As January came to a close (I know this sounds like the beginnings of a very overdue update, but bear with me) Wayne and I were presented with some gear-grinding information. The information came via a Facebook chat conversation with P’Sila, the lady at the Municipality office in charge of handling our administrative affairs (I assure you, after what I’ve learned about nearly every Thai system, particularly those regarding foreigners, this is not an enviable position). She’s nice as can be, but her English is weak so her Facebook chats are always a bit obviously driven with the assistance of an Internet translator.
For this reason I hoped that something was lost in translation when she presented what I interpreted as an announcement that starting the following week Wayne and I were to teach 1.5-hour adult classes in the evening, Monday-Friday, February-September. For no additional pay. When we were hired talk had gone down about us exchanging English lessons for Thai lessons with our fellow teachers, but this topic hadn’t been touched for months. And (I keep saying this… maybe I should just know better by now?) surely, surely we could have been given notice further in advance. Or even been involved in the planning process!
The feathers were indeed ruffled, but some easy negotiations got us down to only two nights per week, with the entire month of April free. The initial, overwhelming projection of 60 students was never hit and classes have generally been a much more manageable 20-or-less. Though neither of us had ever taught adults before and were a bit intimidated by the prospect, I’ve actually quite enjoyed the experience thus far. As it turns out, there are almost no behavioral issues in adult classes, and they actually appreciate the work you put into the time you spend together! (*Shakes fist at thankless children.*) It helps that many of our students are teachers for the municipality, just like us. Before starting I’d also made the hopeful prediction that the classes could be a good way for us to meet some more locals and build our Thai network a bit. This also proved true.
When class finished last Tuesday, some of our students asked if we’d like to join them for roti (paper-thin pancakes filled with egg, banana, or coconut and slathered in condensed milk whipped up by lovely ladies in headdresses at Muslim food stalls) and coffee. We were happy to comply (it should be noted that all of our students are women and most of them are in their 40s-50s, making Wayne the obvious odd man out [no pun intended], with me having only slightly more in common), and throughout the course of the evening snacktime it was decided we should also spend the following day together at the waterfall near P’Sila’s house (there happened to be a Buddhist holiday and we were delighted to have a Wednesday off). Not that we had any clue where P’Sila lived, of course, but that was a problem easily solved by a Municipality meet-up and carpool.
As it turned out, she has a gorgeous house right above (literally… she’s got quite the steep walk from and to her house each day) the waterfall we’d visited with Jack and Ollie way back when, that we learnt to be called ThaPhae Waterfall. The afternoon involved a plethora of food, the enjoyment of assisting in its preparations, lots of laughs with the ladies, and a quick swim in the waterfall on a hot and beautiful day. Sounds like a perfect afternoon, really.
Since it was a Buddhist holiday and all we had high hopes of making it to a temple in the evening to get an idea of the associated goings-on but we were too beat from our busy day to do so.
This weekend was a blast, Wayne and I went to Pak Meng (where he and Eugene had scoped out the previous weekend)– with the pup! (So that link to the last time we went to this waterfall brought back fond memories of when Ollie was far easier to carry on the motorbike…) I’ll hopefully have the photos up by the end of the week, but since we’re on the topic of unexpected extra work I’ve just completed Day Two of bambambam, three classes in a row every morning even though we (and certainly the poor students) expected to be done teaching/learning by now. All they want to do is play games, they’re unsure if they need to wear their uniforms, and 8 out of 36 students showed up to one class today. Oh Thailand.