Moved to Thailand

Things are going OK here, finally have gotten busy with the course. My TEFL classmates number 10 now: 1 South African (the teacher is South African as well), 1 Scot, 1 Aussie, 2 Brits, 1 Canuck, 1 Swede, and 3 Yanks. Second week is over, it's early Saturday morning now and I feel the need to hit it hard today and get my lesson plan written. It seems like a pretty good course, written before 2000 with the needs of the Thai people addressed well. I'm impressed with the qualities of my teacher. He says don't overdo it, try to have fun, "...good teaching is about inspiration, not perspiration..." but I am just not there yet. Am feeling apprehensive about my first lesson as a teacher this coming Tuesday evening for Thai adults in some kind of real estate office in the evening. It will go fine, I just want to do the best I can. 

I settled into PMansion, they have a deal going with the school--slightly reduced rent on a studio for 6,000 baht for student referrals, so that is what most everyone gets. However, I opted for the 9,000 baht room which is same size in square meters, but it has a partitioned bedroom and all kitchen and dining items (supposedly). My cooking facilities were designed for a 4'-6" tall Thai. I'm 6'-2". I think the selling point for me was the cooking facilities and that it's on the corner of the building where there are two small windows on one wall, and one large window on another wall. As a result, I am able to get a nice cross breeze. Most of the studios just have the one large window in the back. $200 spent at the local Tesco got me everything else, like cleaning supplies, trash cans, food, floor fan, laundry items, the odd bit of clothing, etc. It's sort of like a Walmart. Mosquitos are not near as bad here as I thought it would be (I'm on the 8th floor), but I still get the odd one that came up in the elevator or however. If he only bit once and got his fill I'd be OK with that, but he has to sample all over my body numerous times, insufferable, and that means war. I had to get out of bed at 2 a.m. and get dressed, walk half a kilometer to the 7/11 to buy a can of insect killer and some repellent, walk back and spray the room. Hang out downstairs with the night watchman for 20 minutes while it works, come back up to air the room out for another 20 minutes, spray myself down and then try to get back to sleep. I'm totally onboard with the current ongoing effort to eradicate the mosquito from the face of the earth. 

I met a Thai woman a year ago via chat. We got to know each other a little on my December vacation, and now that I'm here she's turned out to be a pretty good girlfriend. I'm not a particularly good judge of character, so if I hook up with good people I often breathe a sigh of relief and consider myself a lucky man. She has been instrumental in reducing the amount of stress I'd otherwise have, helping me get around (she is an expert Bangkok driver), translating, watching out for me and keeping me occupied and out of trouble and such. I often feel grateful for her and her circle of Bangkok friends.

It's usually very hot here, and the route to school is along a busy road with dicey sidewalks. The sidewalks are shared with motorcycle taxis and vendors. There is one vendor in particular I have to watch out for, one of the shade poles on his cart is a bare-ended pipe aimed exactly at my eye level (safely above the heads of Thais), and twice I have looked up just in time to avoid losing an eye. Both times I've looked towards the cart, which was unmanned. I will try to be civil in pointing it out to the owner if I can ever catch them at home. You kind of have to be on your toes to dodge things like this. There are many holes, uneven-ness and loose pieces of concrete in the sidewalk. I'm learning I must be scanning all the time and have developed a degree of nimbleness. Lately I have familiarized myself with the buses between home and school, and I tend to take them now. The price is anywhere from free (a little beat up, wood floors, open-air) to 7 baht (same but air-conditioned) to 11 baht (modern and air-conditioned). 11 baht is presently about 37 cents. Were I to take a taxi which I do at times, it's about 60 baht, or $2. None of them go fast, the traffic is awful. If I'm in a hurry I will avail myself of the motorcycle taxis for about 30 baht and say a prayer. They ride all over the place, zooming between lanes so I can touch a bus with one hand and a car with the other, on the sidewalks, the wrong way along the edge of the road or the median, it's a thrill-and-a-half and knees must be kept tightly in lest we knock someone's rear-view mirror off with one of my stray limbs. 

I will probably stay here at PMansion only for the course, it seems unlikely I will find a job that is near here...but who knows? The lady at the front desk told me people come there for one night and stay two nights, 1 month, 1 year, then 10 years. Just came up from the lobby, where my classmates and I were hanging out and having a few beers after the end of the week, when we met one of these tenants. She has lived in this hotel for over 9 years. We bent her ear about two hours as she is a fountain of information about visas and working in Thailand, many of the things we want to know more about, and we are all grateful to meet her. There seems to be no lease here, but perhaps rent would be even cheaper if you negotiated one. Anyway, when I get a job I'll simply move close to wherever that is in about six weeks (fingers crossed). Of course I have no idea where that will be, this is a huge city. I thought at first I'd like to stay on the outskirts and away from the pollution, but who knows. It all depends on my opportunities. I may stay in the city and learn about it, some really fascinating things here. In the meantime will try to learn some Thai, it's getting old trying to communicate through hand gestures, though it can be fun sometimes: the other day I was eating some kind of noodle something. A bit of meat, bit of vegetables with some soup (normally about 30 baht/98¢), and the meat was gone quite fast. I tried to describe to the vendor with chopping motions to cut me a little more and dump it in my bowl. I promptly received a half a duck, chopped on a platter and covered with some kind of yummy plum sauce (I think), delicious and I ate every bit of it. All told, 130 baht ($4.23) and lots of laughing. A smile goes a long way here. Sign language not so much. I try to motion that I want a little bit of rice (nit noy), not a lot, and that invariably results in them piling onto the plate a little bit more. I mean, who doesn't want a little bit more rice in Bangkok? That is, other than a fat farang?

I had another bad experience with an ATM (first one was here). I wrote it up here on, have not received satisfaction yet. Seems it's my word against theirs. I contacted my bank who will be filing a "dispute". Not sure what else to do except show up at their customer service desk and complain twice a week. I found out about the Consumer Protection Commission--perhaps I'll register a complaint with them soon--this information from a very nice man, my new friend, Po. "O" pronounced halfway like a "U", and short. He is proprietor of a very nice coffee shop, Cafe Et Cetera a couple hundred meters north of the MRT Phahon Yothin in Chatuchak, I stop in when I'm near, sort of across the street from the Tesco Lotus. Both he and his wife are very gracious and helpful and speak excellent English, and he discussed this problem with me at length on several occasions. They have a pleasant, air-conditioned shop, very comfortable with good coffee and wi-fi, a couple hundred meters north of the MRT Phahon Yothin in Chatuchak.

It's pretty rainy here sometimes. No real flooding yet in my area.