Daily Phuket #14: 9 March 2021 – Where Are My Students?!

Our heatwave here in Phuket has been unrelenting for the past few days with the evenings being the hottest period of each day. It just saps my energy and I spend long hours once returning home after work listening to music stretched out on my bed in front of the floor fan. My ceiling fan is currently broken (it shook two out of three connecting screws out of their housings) so my room feels like an oven most of the time. There isn’t any air-conditioning.

Today’s photo is of an empty M3/2 classroom. There are supposed to be 43 students in this class and I see them on Mondays and Tuesdays. Yesterday’s class was cancelled due to an unspecified “activity” so I had a lot to cover today. They have a Thai dance class during the period right before mine which is just two doors down the hallway but rather than coming straight over to their classroom after dancing for an hour, they turn left and either go into the restrooms or take a long walk around the entire school grounds before coming into English. I have repeatedly pointed this out to Thai teachers on the floor but they cannot be bothered. The students finally began trickling in some thirty minutes after the start of classtime and the room became loud and very few paid any attention. The CCTV installed in the classroom is not a deterrent.

When the bells sounded at 12:20 signaling the end of the lesson, I was nowhere near finished but most of the students began gathering their books for their next class. I told them that I would hold them since they arrived late and most of them settled back down to finish the activity. However, after just five minutes, their next lesson’s teacher appeared at the door and barked at the students that they were late so they all headed out of the classroom. If I tried that with any of their teachers, I would probably be fired on the spot!

If there are no further cancellations, I believe that I will only see this class three more times before they begin taking their final exams. I still need to finish the current unit and get through another, not to mention an exam review session to give them a last chance at some help. My afternoon lesson in M2/6, by contrast, was quite pleasant and we managed to get through all that was planned. I will only see that class one more time before the exams as the school’s Open House is on the Tuesday following next week.

After school, M3/2 was the class making and selling food in the student market. I looked at all of the booths but none of it appealed to me so I didn’t buy anything. One boy got really belligerent with me as a result, practically ordering me to buy some tiny pancakes covered in candy sprinkles (Yuck!). I told him that if he came to class on time, perhaps I would considered it. He responded with profanity and a gesture. Such nice. polite children at this school! Perhaps he’s just training for that infamous Thai “customer service”.

I took a bit of an alternate route on my walk home, taking me a block further up Yaoworat Road to Deebuk (it was so hot that I was afraid that I would fail the temperature scan at the entrance to Thalang Road). This took me past Looktien, a famous local food patio-style restaurant, and the (currently green) building that housed Phuket’s first movie theatre which was built around the same time as the first bank and police station, as well as my favorite nearby mural featuring the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. I came across a random bit of street art alongside the sidewalk that had a picture of Charlie Chaplin and an English phrase I’d never heard before. Perhaps it’s a Chaplin quote but I really don’t know. I took a dog-leg down Soi Romanee where I discovered a seashell shop that hadn’t been there on my last visit and took a couple of photos of buildings along the way. Finally, I stopped by the McDonald’s kiosk in a small shopping center near my home. They do not sell hamburgers but I purchased a pepper chicken sandwich for 69 baht and a large order of fries.

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