So, I have arrived safely in Bangkok. I slept a lot. My host met me at the airport, and we climbed into a Malibu Barbie pink taxi for the trip to her home. I ended up with two checked suitcases, a carry on suitcase and my laptop bag. All within weight of course. Winks, looks left, looks right...phew. No one double checking bag weight.
Upon seeing my bags, which I must say yes I packed too much, but not bad all things considered, my host proclaimed, "Why you bring so much clothes? Clothes are cheap in Thailand!" Oh well. Maybe at some point I can take the traveler's advice I read somewhere for lightening the load: sell your jeans.
I tried some new fruit - longkong. The outside skin looks like very small potatoes, you cut the skin and peel it off. Inside are 5 or 6 clear white citrus sections. It is sweet, not sour, and has seeds you need to spit out - about one seed per section.
I am staying with my host, and I feel very spoiled because she had air conditioning installed in my bedroom (and her bedroom also, less guilt) before I arrived to make sure I would be comfortable. She was worried about Americans not being used to the heat in Bangkok. I must say, I greatly appreciate it. I think that also means I'll just stay here for awhile, sounds good to me. The bathroom is a lot like the one in my apartment in Italy - water gets everywhere when you shower. Also excited - western toilet. You cannot flush toilet paper, you place it in the trash.
This morning we went to my host's temple to make merit. On the way she purchased food from a vendor to give to the monks. Apparently, the vendor was surprised that I was American - they expected Americans to be more fat. At the temple we took off our shoes and placed the food in bowls the monks had. We placed the bowls on a towel (you can't hand things to monks directly as a female), and poured water from a silver vessel into a silver bowl while the monk prayed. My host then took the water in the bowl and threw it on a tree outside. She explained the food and throwing the water on the tree was to honor deceased relatives.
On our walk to and from the temple there were many dogs. Apparently stray dogs are quite a problem, and my host sometimes carries a stick to hit them if they try to attack her. Noted. Near the temple there were also several roosters roaming about, I think they belong to the temple and don't roam the city quite as freely as dogs. I saw one Siamese kitten begging by the food stand. I refrained from petting her, but she was cute. The food vendor said she is hungry. I suppose if I were a street kitten in Bangkok, I'd hang out by the grilling fish and chicken too.
My host has given me the text books for the classes I will be teaching. I'll look over them some more, but it seems pretty straight forward. Apparently a different foreign teacher taught computers last semester and didn't like it. I'm to talk with him about what the students learned last semester.
I've learned that this school has several foreign teachers, from the following countries: Germany, Holland, South Africa and England. I will be the token American. According to my host, some of these teachers are quite interested to meet me. My impression is that all of the foreign teachers are in their 20s, three are male and one is female. I suppose if nothing else, I can help the gender balance.
I will have about 32 students in my classes, which is a little better than the source I read that said I could have 40 students. Classes are 50 minutes long. School begins at 8 am. My host lives far from the school, and Bangkok traffic is terrible. She says we will wake up at 5 am to get ready, and leave at 6 am to get to school on time. I'm definitely glad I brought my travel alarm clock. I may have to develop a coffee habit - or at least a strong tea habit.
My host helped, and basically did a load of laundry for me. The washing machine is definitely different - it has two tanks, one for wash and one for spin. It has text in Arabic on it as well as Thai and English. A pipe for draining broke some time back, so water just drains across the floor. As I expected we hang laundry to dry in the sun.
We've watched a little TV, including some Korean pop music videos, a Thai Zodiac game show, and a fair bit of some sort of Christian sermon and Christian kids show in English. I have to say I liked what I can only compare to MTV featuring Asian pop best. I think they call it 'Bang.'
I have plenty more stories already, but I need to go and eat. I think we are also going to a mall later. Not sure. Tomorrow I will be opening a Thai bank account so the school can pay me. Sometime in the next week or so I will get a Thai cell phone. My host said she might have a student take me to go get it - I'm not sure if she means middle school student or a university student, since this school is affiliated with a university. I think maybe university student? I guess I'll find out.
My host has also mentioned inviting my students' families to host me for a weekend outing-advertising my help with English in exchange for sight seeing. Sounds good to me. OK, I'm off to try roti - which is Indian and her neighbor just brought home with her from her vacation. Also is mentioned in the book Sold. I'll report back on what it is like.