Monday, May 23, 2005

Posted by Hello

The new term has started and what a delightful bunch of kids I have this year! The holiday was awesome, but I was getting a bit bored and restless, so it's good to get back to work again.

A new classroom was built, just for my youngsters and I. We now occupy the old listening lab upstairs in the Prathom building, so it's convenient for all my students as well as myself and my Thai assistant Chu. The other classroom was nice, but it was a special classroom belonging to the school and doubled as a conference room for important events, so you couldn't really decorate all that much.

Now I have a whole classroom to fix up. In addition, plenty of nifty ideas for drawing and painting activities for the kids. Kind of like one big refrigerator door, if you know what I mean.

I've also begun teaching private classes in the evenings. My friend Wut and his sister Bua came up with the idea for an English discussion group and so far, it's evolved into an elaborate advanced English study class. The class is lucrative, as well as enjoyable, and we've even begun an online English discussion site.

On the home front, I've gone cooking crazy. Over the holidays, I went out and purchased a slow cooker, convection oven with rotisserie, microwave, and blender. I was getting pretty frustrated with my cooking limitations, so now I have no excuses. Nevertheless, cooking ingredients remain a bit of a problem.

During the holidays, I began to poke around Hat Yai, exploring new areas and asking questions about where to obtain certain cooking ingredients. My exploits paid off, leading me to a virtual cornucopia of okra, purple eggplant, avocados, imported cheeses, tortilla chips, lentils, cilantro, fresh basil, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, halibut, imported salmon, pitted black olives, and although I still can't find flour or corn tortillas, I've discovered a nifty little Indian restaurant that sells their Naan and Chapati (Indian flat breads) to me, in bulk.

Now when I have a recipe in hand, it becomes an adventure.

Legumes are located at the Rattakarn Road wet market, avocados and black olives at TOPS market in the basement of Central Department Store, tortilla chips at Carrefour and salsa at Tesco Lotus...then a quick motorcycle taxi ride to Namaste Orange Indian Restaurant for my Naan or Chapati.

I've got more exploring to do, as I've heard of a place where I can buy blue cheese! Buffalo wings here I come!


Thursday, May 19, 2005

Do you like poetry?

If you do, you should visit the "Making Sasha," site. It's curiously gluttonous!


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Posted by Hello

Hanging meat in an Asian wet market...

A Day in the Life of Jeeem in Thailand

Forging on down the road past the "Number Two Tables," I wander into our local wet market to purchase some coffee and ingredients for a stew I'm making.

Wet markets, famous in Asia, are so-named because of the water on the floor. Controversial in many parts of the world as, "Disease harboring cesspools," one has to experience a wet market to fully understand the allure that these local revelations of cultural diversity create.

My first trip to an Asian wet market was in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, Philippines. Outside the market, I witnessed four Filipino men trying to load a huge, bound, screaming, squealing hog into the back of a tiny motorella. I remember feeling sympathetic for this poor animal, but looking back, I realize that most Asian people do not share the love for animals that westerners do.

The next thing I remember about that wet market was the smell.

Wet markets sell a little bit of everything. Shirts, shoes, fruit, live animals, candy, dry goods, vegetables, cooked food and of course...raw red meat, hanging on steel hooks. Refuse is often thrown into drains or tossed about on the floor, only to be washed away at the end of the day or the start of the new day.

At first, the smell is enough to make you gag. Chickens are slaughtered on site, the blood spewing about onto the floor; fish are cleaned on tables smeared with blood, scales and assorted grime, their entrails dumped in buckets or onto the floor. Where there are live animals, there is excrement.

You get the idea.

But, having experienced wet markets in the Philippines, Hong Kong, China, Thailand, and Malaysia, I can quite honestly say I'm used to them by now. Being the only foreigner here in my village, the locals know me by now and they always get a kick out of seeing me shopping in their market. You can get some pretty good deals if you know what you're doing and can speak a little bit of Thai.

Tao rai? (How much?)

Hok sip baht? (Sixty baht?)

Oh no, no, no! Yee sip baht! (Twenty baht)

(Querulous look of mock disgust)...See sip baht! (Forty baht)

(Mildly querulous look of mock disgust in return)...Sam sip baht. (Thirty baht)

I walk away with my item, having agreed on the price of thirty baht. However, in reality, if I had been Thai, I probably would have only paid, "Sip baht," or ten baht.

Oh well, that's half the fun of shopping at a wet market. You get to practice your Thai and get a little entertainment on the side.

There are some items at our wet market that you won't find in the local walk-in stores. I can purchase fresh prawns of varied sizes and even get some pretty nice fish fillets to fry up at home. I've discovered some fresh herbs, romaine lettuce, daikon radish, and fresh ginger root, which is hard to find elsewhere.

Well, time to move on down the road. Join me again for my next adventure, won't you?

Posted by Hello

I have bronchitis again.

Seems every year I come down with this annoying, semi-chronic condition...a grim reminder of my slothful days of smoking.

I've been offline for a while because the phone lines have been dysfunctional. The Thai labor crew droids have been hard at work on Soi 3, hammering, cutting, smashing, and generally destroying part of the road and riverbank. Consequently, they bundled all the phone and power lines together and strung them up in a tree, to allow passage of their earth moving equipment.

Real professional.


A Day in the Life of Jeeem in Thailand

In seven more days, I will be returning to teach after my two months of holiday time. Its been a nice break but a tad boring at times when I was down for the count with my coughing spells. Therefore, I took to the roads exploring, shopping and discovering, every chance I got.

In a foreign country, you see some of the strangest things...things that seem to defy explanation, only because they are foreign and you can't figure out what they are because you don't speak the language.

One of these "Things," are the ever-present folding tables set up on the sidewalk around Thailand, with a large red sign placed on the table and a large, white, number "2" written on it. Often these tables are unmanned, with nothing on the table other than the red sign. At other times, a Thai person is sitting there with mobile phones lying about and a notebook laid out with Thai scribbling on it.

I make mental notes of these "Things," so I can later ask someone just what these things are. I don't always get an answer, but that's usually because my description of the said "Thing," is severely lacking. However, my description of the "Number Two Tables," received a quick response.

Mobile phones, even here in Thailand, can be expensive. Some of them fetch prices in the 8000 to 12,000 baht range, depending on the bells and whistles they possess. So, enterprising Thai's will set up a "Number Two Table," charging two baht per minute for the use of their phone(s).

Mobile phone-less people wander by, spot the number two table, and stop to make a call. No fuss, no phone cards or hot phone booths. The advantage to the "Number Two Table," owner? In time, their proceeds pay for the phone itself and eventually for the phone credit cards that charge them. In my neighborhood, along the main road, I've spotted as many as four of these tables set up within a kilometer radius.

Time to move on...join me at the wet market, won't you?

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