Friday, July 23, 2004

Howdy people!

A quick post to let you all know I'm in Penang, Malaysia now, applying for my non-immigrant B visa, which will last me a good three months. 

Yet another noisy internet cafe, in a huge I'm gonna scoot and find a quiet spot somewhere.  Penang is AWESOME!

Still having some problems getting a phone line hooked up at my home in Thunglung, so may be a while yet before I get wired back into the internet. 

Ciao for now!


Monday, July 05, 2004

A Better World. . .

Some of these posts may seem a bit out of order, mainly because I’ve somehow lost my pal Chris Allen from Belfast, Northern Ireland who's been posting for me. I’ve most probably lost him to the Euro 2004 games, which (try as I might) although I try to avoid, Anne Charmaine keeps dragging me into….so now I’m an addicted fan.

So, bear with me because there are still more Malaysian posts to come. (Annie, I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me Krishna).

I’m finally semi-settled and happy…very, very happy. I’m living in a small southern Thai community called Thung Lung, which is about twenty or thirty minutes outside (south) of Hatyai. My boss Craig Hanks, originally from Australia, took part of a day to drive me about, looking for accommodations and we lucked upon a beautiful two storey house, which is semi-furnished. Things are much easier with Craig around because he speaks fluent Thai.

My landlord(s) are an interesting couple. The husband is a police officer in town and his wife is a furniture store proprietress. So, I get discounted furniture! What a deal! This house I'm renting is really too huge for me, but the price is right and we even made a deal, reducing the rent by 1000 Thai Baht, if hubby is allowed to park his vehicles here at the house. Hell, for a thousand Baht rent reduction, he can park his damn airplane here if he wants!

I’ve got two bedrooms (upstairs), two bathrooms (one upstairs, one down), a spacious living room, enclosed porch, spacious kitchen, and the most gorgeous patio upstairs that you’ve ever seen. It’ll be barbecue time as soon as I can afford to purchase one (first on my list is a washing machine). I promise to post some pics as soon as I can.

The neighborhood here is something else. By “something else” I mean just this side of fantastic. The people are very warm and friendly and the kids here are just as wonderful as my kids back in China. I’m quite the prodigy here, as I was in China, but it’s different here. People don’t seem to have noxious or rude intentions (at least the Thai people). They stare, but when my eyes meet theirs, they smile a huge, genuine smile. Many of the kids I teach, live in this community of Thung Lung.

The area here is lush, and lush is an understatement. The jungle here is thick and right out my front door is thick foliage of coconut trees, papaya, mango (got one right next to my house), various varieties of mango, jackfruit trees, pomegranate, bamboo, and hordes of wild exotic flowers like bird-of-paradise and others. Basically, it is a tropical paradise here and I love it.

Language is a problem….naturally. This is a small village, far removed even from the larger city of Hatyai to the north. Not much English is spoken, however, upon arriving (to much alarm and surprise) at one of the local eateries around the corner, the villagers quickly dispatched a local woman, who is a beautician from a nearby shop, who speaks a smattering of English. We had a wonderful conversation filled with sign language, broken English, some Thai dialect (which I’m told is an ancient dialect in this community) and a lot of Ah’s and oh’s. A wonderful time really.

I teach at a nearby school, which is (ironically) a Chinese based school. They just took on two new Chinese teachers who I’ve yet to meet, but will be fun to practice my Chinese on them. The school is rather large by Thai standards and expanding constantly. We teach grades one through six (Prathom) and will soon be teaching grades seven through nine (Matayom).

I found a baby snake in my living room today, have located the neighborhood internet caf?e, and have had my esophagus burned to a crisp at the local food stands in town. I’ve identified a flowering plant that I haven’t seen since I was a kid in El Paso, that we kids used to call “The Popper Plant” because if you coat the brown, banana shaped seed pods with your saliva, they “POP” open and spew out the seeds. Actually I discovered the plant while visiting Annie, while on our jaunt through Malacca, Malaysia and (I think) she was quite impressed. Ha! Today, I found yet another flower color variety and hope to have them growing in my mini-garden here on my terrace soon.

Well, enough for now. It’s about time for me to pay a visit to one of the (many) local restaurants here. I’ve got a small book that I kept while in China, that has not only Chinese translations in it, but now some Thai terms for various types of food. It’s fun actually, because most catch on quickly and want me to try one of their “best” dishes, begging me to experiment a little, but luckily I have the translation written down for “not too hot please!”

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