It’s almost 9pm and I’m sitting in my beautiful wooden house beside the school. The fan is on full pelt causing the smoke from my mosquito ‘coil’ to billow wildly up and through my decorative blue scarf on the wall. The combination of the smoke and the fan are killer and as of yet I haven’t been bitten, at least not tonight; a new record.
I can now confirm that my teaching timetable is wrong. At 8.30am grade 5/2 came instead of 4/2 and then nobody again until 12.30. There was not supposed to be another one until 1.30pm so when a girl hunted me down in the staffroom and virtually dragged me upstairs to a room full of my students I was more than a little surprised. Today I felt that my teaching was better than it has been in previous weeks. A boss of mine from my hometown, Currie, sent me an email with seven tips from ‘teacher to teacher’. He has recently been teaching teachers to teach physics in Ghana. It made me imagine being the students having a farang who can’t speak much Thai trying to explain everything. I think they have probably not heard so much English in their life. Although it will be a steep learning curve for them, I hope it will prove to be beneficial for them. I have managed to compile a register for 3 out of 4 classes. The last class can’t write their names in English making things slightly difficult in this respect. Mind you, I could definitely not write my name in Thai characters when I’m 10. Nor can I do it now come to think of it.
In the afternoon I had two classes in a row, which seemed to go smoothly. At the end of the lesson many of the students piled their jotters up high on my desk to mark, a satisfying feeling. To my surprise when the bell sounded 2.30pm a number of members of the class ran up to me and hugged me affectionately. Then they did not leave. We had an impromptu ‘homework club’. The kids just stayed and completed the activity that I had set for them, I told them a story in English and after acting out we all headed off in our separate directions.
The bike ride yesterday was so lovely but I was determined not just to fall into a rut of doing the same thing everyday. The sun was shining so I decided to go for a bike ride but in a different direction. The next town along, Sak Lek, is 6km away (or so I thought). This seemed like a reasonable distance so I set off on my way. The heat was like a cocoon around me, but pleasant at the same time. I passed lush green fields, over rivers, past hamlets on stilts above water, banana and melon stands, temples, and as I approached the town it became bigger and more built up with motorcycle shops, schools and even a Tesco Lotus. I had envisaged the journey taking about an hour. It only took 40 minutes as I peddled quickly in the hope that the town would rise up around me eventually. When I got to the centre of town by the bus station I turned back around stopping by at 7 Eleven for a well deserved cold drink. When I left the air-conditioned shop I was overwhelmed by the heat and by the dark clouds that had suddenly formed in the sky directly above me. The rain was coming and nothing would stop it. I had cycled 14 km and I had another 14 to go!
My boredom has led me to do various things and this is included in one of the more dramatic ones. Cycling 30 km down a dual carriageway in rural, central Thailand half in the scorching sun, the other half in the midst of a Monsoon. Within a minute my clothes had become a shade darker and I could hardly see. The mosquito repellent on my face found its way into my eyes as I rubbed the rain out of them furiously. Every car, lorry, van, bicycle, motorbike that passed contained passengers who seemed both entertained and endeared by the wet but smiling foreigner 304 km away from Bangkok. A highlight of the trip was seeing two of my students passing by on a motorcycle as I struggled through the rain and the wind on my clanger bike. The look on their faces was priceless.
The enormous portrait of the king framed in a ring of gold marks the centre of Wang Sai Phun district. I could see it in the horizon and peddled fast. Gradually the distance between us diminished and I found myself conveniently parked next to the roti stand. Two rotis with condensed milk were on the menu and I perched in what is now to be referred to as my ‘roti spot’ on the bench just outside the post office. This was after being invited to teach English to the policemen at the station 2km down the road in the opposite direction. What a lark.
The ride home from the post office was full of coincidences. I bumped into Teacher Tim and Teacher Frenelly on their way to buy some dinner, and a couple of minutes later I saw Joy and she hopped on the ‘passenger’ seat of my bike.
I will next write on Monday (I would imagine) as I’m going to Phitsanulok this weekend with 13 other ETAs (English Teaching Assistants) on an adventure weekend. Until then…