Summer English Camp

Trip Start Feb 02, 2006
Trip End May 14, 2006

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Well, school is out but I still teach 3 classes per day for summer English camp. It's great fun, basically the same teaching but I get to wear shorts. (I don't know if I told you but Thai teachers have a pretty strict dress code - shirts and ties, dress clothes no open HEEL shoes (?) no bare shoulders, government uniforms on Mondays.) And you know how hard it is for me to conform. Plus the @#$%@# wild dogs stole one of my good $40 new Clarks sandals so I've been wearing flip flops until I got to Chanthaburi where I bought a pair of $4.50 Birkenstocks. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, they can't be real burkies, but the box says they are and they look like real burkies so what?
Someone has asked me to describe the toilet to you so the squeamish should skip this paragraph. Imagine that your toilet were squashed down to about 4 inches high. a squat toilet is on the floor, open hole, with 2 footprints to stand on. first you pull UP your pant legs because the floor is nasty. then you pull your pants way down and squat. there's a container of rainwater nearby with a dipper and Thais use this to wash themselves off after toileting but I haven't perfected the art yet. (I tried once but wet the whole back of my slacks.) Thais don't use paper, but they do wash after using the toilet which really seems a lot cleaner. then you dip water into the dipper (a couple of times) and pour it down the hole to flush. Since everything here is marble or concrete with floor drains, you can also wash down the entire room at the same time.
I may have given you the impression that Thais are not clean and this is totally not true. They bathe at least twice, sometimes 3 times a day - morning, before dinner, before bed. They put on clean clothes after each bath. I have been stuffed into a songtaew (those trucks with benches) with 20 other Thais and never once have I smelled any body odor. Even the grungiest working men have shirts that you know started out clean that morning. Students live in corregated metal shacks and their uniforms are clean and crisply pressed everyday. You wonder how they do it. They sweep continually, too.
Sunday night my principal took me to Ban Saen which is a beautiful beach. On the way we went up a hilltop overlooking the ocean to a place where scads of monkeys congregate. I don't know why they all stay in that one place, although the view is spectacular. Anyway, my principal's 3 year old was feeding the monkeys and one lunged off the fence and bit him - broke the skin. He had to go to the doctor today. And remember, I cheaped out on the rabies shots.
That reminds me, I have developed a system for getting around in Thailand that seems to work. First off, I would never travel around in Asia without a phone, that's a given. Then I have 2 reliable people (my teacher from Ban Phe and my principal) who help me out. I get someone to write down (in Thai) the name of the place I am going to or the bus stop I need to get off at or whatever. I use the rule of 3 - I tell 3 people on the bus to please tell me when we get to xxxxxx and show them the paper. Thai people love to help out farangs. Then when I get off the bus or get to my destination and need further help , I call my principal and hand the phone to the nearest kindest looking Thai. She proceeds to ask them where I am or she asks them to direct me to XXXX. Or I get a taxi , call Gee or Samarang and hand the phone to the taxi or tuk tuk driver and they tell him where to take me. It's a good system.
Next weekend I am going to Khorat which is the gateway to the Issan (or Essan) area of Thailand, the northeast corner. Much more remote than around here. If that's possible.
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