Since I haven’t moved locations, I want to really write about ways of life here, what I am adapting to, and who Thai people are.
Phuket is a big island with several towns not far from each other. When I first arrived here I stayed in Patong for about 3 weeks during my job search and exploring. Patong is the main tourist/backpacker beach town. Now I have moved to Phuket Town where the locals and the history live. Phuket Town is on the east shore of Phuket but it isn’t a beach, its more of what used to be a port, hence the town’s existence. Most of the schools are here because most of the Thai locals are here. I am living here for now to be close to work. I have noted some basic observations in my time here and the best way to share them seems like a list. Here are some sights, smells, tastes, etc of Phuket Town and Thailand in general:
- Seeing deformed or limbless people is not unusual
- Most clothes with writing on them have English writing, usually saying something ridiculous or that doesn’t make sense, eg. Sex bombs not war, My beer my countries, same same but different, etc.
- “Ladyboys” are very common, young boys dressed like girls and they usually just do it because and don’t contribute largely to the prostitute population
- Apartment buildings are often called mansions
- When parasailing at the beach, a Thai guy holds on above you with no life jacket or harness so he can steer the parachute; he looks like a monkey climbing around above the parasailer and wrapping his legs around you sometimes
- I went in a bookstore where the English books were separated by gender of the author…
- When a torrential downpour happens suddenly, people wait it out in front of 7-eleven or wherever they are or they put on a poncho and get on their motorbikes anyway
- When you walk by a little stand where moto taxi drivers sit and wait, you will likely smell weed
- Motos go before the light turns green, after it turns red, or randomly
- Girls on the back of motos often sit side saddle, esp if they’re wearing high heels and mini skirts, and often do not hold on to anything
- If you ask someone who speaks zero English a question they will either harshly ignore you or run and get someone else
- A lot of stores and restaurants say 24 hours on them but them truth is they are open whenever they feel like within a period of 24 hours
- All sweet food seems to involve at least some coconut, whether it is mentioned or not, mm!
- It must be assumed that you can get sex at any massage place because I saw a sign that said Best Massage, No Sex – sad
- A Thai massage (great full body massage) runs about $6 an hour
- At night, trucks with Muay Thai boxers on a small stage raised out of the back of a pickup drive by crowded places making loud punching noises on their gloves, with a loud announcer, and people jumping out to hand out flyers for the fight
- We should all learn to eat Thai style its so practical—its public and social, delicious, and cheap
I start a full time job at a private school on Monday called Kajonkietsuksa School. I will be teaching pre-kindergarten which is 2-3 year olds. I am actually their teacher all day because their parents paid for them to be in the full English program. They are not even fluent in their first language at that age so the goal is really just to do normal kid activities but with a Native English speaker.
I also started a job last week teaching a 4 student class of 7-8 year olds on Saturday morning. They are precious and the class is fun. That language center also had me sub for an English teacher at a local Thai school for 2 days this week. The school has average Thai children—not much money, no foreign parents, very respectful, no air con in classrooms, no furniture in kindergarten rooms, etc. I really enjoyed the school. When I approach the large kindergarten and first grade building in the morning, the kids all shout “teachah, teachah!” and they want high 5’s and hand shakes; it was like the paparazzi or something except they were all adorable! I taught 5 periods of kindergarten classes over the 2 days. In these classes the kids wear nametages with their English names… Some of them clearly have their Thai name written in the English alphabet, some have an English name (possibly chosen at random or because it sounds similar, possibly really is their name), but SOME have a random noun or Disney character that they have been exposed to and these names are the BEST. Some names I wrote down (now imagine little children with a nametag that says this pinned to them): Gun, Mind, Mulan, Ice, Captain, Pop, Ink, New, Mix, Game, Enjoy, Vespa, Mobile, Peach, Bam Bam, Japan, View, Junior, Book, Ben (a girl), Spy, Euro, Guide, Boom, Boat, Bank, Kong, Pun, Cherry, Same, Far, Film, Dream, Bow, Earn, Bitey, Pluto, and the best/worst- Porn. Some of these are common names among schoolchildren… It seems to be the nouns they are surrounded by… Hope you are as entertained as I am. Anyway, the kindergarten classrooms have no desks or chairs, they just sit in rows on the floor and when they write or draw they lay on the floor all sprawled out. It actually is nice for young kids to have space like that. On Fridays all the young kids do morning aerobics together and they have somewhat of a choreographed dance to some Thai songs I’m starting to recognize and even to that Romanian pop sonng, Numa Numa, it is so adorable. The kindergarteners don’t seem to understand that Thai is a language that they speak and I do not so sometimes they ask me all these questions in Thai. Sometimes I assume they are asking me if they can get a drink or go to the bathroom so I just say yes; I think I may have said yes when they asked me if I was coming back next week though, but who knows. When I play say “touch your head, touch your knees, touch your ears” they love the game but I noticed that they won’t touch anything until I show them. They really don’t know English yet! Sometimes the Thai teacher will translate/relay what she understands to them and they will start cooperating but I don’t want them to get used to not learning because they have a translator!
I also taught 2 periods of 5th grade and 1 of 6th grade. Kids at this age have been taught deep respect for their teachers. When teachers, especially headmasters, pass them in the hall they always “wai” which is when you put your hands in a praying position over your face and bow a little. There are many rules to the wai but you always wai those above you in ranking or age. When I walk into these classrooms and say good morning they all stand up and say “Good morning, teachah” and I say “How are you” and they say “I’m fine thank you, and you” and I say “I’m fine, thank you, please sit down” and they say “Thank you teachah” and sit down. In a classroom of 40 students it is a weird feeling; I can’t believe I have no experience teaching and here I am getting all this respect as a teacher! Oh and they kept calling me Teacher Leanne because that’s who I was subbing for. It so engrained in their heads that they forget what they’re saying!