You have a friend in Thailand

Trip Start Aug 08, 2010
Trip End Jun 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Urbana Condo

Flag of Thailand  , Nonthaburi,
Monday, August 23, 2010

Well, knock on wood, things are going pretty well.  I don't love the school I'm at, but I can deal with it.   I have 7 students for Language Arts, Social Studies and Science, and 8 for Math.  But I'm working my ass off.  No materials, have to pull everything out of you know where.  And a major anal retentive crab ass for a head teacher. But when I'm on my own, things go well.
Most of the people are very kind, and I do my best to avoid the others.

The one business/office type Thai lady who met me at the airport took me to the HUGE immigration building on Friday to get my tourist visa commuted to a Non-immigrant B so that I can work in Thailand.  We sat for about 2 1/2 hours waiting for it to be processed and had a good talk.  Her English is excellent.   I love the way Thais are so polite and kind, yet so innocently blunt, like a 6  year old.  As we waited for the visa, she explained that Allison didn't have to do this because she was married to a Thai and had a spouse visa, and if Scott married a Thai he wouldn't have to go through this process either.  I commented that it might be quicker and easier for me to marry a Thai than to wait for this visa, but Watcharee said, "You might have to pay him."   Then we stopped at a bakery for her to get some sweet bread for breakfast.  I got a piece of cake and she said, "Aren't you afraid to get fat?"  When we talked with one of the students about piano lessons, I laughed that I was in Book 1 three times.  "Maybe you should try other things, this is not your talent,"  she said.

But it's all said with grace and no offense taken.  

She invited me to be her guest at the gym on Sunday  and I met her at the Central Plaza (mall) at 10 am after her hot yoga class.  I didn't realize that the mall wasn't open yet and had to follow lines of workers in through the parking garage.  The security guard held a radar detector type thing up to everyone's neck as we walked by.  It's funny what you just meekly acquiesce to when you don't know what's going on or how to ask.   He could have been giving us Thai injections.  He could have anesthetized me and replaced my insides with one of those pod people.  I don't have a clue.  Yet I stand obediently still and let him scan my neck as I walk in.  What choice do I have?   Someone said it was probably to take your temperature and I do recall reading that this was the worst month for swine flu on record.  Funny I didn't read about it in the states.

The gym was huge and had all kinds of machines and I think four exercise classrooms and trainers all around. Of course they did their sales pitch on me in broken English but at $60 a month, it's double what I pay at Kole's back home and although I want to join, it's a lot of money and I'm only taking home probably less than a thousand a month after taxes, so it's hard to justify.  I wonder how the Thai office lady can afford it, as Thais are usually paid much less than foreigners.  But they do give you free soda. (?)

After 2 1/2 hours in the gym (Dear God, does this woman ever quit?)  we shower and share a sandwich that she has brought along.  The crust is cut off, and there is one thin slice of ham and one slice of cheese in between.  I could have eaten about 6 of them at that point.  In my mind, I'm imagining how I can politely slip away for some ice cream. 

But we leave to go to a restaurant for lunch afterward.  Is it any wonder I can't get the rhythm of life around here?  We have noodle soup and pork dumplings, both delicious, and then Watcharee showed me how to order (cheap) food in the food park (court.)  They are having a special promotion this month - every one of the many food booths is featuring one entree for 25 B - 75 cents.   Cheap eats. 

We ate some roti for dessert - a thin crispy fried dough (maybe like a phyllo dough?)  drizzled with condensed milk.  Surprisingly good.

Watcharee showed me some export shops that have "big" sizes - overstock type shops like our TJ Maxx and I bought a towel.  No matter how careful you are, you just can't get by with only one towel.

I got very brave this morning and instead of taking a cab to work, I opened the door of one of those white vans that line up at the bus stops and showed him my map and asked if he stopped at Soi Wa Thai, near my school.   Miracle of miracles, he understood me and said yes.  So I sat up front next to the driver, held my map that Worawit made for me tightly in my hands and did my best to look pathetic and scared.  This is a very good technique to get the driver to watch out for you.  I have perfected it to an art, I must confess. So he all but shoves me out the door at my stop, I cross over the elevated walkway to the opposite side of the highway, hail a motorcycle taxi who looks confused but drives away anyway.  (After all, a fare is a fare, right?)  He stops about a block away and motions for me to tell my destination to a boy behind a food cart and the boy relays to the motorcycle driver where to take me and off we go again.  10 B for the white van, 20 B for the motorcycle,  total savings about 40 B.  Great fun.  It also gives your hair that windblown look for the rest of the day.

Off to the clinic to get a work permit exam and the bank to open an account for the deposit of my pay and now I'm home for the evening.  Stopped at some food carts on the sidewalk for some fruit and some kind of coconut milk soup to take home for supper on the way into my soi.  The internet is working,and life is good. 

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