Saturday, November 19, 2011


I've been trying to do some meaningful reading while I've been home sick, and the following two blog posts really speak to my current experience in ways that surprised me.

I've been working on a couple posts of my own, so you should see those soon. Maybe even later today.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oh the places you'll go!

I take full responsibility for most of the things that happen in my life. I chose to move to Thailand, for example. And yet, what lies in store for me just two days hence is in no way my fault. I blame Bess.

It started with a conversation I have no memory of and probably didn't understand. Now, somehow, I am committed to being dressed in traditional Thai garb, made up to the nines, and paraded - and I mean that literally - around town on a float in an important festival of some kind. Trust me, I am not responsible for this.

But lucky for you, there will be photos.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Moving is hard, and moving to another country is almost as hard as it gets. I've always know this - my first overseas move was 22 years ago, after all - and yet somehow it's always a shock when I arrive in a new place. Now when that place is the middle of nowhere in southern Thailand, "shock" doesn't even begin to cover what I am going through. I'm not going to pick up and leave, but that doesn't mean I don't want to. What's funny is that I absolutely expected this, but there is of course a difference between knowing and experiencing.

So what am I experiencing?

It's hot, first of all. It's not so bad when there's a breeze or a storm, but in a stuffy classroom with no air conditioning, it's almost unbearable. Since it's winter here now, it will only get hotter. Come April I plan to be naked on the tile floor of my bedroom with the ac on full blast, and woe betide anyone who disturbs me.

Sadao, the town where I now live, is just about as small as I've ever seen. That's not to say there aren't loads of people, but beyond a few restaurants and roadside stands, there's nothing for any of them to do. Bess and I are the only ones who walk anywhere, so I presume they just go elsewhere for their entertainment, but we've been confined to our air conditioned bedrooms staring at our computer screens and eating copious amounts of chocolate. Other than the two of us and another teacher at school, there are no other Westerners, which isn't awful, but it does mean that there is only one person we can actually talk to.

Work is frankly awful. The school is ridiculously unorganized; Bess and I didn't even know what we were teaching until the first day of school. I have just shy of 300 students total, so most of my classes have between 40 and 50 kids, mostly eighth-graders. I have a couple of great classes, but mostly the kids don't listen, talk over me, and are generally extremely rude. They speak about ten words of English between them, and I can't even imagine where to begin teaching them because, again, they don't listen to a word I say. I have no book and am trying to design a whole curriculum for two different grades. Oh, and by the way, I have never taught before.

I do think it will get better. Even if I never fall in love with the place, the shock is already wearing off and we are getting into a routine. We'll go away on the weekends when we can, we managed to get a week off for Christmas, and we are now only staying for a semester. When that's done, we're off on a crazy backpacking adventure through Asia, then we'll head to Australia to work for the summer. So if it has to be a little shitty up front, I guess that's okay.