Saturday, April 30, 2011

Goldfish are Delicious

Recently I spotted those funky American Goldfish cheese crackers in the supermarket here and i've been craving them ever since.

Here's a nifty food blog with just what i need - check it out - YUM YUM

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bangkok and Bookclubs

Summer school is over and i'm on holiday for 10 days. Life is sweet!

This afternoon some new friends and I are jumping aboard a sleeper train and pulling out of Nakhon, headed for Bangkok - or as i recently found out it's called 'The Big Mango' (huh?)

I've been to Bangkok a few times before and despite the traffic, noise & pollution i really love the big crazy capital of Thailand. I'm on a mission to see some movies in a cinema (something i love to do but can not in Nakhon as there's nothing showing in English), shop for a few things i need and a few more things i don't, and generally enjoy the vastness that is 'The Big Mango' (i think i'm going to start calling it that, or maybe TBM, it's bound to catch on).

Both my companions (Lydia and Lauren) have never been to the amazing JJ markets (thank you Zoe Michalski for letting me in on that little secret) which have over 4000 stalls and are on every weekend. The last time i was there, in September 2009, i began at the wrong end so it was closing time by the time I discovered the corner with the funky Thai designers and stalls upon stalls of funky vintage clothes. I do not meant o make the same mistake twice.

Bangkok is a groovy place to visit, lots of little nooks and crannies with interesting bars, shops and people but  I can only handle it for a few nights. We'll be leaving on Monday - destination Koh Phayam on the West coast near the Burmese border.

As for bookclubs, i have started one. The Nakhon Shire Literary Society (i took the name from one of my favorite books) will meet once a month. The first meeting is on may 16th; i will let you know how it goes.

I'm off to begin my first ever train journey in Thailand. I will be sure to take lots of pics along the way. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Suk-San Wan Songkran

‘The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round’ that song will be the death of me. I hum it in the shower, I sing it in the street and I dream it at night. The kids love it though, so what am I going to do? J
Khanom Beach
Last Wednesday I wrote about the Songkran water fight at school. It was fun, lots of splashing and giggles. But my Songkran continued, and got better!

On Thursday a few other teachers and I stood on one of the main roads for 5 hours and fired water at all the passing motorbikes and cars. The best part was the cars were laden with people firing water back at us. It was a watery mayhem and I loved every minute of it!

On Friday my darling new friend and fellow teacher Lydia, went to Khanom, a beach only 1.5 hrs from Nakhon. I had heard that Khanom was pretty badly hit by the storm/floods and when we got there the beach was littered with debris but that was nothing compared to the photos the locals showed us of the day after the storm ended. Khanom looked like Beirut after the bombings.
Happily most of it had been cleared away and Lydia and I were blessed with sunny days, calm waters and moonlit nights.

We stayed at a simple bungalow attached to the Rasta Bar and simply ate, swam, read, swam, slept, drank, slept and swam for 3 days. It was spectacular! 

Lydia outside the Rasta Bar at Khanom

The view from the tower at CC's Beach Bar at Khanom
Back in Nakhon and Kindergarten were behaving badly this week. I had to punish my first student (she had a time out in the corner) and I raised my voice...twice! L
I’ve taken some pictures of the classes I teach. Despite this week (something in the water that made them naughty??) they’re so cute and I adore them!
Kiddies with their ABC colouring charts

Teacher Oat and I with a Kindergarten 2 class

Teacher Boo - who i will be working alongside this year - and a Kindergarten 2 class

Jane (my friend who told me about this town/school and whom I am currently staying with) was showing her mum and sister around Nakhonshire this week. It was so great to see her all proud and showing off the town. It’s not much but the people here are so fun, we’re lucky to have a great group of teachers and friends here.
I’m still looking for a house to live in. I’m going to see somewhere tomorrow but I think it’s going to be too expensive for Jane and I. Fingers crossed. Apparently there are a lot of families who live 2 or 3 hrs away from Nakhon so come term time they rent little houses for their kids to stay in. I’ve been told it’s better to find a place to live in before they’re all taken by the kids. And mind you, the kids are quite young, 14/15/16. I bet they do no work and just play Nintendo all afternoon...pffft. I’m happy I have kindy...they’re easy; you can scare them into doing their homework just by looking at them.

Until next time xxx Bliss

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy New Year!

Today is the unofficial beginning of the Songkran festival in Thailand. I arrived at school at 8:30am and was immediately involved in a 2 hour water fight! Lydia, Katie (the other 2 Kindergarten teachers) and I were totally drenched with water, I had water guns pointed at me from every side and I was wielding a bucket so I could dump water on the kids from above. It was fun to the extreme! It’s so hot in Thailand right now, about 27 degrees when I got to school, so you can imagine what a water fight was like – refreshing doesn’t begin to describe it.  

A little back ground for you. Songkran is the traditional New Year's Day/Year party here and it is FUN FUN FUN!
Forget fireworks, the Thais celebrate their New Year by having a national water fight! State officials, shop owners, whole families, police, teachers, school kids – everyone gets involved! 

Some of my class before the fight began

The opening round

Cream and her watergun which had a Pooh umbrella attached, like that could stop me from pouring water on her head :)

The water fight in full swing

Teachers are targets - Lydia and Katie are soaked

More umbrellas

The final stages

Lone Ranger

Lydia and I - drowned rats
The most obvious celebration of Songkran is the throwing of water. Thais roam the streets with containers of water or water guns, or post themselves at the side of roads with a garden hose and drench passers by. This, however, was not always the way, Songkran was traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends and neighbours.
The throwing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people. One would collect the water after it had been poured over the Buddha statue, then use that "blessed" water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder.
Among young people the holiday evolved to include dousing strangers with water to relieve the heat, since April is the hottest month in Thailand. This has further evolved into water fights and splashing water over people riding in vehicles.
The emphasis nowadays is on fun and water-throwing rather than on the festival's spiritual and religious aspects, which sometimes prompts complaints from traditionalists. But seeing as I am not a traditionalist I am going to enjoy the heck out of sitting on the back of a track and throwing buckets of water at people tomorrow.

On Thursday a few of the teachers and I are going to Khanom, a beach about an hour North of Nakhon Si Thammarat, for 4 days. There’ll be lots of sunshine, swimming, lazing, reading books and hammock time before school starts again on Monday. I love Thailand.

Happy Thai New Year everyone!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Return to Thailand

Here I am living in Thailand again. I can’t seem to stay away. I keep thinking to myself ‘I love Thailand.’ And I do, I really do. I love the heat, the food, the history and culture, the Thai people – and now I understand them better too – and the environment.

I am living in Nakhon Si Thammarat 610 km (380 miles) south of Bangkok on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula.

The city was the administrative centre of southern Thailand during most of its history. It is one of the most ancient cities of Thailand and contains many buildings and ruins of historical significance. I haven’t been out to see any of them yet but all in good time.
I believe there’s a beautiful Wat (temple) here, I have seen some pictures and I’m looking forward to getting out here for a look. The good thing is that the area doesn’t attract tourists so the Thai people here haven’t had to experience the often disrespectful, slightly intrusive tramplings of travellers. I wonder if that’s why the Thai people I have met here have been nicer?

There are about 100,000 people living in NST so there’s quite a lot going on and plenty of things to do. There’s an airport with daily flights connecting to Bangkok and I’m 5 hours by car/train from Penang in Malaysia. It takes 5hrs (via minivan then ferry then taxi car then taxi boat) to get to Haad Yuan on Koh Phangan (my fave place in Thailand so far) which is not too bad J

I’m currently living in my friend Jane’s room; she’s travelling until the end of April. I have a bed, a bathroom (with a hot shower and a flushing toilet!) a fridge and I have managed to tap into the internet for free (if I go out onto the landing I can access it, so the other people living in the building constantly see me out there typing away - they think I’m mad).
When I first arrived in Nakhon it was raining very heavily and our plane had to abort the landing, circle around and try again....scary.

We were only here for one night but it rained the entire time. The following day we were lucky to escape to Koh Phangan as Southern Thailand experienced the worst flooding in 50 years with the Nakhon Si Thammarat region being the worst hit.
While the storm raged (and boy did it rage) I was stuck in Haad Yuan (Yuan Beach) with my pals Jane and Lydia and a few other people we know. They Friday night party at Guy’s Bar was on, Lydia turned 28, and we had a blast...all be it a soggy and rained on blast.
I think the floods got some airtime in the media and it was quite bad on Koh Samui and even in Haad Rin where I used to live, but Haad Yuan was ok. We were concerned about running out of petrol and not being about to cook etc but that never eventuated and we were perfectly fine. My clothes did grow mould though...ha ha. 
Koh Samui was without fresh water and electricity for a few days and Haad Rin flooded completely, and lost power. There was only one restaurant open and they were fishing in the streets (avoid the fish on the menu...) but we were safe and sound at my fave bar ‘Eden’.

So back in Nakhon now and the streets are dry now. Jane lives in the very centre of town which was the worst hit but it seems fine to me. I don’t mind living in town at all, most people live out a little bit in the suburbs but I quite like it around here, there’s plenty to do and it’s super close to school. The only problem with living in her apartment is that there’s no kitchen, we all know how I love to cook. So we’re going to be looking for a house to move into, maybe with a few of the other new teachers.

Nakhon is very spread out so I think I will have to buy a motorbike to get around on. They’re about 10,000 – 15, 000 baht which is 1/3 – ½ of my monthly salary so I’m trying to find one that’s for sale second hand from one of the outgoing teachers.

The reason I’m in Thailand is that I have a 12 month contract teaching English. Last year I decided to do a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) diploma so I could travel the world and work. I love travelling around and visiting new places but I much prefer to go and live somewhere and get to know the place and the people that way. Teaching is an excellent way to do that.

I will be teaching at the
Srithammarat Suksa School which was the first private school in Nakhon Si Thammarat. It was built in 1901 and today it has over 5000 students from K-12.
The English Program, which was started in 2000, is one of the largest English Programs in the south of Thailand with students enrolled from Kindergarten 1 (3 years old) to Grade 12. More than 300 students study many of their subjects in English under a faculty of about 32 native English speaking teachers from a range of countries such as Canada, Australia, America, the U.K and South Africa.


So far I’ve only been there for one day but I already love it. Basically the kids in the English Programme have a Thai teacher, just like in regular schools, but they are also taught by a native English speaker for a few hours a day.

I am currently teaching in the summer school which is super low key and I’m only teaching 1 hour per day but when school goes back in May I will be given my own class. I will have a kind of partnership with the Thai teacher (I have met a few of them already and they’re super nice and very helpful) where she will teach half the day and I will teach the other.

The kids I will be teaching are four, it’s their second year of school and most of them will have come from Kindy 1 so they will have had one year of the English programme already. There will be lots of counting to 20, singing the ABCs, learning about the weather, body parts, colours, different foods, animals etc. I’m looking forward to story time and getting to do arts and crafts with them.

I’m really lucky because unlike anyone else who’s coming in as a new teacher, I have about 10 friends who teach here already and they’ve been giving me so many pointers. I was super nervous but I’m sure I’ll be fine now. I have my first full day of teaching tomorrow. There are 3 kindy classes in the summer school, each with about 16 kids and I will be taking each class for a 45 minute period.

I’m planning on singing some welcome songs, some songs about ‘Hello, how are you?’ and ‘what’s your name?’ doing a bit of ABC revision and counting.
I have a plan to move onto body parts at some point because then we can sing the ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ song and I get to dance the hokey pokey too!! Love that dance.

Anyway that’s teaching so far, not much news....wish me luck for tomorrow.


P.S There’s still positions available at my school if anyone out there’s’s fun fun fun here! Check out the English Program page.