Monday through Wednesday was fairly uneventful. Except for waking up on Tuesday to find ants in my garbage. Little devils snuck in during the night, ignored the ant trap, and went straight for the garbage. On Wednesday I was sitting at my desk, trying to write a blog post, when from behind my Christmas tree came a huge black wasp. It was one of the scary looking ones where you can see all of its segments, and it was about as big as my thumb if not a little bigger. This thing was huge and I was terrified. It flew from behind the Christmas tree, right at me, around me, and out my open balcony door. I thought that was the end of that but then it came back! It flew in, went behind my Christmas tree, and flew away again. I quickly shut my balcony door because I did not want the wasp to visit again. I peeked behind my Christmas tree to see what it had been doing; the last thing I wanted was a wasp’s nest in my apartment. Sure enough, it had been starting the foundations for a nest. I scraped it off into my trash.
Thursday (January 7) was a teacher retreat. The busses were leaving school at 6:00 am! In actuality, they did not leave until 6:30, and I was there on time, I could have slept in more. I took some Dramine before getting on the bus, just in case, and was out like a light for most of the ride there, which was about 4 or 5 hours. We stopped at a college for lunch. Some of the students sang and performed for us. After lunch, we all went into a room where many of the higher ups at each school talked and there were power points. All of it was in Thai. Fortunately, I downloaded four books from Amazon on to my Kindle app so I spent the time reading. The whole meeting took about 3 hours. Then we climbed back on the bus to go to our resort, which was another hour away.
The resort was quite nice, and it was next to the ocean. I roomed with my supervisor and one of my coworkers. We had an hour before dinner so I moseyed down to the beach to check out the seashells. Dinner started at six. Not only was there food, but there was karaoke and prizes; I won a food chopper in the raffle. The food chopper is ironic because I have no need for a food chopper, I do not have anything to make my own food with, except now a food chopper. Again, the whole program was in Thai, I read for most of the evening. Until they had me go on stage to hand out prizes to the raffle winners. The school director came up to our table and asked me, “You have beer?” I did not understand what he meant so I did the Thai thing: smile and nod. He smiled back and walked off. The dinner party ended at 11, which was about two hour too long for me. I started to get a headache from the loud music and the bright flashing lights. My coworker roommate said she was also getting a headache from the noise and lights.
That night, I did not get much sleep; our air conditioner was turned on to Artic blast and the blankets were too thin to keep me warm, also my supervisor snored. In the morning, my coworker roommate told me did not get much sleep either for the same reasons. The three of us went to breakfast, and on the way to breakfast, the director stopped me. Again he asked, “You have beer?” I was even more confused this time but I did the Thai thing again. My supervisor clarified his English for me; he was asking if I was happy. She said most foreigners they see are loud and outgoing while I am quiet and reserved, and he is worried I am not happy here. She said she understands people better and she knows there are many different types of people.
The bus ride back took all day. First, we stopped at a monument to past kings. It was huge and impressive with giant statues of past kings of Thailand. Then, we stopped at a floating market. Which was nice but most floating markets are similar and this one was nothing new. Next, we stopped at a temple where there was a giant statue of a monk. My supervisor told us a monk had recently died and he was a famous monk because he touched the ocean and made it un-salty so we can drink the ocean now. After that, we stopped for lunch at a place alongside the road. It was cheap food and I just wanted to get back. We made one last stop outside Bangkok for a bathroom break because traffic was bad. Finally, after an 11-hour day, we made it back to Ban Bung!
Seeing as how I spent Thursday and Friday on a bus, I did not want to go anywhere or do anything on Saturday or Sunday. Most of my weekends have been spent adventuring, and so I needed a lazy weekend. I spent the two days being lazy, sleeping in and doing nothing. Not really doing nothing, I read and watched some movies. I finally saw the Peanuts movie! I have mixed feelings about it. I think they did a good job of keeping with Charles Schulz’s style but the little red haired girl is unseen in the comics. She is supposed to be the unattainable desire for Charlie Brown. Anyways, I could talk about that forever. I was slightly productive, doing laundry, sweeping my floor, even giving the floor a once over with a wet cloth.
Monday was hard to wake up from sleeping in on the weekend. However, I dragged myself out of bed and made my way to school. At school, I was told if any student had failed the midterm, I was to let them retake it, with the help of their friends. Moreover, if they failed again, I had to reteach them the material or give them extra work to help their grade. This week I have to retest the students who received less than 10 out of 20. I was also informed I needed to turn in my attendance sheets and grades today. However, since the attendance forms are all in Thai, I do not know what goes where. My coordinator had to translate all of it for me. They are very picky about the format of their attendance sheets. I took them home and spent all night working on them.
On Tuesday I was told I had done the attendance sheets wrong. Weeks 1-7 were supposed to be on page one, weeks 8-14 on week two, and weeks 15-20 on page three. Well I had weeks 1-6 on page one, weeks 7-13 on page two, and weeks 14-20 on page three. They almost made me redo them, I argued that if they got to week 20 why should it matter what order they are in? But things have to be done just so. Fortunately, I did not have to redo them. But the stress and the headache were terrible.
Wednesday, Henry’s restaurant was packed and I managed to grab the last table. One of my coworkers came in to the restaurant and Henry seated him with me. We struck up a conversation (his English is good, if a little quiet). Come to find out, he is a Chinese teacher from China, taking classes at a university in Chon Buri. We talked a lot about China, and the Chinese school system versus the Thai school system. It was nice to meet someone who is able to relate to my time in China and Thailand. We are now dinner buddies and sit together when we are both at the restaurant.
Friday morning I helped my coworker get her motorbike unstuck and she gave me a ride to work. Later that evening I took a van to Pattaya for some scuba diving. Saturday was some amazing diving! Got to see a turtle, a whole school of purple fish, and florescent coral. The florescent coral was my favorite. It was neon coral. It glowed pink, yellow, and blue. It looked like it was under a black light. I really wanted to touch it. The turtle was cool too. After a week at school, a day in the water was fantastic. Though, one of the divers in my group was a problem. He spent most of the dives upside down, bumping into everyone, and at one point, his tank came off his back. We tried to put his tank back; he kept struggling, and trying to get away from us.
Not much happened the rest of the week, except this last Friday (January 22). I was not feeling well, I did not want to teach class, and a lot of students had missing assignments. The students who had completed their assignments got free time, and the students with missing assignments had to do their work. There are three boys in M1 who never do their assignments, never participate, and the few English words I have heard them speak were swear words. They decided to skip class, and sit in the hallway playing games on their phones. The wall leading out to the hallway is all windows, but they thought I could not see them because the hallway was dark and the classroom was bright. Joke’s on them, I could see them. The light reflected off their light blue uniforms. They were dancing in front of the window and messing with the door because they thought I could not see them. I ended class a little early, and they could not get out of the hallway fast enough. I told my coordinator and she chewed them out. They are also spending their lunch breaks with me to make up all the assignments they have not been doing. It may be petty, but I feel extremely satisfied.
Note to readers: I do apologize for not being as good at posting things as I have in the past. Once things settled down into a routine, everything became routine, and not quite as exciting as it once was. I have four weeks left of teaching, two weeks of finals, and one week of grading. Then I am done and will travel around Thailand a bit. Hopefully, I can get back on the blogging train with new adventures. Until then, keep reading!