Saturday, 30 June 2007
I work for 3 hours tomorrow afternoon as in the mornings I usually go and play golf or sleep in a little and catch up on newspapers and other stuff. I work 160 hours a month at the school and work 32 hours from home and I make more money from home in those hours than I do for a month at the school. I am looking at this very closely. I have sourced a really nice 3 story shop not far from my home and it had a fit out from a previous tenant and is in really good condition and clean and I would like to open a little extra study school. It’s just all the paperwork to do it. I spoke to my high ranking policeman friend from the park where I go running and he is going to talk to some government official for me and find out some details.
Then there is the number one man from the army base where I play golf. I have played with him 3 times now and he is a lovely guy and speaks no English. He told my good friend he wants me to teach some of the army men English on the base. I told my friend I don’t really have anytime but he told me they will pay me very well.
So at the moment I am a little up in the air about what to do. If I opened a school I would still need to teach at Assumption as you need a work Visa to work in Thailand. The problem is the work visa only covers you for your place of employment written in the visa and no where else. I enjoy the job at Assumption as the conditions are good and I actually enjoy the challenge of teaching even though sometimes I wonder why.
If the army base thing is a good offer and I could do it legally with a work visa and the hours are right then this would be a big chance of a go ahead but it will all come down to numbers and other things as well. I am really not sure what the army would want me to teach soldiers or maybe officers anyway. So this will all have to be worked out by October when my contract renewal is due.
This morning my lovely girl Noot went to our outside kitchen where we cook our sticky rice and grill meat or boil stews over coal. It’s too Smokey to do inside and I have set up a very crude table that I am going to improve, well that’s what I have said for 6 weeks now. I got the frame from a house on the corner when the people moved out. They said they didn’t want it so I took it happily. I am tight with money. Ha ha.
The dodgy set up.
Noot working hard.
I just need to go to the local hardware shop and get some timber cut to size and Bob’s your uncle as the saying goes. I have measured it all up and maybe tomorrow as now I am feeling inspired I will go and buy the timber and finish the outside kitchen. The big bag of coal costs 50 baht ($ 1.90 Australian or so) and last a long time.
Sticky rice is the staple diet of many Isaan people and is served with every meal usually. I like it a lot but I used to eat too much of it and at one stage was 104 Kgs, this could have been because of lack of exercise as well. Now we eat sticky rice 2 or 3 times a week but the girls eat it a bit more than me. Now I am back to 88 kilograms and will hopefully be down to 80Kgs by the end of the year. It’s good to dream.
Sticky rice cooking.
The sticky rice is soaked over night in water then in the morning you place it into the woven basket above a little boiling water and then turn it a few times and that’s all there is to it. It’s heavy in your stomach and makes you feel really full for hours unless you are a Thai girl and usually ready to eat again within the hour.
Taking a peek.
The finished product.
So Noot cooked for breakfast, lunch or known as brunch, stir fried chicken and vegetables and a bamboo soup with chicken pieces and we ate it with the very hot sticky rice. It was very nice indeed.
Then tonight I was treated again with 3 lovely girls cooking for their King ( I am going to get punched when she read this) Noot, Ben and Doy. Doy is from the village where Noot was born and is around 80 kilometres away from Ubon Ratchathani and down some very bumpy and rough roads. It’s near a very famous waterfall called Narm Tok Soi Sawan. Doy is a really nice girl and comes and stays with us every weekend as she is studying weekends at university for a certificate or degree not sure exactly what in her field of nursing. She works at a clinic close to the village and is kept very busy there.
So after the meal fit for their King was ready we sat on the floor as usual Isaan style and ate our very delicious dinner again. Doy and Ben had the TV on and one of those horrible Thai or Chinese soaps was on so I ate quickly and went back to my bedroom to watch AFL football on cable TV. Richmond V’s Saint Kilda.
Watching Thai TV. Argh.
Dinner was a very nice omelet and I am not sure what herbs were added but they came from out of the backyard, I know one was mint. A clear soup with mince and lots of cabbage and some vegetable and a really nice stir fried pork and vegetables as well.
So today all in all it was a very hard day in Isaan, just so stressful and nerve wracking. I often sit and think what all the rich people are doing but again I am sure they can’t be enjoying life as much as me. Ha ha
Well now there have been 2 reports on babies being abandoned. The first case sounds very disturbing and that the girl has plenty of problems and really needs some help.
The young girl had obviously given birth at or near a petrol station and was seen to be very upset and she was attempting to out the newborn baby into a refuse bin. Thankfully she was stopped and police came and took the baby and mother to a hospital and both are okay and not hurt. The mother has refused to speak to police and now the lighter side of a sad story. The police said they believe the baby is unwanted by the Mother. Aren’t we so lucky we have these brilliant criminally minded people protecting us here in Thailand? I thought that she was putting the baby to bed and going to and get something to eat or something, lucky I wasn’t investigating the case. Baby in bin.
The second case a man was inside his house and heard a baby crying. He went outside and in the back tray of his truck was a baby. This baby was around 5 days old and thankfully wrapped in cloth and a blanket. The man called his neighbour who has a baby and she took care of him/her until police arrived. I am so happy and grateful that even though this person didn’t want their child they didn’t leave it to just die like so many Thai people are doing. baby left safe.
I then read this story that was of real concern to me. Not that it effects me in anyway it’s just very sad and heartbreaking. It reported about a mass funeral for 47 babies and coffins were lined up at a temple for a cremation ceremony to be held quietly.
These scenes are becoming common and mortality rates in infants have skyrocketed. Most of the babies are victims of severe physical disorders and diseases from unhealthy pregnancies.
Official figures say that 55 young babies die each day or around 20,000 a year. This is the official numbers so obviously they would have to be a lot higher then.
The recent figures were unveiled by the Public Health Ministry during the funeral service for the babies to mark the end of their short lives at the temple opposite the Rajavithi Hospital. All of the young infants died at Rajavithi.
Some babies were from unwanted teen pregnancies and were born unhealthy and most babies die after being born grossly underweight, weighing less than 2,500 grammes, a standard set by the World Health Organisation.
This is usually caused by the poor health of their mothers, which stunts the development of vital organs in their unborn child. This also causes premature births as well.
Thailand’s infant mortality rate is worryingly high when compared to other countries. According to the ministry:
The rate in neighbouring Malaysia is seven in every thousand, eight in the United States and only three in every thousand in Japan.
As many as 23 in every 1,000 babies in Thailand dies within a year of being born. Doesn’t sound a lot but it is too many if you ask me.
One sad father on a dead infant said ''I wish she would come back to be my daughter again,'' she died after only 2 days of being born. His daughter died of breathing difficulties due to her bowel breaking open the diaphragm, a layer that sits between the lungs and the stomach.
The funerals were sponsored by doctors and medical staff at Rajavithi Hospital and nearby medical institutes.
Wat Apaitayaram donated the coffins while other people, who learned of the event, contributed money to the touching ceremony.
The hospital now holds funerals for up to 50 babies at a time every four months.
This is a very sad story but what can be done. There are many young Thai people engaging in sexual intercourse very early on in life. Many Thai people think its taboo and don’t talk about it with their young children. If a young daughter especially was to become pregnant at a young she would bring a lot of shame and loss of face to her family and would be treated very harshly by her parents usually.
Having a baby outside of wedlock here in Isaan is a very big No, no. This is why so many young Thai girls who get pregnant run away from their home as facing their parents and the shame brought to the family is too much for them to bore.
This is exactly what a girl did from Noot’s village. She was 19 though and she was promiscuous and was always here and there with different guys. One day she was gone and no one even her friends knew where she went. Some thought the she had run away as she had got pregnant but wouldn’t say that out loud and others were worried about the old married policeman she had been fooling around with and that something might have gone wrong.
Anyway after 6-7 months she finally rang her parents and then rang Noot one day and told her that she was pregnant and the saddest thing is that she is saying she doesn’t know who the father is. She ran away because she was petrified of her dad and what would be said when people found out, so the most sensible thing to her was to run away and face it later.
Sadly many don’t do this and they get abortions which I believe are a good idea and should be legalized here in Thailand and this would make so many backyard abortion butchers disappear who cruelly euthanize babies and some of the terrible reports and endless lists of injuries to young mothers from these unqualified people. Legalize it and bring it out in the open, I don’t see how Thai Buddhists could object to it even though they are against killing anything as part of 8 precepts of being a great Buddhists. Especially when you think of all the murders and rapes and drunkenness and so forth that is a problem throughout Thailand. That’s just my opinion.
Parents need to come into line with the 21st century here in Thailand and stop saying “when I was young”. Even when I was young things were so different then and that wasn’t a really long time ago I am only 35 years old. If the keep scaring the young kids with stories and threats of what will happen if they got pregnant then nothing will change and is only going to get worse with time.
It’s not as easy as give them condoms and tell them about the birds and the bees. The young generation needs to be educated on what young teen pregnancies can do to their lives. The massive effects it will have on their futures, the strain it will put onto their finances and so forth. I am happy to say that my school gave a talk the other day to kids in M2-M5 or 12-17 year old teens I suppose. The bad thing is it lasted only around an hour or just over and isn’t part of the curriculum I think. In schools in Australia they run courses on sex education and also use those horrible fake babies that cry and need to be feed and pee and themselves. I have read students reports when they have done this course and how much they hated the responsibility and strain that was pout on them by having to care for a baby 24/7. Would this work in Thailand? I don’t think so, but you never know.
So what I believe needs to be done is first parents have to change their attitudes, schools need to run more in depth sex education courses, The government needs to spend more money on research and education for the public school system which it funds. That’s just the needle in the haystack.
One other thing the government really needs to change is the disgraceful rape law for minors under the age of 16. Any minor that is raped; the offender can have all the charges dropped against him if he marries the girl. Usually this will involve the parents agreeing to an amount of money and then one of the fake Village weddings that aren’t worth the toilet paper in the toilet is done and the family is happy as it has money and the girl is left physiologically damaged for the rest of her life. This mainly happens with very poor families and there are plenty of them living on the edge of existence here in Thailand. This ridiculous law needs to be stamped out of existence.
A bus driver who raped a 14 year old girl a few months ago pleaded to the parents to let him marry her but really what sort of security could he offer them he was a bus driver making a minimum wage and I am sure he wouldn’t have had a lot of money to offer as a form of compensation. The parents said no to him and the law will deal with him and hopefully he gets a long time behind bars.
Well that’s off my chest. I feel better now.
Friday, 29 June 2007
Noot is a great cook too. Man she can whip up some great meals. I said to her this afternoon that it would be nice to have a good home cooked meal tonight and went of to the park to exercise. The food from the roadside food stalls is really nice and very cheap so makes buying very convenient but it’s just not the same as a meal from home.
I was on my way home from the park which is 800 metres from home and when I came to the entrance to my Soi or street Noot and Ben were just in front of me and the basket on the motorbike filled with vegetables and herbs. She bought a heap of vegetables and also pork and chicken meat. There is enough food to last for 3 days I would say.
So I ran to Big C to get a few things and then returned home and just started the computer when I was told dinner was ready. It was a good feast fit for the King of the house.
It was stir fried pork with plenty of vegetables in a really nice sauce. There was also a clear soup with pork mince balls and more vegetables, and to top it all off a really nice omelet that had tomato and plenty of herbs in it and was delicious. Served with fluffy steamed rice and it was a great meal in all.
I really miss this sort of food as it’s really tasty and healthy too. We always sit on the floor on a straw mat. We have 2 tables but here in Isaan country it’s how people do things and I actually like it more than sitting at a table.
Miss Noot had no university today and was bored obviously as when I came home today the living room had been totally rearranged and cleaned spotless. I must say I actually like the living room a lot more now than before and looks like there is more room now.
Well that’s about all for updates of today and now I have to do a few lesson plans for my private students that I teach at home tomorrow. It’s 11:55pm and I have maybe an hours work to do so goodbye to all.
Apparently J (The student) has lost it like this many times and this wasn’t just a one off occasion. I was told he has tipped desks over before and thrown books and ran out of classes many times. Why hadn’t something been done about his behaviour before I thought. Why hadn’t he school disciplined him if this is the case?
Looking from the window where J went out.
I then was told the absolute shocker. J has hit his female Chinese teacher before with his shoe, yes his shoe. She was trying to get him to do his work in class one day and he was ignoring her and walking around so she went up to him and grabbed him to walk him back to his seat and he has hit her arms to stop her grabbing hold of him. When she tried to be more forceful he grabbed one of his shoes and hit her. This is totally unacceptable. And there hadn’t been a thing done about this as the only points that had been deducted from his discipline points tally was from me and another foreign teacher. No one else had taken points away from him but he has done so many bad things.
Okay J does have troubles at home but I don’t care one little bit about that. In my classroom J behaves and tows the line or he will be out. J will be punished each and every time he does something wrong. I have deducted points from him every time he hasn’t given me his homework or turned up late for a class or misbehaved. I think in my second class I had ever taught him I asked him to stay in his seat at his desk 2 times and the 3rd time J got up to walk around I deducted 2 points off his total and sent him outside. This makes the class a lot easier to teach. Most of the time J hasn’t been too bad but he does have his days. Some are better than others obviously.
So I have asked to find out what is going to happen about his latest outburst. I want him to be disciplined and I want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again in my class. J didn’t attend school yesterday but was at school today and was very quiet in class and didn’t leave his seat once and hardly said a word. I didn’t say anything to J about the incident all I said to him was to be a good boy today and he just nodded his head. I give him credit as J did answer some questions during the class others didn’t know and got involved a tiny bit in the class own his own as I wasn’t going to push him at all if he didn’t feel comfortable.
Tonight I saw J and his mother at my local shopping centre and he came up and gave me a hug around my waste and I ruffled his head. I spoke to J’s mum and she apologized to me and then told J too as well and I said don’t worry but J “waied” me and said sorry. I told J’s mum these things happen and I understand with all the stuff going on at home would be hard for a young kid to get his head around and so forth. I also said that I want J to be punished though in some way as I cannot accept that kind of behaviour in front of the other students and she agreed with me. She told me the last 2 days he had been very quiet at home which was different but good though. She has a really hard job working fulltime and also looking after 2 infant children and a big kid her husband who would be 50 plus but acts 18. So I will keep the update on all the happenings as they happen over the next week or so.
J ran along here
Yesterday, I also had six (6) M5 or year 11 girls so 16-17 year olds who decided to skip my class at period 4. The girls were a little silly for 2 reasons.
1 was that they left their school bags in the room so I knew they were here at school. Also on the board outside the room which has written on it how many students are absent that day there was only 2 absentees. I asked their classmates where they were and the usual “I don’t know”, shakes of the head and blank faces staring back at me.
2 of the girls are waste of air. They are what I call oxygen thieves and just wasting our precious air. One girl called Eye is good at nothing. She is stupid. Yes, sorry very harsh words but so very true. Last year on her final exam she scored 8 out of 75 and that was because she was lucky and guessed some of the multiple choice answers. How did she pass you ask? Know students in Thailand can fail. It’s true. All students get a pass mark in the end no matter what grade you give them. She is absent very often in person and also in mind; actually I am sure that her brain doesn’t really function well as it hasn’t been used for so long.
Another girl called Bim can speak English okay but she is so lazy and absent a lot. She has tattoos on her wrist and forearm and also on the back of her neck and behind her ear. She too doesn’t listen in the classroom and often disturbs other students by non stop talking and many times has found herself sitting outside in the heat by herself so she isn’t disturbing anyone. She has a great personality and is good to talk to but in class just doesn’t think and doesn’t seem to care about her education at all. I know she’s a bit of a rebel and wild child as one time when she was in class some of the kids were teasing her about something and she was getting upset and I asked one of the boys really good in English what was going on and he told me about her having “Love Bites” on her neck but also other places as well as she had shown them to class mates. She had 4 big love bites she was hiding with the collar of her shirt and also makeup and to me I don’t care about this stuff it’s nothing to do with me but if a Thai teacher seen this and discipline found out she would be in really serious trouble. This would be considered a very bad thing for the school especially if people outside the school seen her in her school uniform with these marks on her neck. The schools name and image is every thing.
The other 4 girls aren’t too bad but were very stupid trying to skip class.
I was told in the end that Maprang and Kwang had gone to the school clinic as they were unwell. This was easily checked as I simply walked done the 3 flights of stairs to the clinic looked in the beds and checked the sign in book that all students sign when they receive any medication. The girl’s names weren’t there. They eventually arrived at the class 35 minutes late and opened the door and said “Excuse me, May I come in please?” I asked where they had been and there were students shaking their heads in there direction. Maprang said they had been to the clinic. I asked if they had signed the book and she replied, yes. So she was caught in a lie straight away. Some people spoke in Thai and then she said they went to the dormitories to get some aspirin for a headache, so the story changed. I asked them to both wait outside until the end of class in ten minutes. Maprang slammed the door when she closed it as she knew she was caught and she has a fair few points lost for bad behaviour this year.
Maprang on the right
So I finished class and the 2 girls were nowhere to be seen. I went back to the teacher’s room and hadn’t been there for more than 2 minutes when the all the girls showed up to plead their case to why they missed class. Bim was virtually begging me not to report them and told me she and Mint had gone out of the school to have a burn to her leg looked at and dressed. I asked if she told any teachers she was doing this and the answer was of course, no. She had one of the good girls tag along as she didn’t want to go by herself and was a bad mistake on her behalf.
The other 2 girls Eye and Kookkai went out of the school to see Eye’s brother. She had to meet him for who knows what and Kookkai went along as support and this was the wrong choice as well.
Miss Busaba spoke to all the girls and she couldn’t believe when they told them their excuses. She scolded them and told them they were all at fault and they knew this. She told them that it was up to me if I forgave them or went to discipline with the problem. They asked Miss B if she would ask me to forgive them. I didn’t.
I wrote a letter to the Head of Discipline asking that their parent’s are contacted so they know they skipped class. I also asked that my letter is replied to in writing informing me of their punishment and also the implementations or actions being taken so this doesn’t happen again with the girls (Bim wasn’t in class today). Too often these things are put into the too hard basket and instead of causing a confrontation they will try and pansy around and give some pathetic or bullshit penalty to the students. Well I have had enough. I want documentation of all this stuff so if it keeps happening I can then pull these letters out and it’s all there in writing. No more word of mouth of “yes, something is being done”. It’s being taken care of. I am going to be a pain in the ass for these guys and make them do there work and also make them stick to the rules and penalties that are written into the students code. If I am given a penalty I don’t think is acceptable I will state the penalty that was meant to be imposed and ask for it to be imposed.
Will it ruffle some feathers? Probably, maybe it will. Do I care if it does? Not one bit. I am at the point where I am sick of the minority of these really bad students making classes not enjoyable. I can do without it. My contract is due to expire in October and am I worried it could cause them to not renew it? Again I really cannot give a crap. I know that every other school is the same in Thailand but most pay a lot better though to put up with this type of shit.
I am interested to see what happens over the next few weeks and if I haven’t had a reply within a week I will ask what is going on and type another letter asking this. After 2 weeks I will type one everyday (well copy and just change the date) until I hear something. Who knows it might just work but then again this is Thailand and I will not hold my breath as I would certainly drown.
Here are some more picture from Dead Poets Day of my Year 11 and 12 students.
Mr Boom as a woman
Miss Aof in Yellow and Beauty in white
Miss Sai a very smart girl
Miss kat always very serious
Miss Ice from M1 in a lovely traditional Thai outfit.
Thursday, 28 June 2007
Ben is a lovely 15 year old Thai girl and I love her to bits and would do anything to make her happy. I wanted her to move into the city last year as her grades at her old school were terrible and she spent most of her time rehearsing and traveling around singing with the school. I have no problem with her doing this as this is what she really loves to do and I am sure is a dream of hers for the future to be a singing and dancing singing star.
I have attended so many shows and competitions and she went with her school to Bangkok twice last year to compete on a really popular TV show. The problem I have with her doing this is she is forgetting about her studies and these will be important later on in her life.
Anyway, she has finally moved in as of last night, she stays here regularly anyway so it won’t be a lot different except for more karaoke and Thai TV. Last night we moved in a small clothes cabinet of hers and also some storage and shelves for other stuff. We are going to buy a new bed this weekend for her and then the room will be complete.
I went shopping at Big C and Noot and Ben tagged along. I bought a few essentials and the girls went off together, this was bad. They came back with moisturizer and powder which is very important for every Thai girl. Ben then said she had to buy adabvjjd. Well that’s what it sounded like she was saying. I asked Ben to say it again and the same response come out and then Noot tried and she too made no sense. Noot then said in Thai about it being a fruit. I was like okay, whatever lets go and get it.
So we walked to the fruit and vegetable department and the girls started their search. After a minute they were happily hunched over a shelf looking at something. I wondered over and there the girls had avocadoes in there hands. I started to laugh and then Noot and Ben tried to say the name as it was written in Thai and in English and this just made me laugh more. I said avocado and then the girls burst out laughing when the heard the correct pronunciation.
I thought it was a little strange that Ben would like avocado and asked her in Thai if it was delicious and she replied in Thai not to eat but for her hair. I just went wide eyed and she looked strange at me. When we got home Ben chopped the avocado up and put it into the blender and made it into a paste. This was then poured into a bowl and some Pantene conditioner added.
Next comb it through her hair and leave for 10 or so minutes. Okay I know that you can buy shampoo and conditioner that has avocado in the ingredients but I suppose this would be too easy buying it and using it that way. That’s just way to normal and not the Thai way.
In between Ben doing her hair, my wonderful and lovely girlfriend was doing some homework on listening and writing practice. She has 2 CD’s that she was given from a foreign teacher at her university and she has to listen to what’s being said and then write it down. Now as you can imagine listening to some of the repetitious voices again and again was very trying on the nerves and then I was asked to proof read what she had written. I reluctantly did this and circled mistakes so she could try and listen more carefully and correct and then 10 minutes later I was asked to help again. This time I wrote all the answers to the mistakes for her and then I was left in peace.
Today I went to school and Ben stayed at home as she is starting school on tomorrow I think. I have had many conversations with Ben before about using my computer as she has downloaded adware or spyware and other stuff before which is a real pain in the ass to remove sometimes. She knows not to play games online from my computer and not to click on anything flashing but for some reason today she did.
I got home went to the park and exercised and then returned home. I turned on the computer and straight away I seen the screen background was different and then the homepage was changed to some Thai game website. I started seeing red then.
All of a sudden I had these pop ups telling me of viruses that had infected my computer. Of course these were the fake pain in the ass ones that say click here to download new hardware and remove the viruses and threats. Well my head blew steam out of my ears, nose and mouth. I yelled out to Ben to get the hell into the room and she came in all innocently and saying ‘What” in Thai. I pointed to the computer screen and asked what she had been doing today and she replied nothing… Arghh.
I called her a liar in Thai and she took offence to this I could see in her face and Noot had come into the room. I showed Noot what was going on and she then scolded Ben as well. I went into the history for what had been looked at for the day, game site after game site IP addresses were showing. I yelled angrily at Ben and told her that the computer was off limits to her now for a long time and she isn’t to use it at all not even for homework unless I am here. I will simply lock the router in my special drawer that I only have a key for and this will certainly stop her.
So Ben was upset and angry probably because of the way I spoke to her and also Noot is angry at me as I was not happy for the 2 hours I spent surfing the internet to find and easy way to remove the spyware. What was really peeing me off was the pop ups as I was surfing the net and then trying to remove the problem. They were driving me insane and I think I was on the shortest fuse I have ever been on since being in Thailand. I admit I let out some loud expletives that at the time just came out and would have been better if not said. I tried a few ways at the start to remover the problem that didn’t work and finally I found one that has worked. The spyware stops popping up now but the icon is still on the quick start taskbar. I will try and remove this later or tomorrow.
I was doing a complete scan of my computer that was going to take a while so I went out into the living room and asked Noot what she wanted for dinner and was met by a steely glare. Ben had gone to her room and locked the door. So I got the key for the motorbike and as I was going to leave Noot got up and tagged along. No words were spoken and I said nothing about the computer and just rode to the little roadside food shops 300 metres from home. We bought dinner and come home and I went into the bedroom and Noot and Ben sat in the living room. I just went out to the living room and Noots is watching Thai TV and Ben is again in her bedroom watching TV, I am in my bedroom watching the Australian channel and writing on the computer.
So did I over react? Yes, probably but I have laid the laws down about the computer before and I hate that adware/spyware crap. I shouldn’t have sworn I know that but I was so angry and it just came out. This still was no excuse. Was I too hard on Ben? No, I don’t think so.
What I should have done was probably locked the door to the room and just bashed my head against the desk a few times and bit my tongue and then no one would have been hurt, sad, angry or whatever else they are feeling now.
So it’s been an evening I wasn’t planning as I had different ideas on how to spend my evening and also what I was going to post but that can be for another day or maybe later tonight but now I have another blog to update.
Wednesday, 27 June 2007
In 2 years that I have been teaching English here in Thailand I have never had a student lose it like he did today. The student is in Pratom 6 or year 6 so around 11 years old.
Yesterday we had a celebration for Dead Poet’s Day and there were shows on in the hall for students to watch. This student I will call “J” turned up early in the morning for assembly and then when he found out what was happening he did a runner and skipped school. I know this as I spoke to his classmates who informed me that he said he was going to play computer games.
I know his mother well, they live about 250 metres from my house and she collects the recycled rubbish I keep for her and she often tells me about problems she is having with him at school and at home. Admittedly he doesn’t live in the best of scenarios, his father is an Expat and his mother is Thai. His dad is ill but doesn’t help himself as he is an alcoholic and is meant to take medicine subscribed for his condition but often doesn’t take it and when he does he is usually drunk which is also against doctors recommendations.
His mother has told me stories of his father not coming home for a few days and people calling her from bars saying that people want to hit him and bash him up as he is being obnoxious and this guy spends most of his time in a wheel chair so you would really have to piss Thai’s off if they are going to belt you and you are in a wheelchair. She also talks about other stuff that happens at home.
J isn’t abused; he isn’t bashed by his parents because it’s the opposite. They never punish him as they cannot control him, well his mother can’t control him and his father doesn’t care. J’s mother has told me of how he doesn’t listen to her and just walks out of the house on weekends early in the mornings and goes to the online games shops and plays games for 10 hours plus a day. J’s mum goes to the games shops and tries to get him to come home and eat but he often yells at her to go away and leave him alone or he just ignores her until she leaves. J will come home somewhere between 9pm-midnight on weeknights or weekends.
He only joined the English Bilingual Programme (EBP) this year. It was not his idea I know as J’s mum has told me this and it was because he cannot communicate with his father as his dad doesn’t speak Thai and J speaks little English. He joined P6/1 class and things didn’t go well from the start with J often not showing up for school and he blamed this on some of the other classmates teasing him and he was in tears many times so we shifted him into a small class P6/2 with only 14 students in it.
Again he seemed to be going okay but had missed maybe 5 days out of the last 3-4 weeks of school. He hardly ever did any homework and you had too constantly told J to sit in his seat and not walk around the classroom. I am very strict with rules for the classroom and J obviously wasn’t used to this and didn’t like this. He had discipline points deducted for being lazy and not doing homework and bad behavior and no matter what the consequences were they didn’t seem to deter him.
Well today I went to my P6/2 English class and J was there. I had all the students sit down and they said good morning and the usual ritual that goes on for a start of a class. I walked over and asked J where he went yesterday and some kids said some remarks which he didn’t like, some said he went and played computer games and J yelled out in Thai that his dad was ill and he went to the hospital to see him. I told the other students to be quiet and I then told J, I was going to have a Thai teacher in charge of discipline ring his mother and check that she knew he left school yesterday. I walked back towards the teachers table and when I was half way there I heard a huge bang and J had tipped over his student’s desk. He then ran to the door and opened it and went out. I started walking towards the opened door and he reappeared and slammed the door with all his force that made a huge bang but didn’t close and just rebounded open.
I stepped out the opened door and told J to go back inside but he was looking at the ground and didn’t seem to be hearing anything. I again told him to go back in the class but again he ignored the instructions. I then grabbed him by his arms and dragged him into the classroom and sat him down in his seat and told him in a very forcible voice to stay there. He jumped up immediately and started running around the room. There are 2 doors to the classroom but one is locked from the outside. He tried to open this one and then tried to go out the other door again. I was standing in his way and told him again to sit down but again he ignored the order.
In a split second he ran across the room and pushed open a window and jumped out onto the window ledge. This was on the Third floor, Yes, 3rd floor. Luckily it is an old planter box and he started to run up and down outside 3 different classrooms. My Thai team teacher contacted the head of discipline and he went out onto the window ledge as well and tried to get J back inside but he wouldn’t listen and kept hitting the Thai teacher’s hands every time he tried to grab hold of him. He was standing against the edge of the 3 story drop and the Thai teacher tried to get him to sit down but with no luck.
The Thai teacher called 4 year 12 boys down on the ground floor and they came up too the room. I had sent all of the students out of the room and to the hall until things were worked out. Two of the boys climbed out onto the ledge and grabbed hold of J and passed him the other 2 boys waiting in the classroom. J was obviously trying to resist but he was well and truly overpowered. The 4 boys then carried him down the 3 flights of stairs one on each leg and arm. J was yelling out stuff in Thai and trying to kick free.
J was put into a room with around 6 teachers and J kept trying to push past 2 of the teachers and get out the door. They had someone lock the door from the outside and J tried running around the room and then 4 teachers hold onto him and J was still trying to get free. J was mumbling and not making any sense, the teachers couldn’t calm him down and J continued to struggle.
His mother finally arrived and J still kept struggling and his mother tried to calm him. She said yesterday he called her early and asked her to come and pick him up but she said no and he should stay at school. This he ignored and went to play games.
Okay this isn’t an everyday occurrence thankfully. I believe that so many Thai students are so badly behaved because of the lack of discipline at home. In all the time I have been here I have never seen a child punished for doing something wrong. I don’t know of students having curfews or being grounded for doing the wrong thing.
I know that today is so different from when I was a kid but I wouldn’t dare do a quarter of the stuff Thai kids do. My mum and dad would have shredded my ass and deservedly so. I used to think my father was so strict and unfair but when I looked back on it years later it was a blessing as he taught me many lessons I didn’t know at the time. He taught me wrong from right, good from bad and so forth. At the time I didn’t see it like that though.
Here I believe that Thai kids really don’t know what is right from wrong as they are never punished for anything, usually the parents laugh and say never mind and off the kids go. I think parenting has a long way to go for bringing up children here in Thailand but that’s just my opinion. Again it’s not all students and young Thai people but a majority.
I don’t want parents to belt their kids or stuff like that but I want them to teach kids right from young, good from bad. Thai people are a wonderful and mostly placid race especially here in Isaan country. I love Isaan people and the area but there are improvements in many areas that could make things so much better for all people in the area.
Tuesday, 26 June 2007
From what I have researched Sunthorn origin was fiercely debated and even who and where his parents were and come from. Where he lived and so forth but I will try and give a very brief outline of some basics on the poet and the man.
Sunthorn Phu. The people's poet.
He was a boy from a common family born in 1786 and his original parents separated and his mother remarried and became a wet nurse for a princess and he moved into the palace with his mother and spent many of his early years in the palace.
He received a standard education in a monastery which is now known as Wat Sri Sudaram. He started work as a clerk in the government but writing was his true passion and this had been the case from an early age. He wrote a long but unfinished poem based on a story of Khobutra which has something to do with a mythical flying horse is all I can find out and this showed a lot of promise early on in his career.
He fell in love with a lady of the palace and this was a forbidden offence and because of their romance they were both put into jail. After he was pardoned from jail he left to visit his father far away, it was on this trip he wrote his first great poem ‘Nirat Muang Klaeng’ a traveling poem from what I can gather but after arriving fell very ill with fever, and had to return the to Bangkok area. On his return he married his palace lady they had a son togother.
Thier love didn’t run smoothly as Sunthorn was a heavy abuser of alcohol it seems that got him in trouble many times throughout his career. His wife had enough and upped and left him for another man but he had written about her and she too is now very famous from his works.
He wrote a famous poem about the differences that had arisen of his wife and himself called ‘Nirat Phra Bat’.
When King Rama 1 died and was succeeded by King Rama 2 who was also a poet genius and the new King saw a kindred spirit in Sunthorn and therefore gave him a position at court. He endowed himself to the King as when the King was writing his ‘Ramakien’, which is Thailand's national epic, derived from the Indian Ramayana epic. He often consulted Sonthorn when writing this Ramakien and promoted him to the title of Khun Sunthorn Voharm.
Again though in this good time Sunthorn again let the bottle control his life and he got out of hand. One day while very drunk he was fighting with his mother and an uncle tried to make peace but was seriously injured by the poet. The King was very unhappy when he heard of the news and put him into prison again.
This proved a blessing of sorts as while in prison he created a fantastic work of fantasy called ‘Phra Abhai Mani’ and was based on 2 princely brothers based in a world full of charms and magic and strange beings/creatures. This became very popular with the Thai people and he was able to sell many pieces of it in manuscript. While in prison he earned a handsome income.
The King Rama 2 soon pardoned him as he needed the poet’s services and again he became a royal favourite. He was a literary adviser and an instructor to the King’s sons. In this time he created many famous writings. It was also in this time though he incurred the wrath of the Kings eldest son Prince Jesabodindra who was also an aspiring poet by criticizing some of his work publicly. The Prince took this as a personal slight and never forgot or forgave him for it.
The poet found this out when King Rama 2 died and was succeeded by his son Prince Jesabodindra who became King Rama 3. The poet was removed from his title and position and ended up living as a monk for 18 years to survive but he kept on writing classic works.
King Rama 3 younger son took a liking to the wandering poet and took him under his patronage and wrote many more poems for the Prince. Again bad luck dogged the poet as the Prince died and his world again was upside down and he then ventured from place to place in a boat selling his works.
Again another son of King Rama 2 and the Prince took him in and used his services. This was Prince Mongkut who was considered to be the greatest King other than today’s Roayal Highness King Bhumipol Adulyadej Rama IX. He bestowed the rank of the poet to Phra Sunthorn Voharn, a position he held until his death. He continued writing until his death at the age of 70 in 1855.
So that’s a very brief outline of his life and the poet and person he was. There are countless stories on the poet and which are fact and which are myth I am not sure.
I personally think he appealed to the Thai people as he was not a royal or a man of title but someone who came from very humble beginnings. He had many ups and down in his life but kept getting back on his feet. Many of his works touched the hearts and also made Thai people laugh. I think Thai’s saw him as a normal every day person who made it as something. Well I hope that’s what it is and maybe somehow this day might inspire one hardworking not so lucky Thai student or person and they can become something in a Thai society that really looks down on its poorer country folk.
He is fondly remembered as The People's Poet.
Well that’s my little summary anyway. Some pictures below of the celebration in memory of the poet from my school.
Young Thai Kids
Year 6 Boy
Beauties and a beast.
More lovely girls.
Monday, 25 June 2007
Today they had a test on some basic verbs that we have learnt over the last few weeks and the 3 different forms. After I arrived at the class I enquired to where 2 missing students were and I was told in Thai that one had been involved in an accident on Saturday evening.
Now the young girl who was involved is a girl you can really like and at other times loathe in some ways. She’s fantastic as she has a personality and so many young Thai kids really lack this quality. She has a booming voice that can be very irritating at times but she does bring a lot to the class and often makes me laugh with some of the oddball answers she comes out with sometimes. This is great though as so many students are scared shi*less to say a word and you can hardly get a peep out of them. If you direct a question or god forbid ask them to read something, they go stoned face and start turning white like a Caucasian.
Ann is good as she isn’t scared about being wrong like many other Thai kids and I give her more marks for being brave enough to do this even when some of the answers are somewhere from left field so far away I don’t even know how they got into her head and out of her mouth. I would trade all my kids who hardly say a word for the year and just sit in their seats bug eyed and hoping that you don’t ask them to say or do anything.
Fowers and cake and biscuits from local market
Anyway, Ann was riding her bike on Saturday evening and wanted to turn right into a street and when doing so was hit by a motorcycle rider. After speaking to her mother it sounds to me it was Ann’s fault. She made a mistake and didn’t see or misjudged the speed of the motorbike and it crashed into her hard and fast.
She had 3 stitches in the back of her head just above the base of her skull and also a bit of bleeding from the wound and this was an original concern from the doctor as head injuries are so dangerous and can change so quickly and for the worse.
She has skin off both her hands on the knuckles and also off one arm and elbow, off her right knee and ankle area and also on her back. She also has a little off the right side of her head in the temple area. All up she was very lucky and has come out of it very well with only minor injuries all that can mend and heal with time.
The thing here in Thailand is many of these accidents can be avoided. How you ask? Well that’s easy. The police need to enforce the Thai laws that are actually written into the law. But this will not happen as Thai traffic police receive a percentage of tickets they write and if they actually enforced the law strictly and came down on all the illegal activities that take place thousands upon thousands of times each day here in Ubon the Isaan capital in the Noth East of Thailand. They would be doing themselves out of all that retirement money.
Police need to enforce 2 people to a motorbike rule, helmet laws, license laws, registration laws, speed laws, drink driving laws, failing to use indicator laws and on and on.
The most important of these is the license, helmet and more than 2 people on a motorbike laws. These I believe would drastically reduce Thai road deaths especially of young Thai people.
I remember when I was young and the stupid things I did behind a wheel of a car, drink driving, showing off to friends, speeding and the list went on. In Australia the dangers of me being involved or causing a terrible accident compared to Thailand on a scale 1-10 is about a 3 for Australia and a 10 for Thailand.
In Australia at least most young drivers do have to have a little bit of experience on a road before obtaining a license. There are very strict road rules and also it is very hard to bribe your way out of a ticket there.
In Thailand too many kids don’t have road experience, meaning they don’t have the life experience we have. When you have driven on roads for 20 odd plus years you have an experience that you cannot teach to young kids. You can tell them this knowledge but if they listen and take it on board and actually implement it is another thing. I can see so many things happening around, behind and in front of me. You see a car that is going to turn and it isn’t indicating, you see a car coming from a side street that isn’t going to give way, you see the car coming at a hundred miles an hour in the rear vision mirror and move well over to the side of the road, you look in you mirror and also glance quickly over your shoulder when changing lanes and so on.
Young Thai kids don’t have this ability. They don’t have this vision and I didn’t when I was younger as well but here in Thailand the risks are so much greater. There is danger just riding from your home to the local shop as anything can and will happen here with the way kids ride their motorbikes and people drive their cars.
On Wednesday last week it had rained just before I left for school. Now here in Ubon the roads do get busy from 7:30 am until 8:15 am when students are taken and dropped off to school. 2 intersections before my school the traffic banks up often and is usually controlled by a policeman. I was going along slowly this morning as road was wet and slippery and as usual many young students in uniforms who wouldn’t of had licenses whizzed past me. I could see the cars ahead of me stopped about 300 metres ahead and started to slow down. A young girl from Nari Nakun a local school went flying past me with another friend sitting side saddle on the back of the motorbike. Sure enough she was going to fast and came up on the stationary cars too quickly and had to take evasive action or she would have plowed straight into the back of a car. She locked the back brake up and steered left and somehow she missed the back of the car and luckily there wasn’t a car in the left lane at the time as she fish tailed the bike into that lane and it has thrown the girl from the back of the bike flat onto her face. The girl hit the ground and bounced a few times and skidded a short distance. She quickly picked herself up and her friend who had stalled the bike tried to restart it. She didn’t seem to have any blood coming from anywhere and only her uniform was dirty.
This could have been avoided if the girl who would have been maybe 14 or 15 riding the bike had a little more experience. But it could have been avoided totally as I am 100% sure she wouldn’t have had a license and should not be riding a motorbike in the first place. You can get a license at 15 for a motorbike but the bike has to be 99cc or under and most the motorbikes are 100-125cc motorbikes.
As for not wearing helmets I cannot understand for the life of me why they don’t enforce this law strictly. Do this for everyday for every month for the whole year. Enforce it and see what happens. I am sure it would have to save one or two lives and this would be great even if it was only such a small number of people. I know Thai people don’t seem to value life and you can see this when they operate a vehicle on the road. No value for their own life and even worse for other people’s lives. When the police write a ticket for this offence the people pay the fine there and then and hop back onto their motorbike and off you go.
In Australia you would be footing it until you bought a helmet or went a got one from your house. Same for no license it’s simply pay the fine then hop onto the bike again and off you go.
I know the logistics of enforcing this is probably impossible and why would the police cut off the arm that feeds their fat little bellies. What are a few dead people when there is a mountain of money to be made in bonuses and bribes? Again life is cheap here in Thailand but it could improve so much with some insight from a serious government that actually cares about its people and wants to have a safe and corruption free country.
These are only dreams that I have thought about and I don’t think I would see in my lifetime here in Thailand.
Sunday, 24 June 2007
I would have liked to take more footage but was dragged off by my other half. There around 40 seconds of stage footage and a minute of footage off the big screen. Cute Coyote Girls Shaking It.
These girls cause absolute mayhem with the guys. When the girls were announced to come on a sudden surge of absolute dickheads happened and I was suddenly surrounded by young pimply faced teens that stunk of alcohol. They were jumping up and down and bumping into everyone and were yelling out all sort of rude shit.
I am pretty patient but I have no patience when it comes to absolute tool bags and I am sure this is what Noot saw when I started to stare down a few of the young punks pissing me off and promptly came over and dragged me out of the chaos.
I am all for having fun and enjoying yourself but too many of these young Thai guys are just utter fuc*wits and I really understand why many Thai girls detest them so much.
When we were leaving the guards who were on duty for crowd control and these guys carry very big hard wood sticks and they need them and use them to control these young idiots who often go in their stupid and pathetic gangs and end up fighting each other as they have drank a truckload of bravo tablets and think they can take on the world.
This is one of the many reasons I don’t go to a lot of concerts or other things happening here is because of these fools. If I do go I am usually out of there as early as possible to try and miss all the shit created by these young guys.
Last year at the New Years Eve Carnival which goes for around 10 days I saw a group of young guys bolting as fast as they could through a crowded lane we were walking in and they were running flat chat and kept looking back. They knocked over a lady and a young boy of maybe around 7 or 8 and just kept going. About 15 seconds later some more young guys came running along and 1 had blood splattered all over his face and looked like he had been king hit. With these guys were about 5 guards carrying there sticks and they were out and ready to use.
This is the sort of thing that always ends up happening. I have seen fights at concerts and even in the Tesco car park when there was a free family concert on. I don’t know how they can stop these kids as there are always so many of them and they are usually pissed as or high as kites and don’t seem to have any fear or what the repercussions could be.
This is just here in Ubon and what I have seen and I am sure it is more than likely the same in other parts of Thailand. The solution, no idea but until something is done I try and stay well away from the young guys and when they all start turning up at an event we are usually out of there quickly.
Well that’s just my opinion and what I have seen and I know not all young Thai guys are like this but too many are sadly and into this stupid scene of belonging to a group and being a bad ass must be a chick puller but I don’t think that’s the case.