Once again, I have let two weeks slide between blog entries. Perhaps I should call this series “Bi-Weekly Phuket”! I have taken a fair number of photos recently so this is my first attempt to clear the backlog.
Before I explain today’s image, let me try to bring things up-to-date as briefly as I can.
Thailand officially reopened to vaccinated tourists on 1 November. Phuket had been open since the beginning of July and by a few days later we were in the midst of another large COVID-19 outbreak which shuttered our schools for the remainder of the month. Despite this, the “Sandbox” continued. At the end of July, SOME schools (including the one I’d been assigned to) began online lessons. This continued to the end of September (or, in my case, the middle of October) at which time the schools began their term break.
Unusually, the Ministry of Education decided to give the decision for reopening the schools to the schools themselves as many anticipated on-site learning would return with the tourism relaunch. Some did, many did not. During the term break, I was reassigned to a different school and am slated to teach upper primary and lower secondary in the Intensive English Program (IEP) at my favorite school in the province — one that is much closer to my home, by the way. My “new” school is one that has yet to make a decision for when they will reopen. They have not even determined whether learning will be online or on-site.
And so I wait.
Meanwhile, some of the schools that did reopen within the past couple of weeks have already closed again or went from on-site to online due to small clusters of COVID-19 infections amongst the students. In addition to the changing situation with the schools, there has been a major shakeup in the agency which has employed me for more than a decade now. Over the past month, we have lost our branch manager, the head teacher and the office manager — basically, the entire management team left. The remaining desk staff have had to step up and try to do some really impossible tasks (on a very limited budget, I might add). It has not been an easy transition but we are all trying to cope as best we can with the lack of work and not knowing what the future will bring.
Of course, Thailand doesn’t make remaining in the country easy even in “normal” times. One of the latest wrinkles that I need to deal with is their upcoming tightening of regulations for PayPal accounts. This will make it necessary to register a business in Thailand in order to use the service. All personal accounts are set to be eliminated in March (as per the latest news). I have had a PayPal account since before I moved to Thailand and it is how I make payments for such things as my webhost, Google Drive (for increased online storage), my Microsoft 365 account, and any purchases I might make on eBay. My Thai bank cards DO NOT work for overseas payments and most of my payees do not allow transfers from any providers other than PayPal. At least I have a few months to find an alternate way of making payments.
As I mentioned, I have continued taking photos for the past two weeks although I have not bothered to do anything with them until today. While my school has been closed, I have picked up a few late afternoon students at the agency so I have an hour or two of classes each day from Sunday through Wednesday at the moment. I have shot a few photos of my students in class and I will share some of those in the near future.
I have also been to 7-Eleven almost every night for the past week (after more than a month of not venturing near the convenience store). The reason is that most evenings have seen heavy rain and during the long bus ride home all that I can think about is a hot meal for dinner. I don’t like subjecting delivery drivers to this bad weather so 7-Eleven is really the only option. I have been photographing the various items I have been buying there recently (I have a great new favorite!) and will soon post an article about this food.
I had a “rare” hamburger from McDonald’s yesterday as I was starving while waiting for my students. It wasn’t rare in that it wasn’t thoroughly cooked but it was the first time I’d gotten anything from Mickey D’s since much earlier in the year. As a result, it tasted REALLY good (just the right amount of salt and even an extra pickle!). I used to buy the cheap-menu burgers several times a week when I was working out of our agency’s office on a daily basis. Back then, they were just 19 baht each so I would usually purchase two at a time. Sometimes, I would switch to the similarly-priced Pepper Chicken sandwiches. These all now cost 29 baht each. Big increase! It was just enough to fill me up for the lesson but I was hungry again by the time I was on the bus going home. I made yet another 7-Eleven run I got to my neighborhood.
It is no wonder that I am getting fat again…