Monday, October 24, 2011

A few weeks ago I lost both my dogs...Puppy first and then Chok.  I cannot even begin to mention the pain and grief I went through during this time.  

My cute little Chok

Both dogs suffered greatly.  The disease that gripped them was leptospirosis, from rats...the veterinarian told me.  I have no idea how they contracted the disease, but Puppy obviously contracted it first and Chok, who was always on Puppy's heels and followed everything he did, got the disease next.  

My wonderful Puppy

So, my kids are gone...

Boo boo, my lone kitty, is the lone survivor and I don't hold out on luck for her, since she kills and often eats rats on a bi-monthly, if not more frequent, basis.  But, for now she's okay.  

With my dogs gone, I now have nothing holding me to this sordid country.  I have been exploring the want ads and will grab whatever is available when it comes up. 

Boo boo has a boyfriend up the road and I know his owner, so her future is not complicated.  I'd just leave her with the guy and let him take care of her.  In fact, I've already mentioned to him that I might not be living here long and he has acknowledged that he is willing to take Boo boo if need be.   

I've had a few opportunities pass my way and most, while sketchy, want me to show up on their doorstep for an interview.  It has always amazed me how some of these employers think we are free to just fly here and there, thousands of miles from our home base, for a short interview and then fly back at a cost in the upper thousands of baht.  

However, some are more reasonable and want to schedule an interview either over the phone or via Skype or similar.  So, as of this weekend I've equipped myself with the necessary equipment...a webcam, microphone, etc., and am now prepared to do some serious business.  

I don't really care where I end up...Mongolia, Japan, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia (money is good but not a first choice though), Chile, Uruguay, San Salvador...they are all looking for teachers, but unfortunately, I'm an old fart at age 56 and many want to pass me by for this...Asia, for sure, is terribly prejudiced regarding age...and not just for foreigners. 

The thing is...Songsaeng school is applying the pressure.  Most schools give foreigners a class load of anywhere from fourteen classes a week, up to sixteen.  I'm pushing thirty.  That's just too much...especially given that the school has asked me to prepare a "special curriculum" (after I've already supplied them with a forty-nine page...massive curriculum for the school year, my humble opinion is not only top notch, but way overboard for this school) for the low-life, scumbag, lazy-assed, losers who are the students in Mathayom 1/1, 1/2, 2/1, and 2/2....the reason being (of course) that the majority of the students from those classes failed my course.  Mathayom 1/1, exclusively, currently holds the record with over 82% failure rate.  The little pricks listen to music on their mp3 players, don't write anything in their notebooks, and basically just don't care.  All just a lazy bunch of brainless lumps.   

Typical of many Thai's not the student's's the teacher.  So, the school wants me to do a bunch of make-work and want me to "entertain" the little scumbags in the lower classes...somehow, magically raising their grades.  "Make the classes more interesting so they will do better," the high-classed bitch says to me...."No way," I say...I'm not a freaking entertainer...I'm a goddamned English teacher!  And besides, if I came up with the best lesson plans in the whole world, it wouldn't matter since the idiots don't pay any attention in class and certainly don't write anything in their notebooks.  So how, pray-tell, can you intimate that this is my fault?"

Basically I said to the high-classed bitch, "I'm tired Juliet.  I'm freaking tired of all these classes.  Most schools give foreigners fourteen, fifteen classes..but here I have to do twenty-nine...thirty classes.  I don't have the time to be work on, if the school wants me to do up another curriculum...screw them.  Screw the school and what "they" want.  If you don't like me.  I don't really friggin' care.  I am, at this point, very disappointed in this school and I am really not very happy working here any more."

Boom baby!

The thing is...the school knows all too well how to brown-nose their students and most likely squeeze money out of their parents...but what they don't know is how to treat their employees or listen to their employees concerns and problems.  

I'm most certainly not the only employee who is unhappy with the school.  There are many more and most of them have openly admitted they are not returning after this school year is over.  A bit of a quandary I suppose, since the school has already held a meeting for the Thai teachers (I'm typically left out since most of the administrative staff cannot speak English, so their meetings are held in Thai) and openly mentioned that they don't have the money to hire new teachers, since many Thai teachers have complained about the unfair work loads and have suggested the school hire more employees to take off the excess pressure.

You see, Thai teachers who quit before their contract is finished, have to reimburse the school in cash.  One such employee is / was my Muslim girlfriend Na.  She got a job in Kuala Lumpur working for an Australian company in customer service and since she quit the school only two days after the end of term one, she had to reimburse Songsaeng Commercial School for 20,000 baht.  


All said...and more to come!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I've kept it a secret for quite a while, since...well, I'm not the luckiest guy in the world regarding relationships, even though I've been in hundreds of them...thousands?  Who knows....

Anyway, I met a Thai woman at work some months she initially approached me, wanting to "practice her English."  Thing is...her English is practically better than mine.  But, I humored her and now, months later, our initial theme of "English practice," has progressed into something a bit more romantic.  

Her nickname is 'Na,' the typical short nicknames Muslim women usually take. heard that right.  Na is Muslim.  A card-carrying Muslim woman...replete with the head-to-tow Muslim garb...the ḥijāb (full head covering scarf...although ḥijāb also refers to the typical modest style of Muslim dress in general)  حجاب

Very traditional...long-sleeved blouses, no bare arms...long skirts or leg showing...just that pretty face I've come so attached to.

We click...I feel extremely comfortable with her and we could talk for hours together.  She's sweet, kind, extremely intelligent and full of wonderment...I find myself wanting to become a better man for her...which for me, ain't easy folks. 
There are a lot of barriers to a relationship such as ours...I'm a card-carrying agnostic, she's Muslim.  I believe in Mexican food and beer...she believes in Islam and the Koran.  I eat pork, beef, chicken...hell, anything that moves practically...and I've even eaten dog and a few other disgusting things we won't get into here...

Na lives a "Halal" life naturally, and doesn't eat pork, doesn't have dogs as pets, cannot be seen in a facility that serves alcohol...Hey, it gets even better~

Anyway, the interesting thing...(this time) me.  I'm the one with the "problem."  I'm the one worried about the impact.  I'm the one who's the pessimist in this case...not Na.  She, quite simply, is the level headed one in this relationship.  She's very easy going and is quick to say, "Mai pen rai..."  or 'no big deal.'

Na lives in Hat Yai, in an apartment, with Sa, her colleague at work.  Both are from Narathiwat, one of the three war-torn provinces to the South of Thailand, where thousands have died in the fighting and unrest there.  She travels home every weekend and holiday to spend time with her family.  No doubt a solid, Muslim family who are about to meet a big, fat, Agnostic, foreigner...very soon.
I'm not crazy about the idea of traveling the hundred or so kilometers to area where people become targets, no matter what race, creed or religion...let alone a shining white face such as mine.  But, one thing I do believe in, is this:

If you're going to do something...If you want something bad either shit or get off the stinking pot!  So, (gulp) here we go....

Na is definitely worth it.  

I've weighed the pros and cons and although there are a LOT of cons, I feel if anyone could be "THE" woman in my life I've been looking for, for ages, it definitely could be Na.  

I brought Na a white rose this morning, and even though I'm fifty-freaking-six years old and have been through tons of relationships, I was so freaking nervous!  I was shaking like a freaking leaf!  But, she was so happy and so appreciative...and I felt so...on-top-of-the-world! - after giving her that rose and talking to her heart doing double-time..

I really, much...want to be with that woman of my dreams.  I've fooled myself so many times and said, "Oh, I don't need anybody!  I'm just cool all by myself..."  

Horse poo poo.  

No matter how hardened an individual is, everybody 'needs' somebody to be there for them and love them.  I'd be honored to have Na by my side...

Okay..let's shift gears into motorcycle gears!

The reason for my "theme" picture today...MOTORCYCLE not only due to my witnessing many, many motorcycle accidents here in Thailand...(some very, very graphic and gross...), but the two extraordinary things that happened to me today...

I was teaching my 3/3 Vocational College class and was giving the students their test scores.  I called out one woman's name and the students began to stir...and laugh.  They said something in Thai I didn't understand and finally one student in the front of the class with a dictionary, looked up and said, "Her in dead...motorcy accident (Thai's don't say motorcycle, they shorten the word to motor-cy) then the students all began to laugh.  

I was taken aback at the cruelty of the matter.  Here was one of their own in the hospital, dying or dead and they were laughing about it.  I've learned many things about Thai's and although I know they can be terribly cruel, this took the cake for me.  All I could do was just give them all a dirty look and cut the class short.  

Again, like many times in the past when one of my students died in accidents here, I couldn't picture her face.  The class is not that large, but there's a good twenty-four faces to put to a name and I just couldn't do it, which upset me.  I feel so bad for her.  

Then, in the afternoon I took a short jaunt into Ban Klong Ngae.  When I was done with my business I backtracked and drove to the intersection to cross and head back home, when I saw a young girl on a Vespa take a turn into the middle of the intersection too sharply and loose control, going down.  

I hardly thought about it...I just zipped into the middle of the intersection, hopped off my bike and helped her up.  Nobody...not one Thai soul...even made the slightest attempt to help her, they just sat there and gawked, one woman across the street actually laughing.  

The girl was maybe in her early twenties.  She was shook up a bit and had a nasty road burn on her right knee, but was otherwise okay, repeating "Mai pen rai, mai pen rai," obviously embarrassed and turning to the woman across the street who was laughing and looking at her incredulously.  Then she started her bike and was off...

I passed the woman who was laughing and gave her my best, "You're an asshole," looks, for all it was worth.  

Troubling day for me, finding such cold-hearted, uncaring people surrounding me.  



Sunday, July 31, 2011

My new toy...

The Acer® one terabyte (1000 gigabytes) external hard drive. 

Silly me, thinking when I bought my desktop PC five years ago, that 80 gigabytes would last me a lifetime!  

They fill up so fast!  Especially when you're downloading mega-games and mega torrent movies and pirated software programs...

Very cheap actually...only 2,459฿ ($82.62 U.S. and 50.31 British pounds).  Prices of electronics have been going down, down, down over the past few 1 Gb USB stick-drive cost 340฿, only two years, for 
340฿, you can purchase a 4 or 8 gigabyte stick drive.  At least that's the case here in Southeast Asia.  

My intent for this extra memory is to partition things off so I can have a separate drive that is only devoted to downloads...of games, movies, and the like.  


Monday, July 18, 2011

Damnest cat I've ever owned!

No, I didn't teach her to do this.  I know some people do, but I wouldn't have either the patience or the know-how to teach a cat to do its business in the toilet.  She did this on her own, most likely by instinct. 

At first I had problems with Boo Boo pooping and peeing just about everywhere she pleased and I was seriously considering giving her away to another family somewhere, as a dog is one thing...but cat pee and poop?  Most rank crap you can imagine.  Why is it cat poop and pee is the worst?  Damn animal eats the same damn food, so you'd think...oh, never mind....

Anyway, one day I caught her peeing in the toilet.  Couldn't believe it.  She just decided to do it all on her own.  She doesn't poo there yet...wish she did...but you know cats, they have to cover their poo with something and going poo in the toilet...well, that just doesn't work for Boo, since...well, it's an Asian squat toilet.  Might be different if it was a Western sit-downer. 

So, I'm pleased and my good friend Simone in Malaysia, is terribly jealous of me since she's got a house full of cats and is burdened with buying kitty litter.  

For now anyway, Boo-Boo's Poo-Poo's remain outside, but her last act of defiance is pooping somewhere near the house...not kitty-kool!


On a totally different front, I've had a rash of motorcycle repairs that have kept me from purchasing some of the big-ticket items I've been planning on, such as external hard-drive, large screen digital television and blu-ray DVD player, as well as satellite T.V.  All in good time I suppose.  

I had been hearing some clunking and clanking in the chain guard area of the bike for some time, but just like me...I let it go until it became a dire emergency.  Left for work one day last week and the clunking and clanking reached new heights and eventually I couldn't go anywhere...luckily for me the bike petered out right in front of the motorcycle repair shop, which luckily was open.  

Two, totally stripped sprocket gears and a damaged chain drive.  Came to 500฿, way more than I was expecting to spend.  But, within two more days that initial amount catapulted to over 2000฿.  But now my motorcycle purrs and runs great.  

My love life has become interesting with a very young, pretty Thai girl entering my life.  She doesn't speak hardly any English and could most likely be my daughter so I really don't know where this is going but for now it's fun.  That's me folks...I'm all about fun.  Couldn't live this way in states without being arrested, so I'm having my fun with it. 

I'm experiencing a tree frog invasion of sorts.  Here's a recent video of my tree frog downstairs:

As I write this blog entry, another, darker species of tree frog is looming above me on one of the roof rafters attempting to pounce on me and rip me apart, limb-from-limb.

Living in the jungle...gotta love it!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

As promised...I finally purchased a card reader in order to get those pictures off my Cannon digital camera.  Still can't download them for some reason.  

Anyway, as you can see from the pic above, it's another leggless visitor to my home.  This was the really big one I was talking about.  I was sitting at the kitchen table doing a Sodoku puzzle when Puppy suddenly went berserk, barking and whining to beat the band.  When I turned around, I saw this head poking out from underneath the kitchen counter.  

I chased the thing all over the house, for a good fifteen or twenty minutes before I finally got it to leave via the front door.  Puppy didn't help at all, jumping and lunging at the thing, barking his fool head off and scaring it into the opposite direction in which I was trying to coax it.  This is a shot of the thing under the stove, where you can begin to see the length of it.

Here it is coiled up behind the water barrel in my bathroom.  As big as this thing was, it was surprising how small a space the thing could bunch up into.  Not sure what type of snake it was, but the thing went a good eight feet long easily.  

I had a damn good video of it stretched out on the kitchen floor, showing its full length, but unfortunately lost that video while trying to retrieve photos off my camera.  
I'm guessing, but I figure the thing had been in the house a couple days without my noticing it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Second day on the job in my new capacity as a private hire.  I'm freelancin' now baby!

It's quittin' time and I head out to my motorcycle, hop on and head North to Ban Phrue.  I'm running out of medication and want to get to the pharmacy and get home fast as there's a big storm front building and I don't fancy getting caught in the rain. 

I pass through Ban Thung Lung and am approaching Ban Mo when suddenly I see a gorgeous sight.  A total fox riding on the back of a motorcycle to my left.  Gorgeous, long curly locks of black hair cascading down her back...tight fitting halter top, skin tight jean shorts, beautiful legs and black patent leather pumps.  

I'm not the only one looking...she's gorgeous and other guys are checking her out as well.  

About a kilometer down the road their bike slows down as the driver pulls up behind an ice cream cart.  I approach slowly, my eyes glued to those gorgeous thighs...

An older woman is driving the motorcycle...maybe her mother.  As I pull up even with this stone-cold fox, I hear...

"Hello Teacher!" as she places both hands before her face in a respectful wai.  


One of my Mathayom five students.  

I mumble a "Hello!" and speed off.  


She's one of my better students too.  Always volunteers to help me out, writing things on the white board.  Always trying to answer questions.  

The girl is maybe sixteen...maybe...And one of the prettiest Thai's I've ever seen.  

At school all the students wear uniforms...most of them gym or sports warm-ups...hardly form fitting.  This was the first time I'd seen her in street clothes.  



Thursday, May 12, 2011

To follow up with my previous post about the mystery caller at the store...

I finally discovered it was the woman at the store who called the guy on her mobile.  So much can get left out and misunderstood in a country such as this one, where most people cannot speak English.  

Evidently, the guy had discovered I frequented her store and approached her, asking that she call him if I were to show up, so he could ask if I wanted to teach him English.  Once I'd figured this out, I went home and thought about it and well...being that I have only about three hundred baht to my name until the end of the month, I thought it ridiculous for me to turn down the offer. 

I went back to the store and gave the woman a sheet printed in Thai (I use Goggle Translate, which works fairly well) instructing her to call the man and give him my contact details.  Long story short, he called me at home and I agreed to teach him for two hours on Fridays, at 250 baht an hour.  Five hundred baht a week...that will get me through.

It's been a while since I taught privately, and actually, for me, it's easy work...boring, but easy money.  So, I've decided to begin trolling for some other students to teach on the side in the evenings.  I can easily make enough money to pay my rent, electricity and ADSL Internet bill with just a few hours teaching.  

The thing with me, is no matter if I'm just at home doing nothing, it's my time and I own it.  Having to teach, even though I'm getting paid, I see as infringing on my personal time...something for now I've just got to get over for awhile.  

Thai's (and I don't mean this in a prejudicial way) can be seriously lazy.  They contract for you to teach them, then they do no homework, no studying, no preparation.  They expect you to force the ability to learn English into their little brains, just sit there, and somehow miraculously come out in the end..refreshed, knowledgeable and fluent in English. 

So, for now I've got a part-time job to facilitate my income until I get back on my feet again...that alone (being that the electricity guy came by threatening to turn my power off two days ago) is an ease on my mind.  

I begin working on Monday and as mentioned in a previous post, the school is only paying me half my salary for this month since I am starting late.  Then, in mid-June I am scheduled to make another expensive trip to Penang, Malaysia for my one-year visa, which is much, much more June is going to be a very tight month.  Having this part-time job will definitely be a lifesaver for me.  


Sunday, May 08, 2011


The wonders of drinking and blogging....

Beer Chang, six-point-four on the liqtor scale.


Have you ever seen this sign?   You're more likely to see it in Western countries than in Asia.  

Do you understand what it means?  Most likely most people don't, but they think it's funny so they post pictures of it on the Internet as gags and jokes.  

But, it's really a serious issue!

You see, here in the touristy'll find the real deal...What Asia is really all about.  

Part of that reality is squat what I have in my cottage here in Ban Klong Tong Nûea, Southern Thailand.

Step off the touristy path and this is what you're gonna find.  Ridiculous you say?  Well, actually it has been well documented that Asian people knew a thing or two about...well, pooping. 

Chalk it up to science once again...Squatting actually facilitates pooping, whereas sitting can end up making you constipated.  No wonder people in the West are often uptight.  

Anyway, get a bunch of foreigners together who've visited Asia a couple times and those assholes come up with something like this....

Well, I guess you can forget about getting your information from since they are just a bunch of NOOBS who don't know anything about pooping in Asia.   The fools have you facing the WRONG WAY!

I mean...for chrissakes!  Would YOU wanna be caught pooping in the wrong direction?  I mean just THINK of the repercussions!  

For IDIOT information on traveling to foreign countries, for total morons: 


But, now that you've gotten the idea what this squatting thing is all about, imagine for a second you're an Asian guy or gal who's never visited the West...You end up in Grand Central Station in New York and you've gotta take a dump.  


First off, for anyone...even a Westerner like me who's lived most of his life in the West...who the hell would even THINK of using a bathroom in Grand Central Station?  

Just a thought...

(Hey Ma!  I went to New York and got Trucked in the Arectum by a bunch of Trainvestabules who had Strapondilfoes!)

But, the point here is the Asian dude or duddette who gets off the Oriental Express...enters a Western toilet...and spots oneahthose Western sit-down jobbys.  

WTF? (add incredulously blank stare)

Okay...maybe you've heard about these monstrosities on...uh, YouTube, Yahoo, Letterman, Conan (gotcha), Fox News, Google Earth....

But, here it is:
...staring you right in your slanty-eyed, yellow-skinned, tsunami-ravaged ass.  


"I ain't puttin' my cream-colored, pristine, globular slanty-ass down on that Caucasian porcelain!  Nuh-uh!..........................Bitch got disease!"

So, they climb their ratty-asses up on top o' that bad-boy, puttin' their dirty ass feets on the toilet seat and squirmin' all around and shit.  An's that mutha fukin toylet seet, be rockin' and movin' and shit...and eventually gonna be all broke and shit!  

So, they put up one of those cool logos I began this blog's those slanty-eyed-bitch-dawgs'll get the fuckin' message, yo!

Remember dawg.  Yo fuk wit us and put yo dirty feets on our twalets, we be puttin' caps in yo ass mutha facka!



Thursday, May 05, 2011

If you've been reading my other posts, you know how much time I've invested in getting the employment position at the school near to where I live.  But, for months I was wondering if I'd have to leave the country, as jobs appeared few and far between here.  

When I first arrived here in Southern Thailand in July of 2004, it wasn't three months before my damn phone was practically ringing off the hook at my home on Soi three, with people asking me to teach them English.  Sometimes I'd get ten to fifteen calls a day.  I turned down all of them since my free time is important to me...a kickback from a time I hit rock bottom from working too many hours in the states.  

Since then, mostly the requests have died down as people discovered I wasn't interested in teaching privately.  I did take an advanced English job twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday, teaching two hours a night in Ban Thung Lung, but gave up that job since the students were too lazy and wouldn't even do simple homework assignments.  

Thai's, in comparison to people from the West, are incredibly lazy.  They often work long hours, but the work they produce is typically second rate and sloppy.  

This morning, for some reason, the requests began again.  Right out of the blue, beginning at nine in the morning, I received a phone call from a recruiter at a school in Songkhla who saw my resume online.  Then, minutes after telling him I was already committed, I received another call from another school.  But, the real shocker was yet to come.

I left home to go to the local store and pick up a few things.  The proprietors there know me well and I do a lot of business there...besides the fact I've taught English to both of their children.  The mother, who typically runs the store in the morning hours, can be very annoying at times since she always takes so long to finally bag my groceries and finish the sale.  This morning was no different, but with a twist.  

She was talking on one of her many cell phones she keeps in her cash drawer.  She rents phones out for three or four baht a minute and also uses a phone to transfer credits rather than have to sell phone cards outright.  

I was getting impatient and began bagging my own groceries and counting out the exact change when she suddenly handed the phone to me.  "What?"  Who in the hell could this be?  

On the phone was some Thai guy, struggling to speak English...but, it didn't take me long to figure out he was asking me if I would teach English...either to him or to his kids.  I refused and told him I was sorry but I was in a hurry and gave the phone back to the woman, paid my bill and left.  

The only thing I can think of is he either saw me at the store or saw me pulling up at the store and called the woman to talk to me.  Before I had left she asked me for my phone number and I said to her in my crude Thai that I couldn't remember my number.  I wanted to tell her I don't give my number out, but couldn't figure out how to say it. 

Three job offers in less than one hour after months of trolling for open employment positions.  When it rains, it truly does pour.  


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Should have posted this eon's ago but as I mentioned earlier, I've had trouble with getting the photos off my digital camera until I can purchase a card reader.  Luckily though, I took some photos with my mobile phone too, last time I was in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia.  

This is the Jaya Restaurant I've raved about so many times.  Just down the road a piece from the Oriental Hotel, on Penang Road.  The place was recommended to me by one of the employees at the Oriental, which surprised me as the Oriental has their own restaurant next door...albeit a tad expensive and only open in the evening hours.  

This is a lousy photo...but readable, showing the address.  

And this photo was taken from my table, showing the view out on the street.  The last time I was in Georgetown was latter March and I'll be going again in June, before my current visa expires on June 20th.  I'm looking forward to the trip if not for the Jaya, just the ambiance of Penang, a very enjoyable place to be.  

My last trip I was eating at the Jaya when I was approached by two rather pretty young girls doing a survey for college.  Something to do about some famous rice dish the Jaya served.  

"Well, while the Jaya is definitely my favorite restaurant, I'm not really a big fan of rice...shocking, I know...being I live in Asia.  Ha!"

"You know, the Jaya is a very, very famous restaurant!"  

"Well, no...I didn't know that but I can surely see why.  While I was living in China, there were so, so many restaurants...but, our trick was to walk the streets looking for one that was packed with people...those were always the best.  Same goes for the Jaya I see!"  

"Yes, I'm not an early riser but I hear tell people are lined up outside in the early morning waiting for it to get the freshest roti canai!"

The giggly girl was originally from Singapore and had definite Chinese characteristics.  The other girl, a Muslim, rather quiet and reserved...typical for a Muslim woman, was actually from Southern Thailand and knew the area where I lived.  

Anyway, we had a pleasant chat and learned a little about one another.  People are very friendly and pleasant in Penang.  I hope to get some more photos on my next trip and hopefully post some different views of Georgetown for you. 


For the past three weeks at least, this is what it has looked like THREE O'CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON!  

I've always loved thunderstorms.  They're so ominous and me a sense of security when I'm home and safe.  It's difficult to explain really, but they always give me a good feeling inside.  They're exciting!  Mother nature at her best.  

It's 11:38 a.m. right now as I'm typing this and already I can see the clouds gathering to the north and the northeast..."When the wind is from the should not go forth.  When the wind is from the East...tis' not fit for man nor beast."  Makes sense when you hear an old timer say, "Gonna be a rough one they say...ayup!  A Nor'Easter's on it's way!"  

No different here in Asia.  I've watched as storms approach from the West (This is the Best) and the South (...blows the fly right into the fish's mouth) and they are pussy cats compared to the Nor'Easter's here.   Well, maybe...just maybe Portsmouth, Virginia was comparable.  

I think that's the near or on the ocean.  In Portsmouth, Virginia...when I was living in the barracks at Portsmouth Naval Regional Medical Center back in 1979, I was right on the Elizabeth River...a tributary that was only minutes from the big blue.  I'd arrived back home after attending a "Journey" concert up in Newport News and it was about six p.m.  The sky, as I remember it, was almost pitch black and looking out my dorm window I could see lightning flashes touching down for miles and miles.  It was awesome.  

Here in Southern Thailand, looking out a window during a thunderstorm is NOT advisable.  Just weeks ago I was preparing to shut down my computer when a storm hit suddenly, and my router was struck by some finger lightning that zapped in through my upstairs window.  My Internet connection was out for six days before a TOT technician made it out here.  

Curiously, the storms here almost always come from the North, the East or the Northeast.  Only rarely do they approach from the South or the West and when they do they never really amount to much.  So, lately I've learned to get all my traveling, shopping, errands, etc., done in the early hours rather than in the afternoon, lest I end up driving home in a soaking rain.  


Saturday, April 30, 2011

If you haven't read the post below this one, it might be helpful to do so first...

No, you can't stop corruption in Thailand, so don't even freaking bitch about it.  

I had asked the school for an advance on my salary since I'd run out of money.  My last salary from OLC on March 3rd was not for the amount I was supposed to receive and I had a start date at Songsaeng of May 1st, leaving me with a measly amount of baht to live on for three months.  Plus the fact my trip to Penang was expensive and on top of all that...I was forced to attend to a motorcycle repair I'd put off for way too long...the thing finally breaking down.  

This wasn't a problem for them and since they knew my work permit was going through, they called me last Friday to come into the school to pick it up.  They called me at eleven in the morning and said "be here at 2:00 p.m." what I call lately..."The prime time for a thunder shower..." and I wasn't wrong.  

I drove the short distance to the school in a rain slicker, the rain coming down in sheets.  When I got there, I wasn't surprised to find Juliet in a rather large huff...

"We need your passport!  We have to get the paperwork to the labor office and we will have to send the required paperwork to the Teachers Council of Thailand for your teachers license!"

Standing there in the office, dripping wet, a small pool of rain-water beginning to gather at my feet, I slowly put on my best and most sarcastically evil grin.  

"Well, that's funny.  YOU told me that private schools don't have to submit paperwork to the Teachers Council of Thailand in Bangkok for a foreigners teachers license."  Whenever I'm right, Juliet just acts like she never heard what I said...but I wasn't about to let this way.  I had her and she knew it.  

"Do you remember what I told you in early March about Patong Wittaya School?  I told you they never listened to me and it ended up costing them a lot of money.  Juliet, I sent the PDF form for the teachers license in an e-mail to you the first week in March but you never printed it out.  So, after three frustrating weeks trying to impress upon you the urgency of getting the paperwork into Bangkok, I finally had to go out and purchase a printer myself so I could print the form out.  And where is that form now...almost two months later?  It's still in your folder."

I was careful with this, as you have to be careful with Thai's...they lose too much face and you'll have an enemy for life.  But, I got my point across and was pleased with myself.  Lucky for them (and me, since it was still pouring outside) I had my passport with me.  I've learned to grab all my paperwork any time I have to deal with them because invariably they will ask for something I don't have and I'd have to make the trip back home to fetch it.  

But, the real clincher was yet to come.  

I received my salary advance, signed the typical Thailand paperwork, which is always reams of paper (Thai's LOVE paperwork), and thought I was all set to go back home.  Then Juliet said to me...

"We have your work schedule now.  You will be working twenty-six hours a week (that number changed later to twenty-nine) and your first working day will be May 16th, a Monday.  So, you will receive a reduced salary in May and the normal thirty-thousand baht (30,000 baht) the end of June."

"What?" was my...rather loudly expressed...reply.  

Not only had Juliet changed my start date, which was printed on my original contract, she had informed me my salary would now be reduced because of my late start date and I would not be receiving the thirty-four thousand baht (34,000 baht) originally printed on my signed contract...A contract, that copies of which had been distributed to the Royal Thai Consulate in Penang, Malaysia, the Labor Office in Songkhla and was due to be sent to the Teachers Council of Thailand in Bangkok.  

"Are you NUTS?  You can't have me sign a contract for a May 1st start date and 34,000 baht and then two months later change that contract on me verbally!  That's highly illegal!"

I was fucking livid.  My brain was screaming at me to shut the hell up and calm down but my natural American aggressiveness that goes well beyond assertiveness was kicking in big time.  Meanwhile, Juliet had a worried look on her face and was on the phone talking to somebody higher on the totem pole.  The "Farang" was becoming unmanageable.  

To many of you reading this, no doubt it just seems straight forward to you.  But, this is Thailand...still a third-world country and listed # 78 on the 2010 International Corruption Perception Index...their rating closer to Somalia's than Denmark's #1 rating.  Hell, even the United States is low on the score, at a pitiful #22.  Thai's think nothing of screwing a foreigner, let alone one another.  

Luckily for me, Juliet remained on the phone for some time.  Enough time for me to get into my head and reason with myself.  You see, I knew I was lucky to have gotten this job and I didn't want to jeopardize it by acting out in anger...something you just don't do in this culture.  Assertiveness is a necessary attribute in the U.S. but it is NOT an attribute here.  

After another brief discussion, I played one of my acting roles...that of being befuddled.  I simply said one, short, simple sentence that basically resolved the whole thing..."I think I need to see a lawyer."

Thai's are terribly afraid of the legal process and wicked afraid of lawyers.  I was ushered upstairs to "Frowny Face's" office and was in there for about twenty minutes.  I stuck to my stance and I acted pleasant.  

"Well, yes...I understand your views but this is a legal situation.  I've already signed a legal document, copies of which have been submitted to the Royal Thai Consulate, the Labor Office, Thai Immigration and the Teachers Council of Thailand.  If you want to change the contract now, I will need the advice of a lawyer in order to understand the correct way to proceed here, as what you are attempting to do is very illegal."

Basically, I won.  The only thing not changed was the reduced salary for the month of May, since I was going to start late on the 16th, rather than the 1st.  Frowny face, the assistant manager of the school, knew I was correct but I think she took me for being some sort of pushover, which I am not.  But, my take on this whole thing was comparable to my carefully negotiating a land-mine laden piece of ground without getting my legs blown off.  

Living in Southeast Asia is certainly not for the faint of heart.  


It’s about time I played a bit of catch-up and brought my happenings up to date for all you who actually bother to read this stuff I crank out. 

I’m sick to death of working for English teaching agencies here in Thailand since most of them try and cheat you as best they can, pay you late, or offer you minimal salaries while they are making money from the schools hand-over-fist.  So, after working my last job for the lousy, corrupt, disorganized OLC agency in Songkhla, I swore I’d never contract with another agency again unless I absolutely had to do it as a last ditch type of thing. 

A considerable time before my last week working at Songsaeng Commercial School in Ban Thung Lung, I began looking at job offers here in the South of Thailand and found pretty slim pickings. 

It has been rumored for a long time, Filipino English teachers are being hired by many Thai schools here in the South, simply because they can be had cheaply. 

While Native English Speakers from the U.S., Canada, England, and Australia are getting minimum salaries of 28,000 baht to 40,000 baht depending on their experience, credentials, and where they are living, Filipinos are pulling in salaries from 6000 baht a month to 10,000 baht a month.  So, if money was a big issue with your school, who would you be looking to hire?

I decided to approach the school I was working for, Songsang Commercial School in Ban Thung Lung, and ask them if they might consider hiring me privately.  I already knew the school was fed up with OLC teaching agency, so I banked on my chances since I have lived here in this area, near the school, for better than six years. 

About a week before my last working day at Songsaeng, I was told the school was interested in hiring me.  I was excited, but I’ve lived in Thailand long enough to know better than to begin putting all my eggs in one basket.  So, I continued to send my resume out to other schools who were hiring foreigners out-right.  Then, after my last working day, I was notified the school wanted to have a sit-down meeting with me. 

My appointed “foreigner representative,” Jahrut Mahjanwat, who goes by the nickname “Juliet,” was present at this meeting…and as things go, we never got to meet with the big boss, the school manager, Arunrat Rattanaphumi.  She was just too busy.  So, we met with Juliet’s immediate boss…a woman whose name always escapes me, but whom I’ve nicknamed “Frowny Face,” since she almost never smiles. 

The meeting lasted about twenty minutes.  I kept things simple and bowed to the school’s fear of their hiring me and my disappearing somewhere along the line, placing them in a very difficult position.  Thai’s often want guarantees, never quite understanding that there are no guarantees in life.   

My current salary under the employment of OLC agency, had been 32,000 Thai baht, but I often got cheated out of the exact amount I was supposed to get paid.  So, I told the assistant manager I’d agree to work for one year at 30,000 baht with the understanding if things worked out well and the school wanted me to sign a contract for another year, my salary would be increased, along with other, extra bonuses.  You see, it's not Rocket Science...English teaching agencies like OLC, Stairway English, Teacha agency, and others, get better than 100,000 baht a month for providing Native English speakers as teachers to a particular school...with the extra guarantee they will handle all the paperwork (work permit, visa, etc...), which most schools don't want to deal with.  But, I pointed out to my new employers at Songsaeng Commercial School, the incredible savings they would incur if they were to hire a foreigner like myself, outright, rather than pay their money to an agency.

We shook hands on the agreement and I left.  Six days later I was called at home to come to the school and sign my contract. 

I live very, very close to the school.  I travel by my motorcycle and it takes me on average, only five to seven minutes to get to or from the school.  It’s very convenient, so I was very excited about being hired outright by this school, which is a well-known school in the area, of which I am a very well-known foreign teacher, having taught English in this village for over six years. 

I arrived at the school and walked into the main office.  Juliet was already there and ushered me to sit down.  She presented me with a one-page contract that was simple and concise, but bothered me in its simplicity.  I would much rather sign a contract that is a three-pager and covers many issues, than a one page contract which only addresses the start date and the salary.  

Ah, the salary.   

I quickly scanned the contract, which was in both English and Thai, and noticed the stated salary was 34,000 baht, not 30,000, the amount we had originally agreed upon in our singular meeting six days ago.   

But, I ask you…what would you do?  You’re expecting a monthly salary quote of 30,000 baht a month but you see a quote on the employment contract of 34,000 baht? 

Actually, in real life, I began to address this, saying...

“Uh…the amount…we said…uh, oh…never mind…Mai pen rai (no big deal).  A little voice in my American capitalist brain said, “Are you fucking nuts?  Shut the hell up!”   

The start date on the employment contract was as I figured…May 1st, 2011.  All was well in employment land…I signed the contract, copies were made and I left sailing on euphoria. 

I ran right to the packy and bought three beer Chang’s to celebrate…Beer Chang - - - 6.4% on the Richter scale. 

But even as I drove my bike to the store, I felt that typical uneasy feeling, that doubt...which I promptly ushered away.  Life was good…don’t fucking ruin it Jim. 

The next two months were a mish-mash of utter hell.  I did my research about what the requirements for the Teachers Council of Thailand, the Songkhla labor office and the Royal Thai Consulate in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia were, paperwork-wise, and passed on my newly gleaned information to Juliet, whom I was beginning to understand, as beautiful as she was…she was also a stupid, ignorant, bull-headed Thai woman who didn’t listen to anything except her own verbose bullshit.   

I had cautioned her previously, telling her the massive amount of wasted time and money Patong Wittaya School, where I'd worked previously on a private basis, had incurred from not listening to me about the same process, but naturally…Thai’s just don’t listen to foreigners.  So, we went through two months of wasted time and money, which...luckily for me was at the cost to the school....not me. 

Once we finally got to the labor office with the correct paperwork after Juliet drug her heels for weeks (mainly because she didn’t understand what to do and of course wouldn’t listen to me), I had possession of the coveted WP-3 form, which I gathered, along with the paperwork Songsaeng School was supposed to provide (again, after weeks of prodding and probing Juliet) and took to the Royal Thai Consulate in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, which is always a rather expensive endeavor. 

I returned to Thailand several thousand baht poorer, but with my coveted 90-day Non-immigrant B visa.  Then, to make a terribly long story short, Juliet proceeded to put off other things until the last minute, forcing the labor office to require that we re-submit our paperwork again…Which brings us to the present.  

We’ve now been to the labor office with all the same, repetitive paperwork due to Juliet’s screw-up and delay, and we’re awaiting confirmation for my work permit, which should be issued by the beginning of next week…the 2nd of May, 2011. 

That’s the story up to now…BUT!  Stay tuned for the real shocker, which happened yesterday, Friday – April 29, 2011. 


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