Samphan Riverside (Rose garden), Bangkok

During my last weekend in Bangkok, I decided to visit the Rose Garden, which is located in Nakon Pathon province just outside of Bangkok.

It was a bit of a mission to get here. On the way, I took a van from Victory Monument then a taxi but on the way back I got the number 84 bus to Bang Wa.

Samphan Riverside has a beautiful, large garden with a huge lake, two markets and a Thai village. I entered the Thai village during the afternoon, which cost 600baht. There were different workshops around (music, fan painting, weaving, cookery), an elephant demonstration and a culture show depicting different aspects of Thai life including a Thai wedding, martial arts, dance, music.

It was a lovely day trip and definitely worth visiting. Here are some of my photos from the day.

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A typical teaching day in Bangkok

IMG_20150515_074650From working in Thailand as a teacher for the last 6 months, I thought I would give some insight into my typical day at school. To start with, I am in an all-girls private school in the centre of Bangkok so my experience will be very different from others who have taught in Thailand.

My week consists of teaching 25 periods a week, which are 50 minutes long. I teach a variety of ages and subjects. I have the Special Intensive English Programme (SIP) students, Pathom 2 (aged 6-8), 12 times a week, teaching English (5 periods), Maths (4 periods) and Science (3 periods). Then I teach 2 classes of Pathom 2, both Maths and Science, 1 period of each a week. I have 3 classes of Matthayom 2 (aged 13-14), teaching English Conversation for 1 Period a week. Finally, I have 3 classes of Matthayom 5 (aged 16-17), teaching English Conversation for a double period a week.

In Pathom classes, I have around 30 students, where a Thai teacher might turn up and sit at the back of the class, but other than that I have the whole class to myself, speaking only English to Thai-native speakers. My Matthayom consists of 15-18 students, with no sign of any Thai teacher, and there English is limited. I can speak to my SIP2’s more than my Matthayom students as can speak and understand more English.

On a typical day, I leave my condo around 10 past 7, where I walk about 20 minutes to get to school. I stroll in the main gates, Wai the teacher on the door and walk around to the office to sign in with my fingerprint and signature. Across the school to the Pathom side, I climbing the stairs to the 4th floor, where the foreign teacher office is. Here, I fill up my water bottle, drop off my bag, plug in my computer and get ready for the day’s lessons, while feeling sweaty as the air-con is not allowed to be on until 8.

Then all the teachers and students fill the main area for assembly, with the student of all ages sit on the floor in rows in their classes. Assembly starts with the National Athem, where we stand straight looking forward, while a Thailand flag is raised and everyone sings. After, a Catholic prayer is said in Thai then a song played with the students clasping their hands together. The pupils all sit on floor, while either a teacher talks to them or students perform a sketch (sometimes in English) to the whole school. Recently, the student then do a couple of minutes of meditation with a peaceful, calming song is played. After assembly, lessons then start at 8.05, where they have 2 lessons, homeroom period before break.

In both Pathom and Matthayom, the pupils are taught by different teachers in a majority of their subjects and the students stay in the same classroom (except for music, swimming and PE). The students have individual desks with a drawer for their books and the desk are usually put into 3 or 4 columns facing the huge whiteboard and TV screen at the front of the class. Each classroom has a teachers desk, a computer linked to the TV (except for Matthayom 5/6, where the teacher has to plug in their computer) and air-con.

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When I enter the class, all students stand up to greet me by Wai-ing me and saying ‘Good Morning Teacher’. I usually say ‘Good Morning, how are you?’, where they will respond robotic-ally ‘I’m fine, thank you, and you?’ It makes me laugh everytime. However, majority of my student now will say something different to ‘I’m fine’, when speaking to me. The students then sit sown, while I set up the computer for the lessons, getting powerpoints, timers, games, YouTube clips ready.

In my Pathom classes and Matthayom 2, I normally start my lesson with a starter game, which will revise previous material. I split the class into groups, where I shout ‘Team 1, team 2 etc’ and they repeat back. When the students answer the question, they put up their hands and I will choose someone. Majority of the time, I will choose someone with their hand up but sometimes I try to choose pupils, who are either misbehaving or are too shy.

After the starter, I will introduce new vocabulary or grammar, where I would have a picture on a PowerPoint to see if anyone knows the word. If not, I would show them the word, say the word and get the whole class to repeat several times. Once I have gone through the words once, I would go through again to see if they remember the words. Usually, I would turn this into some sort of a game to keep them enthusiastic.

Next comes the activity, which usually varies depending on subject and topic. Sometimes they complete material in their workbooks, or do an activity in a notebook, which I write on the board or another making task. At the end of the lesson, we finish off by doing a cool-down activity, usually going through something we have done in the lesson. The children then put always paper and stationary. Before I leave, the student stand up again to say ‘Thank you and goodbye’.

My English Conversation lessons for Matthayom 5 students have a slightly different layout as they are older. I still start with some sort of a game to review previous material but I make it active so they have to get out their seats. Even though most of them don’t enjoy moving, it gets them interested and engaged in the lesson. I then will introduce the topic for the double period, and find out what they already know so that I can add to this knowledge. Again, I will introduce new vocabulary, where they will do some sort of activity with the new vocabulary. As a class, we will go through the answers and I will see if they all understand, which can be difficult as they often copy each other and rely on those who are better at English. Next, I go through a conversation or piece of text about the topic, where majority of the time the class will read as a class. We try to talk about this and they answer questions on it verbally. The next activity consists of the students being in pairs and writing a conversation between two people about the subject. I walk around the classroom, making sure their grammar is correct and that the sentences make sense at the same time as initiating some sort of conversation with them. After, each IMG_20150923_131301pair read me their conversation to me so I can hear their pronunciation and correct any mistakes.

After break, they have one more lesson before lunch. Usually for lunch I eat in the canteen, where I first exchange money for tokens, then scout out the food options. In our school canteen, there are four different sections: different noodles with soup, rice with a variety of toppings, snack and drinks, and ice-cream. The food at the school is extremely cheap, like 20 baht for a rice and topping. Depending on the time I get down stairs, sometimes I have to queue in the same line as the children. Teachers don’t get any sort of privileges. Actually often the lunch workers give us bigger portions. I would sit down with the other farang teachers and majority of the time some students from SIP4 join us and chat with us.

For the rest of the afternoon, there are four more classes before finishing school. When I am not teaching, I am in the foreign teacher room, planning and preparing lessons.

Weekends in Bangkok

From living in Bangkok for 6 months, I have managed to explore some incredible places, experience the nightlife and tried some delicious and weird food.

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Chinatown

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Double Dog Tearoom, Chinatown

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Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

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Lumpini Park

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Lumpini Park

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Wat Pho

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Asiatique

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Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho

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MOCA

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Sala Chalermkrung Theatre

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Thai Khon Dancing Ticket

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Sala Chalermkrung Theatre

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MOCA Art Gallery

 

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Muay Thai, Pink Panther

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Wat Rachanatdaram

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The Bookshop Bar

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Terminal 21 Mall

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River Chao Phraya

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Bangkok from the State Tower

The time your close friends visit Bangkok

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I was extremely excited for my friends to come visit me in Bangkok. I had been travelling for 6ish weeks in Thailand and Cambodia and been settled in my condominium for just over a week. However, I had not spend quality time with them for 6 months due to me living in South Africa and one of them suddenly living in Sydney.

For this post, it will be more of a photo blog than writing every detail.IMG_20150523_105841  IMG_20150523_112821   IMG_20150524_184439

What seemed like a dragging sort of day at school, I rushed home to change, jumped on the river boat to Khao San Road. Most travelers generally stay in that area of the city due to the party road, cheap alcohol and food but it is not easy to get around from here as the re isn’t a BTS or MRT station nearby. IMG_227396599121818

During there time in Bangkok, we just did the typically touristy attractions: Grand Palace, Chakutuk weekend market, wandered around the Khao San area, ate Pad Thai and had a few drinks along Soi 11. They spend the weekend in Bangkok, then head to koh Chang for the weekdays before arriving back in Bangkok to fly home.
On the second weekend, one of the girls stayed slightly longer so we enjoyed Dusit Zoo, which was just incredible. I love zoos! I love animals! I was like a kid in a sweet shop.

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Hua Hin, Thailand: Songkran (Thai New Year)

Songkran has got to be the best festival celebration I have ever been involved with. Songkran is the celebration of the Thai New Years. In the different parts of the country, they celebrate it for a different number of day. Where I was staying in Hua Hin, it was happening for one and a half days. Other cities, it is six days.

During this period, it’s basically one large water, where every person on the street is involved. If you are outside then you are agreeing that other can throw water on you. Thai people also like to get powder paint and smother it over random faces. 

Riding back to Baan Ton Mai on Sunday afternoon, the celebrations started with water being thrown into our songtaew. After dressing in appropriate clothes, we headed to the centre of Hua Hin. I went out with friends from xplor Asia as well as a guy from England joined our group, who was a Muay Thai course. Throughout the night, we were were not safe from getting soaked. Somehow I managed to avoid paint being spread across my face by should ‘mai ka’ and running.  We enjoyed dancing at a few bars and discovered a street foam party. 

The next day, the fun continued with Xplore Asia picking us up at 10.30 and drove us to a hired out cafe. Before even arriving, we were soaked as random thai on the street were hauling water towards us. Outside the place, there were three gigantic dustbins full of ice-cold water. With out pallets and water guns at the ready, we chucked water at every on-coming vehicle and petestrian as well as each other. The water just seemed to keep flowing. Trucks passed by with huge buckets of water and many passengers squirting water. I gained up on others with fellow sprayers including the co-ordinator of the organisation. Our strategy was to get the coldest water full of iceand take on people by surprise. This went on for hours. Amid the commotion, a buffet was supplied to us full of delicious thai food and fruit. 

After the party, a massive group of us headed towards the bars in Hua Hin to carry on with the festivities. Due to starting early, I was so confused at one point as it was still light outside and I felt it should have been late evening. I still can’t quite believe that during Songkran, you have the right to rub paint of people’s faces and throw copious amount of water at them.

When we thought it was over, we soon discovered in another part of the country it was not. After a day of rest, my roomie and I travelled to Bangkok to further our sightseeing of South-East Asia. However, due to the Thai New Year, we had to have a stop over in Bangkok to apply for a re-entry permit. 

Our plan was to go to Khao San road to relax and enjoy a massage. Fighting through the traffic on the bus, people filled the streets along with their water pistols. It was not going to be calm. The road was completely packed to the rim with dancer and water-throwers. It was mad. Again, we were dripping with water.

If you have a bucket list, Songkran in Thailand needs to be on it. I’m even tempted to come back next year to celebrate. 

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