Wednesday, 17 March 2010

One year in Trang. An interview in Klaeng, Rayong and a trip to Pattaya.

Trang AnniversaryI came from Penang to Trang for the first time on Saturday 21st March 2009. This coming Sunday will mark one year in this Southern Thai town.

Trang weekend


On Thursday 4th March I was all set to spend a weekend in Ao Nang, Krabi with my many female acquaintances. However, USA Matt begged me to help some students from a poor school in Nayong on Saturday. Reluctantly, my altruism acquiesced to my intense carnal desires and I agreed to help these poor souls from Nayong.


On Friday, since I was in Trang and NOT in Ao Nang, I decided to hit the sauce straight after school on Eric's roof. At 0400 Saturday morning I was still going strong. I have vague memories of singing John Lennon's Imagine before my body submitted to the effects of 11hrs of beer.

My alarm went off at 0700 Saturday morning and I woke, showered, shaved and dressed before realising I still have 45mins spare before I need to leave for Nayong. I decided to have a quick nap. I was surprised to re-emerge from my pit 5 hours later at 1300. I was late for my philantrhopic mission and had burned any chance I had of getting the paperwork for a special visa that Matt had promised me.

Suchat in his undies

The combination of being stuck in Trang with a hangover and missing my appointment left me feeling melancholy. I decided a beer would attenuate my feelings of guilt and stupidity. So I sat down at the station bar and proceeded to drink myself to oblivion - again. I went to Pri's before going to Nat's karaoke - the normal Trang pub crawl. I ended up sleeping outside the karaoke bar on a deck chair since I was in no state to ride a motorbike home. I woke to Suchat standing in his underpants smoking a cigarette, a chicken pecking at my feet and Thai country music blaring from the radio. Not the first things you want to see after a rough night.

Nat, Chat and I went to eat some Sunday morning brunch (if Thailand has such a thing). It was then that I realised I'd lost my awesome turquoise helmet after 6 months - gutted. I headed off to meet Cockney Mike who was watering Richard's plants. We decided a Sunday morning session was in order and Mike, overcoming all barriers, downed an impressive 9 cans of Chang. I was embarrassed with my pitiful 7 cans of Leo on a bright Sunday morning in Lek's jungle shop.

We headed back to town and Mike carried on while I went for a 2hr oil massage. I finished off at Pri's and Nat's before making it to my own bed at 0300. Drinking almost every waken moment from 1700 Friday to 0300 Monday does nothing for your health. I ended up missing Monday at work and suffering a two day hangover. On Monday afternoon I sat, sweating buckets, with Mike and Swedish Eric in a Nayong shop. I was suffering terribly as they shared big bottles of Chang together. I drank coffee and thought about trying to eat something after two days of food abstinence.

Time for a changeAfter that weekend I decided I need a new direction in my life. Although I love all my friends here, Trang has become stale. I've been applying for Maths teaching jobs all over Thailand and I've received quite a few positive responses given that I now have one year's experience underpinned by reasonable Thai language skills. Last week I bought a 623baht bus ticket to Bangkok for Thursday night. I left Trang at 1700 and was at Morchit bus station by 0430 Friday morning. I then bought a 155baht ticket to Klaeng in Rayong Province. I arrived at 0800 after a 2hr journey from BKK.

I then took a 40baht motorbike taxi to this school. I met the staff who seem far more organised than my present place of work. They offered me a coffee as I explained I'd spent around 15hrs on night buses to get here. They seemed satisfied with me and offered me a position teaching Mattayom 4 - 6 (Grade 10 - 12) Maths. This is basically teaching A-level Maths to 16 - 18 year old kids. The salary is the same as Trang but I get a free room and free school lunch which is a bonus! I left in good spirits having secured a further year's employment in these turbulent times. I then jumped a bus to PATTAYA!

Pattaya

Happy but tired, I left Klaeng at 1245 on a slow local bus and arrived in Rayong town at 1400. I then took the slowest local bus in Thailand to Pattaya. It took over 2 hours to do 70km. That's about 30km/h (20mph)! I took a songtiew to Soi Honey and checked into the Star Inn where I have stayed before for 300baht/night. At 1700 I downed a few beers and headed to the gogo bars of Walking Street. My current favourites are The Windmill and Baby Dolls. I strolled along the beach chatting with the characters who hang around these parts at night. Next day I ventured down Soi 6 gawking at spectacle therein. I visited some soapy massage places but didn't partake as the costs are out of my league. I had massages, beer, Farang food and ALOT of fun during my three nights here.

To think this place is only a 90km/1hr bike ride away from Klaeng!!!!! I hung out with old American Mike who was visiting from Trang. At 0830 Monday morning I took a 60baht motorbike to the bus station and a 113baht bus to Bangkok's Southern bus terminal.

University

I was at the Southern bus terminal by 1100 but the Trang bus wasn't until 1820. I had 7 hrs to kill. I decided I might as well turn up for an English Teaching interview at this University just outside Bangkok. After being offered the post in Rayong I decided I wasn't going to waste my time here, but seeing as I had time to kill I thought 'why not'? I went to the station toilets looking like Just-Had-Weekend-In-Pattaya-Tramp-Man and emerged looking like Super-Smart-Teacher-Man. The woman collecting the 3baht for the toilet did a double-take as I left clean-shaven, in a shirt and tie with a gleaming smile. I went outside to catch a taxi.

I hate taxis

I paid 300baht for the taxi because the idiot driver lied about knowing where he was going. He drove the wrong way for 20mins before I clicked. The real fare should've only been 70baht or something, but sometimes you have to legislate for people being complete utter fucking ignoramuses. We spoke in Thai and he assured me he knew the way. However, I'd temporarily forgotten he is merely a capital-city-taxi-driving-cheating-shithead. For the record, the bus back was 16baht.

The interview was a farce as I didn't really have my heart in it. There is no way I would want to work in Bangkok. The cost of everything. Traffic. Pollution. Where would I ride my bike on weekends? I also don't really want to teach English - I find Maths far more stimulating for the grey matter.

I caught the bus back to Trang reflecting on how different other places in Thailand are - for a whole litany of reasons.

The bus left Bangkok at 1820 and arrived in trang at 0645 Tuesday morning. I showered and went straight to school - exhausted.

Phuket

Tomorrow night I am heading to Phuket since I have another interview here. I have to do a 20 minute teaching demonstration to 25 * 12 year olds. Since I'll already be in Phuket I may as well spend the weekend there. I might even take a friend from Ao Nang with me. We can sample the delights and get ripped off in Patong.

Decisions

My current contract and visa expire on 31st March. I'd like to relocate and sample some different aspects of Thai life. That is why I am currently attending all these interviews. If I am successful in Phuket I will have to make a decision as to live in either Rayong or Phuket. It will be a difficult decision given the many advantages of each place. I'll leave this to next week.

These job interviews will have given me consecutive weekends in Phuket and Pattaya! Not bad! People save all year to visit these places - I could be living there! However, perhaps living in these places is not the same as visiting them on holiday. Still, imagine the fun I'd have on weekends.

Domesticity

I had my teeth cleaned and polished yesterday for £10. The last time I did this was December 2008 in Sungei Golok on the Thai/Malay border!

I also had my chopper serviced yesterday. (My other chopper had already been serviced in Pattaya). It was fully checked and serviced for £12. This included a new air filter, spark plug, engine oil, rear-light and labour. It drives much better today. I need to remember to oil my chain more frequently.

ToonThe Toon seem to be flying at the moment. Looks like we can be looking forward to thrashings from Man U et al next season. Well done beating Barnsley 6-1. Let's hope they can see off Bristol City on Saturday. Only a Keeganesque occurence could squander promotion now.

Language class
samam sameu yim - always smiling
non mai lap - can't sleep
glua - scared
song yokgamlang sam - two to the power three

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