[Thai receptionist at The Most] La de da, almost done my nails again. Is that the second or third time today? Let’s see ‘Neung …. er… saawng … saam well golly. Nearly time for another caffeine frosty anyway. I wonder if I should check Facebook to see whether Supachai has seen my latest post. It was this awesome meme… Oh, sh*t. Here’s that angry red-faced Farang again. He always tries to make me think, with his Google Translate app. I hate that. So I just smile and shrug.
So there he was again, complaining about a flooded bathroom. He kept wanting me to see it. I just told him the technician would be there by 8. He kept trying to say something about work. Well, he wouldn’t go away, so I had to phone the boss.
So the boss said to give him a new room. Now the Farang is back and angrier. …says that’s flooded too. I just gave him another set of keys, and he went away.
Good, now he’s gone, what’s Supachai saying. Oh …. lol.
[Angry Farang ] Bugger this. No sleep, and a flooded bathroom. And when I go see the receptionist she just smiles and shrugs. I need a shave and a wash, and I have half an hour to get work. Hard to explain all this to a blank smile with a translator app. I’m moving out. As soon as I get through the day of work.
I’m now at Bedroom 77, about 500m away. Got through another day of teaching. More on that last later.
Much better today – better prepared, with a clearer idea of subject. Plus I got to pad out the lesson with a 15-20 minute introduction, using Google maps and images to talk about myself and NZ.
Five classes today, all of them the first time with that particular bunch of kids, so I did the intro in each. I met with Thai teacher Film before each to confirm lesson subject. Some of them were repeat lessons with the same grade, but a different stream, so just repeated and honed a previous lesson. Plus getting used to projecting the computer onto the whiteboard, and using apps within Google.
Relearned an old lesson – bribery works. They have a credit system whereby they earn academic points for good class performance. So I give them away for good answers, and suddenly there are a lot more hands up.
Another beginners trick is to avoid spending the entire lesson talking, instead include an activity or get them talking.
Most Thai kids seem to know a combination of these things about NZ – sheep, and kiwi ( birds ). No-one knew about the All Blacks ( Thailand it seems is a football nation ). One class knew a helluva lot including Maori being the first people,the dairy industry, seafood, etc,etc.
That class was older, year M4, about 15-16. The school is M1 to M6.
Film ( Thai teacher ) is always there in lessons, so he’s a good safety net if I start fumbling the ball.
The kids are really well disciplined and respectful, so easy to keep class control. I did have to raise my hands with a loud ‘thank you’ class to close off a paired group discussion session, but all good.
I also discovered that the school canteen is dirt cheap. Bought 6 hard-boiled eggs for 40 baht ( < $2 NZD ). I can't cook in the hotel rooms, so a wee stockpile never hurts.
Not to put too fine a point on it, this shit’s hard!!
Five classes ( @ 50 minutes a time ) today. Brilliant support from Thai teacher ‘Film’. Without him I would have been pretty much clueless as to lesson plans. He knows the syllabus, and I don’t. To soften the blow a little, I took the opportunity ( following advice from another NES teacher ) to use a part of each lesson to introduce myself, and talk a little about NZ, with the help of projected Google maps and images.
After work, I treated myself to a first swim in Thailand. The big rock groynes they use have created at Seang Chun beach produce large and shallow tidal pools. Good for wallowing in, but to do any real swimming you need to go out beyond the groynes. It was getting dark, and I had all my valuables in a bag on the beach, so I didn’t risk it. I donated a couple of teaspoons of blood to the really vicious wee sandflies, or mites, in the roadside sand. But it was a small tax to pay – the water was beatifully warm at 7pm, and of course, I always feel better after an ocean swim than before.
One more day of work tomorrow, then the main weekend mission is to find some permanent digs. Tempted to take up the Mae RamPhung beach offer after tonight’s swim. Watch this space.
I finally got the energy to haul my sad self out of the WiangWalee, and into new digs.
The staff at the WWL are lovely, the rooms not so much. I moved twice, occupying three different rooms over 5 days, because things kept going tits up. Things like the electricity in the case of the first unit, and the air-conditioning in the second. Try sleeping sometime in 30+ deg C heat, and you’ll feel my pain. Two of those shifts were after 10 p.m., when I was so harried and bug-eyed ( that I braved talking to reception. Which is a trial, especially over the phone, because most of them had ZERO English. There was only one woman who had a half-decent grasp of English, and she was in another building.
The location was good, midway between Rayong City, and work, and not too far from the beach. But I was kept awake by the Boeing 737 air-conditioning unit in the room, and that was the final straw.
Hello The Most
So now I’m at The Most, a little further away from the School, but closer to both the centre of Town, and Seang Chan Beach. It also has
A kettle and microwave down the hallway
A big fridge
A decent-sized clothes wardrobe.
So, here til I get my act together, and find a monthly rental. Rental here 500 b. / night. Probably monthly rental 4000 b. – 7000 b.
Work officially started yesterday, Monday. Unofficially, it’s meant a lot of sitting around for new teachers, waiting for the bureaucractic wheels to turn.
There are a few long-term NES ( Native English Speaking ) teachers there, which is a good sign. Among the Nationalities a troupe of Filipinos, a couple of Americans, at least two from the UK, and a couple of suspected South Africans. And me.
I signed the teaching contract today, expect to get my classroom timetable and start working with my Thai support teacher tomorrow.
So, let’s play a wee game of fortunately unfortunately to explain today’s chaos in the ‘Land of a Thousand Smiles’.
Fortunately, I make it to work in time, without getting soaked, bamboozled, or otherwise banjaxed.
Once there, nobody seems to know where I should go. I corner two unlucky ladies in Block 2, who contact ‘Teacher Ben’. I’m told to wait ‘down there’ ( vague wave of the hand ), in building 7. It takes 15 minutes to find the EP ( English Programme ) lunchroom.
Fortunately, there is a kettle, and mugs, and such, so I nurse my crook guts with generous helpings of hot cocoa while hunched over the phone apartment-hunting. Also fortunately, a genial American chap, James, introduces himself, and gives me some tips on apartment prices.
Unfortunately, I then decided to duck out to top up the phone,. The school has kiosks for such things, but I can’t operate it, what with everything being in Thai.
Unfortunately, it appears the Monsoon season might be starting early. This morning is my second taste of Thai rainstorms. They’re an event. I’ m happily cruising along on the scooter on a warm summer’s day. Less than 10 minutes later, it is bucketing down. I pull over to take shelter, because of course I’ve forgotten that I packed the raincoat which came with the scooter. Thirty minutes later, the gutters are filled with knee-deep water – if you’re a toddler. I decide to make a run for it, riding down the middle of the road, repeating “don’t drop your phone”, and hoping the water doesn’t cut out the scooter’s electrics. It does cough, but it comes back to life.
Fortunately, I make it back home without further disaster, get changed, back to work. Also fortunately, I hear from Ken, Micheal, and Dave – marvellous to hear from familiar characters.
Unfortunately, the typist doesn’t tell me the contract has been drawn up. I go and ask for the 4th time, about 30 minutes before ‘knock-off’. Also unfortunately, the contract isn’t what the recruiter offered. Obviously, the terms are slightly worse. I point this out, and there is a flutter. This evening, it still isn ‘t finalised.
Fortunately, the clock ticks over to 4.30, and the day is done.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case. My scooter doesn’t start, and I’m standing there stranded like Goofy pondering what to do.
Fortunately, a student, “Noong” ( sp? ), a huge basketballer, steps in and gets the bike started for me.
Unfortunately, it craps out again 300m down the road.
Fortunately, Noong arrives like the cavalry, and when he can’t start the bike, doubles me down to the local bike shop. It’s on the side of the road under a makeshift shelter.
Unfortunately, they can’t fix it on the spot, and wrangling with the bike rental outfit through broken English results in an agreement to supply a new bike. After a long wait at the bike shop, I’m on my way home at 7pm.
Unfortunately, the air conditioning in my room at the Wiang Walee has given up. So has the WIFI. It’s sweltering hot. I can’t sleep. I phone the desk. After they find Salee, the manager, and the only person at the hotel with any English, I’m shifted to a new room.
Third night here. Talked to the manager about a monthly rate. Now paying 450b. / night. She’s offered 5000b / month. Which isn’t bad. It’s in a good location , midway between the school and the beach . The staff are good. BUT there are no cooking facilities in the rooms. The manager says I can cook in my room, but no frying. Thinking of taking up the offer for the sake of avoiding the added stress of flat-hunting while I find my feet on the job.
Slept really well at Harry’s Bar and Restaurant, despite the nightclub noise from downstairs. The air-conditioning worked well, and bed-clothes nice n heavy and warm. That might sound all rosy, but see below.
He’s a ( wannabe ) Mod
I decided in the morning that I had to hire a scooter. When in Rome… Had a blast. The roads in Thailand are total anarchy. From a very unscientific survey, there are as many scooters as cars on the roads. Who’s riding them? 12-year-old kids, Mums with three youngsters, old blokes, white blokes, smoking blokes, texting blokes. They’re like squadrons of wasps, floating in and out of traffic. Helmets are optional. I don’t think I saw a cop.
Harry’s Bar and Restaurant – Old-man gripes
Apparently supplying a plug for the bathroom sink was just a bridge too far. I tried to cajole the young and beautiful maitre d’ (?) into hunting down such a thing, but soon gathered I was low on the priority list. Having to check out in the morning, I started getting bug-eyed about needing to shave etc beforehand. Still no good. Finally, she supplied me with a large stainless steel bowl. Sheesh. Other than that, I had to fight like Ronnie Barker to open the door to the room. And there was a puddle in the shower which never went away. And there troupes of drunken old guys ( about my vintage ) ‘romancing’ the local women. Cheap, though.
Street-life in Pattaya
On the Road
After the plug-less morning, and scrambling about trying to rent a car to pick up in Pattaya, and return in Rayong, I gave up, and went with the sledgehammer option. I got a taxi. And a fine fellow he was too. His English was nearly as bad as my Thai, but he did introduce me to the wonders of the Google Translate app ( who knew? ). So we spent the trip chatting away by tapping messages into our phones. He was good enough to help me find a scooter hire in Rayong ( the only one, claimed the operators ), and then guilted me into a little tip, even though I’d paid 1000 baht for the trip already.
A bit troppo
With the freedom of a scooter and the on-board navigation of Google maps, I set about having a good look around. I found a really nice hole-in-the-wall outfit down the road from the motel who had a smorgasbord deal going. Eggs and ‘coleslaw’, just the thing. Then later I got caught in an eating jag in a supermarket complex, and slammed down a load of ( warm ) pork sausages. Hello food poisoning. Mild, but still bloody nasty. ( update Sunday – still battling stomach cramps ! )
Note to self – crap food is crap food, Thai or not. On the other hand, I discovered new favourite delicacy, a durian. Kind of a cross between a banana and a pawpaw , pure sugary bliss.
Had to return the rental bike today, or face another 500 b. ( baht ) / DAY, which is daylight robbery. Scooters could be had for 2400 b. / MONTH in Pattaya, but much harder to find in Rayong. Found someone who will rent me one for 4000 b / MONTH.
The flight to Sydney was uneventful. Watched ( most of ) The Departed. In the middle of a row of four in the middle of the aircraft. Painful but quick. Got changed at Sydney airport so I looked a bit less Worzel Gummidge. The flight was a trial from Sydney to Bangkok. Something like 8 – 9 hours, and didn’t sleep much. BUT the seats and the service is better on Emirates. Plus I fluked a window seat on that second flight and the seat next to me was vacant.’
I was so shagged when I got to Bangkok that I got fleeced by a taxi driver that collared me at the airport. Cost 500 baht ( $25 ) for a trip that another driver today offered to do for 200 baht.
Was just too tired to think at first when I arrived, and wanted to get to my hotel asap*.
As it was I was so wound up I couldn’t sleep. Luckily about 50 metres from the hotel there were a whole bunch of street vendors. One of them was open and brewing stuff up at 4.30 am! Got a great meal ( big bowl of soup-like stuff, including some that looked suspiciously like refined carbs, not exactly rice but something related ) for 40 baht ( less than $2 ).
* Next time I’ll seriously consider sleeping at the airport. It has air-conditioning, and there were dozens of young-uns crashed out around the airport when I went through. Plus they have wifi and shops.
Yes it’s HOT
It’s hot as hell. At 4.30 am it was just bearable. Any other time of the day I have to scuttle back under the cover of air-conditioning after quick 30-minute forays outside. It’s so extreme that I don’t think there are (m)any hotels without air-conditioning.
Busy? Bangkok , in the area I was, wasn’t actually crazy busy. In hindsight. Today I decided I better start moving toward Rayong. But between grappling with the hotel wifi, and keeping the sustenance and water up, I couldn’t figure out how to negotiate catching the bus. It goes through Bangkok to Rayong, but trying to locate something on a phone across Bangkok is hard work.
Not very many Thais speak English either. Even the young ones serving at the 7-11s ( American-styled ‘dairies’, full of rubbish food ) hardly had any English. Two people I found in the whole complex of hotel and street vendors spoke English well enough for a conversation, the hotel receptionist, and the taxi concierge.
The taxi concierge because I decided getting to Rayong and getting settled was a better plan that saving a few baht on a bus I couldn’t find. So I opted for a taxi trip to Chonburi, about halfway from Bangkok to Rayong, with the guy who offered me the cheaper airport fare. But turns out he was the ‘concierge’ , and I got driven by an attractive woman maybe in her 30s. Had a good chat with her, her English was ok, and I tried to regurgiate some very basic Thai she taught me.
Anyway, when I got to Chonburi, I hated it. It’s like a bigger, hotter, dustier Te Hana, but with a six-lane highway splitting it. So I forked out even more, and got the driver to take me to Pattaya, only about 30 – 50 kms away from Rayong. It’s supposed to be by the seaside. Instead it’s a flesh-pot, full of aging pot-bellied Poms with young Thai women. From having spent a whole 6 or 7 hours here, they don’t seem to do very much except drink beer, play pool, watch soccer, and eat. Much like what they would likely do in dear old England, except more cheaply. There are dozens and dozens of eateries, and most of them cater for the ex-pat ( white-skinned ) crowd, rather than offer any Thai cuisine.I guess it needs more investigation. The coconut milk / cream they have here is un-believably good. There are also dozens of bordellos – the women hang out outside, often in ‘company’ uniforms.
I feel like a smoke.
I’m a bit over-tired, and – get this – got lost in Pattaya about 500m from the hotel :-/ . My phone ran out of charge. All the streets look the same. None of them are signposted. It’s hot. There are motorbikes everywhere. There are no footpaths. If you’re not on your toes you’ll more than likely get them run over. There are something like 4 different 7-11s within a 200m radius, so it starts to feel a lot like Groundhog Day. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog_Day_(film) )