Monday, October 25, 2010

New Arrival

A few days ago a new visitor came to the land of smiles. I had met him in March '09 when he and two others came here to visit Ryan and do some traveling. Well now he's moved here for real to start teaching English and I've been helping him get situated. It's great having him here for a couple reasons. The first is obviously that it's nice to have someone else my age to hang out with. Especially since both Fern and Tara will be leaving the country within the month. The second is that he's given me a new appreciation for the small things here. As we've been walking around the city, getting him oriented, he constantly remarks on how great something is or how much he loves some aspect of life here. Things that I, somehow, stopped noticing after a while. It's great to be reminded that I live in such a cool place.

I start work full-time in November so I've been trying to take advantage of my time off before I lose it. I'm thinking of maybe a quick trip down to Koh Samet or something. Just a little pre-work vacation. We'll see. I also picked up a bit of a cold. Quite a feat since it's been 90 or higher the past three days. I'm gonna blame the air-conditioning in 7/11. Anyway, i'm getting plenty of vitamin C and it should be gone in no time. Nothing to worry about.

much love

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Let it shine

It's rainy season. I get it. But usually it rains for an hour or two then lets up, leaving a clear blue sky above. That hasn't been the case as of late. It has been rainy for the past three days. Sometimes a downpour, sometimes just a drizzle, sometimes that cloudy, overcast, about-to-rain atmosphere, but always rainy. I've talked to people who have been here a while and they said it's never lasted this long before. The good news is that I'm keeping busy with work and have been occupied for most of it. A lot of the teachers are going on short little vacations now so there's plenty of fill-in work. The other good news is that this morning it finally stopped! I'm sure it will rain again today or tomorrow, but for now it's nice to have a blue sky and chirping birds. I'm off to celebrate with some pizza and some lounging by the pool.

much love

Monday, October 11, 2010

James goes to Camp

Well, I did my first English Camp last week. It was a lot of fun and I hope to do another one soon. It was at a resort in Nahkon Nayok which is about 2 hours outside the city. When I heard ‘resort’ I originally thought it would be somewhere along the gulf coast but it was actually north-east of here and situated in the hills.

Day one started early. We (9 teachers and 2 staff) spent the night in a hotel far from the resort and we had to be there for opening ceremonies at 8:30. We had a great group of people from all over the world. English, Canadian, South African, Philippino, and American. Pretty groovy. We opened up with some songs and simple introductions. I had been told what to expect but I was still nervous. I Can Read caps their classes at 8 students so I’m never really dealing with a large crowd. This camp had something like 260 kids. Eventually we broke down into 9 teams with me as the head of Team 2 (later re-named Super 2). There were all kinds of silly games and challenges for the kids to do. I suppose this was rather obvious going in but I failed to realize that I would be more of a camp counselor and not really a teacher, which was fine with me. We did do a little teaching on the subject of the wonders of the world. We circled around to each of the teams and did a little presentation. I taught on the Coliseum. After lunch there was a period for the kids to go of and play games. A couple of the teachers and I were in charge of the soccer match which was a lot of fun. The field had a nice view of the mountains rising up and a light rain fell which cooled us off a little. After that (we won obv) there was time for a shower, dinner, and a few end of the day activities before some much needed sleep.

Day two started with breakfast and a few ceremonies. There are always a lot of ceremonies. We played a couple more games, watched a slide show of the day before (?) and wrapped it up with a concluding ceremony. There they announced the winner of our camp-long battle for team supremacy. Sadly, Super 2 didn’t win although we dominated the team cheer competition and placed a strong third in the ‘Build your own Wonder’ contest. We had lunch and were in a van heading back to Bangkok by 1:30. These English camps all vary in length and can be up to 5 days long, probably more. I would like to try my hand at a longer one someday. I made some new friends and now I feel plugged in to a whole new community of English camp ex-pats. My friend (who originally set me up on this) had a birthday party the other night and I ended up running into some of the people I had just met a couple days earlier. Very cool. All in all it was a very enjoyable trip, and I’m glad I did it.

Much love

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thailand Open

The past couple days have been pretty busy. One of the full-time I Can Read teachers at the Bang Na center got sick and has been out all week. I wish here a speedy recovery, but in the meantime i've been picking up her classes and having fun doing it. This was my second weekend teaching the same kids so they were more comfortable with which made class go a lot smoother. The trip out to Bang Na is a bit of an ordeal. I try and save on cab fare by walking/motorbiking to the skytrain where I go to the end of the line and hop on one of the aforementioned buses. All in all a little over an hour. The return trip is even worse since the bus can get stuck in rush hour traffic. I didn't get all the way home till 9pm friday night! (although I did stop for dinner before getting all the way home.)

Well anyway, the other day my friend Fern called me and said she had tickets to the semifinal round of the Thailand Open, the big tennis tournament going on now. It sounded like an awesome idea since 1) I'd never seen a pro tennis match and 2) I'd been looking something fun to do and 3) I still hadn't seen Fern since I'd returned to Thailand. Perfect! The matches were held at the Impact Arena way north of the city. Technically not even in Bangkok, in Nonthaburi. I got there as fast as I could from Bang Na (far south-east of bangkok) and was just in time to watch the feature match of the day. World Ranked #1 Rafael Nadal play #53 Guillermo Garcia Lopez. Very cool. Like I said, I've never attended a live tennis match before so I can't really comment on how this was any different from a western venue. But there were a few things. There was a small group of people in support of Garcia Lopez. They didn't do much, just shouted 'Lopez" in that silence between the clapping for a point and the serving of the next. Apparently this just wouldn't stand with the Nadal supporters in the house. After "Lopez" there would be a smattering of "Nadal" from around the arena. They would go back and forth for a while. Then once inbetween games there was a crazy man in a ridiculous outfit shouting from up in the stands. Apparently he said something pretty funny since the arena loved it. Then as an exclamation point on his antics, he swung around an enormous prop tennis racket. Some comedy we could all enjoy. Aside from that, there was just some general rowdiness in the audience. Everytime there was a long rally or a winning drop shot or anything out of the ordinary, the fans would start to whoop and holler like crazy. I don't know if that's the same at other matches and the TV just drowns it out or what.

I don't know if this made any news in the US, but Nadal ended up losing the match. The crowd was mainly there to see Nadal play and were very supportive of him as he breezed through his first set. But by the end of the match, I think there was genuine suppport for the underdog and they wanted to see an upset. I've mentioned before about the lack of pro sports here and the only thing to realy watch is Premiere League Soccer. Not only is that the only thing to watch, but all the Thais seem to only care about the top teams. I understand that they have no geographical ties to the league and are free to support whomever they want. There's no good reason not to cheer for the best. Aside from the fact that they're the best. I began to feel that maybe rooting for an underdog, something I once thought universal, was not at all common here. It was the potentially the first point of Thai culture that I found odd and almost irreconcilable. Who cheers for Goliath? That's why it was nice to hear the unassigned patrons of the Impact Arena clapping and stomping and cheering for a #53 to upset a #1.

Much Love

ps I'm heading 2 hours outside of Bangkok tomorrow to work at my first English Camp. It's a couple days of teaching and playing games with a bunch of kids. I've been told that they're lots of fun. I'll report on all the fun when I get back!