[ Email letter written 25-8-19 ]
This finds me having dosed myself with real Thai coffee, and thus full of piss and vinegar, as somebody a generation older than me used to say.
The stuff is strong, and is not fit for women and children, Dave. I like to take it with a teaspoon of real NZ butter, which makes it seem less acidic. Being full of piss and vinegar is the perfect time to run off at the mouth. The downside is that there may come with that a touch of bombast.
I travel about 10 minutes by scooter to the cafe, which doesn’t open til 7 am. I’m not yet organised enough to visit weekdays, where I need to leave the apartment by about 7.40 am to clock in ( fingerprint ) by 8am. So it’s a weekend thing. I’m establishing a little rapport with the co-owner, a guy ( probably ) in his 30s. Learning scraps of Thai that way. Also a bunch of older guys meet there weekends at least, and I have a nodding acquaintance with them.
I think I told them I was a ‘tee-CHUR’. That confers a little status socially, but not so in any other realm.
WORK / IMMIGRATION STUFF …possible boredom ahead
I am learning that the Thai immigration system works to let ‘farangs’ ( say it with a Benny Hill ‘L’ ) in, and so spend our money, but make sure we’re charged for the privilege. On Monday ( tomorrow ) I go with the school admin to the Immigration Dept, where I will pay 5000 baht ( ~250 $NZD ) for a work permit and Visa extension. Those last a little less than a year. Those are also both tied to the school. So that if I resign or am I fired, neither the Visa nor work permit is valid any longer. Ouch.
All of the above is uppermost in my mind recently with the shenanigans going on around contracts ( www.urbanlegend.nz ). It’s a game of chess, and quite mercenary, as I’m finding out. For example, when I had the bike accident, the HOD told me the school would reimburse me for hospital expenses ( 1600 baht , ~ $NZD 80 ). That was June 19. No reimbursement has appeared with my end-of-month pay-check, so I hit him up about it the other day. He first said the school didn’t cover that. I had to remind him of what he had said at the time of the accident. He said he would get back to me the following day. Two days later, he comes back telling me that I need to get directions from elsewhere at the school to take copies of three documents to an outside agency for insurance approval. I.e. making it as difficult and time-consuming as possible for me to claim reimbursement. That’s typical. He also asked me to sign an amended work contract reducing my terms ( by removing an English-language version clause saying I would be reimbursed for Visa expenses ). He tells me what I discover later is an outright lie – that the clause contradicts Thai law. So two examples above where the school HOD has been totally mercenary. All notions of honour are off the table.
So it becomes a question of ‘do they need me more than I need them’? Given my lack of teaching experience, and age ( and hence more difficulty in finding a new position ) it probably behooves me to suck it up, and work out the contract ( til March ). On my side, two foreign teachers have recently left, and a third is about to, leaving their English Dept. looking a little threadbare. Also on my side, the English Dept.’s Thai Computer teacher left Friday, leaving me temporarily holding the ball as the English Dept.’s computer teacher.
The longer-term plan is to see out this contract ( March next year ) , while I save a little, and gird my loins for possible adventures further afield. Maybe Vietnam. The pay is better, the living is ( slightly ) cheaper. But it’s harder to get work with a criminal record, and it’s even hotter. All hearsay and initial research only.
I’m struggling a little with addictions. The 2nd- and 3rd tier ones are cropping up like pimples. The problem is that pimples can become .. boils, welts, and other nasties. Less cryptic? I’ve taken up smoking again ( I know, arrrgghhh ) after giving up e-cigarettes ( having stopped conventional cigs months ago ) on May 1. I started again soon after the bike accident on June 19. Two pinners ( they sell these thin taylors maybe a third of the diameter of a standard cig ) a day. Only after work, night-times. You can guess what happened. It’s now up to 5 pinners / day. And patches. I’m a little freaked that my NZ supply of these latter is about to run out, and I haven’t yet found a source in Thailand. I ran around for an hour yesterday from chemist to chemist on the scent. But no cigar, so to speak.
You might think the extent of that is minor, and it is, maybe. But I can tell the difference in two ways. First, I’m feeling, and looking, a little shittier, especially int mornings. Something which I can ill afford on that last front. And secondly, basic mindfulness has me noticing that my mind is wandering more and more often each day to “mmm, a cigarette would be the thing right about now”. And as you know, that gets harder & harder to distract away from.
Of course, alcohol is the 800-pound gorilla to smoking’s nasty chimpanzee. I’m not even going to entertain letting that Beast out, in case you wondered. I would be back in NZ ( if I made it ) in very short shrift with sorry tales.
Then there’s Old Faithful, the Rottweiler, caffeine. Treat it well, and it can serve you. Treat it badly, and it gets nervous and fritzy. It’ll bite. So far for me it’s a benign companion. As long as I keep a cap on it, and stop well before midday, it behaves.
The apartment is working ok for now. I have the electric costs under control, and next month’s bill should be about 80% of last month’s ( 4900 baht, ~ $250 NZD ). I took part in a Thambun ( not sure of the spelling ) last weekend, a Buddhist ceremony. I kind of stumbled into it by sniffing around some free-looking food in the hotel lobby. On asking I was told ‘after 10 a.m.’. I returned then, to find myself invited to join a ceremony involving a posse of marauding local Monks and hotel staff. The Monks can be seen every day of the week wandering the streets barefoot. Their monastery is over the road from the Wiang Walee Hotel ( home ). They wander around exchanging a kind of prayer service for food ‘donations’. You’ll see locals kneeling in front of the Monks. The Monks will be doing their … benedictions, I guess. The locals then donate food. The hotel version works the same way except a little more upmarket. About two dozen of us knelt while the Monks chanted for around half an hour. Then staff ( and me ) bring the food to the Monks, and wait while they eat. When the Monks have finished, it was our turn. It was worth the wait. As you can imagine, Thai food is out of this world. I discovered several things I hadn’t identified before, such as bean-based dessert made of balls with the consistency of … maybe dry sago. I ate three before I reined myself in.
I have a lot to do today, including prep for classes ( 5 different classes ) tomorrow. I’ll also go for a dip in the sea-water at Saeng Chan. The infection in my ankle from the bike accident still hasn’t cleared fully. I’m gambling that sea-water in and of itself is enough of a antidote to the infection to over-ride the minor pollution in the sea-water.
Then little chores like collecting washing ( hotel has a laundary service where they’ll press and iron clothes for ten baht ( 50c ) apiece ).
OK, onward and upwards,
please email / text with latest news from your end(s),