Wednesday, February 28, 2007

And today we went to Chula

We went to Chula to hand in our documents (time-sheets etc.) and learned that they're really insistent on the two-month holiday rule. Chula has changed the rules on this so many times - originally they insisted that we take the same holidays as the university, i.e. 1st March - 1st May, regardless of school term dates. However they obviously eventually realised the absurdity of this plan, given that virtually all schools in Nonthaburi break up around the middle of March and restart around the middle of May, so a couple of weeks ago they released a bulletin: we were to take our two months based on when the schools had their holidays. Great, we thought - some schools (including mine) break up on the 2nd and don't return til the 16th, giving me two and a half months off. But Chula had other ideas, of course. They insist we take no more than two months, telling me that if school finishes on the 8th (Wanna's asked me to come in on the 7th and 8th to help with something - no idea what, but it'll probably be something mind-numbing like marking or collating exam scores or something), I have to return on the 8th of May, to "make lesson plen, preepare material" and so on. But no-one will be there - the office will be locked! In that case we have to go into Chula every day and work there. No chance! But there's no way Wanna will allow me to lie on a timesheet, so... I'm going to go and work at Kia's school with her for a week after I finish here!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Ticking all the boxes

No, I mean literally, ticking boxes. Since there are no classes today or all this week (but of course we have to come in anyway), we've been delegated the fun task of ticking boxes in some sort of register. For every class. You know when you were at school and some teachers would give the really evil punishment of putting a dot in every square of a sheet of graph paper? That's how I feel right now. I'm going cross-eyed.

She can speak Thai!

Have just been presented with a glass of some sort of fruit punch which tastes like bubblegum. I kop-khun-ka'd the lady who brought it in (one of the caretaking staff) and she'd ka'd me back before she clicked I'd thanked her in Thai, and grinned to the other teachers with an approving "poot tai dai!" It's worth learning Thai just because Thai people are so impressed!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I'm staying put!

I managed to talk to Smile about me moving out - I asked about the maid (Wanna had muttered something about her being "like the people who smuggle", from which I assumed she meant she's a bit undocumented, rather than a bandit), and Smile told me she's on holiday with her family in Laos for a month. Then he called Mair through and I tried to do my bit, saying it's too much work for her to look after me while Chomphu's away, and they insisted I stay (Smile: "she want you to stay for a long times"), telling me several times that Chomphu will be back in a month and even if it turns out she can't come back (because she has to "takecare her families"), Mair will engage a new maid. Meantime I insisted that I can takecare myself and that I needn't be any bother for the family. Then they invited me to go with them to (Chonburi?). And to bring a friend along.

Yep, they're clearly desperate for me to leave.

Bobbing along the klong

I've been wanting to take a tour around Bangkok's klongs (canals - Bangkok has been called the Venice of the East, you know) ever since Michael mentioned it back in November, so finally I get my chance! Kia and I took the river boat down to Tha Chang. 600 baht each later, we've hired ourselves a longtail boat for a two-hour klong tour to take in Wat Arun, the Royal Barge Museum, a catfish farm, the famous Taling Chan floating market and an orchid farm. Sounds good. And off we go: across the Chao Phraya river - as our driver waves vaguely to the left to indicate Wat Arun about half a kilometre downstream - and down a murky canal. And within minutes we've left the city behind and are puttering through the countryside with traditional Thai houses-on-stilts on either side of us - some pretty swanky; others little more than glorified treehouses.

A lady in a boat full of trinkets and an ice-box pulls up alongside us. "Flotting makket," our driver indicates. Was kind of expecting more than one boat's-worth of flotting makket, I have to say, but we buy pretty painted fabric fans from her, and then she 'suggests' we buy a beer for our driver "because is welly toohot".

And - yes! - we arrive at the orchid farm. Orchids are pretty. Chan chorp makmak. They're grown suspended from frames, with their long roots hanging down over irrigated troughs in the earth.

Isn't this an awesome picture? Even if I do say so myself.

And then we made our way back to base – stopping to feed the massive fat catfish on the way. They are ugly. But don't tell them that – Kia made some comment about their appearance, whereupon a huge fish jumped up and belly-flopped back in, splashing us both with klong-water. You don't wanna mess with these guys. There again, you don't wanna mess with Kia either – after that, she refused to give the fish any more bread. That showed 'em.

What became of our stop at the barge museum we never found out. We did pass a shed full of rowboats, which may have been the back entrance. Gotta love the blatant fabrications that tourist operators will tell you! If we didn't know what to expect from Thailand by now we might have been quite upset. We didn't care though - it was still a brilliant trip around the klongs, we got to admire a group of hot army boys in half a uniform (now that's what we call sightseeing!), and I finally got to see an orchid farm!

Friday, February 23, 2007

So apparently I'm moving out

Meeting with Wanna this afternoon, and after essentially telling me that I'm a rubbish teacher ("share with these, these are good teachers", indicating Wheng, Karina and Dino), she then mentions that she thinks I ought to move out, because I'm "inconvenient for the owner of the house". Well, I guess it was good while it lasted...

Put it away, or I'll take it away

My mantra in class. Confiscated yet more work from those little rotters in 5/5 today, and refused to give it back until they asked me nicely in English and apologised. And even that was being far too lenient. I get so cross with them doing work for other classes in my lessons - and worse, thinking that I can't tell. Come on, it's easy to see it's not English work because it's in Thai! If I have them next year (which I will if I keep the same classes as I have now - I teach all of M6) and they continue to do that in my classes I'm going to keep it for a week and serve them right if they get into trouble with their other teachers (let them do the discipline, since the kids clearly have no respect for me).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The weather



I know where I'd rather be (although I have to confess, 37 looks pretty toasty even for me!)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'm gonna be in a movie!

We were watching TV and Paw came in and said, "Chalotte... you... actor?", pointing at the screen. Smile explained he meant did I want to be in his movie. Hell yeah! Rock on! Will update as soon as I know more.

Farewell Matayom 6

M6 graduated today. 'Tis a sad, sad day. These are my two students who wai me without fail every time they see me. I'm gonna miss that.

This is Prapak/Pretty. He was v impressed that I remembered his name when I signed his shirt (his spare shirt, not the one he's wearing). Class quote of the week: "do you have the ladyboys... do you have people like us in UK?". One of the very few Thais who make me look Lilliputian.

Thanapon/Boomy (I think. Definitely 6/2), he's an absolute sweetheart. He sang "Oh I Say" in the school play.

4/1 is the best class EVER

So I asked my 4/1s to make suggestions for what I can do in the holidays. I'm nearly crying with delight here...


You should to go to Ayuthaya because in Ayuthaya has a lot of beautiful ancient temples. All the temples have an amazing story. You'll know about history of Thailand much more. I confirm, the wonderful things in Ayuthaya will make you impressive!! Try to go there!


I think... Umm. Ohh. Future is perhaps!! and unexpectedly. It's your life, you can use your life if you want it!!


[... various suggestions ...] There have a lot of place to travel in Thailand and each place is very interesting. Hope you enjoyed traveling and can get a speacial experience n Thailand. Don't forget to tell the speacial experience to me on May.


  • You should to go swimming with me in your freetime because I'm not friend. Ha ha...
  • You should search time for rest because I saw you have tired with work.
  • I hope you will very happy forever
    Nice to met you
    I don't forget you forever
    You stay in my heart.
    I love you

Bunyarit (spells his name differently every week - today he started with Boonrizz, then changed it to Boonrit)

You should go to Cheang Mai zoo to see panda tiger hippopotamust rhino monkey T-Rex lion snake and King Kong.


you should go to... see the water fall at khanjanaburi or nakronrayok in thailand or you can Go to Island at south of thailand because it so beautiful. And Doi Inthanonth.


You should go to the England. [Er, trying to get rid of me?!]


I thing you should to pattaya, puket, changmai all of travel province is a meny people and beautyful place.


  • Go to krabork Cave (I don't know where is it too...)
  • Enjoy in Songkran festival at Rewadee Rd. in Nonthaburi around 12-14 April.
  • Enjoy in kite festival at Royal Palace around April
  • Or, coming to my home!!!


  • I love you.
  • I like you.
  • I miss you.
  • I think you have to talk is ample.
  • You teach is appealing.

And the above was all crossed through, with a note, "I understand is wrong I'm sorry!"

The Thai English dictionary

555 exclam. The new LOL (if you check back to my original Thai lesson, you'll see that 5 in Thai is hah).

Alai na? q. (Thai) Y'what?

Check hand v. To hold hands (with a Thai accent, check is a homophone of shake, and since it was in a Valentine's card, it was easy to see what he was actually going for!)

Countculator n. Electronic adding machine (One of my M5 students came up with this spelling, which I thought was brilliant and showed some great lateral thinking. I think the calculator should be renamed!)

Crezy adj. A little bit loopy.

Farang n. (Thai) Foreigner of western descent. Also guava.

Geng adj. adv. (Thai) Very good; very well. See also: Werry-goh.

Litten-litten adj. A small amount; nit-noy.

Look like v. To be similar to in any way, as in "look like Thai sound", "look like me but not in face".

Mai pen rai (Thai) Never mind, no worries, don't bother (as in "don't worry, I'll do it") - a very versatile phrase. It's like the Thai hakuna matata - it's our problem-free philosophy.

Mak-mak adv. (Thai) Very much.

My-fairn, my-fairn! n. Origin: "My friend". Can mean anything from friend to relation (e.g. cousin) to boy/girlfriend or husband/wife.

Maximize glass n. A round convex glass with a handle, used for looking at small objects.

Nathalieee n. Beautiful westerner. Origin: Nathalie Glebova, Miss Universe 2005.

Sabbort n. Sport. Throws me every time I hear it.

Smart adj. Handsome (I don't know why, but for some reason this is the accepted definition of smart).

Werry-goh adj. adv. Very good; very well. Often redoubled. See also: Geng.

Wizardy staff n. Magic staff used by wizards and superheroes.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Thai smiles

Thailand is reknowned for being the "land of smiles" - and it really is. I smile all the time - whether it's in encouragement, acknowledgement, apology, amusement or general delight, or if I'm just returning the cheeky grins I get from some of my boys, there's always a reason to smile. I don't even know exactly why this place makes me so ridiculously happy - I think the sunshine may have something to do with it. And the fact Joanna Boanna's coming to visit me! And, of course, my students - I've been smiling all afternoon from Molly the superhero sheep. And when a group of M5s gave as the tools an engineer would use: "piece of paper" and "hammer" (I don't know why but it just gave me an image in my head of someone pounding a sheet of paper with a hammer). And I just love it when I get a wai. And it's worth the battering I get from the M2s and 3s just to see my 5/7s look really happy when I said I'd see them next term. Mummy, you have to come over here - half a day with this lot would make anyone feel a million dollars.


Got "Nathalieee Kebbo-waaa"'d again on the way to school. (Nathalie Glebova - Miss Universe, remember?). This is what she looks like:

Yup, nothing like me. But it's still nice being compared to Miss Universe.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Jim Thompson's House

Since we've spent the last few weekends generally having fun, we thought it was about time we did something cultural. So we visited the famous home of Jim Thompson, American dude who fell in love with Thailand, moved here, singlehandedly revived the Thai hand-woven silk industry, had a house constructed from real old traditional Thai houses, then mysteriously disappeared while on holiday in Malaysia (most probable explanation is that he was hit by a truck and hastily buried, but no clue's ever been found). He turned the house into a museum of Thai art and architecture while he was still alive, and the Jim Thompson Foundation keeps it up today. It would be a haven of peace and tranquility in the middle of Bangkok, only there was some construction work going on right next to it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Got talent

Went to watch one of my 5/5 girls sing in a contest at the pier. Well, I couldn't not go after she walked into my 2/9 class (which I'd despaired of by that point) on Wednesday and whispered in my ear "Happy Valentine's day. I love you so much". She was fabulous, by the way.

Thailand: Not equipped to deal with large portions

I'm very happy since I've lost a little weight, except that now my bras are all too big, thus reducing their effectiveness. So here I am, I'm wearing a pretty new top today, but unfortunately, judging by the looks some of my students have been giving me today, I fear that the relatively low (by Thai standards – even though I bought it here) neckline combined with the unsupportive undergarments results in a slightly indecent look overall (Thais aren't exactly known for their subtlety, but some of these boys were actually staring open-mouthed as I passed, which was just a tiny bit disconcerting). Hope I don't get into trouble over it – the school director saw me at assembly this morning and she's rather austere. Although in my defence, it wouldn't be so much of a problem if this godforsaken country offered anything larger than a B-cup! And it's hardly my fault I have large portions...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Pass me the tissues

I've just had to say goodbye to 6/6. Rattana was teaching them, but they wanted me to go and say goodbye and "bless" them for their upcoming entrance exams. How does one go about blessing a classful of students? I considered waving my arms around a bit, but thought better of it, so I just stood there grinning foolishly for a few moments, wished them all the very best of luck with their exams and told them I'll miss them. And I will too - I'm really sorry to see my M6s go, they're brilliant (except 6/3 - can't wait to see the back of that lot). I posed for a few photos (in my hot pink T-shirt - it's Chinese New Year so we were supposed to wear something red, and this is the closest I had), signed a shirt, a poster and a friendship book, and that's the last I'll see of 6/6. Sob, sob!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

All Thai'd up!

Rock on! Check out the bling - not to mention the scary hair-in-the-air.

And my personal favourite...

Funniest bit was me and Kia walking through the market in full Thai costume (with the hair) to try and find some food while Catz was getting photographed (after I managed to prevent one of the girls stealing my belt for Cas's costume - it was the only thing holding my skirt up!)

Illusion-Man and friends

4/1's superheroes (did I mention how much I love 4/1?). Enjoy!

Natsantasz - Illusion-Man

I love this guy. How cool is he?! He can use the wizardy staff and everything.

[unsigned] - Jiant Man

He's a nutter. Proper little artist though, and really good at English – if only he would use his powers for good instead of evil...

Saran - Reven

Saran's my little Thai Orlando Bloom. And an artist to boot (he did me a beautiful Valentine's card last week as well).

Pariwit - Dae jung geum

Can't say I've ever seen "cooking" given as a superpower before! Great drawing though, na?

Kunakorn - Pipez

All together now - Aaaaahhhhhhh....

Snook - Molly

Go on, try and tell me this isn't the most adorable thing you've ever seen (especially when you realise this is a boy's work). "She doesn't wear anything! (wow!!)" and she has "bright singing power" - how can you not love it?

Accidentally encouraging cross-dressing young boys

I had this great lesson plan worked out - we were going to learn about different colour and pattern words (striped, floral, polka dot, etc.) for clothing, I was so well prepared I'd even brought in clothes from home that I was going to have the students pick out of a bag and describe (threw in a bikini and a bra for entertainment value). So I showed up to 2/9... the big bag immediately garnered a lot of interest. I started writing pattern words on the board and they're already in the bag. Within about 5 minutes Pun (remember him? Look like girl?) was dressed in a floral skirt, bra, cardigan and sun hat, another boy (the devil-child) was walking around with a bikini over his clothes, and one girl had stolen my polka dot shoes and refused to give them back until the end of the lesson. I spent the remaining 45 minutes of the lesson walking around the class, utterly helpless to get them to do anything - if they ever had any respect for me, they lost it long ago. Mai pen rai - chill - at least I have 4/1 next.

Those boys!

The boys in 5/3 have learnt how to get rid of teacher looking over their shoulder in lessons now - one got off his chair, went down on one knee and started serenading me with a rose. So I went bright red and had to beat a hasty retreat. Can't you just picture it? V embarrassing.

She's done it again!

I get on really well with Ajarn Rattana, her English is the best in the department, and generally she's really nice (and she's the only teacher who gave me any indication of what she wanted me to teach). But the last two weeks she keeps taking over my periods. I wouldn't mind in the least (except that I quite like my M6 classes), but she doesn't give me any warning! It doesn't help that I'm totally confused anyway because the exam timetable keeps changing: first the end-of-year exams started on the 14th, then it was only M6 exams from the 14th and we'd have classes with the other Matayoms, and Karina told me yesterday that the whole thing has been shifted back a week, so I asked Rattana this morning if Matayom 6 had classes this week. "Of course," she said. So I spent the next half-hour scrambling to prepare something! I had a spare lesson plan, but there's no time to get photocopying done before the class, so I'm printing out 25 copies of the two-sided worksheet – in bright pink, the only colour ink remaining in the printer, which takes ages. I rush to class, five minutes late, to find Rattana teaching my students! "Do I teach this period or do you?" I ask her. "Oh, can I have this period?" Well sure, but you might've told me when I asked earlier. Mai pen rai – at least I get a free period out of it.


Or in Thai, "Happeee Walenti'e dehhh".

Gotta say, no-one's noticeably fighting to be my Valentine. Mai pen rai – Kia and I are going to the cinema tonight to abuse loved-up couples with popcorn and M&Ms.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Abou' the chops

Urgh, just remembered that Wanna last week asked me to "prepare the woccabulairy abou' the chops, lie fo' example the engineer", for my M5 classes this week, which I imagine means she wants me to teach a lesson on occupations, but really it could mean almost anything.

I still haven't done what she asked me to do yesterday: "fine the passege abou' the wedding, fo' example the couple who get malley". That was her instruction, before she whirled out of the room with a big "OK?" smile, leaving me halfway through a "but!" with a huge question mark above my head. Really, I need an interpreter as much when she's speaking English as Thai.

More Valentine's greetings

Still no students today, so I'm attempting to tidy my desk, which has been taken over by mountains of Valentine's cards. In doing so I've found a few more worth posting:

I love you.
I stay at the near.
I waiting for volunteer.
I hope you not a fear
for love me.
- Neungruethai, 4/4

So my love as soft as wings.
But it's big and wild like the Eagle's wings.
Thanks for your love.
- Panwaad, 6/7 (she's a sweetie)

You are the most important person for me.
I never don't love you.
Can you hear the voice.
It's say. I love you.
- Rujiporn, 4/4

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Nutty Turtle Collector

So we're hanging out at the pier, as we often are of an evening, and the Nutty Turtle Collector comes along. We've seen him a few times now, and he's clearly bonkers. He bounds up in a battered crash helmet, flashes a wild-eyed and toothless grin, hops down the steps and over the edge into the murky water, and ducks under the pier. There, he wades around in the filthy water with a torch for a while and then emerges triumphantly brandishing a plastic carrier bag full of turtles ranging in size from tiny to maybe 8 inches long, which he proudly displays to us for a few moments before jumping on his bike and puttering away.

We asked him once what the turtles were for. Turns out they're for merit-making, the Buddhist practice of earning karma for the next reincarnation. You can make merit in a variety of ways: offering incense and candles to Buddha; giving food to monks; generally being a nice person... and releasing animals into the wild. That's what these turtles are destined for – they've been plucked from their home by Nutty Turtle Guy, whence they will be carted off to market to sit in a bucket of water until some worthy fellow comes and buys one to release it back into the river from which it came in the first place. I hope the poor turtles get to earn a little Buddhist merit for the inconvenience this process causes them.

So here I am at school

With no students... There are no classes today or tomorrow because all the lower school and half the teachers are away at scout camp. But Wanna insisted we come in anyway.

Oh well, least I get to use the internet!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Two girls, a swan, and an army of turtles

We all stayed over at Kia's Saturday night, and on Sunday (after a respectable lie-in to make up for Saturday's early morning), we decide to go to Lumphini Park. That's a big park in the middle of Bangkok – one of the few green spaces in the city (Bangkok has only 0.4 square metres of public parkland per inhabitant, the lowest figure in the world, apparently. Compare London, which has 30.4 square metres per person). Anyway, we're just wandering around enjoying the general green-ness, when we take it upon ourselves to go out the lake. In a boat, of course. Well, a peddalo. Well okay, a swan love-boat. So we trot down to the swan-love-boat-hire place. First the mean man won't let three of us in a peddalo (there's loads of room in those things! Hasn't he ever seen how many people can fit in a tuk-tuk?), so it ends up just Kia and I. Then he tries to palm us off with an ordinary peddalo. "No-no-no-no, no! No," we tell him, "Swan! Swan!" til he relents and we get our swan boat. In we hop, and off we peddal, faster than a speeding turtle (no kidding – there are turtles in the lake!). Catz heads over to the Chinese pavillion to sit down, so we follow her around the edge of the lake, waving away the crazy old man who keeps trying to sell us bread crusts. We spend the next half hour peddalling about the lake, chasing turtles to try and take photographs. Those little turtles, I swear they're taunting me. They'll swim up to the boat, I'll point the camera, steady it, and then just as I'm about to press the shutter button, they duck back underwater going "gotcha!" poking their little turtle tongues out at me. So we're stalking the turtles (love how we're trying to sneak up on them in a giant swan), and they keep on doing this – swimming up, then ducking under. Ha, got one! Oh no, it's a leaf. Dammit. Then one swims right up close to the boat:

Hold on a second... We become aware that the turtles seem to be circling our little craft. We start to suspect they're planning an attack. Suddenly our swan seems very vulnerable – how will we defend ourselves against an onslaught from the turtle army? Maybe we should have bought those bread-crusts after all. Suddenly there's a splash to our left. Is that a catfish fighting that turtle? The fish are coming to our rescue! Hurrah! We're saved! Not that we couldn't have taken on the turtle army anyway, you know. Anyway, adventure over, it's time to deliver the swan back to the jetty - which we proceed to crash into (heck, we can barely park a car, how are we supposed to be able to park a swan?), and meet up with Catz again.

Also came across this chap chilling out at the edge of the lake:

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Retail therapy!

Okay, I've bought the odd thing on the market before, outside the school – mostly food and King shirts – but I so far haven't managed to actually shop. Well today, we shopped. I bought three cool T-shirts and two plain, two fabulous new skirts for school (I needed more black skirts because I bought new shoes the other day), and two DVDs. Is that all now? I wasn't keeping careful track of my spending, but it was something in the region of £20. V exciting. Market shopping is the best. We're going to go to Lumphini night bazaar next week – they still do bargaining over the price there!

Pak Kret

Kia has to babysit her school for the morning, so Cas and I decided to make an excursion out of it and joined her. It's miles away! Way out in the sticks, a bus ride, river crossing and songtau away. We've got to be there for 9am, which means leaving at about 7 or something ridiculous (I wouldn't know as I wasn't actually awake – I got up and dressed on autopilot). So we arrive at the school and find a lesson going on (on a Saturday morning!), and a bunch of other random kids playing in the grounds – who come and peer at Teacher Kia and her funny farang friends. They're great kids – and isn't it amazing (happens with mine too), how even though they refuse to speak English in class, get them outside and they suddenly start trying! So we have an entertaining morning climbing trees and racing the kids barefoot up and down the school playing area.

Look - I'm in a tree!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

No photos!

I saw Pretty in the corridor earlier, so I asked about my photos. He looked a little embarrassed and told me, "er, I think there has been a little accident with your pictures. I think we must do it again. Is it okay?". Mai pen rai, we'll do them again. I must get Ajarn Jintana to give me the ones she took the first time round, though.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Who says Thai teenagers don't believe in romance?

Some of 5/3's Valentine's poems:

Time can change everything
but time can't change our love...
- Supaleak

You have love
forever everytimes.
Love same oxygen
If I don't I will die

Candy are sweet
but sweet less than you
- Chanika

Bird love sky
Fish love river
Tiger love forest
I love you
- Supawat

The fire no smoke
The sun no shine
It's very very hard
But it's harder to stop love you
- Keerati

Love is blind
but I want to be blind
because of LOVE
- Worapong

Valentines is the day of love. Love is pink world and love is create fresh world. I wish your life to be rose in valentine day.
- Petladar

Rose are red
Violets are blue
We are meeting too
I love you everytimes.
- Nutt

I love winter
flower love cool
you love beautiful
but I love you.
- Nattaporn

The sun doesn't forget the day.
The moon doesn't forget the night.
The sea doesn't forget the wave.
I've never forgotten you.
- Arunroj

Rose is for Love
Chocolate plus sweet.
Love plus fresh.
And my life is for you.
- Kittipong

Love makes us happy and sad
Love is beautiful and bad
But I love your beauty and bad too.
- Panurat

Love will be beauty.
When you have mine.
You and I are fine.
When I and you have loved.
- Natthawut

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Valentine greetings from M6/5

Valentine's cards this week. To make it look like work, I set writing tasks for inside the card. For my M6 class it was to write a simile (we were doing similes last lesson) to go inside the card...

My love as shine as the moon in a night, Have a magic of Cupid.

I love you as much as sky

You make my heart fresh like flower.

Valentine's Day is friends girl.
My love is friends girl
Love is everything.

You make my heart drift like weather.

My heart is like warm

My love a like a water the water not have a taste but it is a important.

You make my heart cheerful like tree.

I love you as much as the world.

You make my heart beat like Bubble.

And the runaway winner... You make my heart bright like fire from hell.

I had my M5 classes today writing poems - I got some lovely ones, but I told them they could keep their cards, so I can't post them.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Mondays are exhausting

The morning's fine - two M6 classes - but in the afternoon I have to face 2/7, followed immediately by 3/8. 2/7 was a complete disaster as usual, despite my best efforts. 3/8 I tried desperately to keep in check, but it all fell apart quite quickly and all we covered the entire hour was the Valentine's vocabulary (you should have heard their efforts for "lovestruck" - "rub-shrook") and never got around to making cards. They did respond surprisingly well to "shhhhh" though... for about five seconds: as soon as I started talking again, so did they. Did have to kick one boy out of class eventually - and I confiscated three friendship books from the girls and two mobile phones from the same boy. Perhaps at three months in it's a little late to be starting with the discipline, but hey, better late than never.

Roll on Tuesday - the only day of the week on which I have only upper school classes.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Band Contest

The other part of the Academic Exhibition was the inter-school band contest – we had bands from several local schools come and compete. So, no classes for the afternoon – rock on!

This is our entry. I'm pretty sure the boy on guitar is my student. Either way, he is incredibly good – amazingly good. The singer has a fantastic voice, too. I think they might have won the contest, I'm not sure.

These guys are from Jess & PK's school, Sriboonyanon. Their singer's astonishingly pretty, which as you can see earned him quite a fan club amongst the girls of Rattanathibate! After they left the stage I saw one of my M6 girls having her photo taken with him and practically swooning.

No idea who this lot are, they look like university students (long trousers? Ties? Blazers?). The bassist from Rattanathibate's band – who was also compère to the event – told me the singer is her boyfriend. Well done her if he is!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Making an exhibition of myself

They started setting up last night, when Prapak turned up and explained to me about the photography contest. He's one of my best students, he speaks English very well (I can have an actual conversation with him - shock!)... But I never realised before that he's actually outrageously camp. Seeing him mincing along in his army uniform I don't know how I ever missed it, but there you go. Then I find out his nickname's Pretty. He tells me about his club, which doesn't seem to have a specific function – it could be the drama society, since its members were heavily involved in the school play, but its contribution to the academic exhibition is a photography contest... there again it could just as easily be the gay society, since nearly all of my most camp boy students (including one who wears lipstick and mascara to school) seem to be in it.

Anyway, Pretty showed me the pictures of the teachers in either Thai costume or fifties dress, and I mentioned that I would love to get my photo taken in Thai traditional costume – so he said he'd arrange it! He introduced me to his brother (might not be his actual brother – they use the term to include cousins and close friends), who is a make-up artist (and dancer, choreographer and singer... he's not actually a student, but he's in said club too).

Please note this whole scene is entirely temporary – from the brick path to the pond to the white temple cut out of polystyrene with a stanley knife.

I'm given an appointment for “sixteen o'clock”. It turns out I have the entire afternoon free since the M6s, having returned from army training, are now off at university open days, so I end up hanging out at the photo contest most of the afternoon. And at four pm we start with the make-up. This is Thailand of course, so it takes place outside on a picnic bench and I become quite the tourist attraction as I'm sponged with layers of foundation and blusher, dusted with powder and brushed with eye-shadow. This guy (and I use the term loosely) clearly takes make-up very seriously, because we're there for well over half an hour before he even begins on the hair.

They tell me they're going to put me in Thai costume of Ayutthaya period, so my hair will be done up to match.

Now, in Thai culture, just as the feet are considered dirty, the head is sacred, so touching someone's head is a taboo – not a serious one (if the cheerful abandon with which the kids whack each other about the head is anything to go by), but enough that it's generally polite to excuse oneself before touching or reaching over someone's head. I knew about this, but all the same it was quite amusing to have a hairdresser offer apologies and a wai every time before touching my hair!

Finally with hair and make-up done it's time to get into costume. The courtyard is hardly the place for a teacher to get changed, so I'm led into a back room where Prapak and his brother puzzle over how to get me out of my dress and into the skirt (which consists of about three metres of woven Thai silk). Eventually they call one of the girls through to help me and hasten out of the room. She pins me into the silk, which Prapak's brother (wish I could remember his name) concertinas at the front in the traditional fashion. Then the top half. Suffice to say I'm not quite built like your average Thai girl, so it took a couple of tries – not to mention a packet of safety pins – to get the material to sit right. Then I'm swathed with another length of cloth over one shoulder (my bra and vest straps on the other shoulder had to be tucked into the top – the girl did this after another helpless look from the make-up guy).

And then it was back outside, feeling extremely self-conscious surrounded by my grinning students, and into the temporary outdoor studio set up beside the exhibition.

(there was a different backdrop for my photos)

Still feeling self-conscious (with students queuing up to take photos on their mobile phones, or even simply to spectate), I'm directed into a series of poses ranging from awkward to overbalancing and instructed to smile “a litten bit” (in Thai, an L at the end of a word becomes an N, so they often transfer that into English). And we're done! It's taken two hours in total for the make-up, hair, costume and photos! Pretty says I can look at the pictures tomorrow (which in Thai time means next week). I get out of costume and back into my dress, and take myself off to meet Kia and Catz so they can laugh at the comedy hair (it was backcombed so thoroughly that I couldn't have taken it out if I'd wanted to!).

Photos to follow as soon as I get them – silly me didn't think to get someone to take pictures with my camera!