Sunday Summary #12

Welcome to Sunday Summary, the meme in which I attempt to summarize the week that came before. This was an extremely busy week — virtually non-stop — and I still have quite a bit to do today before I feel that I can relax.

Not only did I start working at a new school (a three-week assignment that may turn into a permament position) but it is on the other side of the island. Public transportation and the road network here is dismal in the best of times; the recent landslides over several major highways has not helped that situation. As a result, I moved into a second apartment to save time and hassle in getting to work each morning. My first day saw a total travel time of nearly four hours!


I am now teaching five levels (!) of kindergarten at a temple school in the southwestern part of Phuket. My youngest students are just two years old (Nursery 1) and my oldest are perhaps five or six (in K3). I teach in Nursery 1 and Nursery 2 once per week each, twice for the three K1 and three K2 classes, and three times a week in three different K3 classrooms. My busiest schedule is on Fridays when I teach six lessons (four before lunch). Thankfully, the lessons are just 30 minutes in length. I am used to 60-minute classes at most of the schools over the past several years.

There is still a great deal of material to prepare and I have to be firing on all cylinders to not exceed my time in any one lesson. The only time I went over was on my first day at this school as my only lesson after lunch ran from 13:50 until 14:20. All of my other lessons had been top of the hour to the bottom or half past to the top of the hour and I forgot this last class was an oddity. I was enjoying the lesson so much that I didn’t even glance at my phone until 14:50 and thought, “Oh, I finish at 15:00.” It wasn’t until I returned to my office cubicle that I realized I’d been in there for 70 minutes! The Thai teacher never spoke up that I was going long.

I do think that I am coming into my own as a kindergarten teacher. Prior to last term, I had done the odd tiny-tykes fill-in lesson but never really on a regular basis. I enjoyed them as I did more and more of those cover classes but as a substitute you are usually given some freedom as to choice of topic to teach. Term 1 this year at the school in Phuket Town saw me teaching mornings only with a very odd curriculum way above the students’ abilities. It was difficult but I came to enjoy the routine and the cuteness of the kids. The curriculum at this new school is much more age- and ability-appropriate.

Despite the transportation woes, I believe I had more fun working this past week (well, four days as I started on Tuesday) than in the previous two-and-a-half years combined. The students were a joy and every one of the Thai teachers and staff, plus the Chinese teacher with whom I share my office, have been extremely kind and helpful. I have also met a fair amount of the parents already through performing the daily Gate Duty each morning and they have been encouraging as well. It really is a nice community surrounding the temple. I even got to watch a newly ordinated monk getting his first head-shaving on Friday.

A few words on my “office”: It is one of a pair of cubicles in a space between the row of classrooms and the toilets on the top floor of the school building. I feel like I’m working at the DMV or some other government agency! The children parade by several times a day and it’s a non-stop procession of “Hello’s” and “Goodbye’s” which I quite enjoy. It is one of only a handful of places in the entire school that is not air-conditioned but the Chinese teacher and I have already received several fans as gifts, so much so that we need to be careful how to aim them so as not to blow papers all over the place.

There’s plenty of room to work on lesson preparation and more than enough space to store my materials — a sharp contrast to last term’s school at which my “office” was a bench at a dining table crawling with ants because the Thai teachers left their food all over it. I am looking forward to decorating the interior walls of the cubicle. On the other side of the hallway are windows overlooking valley and the hills beyond (and I can see the balcony of my apartment when I look outside); the windows also provide a nice bit of fresh air and much needed light on the gray days that we continue to experience.

For the first time in a good long while, none of my weekend students cancelled their lessons so I had a seven-day work week. I doubt that I will have any days off during this entire month which is perfectly fine with me.


After the first day’s lengthy commutes, I was determined to make life a bit easier on myself so I ended up renting a second apartment a stone’s throw from the temple at lunchtime on Wednesday. The deposit was low and the rent is extremely reasonable (just 500 baht more than I am paying in Phuket Town). At the moment, I am only contracted to remain at this school for about three weeks while the assigned teacher recuperates from a broken leg. However, I have been told that if I still like this school at that time (and, presumably, the Thai teachers still want me around) that I can choose to make this a “permanent” position. If that happens, I may begin the process of quitting the Phuket Town apartment and moving all of my belongings over to this side of the island. I would probably seek out a larger apartment in the area if I decide to do that.

At any rate, I only had time for a couple of brief forays around the neighborhood. One evening, I walked towards the beach — a very pleasant but meandering walk through wooded hills — while on the second I walked far enough up the main road to discover a 20-baht shop which carries a wide range of household items at dirt-cheap prices (although I never found anything less than 25 baht). I picked up some hangers, a few plates and utensils, as well as a trash bin. The area is quite different than my Phuket Town neighborhood and I have yet to find an area occupied by the Thai families that I am used to. There’s an extremely busy (and dangerous highway right through the middle which divides it much like the railroad tracks in America that divide good and bad parts of rural towns. My side of the road seems to be the “Thai side” (although I need to explore a bit more inland to discover something similar to Phuket Town). The other side is the “farang side” — given over to tourist resorts, expat bars, and all of the other accoutrements found in party zones elsewhere. The prices of everything on that side is artificially inflated in a never-ending effort to cash in.


This is my first entry on any of my blogs since last week’s “Sunday Summary”. I hope to get an article or two done tomorrow as I have four lessons in a row during the morning but nothing after 11:00. I will attempt to finish one for the My Collections blog about an old philatelic passport (I am writing about every stamp included inside and it is absolutely full) and hopefully will start another “Stamps on the Tube” review once I select a channel to profile. I also hope to write an article about Thailand’s most beautiful festival — Loy Krathong — which occurs this Tuesday. I had planned to use some photos I took during my participation in past occurrences of this festival but I left my external drives back at my other apartment. Perhaps there are some in my Facebook account that I could download to use.


I still have a long way to go before I finish Sarah Pinborough’s Insomnia but I did read a couple of chapters early in the week. Most of my evenings were spent watching episodes of Yellowstone. My routine is to start one when I sit down to eat dinner each evening. I watched all of Season 2 during the week and started Season 3 on Saturday. I may double-up some nights this week as I would like to get caught up before Season 5 premieres one week from today. Friday evening, I took a break from the Montana cowboys and watched “Bullet Train” starring Brad Pitt.

I listened to a total of 928 tracks in October. The month started with a definite progressive rock streak with a number of early Genesis albums and live recordings played for the first time in perhaps a decade as well as some of that group’s various associated artists including Steve Hackett, Peter Gabriel and Brand X. I even managed to track down the sole album recorded by Phil Collins’s early group, Flaming Youth. It wasn’t bad at all! The second half of October was more blues based with airings by George Thorogood, Blues Traveler and Buddy Guy. This week, my player has seen one artist only — Warren Zevon (and, no, I did not play “Werewolves In London” on Halloween).


Will it ever stop? Actually, it didn’t rain in the part of the island that I spent most of the week but it poured cats and dogs when I returned to Phuket Town during the weekend. I got caught several times while traveling between various far-flung points — once while riding on a motorbike taxi but mostly when I was walking. Luckily, I found shelter each time. At least the water did not flood to the levels it did a couple of weeks ago. We did not experience any further landslides this week but they were not able to make any progress on road repairs from previous land slippages due to the constant showers.


FoodPanda is available at my new location (but many of the chains cannot deliver my way — so, no McDonald’s, KFC or Pizza Company whenever I am here). However, I have yet to use it as I cannot pin my location. The apartment does not have a street address that I can find nor does the building have a name. I have yet to figure out a landmark to use in giving directions other than the fact that two Daikin delivery trucks are parked on the side of the road there (covering the shoulder which makes it difficult for me to get inside most of the time). I suppose if I get something delivered, I can tell them to meet me at the entrance arch to the temple. As lunch is not provided to the teachers at this school, I usually go without. I went to 7-11 (a steep uphill 1.5km walk) to buy a hot meal twice this week and found a nice Thai restaurant nearby one night. The food was good but the cost was expensive compared to Phuket Town (too many resorts nearby, I suppose). When I went to my old apartment for the weekend, I got my favorite restaurant’s spaghetti for dinner one night (and tried their onion rings for the first time — superb) and ordered McDonald’s today while waiting for the rain to stop so I could return to Kata.


Well, back and forth. It is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, isn’t it? Last week, we were the closest in months to having Kanchana return to Phuket. It took one phone call to her mom to change all that. She simply isn’t doing well and LL misses her dearly. Thus, she will return to Buriram this week. The rains are finished up there so it’s time to repair the fairly well destroyed house and prepare the fields for future planting. Mama is older than my dad (he’s 87) and dislocated her hip a couple of months ago during the typhoon evacuation. As the youngest daughter, Thai tradition dictates that the responsibility for taking care of her parents falls on Kan so this is the only possible decision at the moment. I did get the impression that her older sister — who lives in the UK with her husband and daughter — pretty much ordered my LL to “go home”.

While I am disappointed, Kanchana is planning to bring her mom to Phuket for a holiday trip at some point. She hinted that it might be around my birthday early next month (with the school closures for National Day on the 5th of December, I could possibly have a four-day holiday if my weekend students cancel). LL also said that perhaps her mom would like Phuket enough to remain here but I highly doubt she would. She is a rice farmer through and through despite her not being able to get around much now.

Photo of the Week

Young novices out for morning alms

I hope the week to come is just how you want it to be. Cheers!

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