15.07.2013 - 01.09.2013 26 °C
I MUST APOLOGISE FOR THE LATENESS OF THIS BLOG UPDATE BUT TIME FLIES BY WHEN ONE IS BUSY. DO FEEL FREE TO COMMENT ABOUT ANYTHING YOU LIKE.
MONDAY 15th JULY
There was no water this morning but as I was the first to get up I was able to use one of my bottles of drinking water from the fridge for shaving and a basic wash even though it was icy cold.
I was notified this morning about having to set papers for the forthcoming Midterm Tests. I will set the papers for the three senior classes while Ajarn Tippakorn will do the three lower classes.
The twelve provincial schools in Kalasin province, which are under the authority of the Or Bor Jor in Kalasin city, will be closed tomorrow and Wednesday so that teachers can attend a seminar in Kalasin about Outcomes and Measurement. As the seminar will be in Thai I was told I can choose whether to attend or not.
Later in the afternoon the decision about the seminar was made for me when the Deputy Police Chief of Huai Mek district came to Sai Moon to request an English class for the police there. Jasper and I have been assigned the one hour class which will take place on Wednesday between 2 and 3pm. The topics they expect us to cover include all the expected ones such as ‘Greetings, Meeting, Looking for’ etc but also included are ‘Money Exchange and Apologising’ which are two themes Thai police are not renowned for!!
TUESDAY 16th JULY
With all the Thai teachers attending a seminar in Kalasin Jasper and I were the only people at school and we spent most of the day brain-storming content for the police station class tomorrow.
WEDNESDAY 17th JULY
This morning Jasper and I finalised the wording of the handout for this afternoon’s class at the police station and arranged for sixty copies to be printed off at one of Sai Moon’s internet cafes.
We arrived at the police station about 20 minutes early only to find our intended class attending a fire drill because, we were told, a police station in Bangkok caught fire recently and staff needed to rehearse evacuation drills.
We had brought a whiteboard with us but it wasn’t required as a large mobile whiteboard had already been set up for us. I took the police through the class while Jasper translated and in general everything worked very well. We only had one hour so we had to concentrate on key words and phrases and not touch anything to do with grammar or deeper meanings etc.
One of the topics was ‘Money Exchange’ and the first key phrase I had written on the handout with my tongue firmly in my cheek was I would like to change one million baht into US dollars please. I asked the class, and Jasper translated, Does anyone have one million baht ? A few put their hands up and several exchanged meaningful glances but they realised I was joking....or at least I think they did!! A few photos were taken which are in my gallery.
This evening I noticed a weird looking insect with strange.....well, take a look in the gallery and see what you make of its very odd appearance.
THURSDAY 18th JULY
After two days of no classes it felt like Monday this morning. I had to change the vocabulary word too. The theme this week is about motorcycles as almost every student has one. We had the word ‘motorcycle’ on Monday and other words in the theme are Petrol tank, petrol station, empty and litres. I think I mentioned that since Chwin’s arrival at school the vocab is in English, Tagalong, Chinese and Thai. The word today was going to be ‘empty’ but I was told there are too many different meanings in Chinese which to me sounded like Ajarn Tippakorn didn’t want to make the effort to explain to the students in Thai that the use of ‘empty’ here related to an empty petrol tank and not any other supposed meaning of the word.
I went back to the teacher’s house to have lunch and found four people, three men and a woman, searching the ground for something. I soon discovered they had lost their buffalo and were looking for tracks. I am not sure what made them think the buffalo was wandering around the teacher’s houses and what the tracks would tell them about where the buffalo went next.
I separately asked two teachers and the Director today about the seminar that took place in Kalasin city over the last two days which all the Thai teachers attended from all twelve provincial schools in the province. I wanted to know if anything that was discussed at the seminar would impact Sai Moon school. I was told that the teacher of each of the six school subjects was given a project. The English project is to select five students to attend a course on guiding – ie guiding tourists, not girl scouting! This made me wonder who the Or Bor Jor imagines these students will be guiding in English in Isaan, a large area of northeast Thailand largely ignored by tourists.
FRIDAY 19th JULY
A collection of money, or Tamboon, was made at assembly for the local temple. Two seniors went through the rows of students with collection plates to collect whatever students could afford to give which was precious little. The collection for the teachers took the form of a special A4 folder in which was a typed notice requesting donations with numbered lines underneath, one for each teacher. If you donated, you put money into the attached envelope and signed against your name with the amount you gave.
After lunch today everyone went to the temple in the village with the school’s extra large candle. The students and the few teachers who attended, began the ritual walk around the temple three times but after the first circuit the heavens opened and everyone made a dash for shelter.
Students from Ban Had primary school were already inside the temple and out students joined them. There followed some chanting and prayers and a long ‘sermon’ by the young abbot during which the young students were very restive and chattering. The candles from the two schools were presented to the monks and so was the donated money. I took some photos for you which are in my gallery.
The ceremony took about one hour and then the students went home to begin their four-day holiday and the teachers drove off to their respective family homes.
Only Jasper, Mr Narongsak and I were left at the teacher’s house. Jasper and I accepted a snooker challenge from Phonsakorn and Anun (both M5 students) and Jasper drove us all to Kranuan where we something to eat before the best of five games – Thailand v. The Rest of the World. On this occasion ‘we’ won 4-1.
SATURDAY 20th JULY
Someone used my laptop today to play a facebook game and in the process gave it a virus which prevented me starting my laptop properly. It took about two hours of faffing around to get rid of the problem and get my laptop back to normal. Grrrrh!!
Our three ginger cats are nice to have around the house and be quite adventurous when opportunity arises. Today, one of them caught a young snake in the undergrowth outside my teacher’s house. I spotted the cat playing with something and when I realised it was a snake I dashed into my room to get a camera and the result is in my gallery just for you.
SUNDAY 21st JULY
Ajarn Bpui came back to the other teacher’s house this afternoon with some workmen who installed a satellite dish for her TV. After the workmen left I wondered why Ajarn Bpui didn’t go back home.
I went into Kranuan this afternoon with Jasper and two students to play snooker but both places were closed so we drove further on towards Nam Phong to a place where I have played snooker with the Director in the past. I knew I would recognise the place if I saw it but we drove on for a long time without seeing it and eventually turned back.
When we reached Kham Yai one of the students said there was a snooker table there which was a surprise as I had never heard about this before. The students led us into Kham Yai’s hinterland and, sure enough, there were two tables under a large lean-to behind a small rice mill. There were a lot of people there and someone told us about another snooker place on the other side of the village. Once again, there were two tables in reasonable condition hidden behind someone’s house and we played there for a couple of hours and had some good games.
This evening problems reappeared on my laptop which not only slowed down but would not function normally. Grrrrh++
MONDAY 22nd JULY
This morning I realised why Ajarn Bpui didn’t return home – she had her boyfriend with her and was thus using the other teacher’s house as if she was at a resort. Thai culture has no room for pre-marital anything so people tend to get together in resort chalets or cheap hotels to satisfy their needs. In traditional Isaan houses not only can neighbours see what’s going on but passers-by can see right into homes as well and Thais are very nosey indeed and have no hesitation questioning one to confirm or not what they saw or imagined.
TUESDAY 23rd JULY
I didn’t do much today, the final day of the 4-day holiday. I went into Kranuan and did some routine shopping and that was about it.
WEDNESDAY 24th JULY
At assembly this morning Ajarn Tippakorn said that the extra hour after school activity will start next week. She assigned me to the old library as there is an overhead projector and suggested I show movies to students. She assigned Jasper and Chwin to other rooms and said she would rotate around the three rooms. I thought, but didn’t say, this project is a load of rubbish as there seems to be no objective to it. If the objective was extra teaching then all well and good; if it is to occupy the majority of students who are not participating in any of the sports teams which currently train after school then I would understand that too. But if the idea is simply to occupy students for an hour then I see no point in it at all.
Also at assembly I was told that the Mid Term Tests will be tomorrow and Friday which means I will have to spend any free time today setting the test papers for the three senior classes.
THURSDAY 25th JULY
It has been raining on and off for the past week, sometimes torrentially. Everything is very damp and washing doesn’t dry. Not nice!!
This afternoon Chwin asked me to teach her to ride my motorbike. I nervously agreed and we went downstairs to the bike where I explained the controls to her.
As the Director isn’t at school today or tomorrow it has been decided to postpone the Midterm Tests until the first three days of next week. This is fortuitous really as it gives me more time to photocopy test papers and generally get them ready.
I went into the village on my Scoopyi with Jasper to get a few bottles of beer and ice and I was just leaving the shop when I found I had a puncture in the rear tyre. Luckily, at the same moment three students came by on their bikes. Two of them took my motorbike to the village repair shop which was still open even though it was almost 8pm, and the third one took me and Jasper back to the teacher’s houses.
FRIDAY 26th JULY
The school’s internet hasn’t been working since before the 4-day break and yet no one seems very put out by this except me and Jasper. Thai teachers just say ‘mai pen lai’ (never mind) and eat or chat instead if they aren’t teaching. It is hard to know if the problem lies within the school (ie with one of the routers, for example) or with ToT (Telephones of Thailand) who provide the long range wi-fi.
Ajarn Cat is the person responsible for the school’s computers and internet yet she doesn’t seem to care whether the school has the internet or not. If I was in her shoes I’d be seeking out the problem and either fixing it myself or getting ToT to fix it. It would be a source of pride to ensure the school had the best wi-fi internet possible, but things don’t work like that in Thailand alas.
As I have mentioned before, I do have an Air Card (dongle) and I can dial up and get the internet but it is very slow. The internet package I have costs 499 baht per month for unlimited usage and provides for 1GB of downloads at 3G. When the 1GB is used up the internet speed decreases dramatically. This package will expire in a couple of weeks so I am planning to upgrade to a better one for a further 200 baht which offers up to 3GB of downloads and the decreased speed thereafter is much faster than the other package.
I was supposed to have the M5 class this afternoon but no students were there when I arrived at the classroom. It wasn’t a problem at first because I had some work to write on the board but after about 10 minutes I went out onto the balcony to see if I could spot them, but I couldn’t. Then a M4 student told me the class were on the other side of the school doing a project so I walked over to see what was happening. They were planting water lily plants in mounds of clay in the water drainage gulley alongside the Sala which they had lined with plastic sheeting under the direction of Ajarn Yor. Quite why he wanted the class to do this is beyond me as the clay mounds block the concrete gulley which was specially built this year to drain water off the Sala floor when it rains. The other thing that bothered me was why didn’t he check that M5 were free and did not have a class ? I am constantly amazed at the stupidity of teachers around here; they just do not think logically.
This evening Jasper and I paired up with two M5 students, Phonsakorn and Anun, to play snooker in Kranuan. It was a fun evening.
SATURDAY 27th JULY
Rain, rain, rain. I wish it would all stay in Spain. I know it is the rainy season here, but still; raining almost all day is not on!! I did take advantage of a short pause to nip into Kham Yai to get some supplies at Tesco Lotus which enabled me to spend the entire day at home.
Yesterday the students who needed to get a haircut were told that if they didn’t get one before assembly on Monday they would not be able to take their Mid Term Test which is a component of their eventual school grade. It is surprising how effective this tactic is.
SUNDAY 28th JULY
It rained all night and it rained most of the morning until about 10.45 though the sky remained very threatening. Two M3 students, Bancha and Sanya came to see me to ask if I had a job for them to earn a couple of pounds each as their parents had no money for food. The only job I could readily think of was to clean my motorbike even though the rainy conditions and sandy red soil around where I live means the bike will soon get dirty again.
I have also become a very minor dispenser of paracetamol since a couple of students came to my ‘office’ (actually the old library) and discovered I had a official plastic jar which originally held 1000 tablets. Before you ask, I inherited the jar when I took over my desk. But I’m sure you’re also wondering about the quantity of tablets. I asked the same question myself the other week when I went into the pharmacy in Non Kung Sri and saw similar jars for sale on the shelf. I was told there is no restriction on the quantity of aspirins or paracetamol one can buy and anyone can purchase a jar but customers were mainly schools and organisations rather than individuals.
Over the weekend I learned, talking to some students, that Mr Kay has still not organised the accident insurance scheme. It is not more than three weeks since I last spoke to Mr Kay about it so I think I’ll have to have a word with him again. I am anxious to get the scheme in place before the next accident!!
The three ginger cats which live with us at the teacher’s house lick each other a lot. One of the cats, Shorty (because of her short tail) is an ardent licker and every time she joins either of the other two cats she immediately starts licking/washing them, she will also lick your hand or face or whatever if given the chance. You can see the adorable video on youtube at http://youtu.be/s6q3PLgNnUM She’s probably only being affectionate but I was wondering if any cats you have or know are keen lickers too ?
It’s now 8.30pm and it is STILL raining!!
MONDAY 29th JULY
Still raining this morning; depressing!! The Mid Term Tests start this morning and will continue all day and tomorrow and Wednesday also. As usual, neither I or Jasper or Chwin will be asked to help invigilate so we will have to amuse ourselves somehow.
The exams I set for M4, M5 and M6 took place immediately after lunch today and I went round and took some photos of the students puzzling over the questions which you can see in my gallery.
TUESDAY 30th JULY
It was a relief to see the sun again this morning and the day turned out to be very nice.
I received the answer scripts for M4, M5 and M6 this morning and I set about marking them all. The first question on the three exam papers required students to have their dictionary with them and they were alerted to bring them before they went home last Friday. A quick look at the scripts revealed that many students had forgotten to bring their dictionaries and were thus unable to answer the first five vocabulary questions.
WEDNESDAY 31st JULY
Jasper was at last notified that his passport is now ready for collection from the Philippines Embassy so he is planning to take the bus to Bangkok this evening and will go straight to Sakon Nakhorn, which is north of Kalasin province, to make his 90-day report to the Immigration Office once he has his new passport in his pocket.
It was announced at assembly this morning that there will be a school trip to Ayutthaya next week. The decision arose from a teacher’s meeting to which neither Jasper, Chwin nor I were invited. Two 53-seater buses are being hired at 30,000 baht per day (about £600) and students are being asked to pay 300 baht each towards the day trip. Apparently there is a special visitors’ day at Ayutthaya next week.
The saga re the order for 8 new textbooks for M3 continues. Ajarn Tippakorn called the publishing company in Bangkok and they said our order was too small so she contacted an educational store in Kranuan who which is prepared to order the books for us but will have to wait until other orders arrive to increase the number of books ordered. I think the publisher’s attitude is odd. Surely, a sale is a sale or are they so hugely profitable they needn’t be bothered with small orders ? Also, surely they of all people realise that the likelihood of aggregating a larger order mid-term is slight.
THURSDAY 1st AUGUST
At assembly this morning I heard from Ajarn Tippakorn that there is already a change of plan for the trip to Ayutthaya. Someone has realised it might be difficult to control all the students and that there may also be lots of tourists at any of the main sights. The Director has suggested we depart at midnight next Saturday. The journey will take 6-7 hours so I suppose such a late departure will maximise time at the many temple sights.
At lunchtime I went with the Director to the bank at Non Kung Sri to cash salary cheques. On the way back, we had reached the outskirts of the village when someone on a motorcycle shot out of a driveway into our path without looking to his right. The Director braked hard and managed to avoid hitting the bike but the car behind shunted into him denting the area where the boot lid joins the car body.
The Director got out to talk with the occupants of the house the motorcycle had departed from and of course they knew he was the Director of Sai Moon school but they didn’t seem very helpful and claimed not to know who the motorcyclist was. The motorcyclist, meanwhile, fled after the incident. Luckily, the vehicle that hit the back of the Director’s car was a company van and they ended up paying for the repair work.
FRIDAY 2nd AUGUST
The students were surveyed at assembly this morning to find out who is coming on the trip to Ayutthaya next week. About 75 students so far though any waverers have until lunchtime to decide. Most of them are in the junior half of the school; only two M1 students say they can go. Although the cost is only 300 baht (about £6) it is a cost some families cannot or don’t want to afford.
SATURDAY 3rd AUGUST
I nearly had a serious accident this morning. I went into Kham Yai fairly early and on my way back along an open stretch of road a man on a motorbike came the other way. As he neared me he suddenly turned into my path and I had to brake hard to avoid him.
With Jasper away in Kalasin I later went into Kranuan on my own to have lunch and do some shopping.
This evening I returned to Kranuan with a couple of students to play snooker. Jasper turned up during the evening with a couple of Thai friends and they began a game on the next door table. One of the friends was the father of a former Sai Moon student and he was keen to play a singles game against me. It transpired he is the father of Chusak, a 16 y.o. M3 student who just left school one day and didn’t return so I took the opportunity to ask his father what happened and why.
The father told me Chusak wanted to start working which is what he is now doing in a factory in Khon Kaen. He has bought a car for his son and he said Chusak is happy but he is also sorry he left school so early.
To my way of thinking, Chusak is an example of something wrong at my school. He was a bright student and good at English and was a good takraw player too. But when he disappeared from school there was no investigation or follow up to discover why he had left and maybe persuade him of the need to complete his education. Chusak is but one of several students who have disappeared during this year and no one seems to care one way or the other.
As for the snooker match with the father, I had to concentrate hard and be careful because he was a good player. We played a number of good humoured games but eventually I won.
SUNDAY 4th AUGUST
I spent most of the morning clearing a lot of rubble and rubbish from around the front of the teacher’s house with help from Jasper and App, one of the M6 students who wanted to get some work to earn money with which to modify his motorbike. Some of the rubble was used to fill a couple of annoying potholes that have developed by the entrance to the house. The overall result of the clearance and filling is very good.
MONDAY 5th AUGUST
Many of the students spent the morning cleaning and sweeping around the school in preparation for tomorrow’s seminar in the Sala.
I went into Non Kung Sri on my motorbike to go to the bank but there was a horrendous queue so I aborted the idea but had lunch there and then returned to school. I had M6 for the period after lunch but many of the students were playing futsall in Kalasin and some others were helping prepare the Sala for tomorrow’s seminar so I only had a dozen students there. In any case there were no classes for last two periods of the day.
There was a teacher’s meeting at 3pm which didn’t get going till about 4pm while we waited for teachers to arrive. One item was about visitors to the teacher’s houses. The Director claimed he had received complaints about noisy motorbikes and student visitors to the houses and banned anyone from coming in future. This made me fume, though I didn't say anything.
The topic arose because a few days ago Ajarn Wanida happened to spot Jasper’s car outside the village minimart one evening and two villagers inside buying a couple of bottles of beer. Instead of minding her own business she rang the Director to complain that Jasper was inviting teenagers to the teacher’s hose to drink beer.
The two villagers were ex Sai Moon students from about 5 years ago. One is now at university and the other was on leave from the army and both are aged about 23/24, hardly teenagers. Jasper was, in fact, at the home of one of the ex students and had lent his car to him to buy beer to drink at his (the ex student’s) home. The former students had simply called at the teacher’s house to say hi to their former teacher and to thank him for teaching them English which they were both using daily.
What, you may ask, made Wanida take the trouble to ring the Director ? It turns out that she and the family of one of the former students had a quarrel about something when he attended Sai Moon about five years ago and she has never forgiven him or his family. When she saw him she rang the Director out of self-interest and spite. Sadly, she is that kind of woman.
TUESDAY 6th AUGUST
There was a seminar for Sai Moon villagers this morning organised by the next door Or Bor Dor all about alcohol risks. I am sure the 100+ males attending had heard it all before but at least they got a free t-shirt to go home with. The seminar meant that the three junior classes, M1, M2 and M3, couldn’t use their normal classrooms and were relocated to disused rooms in the other teaching building.
I still felt somewhat angry this morning about the events that led up to the Director’s ban. But then I remembered that Ajarn Wanida likes to drink beer which she does out of a thermos style mug which makes visitors to her office imagine she’s drinking coffee or something and then there’s the gambling that goes on between the teachers at the other teacher’s house. So I don’t think any ban is going to be taken seriously and certainly no more seriously than the Director’s ban on card playing which he’s announced a few times which is totally ignored.
WEDNESDAY 7th AUGUST
I am still not feeling 100% ok though my ‘anger’ about what the Director said at the meeting has dissipated. However, I am going to opt out of the trip to Ayutthaya because two lengthy night time bus journeys really don’t appeal to me. Had I been invited to the meet where it was decided to go to Ayutthaya I would have pointed out that ancient temple sites and endless statues of Buddha are not likely to be much fun for the students. Instead, I would have suggested going to the beach for some fun.
Most of the students spent the morning cleaning up and beautifying areas around the school ready for Friday’s Queen’s Birthday ceremony aka Mother’s Day
THURSDAY 8th AUGUST
The last two periods this afternoon were given over to preparations for tomorrow’s ceremony.
After Jasper and I come back from Kham Yai, we stopped off to watch rehearsals for Sai Moon’s entry into the arts festival taking place on August 28th in Kalasin city. All twelve provincial schools are preparing an activity and ours is some dancing accompanied by drums and cymbals. It doesn’t sound much but it looked good this evening and will be even better when the 13 students are in costume. I aim to make a video of the performance at the dress rehearsal in school since I may not be able to see the actual performance in Kalasin at the end of the month.
FRIDAY 9th AUGUST
I decided not to go to Aytthaya. The thought of spending 6-7 hours each way in a coach with 50 hyperactive students, a bunch of teachers topped with pounding Thai music was too much to bear. The excuse I offered was that I don’t like long bus journeys and, anyway, I have been to Ayuttaya before. Although I am not going I will still be expected to pay the 500 baht fare.
Today was the Queen’s Birthday, aka Mother’s Day and this morning there was a special ceremony to mark the occasion. The Thai teachers dressed in their white ceremonial uniforms sang the national anthem followed by the Queen’s own special anthem as they stood in front of the assembled students and assorted mothers who had been invited.
The highlight of the ceremony came when the selected students were united with their mothers and for a rare moment some of them embraced. The students whose mothers didn’t come this year paid respects to the mothers of their classmates.
At the end, after the mothers had left, the final arrangements were announced for the school trip to Ayutthaya. The students were split into mixed age groups and a Thai teacher assigned to take care of each group. By 11.30 everything was finished and the students went home.
SATURDAY 10th AUGUST
The students began gathering in school quite early for their 11pm departure in two buses going to Ayutthaya. A teacher and a senior student deputy have been assigned a group of ten students to make sure nobody gets left behind at any time on the trip. The students wore school uniform and they have been told to be on their best behaviour which includes using polite language.
One of teachers assigned to looking after a student group was Mr Narongsak but for some reason he was still sleeping when the buses left. I heard him leave the teacher’s house at about 4am Saturday morning probably to go to his parent’s home, a two hour motorbike ride away. Very odd!
SUNDAY 11th AUGUST
Not much of a day today as it rained nearly all the time so I stayed in all morning but managed to go to Khan Yai for lunch when the rain cleared. It was nice to have the teacher’s house all to myself.
MONDAY 12th AUGUST
The buses returned from Ayutthaya about 1.30am and I was woken by the noise at the teacher’s house.
It was a lovely sunny day with some broken white clouds so I was able to complete my washing – happiness!!
This evening I took a couple of M3 students to the recently opened buffet restaurant in Kham Yai. Jasper was supposed to come with us but didn’t show up until later at the restaurant. One can never tell with Jasper if he will do what he says he will do or not, he’s so scatter-brained, but is was a nice evening in the end.
TUESDAY 13th AUGUST
The cats on my bed gave me a disturbed night and I felt tired this morning. Part of the reason was that one of the cats wanted to give birth on my bed about 3am which I didn’t think was a good idea as I anticipated a lot of mess so I had to get up and find something comfortable for her on the landing outside my door. Later, during the night, she gave birth to a single kitten and once we got up Jasper and I made a box for the mother and her baby.
While I was washing and shaving this morning Ajarn Narongsak came into the bathroom to use the toilet but, as usual, he failed to fill the bucket with water after use so that it is ready for the next person to use. I took him to task over this but Thai around here seem almost never to think of anybody else so the concept was beyond him which made me even more annoyed.
At assembly, the students were confronted with items found on the two buses taking the students to Ayutthaya – bottles of Bacardi Breezer, two bottles of Leo beer and an almost empty bottle of Thai whisky. The students who bought the alcohol were given a chance to own up and five students stood up and came to the front of assembly. One other student known to have bought alcohol didn’t own up and he hung his head in shame.
The entire assembly was given a long lecture on the shame of bringing the school into disrepute by Ajarn Tuk. Mr Yor then gave everyone a lecture about what they saw, or should have seen, in Ayutthaya. And, finally, Mr Noi lectured them about something or other. The whole process meant there was no first teaching period and the guilty five students were split into two groups to clean the two outside toilet buildings.
After school Jasper and I took the kitten and its mother to the vet in Kranuan for advice more than anything as we are novices when it comes to taking care of kittens. The vet was out so we left the cats in a comfy cage at the vet and went off to get some dinner.
We had an early dinner at Castle Howchow just to make a change and so Jasper could see what the place looks like. Although we were the only customers in the resort our dinner was nice and the portions large.
On returning the vet told us the good news that the mother was no longer pregnant but the kitten was rather premature and would need hand feeding via a dropper and he recommended goats milk to start with.
WEDNESDAY 14th AUGUST
Badminton team disbarred from the Kalasin Sports Festival because their entry was too late. Seems a dotty decision and, anyway, why didn’t the teacher in charge of badminton - Ajarn Tippakorn – ensure their entry was on time. Sai Moon won the badminton event last year ? It’s not as if there’s a printed programme or any financial outlay....only 12 schools involved....not a big event to organise.
I also heard this morning that there was an armed hold-up at a roadside stall in the early hours last night. Three masked men drove up to the roadside stall near the front of the village clinic and pointed guns at the female stallholders and demanded money and valuables. They left with about 10,000 baht (£200) and a couple of gold necklaces.
At assembly the students who ad been playing kick-about football with a volleyball were told to stand in front facing the rest of the school. Ajarn Kat, the person in charge of volleyball, was annoyed that a ball had been borrowed from the teacher’s house but instead of playing volleyball they were potentially damaging the ball playing football. They were told to admit to their mistake and, as a penalty Thai style, told to kneel and pay proper respect to the ball which was placed in front of them. It was done to teach the four students a lesson but everyone else found it very funny.
About 9.30pn drama with a mouse in my room....cat caught it but didn’t seem to know what to do with it. The mouse played dead, the cat seemed to lose interest, then the mouse made a break for it scurrying through the gap under my room door. I opened the door and the cat chased after the mouse following it downstairs but the canny mouse slipped under the fridge and hid in the motor compartment to live another day. I just hope it doesn’t come back to my room though I never knew it was there.
THURSDAY 15th AUGUST
I felt headachy again this morning which made me feel grumpy and out of sorts. I suppose it may be because I am getting a cold or something.
The parents of the five boys paraded in front of the school assembly were summoned to a meeting this morning. The five students were given letters yesterday to give to their parents asking them to attend the meeting when they were told about the alcohol they had bought for the trip to Ayutthaya and warning them that if their sons misbehaved like this again they would be expelled.
The meeting sounds a good idea and it is good to have such a process but I don’t think it is likely to have much effect. Over time and when a suitable opportunity arises I have been asking male students a range of questions including when they first drank any form of alcohol – usually beer or whisky – and the answer is often six or seven years old. It’s a regular thing and part of village, or indeed, Thai, life. Unlike a western country, you are unlikely to see a Thai rolling around drunk slurring words or shouting abuse. Self control is paramount and to be drunk in the western sense, as just described, would mean a serious loss of face and that’s a 100% no-no.
The school also supposedly received a complaint from a villager/s about being disturbed by several boys firing off plastic cap pistols...bang, bang, bang!! What do these villagers expect when such toys are on sale locally for about 20 baht (about 40 pence) along with the caps. Boys will be boys, even Thai boys!!
I said ‘supposedly’ because I am becoming convinced that ‘a complaint from a villager’ is just a way of palming off the complaint onto someone else who, of course, is always nameless. In any case, if someone in the village really does get annoyed by the noise from a cap pistol being fired in the village why doesn’t the villager complain to the parents. After all, everyone knows everyone here and it’s up to the parents to control their offspring in the village. Or is that too logical and western thinking ??? Your thoughts please
Jasper went off to Bangkok again after school to collect his new passport from the Philippines Embassy. As always, I had to lend him the money as the school doesn’t have any or is unwilling to use what they do have for this purpose.
FRIDAY 16th AUGUST
The other day Chwin came to school wearing trousers and she was told by the Thai teachers that they are not permitted because to wear them is disrespectful. I wondered about this because you often see Thai women wearing trousers outside school so I was curious to know to whom it is disrespectful to wear them. I asked Ajarn Tippakorn and she said Thai teachers don’t like to wear trousers but when I asked who is disrespected when wearing trousers at school she admitted she did not know. Such is the all accepting unquerying uncurious attitude of people in Thailand. I have asked questions like this before of other Thais, men and women, and the level of ignorance about many things is astonishing.
I have now decided, yes, finally, to go on the customised Colonial Tour of Burma (the locals prefer that name to Myanmar) during the school holidays in October. I rechecked the quote I had been given and I had a pleasant surprise. For some reason I was convinced the quote was in £ but in fact it was in US$ which means that it is nearly half the price that I thought it was though it is still quite expensive.
SATURDAY/SUNDAY 17/18th AUGUST
I spent most of the weekend at Sai Moon trying to coax websites out of an exceedingly slow internet connection.
MONDAY 19th AUGUST
Mr Jasper has got himself into a pickle. On Friday he went to Bangkok to collect his new passport from the Philippines Embassy and today he drove to the Immigration Office at Sakon Nakhorn where they told him he will be fined 15,000 baht as he is more than a month overdue for his in-person report which he has to do every 90 days. Luckily for Mr Jasper the fine is the maximum amount possible so it will not increase.
Jasper’s problems arise because his passport expired, his visa expired and his 90-day report was due within about a week of each other. He failed to apply for a new passport early enough. He relies on friends for information rather than checking the facts on embassy’s website himself. His friend told him his passport would be renewed in a week whereas it took seven weeks and it clearly states 6-8 weeks on the embassy website.
TUESDAY 20th AUGUST
I spoke with the Director today about the money Mr Jasper needs for his passport and visa problems. I told him I was unwilling to lend Jasper any more money partly because the amount he owes is already quite large and partly because I feel these particular expenses should be covered by the school. Most good schools do cover visa and work permit fees for foreign teachers, so I feel Sai Moon should do so for Mr Jasper.
WEDNESDAY 21st AUGUST
This morning I went into Non Kung Sri (NKS for short) with Mr Weang, who is one of the two teachers now in charge of the school’s Lor Dor, or army cadets. About 700 students from many secondary schools in the district are spending ten days training at a school in NKS. Today was given over to rehearsing the programme for Friday when the students will put on a show for an army general and staff and many parents.
Thai students can opt to join the Lor Dor once they enter M4, the first of the three senior classes. To join they must first pass an initiation test designed and overseen by the existing Lor Dor cadets. I posted a video of last year’s initiation on youtube if you recall.
The NKS rehearsal was masterminded by the commander on a microphone from a stage at one side of a large grass sportsfield, there was only one other staff member and no NCOs walking around checking things. The sportsfield looked smooth but in fact it was very uneven so marching was limited. The rehearsal consisted mainly of advances by patrols towards an ‘enemy’ machine gun position – running, crawling, running and so on. There were also some weapons drills and an inspection. Today I had the freedom to walk around and take photos anywhere I wanted but I feel sure this will not be possible at the show on Friday so I probably won’t go to NKS to see it.
The Governor of Kalasin province (ie the head of the Or Bor Jor) came to the village today to declare how wonderful it was that the authority has provided the money for a new water pipe from Kham Yai. The excavator made a right mess digging a trench in which the blue plastic pipe was laid and not only dug up the frontages of all the house in the village that lined that side of the road but left the road a muddy mess. Yesterday evening villagers decorated the market with swags of yellow and blue material in preparation for the arrival of the big wig. As I passed though the village going to Kham Yai I saw a number of villagers busily sweeping the dried mud from the roadside and others building new fences to replace the ones damaged by the excavations.
THURSDAY 22nd AUGUST
Many of the Thai teachers complained this morning about the Director refusing to pay their bonuses which range from 2-300 baht up to about 1000 baht. Apparently this money from the Or Bor Dor has been transferred to another school’s account which mystifies the Thai teachers.
The students involved in the sports teams are rehearsing for an opening ceremony tomorrow before the games start on 28th August. This opening ceremony takes place at Dongmool school and is at the behest of the Or Bor Jor (Education Authority) in Kalasin city. They have assigned quite a large budget for tomorrow’s ceremony but if only they would put money into what really matters which is not farcical opening ceremonies a week before the sports competitions start, but education and quality teaching.
FRIDAY 23rd AUGUST
Jasper and I had an early lunch this morning in order to join Mr Kay, the two futsall teams and the takraw team going to Dongmool school to play matches to decide which school will take part in the 3-day sports festival in Kalasin city next week. The two futsall matches were good as was the single takraw match. Luckily, Sai Moon won all three matches. I took some photos which are in my gallery.
SATURDAY 24th AUGUST
A few months ago a new bar/pub opened at a road junction about halfway between Kham Yai and Huai Mek accompanied by a blaze of roadside advertising. Part of the attraction was beer at 50 baht a bottle and a coyote girl show from 10pm. I went there once with Jasper a couple of months ago and it is a comfortable and well designed place which, apparently, is owned by a Dutchman and his Thai wife.
Well, now, they have introduced a lunch menu which yet more roadside advertising displaying mouth-watering photos of some of the dishes on the menu. Jasper and I went there for lunch today and it was very good too. The menu is large with mostly Thai food though there are some western items as well including imported steaks and they also do what looks in the photo to be a good breakfast.
SUNDAY 25th AUGUST
There was a sunny start to this morning but by the time I finished my laundry the sky looked threatening and I began to regret starting. I hung my clothes and my bedding on the line and thought it might take all day to dry. Soon after that Jasper and I went into Kranuan to have lunch and do some shopping at Tesco Lotus. Fortunately it didn’t rain so all was well.
MONDAY 26th AUGUST
I mentioned before that Jasper has got himself into a pickle about his Permission to Stay stamp in his passport. He has to renew this stamp every 90 days but because his passport needed renewing and his Work Permit needed renewing his 90-day report has been delayed about one month which will mean he will be fined 500 baht a day for every day overstayed.
Because this problem has been rumbling on for some time the Director told Ajarn Tippakorn to accompany Jasper to the Immigration Office in Sakon Nakhon to try and smooth things over and perhaps reduce the fine.
Meanwhile, the Director spoke to me this morning, after they had left, to request help loaning Jasper the money to pay the fine once it has been assessed at the Immigration Office. He told me he will deduct the equivalent amount from Jasper’s salary when it arrives next week to repay me and I felt I had to agree to this.
So I went to the bank in Kranuan with Ajarn Sompon to withdraw the money and send it to Ajarn Tipakorn’s account so she can withdraw it to pay the fine at Sakon Nakhon.
TUESDAY 27st AUGUST
There were two horrendous thunderstorms last night. During one of the storms there was a burst of a very deep sounding and rarely heard type of thunder which made the teacher’s house shake, rattle and, I felt, almost roll. It was scary and I wondered how or if I would escape should the house collapse.
The last two days have seen little teaching as the students involved in the sports teams plus the students involved in the musical pageant have spent most of their time noisily rehearsing.
Tomorrow morning everyone is off to Kalasin for the first day of the annual 3-day Inter-school Sports Festival.
WEDNESDAY 28th – FRIDAY 30th AUGUST
The students went to Kalasin early to prepare for the parade which, in fact, didn’t begin until about 1.30pm. Prior to the start parade contingents from different schools had been dropped off about 1 kilometre away along the road near to the new Big C superstore (a bit like Tesco Lotus) where they waited, and waited and waited. It was scorching hot and they occupied every inch of shade. Jasper and I joined them about midday having been told that was when the parade would start so we had to wait for ages too.
There was no information and no one seemed to be in charge but eventually the largest of the two bands, which had been waiting in Big C’s car park, crossed the dual carriageway, formed up, and, oddly, began to play Auld Lang Syne. The various waiting groups also crossed over but still no one took charge. After another 30 minutes of waiting someone with a very small megaphone started getting the groups into order. I got myself into position to take a video, then the parade began. The students from the 12 provincial schools in the parade were not the students taking part in the sports teams, they had begun playing their various sports about 8am at the Rajamangkala University sports ground.
At first I wondered what the point of the parade was but then I realised that there wasn’t a sufficiently large space in the university to get participants into formation and inside the large indoor stadium where the main event took place. I was told it was indoors in case it rained but, in fact, the day dawned bright and sunny and remained sunny throughout. I made a video of the indoor ceremony which you can see on youtube at
I wandered around while waiting for the vital match against Bua Khao school to start. I had noticed a minibus emblazoned with ASEAN QUALITY SCHOOL (see photo in gallery) on each side and rear so Jasper asked one of the teachers from the school in Thai what this logo meant. All she could say was that the school was getting ready for ASEAN. Thais have a habit of creating or adopting meaningless but cool-sounding slogans like this because appearance is everything, substance never comes into it.
I also spotted another prominent display board at the university (see photo) stating: ENGLISH SPEAKING YEAR 2012. TOGETHER WE CAN. Yawn......
One afternoon Jasper realised he had mislaid his shoulder bag containing his new passport and other important documents. After much thought he decided the bag had been stolen from his car while parked by the takraw courts but someone would need to be very bold to enter a car with so many people around. Needless to say, Jasper fretted about his lost new passport and we tried to work out who best to report the loss to.
I could not understand why Jasper has to carry such documents around with him when all he is legally obliged to carry is a photocopy of the details page of his passport and a copy of his visa. The very reason copies are permitted is to avoid situations like Jasper’s.
This year Sai Moon’s teams didn’t do quite as well as last year. The volleyball teams won one game and lost two; the single Takraw team got knocked out early on; the petanque teams did better with one student winning the singles event. The school’s senior futsall team started off well by winning their first two games but then came up against Bua Khao School which, with 3000+ students, has the means to train first class teams. Their futsall team was just too good and too fast moving for us so we ended up in 3rd place rather than the champions the team hoped to be.
It was my birthday on Friday 30th and the day was spent at Kalasin. In the evening I went out with the senior and junior futsall teams to a buffet restaurant in Kranuan.
SATURDAY 31st AUGUST
This morning Jasper thought that one of the students he gave a lift back to Sai Moon after the sports in Kalasin might have mistakenly taken his bag when leaving the car. It turned out later that this is what happened so all was well in the end. I just hope Jasper gets photocopies made but I will probably have to keep reminding him to do it!
This afternoon some senior students came to my teacher’s house to invite me to their home for a drink and to have some food to celebrate my birthday. It was good fun and I took my laptop with me so everyone could see the photos and videos from the sports in Kalasin.
In the evening everyone went to another buffet restaurant in Nong Kung Sri which was fun as well.
SUNDAY 1st SEPTEMBER
By this time I was pretty exhausted and so I had a quiet day at the teacher’s house.