Thursday, 11 June 2009

Eating frogs before Wai Kru.

3 years.

Well, well, well. Three years on the road. Three years is quite a long time me thinks. The gestation period of an elephant is almost 2 years. That means if a randy elephant had conceived on the day I left home, it would've had a little bairn by now and perhaps half way to delivering another. Perhaps it's Thailand and all the elephants here that's made me come up with that ridiculous elephant/time analogy - although elephants do have the longest gestation period.


So today is my 1097th day away from Blighty since leaving on the 12th June 2006. I am currently sitting in a government school in Trang, southern Thailand composing this drivel. 3 years ago I was on a ferry from Aberdeen to the Shetland Islands where I camped in the middle of a grassed over roundabout. Two years ago I was in Chiang Mai about to head to Khon Kean in Isaan. 1 year ago I was sunning, swimming and drinking in the Philippine's beautiful Puerto Galera on Mindoro Island. Not bad places to be for anniversaries. Tonight I am going to get hammered in my local bar in Trang with my mates.

Frogs
Last weekend after dropping Pat at her work in Yantakao I went to meet Joe. I tried to take the Trang bypass but got hopelessly lost. I avoided all the traffic lights but wasted about 30minutes and a gallon of petrol in doing so (I'll not be doing that again). I evetually found his house and met his mate Ozzy from Satun. We headed north to Huai Yod to meet another friend Moz who runs a frog farm type thing.

Here's a lad chopping the slimy little amphibians.

Most Thai homes have a little bird hanging in a very decorative bamboo cage. Moz is no exception - he has dozens. Here's a pic of two of them.

As per usual, anything to do with Joe will involve alcohol. Here's Joe and Moz (right) and Oz (left) drinking Hong Thong wiskey. The bottles of beer are for me.

Satun

Joe talked me into going to Oz's resort in Satun province for a spot of canoeing. I decided to tag along but was having second thoughts when I saw how pissed Oz was (he was driving). More worringly he stopped at a shop and bought himself a couple more cans of beer to drink to "Keep me awake". Remarkably, we made it to his resort in one piece although I have a new close-up perspective on drink driving attitudes in Thailand. It was the same on the way home. You can basically drive in an almost unconscious state and get away with it provided you don't have an accident!

We were keen to quickly resume the boozing on arrival, even though we never really stopped on the one hour journey down here. Joe and I sat in the back of Oz's pick up enjoying the breeze with a few cans of Leo. Only Joe can speak 'pasa Angkrit' (English) so they insisted I speak Thai. This is all very well but I didn't envisage deep philosophical conversations given my amatuerish Thai ability. We did have a good laugh despite the language barriers. We did A LOT of karaoke while I missed the Kazakstan v England game. I went to bed, shitfaced, around 0100.

Here's insomniac Joe the next morning preparing for our intrepid 'canoeing down rapids' adventure. We drank more booze for breakfast before heading to a river deep within the karst mountains of Satun province. There are many beautiful rivers and caves around here. We spent two hours cascading down the rapids of some unknown river. I started to feel a little giddy at times. Any maths teacher worth his salt can tell you:

too much booze + no food = feel like shit

The calm stretches of the river afforded some respite and it was wonderful to lie back and look through the jungle to the blue sky. Because this is the Ban Nok (countryside or anywhere outside Bangkok) we passed some 'Sakai' or Jungle people. These people had a totally different appearance to Thai folk. They looked almost like Australian aborigines with their curly black hair and flat noses. Pretty cool to see these people in Thailand.

It all got a bit too much for Joe. The booze compounded by the lack of sleep and food conspired to create this tramp like manifestation in the back of Oz's truck. I had to carry the heavy bastard there. Ozzy purchased more beer for his 1hr drive back to Trang and I sat contemplating a gorgeous full moon as the sun was setting.

And here's an attempt to capture the amazing light of the dusk sky. The only downsides to all this was that I missed a game of poker with my other mates and I got a little sunburnt - 'mai pen rai' as they say here.

Pat

I moved into Pat's place 2 weeks ago. We share her small apartment and motorbike.

Here she is in 'our'? place. Looking a little too 'ting tong' for my liking.

I saw this impressively large arachnid scoping out my flipflops the other day.

It was Pat's 31st birthday on 1st June and we went for a posh meal Trang's number 1 hotel - I enjoyed this (mee kwam suk). We then went to Say Yes disco (pic above) where I could feel the base reverberating through my lung cavities - not really my cup of tea anymore! Am I getting old? You can't have a conversation, the prices are fucking obscene, the...........blah blah blah - you get the picture, I won't go on like a miserable old whingeing twat. Give me Russel's any day.

We then went for a post-action feed where Pat flicked me the bird.

We ate Grandma's hands (left), BBQ'd rat (centre) and 1000 year old eggs (right). It probably tasted like shite but I can't really remember.

We've recently had a puncture and ran out of petrol in between buying a cooker, fan and ironing board - how exciting! I also got to meet her boss Sujin who's a canny lad - he lived in England for a while. He prefers to be back home!

I recently helped out at Trang's nursing college. I actually volunteered for this given that I'd likely be exposed to sexy young student nurses!

Wan Kru

Everyday at 0800 and 1800 you here Thailand's National Anthem. It's everywhere - on every radio or TV channel and every workplace.Thais are a very ceremonial bunch. They love colourful vibrant occasions. Trang is no exception as I discovered yesterday when I attended Wan Kru. Wan Kru means Teacher's Day and it is where all the students prepare gifts for the teachers. It was amazing and you couldn't possibly conceive of anything like this in the West. I'll try and explain each pic a little:

Here's Ohm on the boat-like xylophone. He's one of my M3 students.

This is the whole band playing traditional Thai music. It sounds really good.

This is Ian (the almost smiling Manc), Maricel (from Mindanao in the Philippines), me (looking guapo), Sompong (the school director and possibly Trang's richest man), Rhianna (also from Mindanao) and Paul from Western New Zealand (or Australia if you prefer).

Maricel's a canny lass. She is the Science teacher on the English program and her desk is next to mine. We have become good friends.

After all the gifts were received we had to pin school badges onto the kids' shirts.

I decided I would have one myself.

As the kids offer you an arrangement of flowers, they bow at your feet! I now know how the Chinese Emporer must have felt.

The queues for giving gifts go on.............and on.............and on. Look how elaborate the gifts are!

Here I am with a fistful of flowers after about 3 minutes - and this thing goes on for about 2 hours!

These people are 'Le Grande Fromage'. They get the really good stuff - hehe! Can you see the ubiquitous monk's robes?

The kids have to shuffle along the red carpet on their knees. I have no idea why? Perhaps to remind them of their pathetic station in life? Some of these rituals I found a little hard to stomach - like shuffling on knees and bowing at your feet - but I'm a foreigner and who gives a shit what I think? Anyway, it's a terrific event.

More kids bearing gifts.

This looks like a firework. The kids put a lot of effort into these kinda things.

A line of teachers praying to Buddha before the onslaught of gifts.

A shrine with the Thai flag and a portrait of the King.

The woman next to Ian is called Raynoo. Her English skills are awesome in a comical kinda way. She's our secretary and regularly makes us laugh with her 'Raynooglish'.

The bloke on the right is Eric Hepple from Guidepost in Northumberland! I still look twice everytime I see his name written somewhere.

Comfy chairs near the shrine for the VIPs.

This is the rice pot and water tank in the canteen. You can eat as much rice as you manage
derrrrr derrrr derr derr deer rrrr I'm loving it!

Look at the spectrum of colours available. WARNING - the nearest tray contains rocket fuel, therefore, no naked lights or smoking within 100m. Thai food can get ridiculously spicy!

Here's Chinese language teacher Bao enjoying his dinner (or have we gone soft now and started calling dinner = lunch, and tea = dinner?)

Some quasi-Army lads refuelling before they go and get pissed and drink a pint of beer with a turd in it (if they're owt like the British Army).

Loadsa kids in the canteen.

I wish the kids would put as much effort into Linear Graphs as they do into dancing. Thai kids love arty stuff. Here they are practising a dance routine at lunch time.

These lads and lasses are great. they are the smartest 18year olds in the school. Luckily I get to teach them English and it is a pleasure. Look how much fun we have. SANUK MAC MAC!


This is Miao - our great leader giving a moral boosting speech to the frontline troops. She is the Head of Department and basically my boss. After her it's Sompong and after him it's the King (I think)!

Thai

I am attempting to learn to read Thai. So far I have managed to read this babies book:


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มานี มี ตากา มี ตา อา อา มี ตาอา มี นา มี งู นา มี ปู กา ดู ปู งู ดู ปู มานี มา นา อานา มี รู งู นา มี รู ปู มานี พา โต มา หา อา มานี พา โต มา นา มานี พา โต หา ปู มานี พา โต ดู ปูสีเทา ชูใจ พา สีเทา ไป หา มานี สีเทา ไป หา โต โต ดีใจ สีเทา ก็ ดีใจ สีเทา ไป หา โต ไว ไว มานี ดีใจ ชูใจ ก็ ดีใจ มานี มา หา ชูใจ ไว ไวโต มี ตาโต มี ขา โต มี หู หู โต มี อะไร โต เอา ขา ถู หู ถู ไป ถู มา โต ถู หู ไว ไวปูนา มี สี ดำ โต ก็ มี หู สี ดำ หู โต มี ปูนา มานี จะ ตี ปูนา ปูนา ไป ใน รู มานี เท ยา ทา หู โต มานี ทา ยา เบา เบาโต เอา ขา เกา หูชูใจ กำ มือ ชูใจ กำ อะไร ใน มือ มานี ขอ ดู มือ ชูใจ มี อะไร ใน มือ ชูใจ ชูใจ แบ มือ มานี แล ดู มือ ชูใจชูใจ ถือ อะไร ชูใจ ถือ โบ ใน มือ ชูใจ ชู โบ มานี แล ดู โบ ใน มือ ชูใจ มานี แบ มือ ขอ โบ โต ชู คอ ดู โบ โต จะ เอา โบ ใน มือ ชูใจ มานี ดุ โตสีเทา ดู ใบบัว ชูใจ แล ดู สีเทา สีเทา ชู คอ ดู ใบบัว มี ตัว อะไร เกาะ ใบบัว สีเทา มัว ดู อะไร ชูใจ ไป หา สีเทา ชูใจ ดู ตัว อะไร เกาะ ใบบัวชูใจ เกา คอ สีเทา เบา เบา สีเทา ชู คอ พอใจ มานี หัวเราะ โต มา หา มานี มานี เกา หัว โต โต ชู คอ ดีใจ ชูใจ หัวเราะ มานี พอใจ ปิติ ขี่ ม้า ปิติ เกาะ คอ ม้า เขา งอ เข่า เวลา ขี่ มานี ดู ปิติ ขี่ ม้า ม้า ตัว นี้ แก่ ปิติ ให้ ชื่อ ว่า เจ้าแก่ โต ดู เจ้าแก่ สีเทา ก็ ดู เจ้าแก่

Pretty easy eh? It's about a girl called Manee who has a dog. They see a snake and a crab in a field. The snake goes down a hole................yes.........its a babies book but that's how you start.

DAF

Are you a DAF? No? Sure?

This is Russel's term for stupid Westerners: Dumb Arsed Falangs. There are plenty of them around - believe me!

More bar-crack that stuck in my mind is:

Remember, we're only three meals away from anarchy.

This was from Shaun who isn't just a pretty cockney face.

Toon

Can anyone lend me £100mill? I wanna buy the Toon.

I'm off for a beer to celebrate my three year anniversary. In fact Irish Tom has just called me so I better skidaddle.

Goodnight Vienna

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