It has been a fairly uneventful week-and-a-bit during which I have been going to work in a semi-holiday state of mind. April is definitely the slow period as far as education in Thailand is concerned as it is the summer vacation between school years. As the Thai New Year — Songkran — comes mid-month, most businesses close up shop as the entire country attempts to relax. I still have a few lessons each week with individual students as well as a business course on Saturdays but it is a very relaxing atmosphere at the moment. My agency will actually close down completely from this Saturday (April 13 is “official” Songkran Day) and will reopen next Wednesday. My student has already cancelled his Friday evening lesson (which happens to coincide with our payday), so I will start holiday festivities early. I do have some tentative plans for the long weekend but I will report on those in next week’s update, hopefully with some photos and video.
Greetings, readers! I’m (almost) back to “regular” blogging.
No, I didn’t fall off the edge of the Earth. I am just trying to recover from what was simple exhaustion. My 53-year-old body essentially rebelled against my unrelenting schedule.
For weeks, I had been looking forward to taking a bit of a vacation/holiday break at the end of the school year. That came at the end of the first week of March. However, on Wednesday of that week I was asked to plan for and run a two-week Summer Camp due to start the following week at a Buddhist temple school on the opposite side of the island. While we are normally given much more advanced notice for even the one- or three-day camps, I told my boss, “Sure, no problem!”
This is actually the second version of this particular installment of my “weekly” update column. I only needed to add a few images in order to finish one I wrote earlier in the week. However, I got busy and forgot about it. I decided to scrap it and start fresh.
Thus, this will be a very brief update.
I love to go out to eat in Thailand as it’s always an adventure. The best food is to be had from the myriad of road-side stalls, some of which appear after nightfall along random sidewalks and others are more permanent affairs in markets or other long-established locales. There are indications as to what is on offer at some of these vendors but I long ago perfected the method of pointing at what I’d like to eat as I often don’t know the name in either Thai or English. In restaurants, I follow the same method of pointing at the picture of what I’d like. Sometimes these have a number. If English is involved, there is guaranteed to be at least one big example “lost in translation.” Here are a few of my favorites….
In my summary article late last month — “I’m Still Here!” — I mentioned having accumulated a number of photos on the theme of unusual, unexpected or humorous things seen in the Kingdom of Thailand. It is quite common here to see things that leave you scratching your head and the usual expat response is simply, “TIT” — short for “This is Thailand”, meaning “No explanation necessary”. The countless misspellings, odd translations, construction misalignments, entire families (plus the family pet!) riding tiny motorbikes, and so much more become part of the landscape after one has been here awhile. However, if you stop noticing them altogether that may be a sign you’ve stayed too long!
I’ve lived in the “Land of Smiles” for thirteen years and nothing really shocks me anymore. There are still pleasant surprises and for those I am grateful. Nothing here makes me really upset or angry (anymore). The occasional “unfortunate” incidents are dealt with in a more-or-less Thai sabai-sabai (“easy, no problem”) manner and quickly forgotten. I was even able to laugh at my near-arrest (paperwork completed but not filed) for walking on the sidewalk (“impeding traffic” as I couldn’t make room for motorbikes desiring a shortcut rather than using the road) within a day or so of it happening. Most of the “TIT” moments I take in stride and many I find endearing and part of the reason that I love living here. I hope that you find enjoyment in them as well.
This is my tenth consecutive Christmas in Thailand and they keep getting better. While there were a few stray decorated trees to be seen during my first few holidays here, each year seems to bring more and more signs of Yuletide spirit. The shopping mall where I work has slowly been adding decorations ever since the giant tree went up outside just before Halloween. As I strolled through the mall following my Christmas Eve classes, I saw plenty of images of Santa Claus and Christmas trees with enough Buddhist symbols to remind one exactly where you are. My favorite Thai variation is that instead of Mrs. Clause, we have “Santy” who seems to be Santa’s mia noi (mistress).
There are two photo albums after the break – the first illustrates my school’s holiday party this past weekend while the second features photos shot around the mall last night.
December 5 is the birthday of HM Bhumiphol Adulyadej, the King of Thailand. Known in the West as Rama IX (the ninth king of the Chakri dynasty), he is considered to be the father of all Thai people. It is because of this that his birthday is celebrated in the kingdom as Father’s Day (similarly, the Queen’s birthday on 12th August is Mother’s Day). I I find it rather interesting that very few Thai people that I’ve talked with seem to be aware that their king was actually born in Massachusetts, U.S.A. Today also happens to be my birthday so I have a nice holiday complete with fireworks and candlelight ceremonies. Very lucky, indeed!