Brand new apartment, rental bike, Sunday markets, learning TEFL in the classroom and teaching Thai's, eating and partying with Swedes, relaxing lots
03.03.2013 - 21.03.2013 35 °C
From the moment we arrived into Chiang Mai I knew my priority was to sort myself out a place to stay for the next few weeks so once had said goodbye to Ted (going to Chiang Mai and Laos) and just about fit into a tuk tuk alongside Martine, Susanne and all our bags to Smile Guesthouse, inside the Old City, I rented a bicycle and went on the hunt! I cycled towards the north west of the moat and up Hussadiwee Road as Jain from Spicy Pai had told me that area would be my best bet for good value accommodation and he wasn't wrong. After enquiring at a couple of hotels (cheap but don't allow long term) I located the soi (road) my classroom is on and also the coffee shop where am due to meet my teacher and colleagues the following day, getting really hot and perspiring profusely with the sun bearing down on my every move. On the other side of Hussadiwee I went along every side road making phonecalls, asking prices, seeing if they do month long rents and also the general look of each property until I came across a new building on Sod Sueska that was 5000 a month plus extras. The room was fine but the guys there didn't seem overly trustworthy and my gut told me to continue so just round the next corner I enquired at brand new Anchan 2 Apartments, even though the sign was in Thai and there was no price or advertisement outside. I knew this would be my temporary home the moment I stepped into one of the available rooms and despite being smaller than the other there was a balcony and felt more homely- ensuite, a/c, big bed and TV, fridge, wifi, sheets all for 5700 baht plus roughly 500 in electricity and water costs which pay when I leave- thats £130!! I chose 415 as was away from the road and didn't have the sun beaming through the windows till late afternoon (partly due to a big tree being there).
I cycled all the way back to appropriately named Smile Guesthouse to find Martine relaxing by the pool so jumped in to cool down then cycled us both (was not easy) to another bike rental place by Little Bird Hostel as could hire one for only 600 baht a month (red and with a basket- perfect). We collected my stuff and went to my new pad just to drop things off as wouldn't be sleeping there till the next day having already paid for a night at Smile; she liked it and was when I noticed cellophane on everything- I was the first person to stay in this room- incredible!
We avoided a downpour by seconds and were due to meet Susanne by Tae Pae Gate at 6pm so hurried readying ourselves hoping it would be dry by time to go outside again, which it thankfully was. It was a Sunday so the walking street was turned into a bustling Night Market that stretched for a couple of kilometres selling literally every possible souvenir you could think of but was insanely busy with every tourist in town looking around and buying things (my only puirchase being a 10 baht notebook) making it hard to go anywhere at more than a snail's pace.
The food areas tended to be just off to the side at certain points so tried out fried chicken, banana rolls, spicy sausages and a passionfruit juice as made it all the way to the gleaming, gold Wat Phra Sing temple just so we could turn around and go along the other side with my legs, by now, being very tired from a long day. Glad for the ordeal to be over we eventually chose Harry's Bar for a drink on the rooftop amongst good atmosphere knowing my course was due to start and the girls were heading south to the islands meaning we would be seperated. At Smile we each had a Siamsato, watched some movie trailers and turned in not too late, feeling a little anxious.
Awake early (probably due to my mind working overtime) myself and Martine went for a toast and coffee breakfast then it was time for me to leave off to my apartment and then to Fang's Coffee at 10.30am where met American teacher Hugh and two ladies- German Margit and South African Mati. With a big frappacino in hand we discussed our backgrounds, why we want to teach and then listened to how the course would be structured and what was expected of us; we were handed the Basic TEFL book as well as the Advanced, which can put a pin in until near the end when will choose a couple of topics to write about if time allows it before China. I asked as many questions as could muster to make the course seem less daunting (5 assiginments and 5 lessons with 60%+ student talk time are the requirements) then grabbed a big loaf of bread from Top's Supermarket (same building) as walked through the place we would be teaching and onto the small 'Paradise TEFL' classroom on Soi 2 of Hussadiwee Road where we stayed till 3pm, having learnt about basic grammar and structure to get us started and minds on the task in hand; I was happier and just needed time to get my head around things.
In my lovely room I completely unpacked, checked everything worked as it should and logged onto the good wifi (only 200 baht) before it was time for me to venture out in the rain to meet Swedish student nurses Donika (girl from Pai who I randomly spotted at the night market) and Ida at Sumo Sushi. When it got nigh on monsoonal I had to shelter (women kindly gave me some bags for my money/camera/phone that were in my pockets) and was a hell of a mess when entered the restaurant much to the girls amusement and amazement. Although not the biggest fan of Japanese food I loved the Wasabi soup and well presented Godzilla Maki, that tasted fantastic, and altered my opinion. The sheer amount of staff just standing around behind was a little unnerving so when dry enough was ready to go. They showed me around the popular young people area around Neemenhemin Road where lots of good bars and food joints were (not touristy at all and few westerners about) then I bought a 6 litre water container from Tesco Lotus (went through one each day every day) and some Iodine from 7/11, on way home (<10 min), to combat infections as was really worried due to the wet and bacteria being prevelent here. I tried a very wrong street sausage and looked over the course material before falling asleep an hour into Spielberg's epic Lincoln.
For the rest of the week (Tuesday-Friday) I got into a bit of a pattern. I would do the homework and reading of appendicies in the morning whilst having bananas and a cheap sandwich for breakfast then I would head on over to the classroom, a mere 2 minutes away, for roughly 4 hours of teaching whilst going to Top's for bread for lunch until located Tanin Market when changed to fried spring rolls and mini sausage doughnuts that were tastier, more filling and cheaper (40 vs 30 baht). During these 4 days exceptionally good teacher Hugh taught us about methodologies, how to conduct a good interview, writing lesson plans, pronounciation, increasing student talking time, summarising, reviewing, gaining confidence in speaking, and how to do our very first lesson which would be on the next Monday. I was lucky to have two down to earth, very nice and sincere people next to me who knew almost as little as I did at the beginning and wanted to progress just as much with myself technially being the only native speaker. I learnt a considerable amount and found the new environment was easy to adapt to despite finishing university way back in 2006 but was still rather nervous about actually teaching real people the English language because they will see me as all knowledgable and so cannot go wrong.
In my room each afternoon, once I temperature controlled to the maximum, I sat doing journal, assiginments, photos and using the internet until about 6pm when it was time to get ready for dinner (privacy is great as can just walk around naked and never have to close the bathroom door as no other buildings that have views in :-)). On Tuesday I met the girls outside Kad Suan Kaew and walked all the way to Sunthip Road where failed in locating a good vegetarian called Pun Pun's so instead went to their favourite pizza restaurant, Why Not? which was Italian owned. The homemade bread and bread sticks (only 45 baht) with tomato salsa and some interesting white dip were out of this world, and was able to make my own bruchetta using the chili oil and pepper, whilst the rather large 18 inch thin and crispy margharita with ham is only bettered by Altrove in the Philippines from my ongoing trip (literally drenched it in half a bottle of oil as was not hot); happy chappy!
The following evening we felt something healthier was in order so ate at Salad Concept. Usually I am not a big salad man as only like certain bits but here you pick out everything yourself by ticking boxes on a form and handing it to the waiter- YES! On top of the lettuce I had a shed load of tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, croutons, cheddar cheese, potatoes and grilled bacon that was covered in thousand island dressing- best salad ever although made the mistake of trying out the salad bar at the supermarket for lunch and it cost me a fortune as per 100g in weight and I don't do things lightly!
As the nurses were being taken out by their teachers on Thursday I just stocked up on snacks at Tanin and brought some back with me to munch on when noticed an email from Australian Immigration stating that I had been ACCEPTED FOR MY SECOND WHV!! I jumped and shouted all over the room, phoned Mum and instantly booked a flight to Perth on 24th June as well as got in contact with my friends, there and in Melbourne, to let them know the amazing news as had almost given up on the idea seeing as it was 15 days ago I applied- Woohoo.
Late in the evening's I either walked around Chiang Mai with the girls (Donika didn't look at a crossroads by the smoothie place and almost got totalled by a morotbike!) or went home and completed certain assignments (not hard as just a case of writing down your thoughts or locating material on certain websites) then watched the odd episode of Archer or movie before bed, whilst chatting to people online, in particular Bridget who is still in Nepal.
Considering my higher than usual alcohol intake recently and in an effort to save money (spending 200+ on fine food almost every evening is the reason) I didn't touch a drop till Friday evening came about when had a Red Horse in the room to celebrate the end to a productive week; tasted so so good! I met the Swedes and their two recently arrived friends Jessica and Otilia (just completed an 18 hour train journey from Bangkok) at Salsa Kitchen at 6.30ish (running my usual 10 minutes late) for what turned out to be very average Mexican fare with myself coming off worst trying to be clever and ordering an appertizer I felt would be big; was not filling and the 'extra' cheese was a flavourless lump I could pick up whole- Donika felt so bad she gave me one her Fajitas. Unfortunately on the way to 7/11 we passed a sight I wish did not exist and almost single handedly ruined my night- a pet shop that contained many dogs with 5 westie puppies in one tiny cage and mum tucked away behing all barking and wagging their tails as if to say 'please let me out'! I tried best to take my mind off it as I bought Sprite and energy drink only to be shouted at by the loud checkout lady '35 BAHT!' as we made our way to The Nest where the nurses were residing so we could congregate on the floor and play Ring of Fire.
With Otilia being the only one not on the hard stuff initially, Jessica getting the last king (had to down the nasty middle drink) and most of our bottles being empty I knew it was going to turn messy when we took a songthaew to Zoe's and ordered 2 buckets to share on arrival! These went down worryingly quick and about half way through the second round Donika excused herself to be sick (Ida helping), I nearly got in a fight with their friend Patrick's dickhead room mate and everyone was in quite a state not really knowing what was going on and who was with who although did make sure we were the centre of attention so all the other drunks wanted to come over! When the bars pulled their metal sheets over the entrances we visited Spicy Club for a matter of minutes and sensibly took transportation home- my guy had no clue where he was going!
It was the weekend and so stayed in bed till 11am although only achieved about 5 hours sleep because of a total of around 3 red bulls were in my system (one contributed to me being awake for 45 hours last year so this was not good!). I walked in the heat the 15 minutes to Kad Suan Kaew (Central Mall), perspiring off the alcohol, so could meet Donika for lunch at the food court in the basement (token based- two dishes) then collected my bicycle from her's so I could attempt to get on with things as they were due to go ziplining at the Gibbon Experience for an obscene $100.
I procrastinated an awfully long time (felt wired), did some writing/blog and had a skype date with Amy at 5pm with her being bang on time (knew she would be); spoke non stop for over an hour about Jersey, Australia and her April move to London wishing could of done that face to face in Cambodia but nevermind. Just about in the mood for a second night out I put on a shirt (non Hawaiian) and cycled on over to G-Long to waste more money on an almost laughable portion of wedges (55 baht!) and ok sub so had to eat a whole packet of biscuits to remotely satisfy my hunger. It was already gone 10pm (ziplining took a long time) and I was sober as a skunk so upped the ante to games of Pyramid and Seven's before going to far busier Zoe's for the second night on the trot. Seated on the last available, if not small, table I shared a Sangsom bucket with Ida, as Donika stayed well clear and just did shots of Tequila, and once in Spicy we actually went to the main dance area upstairs but didn't purchase any more drinks (no need and spent enough as it is). Despite having the apartment's business card another dumb driver had no clue where to go at 4am but in doing so I found out a 7/11 was a mere 50 yards from my entrance as always go right, not left.
I felt a million times better than 24 hours ago but yet again was required to walk along Hussadiwee Road, that barely had a pavement to speak of and the sun made me roast. I ate at the kitchen attached to the main Top's in Central Mall (sold Waitrose Cheddar Cheese!) then at gigantic business hotel called Lotus took a lift to the 7th floor, paid 100 baht and met the girls by the lovely, oddly quiet swimming pool for a couple of hours of burning our bodies on the wooden loungers and splashing about; face and chest so red!
Not being able to cool down as well as usual I kept the air conditioning on till it was dark (careful not to run up a high power bill) then rode about 50% of the way around the old city into traffic by Tae Pae Gate where met up with the others at McDonald's- easiest point for everyone. Donika couldn't find the food stands she used last week and with us all being tired were not at all willing to spend ages at the Night Market shoving past tourists so headed to Tiger Kingdom for miniaturised uncheap meals; food actually tasted fine annoyingly. Unable to salvage anything we gave up, and so I raced their songthaew as best I could till legs nearly collapsed by my shortcut at Computer Plaza. Completing a blog was my achievement for the day and I decided to go to bed at 1am in the hope to be fresh for lesson 1...dun dun dun!
An unintentional call from Hugh work me up but it took a further hour to get out of bed feeling very nervous and plan what to do for my very first lesson which I had already decided would be on landscapes as meant could use my photos as a good visual aid. I picked out 8 different scenes, came up with a matching game and did a plan almost from scratch which led to me running out of time and actually taking my laptop with me to Paradise TEFL. I grabbed some small cards to write on, talked to Margit about my weekend and zoomed to the copy place a couple of blocks away that would print out my documents in colour (5 baht) as well as black and white (1 baht) for a very reasonable price so no need to try anywhere else in the future. Underneath the Loft Residence at 1.40pm we set up one of the classroom tables by a round stone one and placed a number of red plastic chairs around with three to the side for those not 'on stage', knowing I would be up first as was requested to do so (he must have some faith in me). Soon enough forty something hair dresser Ampai, young bar tender Panya, his older sister Nuan and two girls who worked at Loft, Gig and Add (in their twenties), arrived and talked amongst themselves in Thai not quite knowing what to think except they all appeared well dressed and had smiles on their faces. Hugh made the numbers even in an effort to make things less challenging as I began by introducing myself and where I am from by using a small Jersey calendar I happened to have. The hardest part came at an unexpected point when asked the students to pair up to the person on their right so could find out basic information; totally confused them and so resorted to hand signals (banged head on white board as just wanted to get out of there). Things got better when the photo exercise was handed out then through close observation and helping it became clear who were the intermediates (Add and Gig), the upper beginners (Panya and Ampai) and the basic beginner (Nuan). By the time my 40 minutes were up I was reasonably satisfied with my performance so sat and watched Margit conduct a well thought out lesson and Mati who perhaps asked too much too soon. Positives and negatives were discussed in the evaluation once the Thai's were gone then I could go eat snacks and continue with the another blog entry.
Now knowing what to expect, what the students names are and the whole general gist of a conducting a lesson I was quietly confident second time around. Nuan's fluffy white dog Panchok and Add's odd toy like thing Harry were barking whilst Margit was speaking (although Harry sounds more like a bird than an actual bark) but by the time it was my go going last one had been taken home and the other was attempting to push the boundaries by going off for a sniff not making a sound. I pulled out of the bag something extraordinary as the struture allowed students to enjoy being asked many questions relating to verbs and the the landscape photos using stick figures as a fun visual aid- 1/5 complete. I was forced to adapt mid week as my second strongest student, Gig, was busy meaning much scribbling out on paper a change to my plan which made Add an assistant; late starter Pear now with us (absolute beginner level). Things went very well considering I introduced a tough topic to tackle, past/present/future tenses and had to think of a homework assignment on the spot.
Thursday proved to be by far the most stressful of the lot, starting with me being late to the classroom to go over an appendix chapter in the book and being called on my mobile when still in my apartment. With flies attacking my still unhealed feet (now worse from cycling everywhere) I went second after Mati going over the hard 'to be' tenses and incorporating new vocab such as reading, writing, speaking, listening, watching. Although this actually went better than anticipated my Teacher Talk Time was unsurprisingly very high in trying to convey how the tense works as best I could. To bring my first week of lessons to a close my sole aim was to make the students talk more and with two of the beginner students unavailable this played right into my hands despite being horrifically unprepared and finishing off my plan seconds before I was on the platform. I strung out a recall sentence activity and slotted in a mini conversation exercise for good measure to get me safely over the next hurdle and have 2 of the 5 required 60% Student Talk Time lessons under my belt.
Once again I did near enough the same things every day, just that this time all lesson plans would be done in the three hours or so prior to 1pm (time to meet and go over what was proposed) so was free in the evenings as was generally not till 5pm when back in my apartment. This caused more stress than it was worth as meant a strict time limit and I was either just on time or late every occasion, especially when had to print and eat between finishing on the laptop and meeting.
Continuing where I left off I went to a restaurant every single evening from Monday right through to the weekend, not being worried about the costs as am spending next to nothing on other meals (market) and only drink water (averaging about 5 litres a day because of the heat)! We began with Dukes, on the night bazaar, which is a good 15 minutes fast peddle away, going quick enough to keep up with scooters and cars. I met the Swedes, Donika and Ida, outside the luxury Meridian Hotel (near skyscraper proportions) and the rest inside; Otilia and Jessica, plus Daniel and Brit Lucy from SoHostel. To cope with the not so cheap food (even by our standards it was pricey with steaks starting at 795 baht!) the three of us shared nachos, salad and pizza which made for a hell of a meal with the fresh tomatoes and big chuncks of mozarella being the highlight for me. I bought an ice cream from the conveniently placed 7/11 below then spent some time seeing the stalls, tacky restaurants (one was actually called 'Thai European'), girlie bars and the items for sale in Anusarn Market before resisted the small temptation to go out. I Instead rode my increasingly squeaky and wobbly bike home and published Sihanoukville (plus final two episodes of Archer season 2).
On Tuesday just prior to leaving I found out that friend Giles would be my partner in crime for the Grand Prix next weekend to fill the vacant spot left by Amy, who had to forfeit her christmas present so could prepare for London. This made me so relieved and excited that another night at Why Not? came at the perfect time (didn't want to have to pick out some random person in my hostel who I knew nothing about). Although the waiter was reluctant to increase the dipping sauce for the bread he did so after some persistance by moi and my basic cheese tomato pizza was spot on in taste and size. Wanting to get on with things I was on my way minutes after paying the bill with a awkward 6l water in my basket so could finish Assignment 4 on Classroom Management and have time to put on slightly upsetting yet weird Tim Burton flick, Frankenweenie-this same same but different routine is really making the days fly by.
The following day it was time to try out another, hopefully better, mexican restaurant and given the hundreds of reviews on TripAdvisor for Miguels I had few doubts. In my black Destino polo shirt I was rather warm seated outside under useless jets of water vapour and when confronted with the menu was bamboozled with so many quality choices. I was glad to be opposite big eater Donika as meant could share beef nachos along with each of us having a burrito/enchilada combo on a plate full of re-fried beans and yellow rice. The first course went down a treat but for some reason she could not stomach more than two mouthfuls of her main (only one who didn't like) even though it tasted truly Mexican and not like any other Western variant you see in Europe or America; being the opportunist I am this benefited me no end making me totally full. With her Mojito also being devoid of sugar and not all that she hoped for a decent amount of money had been blown for little in return. With us from their hostel was 39 year old American Shaun (Apple technician in Ireland) who gave guidance to on India and Nepal, when awaiting the check, and received useful advice in return to do with my crappy attempts to make money out of my blogs and photos- still to this day my mum is the only person to buy a single picture off me! Its tough when you know jack shit about advertisements and how the net works.
Unfortunately Thursday was all four of the Swedish's girls last night here in Chiang Mai as they are all heading on an overnight train to Bangkok the next day, and onto Koh Tao. Even though it was a 'school night' nothing was going to stop me from going out and I had even prepared for it by getting most of Friday's lesson plan complete on the off chance of being unable to in the morning. Being on time to meet Otilia and Lucy on Nimmenhemin Road it was of no surprise they arrived nearly half an hour later with me feeling I kind of deserved it as was late daily by pretty much exactly ten minutes. We shared a big margharita with mushrooms, ham and rocket at Why Not? (plus the bread of course), as Donika and Ida ate at Sumo Sushi, then we all migrated to theirs via the usual 7/11 pit stop. Jessica and Daniel soon arrived so the 7 of us could play a disjointed ring of fire that never really took off due to differing drinking habits, cigarette breaks and the nurses giving us a presentation on their 10 weeks working and studying at the hospital nearby; was very well done on PowerPoint by Ida with many animations and photos.
We tried consuming all remaining alcohol before a group photo taken by lightweight Daniel and us having to go all the way to Huai Kaow Road for a pickup onward to Zoe's as joined Donika in swinging off the back of the truck then didn't hesitate when Lucy asked about sharing a good old bucket once inside. By the time 2am came it was time to go to Spicy but the club was completely full of odd/strange people, money grabbing Thai's and the odd ladyboy so couldn't wait to leave and didn't even purchase a drink.
The girls acquired munchies at McDonald's (got bought a BigMac- aren't I lucky!) then I took transport to mine once had said a fond farewell to my lovely new Scandanavian friends when dropped them off and lifted my bike onto the truck, as feeling very lazy and no fit state to ride; driver tried charging extra but I just paid him the originally agred amount and walked away leaving security guard to make sure he left the premises.
Once class was over for the week I sat at one of the eateries in Tanin Market for a 35 baht pork with basil and chili meal with water (makes for a change from what have been used to) then ate sweet potato fries and tried a banana shake (not even close to the one in Pai) as spent the night looking up Beijing and Shanghai accommodation and watching a 10 episode Archer marathon to get up to the end of Season 3; that's over 200 minutes of awesomeness!!
I enjoyed a deserved lie in on Saturday then did a mini spring clean of the bathroom and floor using water and paper towels which wasn't the most hygienic but am I really going to buy proper cleaning equipment or pay for cleaners when only here a month?! No fecking way! I put my small pile of accumulated rubbish outside, ate fried seafood in curry sauce at Nokpochana in the market (lady was surprised I didn't find it spicy) and set to work on the Pai blog until 6.45pm when needed to be presentable as was meeting my two colleagues at Prego's Italian Thai Restaurant just inside the moat; mirror on one side really confused me initially. Remarkably this was the first time we had met up outside of class or even spoken without Hugh being about so was really nice and meant could forget teaching as spoke about our respective lives and ambitions whilst enjoying exceptional food. Trip Advisor reviews repeatedly mentioned how good the Khoa Soi crispy noodle dish was (Northern Thailand and Laos specialty) and so gave it a whirl with chicken and it turned out to be one of the best Asian dishes I have ever tried; the linguine pasta with local spicy sausage was fine, besides the size and the fact the waiter tried forcing it on me mid starter. We found ourselves the last remaining customers when sat on the soft chairs with our drinks as just kept talking and talking till gone 10pm when I headed home and published my post using Firefox seeing as Chrome does some funny things with the layout that almost made me pull my hair out in frustration.
It was a rare cool night so decided to stay in my bed till was good and ready to vacate it so could start the arduous process of another blog or two before the day was out- man on a mission and my own fault for being behind; partying in Cambodia and Pai for days on end will do that! I spoke to my bro and tried looking on the net for a free live stream of the Australian Grand Prix (first one of a new season) with the best one still requiring a pricey text to some promotion site and only making it to half way through the race when it wanted me to repeat the procedure. I just accepted commentary until that too went silent but was fortunate no more significant incidents occurred on the way to Kimi Raikkonen winning setting the scene for next weekend when I will be there WATCHING IT LIVE! With burning back on in the fields surrounding the city and the temperature generally warmer I had the a/c on for most of the day except for the one time I ventured outside to Top's Supermarket and the cheaper, more Asian variant. I am ashamed to say it but even though was St Patrick's Day I treated myself not to beer, but to Weet-Bix, milk and sugar (what is happening to me?) as had been a long time. This did, however, mean my huge fridge was on for the next 36 hours chilling a measly 1 litre bottle of milk but it was worth it when used my plastic salad bowl and spoon to enjoy a taste of home! I got another blog published and this one started then late evening put on Prohibition film Lawless with Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman- not as great as aspired to be. No covers, or even clothes by that matter, were practical when lay down as hoped today was a one off climate wise.
With my friends living it up on the islands, a lot of work and other bits to be done and me saving for my weekend away to KL I lived like a bit of a hermit till left for the airport but didn't mind as more than enough to keep me busy/entertained. Monday was to be the last time I would do my lesson planning in the hours before the lesson itself as it was too much of a ball ache than it's worth and I was never fully prepared regardless how well some turned out. With just two teachers at a time from now on it was just myself and Margit initially till Hugh arrived and we could begin proceedings. Apparently Thai folk forget everything over the course of a weekend or just take a while to function as I regretted going first with little participation from anyone and a general lack of confidence from the beginners with no one willing to open their mouths louder than 1 decibel. It took an age to go over the differences between nouns, adjectives and verbs which decreased my STT no end but ironically was a successful lesson as they did just about understand given the countless examples and constant drilling aimed at them. Margit pulled out of the bag her best lesson to date (frustrating as students wide awake now) then Hugh helped me no end with ideas for next time so got right onto producing a plan for it the moment I walked in the door, shake and snacks in hand. I sent it on at 9.30pm, organised a bunch of files that were littered all over my computer and for some god knows put on Resident Evil 5- Retribution; awful is an understatement! I stopped it mid way through to Skype Amy and suffered another 40 minutes till gone 2.30am when took time to settle and sleep.
There was no class to think about today so made sure I 'got shit done'! I was 'on it' from the moment my head left the pillow so backed up everything new on my laptop, located repair shops and money changers on Google and put a load of unspeakably smelly clothing into a bag, which included the bed sheet and all towels because something invisible is biting me all over inside the apartment. I finished off the cereal and milk, handed the laundry to a mother and son team by The Loft (he spoke English better than her), gave in my device to MTEK Notebook Service Shop and carried on going all the way to Loi Kroh Road to change 3007 THB into 310 MYR at 'Super Rich Money Exchange'. At 'Jaguar' Rentals I handed over a copy of my passport and got changed onto another near identical bicycle as there were no mechanics about just to tighten my handlebars or oil the chain (?? not exactly technical) but felt more solid and the brakes actual aided in stopping now- always a plus in accident prone Thailand. I bought good stationary at the 'Art and Schools' shop by the UN Irish Bar (should of been there Guinness in hand yesterday but nevermind) then sped home to Skype Nick, at 2am his time, on my Kindle once it redownloaded the program hearing how he hasn't changed a bit and his mini epiphany in Asia has amounted to very little- knew that would happen. I went to collect my overheating laptop from MTEK, at a cost of 500 baht (for 'cleaning' and the addition of a tiny piece of plastic to the charger as the metal end was too long), printed off 40 b & w sheets and 12 colour sheets for lessons/China/KL at a good discount, and organised them all before completing one day of diary and having to go out once again. My 6+ kilo's of fresh washing was lying neatly in a pile in the families living room and cost a remarkable 75 baht so used the savings (most places charge 30 per kilo!) to purchase a cold Chang once surprised the lady at Nokpochana with another empty plate- 'next time more hot'. I caught up on writing late evening and instead of putting on a 3 hour film wisely chose to get on with my very last TEFL assignment that ended up being easier than first thought as most information was on the dozens of teacher websites, so just changed bits into my own template and format to make up lesson plans for beginner through to advanced. Once programs to change .avi and .mkv files to .mp4 were installed I left the computer on overnight to convert some videos.
Unable to wake up when supposed to it was gone 10 when carried on with and sent the drafts for the assignment, by which point it was time to use my electric trimmer for a tidy up and room in my schedule to have sit down meal for lunch- only the second time since being here this has happened. I met Mati at The Loft early and was quite calm and collected when students arrived even though was going first and it was a further 15 minutes till Ampai became on the 4th person to show. I planned to get a high STT but this did not go exactly to plan as was required to do a lot of explaining and demonstrations to show what specific words meant, which also affected my time management as the main activity was not begun till ten minutes from the end. Annoyed at myself I even said to Hugh 'I would rather do a bad lesson than have a good one with less than the required 60%'- still need three more! Upon receiving much content help towards my next two I was on my bike with a slender smile on my face as ate an early dinner at Nokpochana (at last my eyes were watering but only because she cheated and gave me a container full of hot chilies to add as I pleased), bought 10 donuts for 10 baht at the covered market next door and then bread and another 6 litre water from Tops so could stay in my room the next 18 hours- roll on Malaysia! That night I conjured up a plan for my last class of the week, relaxed and finished watching Archer right up to the episode literally only aired a few days ago.
With the cover off me again and fan on I awoke from an insane otherwordly dream to find huge bites all along my right side and back but could locate no insect in sight whatsoever- no idea what is going on and leaving the room for a few days couldn't of come at a better time. Once read the long 5 page evaluation of yesterday's performance I tried making sure I did everything possible to get the students talking as much as humanely posslbe. We all met up at the Paradise TEFL's classroom at midday to go over some last remaining grammar points and things we were not sure of ('future present continuous) being bored to tears until there was only a few minutes to go until people arrived. Seeing Pear and Nuan early and all 6 being present by 2pm was an achievement in itself and showed how eager they were to learn English and use it in their lives. The whole time Margit was teaching I was scribbling out more things and thinking of how to explain the speaking activities insturctions clearly so when it was my turn to shine there was a certain air of confidence installed in me. Using riddles yet again I handed over sheets to Gig and Add to go through giving me a perfect start with discussions going on and most importantly them enjoying it. After I introduced some more opposites I used the intermediates help so that conversations could begin and I could take a step back and obvserve ('guide by the side' not the 'sage on stage') the pairs eventually thinking for themselves and coming up with good, full sentences managing to obtain a remarkable 75% bringing an end to my second week very nicely indeed. Apparently I am a natural at teaching (am sure friends at home would be shocked) so can hopefully use this skill effectively in other countries to fund my travels and maybe even as something to fall back on in the future if worst comes to the worst.
Knowing I could forget about TEFL for a few days now I strolled around the market taking photos, banana shake and potato fries in hand, then sat with Mati and Margit for plates of good local food before I left them at 6pm so could buy bisuits, crackers and red bull for tomorrow's journey (although ate half of it that evening) I lay out all the things I hoped to take with me on the bed, made sure all writing and typing were done, messaged people on Facebook, phoned Mum and finalised everything for my mini trip. I posted this blog at 1am, packed and lay down super dooper excited about watching the Formula One!!!!