I will long remember the year past as one of death. While nobody from my family or circle of friends died in 2016, a number of favorite musicians and actors did. I was also profoundly affected by the mid-October passing of the King of Thailand, Bhumibol Adulyadej. Over the decade-plus that I’ve lived in Phuket, I’ve become a staunch Royalist and the death of His Majesty came in the midst of my annual courses with Thai bank staff members. Seeing their sadness, as well as the intense mourning that occurred throughout the nation, deeply effected me and I continue to feel a bond with Thai people that is difficult to describe to other foreigners.
As 2017 dawns, I pray that it will be a year of much happiness and light after the darkness that pervaded much of 2016. Don’t misunderstand me: there were quite a few good times and the year is certainly ending on a high note in that I’m in my first “real” relationship in around six or seven years.
My language school will be hosting an English Camp later this month for Sri Suthorn School here in Phuket. I get asked to do these quite often following my success with camps held at resorts in Phang Nga Province. This will be my first during which I won’t have to stay overnight. Spread over two (half-) days, four teachers will lead 240 students through fun learning activities the culmination of which will be interviewing foreigners on Surin Beach. These camps are always a lot of hard work for the teachers but a lot of fun for the students. Since this one will be held just a week before Christmas, I am going to suggest incorporating the holiday into at least one of the games.
Of course I will post photos once the camp has finished (and I have time to recuperate!).
This is my second year teaching at Piboonsawasdee Municipal School in Phuket Town. We are nearing the end of Term One and I would say that I’m generally well-liked by the majority of the students (with the possible exception of some trouble-making boys in P6 and one or two individuals in P3).
Yes, all the students STILL want to shake my hand whenever they see me despite my valiant efforts to get them to wai me in the hallways. After all, they begin and end the lessons with this form of respect and would never think to wave and scream “Hello” to the Thai teachers. I don’t think I’m asking for much!
But one significant change I’ve noticed just in the past two months or so is that I’m almost always referred to as “Kru Mark” (kon kru is Thai for “teacher”). While the kids address me properly as “Kru” or “Kon Kru”, I do hear them saying “Kru Mark is here” when I walk by their classrooms or see them outside.
Well, I’m closing in on that 60-day limit again which means it’s time for yet another visa run. As per the Penang Thai Consulate’s interpretation of the rules, I can receive one last tourist visa there since I haven’t done any 30-day extensions from within Thailand. As I understand it, this is the last of the three-in-a-row I’ll be able to do in Penang (and perhaps all of Asia).
Yesterday, I returned to a “real” job for the first time since Christmas Eve. Today I taught my first classroom lessons in six months and I was very happy as I walked to work. The guesthouse I’m staying in is twenty minutes away on foot and I enjoyed the stroll as it was fairly cool in the morning.
One thing you won’t find a lot of in my writings are restaurant reviews. First off, I’m much too poor to afford eating in “real” restaurants very often and, second, I don’t feel that my writing is good enough to properly make the food I enjoy appealing to others. But I had a great dining experience a few nights ago and want to get the word out on a nice little eatery smack dab in the center of Phuket.