A Travellerspoint blog

February 2012


sunny 27 °C


A quiet day at home in the teacher’s house. Everyone’s away so I was here alone which, actually, is rather nice. I have the windows open and through the open door I can see anybody approaching along the track to the house.


This morning I went with 3 other teachers to Ban Hat Sai Moon School, a primary school, to promote my school to the 12 y.o. students there who will be leaving their school at the end of this term and may decide to come to Sao Moon to join M1. The problem is with these presentations is that since every local school is virtually the same in terms of facilities and sport etc that it is very hard to make out that Sai Moon is special in some way. One of the very few differences is me, and Mr Jasper. This afternoon we went to Phi Mun school, another nearby primary school and gave the same presentation.


This morning we went to two schools in Sai Thong village both of which had a secondary element as well as a full primary school. At both schools we did the same presentation and handed out the same leaflets as at the other schools which Mr Pong had artfully prepared and printed. It remains to be seen if this year’s recruiting drive will be more successful than last year.

One of the schools had an impressive display all about ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations the full implementation of which takes place in 2015 when Thailand will be in direct competition with other SE Asian countries for jobs and skills and English speakers. It is for this reason that more effort is being put towards the learning of English.

With the end of term approaching M6 are busy getting their Friendship Books written. I have not come across these books before but they are slim hardcover books with pre-printed theme pages. The idea is that before leaving school all your classmates fill out a page of memories which you will cherish in later life. Thais are very good at decorative arts and many of the pages I have seen were very creative and students have gone to a lot of trouble having dozens of photos of themselves and their classmates printed then artfully cropping them and sticking them creatively on their page.

One of the things that Thais have in common with other Asian countries is the desire to take endless photos of themselves. No matter how many they already have it is never enough.


Another very hot day. It starts off nice and cool but soon hots up and by mid-afternoon it is very hot and sticky.

It is getting difficult to know what to do with M6 in class as they will be leaving Sai Moon in 2-3 weeks and they are not really interested in learning anything more. The Thai teachers have the same problem. With this in mind, when I was in Bangkok I bought a DVD of Schindler’s List and Mr Jasper and I showed it to M6 this afternoon. Thai students learn nothing about foreign history and precious little, apart from some acts about the royal family, of Thai history. We showed the film in the library where there is an overhead projector but we will have to finish it off next week. It is a long film and we had a double for the film leaving about an hour or so for next week.

At the instigation of the Director, Mr Jasper and I have to give students some vocabulary every morning at assembly, starting tomorrow morning. We found an old 2x3ft whiteboard and cleaned it up and will use it to display the vocab. Tomorrow the words are weather related: weather, season, hot, cold, wet.

The Director has started practicing his golf swings on the football pitch during the last couple of hours of daylight before duck around 6.30pm. All the live-in teachers joined him there for a few beers and a chat which made for a pleasant evening.

I took the opportunity to remind the Director that when he confirmed to me that on March 9th the school would close I went ahead and started making bookings for the summer holiday. Since then, however, it turns out that the school will not close on March 9th after all because on Monday, March 12th, Tuesday 13th and Wednesday 14th all the students will be in school doing their Final Test which I am busy writing now. Luckily, Mr Jasper will still be here and will be able to mark the papers.


This morning, like every morning, I have about thirty minutes on the internet before going to school and morning assembly. One of the websites I usually check is for Thai news in the press. An item this morning was about some parents being up in arms about a question in the M6 O-Net Health Education exam. The question asked students ‘If you have a sexual urge what should you do ?’ The answer choices were: a) Ask friends if you can play football together; b) Consult family members; c) Try to sleep; d) Go out with a friend of the opposite sex; or e) Invite a close friend to watch a movie together.

What was being criticised was that whatever the answer might be, it is only an opinion, not a fact. The organisation that oversees and writes exams in Thailand is NIETS, the National Institute of Education Testing Service and the head of the service had to call a press conference to explain that the correct answer is......oh, but that that would spoil the fun.....what do you think ???????

The new vocabulary board seems to work ok. This morning Mr Jasper and I held the board while he translated the words into Thai and I said them in English. From tomorrow a student will speak the vocab.

The Director is very keen that M6 and M3 do well in their O-Net exams. Last weekend M6 took their exam and later told me they had found it difficult. M3 take their exam in just over a week so Mr Jasper and I are devoting each M3 class to familiarising them with the different types of questions and giving them practice.

The outlook isn’t good though. Mr Jasper can speak Thai and even though he explains the question and translates the four answer choices many students still pick the wrong answer.

Mr Jasper left it too late to pick and brief a student for the vocab reading tomorrow so we went round to her house after school to give her the words and explain them to her and practice her pronunciation.

Afterwards, I went with Mr Jasper and two students into Kranuan for dinner at a barbecue buffet restaurant. At this time of year many M3 and M6 classes from different schools are to be seen at all the buffet restaurants in town, and for that matter all over Thailand, as they celebrate a very important step in their lives. For M6, they are leaving school and loving on to university or college; for M3, they can leave school with a certificate if they so choose or they can stay at Sai Moon and move up to M4.


The vocabulary announcement at assembly went ok though the M2 student doing it was very nervous but her good effort earned her the 100 baht I offered yesterday evening.


I had the house to myself all day which was nice. I went into Kranuan as usual and had a very nice pork schnitzel, I suppose you would call it, with a potato salad and a small green salad. Delicious!!

Today was some kind of special day though I have yet to ascertain what it was about but the effect was that many families went down to the lake just outside Sai Moon village to fish. I didn’t go there myself but I did see it from the road on my way to Kranuan. Despite the heat, everyone was covered head to toe with jackets and suchlike to avoid any suntan. I don’t know why the lake isn’t used more often for recreation. There is a better lake the other side of the village that has much more recreational potential though it’s unused.

This evening I was invited to eat with the family of one of the female M6 students, her name is On, and two other M6 students, at the family home in a nearby village. It was a pleasant evening and it was nice to get asked.


I went into Kranuan again today and met up with Mr Jasper there as he was on his way back from Chumpae, a town about 2 hours away by car. We had lunch at my new favourite restaurant which we both enjoyed.

I have promised to treat M6 to dinner as their leaving Sai Moon party next Friday. I am taking them to the same private room at the same restaurant where the Director organised my birthday party last year. The advantages are several: it is not a buffet restaurant; it is a private room and there is a karaoke facility which they love so they can sing their hearts out and no one will be disturbed!! It is also half the distance to Kranuan, so a lot nearer Sai Moon. Another plus is that they have never been there before and on the way back to Sai Moon Mr Jasper and I called in at the restaurant to book the private room and make arrangements with the owner.

Posted by talismanic 05:07 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Jan 28th-Feb 18th: BANK a/c..TEST FOR YOU..SCOOPYi PIC ++



It was back to doing my own washing by hand in cold water today which took about an hour after breakfast this morning. Luckily, the clouds dispersed and the sun came out so by this afternoon everything had dried.

I went into Kranuan on my new Scoopyi about 12.30 and had lunch there and then went to Tesco Lotus to get things for the following week.

Most of the morning and afternoon was taken up with uploading and organising all the photos and joining up and editing all the videos that were taken over the last two days.

About 5pm I went to Kham Yai market to get something to eat for dinner and it was as busy as ever. It seems that the new Tesco Lotus is having little impact on local traders as they sell mostly different items.


I spent much of the day sorting out all the photographs I took last week and making watchable videos out of all the short pieces of filming I also took.


I went to Nong Kung Sri with the Director after my morning classes to open a Thai Bank account and deposit the money that my host family at Muang Baeng had repaid me. On the way there the Director told me that he has to go to another two-day education seminar in Bangkok which many other directors from across Thailand will attend. The snag for all these directors is that they have to pay for their own travel expenses for seminars like this one and all other meetings. Although the costs of gasoline and LPG (liquid petroleum gas) are cheap compared to the UK, these costs do add up and take a good chunk out of a director’s salary.

In addition to these costs my Director has loaned his friend, the Director of nearby Nong Kong Saeng school, Dr Monkern PhD, 10,000 baht leaving him short of cash this month and he asked if he could borrow 20,000 baht from me which I agreed.

It took two visits to the Krung Thai Bank in Nong Kong Sri because they required a copy of my passport which I didn’t have so we had lunch in the town and then returned to school to collect my passport. On our return to the Krung Thai Bank it was an easy process to open an account and I was given an ATM card and a passbook and charged 1,099 baht for the privilege.

This evening I had dinner with Mr Kay and Mr Weang at Mr Phiman’s ‘restaurant’ in the village. When we got there we could hear the distinctive sound of Mor Lam music from next door and we went to look. The family were having some sort of party – most probably a son was returning home – and were dancing Isaan style in the traditional way.


This evening I went with some students into Kham Yai to visit the annual fair, known as the Patta Jamlong Festival, which was as busy as last year. We walked around looking at the various stalls and then had a drink at one of the makeshift bars that had been set up. After this they persuaded me to go with them into the dance area. I agreed because this was something I hadn’t done last year and was curious.

Police were at the entrance checking for drugs and alcohol etc but once inside there were some 2000 young people enjoying themselves and dancing in a very Thai way to a very good live band playing on a large stage. Various non-playing members of the band took it in turn to take the mike and sing working the crowd into a joyous frenzy with familiar Thai songs which many people joined in singing. You might be surprised to read that I thought it was a hugely enjoyable night but I really do get a good feeling from seeing other people enjoying themselves and having fun.


Around midnight I was woken by our dog i-Lung. I haven’t mentioned him very much but he appeared at the teacher’s house one day not long after I arrived at Sai Moon. He had a twitch in his left leg and he kept pawing the ground with his left foot. His leg would twitch even when he was asleep. He was a very friendly dog though he disliked the students preferring the teachers in particular me, Mr Yor and M Jasper.

i-Lung was also a bit crazy and would do some odd things but he was liked by everyone and followed me or one of the other favoured teachers to and from the house or around school. He would often sleep during the afternoon in my office.

But about midnight I heard i-Lung yowling more then usual. Mr Yor got up to try and pacify him and I went back to sleep. Sadly, that would be the last time I heard i-Lung.


I went into Kranuan this afternoon to do my small weekly shop at Tesco Lotus. I enjoy riding around on my Scoopyi on a hot sunny day with the cool wind in my face. There are some photos of my new Scoopyi in the gallery.


i-Lung was nowhere to be seen all weekend which was very strange and I assumed he had wandered off somewhere and perhaps had left us although he usually confined himself to the school grounds.

At lunchtime one of the M6 students came to the teacher’s house where I was eating my lunch and he told me that i-Lung had been bitten in the neck by a snake by the basketball court and had died which was very sad news indeed.


At assembly this morning I talked with other teachers about i-Lung and some doubted that a snake had bitten him and thought, instead, that he had been poisoned by a farmer which, apparently, often happen in Thailand. In fact, this happed to two dogs where I worked in Lamphun in 2010.


At assembly i-Lung was still the talking point and Mr Jasper and Mr Noi said they had seen i-Lung’s body by the basketball court which was now badly decomposed. I had no wish to see i-Lung in that state preferring a happier memory of him but Mr Noi insisted I see a photo he’d taken on his mobile phone which, luckily, was very indistinct.


At assembly Mr Noi asked if any student had a puppy spare which they could bring to school to replace Lung.

Some of the girls brought a very young puppy to the house early this evening but it was deemed too young as it would need far more care and training. Mr Jasper later swapped this puppy for an older puppy which is much more suitable and looks like it will eventually be as popular as Lung was. It has white forelegs and a nice tan coat of hair and is very playful and inquisitive.


The latest puppy was again deemed too young but I had thought it was ideal. Mr Jasper swapped puppy number 2 for another one which is called Ormo and has black hair with copper highlights and has short legs and it follows Jasper everywhere.


I went to Kranuan earlier than usual today so that I could have some lunch there and get a haircut and finish off with some shopping at Tesco Lotus. A couple of hundred meters from Tesco is a nice looking but simple restaurant that offers Thai and western food including pizza. I indulged myself with a cheese, tomato, bacon and pineapple pizza which turned out to have a nice thin crust and to be very tasty indeed, and very filling too.

I didn’t get a haircut because several people were already waiting so I thought I would return tomorrow which would also give me an excuse to have lunch in Kranuan again.


I invited Mr Jasper to join me for lunch but he couldn’t make it as he had to go to Kalasin city. This time I had a Thai Yellow Curry and Rice which was delicious. Afterwards, I found no one waiting for a haircut and mine was done quickly but the barber insisted I needed a shave even though I shaved as usual this morning.

Now that I have a Thai bank account I have discovered more things one can do at any ATM such as transfer money to another account even if it is at a different bank and I can pay utility and some other bills too.

I spent much of the weekend making final arrangements for the seven week summer holidays and making bookings on the internet. The Director surprised me the other day when he told me that the school will close on March 9th which is a week earlier than last year but it is surprising difficult to decide what to do during the seven week break. I want to visit friends but I also want to do something different.


The weather these days is getting hotter and by mid-afternoon it is becoming like a furnace. In the local fields, those with access to water have planted a second crop of rice while those without, such as those in the immediate vicinity of Sai Moon, will remain parched until the rainy season begins in May.

Meanwhile, sugar cane cutting continues and the roads are full of heavily burdened lorries taking the cut cane to the weigh station before continuing to one of the sugar factories far from Sai Moon. There is a photo in the gallery of a typical sugar cane lorry with load. Some loads are much higher than this one though!!


Valentine’s Day is quite important for students in Thailand and they give each other and give their favourite teachers real or imitation roses or they go round with a sheet of heart stickers to place lovingly on suitable lapels. And before you ask, I did get one!!


There was a teacher’s meeting with the Director this afternoon after school finished at 3.30 which mostly dealt with plans for the next school year which opens on May 1st. The Director now wants the school to have two English speaking days a week which will be an interesting experience since several teachers can barely say more than hello and ok!

Like last year, the Director and all the teachers will tour round various nearby villages every evening for a week, before the end of this term, to promote the school in an effort to attract new students to M1 and M4 next term. Last year the tour didn’t attract any new students so I wonder what lessons were learned and what will happen on this year’s tour ?

After the meeting Mr Noi drove Mr Jasper to near Kalasin city where he collected a secondhand Toyota Corolla saloon car he has bought. I joined them to keep Mr Jasper company on the return trip and we had a nice early dinner on the way back to Sai Moon.


Mr Jasper and I have been trying hard to prepare M3 and M6 for their O-Net (Ordinary National Education Test) exam this weekend which they will take at Huai Mek School which is about about 8km from Sai Moon. The M6 paper was toughened last year and it is now quite difficult for the students. The test is 2hrs long and consists of 70 questions split into five sections: Situations, Writing Ability, Usage, Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary. Before the first question in each section the paper gives an example with instructions in Thai and English. To give you an idea, here is one question from each section. I haven’t included the instructions in all of them as the methods are so obvious, but can you do them ?

SITUATION: Sandy wants to open the window, but Peter is sitting in her way.

Sandy: Peter, _____A_____ I want to open it.

Peter: _____B_____ but let me do that for you.

A. 1. can I open the window ?
2. you haven’t opened the window.
3. you should not sit near thr window like that.
4. would you mind moving away from the window ?

B. 1. Yes, I know.
2. Never mind.
3. No, not at all.
4. Of course, I’d love to.


_____A_____ are vegetables, fruit and grain _____B_____ in organic matter.

A. 1. That some examples of natural foods.
2. Some examples of natural foods.
3. Of some examples are nature foods.
4. Examples of some nature foods that

B. 1. where they have grown in soil rich.
2. when they have grown in rich soil.
3. which have been grown in soil rich.
4. that have been grown in rich soil.


For this one you need to determine which phrase, A, B, C, or D in the sentence is incorrect and replace it with the correct phrase from the respective answer group A, B, C, or D.

Film pictures appear to move on the screen actually are still pictures flashing one after another.

A. 1. A film picture appearing
2. The film picture which appears
3. Film pictures that appear
4. The film pictures appear

B. 1. move on
2. to moving in
3. moving on
4. moves in

C. 1. still are pictures
2. are pictures still
3. pictures are still
4. pictures still are

D. 1. flashed on after another
2. flashing one by one
3. flashing from one to one
4. flashing one and the others


Choose the word that best completes each blank in the passage.

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water in areas with a summer temperature of over 21C. The female anopheles mosquito. one of 60 species of mosquito, can ___31___ a small parasite. If the mosquito ___32___ a person who has malaria, it picks up the parasite as it ___33___ the human blood. The parasite ___34___ inside the mosquito and is ___35___ to another human when the mosquito bites again. Malaria ___36___ fever and shivering fits. It is not ___37___ a killer in itself, but it weakens the ___38___ people so that they cannot work very hard. They gradually become ___39___ and more likely to ___40___ to other diseases.

31. 1. fetch 2. defeat 3. carry 4. produce

32. 1. bites 2. hurts 3. tastes 4. touches

33. 1. sucks 2. drags 3. pulls 4. swallows

34. 1. ripens 2. swells 3. extends 4. matures

35. 1. sent in 2. hurried off 3. passed on 4. thrown down

36. 1. mixes 2. causes 3. creates 4. holds

37. 1.closely 2. readily 3. necessarily 4. importantly
38. 1. painful 2. depressed 3. confused 4. infected

39. 1. drier 2. weaker 3. slower 4. hungrier

40. 1. fall victim 2. admit defeat 3. lack power 4. lose spirit


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55. The best heading for this advertisement would be:

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56. The most suitable slogan for this product is:

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4. will be appreciated by all members of your family

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2. put it in water and let it cook itself
3. cover it with water and put it in the fridge for an hour
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Good Luck with all of the above!! Answers soon in a special blog entry.


I had to discipline a girl in my M4 class this afternoon. I told the class to open their textbooks at page 56, but she just sat there in a daze and didn’t move. I walked around the class checking the others and then went back to her and told her again. She didn’t move. I told her again. She didn’t look at me or give any hint she might have heard what I said. I told her that if she didn’t have a textbook she should share with someone else who had one. She didn’t move.

So, getting fed up, I told her to come with me and walked towards the door. She didn’t move. I raised my voice a notch and gave it an edge to show I meant what I said. So I told her more forcefully to come with me and stood by the door. Eventually she stirred, but didn’t leave her seat. When she eventually got up and came to the door I told her to face the outside wall and she just walked away. The fact is that if I had been any Thai teacher she would have done what she was told right at the beginning without question. This is one of the few downsides of being a foreign teacher here!


I went into Kranuan about 12.30 with pleasant thoughts about what I might eat for lunch at the Thai and Farang restaurant only to find it was closed for a week when I got there.....boo hoo!! So I had Khao Mu Daeng – two kinds of pork on top of rice with a few slices of cucumber and a gloopy sauce at the place next door. Afterwards I went to Tesco Lotus for my weekly shop and then went home.

Posted by talismanic 23:05 Archived in Thailand Comments (2)

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