Tuesday, July 28, 2009


My mood has been on a steady upswing the past couple of days. While culture shock definitely played a part in my last grump-fest there were some physiological contributors as well. After getting back on my thyroid meds, rearranging my furniture and making an attempt at getting some level of exercise (ie - not immediately crashing on my bed as soon as I get home), I'm doing significantly better.

Today was an easy day, only one class from 1pm - 2:30. My five year old student. Private lessons with kids haven't been as horrible as I had anticipated. It is a bit like baby sitting, which isn't that much fun, and the 5 year old can't sit still for very long. But the books are okay. One of them comes with a CD of songs, chants & dialogue. Basically we sing and dance to two songs in the beginning, do a lesson that includes listening to and repeating what the CD says, do a craft or fill in some work book pages, play with the flash cards, do some actions (get on the bus, sit down, stand up, get off the bus), then it's snack time. In adult classes, when the staff brings coffee in I just keep teaching, but with the kids, I just let it be snack time. Then another game or work book page and it's time for the clean up song & goodbye song. As annoying as it is to have the clean up song stuck in my head "It's time to stop, clean up. It's time to stop, clean up. It's time to stop, clean up. Put our things away." the songs eat up a good 10-15 minutes of class time, which is just fine with me.

Having a later class allowed me to go to the B&B for a leisurely breakfast of a Thai omelet, rice & soup (it's like a chicken broth or similar with cilantro and some other herb type thing in it). And finishing early meant that after class I had some time to sit at the coffee shop reading through my guidebook and getting some ideas for my final tour.

The coffee shop owners were watching TV, a surreal, but highly entertaining, experience for me. At first I wasn't paying attention, but then I noticed that I kept hearing vaguely familiar songs that seemed strangely out of place. It turned out that the Thai soap opera they were watching was using songs stolen from the soundtracks of other movies. Some background music from Amelie for example, something from one of the Jane Austen adaptations (Emma, I think, but it was over before I could totally place it), and most bizarrely... the theme from The Simpsons Movie. While each piece seemed at least moderately appropriate to the scene in the drama, hearing such recognizable and disparate songs all thrown together like that - it was like someone had just selected a "soundtracks" playlist and set it to shuffle.

Next was a talent show for kids. Two different groups performed lip syncs to the Wonder Girls' song "Nobody", which...I'm not even sure has made it outside of Asia (the band is Korean) ... but it is HUGE here. At the end of one of the performances, the host interviewed the girls. One of the girls sang a bit of the song in Korean - impressing the host and audience alike. But then he asked her "Kow jai mai?" (... do you understand it?) to which she responded "Mai kow jai." (don't understand) and I cracked up.

It was such a treat to be finished with work while there was still daylight, so I had an early dinner then decided to walk to the park. Something I always mean to do, but never get around to. I'd been once or twice, but always at odd hours. This was the first time I'd come at prime-time. Apparently EVERYONE goes to the park after work. I have never seen a park so completely crowded with people before. There were tons of games going on - basketball, badminton, soccer, and even ta-kraw

Ta-kraw is like hackey-sack on steroids. The idea is to kick the ball into the net.

In one area of the park I saw some people practicing Ballroom dance - seriously, I think it might have been a waltz. In a nearby area a man was practicing a fan dance. Across the park in another corner there was a step-aerobics class going on. Surrounding the soccer field was a walking/jogging track and there was an absolute shit-load of people on it. I couldn't believe it... actual traffic, like you really have to watch before you step into the flow. I'm not much of an athlete, and I wasn't quite dressed for exercise - in a button down top & flip flops, a purse flung across my chest, but walking I can handle. I was having a good old time walking around, completely absorbed in people watching and delighting in the idea of all these people who stop off to exercise together between work and home. Until I looked down and noticed that somehow 3 of the 5 buttons on my shirt had come undone. LOVELY! Fortunately everyone on the walking track was going the same direction, so it's possible that not everyone in the park saw me flashing my pasty white stomach.

Having swiftly but casually redressed myself I continued walking. I was watching people jogging with their toy dogs, granddaughters copying their grandmother's stretches, couples chatting, when suddenly I heard the beloved sounds of my native language. Someone was talking about ice cream. And sure enough, demonstrating the small-town nature of Rayong, the person speaking was an English teacher who works part time at my school. I'd only chatted with Annie (a Filipino woman about my age) a couple of times, but she'd always been friendly. I joined her and her sister and we walked several more laps together.

As much as I enjoy my alone time, it is nice to run into a friendly face so casually. Even better, she started complaining about her phone service... she's always calling her family back home & she keeps running out of minutes. I asked her if she had an unlimited plan and she said she did... but that it kept getting used up after two weeks. I asked her if she had DTAC and yup! She's apparently got the same "unlimited" plan for phone calls that I have for the internet. It made me feel sooooo much better to hear that I wasn't the only one who had had problems with their concept of "unlimited". But I told her what I'd learned about how you need to have the money on your phone the day *before* it expires in order to continue the plan and suggested she call the call center to get sorted out. I cannot even express how much better I felt knowing that it wasn't just me being retarded about my phone.

So that was my day. And it was a good day. Now that I've sorted out when to go (& what not to wear) to the park... I'll be going again.

TAG: Code Sweet Chili Sauce.


Bezzie said...

I wonder if that DTAC makes most of their money scamming foreigners coming to work there????

Cate said...

"Nobody" will ALWAYS remind me of Thailand... but it's passe here. I asked the kids if they liked the Wondergirls and they were like "umm, they're so 6 months ago."

Rebel said...

Bezzie - you may have something there.

Cate - oh man, and I was just starting to learn the words! =P