A Refresher in a Friend

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it. I have spent the last few months quite unhappy in my situation – ready to quit at the drop of a hat. I wasn’t homesick – but I was finding myself lonely in a room full of people. My comments were ignored, my jokes missed and disregarded, my laugh was forced (if I laughed at all). It was a form of depression that I wasn’t accustomed to.

Today I feel great. The conditions are a little different I think though. It’s the last month of school and all the tests are done. The light at the end of the tunnel has finally appeared. But the real booster was a visit from a friend.

It was not his intention to come to Thailand to see me – he was just going because he could and something told him it was a good idea. And it happened that I am here. I found out 2 weeks before he came out (about 2 weeks before he knew he was coming out for sure). I was stoked. I have known my friend since high school. We were never particularly close but our mutual friends kept us in minor contact.

Anyway, the sun started to shine a bit more since he decided to come to Thailand. I had something to look forward to that wasn’t the end of school. The schedule got blistered a bit and it took another 2 weeks for him to get to my part of the country. But he got here and my soul’s thirst was quenched. I felt like a little kid – wanting to show him all my classes and what my students can do. (He missed the best class – but they’ll be famous in their own rights one day). I wanted him to try this and that and everything.

But the best part was finally when I relaxed, my words were heard and my jokes were laughed at. I ventured into humor that is borderline incredibly offensive. But the timing was good and it was influenced by my friend. I observed his style and realized it was similar to mine – and none of my coworkers really got what either of our styles. I wasn’t alone for once in this room full of people. I was here and with someone who I could be myself around. My ridiculous attempts at different accents was met with even more ridiculous attempts at accents. I was encouraged to speak my mind rather than hold it in. I realized how great of a person this guy is (not that I didn’t know before – but hey .. haven’t seen him in years!).

I’m only a minor part in his experience here but it’s something to relate to later and a story to share with our friends. I realize how much more fun I could be having here if I had someone like him around: someone to bring out the best in me because I can actually be me. I laughed more this past weekend with him around than I have in ages (sober or not).

 

So, my friend, I dedicate this entry to you.

I hope we can share more adventures in the future wherever we may be.

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Walentie Day

V. Vvvvvv. Put your top teeth OVER your bottom lip and make the ‘v’ sound. VaaaalentiNe’s Day.

Okay yes.

No, make the sound please. Vvvvv. Double-U is a wuh wuh wuh sound with your lips – no teeth. USE your teeth.

V. Vvvv.

YES! perfect. Now, Valentine’s Day

Vvvvvvv walentie day.

*Blank stare* Okay, excellent work.

————-That is basically how my Valentine’s Day went with my 4 classes of different leveled Thai students.

But first. before all that. before the pronunciation and linguistic aspect came into play.. there was fun to be had.

If you say “Valentine’s Day” to primary school Thai students, it translates into a literally-not-literal translation: “Use every sticker you have to cover everything you have with.”

valentines

And they did.

It was a few moments before 10am and I had just gathered all the strips of paper for Valentine’s Day flower project. I was in a cheery mood, of course, and I walk up to my first class. To my FAVORITE class, of course (see MJ post). Before I made it to the door, I was bombarded. Stickers came out of nowhere. Big stickers, little stickers, pink, white, red, gold, hearts, animals, more hearts. They had no problem reaching up and putting them right on my chest. In fact, that seemed to be the prime location for this display. Big boobs = big heart? Nah. But whatever, I can’t do anything about it. So I go into the classroom and there are MORE students with MORE stickers. Thank goodness it was a long class. Because every student waited for stickers in return. So I pulled out the same stickers that I carry with me every day and started putting it on their cheeks. In return, they put them on my cheeks… and forehead, and neck, and hair.
I got them seated and showed them the project to do today.
They all said ‘Yay!’ and did the project. Some would come up to me randomly to ask a question and suddenly plant a sticker on my shirt. Others wrote notes that said “i love teacher’ and stuck those on my shirt too.
Their paper flowers turned out really nicely. They did a great job and I was proud of these lil buggers.

But alas, no other teacher got completely engulfed in stickers like I did.

The best part was getting my students to learn and sing ‘My Favourite Things’ from Sound of Music. And they sound lovely. 😀

Happy Walentie’s Day

Holiday Show Happiness

"Mai" a student dressed in MJ garb

“Mai” a student dressed in MJ garb

In August, our manager informed us of a ‘holiday’ party in December that we were expected to perform at. Cue: Collective groan. Then she told us we needed to prepare our students for a performance as well.

I played a few songs for my P3 class (7-8 y/o) including the Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, and India Arie. Apparently this was NOT cool. They wanted Lady Gaga. I scoffed because we had just gone over ‘Like/Dislike’ and in my ‘Dislike’ category I had written Lady Gaga. Then it hit me: Michael Jackson.  The students were familiar with the name and enjoyed rockin’ out to his music during dance time.

So we played lots of MJ songs until I  we collectively decided on singing “man in the mirror”. We started rehearsals immediately. I taught the students the words and we sang a few times a week at the beginning of class. They loved it. I loved it.

After they learned the lyrics I choreographed a fairly complicated easy dance for them. They caught on quickly. I caught on to the few that were not coordinated and put them in the back – as any good drama geek turned teacher would do.
We rehearsed with the other half of the class that another teacher taught. Without sounding too cocky – my class was WAAYYY better than hers.  they were all very good.

December came along and we gave them the outline for their outfits:
Black button down/zipped shirt with long sleeves
white t-shirt
black pants
white socks
black shoes
fedora

Students were bringing in amazing outfits to put together. I realized that there were 2 key element being forgotten about 2 weeks before the performance: the sparkly glove. No MJ performance would be complete without it!! So they brought gloves and we decorated it with the devil glitter. Also, they needed to know how to moonwalk! So they practiced moonwalking down the hallways for about 30 minutes. Not an easy task. But HILARIOUS to watch.

Our director loves me and came to watch the students perform a couple times. She loved it. I loved it. We all loved it.

Holiday-show-day was upon us. I walked into the GIANT convention hall and saw the itsy bitsy stage the students were to perform on. All i could think: “SHhhhiiiiiit. Someone’s going to fall off stage.” But then I saw their adorable little faces in the brilliant collection of MJ style costumes and no longer cared. For a few hours, I filled the room with Thai MJ impersonators.  No MJ fan could have been happier.
The performance itself was good. Not great.
Reason 1: No microphones. They took away the microphones because there was no room for it. So you couldn’t hear a damned word they said
Reason 2: The kids were so afraid of ruining their precious glittered gloves that they didn’t actually clap. They fake clapped! ((Insert: SMH))

———————–
On a side note: the girls of my P3 class decided to sing “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. Of course when I say “decided” I actually mean our Thai director told me they were going to perform it. They dressed like divas and threw roses into the audience after the performance. They did a fantastic job.

I’m uploading the videos to youtube so you can see the performances at the show and the ones from their classroom (which are WAY better!!)

The P3 girls and the solo sax player

The P3 girls and the solo sax player

The singers after the performance

The singers after the performance

Little MJs

Blame it on the..

It’s been a long while since I have posted an update. My apologies – I blame the heat. Actually, one can blame the heat for a lot of issues here:

A certain laziness sets in that makes joining a gym or working out just seem torturous. I luckily have looked past this (and into a mirror) and joined a gym that does not have air conditioning. They have fans, but I haven’t seen them on yet. I spend more here on a gym membership per month than I did in the States.

A rash is inevitable. Heat rash mostly. The constant Florida summer heat can make sensitive skin break out in ways and areas that make ZERO sense. Luckily, pharmacies are as accessible as the drugs they sell. I picked up some cortisone for 180Baht (roughly $6).

I blame the heat for bad hair days! Being a native Floridian, having a ‘good’ hair day keeping long hair straight for longer than 2 hours. Here… maybe there is, maybe there isn’t an excuse. It’s too hot to blow dry and straighten my hair. I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve used a blow dryer… which was actually used for drying my paintings. The straightener bit was a few times more I think. I end up sweaty before I get through half of my head. However, Thai girls have good hair days everyday. I think they may wake up hours earlier than they should to make sure they look like dolls. Thai teachers especially. They rarely have an ‘off’ day. (Maybe I can blame the heat for the laziness of not getting up early to sweat from straightening my hair!)

I blame the heat for dirty clothes. Darling English people.. I know you LOVE to wear white in the worst combinations but white + heat = sweat stains. And they are obvious. I have a couple of white shirts that I have not and will not wear in Thailand. If not for the heat and sweat, then the rain that will give the Thai culture a real sense of spring breaks in Florida.

Full Moon Party (Part 1)

At some point in our young adult life, we hear about this legendary ‘Full Moon Party.’ Sometimes these parties happen around the corner from your home, in the desert, in the woods, etc. But there is none as great and LEGEN (wait for it!) DARY as the Koh Phangan Full Moon Party! Koh Phangan (Kho Pang-yan!) is a small island off the east coast of Southern Thailand. At the southern point is a beach called ‘Haad Rin’ (Hahd Rin) and it’s nice. The water is blue, the sand is sand-colored, and thousands of people flock to this beach once (or rarely twice) a month for this specific party.

It’s a THE full moon party. This party contains buckets, THOUSANDS of people, Burmese & Thai people, mushroom shakes, sex, fire dancing, fire slides(!),”music,” and of course glow paint.

BUCKETS are filled with whatever small-sized liquor bottle (yes, the entire bottle) and mixer. A famous one involves Vodka, Red Bull, and Coca-Cola. My personal fave involves gin and sprite or HongThong (Hong Tong – Thai ‘blended spirits’ aka rum-ish) and Red bull and Manao soda (like a lemonade spritzer?). These buckets range from 150Baht to 500Baht. Or – get creative and buy all the ingredients and mix it yourself.

Thousands of people flock from all over the world (mostly European, especially Irish) to experience this crazy extravaganza. I don’t mean a few thousand. Up to 40,000 people. Typically that number is reached during high season and/or New Years. My party allegedly had about 10,000 people but I can assure you I didn’t count that many. Or at all. I was wasted. The majority of the people (as stated) are from Europe. The sexiest European award goes to Holland!! DAMN DUTCH ARE FINE!!!! The quantity award goes to Ireland! Them bitches be everywhere! And being Irish, they can drink. And they can stumble. And they fall. One particular Irishman I met was dressed in an orange and white tank (vest, for you weird English) and was painted with orange, white, and grey/blue stripes on his face! Naturally, I approached him with ‘Tony?’ and he had no clue what I was talking about. I tried to school him on Tony the Tiger only to be reprimanded. He was, in fact, NOT tony the tiger.. but a were-wolf. Were-wolf + Full Moon Party = get it? Yea, he looked like a tiger. The most ridiculous award goes to Spain! It only took two guys and one simple conversation:

Spain: “You are beautiful. We are two guys who are the most attractive men in the world. You are the most beautiful woman. This is a sign. We should be together.”
Me: “No hablo espania.” And I walked away.

England and America of course get points for conversation. I chatted with an Englishman named (Wenton? Weston? Wimbledon? Wyoming? Whatever – I called him James, the only name Englishmen should have). We chatted about his semi-sad semi-heroic life choices of taking care of adults who have severe social and mental disorders, including his best mate who started showing signs of dementia at age 15. Sad, heroic. Good for him. Good luck in life.

From America, I met some cool and still douche-bag-like people. I met a complete ARSE-HOLE who used “wanker” in an American accent on several occasions. ((((SIDE NOTE: IF YOU ARE FROM AMERICA, SPEAKING WITH AN AMERICAN ACCENT – DO NOT SAY ‘WANKER’… you sound like one, stupid.)))) I kissed him to shut him up only to find he was as bad at kissing as he was at talking. He said “This was meant to be. I feel like I know you.” I laughed, and managed to get away. He then came to me and said ‘Are you serious? This is not the girl I have come to know! You don’t mean this. Come with me to my bungalow and we can sort this out.’  ???? Psycho? ????

Other people include Burmese and Thai locals. They are the ones cleaning up after you and selling buckets and trinkets, respectively. While the thousands of tourists come and ruin their God-given paradise, they stand by and watch. The strange groups of Burmese people with most of their faces covered and bandit-like clothing will go around and pick up the buckets and bottles and other various trash items that us beloved farang leave behind. They probably clean them out with water and give it to the Thai people, who turn around and sell it back to us filled with our favorite beverages for another 500Baht a pop. The Thai people each have their own stand that they will yell at you from. They write English words on their hands and arms in hopes to attract you. “Free hugs! Kiss me!” and other phrases that remind me of those little valentine’s candies.

 

There are the infamous mushroom shakes to consider also. Different people like different drugs for different events. Here in Kho Phangan they have Mushroom Mountain and Kangaroo Bar or something rather. If you face the water, follow the beach to the left until there are steps. Ascend these steps, buy the ugliest ‘shake’ for 500B per cup and choose your adventure. You can stay up in these safer parts where people are trippin’ to blacklight paintings and funky music. You can go back down to the beach and proceed to party at one of the many dance/music areas. You can watch a sweet fire show. Do whatever! But be warned, with the high comes the low. At about 4am when everyone is beyond intoxicated in so many different ways, things can get scary. People turn into zombies and just when you think they’re falling to the left, they’ll stumble to the right and knock you down. They may try to grab you and make out. They may just fall asleep before they hit the sand. There are people sleeping EVERYWHERE on the beach. Likely getting robbed too. Some of the Thais and Burmese will watch over the sleeping darlings to make sure they’re not getting raped or robbed, but no guarantees.  But when ‘shroom shakes are involoved… you see what the drug lets you.

Sex on the Beach is not just a drink. It’s right in front of you. Literally. I’m pretty sure people were doing the dirty deed while dancing and wasted. There definitely were people having sex in the water with lots of onlookers. These people may or may not have been hookers. I have a ‘friend’ who claims that while he was fucking a hooker in that very water, his possessions were stolen from the beach. Sneaky bitches. . . gender questionable also. If you decide to partake in this activity, put your belongings in a safe and have a condom ready… Thai hookers are nasty.

 

Thais are famous for their fire dancing. They can swing fire around better than any hippie I’ve met in the States. They perform for hours making sweet designs in the dark. There was also a fire slide. Say WHATT!!!!!! A rather steep slide that goes straight through a ring of fire? Yea… it’s here. And I’ll bet that is what going to hell is probably going to be like. One last fun thing before descending into the flames. I didn’t try it. I was on a different adventure.

 

The music. The “MUSIC” is shit. But I also happen to think that electronic/dance/trance is bullshit. And every single bar that lines this beach plays something with major bass. I would have danced, but how do you do dance to DOOOOOOm DOOOOOOm DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOm DODODODODODODODODODODM ——————– BIEEWWWWWWWW DOOM DOOM DOOM . whatev. I can’t make the sound via typing and I hope I never have to try again. You know it and hate it or love it. Again, at about 4am the music changes to dark trance… and depending on your intoxication preference.. this could turn your high into a really dark and scary place too.

 

What to wear: Neon. Cheap clothes that are bright or look cool in black lights. You can wear white like at Day-glo parties. Just know you’ll probably throw it away the next day… or not be wearing it at all when you get back to your room.

 

What to bring: minimal. Money and maybe a small pouch or secret place to store this money that is not easily picked (pick pockets), cut off, or opened. Bring an iPhone and you’ll probably get it stolen, lost, or broken. Shoes will likely be lost also. light up anything and glowpaint.

 

There are plenty of food options and drinks are always flowing. There are phramacy’s around and plenty of shops. No worries, you’ll find whatever you need there.

 

I’m over this entry. Maybe a proper entry to come about my personal little adventure during the Full Moon Party.

United we stand

Anywhere you go there is a Fourth of July. But not everywhere celebrates America’s Independence. The Brits call it America Day and go about banging their mash and drinking their tea wearing red coats and being British. (jk they just go about their own business)

I personally only claim to be half American most days of the year (south African mother). But when it comes the day to don my red white n blue, I make America proud.

My plan was to get hamburgers and hot dogs goin on a grill, but that proved to be difficult on a Wednesday (my busiest day of the week).
I was lucky enough to have found a great group if Americans at the beer pier and we drank merrily. The number one rule: Drink when someone says America.
We drank and sang songs we dont remember the words to obnoxiously the way all Americans do. We got Thai people to sing Happy Birthday America.

Another group of Americans called up and they happen to have hamburgers n hotdogs! And a few good southern boys found serious fireworks in a Chinese ice cream shop.

At some point the discussion got onto east coast vs west coast and north vs south n Yankees vs red sox. I listened and noted each point then I stood up and said (more or less):
We are Americans. We are the east coast and the west coast. We are the north and the south. We come from all over our great nation representing our teams and states and cities and towns. We can argue about baseball til the cows come home…but in the end what is baseball? It’s an American past time. American people. That’s what we are. Let’s put our squabbles aside for this one day and celebrate what unites all of us. We are Americans in a foreign country. Together we stand, divided we fall.

United we stood. Together we sang at restaurants and on the back of the motorbikes, together we ate, together we shot off fireworks from the roof of a house. Together we waited quietly inside while someone talked to the police that came out to tell us to stop shooting fireworks at midnight on a Wednesday.

We lit some sparklers and listened to some loud drunk American girls sing American turned religious songs. I’m sure they actually howled at some point as well.

Ah well, it was a beautiful night anyway.

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