Friday, December 3, 2010

Holidays, Internet, Papers

Things have been quite busy, and I think I probably have enough material to write approximately 5 blog entries.  I'll try to keep this update a bit more brief for now though.
This coming week there is no class.  December 5th is the King's birthday, celebrated as Father's Day and a day off from work and school.  Since The King's birthday falls on a Sunday, we have Monday off from school, work etc.
Tuesday December 7th and Wednesday December 8th are 'Sports Days,' for our school.  I know that schools across the country hold sports days, but I'm not sure if every school holds them on these days.  I'm technically not required to come to school at all on these days, and there are no classes, but I am attending at least one of the two days to see what it is about and support our schools football team (soccer).  Apparently on the 8th there is a parade with a float competition between various schools, dancing and cheer competitions.  My boss would like to take me to this day as well, I have said maybe.  I want to be sure and rest and see other parts of Bangkok during my break.  From what I hear, most farang teachers attend one sports day to see what it is about - and do not attend sports days thereafter.  We'll see, I at least want to see what it is about.  And I'm grateful to know that jean pants and t-shirt are acceptable apparel to attend sports day.  I'm a little tired of wearing a skirt or dress M-F, as female students and teachers are required to wear.
We also have Thursday off, I think the school threw that in as an extra day off since we have the other four days of the week off from class.  December 10th is Constitution Day, so Friday schools and businesses will be closed for its observance.

I have had a lot of internet trouble lately.  Since our portion of the school moved into another building, we have not had wireless internet set up.  I did not have wired internet set up in the teacher's office until earlier this week.  I still teach my computer class in the other building.  In the computer lab I cannot use the teacher's computer (which is also the server for the computer lab) at the same time as using the projector to show the students examples and directions for what we are doing.  There is a cable to send what is on the computer monitor to the projector, and a cable to connect the computer to the monitor.  There is only one port for both cables, so you can only connect to one or the other at any given time.  I have to crane my neck around to see what I am doing to load the powerpoint slides or show the students how to find a certain setting in Microsoft Word - whatever we are doing it is very awkward to see what I'm doing.  Sometimes I try and use one of the extra student computers to work on something briefly (yes, thankfully we at least have more than enough computers for every student, even the class of 35). However the web browser on the student computers is not up to date enough for me to view gmail properly - which is quite a pain since I've set it up so my students email me their projects at a gmail address I set up just for computer class.  I tried to install firefox browsers on all of the student computers - before I discovered that the student computers are 'ghosted,' or wiped clean at every boot.  I would like to talk to the Thai IT guy about installing certain things on the computers, but I also don't want to offend anyone or come off as a know-it-all condescending farang.  So I'll just deal for now.
I can sometimes get wireless internet to work in that building, but it is very fickle.  At this point I've just gotten a lot more flexible about due dates and explained to the students the situation with the teacher's internet access.  They understand.  The teachers still don't have our desks in the new office, so the concept that the internet is not as accessible as it should be is not a difficult leap from there.  I've also had some difficulty with the internet at my apartment - there are definitely bottlenecks when too many people are trying to use the internet.  I think I'm going to invest in an internet dongle for accessing internet via the phone networks.  They are available in the states, but at quite a premium through the phone companies.  Supposedly they are much more affordable and reliable here in Bangkok.  We shall see.

I've discovered a lot more things about getting along in Thailand, and getting along at my particular school.  For example, the reason I had so much difficulty obtaining my documents to come to Thailand was that my boss was not aware that I needed them.  The other foreign teachers at my school were in Thailand already - so they had visas to teach or visit already, and from there renewing their visas and permits was no problem for them and the school.  My boss had not previously had to do the primary application for a visa or work permit for any of her staff.  Thank goodness the other farang teachers mentioned this to her.  Receiving the paperwork I needed to complete my application directly coincided with them reminding her that I needed paperwork from the school in order to get my necessary documents.  One of the office secretaries handled all of the e-communication with me, including the communication that was addressed as from my boss.  My boss cannot use email - but everyone in the office has her password so she can delegate tasks for them to do in her stead.  This is also why I could not get information about the computers I would be working with to teach - she has no idea about them.  Ah well whatever.  Also, I still don't officially have my work permit.  Apparently I will receive it in January.  I've been told this is no big deal.  I've also been told that means I'm working illegally, but not to worry because it won't be for too long and they are somewhat lax about this matter for short spans of time, and since I am in the process of application.  Plenty of farangs have gotten away with working sans work permits for periods of years, and most of the farang teachers have worked illegally for a least a month or three months.  Awesome!

A few other quick tidbits before this entry gets too long:
There is such a thing as a Double Big Mac.  It is exactly what it sounds like.  I'm a little scared of that idea, but curious at the sheer ridiculousness of it.  There is 'ketchup' and 'American ketchup,' I haven't figured out what the difference is yet.  Perhaps I've mentioned, or perhaps not: remember the Krispy Kreme Doughnut craze back in the 90s?  Yeah, that's just now hitting Thailand.  I find it amusing.
There is some new store opening in one of the malls at Siam (intersection with four shopping malls connected to each other by sky bridge walk way, including MBK where I had my cell phone adventures and Siam Discovery where the Mac Repair place is).  There is a multi-story ad banner featuring photos of various celebrities for said store opening - Thai celebrities and other Asian celebrities I don't recognize, Angelina Jolie, Princess Diana, Michael Jackson and Mr. and Mrs. Barack Obama.  I wonder if they know (well, the ones living) there are multi-story images of them in downtown Bangkok.  Hopefully I can get a photo of this sometime during the coming week off, I plan on having a bit more time to sight see, take photos and update things.  I will still produce an update about Thanksgiving, and some other things that have fallen by the wayside this week at a later time.  In the meantime - I have a class to teach now.  Presuming they are in attendance and not practicing for something for sports day, or just skipping my class.


  1. Nice Post. Expecting 3-5 inches of snow tonight and tomorrow morning. Life is good here.

  2. There are two kinds of ketchup in Australia too! Australian ketchup was more watery and I think it tasted more vinegary, it's hard to remember. And even American ketchup was not quite the same. The host family I stayed with asked me if there were really 57 kinds of American Ketchup (Heinz haha)