Monday, 31 August 2009

Let's offroad!

Here are some more pictures of us on our latest adventure up country in Thailand.

White water rafting, 5 to a room sharing, blubber avoiding, fat kid taunting, quad biking, paint balling, karaokeing, drinking, ant busting and dreaming, sweaty football playing, high wiring, target shooting. (if only my English support group were reading this they'd soon pick up continuous verbs)

All for £30 each. Extreeeeeeme!

Pics courtesy of Andrea and Hannah most probably.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Moped capers!

Well, as J said, after an almost euphoric teaching week (believe me, going from what we left to what we have now-this is heaven!), we decided to go to the beach. The head of Primary organised a bit of a staff school trip to Koh Samed. Now I'm not one for big, jolly capers with school but the idea of 2 nights at a beach resort for about 20 quid each (that I didn't have to organise) seemed like a dream come true.

So after work on the Friday, after an hour and a half's wait for the bus, we boarded our mini bus and set off. We arrived some hours later to a waiting speed boat. At this point, in the dark, I was a bit nervous. Two and a bit days on a desert island with 20-odd other people you don't know brought visions of 'The Beach' and 'Lord of the Flies' springing to mind! The speed boat trip, which was so choppy I thought I'd dislocated my hip, didn't help. However, Samed was great. Small enough for a really good weekend break.

After a boozy Friday night (not us you understand-we merely observed!), we decided to spend Saturday on mopeds!

Samed was a funny old place. We rented 3 mopeds on one driving licence (mine) and paid 6 quid each for 24 hours-bargain.

I had very specifically informed J from days before that I wouldn't be getting on one of those things and I certainly wouldn't be under those road conditions. An hour later, I was perched on the back trying to look cool. And failing.

Was great fun though as we rode to the other end of the island and found a very swanky little beach resort. Bit too swanky for me in my mucky shorts and pyjama top (don't ask, long story). The sea was so warm it was like taking a hot bath. Just glorious.

After such a fab and relaxing day, it was a bit hairy taking the bikes back in the dark on the rather uneven roads. My hips, which had not recovered from the speed boat trip the day before, were further bashed about as the bike had no suspension. Despite this, I was having a grand old time and forgot (most of the time) that we were uninsured, had old bikes and no helmets. Wrong.

Anyway, while J leaves me to go on a school trip (with real kids this time; not overgrown ones) I am trying to find a fitness class. I'm a little bored at the gym so thought a class might juj things up a bit. Yesterday, I saw around 250 women doing a mass aerobic workout in the Tesco carpark. I was the only person who stood open-mouthed and paralysed at the sight so, I'm assuming, this is a regular occurance. Not for me I don't think...

Monday, 24 August 2009

No-one ever had it so good...

We are now a week into the new job and although it's early doors we both feel it's the best decision either of us have ever made.

The school is just amazing and every teacher seems to feel the same even 2/3 years into the job.

There really is nothing to dislike about it. (apart from the early start- up at 6am and in work at 7:05- kids to follow at 7:45!)

We have just returned from a great weekend in Ko Samet (about 3 hours from Bangkok) with 20 odd other teachers and it really was a pleasure to get up from work on a Monday morning for once.

The children, although extremely priviliged are simply delightful- friendly and enthusiastic- like a kind of throwback to a 50s boarder from those afternoon black and white films where the actors/kids looked about 30 or perhaps Asian extras from the latest Harry Potter film.

The facilities in the school are wonderful and it really feels good to have some enthuisiasm for the job again. I'm even enjoying marking books as I know it will be appreciated by the children who actually find it a necessity to improve all the time.

The two lessons off a day mean we are planning interesting lessons for once and we are happy to evidence all our planning as we are proud of what we are doing.

I'm off on a three day field trip in a fortnight to the ancient city of Ayutthaya and I'm actually looking forward to spending some time with the Y9 kids!

Would love to put some pics of the school but unfortunately some dodgy sites of live Championship football streaming have put pay to the laptop for a while.

In the meantime here is the official school website with their guided tour- that's me beaming and giving it some English teacher style in the third window on the left...

Friday, 7 August 2009

Bangkok-The city of the pink taxi

Unlike J, I haven't posted anything on here apart from the very first post. There are several reasons for this: having a complete lack of anything more to add to what J had already said, too much tele-watching and, ultimately, believing that I'd have plenty to say once we were here. That final point being absolutely true. I feel like I haven't shut up about this place since I got off the plane (I think I'm beginning to give J earache).

The last few days at Gladys Road were rather emotional. It's funny what saying goodbye to a few bricks can do to a woman. That topped with having to say goodbye to all my family and friends left me, well, a little nervous and shaken. However, coming to Bangkok has blown me away.

I had done no research of Bangkok before we got here. Absolutely none. Whilst J looked up street names, the culture and general Thai life, I did the ostrich trick and firmly kept my head stuck in the Birmingham sand. I read no posts. I looked at no pictures and generally did no preparation. Even on the plane over here, I chose to forgo reading the Bangkok guide book Jhad bought at the airport's WH Smiths and chose to read Julie Walters' autobiography instead. Immersed in Smethwick to the very last! The rationale behind all this was that I figured nothing was likely to prepare me for Bangkok and, therefore, research would either ensure panic or feed me misinformation. I came to the city completely blind.

Bangkok is amazing.
Reasons? It smells all the time. Well, actually stinks! Bangkok's air is heavy with the aroma of sewers, car fumes and cooking fat. Although this should bring on nausea, I actually really like it (not sure J would agree with me here!). I love the fact that there is bottle-neck traffic at 11pm at night. I love the fact there are shocking pink taxis!! I love the way Thais speak as though they are singing and that the shopping malls are always packed, although most people don't appear to buy anything apart from food (people after my own heart)!
The first few days here were a bit of a blur. However, we appear to have set up proper grown-up lives without realising it. I do keep forgetting that we are supposed to be working here and this isn't just an extended jolly. Everything is so exciting!

Inevitably, some things do bring you back down to Earth. Like being woken up at 5am by the 'Big Ben'esque chime of the 'Magical Kingdom' go-karting clock half a mile away. Or stepping over very flea-bitten, pitiful-looking, stray dogs just to get down the street. Or the shipping company sending your stuff to some port south of Bangkok and neglecting to tell you that in order to get it, you had to pay for it all over again! Please don't ask me about that one-I have been having nightmares about it and the urge to kill the shipping representative in Bristol is really strong...

Despite these very minor setbacks, we really do like it here. I absolutely love the apartment and cannot hide my excitement at being able to give my dirty washing to laundry owner Madam Gee (part colourful auntie, part Del-boy entrepreneur) and have it back the next day clean and ironed all for £2! Thank you Jesus!
Let's hope going back to work (which, let's face it, we've sort of forgotten how to do!) is as an enjoyable experience as our first impressions of Bangkok have been...

Thursday, 6 August 2009

We're here/there/everywhere

As the title says, we're two weeks in and already it's feeling like home- well it better had as we're stuck here now!

The flight was a bit of a killer especially when great things were promised by those in the know who said Qatar were BA class- not what we found at all. Two hours late and no word from anybody official as Heathrow was closing down late on a Friday night, then my TV didn't work! A interrupted sleep and six hours later (plus the delayed two hours) we were in the desert and dragged through Doha Airport to catch the luckily held back connecting flight (spared us the wait I suppose) and to be met by a sea of disgruntled lefty type Italian and French holidaymakers...

Some pantaloon wearing wannabe hippy even daring to put her seat back on a 6' 4" Brit- she was soon put in her place and back upright- luckily the Frogs don't like a fight and her elderly husband just Galically and garlically shrugged- I jest of course but only a little.

Again my TV did not work and I had to swap places with D to watch 'I love you, man' which was actually quite funny. We finally landed at 2pm GMT and 8pm local time after 14 hours which is the longest I've ever been in the air- can't imagine we'll be doing that very often, so people will just have to visit won't you...

The new airport in BKK was a bit weird as it's never nice to be greeted by surgical mask wearing officials when you're new to a country. What seemed like a long and tedious afters through the rigma of passports and visa checking we were pleased to see that the new hard suitcases were here, intact and not damaged after their maiden voyage.

With the £4500 in my laptop bag we gingerly stepped out into the airport arrival lounge hoping to see the smiling face of the representative of our new employer- only to realise she wasn't there. D then decided she needed the toilet and left me with everything to search down the other end of the airport! In the meantime a broken English call for 'Jnatan Boot' over the tannoy made me feel like James Bond for a moment, although I was brought down to earth as I don't recall the story where Bond pushes three bags up the escalator frantically while arguing the toss over which meeting point the unhelpful customer service rep had suggested. More 'Duty Free' than 'Live and Let Die'...

Luckily we were greeted by the delightful Pat and after a short minibus ride over flyovers that resembled an 'exotic spaghetti junction' we were left with some paperwork (at the infamous Louis' Tavern- a kind of halfway limbo house for St Steve's staff passing over to the other side)and told to be up at 9:00 to go flat hunting...

Coming next time: The flat hunting and exploring days...