes, the kids pay attention to a decreasing score sometimes they dont, there is no hard and fast rule on it. But today I saw for the first time ever ( I think ) a Thai teacher had given a class a score of 0, ZERO. Go Teacher!

One of the problems we have is that sometimes our scores are either not included at all and ignored - seems to be especially when they are low, funny that. Sometimes they have been altered by the Thai teachers to increase the score and obviously their face i.e. from a 3 to a 8, a 1 to a 7 and so on. Sometimes, if one of us forgets the sheet, the score is made up by the Thai teacher.

18 June

I don't know why, but it seems like Thai kids are absolutely incapable of actually standing straight on their own two feet. At the end of every day, the rooms broadcast prayers over the loudspeakers in the room and the kids are supposed to stand and say them. Getting them to do that is a nightmare, they are packing up, moving their chairs, swaying, having one knee on a chair, elbows on the desks as though their body weight is so great that the legs cant physically support them. This happens even during the Kings song which is played on Friday after the prayer. If the Thai teachers, parents, head honchos etc saw that, I am sure they would batter the kids into next week for showing that level of disrespect. Or they could just blame the farang for not controlling the kids.

21 June

Well, survived another Monday and the five period hell that it is. Imagine, 5 periods on the trot with only a lunch hour to rest up with.

I know some teachers out there have more but too me they are just plain overworked or exploited or too stupid to see they are doing no one any favours. They cant be giving good lessons if they do more.

Ho hum, mid term testing is in a few weeks. In theory, it should be very easy to organise. I mean its only the first test from the back of the teachers book we are talking about, but the usual story, they ( the management ) try and make it as complex as possible. Mind you, last year they did manage to photocopy the wrong test, the result being we tested the kids on stuff we hadnt taught them yet, so maybe it is quite difficult !!!!

Anyway, instead of just making quick copies of the tests and giving them out to everyone, instead we have to individually troop into the office take the ( ONE ! ) copy of the teachers book make a photocopy and return it.


July 13

Because of the big AIDS conference here the prime minister decided that the schools should be shut for a week to reduce traffic ! They will do anything in this country to show they are the best.

Anyway, at the same time an advert showed up for one of the new low cost airlines, One Two Go, that has started in the last year saying 755Baht for a flight to Phuket. Bearing in mind that this is about the same cost as the train or VIP bus. I decided to jump on a flight so I am in Phuket for 5 days. Nice weather so far and I am a little bit red from the beach.  One of the reasons they are able to make the fare so low is that they have bought a batch of old 747s.  First impressions werent good from the outside with the plane really needing a new coat of paint and the inside I think hasnt been refubished since it was made.  I think I am younger than the plane but maybe not by much.  Its at least 15 years old!

Next week its back to school and the exams start :(

July 20

Well, back at school now and it was great to have that break.  I got down to Patong beach in Phuket as basically it was one of the biggest.  Although I dont mind as much as I used to just sitting on a beach I still need to get around and do other things which is why I choose the biggest place rather than the nicest/quiestest beach.  Having said that, I though the beach was actually very nice.  Not maybe as good as say Ko Samet with Ao Kaew but still very nice.  One thing though is the current - it is quite strong during this time of year, apparently there have been 5 people drowned at Patong already this year.  The weather was actually pretty good given this is monsoon season and it was only really the last day where it was bad.  It rained a couple of times previously but only maybe or an hour or so and then was sunny again.

With it being monsoon season, it is considered low season and I managed to get a hotel with no problem and even get a discount as well.  I stayed at a hotel called Thai Oriental on Song Plee Roi which is the 2nd street back from the beach.  Very nice it was for the money.  I will be getting some pictures up on here soon.

One funny thing was that when I flew down and came out of the airport, I got into a minibus to take me to Patong.  As I climbed into the rear seat, I heard a voice say  "Hello mate, how are you?"  It was a teacher from the Matayom school who had flown down on the same flight as me!  We had both booked it independently of each other without knowing.  We needless to say met up a couple of times in the evenings to discuss world polotics and philosophy over a couple of Earl Grey teas.  :)

Although the room was actually quite basic as I said, what was good about it was that they actually made a feture of it.  The floor was bare teracotta tiles and the walls instead of being just the usual painted plasterboard was actually finished bricks.  So a bit of ingenuity there.  THe bed as well was quite unusual as it was much higher than the vast majority of beds, the base was about 3 feet of the ground. 

Now the thing is about Patong is that if it starts to rain there isnt actually that much you can do indoors.  Go to a bar or stay in the room and er there are a couple of small department stores but unless you are a real shopper it only will be 30 minutes spent.

July 28

Here we are into the marking exams / report card week and its dragging so much.  Its dull its boring.  Its writing positive comments 120 times about people that you really want to say he is lazy, disruptive and a real pain in the....add body part here.

The answers to the exams are the full range of

Q - What is your name?   A   -   I am fine

Q - What is this                 A  -   elhjghsklgh

( no thats not a mistype )

and so on.

Despite being told for the 2nd time in as many months that a holiday was going to be cancelled by the Project Manager, we are in fact on holiday this coming Monday.  I have no idea where he is getting his information from, the cynical amongst us reckon its just a power trip to show who is in charge.

Good news came through on Monday,  The Newcastle football tournament will be shown live on tv out here which means I get to see Rangers live for once.  Great Stuff.  And yes, I know, I am still working on the photographs of Phuket.

Final chance to get the sun today!
Patong Beach 14 July

Patong Beach 14th July

August 23rd
So, here is a couple of pictures of Phuket for you all to enjoy.
Well, here we are into August already and wow doesnt time fly when you are enjoying yourself.  Or maybe not.  This is definately the rainy season with some of the weather being very wet - surprising that isnt it !   Sometimes its just been a couple of hours heavey downpour or a quick 30 minute thungersorm but last week it turned into a 2 day grey overcast cloudy nightmare - reminded me too much of home really.  With this has also brought a lower temperature which is sometimes welcome but it also brings out all the colds and coughs and splutters and yeeeuuuchhy feelings.
In a way its been quite good as I have felt bleuchy a couple of weekends so not gone out which has saved a bit of money but has been rather boring staying in and watching tv.
We just got told last week that our September exams have been brought forward so we are now starting them on September 6.  So that gives us only another one week of real teaching an then we are revising and preteaching any vocab that the kids dont know yet.  Exciting times, I think.  We havent been told yet though, when our holidays in October are, nightmare time.
September 2

Since the start of the rainy season is seems that the coughs and splutters are almost a permanent part of my life here. ( yes, I know this is above but its happened again )

I get rid of one and a few days later another one starts. Whether its because of the relative cool temperature I am not sure sure - after all 24 degrees would be a nice balmy day back home. Its is the difference in temperature between day and night ? Maybe. Is is the Bangkok pollution lowering my resistance to everything? Maybe Is it because i am around kids who do the usual kids stuff with their hands and dont wash? Maybe. But whatever it is, its a complete nightmare. I started taking these multi vitamin pills about 2 months ago and they dont seem to be making much of a difference - so there goes the vitamin theories. It seems fated that I get a cough about Tuesday/Wednesday just in enough time for the weekend. Its actually meant I have totally stayed in the flat about 4/5 weekends in the last 6 months. In one way, I suppose its quite good as its meant I actually saved a bit of money but its been BORING!

Just saw the first accident in the school for quite a while - how there arent more of them I will never know. Its the usual story, two small kids running full pelt all over the palce then WHAP!! round a corner and into each other. In a way it was actually quite funny as the smaller of the two actually did a cartoon bounce off the other one back onto the floor. Of course it wasnt funny for the kids as they mainly got a big shock and after a telling off for running the big one walked away. The smaller one was crying a bit as he seemed to bite his lip a bit in the collision but was ok after a few minutes.

September 6
The first day of the tests started today and it's the usual chaos and reigning confusion.

You get the kids lined up outside their classrooms and you tell them get colours ( coloured pencils ), pencils, rubbers and a ruler, they disappear for 5 minutes and the next conversation goes like this.
" have you got colours?"
"where are they?"
"in the (class)room"
"get them "
and so on down the line so you end up repeating the same conversation 12 times out of 20 kids. Its definitely not good for your health. So after that, you go up to your classroom.
"OK, get your colours out"
"teacher, teacher"
"colours in the room!"
"what? you told me you had them, you waste of good pork on a stick - or in your case a good waste of a piglet or 3 on a stick"

Thus resulting in a quick decision, are they intelligent enough to understand when you tell them to write the colour next to the thing ie writing red next to the ball, when you say "colour the ball red" or should you le them run back down to the class to get the colours or just leave them to wallow in the swamp of stupity that they made for themselves. Difficult.

Exams are an easy and difficult time because you don't need to think too much, just pass out the papers and let them get on with it. But then you have the listening and speaking tests where you end up saying "Colour the ball red" in your sleep. It really is a case of repetition - twice the first time around and twice the 2nd time.

Its still amazing the lack of response sometimes and the lack of thought too. "Colour the whale grey" brings an amazing amount of replies - grey, black, red, green, purple or nothing at all." Two test sentences contain "we had a picnic" and immediately they go to the first picnic they see - which is usually the one in the forest. Unfortunately, the sentence continues ".. at the beach" And when you read the 2nd sentence out, its a wild scramble for the rubber as some of them realise what has happened and try and change it.

Of course, some don't even try and listen. You tell them right at the beginning it is a listening test and to write their name etc on the front, you look up a minute later to see at least two people drawing random lines over one of the storyboard pictures. DOH!

September 7
I haven't spoken too much yet about the work permit situation mainly because its too ongoing and the pissing me off scale is beyond comprehension. But needless to say I am having to jump hoops to get one. Its not so much the Ministry of Education wont think outside the box, its that they don't think. Its apparently too much for them to realise that the initials on the transcript are the full words on the certificate from the college.

Ah well, the speaking tests continue tomorrow.

"What is this?"
"No, what is this"
"What is this? Is it an apple, an orange or a tomato?"


"What is this?"
nod of the head
"What is this?"
shake of the head
"What is this? Is it an apple, an orange or a tomato?"

Some of the conversations with other teachers are great :)
September 10
Well, at least we have now been told about our holidays, which are now the last two weeks in October but its still stupid that we werent told before Sept 3.

Another batch of speaking tests done today and its much as I feared, they are dreadful - ahem - would be dreadful if we used the proper scripts. As usual the word came down that if we unhappy with the exam in any way we could change it. Which of course everyone has and the result is, it is no longer the prestigeous Cambridge exams but some hotchpotch of things thrown together, subjective marking and some teachers arent even doing speaking tests at all. They are giving a mark based on the performance through the year. Which sort of makes sense but again makes a mockery of the whole fact that the agency tells the world that we are doing the Cambridge exam. End result is, the average score is going to be much higher than I previously predicted. I have been so lenient, everyone has been given at least 1 mark.

In the school grounds there are some roads for all the cars to get to car parks etc etc. Yesterday we were leading classes from their play break lineups to their classes rooms. To get there we had to cross one aforementioned road across a pedestrian crossing. As it happens, one of the school minibuses comes along the road at the same time. One class hadnt fully crossed the road and was still partially on the crossing. Instead of the kids moving up or out of the way, they just sort of pointed at the van coming towards them and laughing. OOHHH! Look at that, a van is driving towards me, isnt that funny! Not, oh there is a van coming towards me, I will get out of the way. Oh no, that would be far to clever and require some sort of free thought. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
September 14
Here we are again and into a new week. Still, at least I finished the speaking tests. Its still amazing how after them saying good morning teacher how are you, I'm fine thank you and you every school day of their lives that they still sometimes find it impossible to answer that question on their own. "How are you?" "I am 8 years old" DOH !

So another couple of days of getting them to practice their reading and writing in the class by catching up with their workbooks - boring I know but a lot are way WAY behind on doing that type of work and it gives me the chance to catch up on marking the workbooks as well.

"Finish page 1, finish page 2, finish page 3 ....., finish page 48. OK?"
5 minutes later, "Passawich! Why are you on page 75? AARRGGGHHH!! "
September 17
Well here we are again after yet another fun packed week. We had a special staff meeting today to reassure everyone that the agency isnt ruthless, insolvent, unscrupulous and otherwise out to screw its employees. Well, one out of four is pretty good I suppose.

The chief came out with one of his rousing flag rallying speeches. Well, umm, umm, remember, umm, that , umm, it is a ummm, hard ummm, time to be ummm specific ummm Prat, he even had the audacity to mention that we were viewed as the chief competitor to Inlingua in many area and he knew that by speaking to the marketing managers there. Err, yes you did, probably when you got interviewed or see them when you go in to pick up new course details because you work for them doing corporate work! A few of us raised our eyebrows but made no mention. I wonder what he would have said? Probably nothing and wormed his way out of it as usual.

Hey ho, Ryder cup weekend. Come on Europe!
September 19
Oh boy, what a great weekend for golf!!  The only problem has been the time difference here.  It has meant staying up until 4 or 5 am to watch the end of golf.
September 20

I finally managed to get onto a pc today. The fat yank, I think I will call him Cleric from now on, decided yet again to hog one of the pcs from as soon as he got in to the moment he had to go and teach and then at every break. Even then that wasnt good enough for him. After the day had ended he came back into the staffroom and had the audacity to sit behind the ones who were using the pcs to "force" them off. He really has a very bad habit of doing this. He didnt even have the courtesy to speak to anyone, he just sat there.

He hardly comes into the staffroom now apart from to use the pc. Almost every morning you can set your schedule, come in, check who is on the pc - yup its Cleric and his little pal Mini Cleric. One is almost as bad as the other for hogging the pcs in the mornings. It doesnt matter if they have the first teaching period free or not. They are there until they have to go and teach - which reserves 2 of the 4 pcs we can use in the staffroom. Cleric also manages to reserve the pc in various ways - he leaves his email logged in and then goes to make coffee or photocopies or just chat to the others at the pcs or go and collect a book. And not forgetting to speak to his girlfriend on the phone every ( what seems like ) 15 minutes. ( she is one of those helpless females that seemingly cant do anything by herself and has to ask his opinion on how to do it - "How do I open the door baby? Well baby what you do is... " Eeuuuggghhhh! Thats what he treats her like, a baby and he calls her that all the time, pass the bucket. Please! He keeps on saying she is useless but he loves it, he loves the fact that he is there, charging in on his white horse, a shining knight to the rescue. I wonder if she is really that stupid sometimes and its all just an act and further down the line she will finanacially screw him for everything he has. Time will tell. Some of these methods reserve the pc up to 10 minutes! I would really love to say something but I know it would be taken as a personal attack on him - which it actually would to a certain extent.

This guy really has no sense of others - the surrounding world. He is so self centred and selfish that he doesn't think about what impact he has on the rest of the world. The concept of others appears alien to him - unless he can tell them how to do things of course!

Anyway, rant over for the day. Until next time. :)

September 23

Well, this is the day when I start to see the last of my little darlings as the timetable winds down and they head on to their Thai exams next week and I head off to a week of writing report cards and then trainzzzzzzzz. Ooops, I mean very interesting and vital training by our curriculum manager who has never taught in Thailand and incidentaly has still not given me feedback on an observation he did on me about 3 weeks ago now.

Supposedly the agency is going to give prizes to the student we nominate for student of the semester or whatever. I really think this is not going to happen - again. The students were supposed to get something from the Mid term exams in July but they never bothered their arses. So to make sure the good kids got something I made up a little certificate and awarded them to the best student - not always the one with the best scores but one that combined good scores, attitude and behaviour through the semester. The first class I gave it to, the rest of them crowded round the guy clicking imaginary cameras and gave him a round of appluase which was nice to see. The 2nd class were a bit more blase about it with a minorr ripple of interest and that was it. They are also getting a little prize as well - a sort of lucky dip. I have put all sorts of free gifts or confiscated toys in a bag and they make a blind grab at something. So far no complaints !

This means its also the last week for the teachers leaving us. The lady teacher in the room next to me is a bit of a laugh, I dont always agree with her style of teaching but at the end of the day she gets the message across which is the main thing. But her room is normally a bit more boisterous than mine so today I got my own back. Today, towards the end of the lesson I heard the wall banging again. So I go the four boys in the last row to hit the wall in time - 1 2 3 Bang!, 1 2 3 Bang! But of course the rest wanted to join in so I let them as it will be the last time I see them until November. She said her whiteboard was almost jumping off the wall and her kids went silent as they hadnt a clue what was going on! Heehee!!!!

The next room down is the more mature american guy who is going to Costa Rica. This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that there are lots of available little boys. But he is really losing the plot. This week, he found a new angle. Some kids were misbehaving and he got them to take their shoes off and throw the shoes into the corridor!!!!!!! I suppose it makes a change from him just shouting " You will respect your teacher ! "

Youve got to laugh havent you.

Ok, the posts here have been a little downbeat in nature I agree. So here is something a little more lighthearted.

Nicknames - As most people know, thais have their name and a nickname. The nickname was originally given to "hide" the baby from eveil spirits, the reasonaing being that if the spirit didnt know the persons real name they couldnt do any harm. It seems to be the case know that the majority are given icknames simply because it is easier to say Apple rather than Praem-Thud or Pongsakorn all the time. Some of the nicknames are numbers - Neung, Song 1,2, colours Daeng, Dam, red, black, animals gob, pla, frog, fish or sizes Lek, Nit, Little.

It seems to have become the fashion now that more modern names are used and some seemingly grabbed out of thin air, making you wonder if the parents know what they are doing and what the word means. AMongst the kids I have taught are Beer, Benz, Golf, Earth, Kenneth, More, Big, Grand, Oil, Max, Guide, Best, Popeye, Mick, Most, Farm, Hopper, Oat, Bell, Park, Ball, Fred, Jame ( no this is not a mistype), James, Sea, Win and so on.

But the best one todate, is a kid I teach this year. Ladies and gents, I give you JAR JAR!

I dont know if this is after Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars but how else could he have go this name?


September 28
Here we are, now stuck in the staffroom for another ten days before we have those wonderful training thoughts. At the moment - well, ok all the time, its fairly dull and tedious writing out the names, class details, sticking the little pictures of the kids to the insides of the report cards and then writing the same bloody commments for 140 kids.

The end result is that there is actually very little to write about. Supposedly we are here for the normal full teaching day but in reality - as I am writing this there are 4 teachers in the building and the two project managers - everyone else has gone home at some point throught the morning. I suspect the first one went home about 1 hour after coming in. In a way its a little annoying from the "well he gets away with it so why do I need to do it" point of view but if I wanted / want to I could actually do much the same. Then the question is what would I do with the extra time? Read, listen to music, go on the internet? Well, in school the internet is free and a lot faster than most internet cafes. I have a little walkman with me to listen to music to and I can always watch tv later. I can read in an air con office or on the rooftop terrace beside the pool with a fresh beeze.... hang on that actually sounds quite good. I'm off. Ta Ta.

Ko Samet. Naga Bar night time entertainment!

October 21
Just come back from a couple of days in Ko Samet.  I took some pictures and have put a couple up.
I went back to a beach called Ao Pai and it has grown since I last went a year ago - they have built even more chalets and a couple of bars but its just more of the same and although I only spent a couple of nights there, it was enough.  I was getting bored.  At night there is nothing to do but eat or drink at one of the bars and watch DVDs that the bars put on.  Some of the movies are ok but others I wouldnt want to watch anyway and some the quality is so bad it makes the movie not worth watching.  Then you have the problem of the neighbouring bar plays music so you cant really hear the dialogue of the movie.
Ah well, back in Bangkok now and where to go next. 
October 25
So the answer was a day trip on an excursion train going to Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai. It was ok but it was a long day - we left at 6.30am and came back at 8pm and it wasnt as good as I thought it would be.  Only got about 30 minutes or so off the train before it moved on again to somewhere new.  And you had the problems of a whole train arriving at one time for the attraction.
As ever, pictures to follow!
November 1
OK, the answer was Jomtien.  Not the best place in the world but beside the sea and out of Bangkok more importantly.
November 4

Dearie dearie me. Back at the old chalkface and within 30 minutes I was wishing I was somewhere else - again.

You go away, recharge the battery and sanity levels and come back in the vain hope that in the few weeks that they haven't seen you that the kids have grown matured and got an extra brain cell between them. Not a chance of course but one can live in hope.

It seems that all the hired replacements ( if in fact we did have them all - ooops that's the cynical old me showing up again this early in the semester, not a good sign) didn't turn up and we are still one short. Well, if you had the choice of teaching Prathom 1s & 2s from Little Cleric, would you take it on? I have successfully avoided doing any cover teaching for his classes because I know they will be absolutely out of control. Just about everyone who has covered his classes has said they are horrible.

One problem has been because big Cleric has lost his little pal, he is spending more time in the staffroom which means more time he is on the pc and no one else can get on.

Add to that the American election for the last few days and his motor mouth has been going non stop. One unfortunate teacher who has now left ran into him and his little helpless girlfriend on Koh Chang. AAARRRGGHHHH!! Now that would be a nightmare from hell. But then he doesn't like me anyway so probably we would keep a civil distance away - well I would try and just move to the next resort!

A rumour is floating round the office saying our agency has lost the contract for this school from next April. How did we find out? The bilingual program teachers got told on Sunday and then told us. A meeting is planned for tomorrow and we will supposedly get told about it then. Hmmmm sniff sniff I smell BS coming.

November 6
Our agency had a 3 year contract with this school ending this year. Rumours have been floating round for the last year or so about whether it would be extended or not. On Sunday the Bilingual Program teachers were in doing prep work for the new semester and they had a meeting.

The meeting said the agency had lost the contract and they would be taking over our staff room ( as they are expnading another year upwards ) and another agency would be coming in and the they will be sharing the thai teachers staffrooms.

Obviously as we have friends in the program word soon got out and by Tuesday it was the talk of the staffroom but no word yet from our agency. Wednesday no word, or wait a minute, maybe there would be a staff meeting. Yes there would be one on Friday. Today comes along and we have it. Our lunch is 11.25 - 12.55 or depending on what level you teach 11.55 - 12.55. The meeting is scheduled for 12.00. The minutes drift by and at 12.15 we start the meeting. The cynically minded are thinking mmm good waste of time so far, lets see how they spin the message.

1st item up - trivial
2nd item up - trivial
3rd item up - trivial

then the baited breath

And to paraphrase

" this may be of interest to those wanting to stay in thailand or with the agency"
"you may have heard negative reports about the contract and probably they are true" WHAT??
" negotitations are still ongoing and we have a final meeting to go to, to get a final decision. They ( the school) want to change what they want next year and I dont think anyone will want to do it"
OK, tell us the changes then.
" well its about working in October, teaching more but I dont think we will get the contract"
Ok, give us the details. We are here on stupid training for two weeks in October anyway so...
" If any one wants to get the full details they can come and see me"
" Current contracts not affected blah blah, we have contracts with other schools and can always use teachers with good records and attitudes blah blah....."
But the bilingual teachers have been told we arent coming back and are moving into our staffroom.
" oh, they have jumped the gun, its not definite yet!"

EH!!!! This has been the worst way I have ever been told that effectively I have been fired. Lets review. Other teachers in another program were told before we were. They have even seen plans of our refurbished staffroom! During almost the entire first couple of minutes our FUD was delivering the news with his head looking down into the noteboard he had and was mumbling about we had had a final decision yet and not to worry because good people will be kept on...... yes, those who dont rock the boat and tow the line. Hmmm Sniff Sniff, I smell BS!

In a way the worst thing is that when I found out the other teachers knew before I did, I wasnt actually upset. Thats how immune I have become to this countrys and this agencys way of working. Back home a union would have gone ballistic!

We supposedly will have a concrete answer by the end of this month. I wont hold my breath. Maybe 2 1/2 years is too long in one school in Thailand and it is time to move on. My greatest concern is not finding a job, its my visa and work permit situation. I dont want to go through the whole visa run to get a non imm b to jump through hoops with the MOE .... again. Our contracts are due up on March 31 which means the WP and visa is valid til then as well ( at least according to some folk, other say different and others say different again but any way it is.... I dont want it )

I had hoped to go back home for a holiday in April but know I might be running around trying to sort out a decent job and or my visa. No point trying to organise one now as the only schools who hire this far in advance are true international ones who want fully accredited teachers which I am not - just a degree and a TESOL man me. ( but if anyone knows of a job starting May next year and paying 50k+ please let me know, pretty please with honey on top ! )
November 8
A bit of something on the lighter side now.

You are wandering along the street when you spot them, you’ve been here a while now and you now have the skill to mark them down as mad bad dangerous to know and to avoid them at all cost ( even though sometimes they are great entertainment ).


Some are worse than others of course, as there are various sub species of the Homo Touristicus

The more obvious ones around are the
Touristicus Bigwalletus who are usually found in the more plush establishments like The Oriental and tend to travel everywhere is a private limo and therefore dont interact too much with other species.

The Touristicus Muscleus is a weird one as they are usually found in pairs of the same sex wandering round streets in vests showing off to the world their large pectoral, bicep… muscles. It is not known if this species actually can breed as they spend all their other time in the gym leaving very little for mating rituals.

The Touristicus bigutus is by nature a sedintary beast found in the local watering holes. This animal very rarely stirs itself except to go to a new or cheaper watering hole.

The Touristicus Bottleofwaterinhandicus is a paranoid beast who perceives the threat of dying by thirst, a very real and scary threat. It does not matter if it is 55 degrees and raining or 110 degrees and dry, if a bottle of water is not in its hand and a sip is not taken from the bottle at least every 40 seconds, this animal believes it will die. Despite constant rehabilitation attempts and experiments showing them that the bottle can be stored in a rucksack or handbag within easy reach or that new bottles can be purchased at almost every corner 7-11 or Familymart. It still cannot overcome this psychotic behaviour.

The Touristicus Sextouristicus is another strange animal who seems to have a unique mating behaviour. The mate it selects tends to be in inverse size to its own bulk. The bigger/older/fatter they are, the smaller/thinner/younger the mate tends to be. The species aso tends to make a fool of itself in public with its mate in the mistaken belief that obtaining one and showing it off confirms its male prowess.

More species have been sptted and will appear in the next guide - including the Touristicus Backpackus, the Touristicus Knowitallus, the Touristicus Domesticus and the Touristicus Culturus.

Tomorrow I am going to the Ministry of Employment and it seems that I could actually be getting a work permit!!   WHOOOHOOO!!!  Its only been 6 months so I can wait another day.  But of course they schedule it on my quietest day so I dont miss any classes at all.   AAARRGGHHHH!

Nov 8

Well, here we are and we have just got the minutes of the meeting. Surprise surprise, there is nothing about losing the contract and we will probably be out of a job next year ( the agency is big enough to probably offer a job at another school it has contracts for but the pay / hours may be different ).

The strange thing is, they are now starting to try to do things properly round here ie checking when we start - 4 times late equals one absence - 3 absences equals no more free sick days and its a 2000 Baht a day fine after that. Strange, they are more focused on that than people leaving early - although we did get told we have to tell the FUD if we are leaving the school for anything apart form lunch. HA! The problem with my timetable is that I actually teach every last period of the day, so I dont get away early.

Given the option, I would like to arrive later than I do but people were complaining about teachers turning up late ( but still in time to teach ). Funny thing is, these are the same people who can and do go away early as they have no classes in the afternoons. Hmm they coplain about people coming in 20,30 minutes late yet they go 3 hours before the end of the school day. Hmmmmmm!

Nov 11

We are now into the 2nd week of teaching here and the usual amount of non classroom activities are starting to kick in.

Whether its for a football tournement, day outing, scout camp or whatever. It always seems to be the 2nd semester is the one thats broken up. Depending on the timetable, this can reduce the number of classes taught in a day to 0 or you could be unlucky and they are all scheduled on days where you dont see the little blighters and have a full complement to teach.

Given that we have only 6 weeks teaching in the semester its a bit wild with virtually every week effected in some way or another with activities or holidays or exams from now until March.

At the staff meeting last week, it was even suggested by the FUD that we might not get a day off for Xmas because it falls on a Saturday this year ( as does New Years ). Given that this is superficially a Christian school thats a bit of a laugh. I suspect we will get a substitution day but he either hasnt asked about it or doesnt know.

Teaching here ( or maybe more acurately what passes for teaching here ) is progressing along with the kid not really paying too much attention to anything thats going on apart form what their friend is telling them or making jokes at the teachers expense. Its one reason I would really like to learn Thai - to catch these little asides the kids make. At the moment, I just bluff them into thinking I do know what they said and the majority of time it works but some day they will realise I know less Thai than they know English!

Nov 15

A new week and its the same as ever.

Last week they repainted the basketball court in the playground, very nice it looks now too. And today we found out why. The school held a Basketball Tornament at the weekend - as if they might want to do any maintenance just for the hell of it. Nah its all about face again.

It seems that once again, whoever the sad git is has done it again. What do I mean? Somebody is hacking the forum of http://www.ajarn.com I wish I knew who it was so I could twat the guy ( I assume it is a guy ). Last year there were some real personality clashes going on and most people have a suspcicion that whoever is doign this now was on the receiving end of a lot of flaming on the board or seriously disliked the management of ajarn and over the last few months has made it their mission to hack the board again and again. If it were my board, I probably would have given up by now but the guys there have and are going to persevere. Guys - I wish you luck. I really hope the board keeps going as it is a great source of information to teachers here.

OK, cant let a post go by without slagging off someone so here we go. The two new teachers in our teaching group dont really seem to care too much about discipline - which is a bit strange because one of them used to work here before so he should know whats needed. But they seem to be quite happy to let the kids go back to the classrooms on their own ( we are supposed to escort them to and from the rooms ) and dont care if the kids follow them or not. We had a situation today where I was leading my kids passed theirs ( outside the kids classrooms ) and they suddenly decided to start moving their classes as well! The net result was there were 60 kids all mixed up together instead of being in threee separate groups. Talk about chaos! A little bit of thought would have gone down great there.

Nov 25

Well, I have finally got my Teachers Licence and Work Permit HURRAAYY! But it was taken off me straight away for safekeeping by the agency. Swings and roundabouts there.

It seems more and more obvious that the school are wanting rid of us. We had a little ceremony this morning for Rama 3 ( one of the previous kings ) and we were invited down to watch / take part. Well, when I say take part, I really mean watch from the sidelines so white faces are visible. But today we were told not to even bother to turn up and it is the same story with the Xmas fair. Normally we would have to go to that and have some sort of stall but this year again we were told not to bother going.

The software that TRIPOD seem to be using has changed. The look and feel of it is different to the last entry. When this changed, I dont know as I didnt get any emails or anything like that advising of the change. Hmmm. Dont like it as much. It doesnt seem to be as simple as it was before especially for formatting. So hang in there while I get used to it!

December 13

I have no idea what is happening, as for some reason I cannot access the web site at all using either Internet Explorer or Firefox browsers at work. But you may be wondering, how did I do this update? Well, the strange thing is, I can access the main Tripod site and get into my web site through editing it. I can also preview the site, so I know what changes I have made but I just cant see it for some reason once its published.

December 28

Problems with the site continue, I have posted messages on a couple of web boards to ask for help but got nothing back yet so I have sent a message to the Tripod people who provide support for the site. Lets see what happens.

A lot to talk about since I havent really been keeping this updated because of the problems. But here we go. Some of this was supposed to be posted earlier, so it it was time important, I have inserted into the correct time frame. If not, its now here.

Time wasting

I dont really remember doing as much of this in my school days even in the classes I didnt like but lets see how many you recognise.

Although officially I have to teach a 50 minute lesson, I often find that actually I sometimes teach as little as 10 minutes a lesson or on a good day about 35 minutes.

This wastage time is made up of the following - now remember, I have to collect the kids from their classroom and take them to my classroom.

In the homeroom
Writing down homework from the board from the previous class
Playing in the lineup
Going to the toilet
Dropping notebooks / pencilcases on the way out
Tieing shoelaces ( that do or dont need it )
Forgetting something and going back into the class to get it

In my classroom or on the way
Insisting that the broken pencil stub is the only one that they can write with as it is lucky
Chatting with friends
Insisting bringing everything from their homeroom they could possibly need for the class and then not find the thing they actually need or take 10 minutes to find it in in the bag
Ignoring you - even from 1 yard away. It falls into different varients - the total ignoring or the ( this is the most annoying to me) saying yes to your instruction then immediately going back to whatever they were doing before you interrupted them.
Hiding under the desk
Hiding in a cupboard
Hiding under the chair
Crawling on the floor
Pushing the book / notebook / pencil / ruler onto the floor to retrieve it
Sharpening the pencil so that a brand new pencil instantly becomes 1 inch long - I hid all the electric pencil sharpeners in the room the moment I saw them.
Not noticing that I am walking away with the front of the class so 20 kids can be spread out over 3 floors until they notice I am not there and of course run at full speed knocking over everything and anyone or falling over. Or not caring and just wandering along in their own good time ( more likely )Needing 4 of your friends to help you sharpen your pencil / open your book / tie your shoelace
Making "funny" comments when you are trying to teach so getting me to tell you off and stopping me teaching ( it depends on my mood if I ignore them or not ! ) Other ones in this variety are - playing the desk / pencil case / the head in front as a drum with a ruler / pencil
Playing with the pencilcase and its built in game of pinball / football / mini whiteboard
Looking at another page in the book
Drawing in the notebook etc etc etc

Thailand & Deafness

To be fair its not just the youth, everyone who comes to Thailand and especially Bangkok will have experienced the pain of sheer deafening volume at some point or another.

There have been many times I have been sitting in a internet cafe and had to leave because of the hellish noise that has been coming from the pcs and the ( mainly ) boys who are playing half life or counter strike or ragnarok or any other on line game and who are shouting at each other over the noise of the sound effects - of course then they cant hear the sound effects so turn the volume up so have to shout louder to hear each other so............ Walk down the street and you are assaulted by cd vendors, mosques, shops, bars, buses, sales vans of one sort or another all with loudspeakers and or microphones.

Add in the noise from tuk tuks, buses, motorbikes, trucks, cars and people you are struggling to find a moments peace and quiet. Even in one of the few parks in Bangkok you cant really find peace as somebody somewhere will be yelling to their friend, playing karaoke or there will be something somewhere breaking the peace.

Maybe thats why the classrooms are battlegrounds as well in the war of noise and why the kids feel the need to communicate at top volume rather than speaking to each other.

Nothing in this country can be subtle, tourist buses ( I might upload a picture of one later :) ) are painted in the some of the most garish paint jobs possible purples, reds, blues, greens, whites, oranges..... and thats just the front! and of course there is a 1000gigawatt stereo or band at the back of each bus pumping out music.

Go into any bar with a live band and the music tends to be an 11 on the volume scale of 10. Why I dont know because you just hear volume rather than the band. An evening of shouting to talk to someone is not my idea of a good time but it obviously is someones as that is the norm rather than an exception. And another thing they stupidly do is put the band on at the same time as the football! WHY ???

But to get back to the original question, there must be a huge number of deaf or nearly deaf here because of this. And they are creating so many more its scary.

Dec 29

It seems that the Thai government has decided that sites like this are far too powerfull and could do something nasty like make people have an opinion. So as of a few weeks ago, only people outside Thailand can see this site.

Yeesh. I now need to think about whether to move to a new site or to just carry on as lets face it, most of the audience is outside of Thailand.

Now i'm not looking for absolution
Forgiveness for the things i do
But before you come to any conclusions
Try walking
in my shoes
Try walking
in my shoes