Thursday, 28 May 2009

Maritime adventures. Songkla whores who don't do teachers.

Snapshot

Well folks, I've been away from Blighty for 1082 days. 14 days short of 3 years. I left Geordieland on the 12th June 2006. The 11th June 2009 will mark 1096 days or 3 years.

2008 was a leap year so 365 + 365 + 366 = 1096.

Three years ago I was finishing my PGCert at Newcastle Uni, selling cars, planning ferry routes through Northern Europe and ensuring my camping gear was up to scratch before the dream departure. Two years ago I was drunk and sleeping rough in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand before exploring the local tribal villages on motorbike. Last year I was in the Mao Lin region of Southern Taiwan exploring the mountains and aborigines therein. I was just about to quit work before heading to the Philippines for 2 months where a ferry sank in a typhoon.


Today, I am working as a Maths teacher in a government school in Trang, Southern Thailand. I've just finished a lesson where we constructed pentagonal dodecahedron calendars from a net. If you think 'pentagonal dodecahedron' sounds like a nightmare, the actual class is called 'mensuration' which means 'measuring' and not 'menstruation' as I initially thought!

Long weekend - Yong Ling beach


Three weekends ago I headed to Yong Ling beach (on the Trang coast) with Joe and all the crowd from my local bar - Yoo Nai. We went there in Toast's pick up. Joe, Rin and I sat in the back guarding an unbelievable amount of victuals. I thought we were going on some kind of UN aid relief mission but all the food was for us!

Preparing vast quantities of food and drink to be loaded into the pick-up.

Since it was a Buddha holiday we had to stop at a temple on the way. This was a beautiful place and very peaceful given the amount of people milling around. I didn't really understand the religious side of things here.

Since I was the only white guy hanging around I took a seat near these charming old ladies who quizzed me on all manner of topics, i.e. girlfriends? where you from? you like Thailand? etc etc. Quite handy being able to speak Thai here!

When I think of monks I think of serene individuals meditating on mountain tops. That's why I like this photo of Joe walking past a monk on a cell phone! Does it strike you as odd too? As Bob Dylan would say: "The times they are a-changing".

These were two canny lads. If someone put a gun to my head and told me to choose a religion I think it would probably be Buddhism.

Look at the groovy orange outfits you'd get to wear.

While I was waiting for my group to finish praying I headed over to a small canteen. I got a plate of delicious food and was told it was free as I tried to pay! I ate my dinner with these impeccably dressed guys. Lush food for free - no complaints here!

From here we went to a shop where we stocked up on the most essential items - beer and whisky. We had gallons of the stuff and it was all drank over the course of the day - excellent. We explored caves, went skinny dipping, caught and cooked crabs. One of the crabs drew blood from my finger so Joe immediately BBQd it as a kinda revenge thing. I ended up eating the crab that hurt me but I was questioning the Buddhist morality of such an act?????

We then went to the beach where we explored caves, swam naked and watched a glorious sunset while downing copious amounts of booze. Thais are real party people and it was one hell of a day out.

Exploring Trang
The next day we decided we would try some different watering holes. I have been to most of bars in town now. I checked out some new karaoke joints called Osaka and Water Rain. The lasses here will come and talk to you but only in Thai!

One of the problems was that I had to sit on the back of this motorbike! Mai mee kwam suk - not happy. At least I got to fart on Liverpool though which is more than can be said for my illustrious footy team.

I went fishing with Stefan and his missus Cat. Good day but we had 'chok mai dee' - No Luck. We didn't catch a thing.

Work

I thought I would get a couple of pics of my students to give you an idea. On Thursdays they wear scout uniforms for reasons I can't fathom. Dress code in Thailand is very strict and the kids come to school immaculately turned out. They are so sweet too, they smile and 'wai' you when you're passing. The wai is the Thai greeting where you place your hands together under your chin - really cool.

Here's Matayom 3 doing Maths - they really love it - NOT! This is a typical beginning of lesson conversation:

"Puak kun chob kanesa chai mai?" Do you like maths?

"Mai chob." No.

"Mai sanuk mai?" Not fun?

"Mai sanuk." Not fun.

"Tammai?" Why.

"Potwa ber-a." Because its boring.

"Mai chai, kanesa ngai mac." No, maths is easy.

"Mai chai, Yark mac." No, maths is difficult.

"Kun mee samong kwai mai? kun kee giet mai?" You got a buffalo brain? Are you lazy?

"Mai mee pum chalad." No, we are clever.

"OK Dun nee tan ngan, tam hai mai mee ban haa" OK then, let's work now, you can do it no problem.

Reminds me of when I was at school wondering when I would ever use differentiation in the 'Real World'. It's kind of ironic that I am using it now, but only as a maths teacher - hehe.

My Friday activity class is public speaking. One weekend in August we have to go to Surat Thani and enter a public speaking competition in English - sadly, I am finding all this quite exciting.

I am also teaching a sexy 45 year old Thai teacher basic English conversation lessons. The first hour was spent asking stuff like: Are you married? Are you single? Are you free tonight? What kind of man do you like etc. etc. hehe.

I have to prepare some more mid-term exams tomorrow - Jeez. I can't believe I'm doing stuff like this. Anyway, I get paid again tomorrow so it's worth it! Yee haah.

Maritime adventure

Two weeks ago I woke up with Pat and we decided we would visit Ole, the Norwegian bloke I met when I first arrived in Trang. He's the guy who lives in a metal box at Had Yao. We arrived at 1400 badly hungover and Ole seemed very pleased to see us. He explained how he had to sail his traditional long tail boat 7nm west to Ko Kradan to tow a yacht back. He asked if we wanted to go along and we jumped at the chance.

Pat and Ole smiling as we guided the boat into open water. Ole said the whole expedition would take maybe 4-5hrs. We left at about 1500 with a healthy stock of beer and gin and arrived at Ko Kradan at about 1800. It was dusk but we were relieved to see his yacht was intact. He had towed it down from Phuket a week earlier. I did a little skinny dipping before raising anchors and connecting tow ropes. Everything was going hunky-dory.

Sailing out from Had Yao Saturday 16th May 2009.

Here's his new yacht being towed behind us. Beginning the return journey back home. This is when the problems started. There is never a truer saying than "Worse things happen at sea". First it got dark. The GPS wasn't working so we were relying on torch and compass to navigate. There were no landmarks or lights to lead the way so we were totally reliant on compass. Next the helm broke and we ended up going the wrong way for 30mins until we noticed. Next, the tow rope snapped - twice. Reconnecting it was a wet, time consuming procedure. Next the small dinghy we were towing sank and had to be retrieved. Finally a storm was brewing eastwards and we sat in awe watching the lightning strikes hoping they wouldn't come our way. Needless to say they did and we got cold and drenched. I don't think all the booze helped our situation!

We anchored his yacht in a safe haven and headed back to Ole's metal box. It was 0100 when we returned - 10hrs later! It was an adrenalin packed adventure and we were so glad we went. Pat and I were going to sleep in a tent at Had Yao but I had to leave for Malaysia in the morning and figured it was better to wake up in Trang. We were starving since we hadn't eaten since midday so Ole knocked up a quick ham toasty. We set off on the 1hr motorbike drive back to Trang.

We realised we had no petrol in the bike - I checked many times and could only here dribbles of fuel from inside. We were starving, wet, cold, exhausted and running on fumes in the middle of nowhere. We searched in vain for fuel but there is nothing out here at this time of night. By some kind of miracle we made it to Kantang - the only town of any size where we filled up with bottles of fuel. It was such a relief - we really thought we were going to spend the night sleeping in a rubber tree plantation.

Feeding an elephant

Visa run

I haven't done a visa run since I was in Taiwan. My two month tourist visa was due to expire and I had to go to Malaysia to get a Non-Imm-B visa to facilitate working here. I woke up on Sunday afternoon (exhausted from the previous day's sailing escapade) and Pat dropped me at the Trang minivan stop at 1400. I took a minivan to Trang and then a further one to Sungai Kolok on the Malay border. I arrived at 2130 and the border had already closed at 2100. I stayed one night in SK where I had previously spent the New Year. Up early Monday morning I crossed into Malaysia and caught the bus to Kota Bharu. I made it just in time to the Thai embassy. I had a pile of documents the EU bureaucracy would be proud of. Was it enough? Of course not. I was missing a letter from the Trang Ministry of Education. Bloody typical. However, the staff were very helpful and gave me examples of the missing forms to show the school. They gave me another free 2 month tourist visa and I told them I'd be back in two months to try again. C'est la vie.

I headed to my old haunt The Bunga Raya GH since I had to wait one day for my passport. It was great to see my old friends again. I went for a McDs since Trang doesn't have one and must say it was delicious. On Monday night I got a haircut where I got talking to a Malay oil worker who is rolling in it. I asked if there were any vacancies but he was keeping his cards close to his chest.

I then went for a beer and ended up in KBs only bar until 0600 Tuesday morning! Totally mental. I met an old guy who reckons he's been a millionaire twice before - accumulated it, lost it, built it up again and lost it again! Quite a story! Believable? Not sure. The conversations were in a mixture of Chinese/Thai/Malay/English. I loved it as I understood a fair whack of what was going on.

I woke up and went to retrieve my passport from the Thai consulate. I then went to the bus station to head home when I met Lenny. He lives in Songkla and offered me a lift. I'd never been to Songkla before so I thought 'Why Not?'

We took a taxi to Pengkalan Kubor which is a new border crossing for me - right near the east coast. We then jumped a 6THB boat to cross the river and re-enter Thailand at Tak Bai. My new 44 page passport is already down to 42 pages! We passed through immigration and found Lenny's car. It was during the 4hr journey from the border to Songkla that I discovered what an interesting bloke Lenny is.

Lenny is an ex-RAF Harrier jet pilot currently working as a psychologist in a hospital. He was in the Falklands and had many interesting dits to spin about his endeavours and exploits. On the drive up we almost had a fatal crash where we ended up backwards on the grass in the central reservation. I was shaking but Lenny was very composed. I asked if we should take a small rest to get our nerves back on track but he said he was fine. I reckon that's all his pilot experience. The crash happened in slow motion and Lenny calmly carried out all the text-book manoeuvres.

Songkla

We arrived at Songkla at 2200 Tuesday night - too late to make it to Trang. I got a room in a nice hotel and then went for a beer in order to explore this town. The first thing that struck me was the amount of Falangs here - millions of them - unlike Trang. Lenny took me to some of the gogo bars that Trang also doesn't possess. We hit some karaoke places where Lenny belted out some Thai songs (he is fluent).

Because of all the white guys here Songkla is expensive. One bar charged 240bt for a bottle of Leo (normally 70bt). I couldn't believe it. It was also here where I had the misfortune to meet a bargirl. Her name was J and she was beautiful.

"Where Hotel you stay?"
"Crown Royal"
"I like you. I want sleep you"
"Haway then"
"How much you give me?"
"Erm...........nowt"
"Keeniao. What you do Trang"
"Maths Teacher"

Suddenly a horrified look embraces her face.

"What's wrong?"
"I don't do teachers"
"Eh? Why not like?"
"Teacher no good. Teacher no money"
"Bah - you're a canny lass like"

My favourite nugget there is: "I don't do teachers"

Apparently Songkla, like Aberdeen, is an oil rich town and prices reflect this. This girl wouldn't consider lowering herself to a mere teacher. On further questioning she revealed her price structure.

Sleep with no sex 1000baht
Sex 3000baht

Who would pay anyone £20 to just sleep in the same bed as you? She reckons there are loads of Falangs out there who will - not this one darling - hehe.

Next morning I take a slow bus to Hat Yai and another minivan back to Trang. I had three days off work but some good adventures.

Last weekend

Was a total piss up. I spent a fortune, went to loads of bars and felt like someone had tried to kill me on Sunday. Joe ended up sleeping in my room because his missus had kicked him out. I had to wait on Cook (who is a cook in Yoo Nai) as he shagged a 300bt horror in a local skanking hotel. It was weird talking to the 300bt £6 beauties as I kept glancing at my watch wondering how long the stud was going to be. We went to the Gin Mor karaoke where we evacuated the place with our coarse voices. I am glad it was over. Pat had to undress me and put me to bed on Saturday night after loadsa beer and 5 bottles of Sangsom wiskey.

Pat

Talking of Pat, I am going to move into her house on Saturday. We have both been single for a while so I'm hoping it goes OK. I'll let you know - she's a canny lass - we both like our freedom so things should be OK.

Penang Trev in Thailand


I got the following email from Trev:

so far so good-i have a old hippy house on the beach 34$-a wanked out honda $3 a day- can find a meal for 1$ at the market so life is good. fat Russians-3 week ers from Italy- London foot ball yobs- some Germans so get up at 5am to get a place on the beach a few old backpackers- and o;ld men looking to pay for love-- lots of pissheads- so many fat chain smoking bar sluts,with bad tattoos who want to love me long time they would have to pay me!!!!!! heaps of lady boys--time to cull a few more 7-11 beach is nice see is warm. may head up to Cambodia next-play with some guns-all ways wanted to fire a RPG and blow up a water buffloo,stray dog-or small street kid 100$ well spent i say. stay well Trev

I was wondering where the hell he is. Turns out he's on Ko Samui. I can sympathise with him after my narcotics frenzy there last year!

Dad

My Dad turned 60 this month. That's canny aad like. Happy Birthday Fatha!

Toon


It has finally happened. After 16 years in the top flight, even Shearer couldn't save us from the drop. I am not surprised. We almost won it twice. We went to two FA Cup finals. We were in the Champions League beating the likes of Juventus and Barcelona etc. Good memories.

I had been predicting it for a while. Four managers in one season is simply ludicrous. The overpaid underperforming dross needs cleaned out. However, it's not all doom and gloom. The Championship is an exciting league and when I was a season ticket home and away regular it was mostly in the old second division. Still have great memories from those days.

It has given the kids a laugh here in Thailand. In the maths classes I had them calculating all the possible result permutations in order for Newcastle to survive. We then did the probablility of these events actually happening.

Doesn't matter now - wa doon an a hope wi divvent dee a Leeds.

Haway the lads!

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