Another month has gone by. It has simultaneously felt like 2 weeks and 2 months. So much happens that it goes by so fast, yet when I look back towards the past, it felt so long ago. I truly believe that I grow each and everyday. I am starting to find a grove with my teaching, getting use to sweating at every moment, building stronger connections with my students, and finding moments in each day to be grateful for the life I have. Here is a shorter day-by-day synopsis (trying to update the significant things in each day and skip over the nitty gritty details).
7/19/18: Taught my 4 classes, was exhausted. Played volleyball with my students, and then got dinner. Afterwards, visited Jung Hoo’s home and had them show me their favorite youtube videos. Finally, got a fresh cut.
7/20/18: Regular Friday other than a extremly frustrating moment with Prathom 6 as they collectively didn’t listen/try in class. It was a warm, Friday afternoon so I truly don’t blame them.
7/21/18: Today, hiked a mountain near bye called Doi Khun Tan with Teacher Jackie and his friends. At first, I didn’t want to go, but realized I need to seize opportunities that kindly come my way. We motorbiked around 50-60 km. Once we entered the national Park, the road had crazy hills. To the point where the motorbike couldn’t make it up the hill. So, I had to get off and push the motorbike up multiple times. But, no one was on the road and the scenery was gorgeous.
After being exhausted running up hills, we had to start our 10km hike up the mountain. Hiking in a tropical terrain was pretty incredible, but totally different from what I am use to (dry, dry, dry). It was interesting that when I was hiking, I thought a lot about hiking back in Oregon and made me realize that I can go to an amazing place like Thailand, but nothing will every compare to the Pacific Northwest. Here are some pictures from the trek up and the top of the mountain. At first, we couldn’t see anything, then after a while, it cleared enough to see a few rolling hills.
Then, we visited a famous train station/tunnel called Khutan Tunnel. You can take the train from Chiang Mai to this station and do the same hike I did.
Afterwards, I went on a slow bike ride to cool down. I saw a sunset, which is rare in rainy season. I was so excited that I biked to open land (which is near the train track in my town), to get the best view.
7/22/18: I woke up today in a mood: I missed home. My sadness turned into a weird frustration. So, I decided to bike to 10 km to Kad Twain Market to buy my friend Brenna something. I actually had a lot of fun walking around and picking things out for her. I had families of my students help me find the best things. It was totally fun.
Then, I went with my Bingsu Family to have Japanese food for the first time in Thailand. It was good to eat something different and felt good as I was taken care of as a son. I went from being sad in the morning to being taken care of as a son. I am so grateful that I have a support system here and really strengthening a bond here in Hang Chat, Thailand.
7/23/18: Monday, Prathom 1 out of control! It was funny to see some of my students help me by them disciplining the bad boys ahah. Afterschool, gave rides to students on the back of my bike and rode around the school campus. They loved it so much.
7/24/18: Regular Day
7/25/18: No class in the morning as students made a pledge of allegiance to the King since it’s his Birthday on 7/28. Students dressed up in their boy scout uniform for this ceremony.
At the end, their was a group of Prathom 6 students who received a gold collar neck tie to resemble that they have an active mind for the community.
I then crashed PE class…Today, PE consisted of cleaning up the field. HAHAHA!
Afterschool, I was trying to get a picture with iPhone (my student in Prathom 1) with me, but wouldn’t pose. So, I said something silly and got a adorable picture in the end.
7/26/18: Went to the Temple today with Prathom 6 to do an early version of การเวียนเทียน (Kar veiy ahn thei ahn). But first, there was celebrations at the school. Mathayom (Secondary School) did a parade by the school.
Parthom 1-5 did a ceremony at the school. These are some of the shots I got before it started.
Had to get Prathom 6 to the temple some how. So, they all piled into this truck, which looks like it transfers prisoners, that took them to the temple.
When we got to the temple, it was nothing but good times.
7/27/18: Today was the start of Buddah Lent. There was a ceremony in the morning that consisted of taking food to the monks. Jung Hoo’s family helped me prepare food, milk, fruit, and an envelope filled with a little bit of cash. On the envelope, I wrote my name and a prayer for the monk to read out loud to make it come true. I don’t know what mine said, but was a pretty special thing I was able to be a part of.
This is Ohm’s Mom (Ohm is a friend I made that day). I told her I needed some help making an arrangement for การเวียนเทียน (Kar veiy ahn thei ahn) at night. She helped me find the most beautiful flowers in the pile and put it together for me.
Ba Pen then helped me put the final touches together on the arrangement and I bought my first Durian in Thailand. It was for the monk, which is my friend. He had so much food left over in the morning that he gave a lot of it to me. The least I could do is get him some of his favorite fruit.
การเวียนเทียน (Kar veiy ahn thei ahn) is a pretty special ceremony. I didn’t really understand much, but what i do understand is that you walk around the temple three times holding an arrangement and a candle. 3 times: 1) for Buddha 2) for Buddha’s Principle, and 3) for the Monks. That is also why all arrangements have three incenses. It was a spectacular ceremony. It was cool to also see teachers and students at the ceremony, too. I think it is important to have students see their foreign teacher present in the community by participating in such activities. It was truly a special ceremony.
7/28/18: Today, I was suppose to go to Chiang Mai, but Fisho’s car broke. Everything happens for a reason. Instead, I use the day to truly relax. I ate dinner at Bingsu. I really enjoyed a dish with shift cooked with garlic. Shrimp heads were included in the dish. I decided to try eating one of the fish heads. In the process, I realized that part of the head got lodged in the back of my throat. But I didn’t realize till afterwards. I tried drinking water, eating rice…nothing worked. I tried tweezers and sticking my fingers in my throat. Nothing worked. So, I had to go to the hospital…to get a single bone out of my throat. I couldn’t take pictures because of privacy reasons, but I did get a picture of me and my adopted mom & dad in the waiting room. It was full of laughs. Only 170 baht later (~$5)
7/29/18: Woke up, went on a run, had lunch, and got cake for my friend Kat who had a birthday. Had Bingsu with her and her daughter Namking (in my Prathom 1 class). She was very shy, but was good to have her company.
Afterwards, I went to the temple near by and they had 1 month old pug puppies. So adorable.
7/30/18: Monday no school! Graded all morning, got lunch, lesson planned, hung out a bit, got dinner, and went to bed.
7/31/18: For assembly today, I sung we will rock you by Queen. It kind of failed, but some students got the idea of making the beat. Farangs came to school again. Beautiful sunset afterschool.
8/1/18: I got my iPhone back after 3 1/2 weeks and to be honest, I didn’t like it. I just shoved in my bag. I really enjoy not having a phone. You don’t realize how much you are on it till you are completely stripped from it. I am glad I am starting this in Thailand and hope to only use my phone back home when I REALLY need to. I went to Teacher Wilawan’s center after school to volunteer my time with students. Had fun because I taught students English and they taught me some Thai. I can now write my name in Thai. ไมเคิล (Mike-kun). I actually typed out my name using my Thai keyboard.
8/2/18: Today, a tour group of Farangs came from the Netherlands to visit my school. I pulled out some of my tour guiding talking points to share about my experience teaching abroad and how schools work in Thailand versus from back home. Pretty fun to change up my day a bit with that. The tour guide then gave my 500 baht and told me to buy something for myself. Felt good, yet foreign to accept money. Afterschool, one of the bus drivers, Mali, took me home with her students where I did some rice planting with my student Bam. Her mom was laughing about how slow I was. She kept saying, “Farang slow!, Farang slow,” and thought it was the funniest thing.
8/3/18: Friday and normal. I leave early to go to Lampang city for TTC retreat. I got their and went on a jog to prepare for the 5 km on Sunday morning. I then walked 3 miles to the cultural market. The last time I was their, I was filmed. This time, it was nice to be just a spectator. I had this awesome egg salad. I don’t remember the name, but it was quite good. So good I ordered two (it was quite small and I didn’t have dinner). The lady was so sweet. Afterwards, I sang Elvis to the whole market. Quite fun.
8/4/18: Was cool to get all the teachers together for the first time since orientation. In a way, it felt like a step back because I resorted on speaking only English, yet I learned a lot from listening to other teachers share their experiences. The biggest take away was if I am having fun, I am doing it right. Also, if the students are doing something…that boosts confidence. Then, we cooked dinner with Ja and Janthana. Fun to learn how it is all done. I learned that Thai food is constant mixture of intense, strong flavors.
Then, Adam (program coordinator) tried durian for the first time. Proud of him!
Then went out to walking street and to a bar afterwards. Fun, yet I learned that going out is so expensive. A single beer is the cost of two Pad Thai dishes.
8/5/18: Today, we woke up early (5 am on a Sunday) to go to Mae Moh, just outside of the city. I participate din the 5 km. Yet, we were late for the start so i was dropped off and immediately started running. Fun to see so many students from the Lampang area participate in the Queen’s charity. I don’t have any pictures, but I remember the last kilometer, i was exhausted and stopped for a brief moment. All of a sudden, this little girl passed me and she looked exhausted, too. I decided to suck it up and be her cheerleader. I coached her all the way to the finished and looked exhausted, yet accomplished. I finished at 24 minutes, but that is not knowing what time I started. I was for sure hauling ass. Afterwards, we planted rice at Dr. Nirund’s family land. We paid respect to his Mom and Dad (As they are buried there) and planted rice in their honor.
Afterwards, went back to Hang Chat and asked my Bingsu family to help me execute the project for reaching my school Willamette University’s motto.
8/6/18: Today, I had a new teacher who just arrived to Thailand who will be teaching in Chaiyaphum. Her name is Dariana and it was nice for her to see my everyday life in action. I showed her around, she saw a successful class and a unsuccessful class. All in all, she enjoyed the visit and she truly saw what it would be like as a teacher in Thailand. Then, spent the night making my posters with Jackie, Fisho and her dad! So thankful for their help.
8/7/18: Nothing significant today, just an adorable picture of my prathom 5 students.
8/8/18: Willamette Day in Thailand! I woke up extra early to make sure the field look nice for the picture, the materials were all ready, and that I communicated with my co-teacher how the assembly was going to go down. It all started with one of the teachers giving me a polo as a gift for being a teacher at their school. I then introduced my school and had the students practice pronouncing it.
I went on to teach them the motto of my University: Not Unto Ourselves Alone Are We Born. In Thai, เราไม่ใช่ คนเดียว ที่เราเกิดมา (Rao maichai kon diow thi gert ma). I taught them one word at a time to eventually say the whole thing.
Finally, a picture with all my students at Anuban Hang Chat School.
After school, we had a couple who played music for students. They were blind and it was pretty awesome to see how they performed. The students loved hearing them.
8/9/18: Normal Day. My student, May, came to me and showed me the sticker I gave her is now on her binder. Made me smile especially because I put a lot of effort into the assembly and happy to see at least one person enjoyed it.
Then selfie with my Prathom 2 students.
After school, I visited Grandma Pun. A few weeks ago, it was a normal day after school for me. For Pun (ยายปุ่น), she fell off her bike and broke her hip. I was biking home just thinking about how excited I was to take a shower and get into bed. All of a sudden, I noticed in the corner of my eye a bike on its side on top of someone…it was Pun.
As any good human would do, I stopped and helped. I thought at the time that she just fell and she needed some help getting up, but no. I tired to get her up and immediately fell back down. I picked up her bike, vegetables, and dinner that fell out of her basket during the fall.
I didn’t know what to do…didn’t know who to call, what to say…but most importantly, I was present with her. Luckily, I was able to flag two gentlemen near by who did speak Thai. She seemed so grateful for me, yet in so much pain. When I left, I didn’t think I would see her again. Lo and behold, she lives in the neighborhood I visit often. When I walked into her home, she was so happy to see me. She thought she would never see me again. I cracked a few jokes that I knew in Thai and brought her happiness. I think it brought me more happiness than anything!
8/10/18: Mother Day celebration at school. To pay respect to mothers, students enter a writing/drawing competition about Mother’s Day as well as prepare a skit/song/dance. Here are some of the pictures from the ceremony.
Anuban (Kindergarten) prepared a dance.
Prathom 3 prepared the most adorable dance, too.
Prathom 6 prepared a skit.
8/11/18: My day started by driving 15 km to Lampang. It was a nice ride with good weather. I met up with another teacher, Emily, to go to a temple in the mountains in Chae Son called “Wat Chaloem Phra Kiat.” We went to TTC headquarters to rent out the old Honda they have. They drive on the left here with the steering wheel on the right side. It was a bit weird at first, but I got use to it. When we arrived, we have to park our car in the lot down low because the hills are too steep for any car. You have to take a 4X4 truck to get up the steep hills just to reach the beginning of the steep walking trail. Then, 500m up. It was exhausting, but beautiful.
We finally made it to the top and it was stunning. Let the pictures speak for themselves.
I had two really awesome interactions that day. 1) I met a blind kid who was so happy. He couldn’t see the view and I didn’t have the English to explain it, but I enjoyed talking to him and touching him. He was so happy. 2) I met Tong, who speaks great English and studies in Bangkok for the Thai military. He is up north visiting his mom for Mother’s day. Since starting his studies, he has only seen his mom one other time. Pretty awesome to share that with him.
8/12/18: Thai Mother’s Day. I couldn’t stop thinking about my mothers back home. But, I spent the day visiting and dropping of flowers at my adopted mothers around Hang Chat. I then went on a spontaneous bike ride that led me to Mali and Bam’s house (where I planted rice). They live very far away, but it was good to see them and some other of my students.
Then, I visited Grandma Pun for her family Mother Day celebration. Pretty awesome to visit her and play with her great-grandchildren.
8/13/18: Today, I just felt like not seeing many people. I use today as a bit of a reset: grade, lesson plan, and relax. Then on a nice bike ride afterwards.
8/14/18: Today is Ba Pen’s last day at my school. Every morning, she has made me amazing breakfasts. She would go out of her way to prepare a great breakfast for me every morning. I still get to see her, but won’t have her breakfast and amazing company in the morning. I will miss her very much.
I also helped my Prathom 6 students weed the garden. Hard, hot work.
8/15/18: I went outside to go to the bathroom and I notice my friend, Teacher Kat, with her class playing with balloons and Plastic bags. They were learning about air, but they are so young and crazy, that you can get through to them much. I decided to help out and ended up just being a crazy, yet fun time.
I then went to Teacher Wilawan’s center to help out and tried Thai Spaghetti (a spicy pork sauce with pork on rice noodles). It was quite good!
8/16/18: I felt good about my teaching and executed a great new activity with my Prathom 6 class. I don’t have pictures because I was too into it that I forgot. I told them to go outside and write down what they see. To limit the barrier, I told them if they don’t know the English word, to write down Thai and translate later. I will then have them write the word on the board next week and have that be vocabulary for Outside/School Vocabulary. Afterschool, took some pictures of my favorite Prathom 1 students. They are so silly: iPhone, Ploypapot, and Namking.
I then went to Fisho’s house to help her students. Learned some new English grammar.
8/17/18: No school for me today because my visa expires today. I spent all day in the Lampang Immigration Office. I learned a little bit about the process it takes for me to be legal here….A LOT. I feel very lucky to be abroad and to have a program that pays for such fees. Through the process, their was something wrong with my residence documents. But I was friendly and made them laugh so I got away with it.
8/18/18: Saturday Morning and Thai Power came to my school to donate 1,500 footballs/soccer balls to students and sports team. I helped the team blow up all those balls. It was exhausting work, but fun to see student reactions.
Then, I went to Teacher Wilawan’s house to help out/hang out with my students. Fun!
Since it was a Saturday, that means students could bring their phones to school and to the academic center. Some of my 3rd graders had massive smart phones. Prathom 6 were attached to their phones while next to their friends. It makes me sad. I think a little bit is ok, but the addiction is real. It makes me glad that I don’t have a phone. It really has shaped my experience in Thailand. My head is always up and their is so much more you see in a day instead of looking down at your phone. Having no phone has allowed me to make so many more connections because my heads up and people recognize me.
At night, I had dinner with Bingsu family and went to the market. Their son, Nat, in Prathom 1 enjoyed painting.
8/19/18: Fine day other than doing laundry in Thailand. There are no dryers and I am in the midst of raining season. My room is too small to hang up my clothes and every drying rack outside was being used. I got creative, but I spent 2 1/2 hours doing laundry…and thats not folding and putting away. I truly appreciate the concept of a dryer. Then, helped out at Bingsu. This is what a lot of my off days look like. I help out at the café, meet new people, and see my students. Then went to Lampang to eat Chinese food.
I love making a difference each and everyday here. It is truly worth all the challenges each and everyday. I am already thinking about teaching a second year. Thank you to my loyal followers. I hope you enjoyed this update and if you enjoyed it so much, wanna give me a rating on TripAdvisor…? 😉