Leaving Home

An awful eating out experience last night reminded me what not do in Thailand.

That would be to travel to a country offering a smorgasbord of what has to be among the best cuisine in the world – and eat pizza. And ice cream.

That’s what happened when I took a diet regime ( “listen to the Sisson” ) swerve for the sake of a social outing with some fellow NES teachers.

I should have seen the writing on the menu when the group agreed to meet at Passione, a major shopping mall in Rayong. It glitters, but it’s not gold. The lights are over-powering , and most of it is so .. uniform that dithery middle-aged guys are apt to lose themselves. On the upside, there are some stalls cooking real food, served up hot, and delicious, so all was not lost.

We agreed to decide on an eatery when we got there, but when I arrived ( on time ), the rest were all parked up at a small franchise pizzeria. Ugh. But I decided to ditch the food zealotry, and enjoy the social occasion and indulge.

We all ordered, er, pizza. OK. I got an allsorts bacon topping, thin crust. It was OK ( bland, no spices ), but didn’t come anywhere near satisfying. Everyone else either has their appetites better trained, or ate in advance, because it seemed to do them.

Not so bad, but when it was time to fix up the bill, taking five separate paymnent was totally beyond the staff, or the system, or both. Result – a 20-minute drama. Unbelievable.

The others trundled off to a dessert shop to eat ice-cream. I made my excuses, and went searching for some real food – I ate – a fatty pork sausage, a pork chop, finished off with cocoa and coconut cream with cinnamon and Goji berries. Mmmm.

I paid 220 baht for a pizza which didn’t satisfy. I then paid only 70 baht for the sausage and chop, and maybe 20 baht for the cocoa. If I could have found a nearby market in my frenzy, I could have had a good, and filling, meal for 60 baht. With perfectly good outdoor seating.

Aside from all that, it’s beyond me why one would travel to Thailand to eat crap American-style food. It’s expensive, in unpleasant surroundings, and dull or unpalatable.

OK, some things haven’t changed for me in this new residence. I watch similar videos, for example.

But when it comes to a really easily accessible part of the Thai culture – the food – it’s almost criminal to let that chance pass by.

Cruise Control

Easy days here right now, and none too soon.

The stress of setting and then supervising exams is over. I’m officially at work, but there’s nothing I have to do today.

Time to futz about with my new install of the Linux mint operating system on the laptop. Hydrating. Warming myself. And suchlike.

Exams – Setting

Setting exams was a drama. I’d earlier set tests for some classes, so assumed it was just rinse and repeat, with extras.

Wrong. After the first drafts, my Thai co-teacher tells me the fonts, format, and nearly everything else is wrong. I’m given a list of requirements.

Take two. I rewrite, to be told that the HOD has vetoed the exams for reasons which remain fuzzy.

I’m due for an in-class assessment by the HOD, so I assume I’ll be able to clarify things then. But when the HOD doesnt show for the scheduled class, I start job-hunting as a backup.

TWO days after I send a detailed explanation of events, and basically asking ‘what now?’, my Thai teacher tells me my exams have now been approved.

Apparently, there were machinations in a department meeting. It’s all very mysterious.

But that decision gives me the impression I’m a truckload more secure in the job than I been.

So my exams will be held in my scheduled class times ( easy work ), as compared with …

Exams – Supervising

The past three days have been spent cooped up like chickens watching students sit other exams.

Two days of four-hours a day in a room with no air-conditioning, swilling water to try to compensate. One day of the same with air-conditioning.

Light, tunnel

Today, I’ve done my time supervising, and get my rationed relief.

Tomorrow is a day of supervising my exams with my regular classes. The same for several days next week.

And Monday is a holiday. It’s the King’s birthday.

Long live the King.





What I love about Thailand – Part 2


There’s nothing like the freedom of meandering along on a scooter on a warm summer’s day.

And here, rain or shine or otherwise, it’s always a warm summer’s day.

Which means  going out for a quick jaunt is my idea of  an ideal Time Out. Beaches, buildings, parks, shopping, endless food stalls, all within 15 minutes – a man can easily make a pig of himself.

I have learned something from my recent troubles – I’m a lot more … sedate than I used to be.  I no longer try to load all my Thai possessions onto the scooter.

Nonetheless, I’ll nearly always ride helmet-less, avoiding the main roads, where the police lurk with ticket-books in hand. Everywhere else, nearly everyone goes for comfort over safety,  and shuns helmets.

The ‘controlled’ intersections are also nearly all on the main roads, of course, so everywhere else it’s every man, wife, and child for themselves. Sometimes all three on the same scooter.

Scooters are universal here – from early teens to the elderly, it’s the most common form of transport.  As such, it’s very loosely policed.

And gas is ridiculously cheap – a 100 baht tank refill will fuel me for around 60 km, or around a week of pottering about.

That pottering includes the 5-minute trip from home to work, the 5-minute trip to the nearest Food Mile, a 10-minute trip to a ‘supermarket’, or the same to big fresh produce markets ( I’ve found three so far, no doubt there are many more ).

Cheap, quick(ish), convenient – you gotta love a scooter.


It’s almost Scottish this morning – a cool 29 deg. C  as at 7.35 am.

This is probably the coolest it’s been since I got here . It’s almost cool enough to turn the air-conditioning off.

So I’m off for my therapeutic wallow at Saeng Chan. beach. It’s doing the scrapes from the bike accident no end of good.

What I love about Thailand – Part 1

The architecture

Thais have a style of their own.

It often involves wild colour combinations. I see it in electronic documents, advertising, and especially the architecture.

Here’s where they’ll use vivid pastel colours you won’t find in a Dulux catalogue.

No doubt there’s a simple and widely-known explanation for how these colours are achieved, but I don’t yet know it. Each case of this technique seems to produce a unique colour, which suggests that it’s manually ‘brewed’.

Below is a small sample. The buildings shown are all within a circle maybe 5km across.

Watch this space, I’ll add images to this post as I collect them.

Back to the Future

I’m headed back tomorrow to the Wiang Walee Hotel, the same one I landed in when I first arrived in Rayong.

It’s cheaper , basically. Rent savings will be 1500 baht / month, and electricity savings about 500 baht / month. I found out recently that the wholesale electricity rate is 3 baht / unit charged by the Government. Apartment owners typically gouge tenants at the rate of 7 baht / unit. Which is a 2000 baht / month difference, in my case.

The Wiang Walee isn’t glamorous, but it is close to the school, comfortable, and liveable. It has shelf space. I’ll have to splash out a little ( a small table maybe, etc ), but should be able to make some decent savings.

Head down, arse up

So one of my old teachers used to say, back in the previous Millenium.

And that’s the situation at the moment, with mid-term exams coming up, and certain fools ( me & the other foregin teachers, for example ) having to write the questions.

In a case of small mercies, I’ve been told they should be multi-choice, but it’s still a truckload of work. Fifteen-plus classes spread over 6 yaers ( grades ).

Not to speak of needing to mark all the assignments I set via Google Classroom so that we can belch out a mark for each student. And then matching the Thai names with ones I can actually read.

So this is where I earn my keep.

But in the words of a late great Uncle — “buy the ticket, take the ride.”

MR. Pedant to you

In the work outfit for teacher’s registration mugshot. Another bureaucratic step. Today I also got a form for the landlord to sign confirming that I’m a resident alien

I can see clearly now

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday the isolation of a few days off work gave rise to dark thoughts about how long I’d have a job for.

My Thai co-teacher was making ( via Line , the Thai chat app ) ominous noises about the volume of work coming up as mid-term exams appraoched. It looked like some sloppy bureaucracy from either him or the school would create a truck-load of extra admin work for me.

I was uncertain about what kind of reception I’d get after four extra days off ( on doctor’s orders ) nursing the foot.

I’d come to dislike where I’ve been living for the past two weeks – no shelving at all ( not even in the bathroom ). A marble-tiled floor which is nigh impossible to keep clean. The sacrifice of inside floor-space for a deck. Watching the power bleed through the meter..

Not enough sleep, and a foot which is improving too slowly.

So it hasn’t been all beer and skittles.

But I forced myself through the morning routine, and got to work in time, tie ‘n all as usual. And just got through the classes.

Turned out there was no committee waiting with a pink slip. Turned out that none of the classes were a total disaster. Turned out the Thai teacher had done quite some legwork patching up the record-keeping.

Police Clearance

The Thai police clearance came through from the Bangkok run. Another hurdle cleared with bruises in the tender bits.

Teacher’s Registration

And so the wheels keep turning. I supplied SOM-who-must-be-obeyed with the required mugshots, and my teacher’s registration is on its way. In two months or so.