Phuket Weekly 2022 #5 (01-08 February)

The first week of February saw a BIT more variety than the last two weeks of January, but not much. I did get out-and-about the evening of the first (the start of the Lunar New Year) to take some photos, my Sunday morning in-house students finally returned for the first time since December, and I taught my lessons from home yesterday rather than online at school. As for Thailand and COVID, the officials had been warning all through last month that further restrictions would be imposed once we hit 10,000 cases per day. We surpassed that this past Sunday (and every day since) yet now they are talking about removing all restrictions, including masks. I guess we need to learn to live with it but, personally, I am not quite ready to “go commando.”

Here are a few photos taken on 1st February, the beginning of the Year of the Tiger…

The streets of Phuket Town were much more lively on Lunar New Year Night than on Western New Year’s Eve. I almost got hit by several crazy drivers when attempting to cross the road using pedestrian crossings (currently a hot topic in Thailand as not even the police attempt to recognize people walking across streets; a highly publicized death of a doctor in Bangkok hit by an officer on a Ducati has brought this about — ironically, the doctor he killed was the one the hospital called when the officer tried to get his injuries treated).
The statue in the middle of the traffic circle reminds me somewhat of a similar object in the Netflix series “Squid Game”. A few close calls with near-accidents as drivers are distracted and people try to take selfies. Even the police officers assigned to the roundabout were too busy posing with tourists to pay attention to the numerous traffic violations. I nearly got hit by a motorbike that suddenly appeared from an alleyway going the wrong direction (with his indicator light opposite his actual direction). The driver was not wearing either a helmet or a face mask (both fineable offenses. The police were too busy taking selfies to notice.
Obligatory shot of Phuket Town’s iconic corner
Lanterns at Limelight. You can see a white SUV behind the Chinese lanterns. This was a taxi mafia boss who was parked on the pedestrian crossing with his engine running for at least the ten minutes that I was in the area. Every time a pedestrian would cross in front of his vehicle (no other way for them to cross the street there), he would rev his engine. I saw one foreigner bang on his window to yell at him (pretty darn dangerous, if you ask me). Yes, I saw some crazy behavior this evening.

Some of my students returned to take afternoon lessons from me. It was very nice to see these two, although I would rather not have to rush to the office right after spending all day at the school…

The girl (Mali) took the photos and applied the checkmarks…

The days were fairly routine with my P1 lessons covering the second week of Clothing vocabulary (things we wear on our feet and heads) and P4 taking a look at Jobs. The latter students are only 10 years old but now is a good time to start thinking about what they will do in the future. Through write-in answers on their quizzes this week, I learned a majority of the kids would like to become teachers!

Most of the week saw (and heard) heavy construction all around our school. Some of the students were to return on the 7th and they were trying to get things ready. On Friday, it was so loud from the various jackhammers, drills and other sounds that I could barely teach — I couldn’t hear my students at all (even with the headphones on) and they had difficulty hearing me. The crew pictured below were trying to put some sort of cage over a third-floor window right outside the door to our office. It is due to this noise (and the volume at which one of the other teachers conducts his online classes) that I requested to teach from home for a couple of days this week; I was shocked when they allowed me to do so…

During the week — whenever I had a bit of free time — I worked towards completing my illustrated list of ALL stamps issued in January. I had published “Part One” on 31 January and was finally finished with “Part Two” this past Saturday. I plan to do something similar for each month this year on my Philatelic Pursuits site. There are always plenty of new stamps that I simply do no have time to write long articles about so this is my solution to cover them all in an easier format…

Saturday afternoon saw me creating my first online quizzes using Google Forms. It is fairly easy although I found that I would still have to manually grade those answers requiring written answers as Google marks wrong almost everything. Multiple choice questions are no problem at all. I wanted to get some assessments out of the way before my students return to on-site learning (most are currently scheduled to come back on the 14th).

Monday afternoon, I arrived at my agency’s offices early enough to have my first McDonald’s meal of 2022 before my student arrived. The double cheeseburger, fries and Coke tasted really, really good!

Tuesday, I taught from home and will do so again today. It was just too noisy in the office to teach online from there on Monday with continuing construction and a fellow teacher screaming to be heard (he’s loud on a “normal” day). I have five lessons on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and since the students are doing quizzes this week, I wanted there to be minimal background noise for a more relaxed atmosphere. It was pretty hot in my apartment yesterday and my chair is fairly uncomfortable but I got through it, aided by soda in the fridge. I will return to school on Thursday mostly because I need to teach an in-house lesson at my agency afterwards.

Also during the first week of February, I finished reading Shangri-La by Christopher Cartwright (just okay) and began The Cowboy and the Cossack by Clair Huffaker (pretty good, so far). I have listened to a lot of Gazpacho (a progressive rock band from Norway) as well as Marillion (a long-time favorite who just released a great new single, “Murder Machines”, that directly references the pandemic).

I think I will go back to a Saturday posting schedule for these weekly updates as that seems more “normal”. As it is, I woke up very early this morning (Wednesday) as it popped in my head that it had been a while since I wrote a “Phuket Weekly” and thought I had better just do it before I forgot! Now it is a quarter ’til six and I will go back to sleep for a while. My first lesson today is at 9:50…

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