A Travellerspoint blog

Ayuthayya Adventures

A daytrip outside of BKK..

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Well, you’ve heard all about New Year’s eve and our adventures on our days off for that… After that it was back to school as usual until mid January when the thankless task of teaching is honoured in Thailand by giving us a day off (teacher’s day). So yet again we packed our hats and sun cream and set our sights a little further a field this time: the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya, which is built on an island on a river, was pretty much the capital of Thailand (or most of the territory that is now Thai). It flourished for some 400 years but was ransacked by the Burmese in 1767 (cue pantomime prop-man holding up a sign that reads: boooo!). Most of the art, palaces, temples and Buddha statues were destroyed. Still, we decided to go have a wander around what’s left…

Ayyuthaya is about 90km north of Bangkok and we decided to go by train (we being Matt, myself and a friend from work, Kirsten). This may not have been a great decision as we were treated to a charming display of Thais’ lack of punctuality: the train was over an hour late! But once we were off and out of Bangkok we travelled past rice-paddies, herons, water buffalo and fields. Very picturesque indeed, although I managed to miss all the buffalo as I was too engrossed in my newspaper!
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Ayyuthaya proved to be a lovely break from bustling Bangkok. It is quiet, beautiful and very relaxing. We rented bikes and cycled amongst all the ruins and statues. We were a little creeped out by all the beheaded Buddha statues but apparently the Burmese cut their heads off to check they weren’t made of gold and just covered in plaster (a common dissimulation technique), or so said the French tour guide I was eavesdropping on!
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All in all it was a lovely day, marred only by a disgusting lunch (Thais make some of the best food in the world, but as we unfortunately discovered they also make the worst!).

School resumed the next day and the next few weeks held all sorts of fun such as a 3 day scout camp for Melissa (not much scouting but lots of fun activities) and being the judge of a speech competition for Matthew. Until you've taught at a school you have no idea how demanding it can be!!!

Hope you are well, take care!
xxx

Posted by meli1984 04:05 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

New Year's Eve and the Grand Palace

It's been a while..

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Well, it's been a very long while since this was updated so apologies to our faithful readers..

New Years Eve seems like ages ago now.. we had a good one despite the bombs.
It was all a bit surreal to be in a city that had had 7 explosions go off, partly because it seemed to have very little effect on
the population here. We were at Matt's Thai boss' party when we found out (it was on Thai news) and the person who told us casually said "I think 4 bombs have gone off, one at victory monument.. not too sure what's going on.. right, time for some party games" DSC02028.jpg
The people in the streets seemed none too concerned either (though there was a strong police/military presence). The bomb at victory monument was the one closest to us, about a 10 min bus ride from our flat. It's where we get the skytrain too as it's the closest skytrain stop to us, and we figured out a couple of days later that we were at a busstop at victory monument quite literally minutes before the blast.. maybe 2 or 3 minutes..
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But as I said, people seem remarkable unscared by it all. Maybe it's because Thais believe more in kharma/fate than we do, so they aren't so fazed by what we would see as unnecessary random deaths..
in any case we headed to khao san road around 9pm and it was busy as we'd expected it to be before we knew about the bombs. We had some food, a few drinks at a petrol-station-turned-bar (only in Thailand!) and then went to a bar/club.. pretty much new year's eve as per usual.. Clubbing was cut short as everything closed at 1am (we found out later is was because police were evacuating the area as they had just diffused a bomb nearby!)..

Since then there has been very little progress regarding the bombs.. politicians in power are blaming Thaksin & co (those ousted by the coup) by they deny it.. this is one whodunnit mystery that seems like it will remain unsolved. And life seems to go on as usual..

After new year we had a couple of days off and decided to use one of them for some tourism. So we packed our bags with suncream and hats on a very hot day and headed about 15 mins down the river to the Grand Palace and its adjoining temple (Wat Phra Keao) which houses the most revered buddha image in Thailand: the emerald buddha (which is actually made of jade). As you can see from the photos it's all very beautiful and incredibly bling-bling, though we couldn't take pictures of the emerald buddha who was dressed in a gold-chain mail tunic!! It's his winter dress apparently.
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Incidently the King doesn't live at that Grand Palace, he lives in a palace down the road from us which you can't visit (that's right, we share our postcode with the King himself!)

Anyway, our tickets also got us a guided tour of Vinanmek Teak Palace (a palace/mansion built by one of the Thai kings, it's made entirely of teak wood and very beautiful).. as it's only a 5 minute trot there from our place, the following saturday saw us back on the tourist trail to visit this much more chilled palace.. unfortunately we couldn't take photos so you'll have to come visit it if you want to see it for yourself.

I'v finally managed to uplaod the photos for this entry so you'll be hearing about our Ayutthaya adventure next...

xxx

Posted by meli1984 23:36 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Merry Christmas

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Just a quick one to wish you all a very merry Christmas!!!

The day started off with Matt giving me a stocking at 8am (he'd had to pick up some laundry before 8) and just as I was drifting off to sleep again the phone jolted me awake.. but despite the initial shock it was lovely to get a call from Euan (who had to deal with my morning grogginess) who was calling us at 1:30am his time to wish us merry christmas.. and throughout the day we got calls and texts from friends and family. Maybe age is making me sentimental, or maybe it's being far away from you all, but the calls and texts were almost better than getting gifts..

We decided not to "do the expat thing" here (go to a 5 star hotel for a Christmas buffet.. or even a britsih/irish pub) and celebrated just the two of us in our flat.
As we have no oven we couldn't roast a turkey so ordered one (complete with veg and mash) from a posh super market here, and it was amazing! Far too much for two of us, so it'll turkey sarnies all week!! So the day was spent opening gifts, picking up the food and eating, eating, eating. Santa was good to us this year. Presents included: chocs and candles and a wee book from bxl (meli's mum), a lovely hamper of biscuits and fruits ordered all the way from Amsterdam (matt's parents), a kicking pad and skipping ropes etc to get us fit again (from matt), a cocktail shaker and all the accesories (from meli) and the usual array of random gifts (an ipod cover, a dvd, socks, a language cd to help us learn Thai, a boardgame). Clearly we have behaved well this year.
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It's a little odd to be so far away from everyone at this time of year, but we're looking after eachother and have had a pretty great Christmas day :) Hope you have all have a very merry Christmas.. it's almost over for us as we hve to be in bed relatively early because of work tomorrow (we were both lucky to get Christmas off at all!)

take care xxx Matt and Meli

Posted by meli1984 05:23 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Bizarre Thailand!

a few shocks at school!

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hello everyone! we know it has been a while but we're back now :)

We're settling in to life and work in Bangkok, the temperature has dropped (not that it gets under 20 degrees! it's just a bit chilly at 7am, and we haven't sweated in about a week!) and our first Christmas away from our families is fast approaching. This also means that school has been a bit interrupted by Christmas rehearsals, concerts and other such fun! Oh, and my school had sports day today (very little sport, a LOT of parading/dance choreographs done mainly by girls in teeeny weeeny skirts and very provocative clothes, even the ickle kindergarten kids.. WEIRD!!). Matt was also a little freaked out by some of the kids' costumes at his school's xmas show. But that's not the bizarrest thing i've got to tell you. My school was divided into 4 teams (red, yellow, blue, green) for sports day and each team had decorated their section of the bleachers in coloured banners etc. And team red choose (in what has to be the biggest display of ignorance i have EVER encountered) to decorate their section with the theme..wait for it..NAZISM!!
They had a big swastika (albeit the buddhist version, not the nazi one), cut outs of skull-and-cross-bones and machine guns, a machine gun emplacement made of tires and last but not least, a gold sign reading NAZI. Oh, and as part of the red teams' parade they had kids marching with fake guns and nazi banners. It's hard to explain how very creepy and disconcerting it is to see kids looking like hitler youths. (Thankfully, there were none of the kids from our part of the school or I might have freaked out at them). All the foreign staff were left pretty much speechless. But criticising is not part of Thai culture at all so there wasn't much we could do. Also I should explain, they weren't just being offensive, they're just ignorant. For them, nazism is something that happened far away, they are not taught about it (or so it would seem) and they might as well have chosen the roman army in their eyes. But, in any case, some teacher must have authorised it (if not come up with it) and surely the teachers should know better!! It was all very disturbing anyway.
On a lighter note, the xmas concert at my school was ace: they sang carols and the older kids did some "cool" songs - including linkin park, natalia imbruglia and some rap - they rocked!!

Anyway, we hope we'll be getting emails from everyone wishing us a merry Christmas as we're a wee bit homesick. But we've ordered our turkey and our tiny fake christmas tree is getting more and more presents under it.. and i bought the world's worst Christmas cd today!

Matt says: the Christmas mass at my private catholic girls school wasn't quite as outrageous as melissa's sports day.. apart from the kindergarten kids gyrating in slinky red santa outfits with make-up and hairspray to boot! Some of the singing was really good, some really good solos although the remaining 2 hours of the service went over my head as they were in Thai! I'm almost settled into my new job although I havent done much proper teaching with all the holidays, exams and festivities. The staff are really nice but the girls stuff their faces with all sorts of unhealthy sweets, drinks, icecream and snacks at every oppurtunity. And apart from being ridiculously hyperactive and naughty, the teachers don't seem to understand why the kids are getting "stouter." Also half of the students have gold plated teeth! But they are still so cute especially when they babble away to me in Thai oblivious to the fact I don't understand so just smile and nod :)

I feel like his secretary now! Take care!

xxx meli and matt

Note (added later): Just for the record, I did bring up my concerns about the Nazi-themed team with my boss (not a Thai). He effectivly said that there was nothing he could do about it.

Posted by meli1984 23:34 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Teaching at TSEP


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hello again..

I've just finished what felt like the longest week of my life: 6 days in a row at a new job and sick as a dog.

I started work on Monday but started feeling ill on Sunday. By Monday morning my throat felt as though a cheese grater had had a go at it, and from there it only got worse.. I developed a full blown cold with the sore throat, which then developed into a cough as well. Oh, and to add insult to injury, I lost my voice too so the students were treated to a huskier version of myself, except for when I tried to raise my voice: I'd just end up squeaking! Thankfully, I'm actually enjoying my work and having survived this week it can only get better!!!

I'm teaching at a very big private thai school (Thew Phaingnarm - I think the spelling's right!) but it has a smaller section call TSEP (Thew Phaingnarm School English Program) which has about 150 Thai kids who learn pretty much all their subjects in English. It has a kindergarten section, Prathom section (primary) and so far the first 3 grades of Mathiom (secondary). And now it has me too!!

Teacher Melissa, as I am called, teaches maths and science to primary 6 and social studies to primary 2. All my kids are a good bunch, but grade 2 are just adorable - the cutest 7 year olds ever. And all the kids have the best names; Thais do have official names but they all use nicknames, even as adults. So my kids are called things like Mild, Dew, King, Boss, Benz, Dow, (which means doll in Thai) and even Garfield!! I also have a little boy in grade 2 called Book, and he is the sweetest kid with a tiny round face and round glasses (a bit of a geek really!) and he's very shy! He has Asperger's Syndrome apparently, which makes me want to look after him even more!! Lol..

Grade 6 aren't quite as cute and can be a bit unruly (especially 6B) but nothing I can't handle yet. I think they quite like me actually (apparently they didn't like the last guy so not exactly a hard act to follow I guess). I've got a few photos of some of them as on Thursday grades 4-6 went on a field trip on Thursday and as homeroom teacher of 6B I went along too. The trip was to a place called the Ancient City and I was quite excited about it. Turns out it isn't actually ancient at all but slightly scaled down replicas of lots and lots Thai monuments and buildings set in 32 acres of land. But it was actually quite well done, not as tacky as it sounds, and the kids liked it.

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Friday was back to school as usual (we start at 7:30!!!) but we got to leave an hour earlier than normal (at 3:30 instead of 4:30) which was especially good for me as I was croaking instead of talking by then.. But Saturday school was on too, nightmare!!! You see, Tuesday is the King's Birthday here so a day off. So admin kindly decided to give us Monday off too but make us work Saturday instead so the kids don't miss too many days or something! It was ok in the end as the kids wanted to work even less than I did (only half of them turned up!) so we just played games all day. And now I'm super happy about having 3 days off!!!

Talking about the King's birthday, instead of wearing yellow shirts just on Mondays to show our respect (which is the norm) we have to wear them every day from last Monday til the 15th of Dec!!!!!!

Matt started work on Friday but will be working tomorrow as he didn't have to work on Saturday.. He's working at a very prestigious all girl's Catholic school here, but I'll let him tell you all about it probably once he's been there a few days.

We also think we have found an ace apartment and, fingers crossed, will be moving in Tuesday. But we don't want to jinx it so we'll tell you about it once we're in it!!

Take care and keep in touch

xxx meli

Posted by meli1984 04:48 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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