In Thailand: TESOL course and Alex visits

Trip Start Jan 08, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Mong's House

Flag of Thailand  ,
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Thailand. Thailand. Thailand.

I arrived in Bangkok quite a while ago now, but was met (after a bit of searching and text messaging) by Kanjana. YAY!!! Very good to see her. We drove in her new car (a green Nissan Station Wagon - very nice) to her house in the outer suburbs of Bangkok. She lives in Nongchok with her Mum and 2 kids (Alif and Vava).

I had my first drive in Bangkok that weekend - hmmm, seemed a bit scary at first but actually is just the same as driving anywhere else. I have been driving more and more since then and quite enjoy it. I will get my international driving license whilst in Australia so as I can drive legally and don't have to avoid the police.

Whilst driving with Kanjana one afternoon we had an interesting conversation. I was trying to find out a little more about her family and had asked he if her mother had any brothers or sisters. I think the conversation went something like this:
K. I had an uncle
P. What happened to him?
K. He was killed
P. Oh, I'm sorry. What happened?
K. He was shot by the police
P. Oh, why?
K. He was Robin Hood
P. What?
K. He was Robin Hood
P. What do you mean?
K. He was unemployed and living in [a poor area of Thailand], so he used his time to steal from the rich and give to the poor people.
P. Oh

The next two weeks in Bankok were largely taken up doing a TESOL course (learning to be a teacher of English to non-English speakers). To get to the 9am class each day I would leave the house at 6am, get a motorcycle taxi up the street, catch a mini van to Minburi, catch a bus to the boat station, catch a boat, change boats, get off at Siam Square and walk 15 minutes to the class. This would normally take about 2 hours but could take up to 3. Going home was the reverse. Being on the boat was fun. The canals in Bankok are filthy, the boat is loud and smells and chugs along at a slow pace (faster than the road traffic though) and the contrast to the beautifully dressed and groomed Thai business-women climbing on and off the boat in their high heels was marked and made for an interesting spectacle (hmmm, is that how you spell that???, belive it or not I got an 'A' pass for my teaching course). After 2 weeks I passed the course and more importantly I did well and got quite a few contacts for future work and some good information on pay rates and working conditions. I also got the feeling that teaching English would be an interesting and fun job, at least for a little while. I suspect working in Bangkok is going to be tiring - due largely to the travelling in the city - but will pay quite well. Plan so far is to do that in Bangkok for about a year.

In the middle of my TESOL course, my good friend Alex turned up to visit me in Thailand. :-D YAY!!!!

On the day before Alex turned up Nana and I spent some time chopping down coconuts and I learnt to cut them open. We then did some plumbing in the bathroom - installed a new tap and a hose for the toilet (I suspect for Alex's benefit). We dropped Kanjana's mum off at the bus station for her to visit her relatives and then at about midnight Kanjana did about 4 loads of washing in less than an hour. She is an amazingly capable woman.

Alex, Vava, Alif, Kanjana, her cousin and two other friends and I went for a weekend to the floating markets and then camping in Kanchanaburi. We visited waterfalls, a temple with tigers (thanks Katrina), the bridge on the river Kwai and played with an amazingly playful baby elephant who kept trying to trip me up and wrestle with me. The cool early morning ride in the back of the pick up truck on the way out of Bangkok was also a highlight.

The following week, Alex and I headed up North to Chiang Mai, staying with Tim (a friend of mine) and exploring Chiang Mai (particularly the night markets). We quickly caught up with my friends Phra Boun Savat, Boun Thavee and Dan - all of which are from Laos and are currently monks studying at Wat Morn Thien and then we headed to Mae Hong Son to visit Mong.

On the way to Mae Hong Son we passed through a small town called Pai. Without going into detail - we both strongly disliked it and wouldn't recommend it. Also on the way to Mae Hong Son, it was fun to watch the Lisu women get on the bus in their colourful traditional clothing. Most of them would sit on the floor (as they are used to sitting at home) but I watched a couple of them try to sit on the bus seats. They lasted about 15 minutes, before getting onto the floor which they obviously thought was more comfortable.

We arrived in Mae Hong Son, found Mong and explored. WOW!!! Mae Hong Son is a beautiful small, clean, friendly town with cool mountain air in the evenings. Very impressed. I want to come back. Mong was her usual self with a massive smile and relaxed attitude. We checked out some of the temples and the morning market and then I unfortunately had to leave and get back to Bangkok. Alex stayed in Mae Hong Som to help Mong do work with the refugees in that area. Good luck.

I got a few more days in Bangkok with Kanjana, which unfortunately included getting a little sick and having to deal with a very very silly travel agent. I got quite frustrated at one point and angry - SORRY! - but otherwise enjoyed my time with Nana before flying to Australia. More on that later. See ya
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Paul on

I should add - when I say "new car" - it was a small cheap second hand car - but Kanchana had just brought it with some help from me. She didn't have a car before that and had to spend hours on public transport.
It actually wasn't much - but at the time, it was a lot of money for us and a huge improvement in our lives to have a car

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