This is Thailand

17 Sep

It’s been a not too busy workday, thankfully nearing the end of the week. We are closing in on the end of the semester in Thailand and will soon enjoy a well-deserved break.  As you may have noticed, the school year in Thailand starts at the beginning of May, still thickly entrenched in hot season.  It then cruises on through rainy season (still hot, but some relief with the rain) until the end of September.  We then get a few weeks hiatus until we come back to do it all again.

While it seems the teachers are more weary and the students more distracted, the end of the semester has brought with it a few unexpected but appreciated breaks.  A class cancelation here, an unexpected day off there. I am told the school where I teach, while well-respected, is known as “the fun school.”  In some countries this may not be the best of reputations… but in Thailand, with its loose ways and less serious bend towards academics, it seems it is a good thing.  It is not unusual to see traditionally dressed students adorned in make-up and flowers missing class for a dance rehearsal or a whole day of class cancelations for a celebration or event.

There is a phrase that I have heard many times from other foreigners living in Thailand.  It casually goes… “well… this is Thailand…(T.I.T.)”  And in this phrase, especially if you’ve spent any time here, you begin to understand or at least accept its wavy ways.  At times anything goes and the one thing you can count on is the unexpected. It’s not unusual to find a crooked mismatch of information and reality that to the “foreign western mind” might insight… frustration.  But the lesson is… to go with the flow… and to “get”… even if you don’t really get it… that… well “this is Thailand…”

A simple example of this is a Saturday afternoon just a few weeks ago.  The foreign elementary teachers, myself included, worked a hard, hot Saturday at an English camp for select students.  After a decent, but undeniably hot and funky day of work, we returned to our on-campus abodes only the find… there was no running water.  If ever there was a time that I wanted running water, coated by a full layer of grime and sweat from the day, it was then.  But you know what… this is Thailand.  And, this happens… and has happened on several occasions.  The water goes out, electricity, wifi… you name it.  The trick is to try not to let it get to you… and go with the flow.

In this circumstance… we did just that.  Our room water may have been off, but mother nature thankfully was providing us with a shower of her own.  While many things are unreliable in Thailand, during rainy season an afternoon shower is something you can often count on.  With the “faucet” turned on, I took my showering outside and just stood (fully clothed, mind you) in the rain and let the water cool me down, rinse me off.  I was soon joined by other teachers, a few attempting to actually shampoo their hair in the rain… which had a few complications of its own.  But we did it… and in truth, while definitely not what I would have “wanted” or planned… it was really kind of freeing and refreshing and set me in a better place for the rest of the day.

It’s mid-September and the idea is more fully and easily settling in that… Thailand is hot.  I was told before arriving that it was “summer here all year long”… but I didn’t really get it.  Arriving in May to a shockingly stifling heat, I was relieved when the rainy season crept it.  With a few cooler days, I innocently thought that heat was over.  But, while it’s much better now then when I arrived in May, a steamy morning or hot afternoon is never far away.

I recently taught “seasons” as a lesson for one of my classes.  It was worthwhile to note that Thai students have no experience of the four seasons.  While “spring, summer, winter and fall” may be the seasons to “us” and the ones taught in the English books… here in Thailand they know them as hot season, rainy season, and cold season.  The four seasons are really just a concept we teach them about.  Speaking of which, did you know that in Thailand it’s the year 2558?… Their calendar is based on Buddhism and is known as B.E. which stands for Buddha Era.

Wow, well here I am truly a world away.  Not without my western comforts of course.  A fancy mall and movie theater down the street, air conditioning in my room where I stay, near western quality grocery stores.  The internet too brings a good dose of “home” wherever I am in the world.  But still, as I wander around this busy campus where I work and live I am undeniably a world away.  With my sometimes frantic western ways, it’s still at least a little surprise to see the many easy smiling faces of the house keepers and other staff riding their bicycles around campus while I am often lost in my own thoughts or hurried business.  A lesson to learn? Perhaps….and Indeed.

With that said, how are things in whatever hemisphere you are occupying?  It’s always good to hear from you!

So long for now from my quiet campus home.  I am soaking in some of my favorite “western comforts” until I get up and do it all again tomorrow!

 

2 Responses to “This is Thailand”

  1. Unity Hartman 18/09/2015 at 03:14 #

    It is incredible to hear about your journey. Thank you for sharing such insight. I am inundated with deadlines and trying to manage 8th graders after working with older students my whole life. I miss home, but I’m closer to home than you are, and I’ve had visitors from home even bring me comforts. It is very Western here, and I have all of the comforts other than my car and family. I like football more now that I can’t just watch it with the family. I am happy for the new experiences and all that I’m learning. Latin America and Ecuador is a rich culture. The food is awesome!! Everywhere even the lunchroom is just fantastic. The fruit is great. The weather is great. I’m a bit daunted about all of the security and not having all the freedom as a woman being out alone at night. Everything seems to be behind a fence or security wall with guards. I get around by taxi and it is cheap, but I’ve heard horror stories, so I just try to be safe. I’m slowly picking up Spanish and am very happy to speak in English but hope that I can pick up more Spanish. Thank you for sharing, I really enjoy hearing your insight. Take care!! 🙂

  2. Mary Dewein 18/09/2015 at 22:02 #

    Hi Miss Thailand…. Sounds uncomfortable to me! But if you want to be in Thailand you just have to go with the flow!

    It’s in the 90 here but a cool down is approaching… highs in the 70 for a couple of days. I believe Autumn is just around the corner. Sue is having Halloween this year. She has all her decorations up for the big day. I love Halloween… the kids with their cute costumes, the good fall recipes… and Sue always has something good to eat.

    It was so good to hear from you. Stay cool…. if you can and I’ll write again. Really enjoy your e-mails and listen to all of the adventures you do. Have you given an elephant a bath lately? Toooo funny.

    Love u,
    Auntie Mar

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