Random anecdote before I actually get back on topic. I put sticky rice into my fridge, so it was all hard. I pondered how I would steam it... and came up with the perfect solution!:
And yes, it did work! :D
As I was walking out to the morning assembly, one of the Thai teachers raced after me and asked, “Seminar today? You go seminar?”
I was thoroughly confused and said, “I don’t know!”
As it turns out, I did have to attend a seminar. STFX (my school) is always behind on giving us news. Everything travels by word of mouth OR you hear it in the morning announcements. For example, the field trip? I actually found out only a few days before that it was happening. We farang are always the last to know! :(
The seminar that we were to attend was 3 hours long, so our Thai teachers would cover any of the classes we were missing out on. No offense to the presenter because I agreed with parts of his speech, but it was a horrible seminar; it had almost nothing to do with teaching! You could argue it with me, I know, but you would have to recognize that it really was not focused on how we could develop as teachers.
Strangers: Negative or A Positive Learning Experience? Yes, I’m completely serious. That’s what we were supposed to listen to for 3 hours. It just so turned out that the first guest speaker had canceled because of some problems in Bangkok (which I will tell you a little bit about later), so this Reverend had kindly stepped in. I definitely appreciated the way he approached certain topics, but for some reason, I was offended by him saying that humans are the best species on the planet. After that, I couldn’t listen to him anymore.
The first half hour was us introducing ourselves. It was supposed to only focus on our names and where we came from, but other people began telling us their life stories (just kidding!). Well, it was more like they told us their motives and aspirations when coming to Thailand. It was a bit unnecessary though. The next half an hour was him telling us his experiences, saying how he learned to accept different cultures by going to Northern Thailand, where he was a guest in many friendly tribal people’s homes. As a result, he accepted simplicity into his life, so that when he returned to the U.S., he rid his house of many material possessions. (I agree with that choice of his.) He then told us to answer some questions about us foreign teachers having difficulties in Thailand for the next half an hour.
That’s when everyone sort of went a little bonkers. We complained in our little groups for half an hour about the lack of administration support for foreign teachers as well as the lack of disciplinary action for late students and respect from those who misbehaved.
Snack break! There were meat buns, which everyone knows I dislike, so I grabbed the only sweet bun left. EWW! It was filled with weird gummy bits that were so clearly artifically-flavored and colored. When I was finished eating what I wanted to eat out of it, all the gummy pieces were left, while the bun was all gone.
We returned from our 20 minute break and everyone presented for pretty much the last 45 minutes of the seminar. See! We learned nothing. I was fascinated by the conviction all the teachers had against the school though. Some of the administration was filming the whole... let’s call it a “complaint session.” Teachers stood up, walked to the front with our little posters that had all our answers, and then they vented about how we were treated, both as teachers and as farang.
It wasn’t fair that we barely knew what was going on at school. How about our air conditioning that had been broken for at least a week? Where were all our computers? What was the office doing about late students?
The list went on and on, as we complained about the mai pen rai spirit of Thailand--mai pen rai means “no worries,” so they sometimes tend to not handle things at appropriate times. They could give you a meeting time and then just not be there for another hour or more... But most of the complaints were about the school dynamics and how we all felt that the students just did not respect us as teachers, but that the administration did nothing to ease our worries.
Okay, enough about the seminar though. I just elaborated on it so much because it was so ridiculous. One of the older teachers gave me some Sudoku to do and when we left, he advised me that all the seminars were like that. So... if I were subjected to another one, I should be prepared with games and puzzles. Haha, love it!
After school, I planned to leave to Bangkok to see Lindsay, but all the buses, trains, and different strange transfers to reach the final destination just seemed so complicated. Dragging my feet, it took me forever just to pack and head out, but just as I was finally deciding to take a picture of the train routes and hop on them for a few hours, I realized that I did not have my phone and had left it at school. Repeatedly, I just show you what a genius I am.
I ran back to school and saw some of the ladies that were in charge. It was a little embarrassing to be in the clothes I was wearing because I felt indecent. But as I was afraid that the school would be closed by the time I ran over if I didn’t just go immediately, I just ran over with a tank and capris. (Plus, I can’t run in my teacher clothes and shoes!) I found my phone, raced back, waited a few more hours for the traffic to die down, and FINALLY left my place in a taxi all the way to Pata Pinklao, one of the shopping malls in that area. It is pronounced Pingao by Thais.
Central Pinklao is much more popular as a mall though, so Lindsay and I went there to see Catching Fire, but when we reached it, the counters were closed... so we just headed back to her place with some delicious cake donuts and chilled.
We woke up the next morning, ready to go to Chatuchak Market (JJ Market). Lindsay told me to learn how to use the water bottle refiller, so I jumped on that. Lani also came to visit and watched me... I ended up spraying myself so much that it looked like I had just come out of the shower! Haha, I’ll try again and hopefully be much more successful the next time.
Grabbing fruits for breakfast (really cheap!), we jumped into a taxi and headed the JJ Market. We walked around, met up with Jess, and I had a delicious lunch of rice with shrimp paste. Not something I may order next time, but it was still really great to try! I also really enjoyed some thai iced tea, as usual, along with something I thought would help my throat: a honey lemon drink.
Protect your doggies from UV rays!
My bathroom experience. It was so packed. You literally had to...
...walk in front of each toilet room and wait in a very congested line.
I guess it's no different from porta potties, but it just felt very
weird since we were all squished together in some random
line in one tiny area.
My rice with shrimp paste (which I've heard can make you really sick),
but thankfully, this one was cooked well. :)
The JJ Market actually looked different from what I expected. I thought
I would see more stands, and not so many shop-like stores.
It's okay though... still a nice experience :)
They do really sell everything in this market though. You can pretty much
find anything you want: clothes, soaps, food, furniture, bags, shoes, etc etc.
Toward the end of our shopping trip, we wanted to check out the strange
animals, like lizards that they were selling. We looked at the map. Look at
#9: Pets & Wickerwork. How do those two work together? Haha :P
All day, we wandered around at a glacial pace, we each bought a bunch of stuff, saw some adorable puppies and sugar gliders, bought a few gifts (but I am far from done... I’m getting ideas though!)
At night, we took a taxi to Jess’s local restaurant, and I had really delicious gai yang (roast chicken) with sticky rice. We also checked out her apartment. Then, we all took a taxi to watch Carrie at Siam Paragon (look! my wish came true... I got to visit it). Lindsay and I actually wanted to watch Catching Fire, but because Lani and Jess had already watched it, we all decided to watch something else.
Gai yang! Yummyyyyy. I also loved the dishes they used. Very pretty!
Me, Lani, Lindsay, and Jess (from left to right)
When we went to the mall, I couldn't help but marvel
at how elaborate it all was. Beautiful! The fanciest mall
I've been to as of yet in Thailand.
I loved the movie theater! It was so much normal-fun and the seats were comfy. You could even lean back! We also each had our own buckets of popcorn, which of course made everything even better.
As we were leaving, we laughed like crazy people at the cattle of people heading down the escalators. It didn’t stop for about 10 minutes, so most of us were crying and laughing the entire time. After the cattle were herded downstairs, we walked around, frustratingly trying to call taxis.
If this were Black Friday, probably everyone in the mall would be trampled! :(
Looking down at ALL the escalators filled with people from the movies...
My friends: Don't drop your phone!
I was laughing and crying that hard lol
3 minutes later...
That night, Lindsay tested me to see if I learned how to use the water bottle machine. I first dropped my coin, knocked over my water bottle, and then got sprayed a bit (but it didn’t look like I came out of the shower this time!). She laughed at me, saying, “Jen! You’re such a mess!”
But then, when she went over to do it, she hit her water bottle against the plastic door, dropped her coin, and ended up spraying herself ALL OVER. I couldn’t stop laughing at the situation and the irony of it all. Haha, I love that girl :)
Next post, I’ll tell you about the goings-on in Bangkok.
Soap flowers for my mom! I chose the flowers and the caps.
I bargained the guy from 450 baht to 400 baht. (Not that much of a difference, actually.)
But that's okay. :)
3 pairs of earrings for only 50 baht! $1.33 for 3 pairs, basically.
My new bag! I've wanted one of these for a while, and I love it!
A dress that I bought (H&M) for only $3.33
A tank! $3.33
Too lazy to fix my blankets before I took the pic.
A dress that was only about $7!
Yay, I'm happy with my purchases! I'm still looking for more cute dresses though... :D
I'm really glad I bonded with my friends though. I know I'll miss them a whole lot when I go wherever I go next. It truly is hard to find people who genuinely care about you while also accepting your flaws. Plus, who knew something so ordinary could make me so happy? It's because of their company and the simplicity of our hangout that makes me not want to explore so much but just want to hang out with them as people--as my friends. I love them and hope I don't burn any more bridges! :)