The past month has been one where my ENTIRE focus has been on work with very little leisure time. But today marks the first day of an indefinite period of no income (AKA, a holiday”) as the school term finally finished yesterday. How am I spending this first day of vacation? By traveling to my company in order to turn in grades and time sheets and to try and install computer updates while connected to reliable wi-fi. I am also trying to write this month’s edition of “Monthly Meanderings” completely from scratch; usually, I compile notes for each section during the last week or so of the month. I’ve just been too busy with testing, etc.
This has been one of my busiest months in quite some time, working from 7:45 am to around 4:00 pm each and every weekday at one of Phuket’s largest (read, noisiest and hottest) schools. I don’t want to recount the many misdventures of exam week in this blog; suffice it to say that it was one of my worst-ever teaching experiences. The high school kids will do anything to ditch class, including hiding in the toilets and ripping up their test papers. They are well aware that with Thailand’s crazy educational system that the teachers are still required to pass them even if they never set foot in the classroom. The worst that can happen is that they might occasionally have a Thai teacher hit them with a stick; the punishments are quickly forgotten.
The start of the month saw the last of my bank classes end. I’m always sad when the courses finish but this was a particularly wonderful batch of students – some of them count among the best I’ve ever taught. It also marked the last of my Saturday classes for at least a while. I’m in no hurry to volunteer for another.
The day following the last bank class saw the final all-day Sunday English camp at Wat Thepnimit. This time around we had groups of Mathyom (high school) students who were rather well-behaved. Once again, I was assigned a game that I had never heard of before mere minutes before having the first group arrive. I managed to get an idea in my head of how to play it only to have my boss decide to monitor that particular game and repeatedly try to change the rules. It made for a rough few minutes but I soon found a compromise – listen to the boss (who is Thai and definitely not a teacher).
It rained in September. A LOT. We had two separate typhoons effect our weather for about a week each. Plenty of torrential downpours and gusty winds. But it never rained all day and I got caught on the back of a motorbike taxi during a shower only once. It did make it difficult to sun-dry laundry on the balcony…
I didn’t get out and about because of school. I took a motorbike taxi every morning and walked home every afternoon. The school is located in an older part of Phuket Town with plenty of heritage Sino-Chinese shophouses in the area. Always an enjoyable journey and I plan to eat at a few of the newly-found restaurants along the way during my upcoming holiday.
I was often too tired in the evenings to read much, but I did take books to school during the first part of the month and found a couple of really good eBooks during the last week or so. I finished September with a rather dismal 1357 pages read (August’s total was 2213 which was actually less than July’s) and finished only three books:
Blue Mauritius: The Hunt for the World’s Most Valuable Stamps by Helen Morgan (2006)
The Queen’s Stamps: The Authorised History of the Royal Philatelic Collection by Nicholas Courtney (2004)
The Martian by Andy Weir (2011)
All three of these were read almost completely between my classes at Plukpanya School. Most days, I had a class from 8:00-8:50 and then the next didn’t start until 13:10. Yet, I had to remain at the school. I usually read in the teacher’s until the heat became unbearable and then I would sneak off to the library which had occasional air-conditioning. The two stamp-related books were actual “tree” books and both highly recommended for the history involved even if one isn’t a collector. The last, an ebook, I read due to a recommendation on a stamp collector’s online forum. I quickly became hooked and finished it in just a few days. I only became aware upon completion about how the book came about and the fact that a movie version will be released tomorrow.
I only received one card in the mail this month (from China) but a friend visited Penang, Malaysia, and brought me back several which I hope to write about very soon. She also brought me a nice mix of Malaysian stamps…
This was a pretty good stamp month. I had cut down on eBay purchases in August as I knew I wouldn’t have much time to devote to working with stamps when they arrived. A trickle flowed in throughout the month, with a total of 202 added to my various collections. There were nine “new” countries for my “A Stamp From Everywhere” collection:
Alexandria (French Offices in Egypt)
Alsace (1940 German occupation)
Alsace & Lorraine (German occupation)
Annam & Tonkin
Antigua & Barbuda
Antioquia (Department of Colombia)
I added a number of stamps from Mauritius, inspired by reading about the history of the island and the background behind the 1847 Post Office stamps, as well as several classics from the United States. I’ve long been interested in the 1893 Columbian Exposition issue – America’s first true commemorative stamps – but only had rather poor copies of the 1c and 2c values. I bought a few mint and used copies of several Columbians and they arrived at several times in September as did several earlier issues.
I also spent the last two weekends of September creating my own album pages (separate design from those I’m making for the ASFEW collection). I’m almost finished with those for Abu Dhabi and Aden and have been working on pages for early U.S. issues (which will include ONLY those that I could ever hope to add to my collection, cutting out the majority of stamps above a certain catalogue value but keeping Scott #1 and #2). It is time-consuming but satisfying work.
I did plan on mounting quite a few stamps during my rare days off but the hinges I’d received in the mail several months ago became almost completely glued-together from the increased moisture in the air from this year’s monsoon season. I kept checking my mint stamps to make sure a similar fate didn’t befall them. I need to figure out how to keep this from happening in the future as most of my stamps are used and I don’t want to spend a fortune on the hingeless mounts. As it is, I do need to order a few of the latter for my MNH stamps; the problem has always been that I never know which sizes I need!
Obviously, my blogging suffered the most during the month of September. I only managed to publish three articles on Philatelic Pursuits, only one here on Asian Meanderings and none at all on “Please, Mr. Postman!” I need to rectify that very soon! Not only was I often too tired to write anything but I had no internet access for my laptop. My phone was able to connect on 3G and I experimented with publishing one article via the WordPress app. It worked but it took a lot of trial-and-error to get it to look write. I may try using the laptop to write an entry (I use Windows Live Writer) and then cut-and-paste it into the app on my phone. It’s worth a try as I don’t have internet at home and I won’t often be able to come into work and use their wi-fi.
Until next month…