21.08.2012 - 08.09.2012 27 °C
TUESDAY 21st AGUST
Ajarn Tippakorn was busy with admin all day yesterday and did no teaching so this morning she told me she would take care of the three classes today giving me an unexpected free day. This is where it gets exciting (not!) I took advantage of a hot sunny day to wash my bedding which I was unable to do at the weekend because of a lack of water.
WEDNESDAY 22nd AUGUST
Just to illustrate how topsy-turvy things can be in Thailand it was reported in today’s press that the Cabinet are mulling over the introduction of pre-packed lunches on the high speed train network.
On the face of it there’s nothing odd about that report except that there is no high speed network. A feasibility study is being carried out by Chinese experts (as the Chinese will be funding it; who else???) and nothing has been constructed yet. Thailand does not have a dual-line rail system, the current network (consisting of four lines radiating out of Bangkok) is all single track with some passing sections of double track. If a high speed train/network gets the go-ahead it will be 10-15 years before it is up and running but, hey!, pre-packed lunch boxes will be ready soon!!
THURSDAY 23rd AUGUST
There was a teacher’s meeting after school this afternoon which focused mainly on the arrangements for the sports competitions in Kalasin next week. The meeting finished about 5.15pm and the teachers drifted off home. The Director, though, stayed around chatting to Mr Jasper and when I joined them he suggested we go to the village to buy some beer which we did.
The Director, Mr Jasper, Mr Kay and I drank the beers in the office and it was during this session that Mr Kay announced his proposal to open an English school near his home in Roi Et during the October holiday and said that he wanted Me and Mr Jasper to be the English teachers. He said he would charge parents a fee which would be enough to pay us about 10,000 baht (about £200) per week. His plan envisaged us staying at Mr Kay’s house in Roi Et (about 2 hours away by car) during the week and returning to stay at Sai Moon at weekends.
Knowing that Mr Kay has had beer fuelled ideas in the past that never materialised I refrained from commenting as I want to wait to see if he follows through with the idea in the coming days.
FRIDAY 24th AUGUST
Ajarn Tuk, who this term is running the ‘Academic Department’ of which she’s the sole occupant, declared after Assembly this morning that all the students must take an oral test after next week. I am not sure what this will prove since most students can barely go beyond a conversational ‘Good Morning’ or ‘How Are You’ despite having several years of English classes.
SATURDAY 25th AUGUST
Heavy rain last night which lingered on this morning along with overcast threatening skies.
There was a report in the Thai news today about an amazing judgement that was handed down at the end of a long-running court case in Bangkok yesterday. Please READ THIS because the ‘punchline’ is hilarious and I cannot imagine it happening anywhere else other then Thailand.
To see this incredible funny judgement go to...
SUNDAY 26th AUGUST
I went with one of the ex-M6 students to see his grandmother in Hua Mek hospital this morning. The hospital is a community hospital and is a busy place with the many single sex wards filled with families attending to their loved ones. These visitors often stay day and night whether or not the patient’s ailment is serious or not such is the strength of the family bond here.
I had lucky escape with my room key this evening. I went to Kham Yai to have dinner but when I got back the key to my room padlock was not in my pocket though I distinctly remember putting it there. The padlock is the type that retains the key when it is unlocked thus preventing one leaving the key inside the room. As I was wondering what to do about my lost key Mr Narongsak arrived back form his weekend away so I borrowed a screwdriver from him to take off the hasp on my door. Just as I was about to start unscrewing he remembered that he had a spare key to my padlock. He told me that the padlock had previously belonged to Mr Yor though I am not sure why he would have a spare key, nevertheless I was surprised and very lucky that he did!
MONDAY 27th AUGUST
The Lor Dor students returned to school this morning. It seems they spent their ten days away doing drill exercises, learning the rules of being an army cadet and being amused Thai style.
It was suggested at assembly this morning that today and tomorrow should be given over to more sports practice for the forthcoming 3-day sports festival starting on Wednesday but the idea was shelved for today. It also transpired that instead of different schools in the district hosting a sport each the whole event will take place at a university in Kalasin city just like last year and, like last year, I will be taking photos for the school.
Three students from M6 went to Kranuan today to take the entrance exam for Khon Kaen University.
I had to help select the best student of English from M3 this morning. She, and five other students, the best from M3 at the other school subjects, will soon go to Kalasin to take an exam, along with students from other schools, which will determine who receives a scholarship.
Four teachers went off to Education Dept in Kalasin city this morning to sign documents which I thought was a waste to time and teaching resources. I have been to the Department in Kalasin and there is a roomful of clerks who always appear to have little to do and pass their time on facebook. I would have thought that they would have had the nous to despatch one of the clerks on his/her motorbike (they all have them!) with the documents to get them signed at school but, sadly, that is not how things work here. Teachers are always going to Kalasin and back with documents, it is very odd that couriers, faxes, email or texts aren’t used at all.
TUESDAY 28th AUGUST
The afternoon was given over to sport practice to prepare for the sports competitions starting tomorrow.
It was confirmed today that some students from Maha Sarakham University (about an hour away from Sai Moon) who are Maths Majors will be holding a Maths Camp for students on Saturday. When I first heard about this I was told that the students will be sleeping one night at school and that the camp would go into Sunday morning but this is not the case.
I went with Mr Pong and Mr Jasper to Non Kung Sri to order the team shirts for the Petanque team. As the school doesn’t have the budget to assist any of the sports teams the teacher in charge of each sport has chipped in to buy the necessary shirts for their teams. In this context I was asked to help the petanque and takraw teams and I contributed 1000 baht apiece.
WEDNESDAY/THURSDAY/FRIDAY 29/30/31st AUGUST
An earlier than usual start this morning for the teachers and students involved in the inter-school sports competitions starting today. About half the school are involved in the Badminton, Sepak Takraw, Petanque and Volleyball teams and the teachers responsible for each team to the players to Kalasin (about 75km away) in their pick-ups at their own cost. I went with Mr Weang who looks after the Takraw team.
The students not involved in any of the teams stayed at school and had classes as normal.
The event took place at Rajamangala University of Technology, Kalasin city the same venue as last year and I busied myself taking photos. The preliminary rounds in the different age groups were played first leading up to the finals on Friday. The Sai Moon teams had a mixed showing. I thought the boys Takraw teams were good but neither team won. The girls team, on the other hand did very well and got through to the semi-finals when they lost.
The Petanque teams did well with two winning their final matches. One of the volleyball teams won also and so did a couple of the badminton players. I didn’t see any of the badminton or volleyball because their venue was some distance a from the university.
In general, the three days of sport went very well and everybody enjoyed themselves and, luckily, the weather held though the forecasts were dire. My suggestion of last year, for there to be a schedule board and a results board for each sport obviously fell on deaf ears as nothing had changed this year. I made the same comment again but I don’t suppose anyone will take any notice. The idea of having a post mortem to see if things could be done better or to see why things went wrong (if they did) doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone so I imagine everything will be exactly the same next year.
At Kalasin I noticed a tall tree with very large shoots sprouting from the topmost branches with flowers or seedpods at the end and took a photo in the hope of identifying it. Any ideas ?
SATURDAY 1st SEPTEMBER
It was my birthday last Thursday and I had been thinking hard about what to do this year and decided to have a barbecue and beer at my teacher’s house. I bought a couple of young boars and late yesterday evening the boarlets were delivered and some students, overseen by someone from the village, butchered and prepared them. Apparently this work couldn’t be done today because of some Buddhist prohibition on killing animals.
Most of today was spent preparing for the barbecue party this evening. A couple of students came over, the two who did the barbecue, and they compiled a list of ingredients required and I sent them off to Kranuan with some money to buy everything.
There were many other things to do such as tables and chairs to collect and balloons to buy and blow up to decorate the semi-outdoor area at the house where the party was held and Mr Jasper took me to Tesco Lotus in Kham Yai to buy the drinks.
In the event, the party went very well. I’d borrowed Mr Jasper’s sound system and hooked my laptop to it to play music from m library. Various students also plugged in their phone to play their music too. The eats were delicious and although the barbecue was a bit primitive the cooked result was very tasty indeed. All in all, it was a fun and very enjoyable evening which finished about 1am.
SUNDAY 2nd SEPTEMBER
A nice restful day once the cleaning up after the party had been done.
MONDAY 3rd SEPTEMBER
I was called to go to the school’s admin office this morning to be given my salary cheque which was good news. It seems Mr Jasper and I will be paid by cheque every time now but it is extraordinary the amount of paperwork required for each cheque. There are about ten places on more than 25 A4 pages of documentation where I have to sign my name as well as in three different ledgers.
We both had a free period before lunch to went into Kranuan to cash the cheques since Mr Jasper also wanted to fill his car with LPG on the way and there’s no LPG station near Non Kung Sri. Being lunchtime, the bank was filled with people awaiting their turn. All Thai public banks – there are 14 of them unlike the miserable big 3 or 4 in the UK – have small machine which dispense queue numbered tickets. Jasper and I got a ticket but faced a long wait so we went to have lunch and when we returned to the bank found that there were now only half a dozen people in front of us in the queue, so good timing!
The school’s branch of the Krung Thai Bank is in Non Kung Sri and although there was no problem cashing the cheques in Kranuan they charged each of us a fee. In my case it was 20 baht (about 40p) but Mr Jasper, at the next counter, got charged 40 baht. I was lucky, but I think it is just money-grabbing to charge customers for not using their own branch.
With the Director being away in Chiang Mai for a week at seminar I had hoped to speak to the Deputy today but she was away somewhere as well so I still do not know when the school will reopen after the October holiday and thus cannot plan/book my holiday travel.
I had a class with M4 this morning which has several of the newly returned Lor Dor students. One of them showed me his new Lor Dor id card which looks exactly the same as his Thai national id card apart from the green colour of the top half of the card. I have no idea if this Lor Card bestows any special privileges upon the holder or not. It will be interesting to find out.
TUESDAY 4th SEPTEMBER
I heard this morning that the Final Tests for the students will be on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd October and that the new test papers should be more like O-Net questions.
After one of my classes this morning I noticed two boys with large black beetles in their hands in another classroom and I went in to see what was happening. Both boys were M2 students (13/14 y.o.) one of whom had around twenty such beetles stashed in his backpack and the two of them shared them out and then left but I have yet to discover what the purpose was as these beetles don’t fight they just lumber around very boringly doing their thing.
WEDNESDAY 5th SEPTEMBER
Many of the female students went off to Yang Talad (about 50 km away and on the way to Kalasin city) today to learn about personal security issues. I learned later that one of the issues discussed was Is it Love or Sex ?
For some reason many other students were absent at assembly this morning though they will probably sneak in during the morning.
THURSDAY 6th SEPTEMBER
There is a sports festival going on in another village near Sai Moon and many of my M5 students were missing again as they were playing in various teams.
You may recall a few weeks ago a problem concerning two students, Nattawat and Thadow. Well, the story continues...a rumour has been going around that she is pregnant but that turned out not to be true. Nattawat has told me unashamedly that he has had sex with her but he didn’t wear a condom so I urged him to be more careful and he promised to always wear one in future.
The two fifteen-year olds now say they want to get married, the legal age in Thailand for girls is fifteen.
Their parents came to school this week to talk about the situation. I am not sure what was said to the parents but it appears they have been told that if Thadow gets pregnant she will have to leave the school. It seems there is a law to that effect and it is the normal procedure. As for Nattawat, he will most likely leave school to find a job. Any comments ??
FRIDAY 7th SEPTEMBER
I heard on the grapevine today that our Deputy Director is leaving us for a position at another school so from next term we will have a new Deputy. Also, Mr Chaiwa is leaving Sai Moon to become Deputy Director at Dongmool School near Non Kung Sri and a new teacher will replace him at Sai Moon.
I haven’t said much about Mr Chaiwa in my blog to date because our paths rarely cross but I don’t have a very high opinion of him and his teaching. He seems to be very lazy and never takes part in any school activity or socialising. Becoming a Deputy is the next step on the way to becoming a Director and while a Deputy a more like an accessory that doesn’t matter too much a Director is something different and I would not wish Mr Chaiwa on any school.
SATURDAY 8th SEPTEMBER
I had arranged to go with a couple of students to see, for the first time, the waterfalls the other side of Kranuan this morning but the students failed to show so I did my laundry instead.
I also went into Kranuan with Mr Jasper and had a nice lunch and did my weekly shopping at Tesco Lotus.