Week 9: My final week at CTC

The last week of school. What a sad thought! I can’t believe it has all gone by so quickly. But although I’m sad to leave, I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family, and especially my dogs. I never thought I’d say it, but I think I’m looking forward to this next chapter of my life; internship and job searching. It’s all rather uncertain and exciting!

Monday:

I had the blues on Monday morning; I was exhausted and felt like I was coming down with the flu, a feeling that did not combine well with the general sadness associated with the final week at school.

I had my class with Joel in the morning; the students mainly finished off some exercises on the topic of special days such, answering questions about New Year and Halloween, and while they did that Joel and I just chatted away about different traditional holidays. Songkran is the holiday where the Thai people celebrate New Year; it’s known by tourists as the water festival where all the locals just start throwing water over each other. I’m desperate to return to Thailand once more and make sure I’m in the country in April for the Songkran festivities. It’s meant to be one of the most incredible cultural experiences. But I’ve also been told that April is the hottest month; like 44 degrees, burning off the skin in seconds, hot. No wonder they throw water over each other!

In the afternoon I had my lesson with James and I’d spent half an hour in the morning making a sentence game for the class. I wrote out ten sentences and left out a couple of verbs to test their use of ‘s’, ‘ies’ and ‘es’. But I had a few hiccups upon arrival in class; James, who usually provides the white board pens, only had one pen in his pencil case and it was virtually inkless. So he disappeared in search of pens and ink, so I had to do a bit of stalling. Eventually we got ourselves organised. The first few sentences were a bit forced; they had no recollection of the rule for singular/plural subjects. James, helpfully translating, explained it a couple of times and eventually the penny dropped. Nothing sucks the fun out of a game more than when no one can get the answers right.

Supalak took some photos with Beth and I, which I managed to steal after some serious Facebook stalking; seeing them makes me feel very sad for the end of the week. Definitely going to miss the IEP gals…

Love these faces

Love these faces

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Tuesday:                              

I don’t have class until 12.30 on Tuesdays so I spent most of the morning editing my CV in eager preparation of my return home. I also had a gruelling wait until 11.30 to have lunch as Beth had a lesson. It’s ridiculous; at the beginning of the project I found the idea of having lunch at 10.30 completely absurd. But now, if my lunch is even one minute past 10.30 it just feels wrong. I feel like a changed woman! I’ve also started to realise that I won’t be eating at Happy’s for much longer, so, despite my hunger, I tried to slowly savour my Kapow Moo Sap (minced pork with chilli and basil).

After lunch I had my IEP lesson with Joel and we completed the family topic by getting the students to draw their own family trees. The results proved quite interesting; some trees were quite small, whereas some others (like Supalak’s) were huge and consisted of 12 siblings. Who in hell would have a dozen children?!? It’s madness! Supalak even had to ring up her father to find out some of their names. Clearly there’s too many to keep count. I thought my Dad’s family was big with 7 siblings, but Supalak definitely beats me with this one.

After school Beth and I headed over to Khao Sahn to meet up with Dave. It was so weird; I hadn’t seen him for ruddy weeks, I think its the longest we’ve been apart haha! Once Beth and Dave booked their train to Koh Tao we hopped in a tuk tuk and headed to Bangkok’s China Town. Hannah and Angie couldn’t stop chatting about it when they went, so Beth and I have been eager to go ever since. It was a little overwhelming; there were sooo many restaurants, street and formal style, and it was rather hard to pin once place down. I ended up getting some yummy crispy duck noodles with spring onions, and I also got some pork and shrimp dumplings, called Dragon Eyes. Dave was tempted to get the shark fin soup, but at the price of 2,000 baht he decided to give it a miss.

China Town

China Town

Wednesday:

In the morning I had my two hour lesson with Hannah. Over the last week or so we’d both been drawing out story boards for the students, putting out art skills to the test, and Hannah brought one of hers out for the class. She’d drawn a pretty epic cartoon about ‘Jerry the Gangster’; Jerry loved watching gangster movies and wanted to be a gangster so that he could get a pretty girlfriend and drive fast cars. But Jerry accidentally shot himself in the foot with his. Oh, Jerry! The lesson was orientated around the cartoon strip; they had to describe the pictures, fill in the blanks, etc. Hannah decided to keep the 5/6 cartoon story boards that I’d drawn for Thursday’s lesson, so that she could give the students a speaking test. To be honest, I wouldn’t have minded if she didn’t use them at all. They were absolutely terrible. Cartoons are not my forte!

After Hannah’s class I had my IEP lesson with Nick, my favourite class. We played popcorn again, but we were using the first chapter of Harry Potter: the Philosopher’s Stone. Of course Nick dumbed it down a little so it wasn’t as difficult. I lead the popcorn game and got all the students to join in with the reading; afterwards the students answered several question about the text, and answered the question in past tense. We also went through all the past tense verbs; this is always a test for Nick and myself. We both nervously go through the paragraphs and compare each others answers. We hardly ever get the same number. There are so many confuses adjectives that look like verbs. Urgghh. Why is English so confusing sometimes?!?!

In the afternoon Hannah, Beth and I took our usual trip to Central. We got noodle soup at the street food court before heading into the mall to do a little bit of shopping. Beth had to get the rest of her present for Jurin and I needed to subtly buy some thank you cards without Hannah noticing. I think I succeeded. We also made a cheeky visit to the Krispy Kreme’s counter and purchased to dozen donuts to bring into the office on Thursday. A very unavoidably unsubtle purchase that I couldn’t disguise from Hannah. Afterwards we bought tickets to see Third Person, a new drama featuring Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis and James Franko. I hadn’t actually heard of it, Hannah simply said it was about three interlocking love stories set in three different cities. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it by giving away the central twist. I did enjoyed it (I love Kunis and Franko), and yet I wasn’t completely blown away. But I’m no film critic.

Thursday:

I don’t usually have any lessons on Thursday morning but I snuck into Nick’s IEP class; I didn’t want to miss the next section of Harry Potter. Loads of the students came to school really late because of the traffic and Nick was planning on giving them a little quiz, so we waited ten minutes for the kids to arrive and just sat chatting to Supalak, Duangjai and Pornpan. The students took a little test on past tense verbs, which, from my over-the-shoulder observations, they seemed to understand pretty well. Afterwards, we gave the class the option of a game or more of Harry Potter reading, and rather unexpectedly they begged for more Harry P. I never thought they’d turn down the option of a game. I’d been proved wrong! So we played some more Popcorn. And they loved it!

After lunch I had my class with Hannah. It was speaking quiz day and my cartoons were being put to the test. While Hannah snuck the students into the office for the quiz, I held down the fort with a crossword on ‘Jerry the Gangster’ vocabulary and several rounds of Hangman. I tried to mix Hangman up this time; instead of me being in control, thinking of the words, I wrote down some categories and gave the students the power to think up their own words. At first they were a bit shy. But by the end they were fighting over the marker for a go. It was such good fun!

The remnants of the two dozen donuts at 12. pm

The remnants of the two dozen donuts at 12. pm

The rest of the afternoon kind of slipped away from of us from then on. Next minute it was 3.30 pm; time to quickly go home and finish packing away my life. I left the school feeling rather conflicted; it almost seemed that a weight lifted off my shoulders, but at the same time I hated the thought of leaving CTC, all our friends and memories.

At 5 pm we met back at Angie’s flat for the staff farewell party. We even got Wei, the shy Chinese teacher, to join in on the fun. We had planned to go to Fatty’s, the bar which Nick works in part-time, which Beth and I were all for when he heard about how delicious there food is. It took us a hell of a while to get there though; we took a taxi to a nearby canal, then took the boat for 20 minutes before hopping on the MRT. Then when we thought we were nearly there, we had to walk another 15 minutes, in the heat. But don’t worry, it was all worth it in the end.

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Canal cruising

Oh my god. The food was incredible. Nick went ahead and ordered us a selection of appertisers; jalapeno poppers and deep fried four cheese ravioli. We were kind of going all out as Joel had some money from Korawik, and Noi had some money from the department to cover the evening. After the delicious starters I had the cream cheese burger; a big melting juicy beef patty, covered in a slab of cream cheese and then coated in jalepeno peppers. It literally fell apart in my mouth. Oh, so heavenly! After dinner the drinking continued; by 7.30 Joel was absolutely battered, we’re all quite sure that he was sick in the bar’s bathroom sink. There’s always somebody! Everyone got a little bit mushy the later it became, especially after Beth and I gave out our little thank you cards. It was all hugs and kisses and what not.Very sweet. Jill was even inviting Beth, Hannah and I to her house for her birthday in April; appaz the word on the street she can get the flights for free and put us up for free too. Sounds like I’ve got my Easter holiday sorted!! Oh, wait… Do you still get those when your a proper working adult person?

By 1 am Wei was almost asleep on the sofa, not from alcohol but from boredom. Joel on the other hand was passed out from his liquid dinner consumption. So we decided to make a move. James proved to be very entertaining in the taxi back to CTC; he wouldn’t stop demanding dance songs from the taxi driver and spent the entire journey thrusting, first pumping, pouting, the lot! He hopped out the taxi when I got to my road, even though he leaves further down the Soi. It was his ploy to try and persuade me to go to Khao Sahn with him. Hilarious! Sadly I had to decline. But we embraced in the street a lot and desperately tried to get a photo, which proved quite difficult in the dark. I did a little bit of panicked drunken packing before going to bed. What a night, and an incredible farewell to the staff at CTC.

Friday:

So its officially leaving day today. Beth and I made a sneaky trip back into school earlier this morning to say bye to some of the teachers and to grab our last lunch on the soi. I got myself some noodles from the infamous Noodle Man. Hannah and Angie have been chatting about Noodle Man’s delicious noodles since day one, and he hardly ever came to the soi since then! Typical. But on my last day he makes a miraculous arrival outside the school. They were literally the best noodles ever; lots of pork balls, sliced pork and crackling (such a cheeky delight to find floating around), with bean sprouts and a little coriander. Divine. The best last meal I could’ve asked for.

Best thing since sliced bread

Best thing since sliced bread

Before heading back to the house to finish packing I popped into James’ class to say bye to the students. This is the class with the ‘Teacher Barbie’ student. Well when I arrived in the classroom the room was empty, except for this sweet girl who had been waiting for me to come and say bye. She’d only gone and got me a load of presents, bless her. Loads of Thai snacks (most of which I’m terrified to eat) and lots of floral soaps. So lovely of her!! I perfect end to my time at CTC! 

My lovely gifts

My lovely gifts

So now, as I type, I’m sat on my bed in a very empty, very clean room with all my belongings packed away. I’m feeling very teary; I’m so looking forward to seeing my family, but I’m so sad to say goodbye to my little life here. Oh. What a overwhelming mix of feelings! Onwards to Sukhumvit I guess!

(To be continued…)

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Silom Cooking School and splashing out

Saturday:

The words “Thai cooking course” have been scribbled at the very top of my Thailand bucket list for months now. I am such a foodie at heart; I obviously love eating food, I love reading about new food trends, I love cooking and especially baking delicious cakey goods and, finally, I love writing about food. I am also a huuugee fan of Thai food (in case you haven’t guessed already), so naturally I’ve been itching to get my hands on some fresh local ingredients. Over the past few weeks I’ve been googling the best cooking courses in Bangkok, which, from my research, I decided was Silom Cooking School. It seemed the best in terms of value for money, and it had some fantastic reviews on Trip Advisor (not a bad word in sight).

Finally the day arrived and it felt like Christmas!

We booked an afternoon cooking course which included a trip to a local wet market, so we didn’t need to be on Silom Road until around 1.30 ish. In the morning Beth and I met up with Helena (my lost luggage buddy from one of my earliest posts) and spent the morning mooching around the Khao Sahn and Soi Rambuttri area. I did manage a wee bit of shopping but I was rather distracted and couldn’t really concentrate on my ‘gifts list’, so eventually we gave up and hid in Starbucks for an hour or so. Eventually we were in a taxi and heading towards Silom!

The traffic was terrible, as per. Even though we set off super early we only just got there in time. Of course I started to panic the closer and closer we got to 1.40; no way was I going to be late!!! Beth, Helena and I were put into a group of nine, which included another pair of English girls, and a bunch of girls from South Korea. Our Chef for the day was called Goong (which translates to shrimp); an incredibly energetic, humorous and chatty woman with impeccable English skills.

On arrival we were handed a little woven basket and a bottle of water and were quickly whisked away with Goong to the nearby wet market. I felt like little red riding hood and had an uncontrollable desire to skip along the pavement, basket in hand. The market was half closed when we arrived; Goong explained that due to the heat they open very early and close up mid day. But there were a few stands remaining, kept open just for Silom Cooking School purposes. Goong went through some of the traditional Thai ingredients, the ones less familiar to our English kitchens, like finger root ginger, galangal, lemon grass, holy basil and different varieties of aubergine. She let us smell each vegetable, most of which varied from either spicy, sour or sweet. She then showed us baskets and baskets full of different Thai chillis; of course the smallest teeny tiny chillis were the most spicy, too spicy for Anglicised taste buds. Goong filled our baskets with a handful of herbs and veggies and sent us on our way.

To market, to market, jigidy jig

To market, to market, jigidy jig

I'm sweating just looking at these bad boys

I’m sweating just looking at these bad boys

After a 5 minute walk we arrived at the official Silom Cooking School building. We were esscourted upstairs where we were given cute little cooking aprons (I ended up buying one for 500 baht) and lockers for our belongings. We cooled down in the main dining area for ten minutes, washed our hands etc whilst Goong prepared our cooking stations.

Looking legit

Looking legit

Before going ahead with our dishes Goong had us prepare some vegetables and make coconut cream and milk. Beth, Helena and I had the fiddly task of peeling a load of shallots; some girls deveined the prawns and the others washed the vegetables. Afterwards Goong showed us the traditional way to get coconut meat from the coconut. Apparently, the green young coconuts are used for drinking the milk, but the brown coconuts are older; the meat is used to make cream and milk, but the water is not drinkable. Fun facts!! Goong very swiftly cracked open the coconut with a vicious looking axe-thing, and scraped the coconut meat out by using a traditional stool; she sat on the stool and scraped the coconut against a serrated metal edge. The delicious meat just crumbled away and gathered in the bowl. Yummers!

The good stuff

The good stuff

Coconut massages

Coconut massages

I always assumed that coconut milk and cream are just reduced versions of coconut water. Oh no no no. Let me tell you how it’s made. To make the cream the shaved fresh coconut is soaked in a little water; the coconut is then massaged and squeezed to release the thick creamy liquid. The coconut is then sieved away, leaving the delightful creamy goodness. When this liquid is left, the cream rises to the surface of the liquid and can be scooped away. This is then repeated again and again to make coconut milk. It turned out to be quite a good work out for the arms. No wonder Thai people are so slim; they put so much ruddy effort into their delicious foods. Lastly, Goong talked us through the different rices and how they are cooked, and showed us how to make tamarind paste (used in the Pad Thai). Another water massage technique; great for getting rid of your bingo wings. Try it out!

Designated work space

Designated work space

Greatest photo ever!!!

Greatest photo ever!!!

Tom Yum Goong: hot and sour prawn soup

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of medium prawns, peeled and deveined
1 straw mushroom, cut into four
1 lemon grass, cut into pieces
2 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
10 slices of galangal ginger (thumb sized piece)
1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce
1/4 tablespoon of lime juice
1 cup of water/chicken stock
1/2 tomato, cut into quarters
1 spring onion, cut into quarters
1 tablespoon of fresh coriander, chopped
1 tablespoon of shallow, chopped
1/2 tablespoon Thai chilli paste
2 tablespoon of coconut milk or fresh milk
2 bird’s eye chillies

Our first dish to cook was Tom Yum Goong (hot and sour prawn soup), a very popular dish among locals and tourists alike. We began by preparing the herbs and spices; we chopped the lemongrass, the kaffir lime leaves, the galangal and chilli. Then we chopped the vegetables; the tomato, the mushroom and spring onion. This next bit was super speedy. We put the ingredients into the wok with some water, whacked up the gas and let the water boil out. Goong then gave us our prawns, which turned pink in literally seconds. We then added some coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce and chilli paste. Within minutes it was smelling divine and ready to serve up.

Prep

Prep

The beautiful Tom Yum Goong

The beautiful Tom Yum Goong

Pad Thai: fried noodles Thai style

Ingredients:

100 grams dried rice noodle, pre soak in warm water
3 medium sized prawns, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (not olive oil or sesame; it will burn)
1/8 cup of chive or green onion, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon of palm sugar
2 teaspoons of fish sauce
1 egg
1/4 cup of raw bean sprouts
1 tablespoon of garlic
1/3 cup of tofu (optional)
1 tablespoon of tamarind paste or white vinegar
1 tablespoon of pickled white radish, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of ground peanuts
1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder

The second meal to tackle was the infamous Pad Thai, born and bred on the streets. We began by heating the oil in the pan with the garlic until fragrant; we then added the prawns and tofu, bean sprouts and chives. Once the prawns turned pink we cracked the egg into the pan and scrambled until dry. Finally we added the noodles and seasoned with the fish sauce, palm sugar, ground peanuts, chilli powder, tamarind paste an pickled radish. When the noodles were soft we turned off the heat and served up. Another easy speedy one!

Being a pro

Being a pro

Poh Piah Sod: fresh spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce

Ingredients:

1 pack of spring roll wrappers
1/2 cup of chicken, steamed and sliced (optional)
1/2 cup of white turnip, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of tofu (optional)
1 cup of fresh bean sprouts
1/2 cup of mint or basil leaves
1/2 cup of spring onion, chopped into pieces
1/2 cup of cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 cup of coriander leaves

Goong began by showing us how to make the sweet chilli sauce. She got us to chop up some chilli and garlic, which was then put into a pestle and mortar. She mixed in a little bit of sugar (in Thai, little bit is always a lot) with some salt and water and went to town on the pounding. It’s literally as easy as that; and the spring rolls are just as simple. We each soaked a roll sheet in some warm water until soft and then placed it on a plate. We then added whatever vegetables we wanted; I added everything except the coriander. Yuk. No thanks, you are not welcome in my roll. Once the vegetables are placed on the sheet, we rolled up the vegetables tightly in the wrap, tucking in the sides as we went along. We then sliced it and drenched it in chilli sauce. YES!

Veggie rolls

Veggie rolls

Kang Khiao Wan Gai: green curry with chicken

Ingredients:

The curry paste:

15 green spur chillies, chopped
4 green bird’s eye chillies, chopped
4 red bird chillies, chopped
2 tablespoons of lemon grass, outer layers removed
1 1/2 teaspoons of galangal ginger, finely sliced
1/2 tablespoon of kaffir lime rind
2 tablespoons shallot, finely sliced
2 tablespoons of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of coriander root, chopped
1 teaspoon of turmeric ginger
1/2 teaspoon of roasted coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon of roasted cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of shrimp paste

1/4 cup of sliced chicken
1/4 cup of eggplant
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil or coconut crea
1 cup of coconut milk
20 leaves of sweet basil
3 kaffir lime leaves
2 tablespoons of finger ginger, sliced
1 pinch of palm sugar
1/2 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of tamarind paste

Goong started out by taking us through the process of making the paste. She got most of us chopping various ingredients and sent one girl out to roast the spices in a wok; eventually everything ended up in the a big-ass pestle and mortar. In a way its very simple to make as you just put it all together and mash; but as soon as you feel the weight of the pestle in your hand you know your in for a serious time. Oh my gosh. It was soooo heavy. I smashed the mixture like 6 times and had to stop. Goong, on the other hand, was smashing away for 5 minutes, casually, like it was nobody’s business. She revealed to us that there is a secret meaning behind the clashing sound of the pestle and mortar; apparently the louder you are the more likely you are to be a good house wife. I just couldn’t help imagining a gaggle of locals pressing their ears to the door in search of the perfect wife-to-be. I don’t know what use I’d be to them; I could hardly hold the pestle in my hands.

Once the the paste was pulverised we began to make the curry. We placed a tablespoon of curry paste into some hot oil and let the fragrance release. We then added the chicken until it began to change colour; at this point we added the egg plant, ginger, lime leaves, sugar, tamarind paste, fish sauce and coconut milk. We let the liquid cook out and reduce until it became a thicker sauce, then we stirred in the basil leaves and removed it from the heat. Wam bam thank yer mam! We served it with a little side of rice; aroy mak ka (very delicious)!!

The gang

The gang

Eat yer greens

Eat yer greens

Khao neaw ma muang: mango with sticky rice

Ingredients:

1 cup of hot cooked sticky rice
2 tablespoons of white sugar or palm sugar
1 pinch of salt
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 ripe mango, peeled
1/2 teaspoon of deep friend mung bean seeds, for topping
1/4 cup of pandannas leaves (or use a little vanilla essence)

Goong began by showing us the traditional way to cook sticky rice, which is steamed in a bamboo basket to ensure that the rice doesn’t get dried out. Rinsing the rice is key to the process; it needs to be left over night before cooking so that all impurities are removed. Sticky rice can be cooked in England by using a normal steamer, as long as the water level is about 5 inches below the rice. The pan must be covered to let the rice simmer, when the rice is cooked leave the cover on and keep until you are ready to serve.

After describing the sticky rice method Goong began heating the coconut milk and pandannas leaves over a medium heat. She brought the liquid to a gentle simmer before adding the sugar and salt. She then removed the pan from the heat. She brought out some sticky rice which she made earlier and poured the coconut milk over it, mixing it together. After 20 minutes the liquid was soaked up and the rice was deliciously sticky. We served the rice on a plate with bright orange cubes of mango. You’d think I was full by this point, but no. I ate it all. And it was good!

Dessert

Dessert

That concludes the course. By this point I was suffering from a severe food coma, so Beth and I decided to call it an early night. I spent the rest of the evening digesting and watching Batman. What a fabulous day…

Sunday:

On Friday afternoon Beth and I got our hands on our last pay check, so come Sunday we were eager to splash some cash on presents. So we met Helena in the morning at MBK at spent a couple of hours browsing the little shops. I was desperately looking for gifts for my Thai family. I’ve been struggling for a couple of weeks now on deciding what to get them; in the end I got Machim and Mawin a little figurine of Darth Vader and Yoda which they have to building out of these little lego pieces. I really wanted something Guardians of the Galaxy related but there was absolutely nothing. So I went with Star Wars. I was thinking of getting Korawik a neck scarf, but I decided on getting her a body shop peach body scrub. I also picked up a little flower pot thing which I thought was really sweet. Fingers crossed she’ll like them! Finally, I got Jackophan a tie. Simples.

After scouring through MBK Helena heading back to Khao Sahn to get her coach, and Beth and I continued onwards to Chatuchak. We hopped on the BTS and got off at Mochit Station, the closest stop to the market. I was desperate to get my hands on a tea set; I have a weird obsession with beautiful tea pots and dainty china. I’ve always envied my grandfathers collection of tea cups and saucers. So I am beginning my own collection, starting in Thailand! I bought a beautiful miniature set; it came on a circular plate, with a little pot and four small cups. It’s more of a display set, than a set to use, but it was the only one I could see myself carrying back to England in my hand luggage. By this point it was peak heat time, so Beth and I were sweating like little pigs. So we headed back to Charansantiwong and eventually got some dinner at Central. Happy days.

The fam's presents

The fam’s presents

Week 8: Budgeting and Departmental Day Trips

So week 8 makes it officially two months working at CTC. It seems to have absolutely flown by, but at the same time I feel like I’ve been living in Thailand for ages! As indicated by the caption, this week was a particularly poor and relatively uneventful one. I’d maxed out my debit card on hospital expenses and of course all of my wages were pretty much gone. So Beth and I stuck to eating at Korawik’s house and watching a lot of TV in the evenings.

Monday:

In my lesson with Joel we focussed on the common weak topic of dates, days and months. I spent the majority of the class reciting the pronunciation, highlighting the difference between the number 4 and the form when the number is used as a date, e.g. the fourth of June. The students seemed pretty on the ball with it all in the class, and yet they always get it wrong in their tests. There seems to be a shift between when they hear the word and when they see it written down in a question.

After having a little chat with Bing I discovered that for Thai people the year is not 2014, but 2557. This completely baffled me! I mean, logically it makes sense; why would they use the same calender as western people?! But it still blew my mind. Bing just couldn’t stop laughing at me. I just find it bizarre that a student who is born in 2539 is younger than me. Crazzzzy!

In the afternoon I was supposed to have a class with James, but the students were engaged in a departmental meeting so the class was cancelled. So the rest of my day was dedicated to catching up with my blog and watching random films on HBO.

Angie and Nick had their weekly lesson with Machim and Mawin in the evening and they ended up staying again for dinner. Korawik kindly ordered in some pizzas for us; I think she tried to feed a small army. There was literally like fifteen pizzas for four adults and two children. It was basically pizza heaven. We all laughed at the amount in front of us; we weren’t laughing at the end when there was only a single piece left. Food coma alert!!!

Map of Bangkok

Map of Bangkok

Tuesday:

I only had one class with Joel on Tuesday, and I spent most of the morning preparing an activity. He wanted me to make a family tree using the names of some of the students, and then create some questions testing their knowledge of words like grandmother, niece, aunty etc. It worked quite well in the lesson, and the students found it quite comic, as Teacher Joel and Supalak were married and had two kids. Of course this got a few giggles- including from Joel himself! Apparently, in their previous lesson on the topic, all the students got very confused over the English words, as in Thai they have different words for the same idea. For example, they have two separate words for uncle, one for the mother’s side and another for the father’s side. So when Joel was explaining the word uncle, they were insistent upon finding out which side of the family he was from. It must seem very confusing for them. Luckily they seemed to have got their heads around it this second time around!

Wednesday:

In Hannah’s class the students were refreshing their knowledge of daily routines. Hannah had covered it in their previous lesson and decided to go over the vocabulary with additional words like always, usually, sometimes and never. I took a speaking activity with half of the students. They were put into pairs and asked to write down their partners daily routine, and eventually I made each student read out what they had written. Over the previous weeks the students have been going over the forms of verbs depending on whether the sentence is present simple or present continuous. In this particular lesson they pretty much forgot all that they’d previously learned. The sentences read like ‘She alway get up at 7 am’. SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. I just kept hissing at them. I didn’t want to blatantly give them the answer; I wanted them to realise their own errors. So I just hissed away! It seemed to sink in eventually…

In Nick’s class we focussed the lesson on a reading exercise; we gave the students a newspaper article and made them read through it in their heads. Then I lead a reading game called Popcorn. I’d never actually heard of it before but Nick kindly explained the idea; one student begins reading and then I’d shout popcorn when I felt they’d read enough, this student would then choose another student to continue reading. A great game which ensures that everyone in the class reads aloud. It was actually quite surprising; one student, who is very quiet and shy and barely speaks, had incredible pronunciation. After playing Popcorn I lead the students through some questions/answers and then Nick made them go through the article and highlight all the past tense verbs. This even proved to be a test for me. I discovered that ‘supposed’ is not a past tense verb, but an adjective. Apparently you really do learn something new everyday!

In the evening Beth, Hannah and I headed over to Central Plaza to see 22 Jump Street. Poor as I was I had to borrow some money off Beth, we even said no to MK this week and stuck to the local street food. I got myself some pretty delicious pork noodle soup for 35 baht; such a bargain. There were some rather obscure cuts of meat and few floating pieces of liver, but other than that it went down a treat. I followed this up with some fresh little street donut things. I have no idea what their Thai name is, but they were like sugarless donuts, much tastier and less sickly. After pigging out we headed over to the cinema. The film was pretty decent, but it was no Guardians of the Galaxy. I also don’t think it was quite as good as the first one; but it least it had the guts to mock its own effort as a sequel. Not too shabby!

Thursday:

On Thursday I was supposed to have a class with Hannah, but the students were taking part in a singing contest, so inevitably the class was cancelled. Another very chilled day in the English office for me. I ended up helping Hannah plan a lesson for next week on clothing vocabulary. I’d found some flashcards on the internet of some more obscure words, like jumpsuit, dungarees, uniform etc. and so I thought I’d print them out. This was not as simple as it should’ve been. The departmental computer was being even more difficult than normal; it literally took me an hour to print out 6 flash cards. At one point I just wanted to pick up the computer and throw it across the office. Sometimes I just do not have the patience for technology. After my technological meltdown I started drawing out larger than life images of the flashcards so that Hannah could stick them on the whiteboard on top of a little stick man. It actually took quite a while to perfect and the finished products looked pretty legit, if I may say so myself…

My artwork

My artwork

Friday:

On Friday there was no class at CTC; each department was venturing on its own little day trip. The English department chose to visit Bangkok’s Art in Paradise, a 3D art museum. We all met at Makro at 8 am, just up the road from the college, and boarded a very sweaty bus which took us across the city. Of course the traffic was terrible so it took so much longer than necessary, but eventually we arrived.

The museum was sectioned off into different zones; I would try to explain them a little, but I feel like in this instance the photos do it justice…

Aquarium and Safari Zone:

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Classic Zone:

The cast of Oliver Twist

The cast of Oliver Twist

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Oh heck I'm in a bubble

Oh heck I’m in a bubble

Fantasy Zone:

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Me and Pinochio hanging out

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Media Art Zone:

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Walking the plank

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If only…

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Miniature Teacher Hannah

Miniature Teacher Hannah

Naturally this went down so well with the students. I thought English people were snappy happy, but Thai people are like snappy happy x 100. There were many selfies, many group shots, many many many photos. Once everyone made it through the museum we headed down a few floors to the food court. Me and Hannah went for pork and noodles with gravy. It sounded pretty decent; IT WAS NOT. Oh my days. It is definitely the worst meal I have ever eaten. They should have included in the description the word snot. That was the consistency; it was a flobby, snotting, sticky, oozy mess. I had one spoon full and then gave up. How depressing!

After “lunch” we got back on the bus and made our way back to school. Once we were back in the soi we decided to hang out at Teacher Angie’s for a bit before going to Jill’s house for the weekly Friday night staff do. We ended up having a rather decadent afternoon; we splashed out on some delicious cheeses, some crackers and even some red wine. Daaarrrrrrling it was fabulous! Angie made some yummy yummy no-bake cookies as a peace offering and a thank you for Jill, the hostess with the mostess! At 6 we headed down the soi towards Jill’s flat; the night consisted of a lot of suki (soup), a lot of sang som (rum) and soooo much karaoke!

Chatuchak, Lady Boys and Ayutthaya

Saturday:

In the morning Beth, Alice and I got a taxi to Khao Sahn for breakfast; we weren’t really sure of our plans for the day, but thought we’d head over to  the main tourist area to check out our options. In the end we got a Tuk Tuk to Chatuchak, the worlds largest weekend market. And no joke, it was beyond huge! It was like getting lost in a labyrinth of tie-dye t-shirts, tea sets and elephant related trinkets. I’m eager to return with a proper shopping plan, a list of must-buys and an appropriate amount of money. I spent most of the day browsing, taking notes of things I can get for friends/family, but I did splash out on a beautiful new silver ring; a little gift from me, to me.

After a couple of hours trekking through the maze of shops we returned to Khao Sahn to make plans for the evening. Alice was organising to meet with a friend from Nottingham University, and Beth and I were keen to get involved in their plans. We eventually booked a lady boy show for the evening, the infamous Calypso Show, and we thought we could go to a fancy skybar afterwards. Any excuse to get a little dressed up! Come 6 pm we were changed, glammed up and ready to paint the town red…

Galdem

Galdem

We met Alice’s friend, Annelies, for dinner on Soi Rambuttri and then headed to Asiatique, the venue for the Calypso Show. At first we were put in THE worst seats ever. They literally chucked us in right at the back, and I was “conveniently” placed directly behind the tallest Asian man I have ever seen. THEY’RE NOT EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE TALL. Just typical!! I whinged on for about ten minutes, until a kind gentleman whisked the four of us to a new position; the front row. YES! That kind of thing never happens to me. Never. So of course we were absolutely buzzing!

Alice and Annelies

Annelies and Alice

So we saw lady boy after lady boy. There was Marylyn Monroe, as swanky as ever, and the rest of the burlesque cast. We came across a couple of Asian sketches; there was a Korean love story and a crazy Japanese woman just generally being weird. And of course there were the boys; dancing around in their little tighty whiteys, flexing and yet flouncing at the same time. It was all just a little bit weird and wonderful. I couldn’t help but mull over in my head the extraordinary contradictions that make up Thai life; in such a religious country oozing with Buddhist tradition and culture you find that there are taboos, and yet in Thailand they aren’t really taboos at all. I noticed this particularly in school; the lady boys are integrated into society, into the norm. It seems that Thai people are much more forgiving and accepting; I wouldn’t like to think what would happen in an English classroom in that situation. Shame on our culture for being so judging!

Burlesque

Burlesque

Diamonds are a girls best friend

Diamonds are a girls best friend

A Korean love story

A Korean love story

After an array of dance routines, songs and sketches the show came to its conclusion. The big final brought the entire cast out onto the stage; it was all a blur of feathers, sequins and top hats. What an extravagant display!

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We had the opportunity at the end to get a photo with some of the cast members; of course we jumped on this opportunity. Throughout these two months I’ve been trying to take photos which really capture the essence of my experience working in Thailand; I feel like this one will definitely be one of them…

I've never looked so happy

I’ve never looked so happy

After the show we got a taxi towards Sukhumvit Road in search of the fabulous skybar Octave. We arrived at the soi but there was no bar to be seen. Luckily, after hassling some of the locals, we discovered that Octave is in fact situated at the very top of the beautiful Bangkok Marriott Hotel. Crystal chandeliers, flower displays, marble surfaces, life size chess pieces. Swanky doesn’t even describe it. We went up 40 or so levels to Octave and stumbled upon a 360 degree view of Bangkok’s mesmerising skyline.

Living the dream

Living the dream

The best thing was that the drinks were so much cheaper than State Tower skybar. Don’t get me wrong, although that mangosteen martini was expensive it was ruddy delicious. I ended up just getting a Singha because it was the cheapest. I wasn’t even going to drink at first, as I was still taking my antibiotics at the time, but I didn’t think one beer would make much difference. We nattered on for few hours and left the bar at around 1am, at which point Beth and I needed to head back in case we’d get locked out.

Sunday:

Beth and I had a very early start Sunday morning as we’d booked ourselves on to a trip to Ayutthaya, the old capital of Bangkok. We needed to be on Khao Sahn Road for 7 am so sadly there was no cosy weekend lie in for us. However, we managed to sleep for the entirety of the two hour journey. My napping skills are top notch! When we arrived our minibus combined with two others to form the group for the walking tour and we were soon attended by a friendly Thai gentleman who spoke impeccable English. He revealed the plan for the day:we were to visit four temples in the morning, followed by lunch, and then visit two more temples in the afternoon. Jam packed.

Temple No.1: Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon 

In translation this temple is called ‘The Great Monastery of Auspicious Victory’, its most recent name following the defeat of the Burmese Crown Prince in single combat in 1592.  The chedi (the stupa) of the temple can be seen from across the eastern side of Ayutthaya and is surrounded by a rectangular gallery elaborately decorated with Buddha images.

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The central chedi

View from the chedi terrace

View from the chedi terrace

The gallery

The gallery

We climbed up the steps, even in the sweltering heat, to enjoy the view across the grounds; a wonderful panorama of green gardens, and majestic Buddha statues freckled with wandering tourists. The grounds also exhibit a reclining Buddha; but at 15 m by 39 m it seemed rather small in comparison to Wat Pho. It was also made of white marble/stone and wrapped in a gold cloth, rather than the plated gold of Bangkok’s infamous temple.

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Reclining Buddha

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Peaceful offerings

There was an additional building situated in the grounds; an ordination hall inhabiting a selection of various Buddha images. One particular of those images, Phra Phuttha Chaiya Mongkhon, is said to be one of the most sacred Buddha images in all of Ayutthaya. Many locals were wandering among the statues placing squares of gold leaf onto the surface of the statues; how beautiful they looked, dappled in a goldy-green shimmer.

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Phra Phuttha Chaiya Mongkhon

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Coated in textured gold leaf

I feel like I saw three temples in one sitting, it was great! And in such a beautiful setting too; it seemed so very surreal, some of the buildings were so ruinous, and yet they were surrounded by structured, trimmed green gardens. There were lush, colourful flowers everywhere too. I couldn’t help but take a million photos of them (I sound like a middle aged woman don’t I?!). I’ll control myself a little and just show you one of the best from the bunch.

Floral

Floral

Temple No.2: Wat Maha That 

After a cheeky minibus ride across the city we made it to temple number two. I immediately noticed that it showed remarkable similarity to Cambodian architecture, particularly to the beautiful ruins of Angkor Wat. I later learned that the architecture does indeed follow that of Khmer style. Yay me!!! At this point I had another arty moment; all I wanted to do was sit down under a tree with a sketch book. If it was 20 degrees cooler I would’ve seriously considered sketching out some images with my ball-point pen. Sadly I was sweating like a little piggy and the thought of sitting in one place without a breeze was slightly terrifying. Onwards…

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Leaning temple tower

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For tourists Wat Maha That is most famous the Buddha head tangled amid the roots of a grand tree. I kept seeing the image on postcards at various locations across Bangkok, and couldn’t work out where it was or what it was about or even how the head got there. No one knows for certain how the head found itself within the roots of a tree; one theory suggests that the tree simply grew around a ruined temple. Another theory implies that a thief stole the image from the main temple and tried to hide it in the foot of a tree, but did not return to collect his buried treasure. I rather like this latter myth!

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Hauntingly beautiful

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Me and the tree

Our tour guide showed us a photograph of the Buddha head immersed in water; the level came across his nose as though he was just rising out of a pool. It looked very mystical. It turns out that in 2010 there was some serious flooding in the area and the grounds were steeped in water. I can imagine it was all very annoying at the time, but it made for some amazing photos!

Temple No.3: Wat Lokayasutha

Our third temple was a short visit to another reclining Buddha. This structure, built out of bricks and cement, is 37 meters long and 8 meters high; although there are many other reclining Buddha’s in Ayutthaya (like at Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon) this structure seems to be the largest. It was also affected by the flooding of 2010; at the time only half of the body could be seen rising out of the water. Inevitably the structure has been under reconstruction over the past few years in an attempt to patch up the water damage.

Wat Lokayasutha

Wat Lokayasutha

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Temple No.4: Wat Phu Khao Thong

 The last temple visit before lunch was at Wat Phu Khao Thong temple. As you can imagine, the majority of our time at this temple was spent pondering over the possibilities of lunch. But we still managed to make our way round, unlike many of the other tourists who spent five minutes looking before turning back to the minibus.

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Wat Phu Khao Thong

The good thing is we worked up our appetite for lunch; there was literally a hundred steps up the temple, and by steps I mean tiny individual walls. By the time I got to the top my thighs were burning sooooo much, and they ached even more the following day. We were informed by our guide that the lower half of the structure was built in a Burmese style, while the Burmese army gained control over the city; but when they were defeated the Thai people built on top of the lower structure in their own local style. Burma meets Thai. I also noticed that there were loads of huge cockerel statues at the gates of the temple; I’d seen these statues around and they always seemed a little bit weird, so flamboyant and over the top. It turns out that they are symbol of competition and victory; the temple represents Thai’s victory over Burma, so naturally the temple is surrounded by giant cockerel statues. I totally understand the logic, but I still find the idea of a huge chicken rather strange. Is that just me?!

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Proof that I tackled the climb

Temple No.5: Wat Phra Si Sanphet

After our buffet lunch we took a short minibus journey across the city in search of the final two temples, said to be situated on the same grounds. Wat Phra Si Sanphet is located inside the foundations of the Grand Palace, those that are ruinous but still visible to this day. The three main chedis are a particularly popular landmark of the historical sight and are said to contain the ashes of three Kings: King Trailok, King Borom Ratchathirat III, and King Rama Thibodi II. I’d like to think I’ll be remembered with a structure of similar grandeur…

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Apparently this is my temple pose…

Beth and I spent a good hour wandering around the ruinous landscape, tracing the foundations of what was the grandest building in the capital…

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Perhaps the west wing?

Temple No.6: Wat Na Phramen 

The final temple was a mere wander away from Wat Phra Si Sanphet, a structure built in the old Thai style of Ubosot. The building housed a large number of Buddha images; the largest of them all was dressed in regal attire and centred the room. Once more I came across a number of Buddha statues coated in gold-leaf; it just creates the most fascinating and beautiful texture to the surface. I just wanted to paint it! God damn it! Why can’t a woman draw and paint when she wants to!?! I must try and have a go from my photographs when I get home, but I feel like it will be somewhat less inspiring…

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Ubosot style

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Majestic

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My favourite Buddha of the day

By this point in the day Beth and I were feeling pretty templed-out. With the sweltering heat we just wanted to be immersed in air conditioning, but instead we were chasing the shadows in a desperate attempt to avoid the sun (I failed at this and got some serious sunburn as a result). I got my hands on some coconut ice-cream which went down a ruddy treat and Beth finally (after weeks and weeks of searching) found herself a drink in a bag, so we headed back over to the minivan. We were a little ahead of schedule so we took a gander over to the nearby elephant camp and had a natter with some grazing Nellys.

Such beauties

Such beauties

Freckle-faced like the best of us

Freckle-faced like the best of us

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It wasn’t long before we were being chased on the bus and heading back to Bangkok. As you can imagine, we were pretty shattered by the time we got back to Khao Sahn so we quickly grabbed ourselves some Pad Thai and then made our way towards Charansanitwong. Another pretty wonderful weekend. Only two more to go… WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!

Week 7: the shortest teaching week known to man

Friday:

So by the time I got home from Koh Samui there was one school day left. The shortest teaching week everrr!!! It was made even shorter when my morning lesson with James was cancelled. To be honest this didn’t bother me too much, I was so shattered from the journey back to Bangkok and my arm muscles were aching so much from the IV drips. Naturally I wasn’t in the best of spirits. In the afternoon I had my class with Joel. We went over months, dates and days with the students; even though they are one of the best classes in the school they are terrible with this particular topic. One girl, who is usually the brightest in the class, couldn’t understand why Saturday didn’t come after Tuesday. Then the penny dropped and she realised her own error, casually laughing it off.

In the evening Beth and I went to Central Plaza and had dinner at MKIf you can remember, Joel, Noi and Jurin took us to MK for our first meal as ETA’s, so we felt rather nostalgic eating our soup. I couldn’t help but think about how quick it has gone! In approximately two weeks I’ll be boarding a plane back to England, back to my unemployed adult life. Urgh!!!

Soup soup soup!

Soup soup soup!

Alice had made plans to come to Bangkok over the weekend and we were waiting for her to arrive from Rayong; Beth had kindly offered to share her bed with her to cut down on costs. She ended up staying at Victory Monument and had dinner with a friend, so she didn’t arrive in our Soi until around 11.pm. By that time I was tucked up in my bed fast asleep.

Koh Phangan and an unexpected trip to Koh Samui

Friday:

Come early morning Beth and I were checked out of our room, eating brunch and heading to the pier; onwards to Koh Phangan! However, our trip was delayed rather significantly. When we arrived we discovered that all ferry tickets were sold out. Luckily there was a speed boat with available seats departing at 2.30pm, but at the price of 1,000 baht. We had no other choice; we sat at the pier for a few hours twiddling our thumbs and resting our eyes.

In the afternoon we hopped on board another boat, and of course I was feeling rather on edge. This slight nervousness developed into unwavering nausea and fear. It didn’t help that I was surrounded by Japanese children screaming after we hit every wave, nor did it help that I had an American guy slyly laughing at me. Yay. Thankfully, after I moved into a forward facing position, I began to feel a lot better. After what felt like a small age we were dropped off onto the sand by Koh Phangan‘s pier. I couldn’t have looked more windswept!

We drove ten minutes down the road and arrived at our hostel, Echo Beach Backpackers. Pretty kushty! We were supposed to be checking into an 8 bed fan dorm, but we discovered that the roof had collapsed over that particular room, so instead we moved into a 12 bed air-conditioned dorm. No complaints with that one like! After a cheeky shower Beth and I decided to meet up with a few other ETA’s; Ammie, Alice and Tory. I’d met Ammie previously but was yet to meet the other two ladies. We wandered up the road and chose to dine in a little Thai restaurant; the food was soooooo cheap, I opted for a chicken panang curry with rice. It was delish (but little did I know it would be my downfall)! Afterwards we headed back to our hostel to have a few cheeky beers at the bar and we ended up being persuaded into buying 300 baht tickets to a Waterfall Party. Who could say no?!

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12.00 was party time. We got in a taxi which drove approximately 15 minutes across the island and into the jungle. Even when we got out the taxi we had a ten minute walk ahead of us into the wilderness. The road just seemed to be endless, but the beating music gradually got louder and the lights began to glimmer through the branches. This is what we discovered…

Blazing

Blazing

Swarms of people, drumming bass, the smell of burnt gasoline in the air; we had certainly arrived. After wheedling our way through the masses we managed to get ourselves a drink and made it onto the dance floor.

Sadly, this was the pinnacle of my night. From then on it was like a downwards spiral.

I could not have prepared for what was about to happen.

At first I just felt a little queasy. I was sharing a drink with Alice at the time and decided to count myself out of the drinking from then on; I thought perhaps the vodka was cheap and I was reacting to it. But then I felt violently ill. I tried to dance throughout it as you do, sweat it out, I didn’t want to bother any of the other girls. Then all of a sudden I felt like I was falling. Then I was crying. Then I was being sick.

It all happened so quickly and terribly slowly at the same time. I sat out with a bottle of water and Alice (what a Samaritan?!) sat with me, held back my hair, bought bottle after bottle of water and tried to distract me from the nausea. What an absolute babe. I cannot thank her enough for this! The others continued in their dancing and drinking. I sat for about an hour or so, clutching my water, sweating and shivering at the same time, until everyone was ready to go. Alice and Tory basically carried me along through the jungle and to the taxi; I had no energy, no balance and no co-ordination.

It was a painful journey. I was crippled by the fear of public disgrace; I sat in silence and concentrated on my stomach, on my bowels, and hoped to god that I would make it back in one unsoiled, unashamed form. I think the big guy heard my prayers! But that was not the end for me. It was just the beginning of the longest night of my life.

Saturday:

By 6am I had lost count of the amount of times I had been sick. I was so far beyond dehydration, beyond exhaustion that I began to realise that I needed medical assistance. I could hear some voices at the bar so I woke Beth and told her I needed to go to see a doctor. A kind gentleman rang a taxi for me and within ten minutes I was at Koh Phangan‘s clinic with an IV drip in each hand. The doctor informed me that I was either suffering from food poisoning or from dengue fever. Those two words made me even more nauseas. My friend April, who recently visited Thailand, was diagnosed with dengue fever and had to stay in hospital for like a week! I never thought I’d be praying for food poisoning. I was then informed that I needed to be transferred by speed boat (another bloody boat!?!?!) to Koh Samui hospital.

I spent the following three nights looking like this…

Hospital selfy

Hospital selfie

…except I didn’t always look this perky or sassy.

Sunday to Thursday Koh Samui style:

The good thing is it wasn’t dengue! It was also a very good hospital; the nurses were very hospitable and kind, always explaining things in English so I felt like I knew what was going on. They gave me every drug I wanted; anti-nausea, pain relief for my stomach, antibiotics for the increased white blood cells, bag after bag after bag after bag of IV fluid. I was in very good hands. I just couldn’t be more gutted. Not only did I miss the infamous Full Moon Party but I wasted the last long weekend. Heartbroken. But by Tuesday I was feeling much better; once my insurance guaranteed the payment of £2,000 I was free to leave. The doctor advised that I stay on Koh Samui a couple of days before travelling back to Bangkok; so I took my bag of drugs and checked into a hotel by Nathon Pier. The two days post-hospitalisation were very uneventful. I mainly slept, drank water and watched films on TV. I found my appetite was slowly returning and luckily there was a beautiful little Italian restaurant literally next door to my hotel. Not only did it have the most amazing home-made fettuccine, but a stunning sunset view.

The perfect cure

The perfect cure

Just the thing to cure a damaged soul!

On Thursday morning I began my long journey back to Bangkok. I got a ferry from Nathon Pier to Donsak, and then upon arrival I boarded a bus which drove me straight to Surat Thani airport. I had a couple of hours to kill before my flight, but before long I was back in the big smoke, heading towards Charansanitwong. I was finally home!

Week 6: Mid Terms and Koh Tao

Monday:

Come Monday morning Beth and I didn’t really know what we were doing. The previous week Joel had said that there was no point at all in us coming to school due to the mid term exams. But Korawik (top dog in the department and my Thai momma) didn’t say anything of the sort. Confusing!! Mid terms were running from Tuesday till the end of the week, but classes were also cancelled on Monday so that the tests could be arranged. Beth and I decided that we would just go into school to see what was happening; it felt wrong and against my instincts to just not turn up (that’ll be the square in me!!). We had a meeting with Korawik arranged for that day, thus a perfect opportunity to ask her the plan for the week.

My decision to come to school was quickly regretted. We were roped into arranging masses and masses and masses of test papers. And by that I mean stapling. I stapled like I’d never stapled before! Heck, we were like a machine. One teacher gathered the first section and passed it on to the next teacher who had gathered the following section, who would then pass it to me to be stapled. Jeeeeez. It was so exhausting!

After a couple of hours of robotic stapling we all headed over to meet Korawik. The majority of the meeting floated straight over my head; it was all curiculum this, mid terms that, marketing manager this, tourism attendance that… It wasn’t exactly riveting! But we did chip in regarding our English students and the preparation for mid terms. The main topics aside Beth and I approached Korawik about mid terms; she confirmed that we could take the week off. WINNNNNNERR! I love this school.

Tuesday:

So Monday evening was spent mulling over future plans; we already made plans to visit Koh Phangan for the long weekend, so we decided to stick with the south, stick with the beach and hit up Koh Tao, a.k.a turtle island. We booked ourselves onto a bus heading down south for Tuesday night and chose to dedicate our day to some of Bangkok’s beautiful temples.

Wat Arun

First up was the beautiful, riverside temple Wat Arun, also known as The Temple of Dawn. There are over 3,000 temples spread across Thailand and Wat Arun is one of the most popular; it is recognised for the way the rising sun reflects off the pearly stones, hence the epithet. Shame we weren’t up early enough to see the beautiful iridescence; but you get the gist!

The encrusted porcelain decorating the stone was incredibly detailed; from afar it’s hard to appreciate all the minute colours and miniature statues, but a handy macro camera shot captures it perfectly. The abandonded artist in me was itching to set up camp with a sketch book and a selection of water colours, but sadly I was stuck with a biro pen and the back of a receipt I found in my bag. I don’t think it’d have the same effect.

Beautiful porcelain figures

Beautiful porcelain figures

We climbed up a steep set of stairs to the following level of the temple, and then again up an even steeper set to the highest view point. I’m not really scared of heights, more the thought of falling, but these steps were terrifyingly high and intensely steep. But the climb was worth it. What an incredible view of the city, of the river snaking by…

Accidentally taken in b/w

Accidentally taken in b/w

A view from a temple

A view from a temple

Wat Pho

We got back in a tuktuk and headed to Phra Nakhon district to see Wat Pho, also known as The Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It is also goes by a third name familiar to the locals, Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan. Yeah. Try and say that one. Wat Pho is said to be one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, and is also said to be the largest, situated in approximately 20 acres of land. Naturally it is known by tourists for the humongous reclining building housed in one of the buildings.

We wandered in and out of numerous buildings and came across countless golden Buddha statues; each building seemed to have its own array of Buddha’s on display, each as beautiful and majestic as the next. It turns out that Wat Pho temple has the most golden Buddha figures out of all the temples in Bangkok. This does not surprise me at all.

So simple, yet beautiful

So simple, yet beautiful

Golden Buddha's

Many Buddha’s

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B and B

The buildings were lavishly decorated; rather than the light, pastel porcelain of Wat Arun the stone was speckled with bold mosaic-like colours, shining blues, gold and red. The minute details were breath taking, it’s overwhelming to think that someone had the job of getting every piece in place and every colour correct. What a talent!

So very detailed

So very detailed

So very colourful

So very colourful

After our wander through the buildings we made our way to the grandest of them all, that which housed the reclining Buddha. I knew he would be big, everyone expects it, but I never imagined it would be that big. Humongous!!  So big and gold and shiny and big. It was hard to get a good photo to do him justice because each shot would only inhabit a tiny section of his body. In total he reclines at 46 meters high and 15 meters long, a position designed to illustrate Buddha passing into nirvana. His feet were just magnificent; the detail was so intricate it was as though he had individual toe prints. It is said that the feet and eyes are crafted from mother of pearl decoration, giving it a lovely shimmery affect. Just beautiful!

Chillaxed

Chillaxed

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Pearly feet

Pearly feet

We sat and gazed up at the big fella and eventually left Wat Pho feeling rather enlightened. We headed back to Charansanitwong in the afternoon so that we could pack for the islands and by 6.00pm we were waiting to board our bus to Koh Tao. Another looooooooooong night ahead of us!

Wednesday:   

So the bus drove long into the night. If you remember back to my Chang Mai post you’ll recall our first night bus experience. Well this second one was much better; the air con was kept at an appropriate temperature, the seats reclined back to a decent degree and they even had a film playing on the TV. Don’t get me wrong, it was a long night, but there were a few comforts. We were told we would be dropped off in Chumporn at around 4am where we would then wait at the pier for a few hours before getting the ferry straight over to Koh Tao. But instead we awoke at 7am in Surat Thani. Urghh! I soon discovered that we would just as easily get the ferry from Surat Thani, so momentary panic appeased. However, to get to Koh Tao we had to first go to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan. We sat on the ferry for over 3 hours. 3 HOURS I TELL YOU!! And I hate boats. I hate them! I always get into my own head and start freaking out over the thought of capsizing/sinking/generally drowning. So those 3 hours were particularly rough for me, but after what felt like an age we eventually touched down on Koh Tao. Hoorraaayyy! You know when you have turbulence on a flight and when you land there’s always that one person who applauds the captain? When we reached the pier I had an incredible urge to clap; I was very close to becoming that person!

The weirdest palm tree you'll ever see

The weirdest palm tree you’ll ever see

We got a truck to Sairee Beach and checked ourselves into Lotus Paradise Resort, conveniently situated amid all the good restaurants and bars, as well as being mere footsteps from the sand. Prime position! We mooched along the beach, showered, recuperated and then headed out in search for food. We’d both heard of the notorious Koh Tao Pub Crawl; I got wind of it from my last visit to the island and Beth came across an abundance of reviews on Trip Advisor. So we thought we’d get ourselves involved. For the 300 baht ticket we got a free t-shirt, a free bucket and 2 shots in Choppers Bar, as well as access to a lady boy show. A ruddy bargain if you ask me! There was a huge group of us, a mass of approximately 50 people all wearing pub crawl t-shirts and carrying a bucket.

The gals

The gals

Spot the ETA...

Spot the ETA…

We started out at Choppers and then moved to a nearby pool (which turned out to be owned by our resort) for a pool party. At first I was very reluctant to get all soggy and wet, but Beth and I, as well as a few other girls we met along the way, dove straight in. Inevitably I was soggy for the rest of the night, but it was fun and definitely worth it!

Pooool parrttaayyy

Pooool parrttaayyy

Shortly after we headed up the road for the Lady Boy Show; I’d actually seen it last time I was on Koh Tao, so I half knew what to expect, but it didn’t spoil the fun. Several talented ladies (so to speak?!) graced the stage; we had the blonde bombshell Britney Spears, the big-bootyed Nicky Minaj and the fabulous Beyonce…or rather Lady Boyonce (love a cheeky pun!). Beyonce was particularly feisty, much like the real thing, and ate up the dance floor with her booty shaking, even in her six inch heels. Surely that’s a talent in itself?

Lady Boyonce

Lady Boyonce

After a lot of miming, flaunting and flirting the show finished and we headed back to Choppers Bar. There was some live music playing at this point, and inevitably a lot of table top dancing. We were both pretty tipsy, Beth in particular; she ended up falling back off a table and I kindly broke her fall for her. I also pretty much nearly broke my leg. I have one hell of a bruise to show for it! So I pretty much carried the drunkard home, even with my gammy limp (brownie points for me?!). I think Koh Tao pretty much chewed us up and spat us back out…

I do not recall taking this...

I do not recall taking this…

Choppers live band

Choppers live band

Thursday:

Naturally we felt rather rough when we woke up, so the day ended up being centred around the beach, our air-conditioned room and food in all forms. I like to think that the best cure for a hangover is to sweat it out on a beach, whilst of course drinking bottle after bottle of water. An hour of torrential rain put a stop to the practicing of my theory, so instead we hid inside a bakery and caught up on the gruelling details of Oscar Pistorius’ court trial.

Pooch stealing Beth's towel

Pooch stealing Beth’s towel

We’d watched an episode of World’s Worst Cook on Food Network so come dinner time we were eager to indulge in some deliciously decadent food. We decided to dine at a Mediteranean restaurant up the road from our hotel; there was a gathering of people around the menu and the tables were teething with customers, both of which we took as good signs. I was tempted to splash out on a steak, but rather sensibly opted for the spinach and ricotta calzone for main, and prawn skewers with aioli dip for starter. The prawns were huge, deliciously sweet and just bloody scrummy! If I knew the calzone was going to be the size of a handbag I would’ve just stuck with a main. But I soon discovered the size was slightly deceiving; as soon as I took the first oozing slice it somewhat deflated and shrunk away rather innocently. I still didn’t manage to finish it!

Big ass prawnys

Big ass prawnys

After dinner we decided to have a casual drink on the beach at Lotus Bar; I am particularly familiar with the bar from my previous visit and knew that there would be a fire show. And of course there was! I’m also quite certain that it was the same (delightfully good looking) gentleman who performed the fire show three years ago. I wasn’t sure if this made me happy or sad. We finished our cocktails and headed in for an early one and another episode of World’s Worse Cook (I must admit I think I’m hooked!).

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M.I.A

I’d like to apologies for temporarily abandoning my blogging duties over the past few weeks. I didn’t plan on going M.I.A on you guys, but due to certain circumstances (which I am yet to unveil) I had to give up my post. I will dedicate plenty of time over the weekend to fill you in on the details…

Siam Ocean World and Siam Park City

Saturday:

So Friday night was an absolute belter! Inevitably we both felt a little rough come Saturday morning. I had to make a dash back to my house after spending the night cuddling Beth to get ready for our trip over to Siam Ocean World. Dave was already there by the time we arrived and we found him in the humongous food court. We grabbed ourselves a subway; I, however, only managed to eat half of it, and had to wrap it up for later. Bloody hangover! We were also meeting up with Rachel, the girl who went to Koh Samet and injured her ankle. The staff, rather conveniently, gave her a wheel chair so all she had to do was chill whilst we wheeled her through the aquarium. Winner!

So Siam Ocean World was pretty awesome! I expected it to be a big ass building on the main street, but we discovered that the aquarium was situated at the bottom of Siam Paragon shopping mall. It’s rather bizarre to think that whilst we sat there eating our sandwiches all the fishes were just swimming away beneath our feet! We also discovered that Siam Ocean World is one of the largest aquariums in South East Asia; naturally we were very excited!

Sadly no photo can do justice to the amazingness of the fish and little creatures, but I did manage to get a couple of decentish pics…

King of all the crabs

King of all the crabs

Octopussy

Octopussy

teeny tiny

teeny tiny

The underwater tunnel cut straight through the main section of the aquarium; we were completely and utterly enveloped by the water and all of its creatures. The sharks swam around with wired, vacant, staring eyes, but the sting rays floated past with euphoric smiles, It was all rather bizarre and overwhelming. I was happy to see that we weren’t the only ones trying to get seflies with all the fish. I don’t think there’s a population of people who use their phones more. Perhaps maybe China? But you get my point! I felt like I’d taken so many pictures that morning, but the majority turned out to be failed seflies. I deleted most of them, minus this one, which I found particularly amusing.

Two seconds earlier there was a shark there...

Two seconds earlier there was a shark there…

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Shark shot

Naturally we’d worked up an appetite after wandering, and wheeling, our way through the aquarium, so we hit up a Fish and Chip Cafe in the food hall and feasted ourselves on varieties of seafood (except Beth the veggie who had salad and chips). Afterwards, Dave, Beth and I left Rachel to meet up with some other ETA’s whilst we got the  Sky Train to Thong Lo in search of the infamous Bangkok Cat Cafe.

It was a bit of a faff getting there, and for a little while we thought we’d gone the wrong way, but eventually we spotted the sign for Purr Cat Cafe Club. To be honest, I’m not the biggest cat lover. I am 100% a dog person. I can’t deal with their indifferent, snobbish natures. But the dogs out here are a bit scatty, you can never quite tell if its get rabies or not, and all I wanted was to stroke and cuddle something cute and fluffy. I was a bit unsure as to what it would be like; will the cafe smell, are the cats mangy like the ones off the street, how many will there be…so many questions!

cat decor

Crazy cat decor

Of course it completely exceeded my expectations!! Everything was cat themed; from the gifts in the little token gift shop, to the decorations on the wall, to the chocolate swirl you get on the top of your coffee. It was like Professor Umbridge’s office from Harry Potter; I half expected all the cat photos to start moving. It was quite busy when we arrived so we ordered our drinks in the waiting area and sat gazing into the glass delivery room filled with new born baby kittens. So adorable!! About ten minutes later we were lead into the main room…

The cats were just everywhere and they weren’t mangy little scraggly ones from off the street, but beautiful big cats. Long haired, short haired, black ones, white ones, sleepy ones, grumpy ones… Oh gaaaaahd. All of a sudden I loved cats!

Chiller

Chiller

Biggest cat ever!

Biggest cat ever!

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Cat and a cuppa

After a good hour or so of cat time we departed. We hopped back on the BTS and headed for Central World, a mall claiming to be one of the biggest and most luxurious in Asia. Of course we had to check it out. Heck! We felt slightly out of our shopping comfort zone; Gucci, Celine, Prada, all the big boys were there. With approximately 200 baht in my pocket I chose (did I have a choice?!) to remain an impartial observer. After a bit of envious wandering through the mall we headed home.

Sunday:

On Sunday the adrenalin junkies and I headed to Siam Park City, a theme park and water world situated just north of Bangkok. It all looked rather dodgy when we arrived, more like an abandoned theme park than one which is open and running. We rather suspiciously made our way through the entrance after wangling into paying the Thai entrance fee (thanks to our non-immigrant type F visa-woooooo!!). It was all rather quiet and scarce, but we just went with it. I personally don’t sit well with roller coasters, but I did manage the Log Flume without crying out in fear. However, there is no proof of this in the photo Beth bought. I think you can just about see me quivering behind Beth as I hold on for dear life. It’s just not for me ok!

Log Flume

Spot the coward…

So I spent most of the day patiently waiting for Beth and Dave as they tested out some of the rides, mainly eating fried chicken and hiding from the rain. The water park was really fun; they had four flume slides, a wave pool (apparently the biggest in Asia), a flowing pool and loads of cute swimming areas. The water wasn’t particularly clean, but we persevered. Afterwards we went on the Siam Tower. Yes, me included! I only went on it because it wasn’t a ride, but a viewing tower where you get to see the horizon of Bangkok’s rising skyscrapers. Sadly it was rather cloudy so the pictures didn’t come out that well…

Cloudy Bangkok skyline

Cloudy Bangkok skyline

By late afternoon we were all rather shattered, Dave, who was feeling very hungover from a big night on Khao Sahn, in particular. So we went our separate ways, Dave to Lak Si and Beth and I to Bangkoknoi. Yet another jam packed weekend down…

Siam Park City

Siam Park City

Week 5: Teacher Barbie and MBK Treats

Another fun filled week at CTC complete!! Let’s see if I can remember all the good bits…

Monday:

I had a slow start to Monday with a practice mid-term test in Joel’s class. I spent the majority of the lesson walking around the room (the a/c was particularly powerful that morning), and the rest of the lesson marking the tests. In the afternoon I had my class with James. It’s safe to say we are no longer getting lost in translation. Wahooooo! I lead his class with a word/sentence game which went down an absolute treat, the back-seat lads even got off their phones to show some interest and join in. Some even blessed me with some actual conversation and a bit of banter! Who’da thought it?! Fingers crossed from now on James and I will understand each other a little better.

Tuesday:

On Tuesday afternoon I had my usual IEP class; Joel spent the lesson reviewing the topic of dates, months, and time, and I helped answer questions, explain concepts, generally give support and whatnot. We finished class slightly earlier than expected so Joel and I ended up just talking to Supalak and the others. Inevitably this developed into an interrogation.

The conversation went something along the lines of this…

Q: ”Do you have boyfriend teachheerrrr?’          A: ‘No, I don’t’.
Q: ‘But you have boy friends?’                                  A: ‘Of course, I have friends that are boys.’
Q: ‘Are they handsome teacher?’                            A: ‘Yes. I have some very handsome friends’
Q: ‘Ooooooh teacheeeeeer!! Can I come visit you in England to meet English boy?’…….

The conversation developed further; the girls informed me that they must learn English so that they can get an English boyfriend. Shouldn’t they just re-name the English courses then? ‘English for Marriage’, rather than ‘English for Business’. The feminist in me just wanted to grab them all and shake them/slap them. But I felt that pearls of wisdom would simply float over their heads.

Wednesday:

In Hannah’s morning class we did some present simple and present continuous revision for the mid-terms. I helped students go through their work sheets before playing ‘Grass Skirts’ with them. I read about this game online and tweaked it to fit in with the tenses content. I basically wrote out some present simple and present continuous sentences on a piece of paper. I then cut through the paper, almost to the end, under each sentence so that the paper then looked like a grass skirt. The students had to run to the back of the room and tear a sentence off the paper. They then had to fill in the blanks and work out whether it was present simple or present continuous tense. This game worked really well!! I was very pleased with the way it worked out. Happy days!! There was a slightly awkward/hilarious moment at one point during the morning; one of the two ladyboys in the class accused Hannah of calling her a ‘him’. She was being rather playful about it don’t worry and it turned out that it was actually her friend who had called her a ‘he’ (as a joke), and not Hannah. Awkward, confusing, comic. Oh gaaaahd! Only in Thailand…

After Hannah’s class I had a couple of hours with Nick and the IEP class. He was also focussing the lesson on mid-term revision, so we spent the time playing a game called Jeopardy (which I’d never heard of or played before). He basically put the categories for the mid term on the board and under each category he listed the points that were up for grabs. The higher the amount of points, the harder the question. He basically covered all the questions on his mid-terms and the students seemed pretty quick with the answers. Fingers crossed they’ll all absolutely boss it!!

In the evening, Beth and I ventured to MBK to meet with Dave, Ammie and Annie. We’d been told there was going to be a free Thai boxing event nearby and couldn’t say no to some free entertainment. Beth and I arrived earlier than we had scheduled to meet so that we could get some grub before the boxing match. We hit up food heaven on level 5 of MBK. IT WAS AMAZING! They have literally every type of cuisine at your finger tips. I was craving cheese so I got myself a ham and sweetcorn pizza, and followed it up with a sweet treat.

Sweet treats

Sweet treats

This was one of the many ‘Thailights’ of the week. The strawberry cream cake was literally like a cloud. It floated into my mouth and melted away. And the blueberry macaroon was to die for. If you know me, and your reading this, you’ll know how much I am obsessed with these petite, colourful, bundles of joy. Well, it was a fabulous macaroon and I will be going back for more! After we gorged on the food we met up with Dave outside McDonalds and waited for Annie and Ammie to arrive. Sadly we discovered that the boxing was cancelled. Absolutely gutted. Then Beth very quickly fell ill so we had to get in a taxi and dash home so that she didn’t disgrace herself in the middle of the shopping mall. Instead she nearly disgraced herself in the taxi. It only took us an hour and a half to get home! Bloody Bangkok traffic!!!

Thursday:

On Thursday morning there was a singing contest at the school for a couple of hours so there wasn’t any class. Apparently the students were competing to stand as a representative for the school, they would then go on to compete against other school representatives to hopefully become the district representative, etc etc etc.

CTC has the X Factor

CTC has the X Factor

So we chilled in the morning and watched as the students came on stage to sing their songs, sadly they were singing in Thai so we didn’t really understand what they were saying, but nonetheless, they were very good. As a mid-contest interlude some of the tourism students performed a dance for the school. They were dressed surprisingly provocatively considering the context, and some of the dancers were ladyboys; all of a sudden I was having flashbacks of Koh Tao’s infamous cabaret show which I visited during my previous trip to Thailand. This school is just full of surprises…

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Pom pom gal

Pom pom gal

In the afternoon I had my lesson with Hannah, and for some reason I cannot remember a thing about it! I clearly had my head in the clouds following the morning of song and dance. But I do remember that in the evening Beth and I met Hannah and Angie at Central Plaza. We got a table at a Japanese restaurant which had a 50% off offer on, and we followed up our meal with a cheeky trip to the cinema to see ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy’ (which is super funny- I totally recommend it!!). Another evening of good food and good company!

Friday:

On Friday morning CTC had its Mother’s Day Celebrations. Due to the mid-terms next week the school had to celebrate the holiday earlier than usual, so we all sacrificed an hour of class in the morning to gather at the orange building. The ceremony proved rather uninteresting for those uneducated in the Thai language (aka most of the English department). We just sat there and listened whilst trying to remain candid as possible as one of the teachers harassed us with an unnecessary amount of photos. He was like a member of the paparazzi so naturally I felt like Beyonce…

Mother's Day gathering

Mother’s Day gathering

After the ceremony I had my class with James, another fun bunch of students who loved the word game I made. This is the class, if you remember, with the girl who screams and takes pictures of me. Well, she doesn’t scream as much any more, but she still likes to take pictures. She added me on Facebook and I later found this picture which she tagged me in…

Teacher Barbie

Teacher Barbie

The caption read:

‘This is my teacher she’s like Barbie
This is the second time I photographed with her I look very strange
Love you my good teacher ^_^
Thanks for to day I’m fun and happy with ur game’

I also discovered the picture from our previous lesson which she had been using as her profile picture. What an absolute babe! Oh. Don’t let me forget. That facebook post got over 200 likes! How is that even possible!?!?!!?!? Don’t get me wrong, I will be claiming at least 50 of them….

After James’ class I had a very chillaxed afternoon; my IEP class with Joel was cancelled so I spent a couple of hours chatting in the office and playing Sudoku. In the evening we had big, exciting plans; Jill had invited Beth and I to her apartment for the weekly Friday night staff party which we had missed out on the week before. We had heard of the debauchery from the previous week’s staff night, so we were particularly excited. Joel picked us both up from Korawik’s and walked us to Jill’s apartment, which was actually just near the river and only round the corner from the both of us.

Jill's fabulous Bangkok view

Jill’s fabulous Bangkok view

Soup soup soup...

Soup soup soup…

Noi was already there when we arrived and James and Angie arrived a little later. Some of James’ friends trickled in as the night went on to belatedly celebrate James’ birthday from the previous week. What began as an innocent beer over soup and somtam became a hazy evening of Karaoke and whiskey. I can recall absolutely nailing Spice Girl’s ‘Wanna Be’ with B2 and Angie and James as the back up dancers! Supalak and Bing (two students from the school) even rocked up at one point and joined in on the banter and booze. That just would never ever ever happen in England! I also may (or may not have…) got on the back of a motorcycle with Angie, who may (or may not have…) been drunk. I understand now that it was an incredibly stupid thing to do. But I promise Mum (or any familial figure of authority), we literally drove two metres down the road and there weren’t any cars there…
Sorry. Not sorry. Sorry…

Karaoke

Karaoke

Beer o'clock

Beer o’clock

At approximately 2.am, after many a bowl of Noi’s delicious soup, we wandered home. Unfortunately, the front door at Korawik’s was lost so I had to stay at Beth’s house. She has a single bed: there was a lot of spooning!