Teaching English in Thailand: Day 31, Ladyboys

Day 31: Friday 24th July

There's nothin' like a bit of BBQ pork and sticky rice to start the day! Again, a feast was laid out on my desk this morning. Rowena says she buys it because she likes to give the old ladies at the market some custom. Im not so sure about her motives, but I sure don't mind.
Kanang at the morning market

BBQ pork
I only had 2 lessons today so I had a lot of time to spare. There was a lot of outdoor activity going on at school, such as general meandering around, playing sports or chilling and plaiting each other's hair, in the girls cases. I had enough of sitting in the office and braved the outdoors, seeing as it was very overcast and not too hot. It was still 32 degrees, mind you. I sat for a fair while, watching various students switching on and off the volleyball court. Every now and again a student would call over "Teaacha, play volleyball" and I'd wave my hands  to my head, signalling how hot it was. I just didn't fancy getting all hot and sweaty today, and was happy to watch them all get competitive together. Also, the students playing today were really good, and I didn't want to break up the flow with any terrible shots.
Buum bought us all ice cream!
In the afternoon I ventured outside as they were playing again. (Do these kids ever study?) I sat on my own at a table near to the court. I don't mind sitting alone at school, because I am a teacher and the kids aren't going to laugh at me and think "haha, that loser is on her own again". Im also the only blonde person (apart from the school stray dog) on the school grounds, consisting of about 600 students and teachers, so I am used to standing out and being the 'only one'. After a while, one of the students from M4 (age 16 ish) came over and sat next to me. It was the first time any of the kids had approached me like this, because they are usually all so damn shy! She didn't want anything in particular, and she didn't seem shy. So we sat quietly together, as we watched the others play volleyball. Every now again again we would say something in very broken English, and sometimes the other would understand. I pointed at one of the boys on the court and asked her, "ladyboy?" and she replied "yes", and went on to point to three other of the boys, signalling that the four of them were all 'ladyboys'. I kind of thought this before, but the first one I asked about had a full face of make up on and painted toe nails, which made it pretty explicit.
Loving the V ball

Even though I've never put much thought into the subject, I always thought that a ladyboy was more of an adult thing- not kids. I thought that men who wanted to be women would dress like them, and sometimes even go the whole way. I wouldn't have called the boys at school who carry a handbag and put talcum powder on their face 'ladyboys', but apparently that's the way it is over here. I love how in Thailand, the boys who want to act or dress like a ladyboy can, and everybody accepts them for it. There were 4 ladyboys on the volleyball court, and they were smashing the ball around so hard and powerfully which may surprise some. Many might think that a ladyboy, and even girly girls are too fragile or pretty to get sweaty in a game of volleyball, but it was very refreshing to see an equal distribution of boys, girls, and ladyboys on the court.

Had a huge headache today so when we got home i just binge-watched Orange is the New Black and had a niiiiceeee sleep.

I'm going on holiday tomorrow to Hua Hin until Tuesday 4th August (amazing, right?) and Im not taking my laptop for the fear of it getting stolen in a dodgy hostel. Therefore, I will be catching up with my blog posts once I get back so you can have a lovely load of (or one big) holiday post/s to read!

Peace, Olive

Teaching English in Thailand: Day 30, Wedding Lunch

Day 30: Thursday 23rd July

I can tell it's the end of the week, and so can everybody else by the small amount of eyeball that they can see through my struggling eye lids. When I am this tired, I don't know whats better for me- to be busy or to sleep! It turns out, my fate was made, and I only had one class today as many of the kids were at the temple for social studies work. Therefore, sleep was on the agenda! A little snooze at the desk is always naughty but nice, and nobody seems to mind!

I mentioned last week that I was given a wedding invite, to somebody's wedding who I have never met before. Today is the day of said wedding, so at lunch instead of going to our usual restaurant, we went and sat in the middle of a little side road in the village. When we arrived, we realised that everybody there (about 30 people) were all teachers from our school! And there was definitely no sight of any wedding activity going on. We soon figured out that this was a celebratory lunch, preceding the wedding that would happen the next day. 
The spread
The bride is about 19-20 years old, and is an old student of the school- hence all the teachers! They had laid out loads of food for us, including Penang (red) curry, chicken, veg, salads, fish heads and pork innards. The last two looked exceptionally delightful! I stuck to the Penang and the chicken- even if it was pretty spicy! 
Rowena and her fish head, mm!
Towards the end of the meal we finally saw the bride, who popped out of the house to do a whip around the tables and collect the gifted money from guests. She disappeared back into the house then, and that was that! We had been conspiring about where we thought she was: asleep? Shopping? Spooning her future husband, just like two men nearby in their garage were doing? Who knew!? At the end of the lunch, we were all given a small cushion as a gift. Some were also given a little towel- I have no idea what that was meant to be for. Anyway, the cushions are really nice,  and are the perfect size to keep on my desk for those sleepy occasions! (I hope it fits in my luggage..)
Modelling my cushion
At lunch I saw a dog carrying a small plastic bag from its mouth with some food (I think) inside it. It then stopped and proceeded to put its whole mouth into the bag, eat the paper napkin inside it and start to also chew at the plastic. It was so sad to see, and I tried to distract the dog from the bag so it didn't suffocate or eat the plastic, because that would would cause the dog some obvious problems. The stray dogs here have to do this in order to survive I know, but it's sad to see them so desperate for food that they have to eat god-knows-what to get to it. (The dog has a collar on, so Im not sure about its ownership, but the problem of stray dogs is widespread in Thailand.) 
Don't eat the plastic!
I have been craving pancakes for a while now, so I went in search of some flour as Kanang didn't have any at home. We asked in Tesco Lotus for some, and they didn't have any! I couldn't believe it! One of the most basic amenities which can be found in most staple foods, was not in Tesco! What the heck?! So I had to go for the cheater's option and buy a packet mix, which I hate doing because of all the unwanted crap in them. I managed to overcome this battle and go forth in making, cooking, eating and enjoying the pancakes. Thank the lord. They were actually really nice! The mix had some vanilla and some other tasty stuff in it, so my banana, peanut butter and maple syrup pancakes were a delightful dinner. 

After dinner I decided that my long weekend plans would be made that evening, and with as little stress as possible! I finally slapped my indecision in the face and decided that I would take the night bus down to Bangkok, and go onto Hua Hin with Jodie, Hannah and crew, before I meet my other friends there on Wednesday. After some confusing phone calls to the bus company, with Kanang's help and Thai tongue, my bus journey was booked. Woohoo! What a relief! 

Now I just need to book some extra nights in the hostel and the flight back. I never knew how much hassle all this would be!

And breathe. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....


Teaching English in Thailand: Day 29, Crazy Teacher Olivia

Day 29: Wednesday 22nd July

Wing Wing with her "diet food"
I was in a bit of shock today, due to many things. First: because I had time to have a coffee and a sweet brioche bun before school. Second: because Rowena announced that she is on a diet. Third: because the diet requires her to eat two slices of bread and peanut butter for breakfast. Wait... What? When I’m on a diet I have to fight with all my soul to not eat peanut butter sandwiches… I think I need to join her on whatever diet this is, because it looks like a damn lot of fun. So there we were, spreading Filipino peanut butter on to teeny slices of bread with a fork at my desk, at about 8:30 in the morning.
Amazing peanut butter
I had three lessons today; in 2 of them I taught about clothing. I did the same as yesterday, in that each student read out an item of clothing from the book, they wrote some sentences using the new vocab, then we played a game of SPLAT. The kids enjoyed the game, but they are all so shy in getting involved. I either have to give them a little (big) push to stand at the front, or their fellow students do! So when I had to drag the tallest boy in the class to the front and no girls requested to play, I was in the position to partake in the dual and stand back-to-back with him, even though the boy towered over me! We raised our imaginary guns and a student became teacher. Each time an item of clothing was called, we would take a step away from each other. When the magic word ‘PANTS’ was called, we would “shoot” at each other. I got a little bit excited and absolutely, (hypothetically) shot him to bits with a “BANG BANG BANNGGBANGGBANNGGGGGGGGG!!!” Everyone laughed so much, and the boy was pretty shocked to have been killed so amazingly by the little blonde teacher in a stupid skirt.

In the other class, I taught what the teacher requested me to teach, which was about using the phrases “Can you tell me…” and “Do you know…” The students in this class were about 15 so they had a better ability to deal with this kind of thing. It was another funny class, and ended up with me flinging my shoes around asking, “Can you tell me where my shoes are?!” and other crazy stuff that just does not happen in Thai schools. I just think, even though the subject is a little mundane, I can do as much as I can to make the kids enjoy the lesson still, and lift the spirits as much as possible!
Pad Thai for lunch
We managed to leave school early because neither Rowena, Kanang nor I had lessons in the afternoon. This just gave me more time to nap once we got home! Every day in the car I am on the verge of falling asleep- I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet. In the evening, Kanang and I just stayed home, cooked some stir fry veg (no sugar in mine, but naughty Kanang added some to hers) and I also got extremely stressed out about making plans for the upcoming long weekend, or long-9 days-off, in my case! I managed to decide that I would at least book something for the few days that everyone else could match up with me on. This meant I had booked to go to Hua Hin (beach place) from Wednesday 29th-3rd, but still had no plans from the 25th-29th. I certainly don't want to waste 4 days sitting at home on my own- I think I'd rather be at school invigilating the exams! (Pfft, invigilators? In Thailand? Hmm..)

 I have options for those first few days, which are: to go Hua Hin with different friends for a couple more days; stay at home; or leave the country all together and visit nearby Singapore. I have been trying to decide on these options for weeks, and tonight it just all became so stressful because I have approximately 2 days before I leave to go to the designated place! And buses/ flights get booked up so fast around the long weekend bank holiday! Tomorrow's job is to sort out my life and nip my indecisiveness in the ass!


Teaching English in Thailand: Day 28, BBQ Pork

Day 28: Tuesday 21st July

My new topic for the week is clothing. I luckily have access to about 35 picture dictionaries, which allow me to teach the vocal for lots of different items of clothing. The students can then use this vocabulary for their writing exercises which consist of "When it is hot/cold/rainy I wear...."- this sounds easy, but believe me, they struggle! Without the picture dictionaries, I'd probably have to draw over 20 items of clothing on the board, and I think the kids know by now how horrific my drawing is.
Today's fruit basket!
During my first lesson of the morning, where I was attempting to play a game of SPLAT, I saw David arrive, waving his camera around: great!. What I didn’t realise was that he also set up a GoPro, which was set to record. This means that there is now a video of me trying to explain how you play SPLAT; jumping around and shouting the word “pants!” because it was the magic word. (I wont mention how out of breath and sweaty said activity made me. Man, I need to do some exercise!) 

David accompanied Robert and I to some of our lessons, and also had some meetings with our mentor to sort some things out with the school. It is my school’s first time hosting an ETA from the British Council, so there are a few teething problems. Today we had lunch at the school for the first time, as Kanang went out and bought a load of food from the market. She bought some chicken, sticky rice and some ‘som tam’, which is a spicy salad made from un-ripe, crunchy papaya. Sometimes you may find raw snails, shrimp and crab in there, which really puts me off. Plus, the whole dish is soaked in fish sauce, which is made from fermented fish. Yummy, eh?! I wish I could overcome this and enjoy som tam, because it is fairly healthy! But today I just stuck to my dry chicken and rice. #gains
Lunch at school

Surprise! I fell asleep at my desk again. Just as David walked back into the office, I sprang awake and attempted to cover my watch-imprinted face. (I trust that David won’t read this. If you do, David, I’m sorry!!) He left soon after, so I woke myself up with a walk to the canteen to buy ice cream. I think it was coconut flavour, but you can never be sure in Thailand! It was covered with peanuts, condensed milk and some yellow things that kind of resembled the inside of a sweetcorn kernel. It was odd, but still enjoyable.
Ice cream
After school I did the usual falling asleep thing, which has become an expected daily event. Once I had woken up, I asked Kanang if we could go to the market to buy some duck, so we drove a few minutes in search of some. Did you know, the Thai word for duck is bed? Anyway, there was no duck. So we bought some bbq pork on a stick (I ate this for breakfast last week) and we intended to have it with salad at home. Kanang had already bought some salad for us, which was pre-packed and prepared, ready in individual bags. There was sweetcorn, lettuce, kidney beans, carrot and some other random white beans that look a bit like pearl barley in there. To this we added red cabbage, tomatoes and the pork. Two very strange sauces came with the salad: strawberry yoghurt and kiwi yoghurt sauces! At first I left them because I thought it was just too weird to put this on my food. But, it turns out that Kiwi yoghurt is extremely tasty on a porky salad!
A very fun salad!
Kiwi yoghurt/strawberry yoghurt dressing
We had some durian for dessert. It is growing on me each time I have it! It’s such a shame we don’t have it in the UK because I know I will miss it a LOT. I don’t even think it smells that bad, whereas many people wont even allow it in their house, because the smell offends them so much!
A good ol' chunk of durian
Just realised all of today's pictures are of food. Oh well, thats not a terrible thing, eh!


Teaching English in Thailand: Day 27, Dinner on David

Day 27: Monday 20th July

I woke up at the crack of dawn (6:50) for school and felt like utter poo. I think all the weeks and weekends of exertion built up and ganged up on me! Kanang stuck a thermometer under my armpit, (mm, lovely) revealing that I had a temperature – or that I just had warm pits. Either way, there was no chance I could have mustered the strength to get ready and last all day at school feeling like that. Kanang left for school, and I got back into bed and slept for another 5 hours!
Vietnamese coffee and banana cake from the market 

I woke up at 12:30 to the sound of a phone ringing. I wondered if there was someone in the house or if Kanang had left her phone behind because I didn’t recognise the tone. After searching for a while, I found my Thai phone (a classy Samsung brick from about 10 years ago), and it happened to be David Mathias calling me. David works for the British Council and is the director of our Thailand teaching programme. He told me he was coming to visit the school tomorrow to check up on how things are going, and also to iron out some creases. He offered to take Robert and I out for dinner tonight because he would be arriving in the early evening. I had no other plans so I happily accepted the offer!

During my day at home I didn’t do much, because I was still so tired! I found the energy to make and eat some pasta, and also write four blog posts from over the weekend that I didn’t have the chance to write because I was away! (Its so hard to make pasta the way I want to with weird ingredients *cries*)
Odd pasta. Don't judge me!
David said we would go for diner at around 7, and that he would pick Robert up from his house and also pick me up from Kanang’s. By 8pm Kanang and I were both sitting at home, waiting for David to arrive, but he never did. We received a phone call from him, explaining that he was lost and had pretty much no idea where he was! We told him to meet us at the airport, which is only 10 minutes from our house. After many phone calls and more getting lost, we managed to meet. We drove just 5 minutes down the road to the nearest restaurant so we didn’t get any more lost, and we were lucky that it was a very nice, western style restaurant. David told us to order what we liked, as it was on the British Council! Of course I went for a steak and a glass of red! Mmmm.
Vino <3
I forgot to take a picture of my food because I was so excited to eat it. But here’s a picture of my tasty wine in a huge glass! We chatted for ages about different things, and in the end the restaurant had to ask us to leave because they wanted to close! Another table were still eating at this point, and they practically fed the last few mouthfuls to one of the women so they could take her plate away!

We managed to find my house pretty easily from the restaurant, thank God, or I don’t know what we would have done! When I got in I went straight to bed, as it was pretty late by this point. 

Thanks for dinner, British Council!



Teaching English in Thailand: Day 26, Not So Good

Day 26: Sunday 19th July

We were woken up by Jess at 11:40, 20 minutes before we had to check out of the hotel. Buggar! I felt less than fresh, and Kirsty had been bitten about 7 times on her bum cheek, so that sums up how we felt nicely. We scrambled to get all our stuff in our bags, and somehow made it down to reception in time. It was still raining a bit, so we went for a stroll in the rain to try and wake us up. We woke up a snoozing tuk tuk driver and bargained with him to take us to Central Plaza for breakfast. His price was annoyingly high, so we left it and kept walking. 5 minutes later, he came driving along beside us and agreed to take us for our suggested price- even though we had already walked half way there! It was a bumpy, hot journey and I was happy to finally half-fall out of the tin-can-on-wheels once we arrived. 
Kiwi soda
We did our greatest hungover zombie impressions as we dragged ourselves into McDonalds. Whilst queuing, two girls asked me for a picture. This wasn't particularly strange, but when they said "can we go outside for a video" I was a little confused. It turns out, they wanted to interview me about learning English, and asked me questions like "do you have any advice for people learning English" etc. I'd like to apologise to the girls for pretty much slurring my way through the video as I was struggling so hard to keep my eyes open and not throw up on them at the same time. When we sat down with our food, the girls came over again and also asked Kirsty and Jess for their thoughts. I sat there and laughed encouragingly as they tried to be polite and ignore the dead pigeon just behind them.

We were in no fit state to do anything fun (sorry Jess) so we ended up going to another place for food, this time it was a little cafe/ dessert bar. We chose it for its comfy looking sofas; they didn't disappoint! I had a kiwi soda while the girls tucked into cakes- I wasn't sure if i could handle the sugar in my fragile state. We sat there for a good hour or so, and then finally gave into to the temptation of home, and bed. The girls got their usual 1 hour van journey home and I got into a taxi, where the driver sang sweetly to me the whole way- it was lovely. I almost fell asleep to his sweet voice, but then I was home before I knew it. 
"Cor, my bum's really itchy"
I didn't hesitate to get into bed as soon as I got home! I slept for 4 hours whilst Kanang went out to church. I had one of those moments where you wake up and don't know if its the middle of the night or morning, or if you're even alive! Thankfully, it was just 8pm and I was alive. The sleep made me feel much better, and after some food cooked by Kanang earlier that day, I was good to go!... (Back to sleep!)

Roll on the start of week 4 of teaching!


Teaching English in Thailand: Day 25, Swim Swim

Day 25: Saturday 18th July

For the first time in my life, I woke up naturally at 9am! D'ya hear that, Mum? Maybe I'm not such a sleepy sloth after all! I was pretty shocked, to be honest. During the night, there was something strange happening next to me. I woke up at about 12:30am to Jess saying "Are you OK Kirsty?" and looked over to see Kirsty in the darkness, who was attempting to pull her mattress off the bed. Apparently, she wasn't happy sleeping next to the window, being 7 floors up! So in a sleepy blur, I jumped into the single and she went and cuddled up to Jess in the double. It turns out, Kirsty also had a little sleepy stint on the cold tiled floor just before we swapped- she must have been desperate!

We were up and out at about 11am, and we walked(!) to a small shopping centre that we'd never been to before. The receptionists looked at us like we were insane when we said we were going to walk there, but it only took us about 15 minutes, with the help of a dodgy map on Kirsty's phone. We managed to find somewhere to eat a relatively normal breakfast- with no rice in sight. I ordered a club sandwich and a chai latte. Ive never been so happy to see bread before! It was delicious, with a perfect soft-yolked egg inside it. 
Mmmm, bread
We had a wander through the tiny shopping mall, which just had a few shops and some market stalls. I bought some lovely undies- you don't kneed to know much more about that, apart from the fact they were a right bargain and it made me very happy! From there, we attempted to find a taxi/tuk tuk/bus/ camel to take us to the university swimming pool. We walked a bit then waited a bit then walked some more and finally came to the conclusion that we weren't going to manage it, due to the sheer amount of stand-still traffic. So we walked about 10 minutes along the busy road to the main Central Plaza, where Jess lost her shoe in the road and nearly died before we hopped into a tuk tuk. The tuk tuk driver also appeared to be bored with the traffic, so he drove most of the way there on the other side of the road, swerving into gaps in the traffic when there was an oncoming lorry or car. To be honest, it probably saved us about half an hour and it was also hugely thrilling, knowing you could die any second... I laughed the whole way there, anyhow!
Happy Kirsty
Once we had survived the journey and reached our destination, we were surprised to find an empty pool, apart from about 10 other English women! The sun was shining, and only hid behind the odd cloud. Finally, we got the sun and pool that we wanted! Because of the clouds, I didn't wear any sun cream. Of course, I knew that this was probably a bad idea, but at the same time I really wanted/ needed some colour! So after a day of not feeling too hot in the pool and whilst sunbathing, I was looking pretty pink!
Synchronised divers
Not quite..

We bought iced Thai red tea from a street vendor and got into a taxi to go in search of some food. The taxi man was an absolute delight, who spoke enough English for us to have a hilarious chat with him about finding women and being free like a 'butterfly'. He kept doing a little butterfly hand action which cracked us up, and even when he had dropped us off, I looked back and he was still doing the butterfly sign to me through the window. What a cheeky guy! We went to our favourite farang bar, Didnes, and ordered yummy western food. Burgers for the girls, steak for me. Afterwards,  I whooped Kirsty at pool and we went in search of a night market.

Steak <3
By now, the sky was getting dark and the market was lit by glittery lights and individual stall's lamps. There were loads of stalls, selling jewellery, leather, clothes, flowers, shoes, food and animals. Unfortunately, there were many dogs and small animals in cages who looked petrified, sitting under blazing bright lamps. We wanted to buy them simply to give them a good home! We tore ourselves away from the furry cuties and only purchased some small bits of jewellery. We were half way through he market when the heavens opened and everyone went a little bit crazy! Everyone ran for their mopeds and dived into tuk tuks, so we also made our way to find some kind of transportation. After a while of standing in the rain waiting, we decided to stay, 'cos YOLO! (Or YOTO - You're Only in Thailand Once!) and soon after, the rain stopped. We bought bubble teas for 50p (in the UK they cost an average of about £4) and after looking at every single stall, we made our way back.

Jess felt a little bit sun-stroked so she stayed in whilst Kirsty and I went back out in search of some other ETAs and also our other friends- Daiquiri and Beer. We ended up going to a strip club, which was quite a strange experience! It was like a normal club, but instead of a dance floor, there was a run way and some balconies where nearly naked girls would sway awkwardly to the fast music. We were taken to a table by our waiter and ordered some overpriced drinks. Every now and then, the pimp - yes, the pimp- would come round and check that you were ordering drinks and lining his pockets. Every song was remixed with crazily fast rave style music, which the audience seemed to love! This included middle aged women, young men, old men, and everything in between. The old guys next to us had some of their own strippers, who rubbed their tiny bodies upon the men, old enough to be their great granddads. It was sad to see these young girls, who didn't appear to be enjoying themselves, in such a vulnerable position. For their sake, I hope they were enjoying themselves. 
The awkward sway
After this we went to another bar, where the first thing I saw was an older western guy being twerked upon by a younger Thai lady. Turns out, they were a couple, so unlike in the strip club, it was more acceptable! I got talking to said guy, who happened to be about 65 years old and Australian. We had a bit of a deep chat, and the only bit I can really remember is this (because I wrote it down!):

"You only have one life; enjoy it and love it. You only have one heart; be careful who you give it to."

We were going to go to U Bar, where we went a few weeks ago, but it was 3am and they had just closed. It had also started to rain, so what did we do? Sat outside at a little bar/hut called 4AM Bar. We were all given umbrellas, so there we were, sitting in the rain with yet more beer sharing umbrellas and getting wet bums. We got talking to another guy who happened to be from Reading, where I go to uni. He had been pleasant enough until he said something slightly controversial which got all the girls riled up, so unfortunately we had a bit of a bad end to the night by arguing beneath the umbrellas for a while. I was happy to get into bed, but was dreading how I'd feel in the morning. Beer is bad, folks.