The Land Of Smiles

By Tracy W., Teach in Thailand 

It has been a long time since my last post! I have a lot to share with you!

School

The Good Side

For the most part, Joey and I love our jobs! Teaching is very laid back compared to the U.S. but also well respected at the same time. The students and staff love us and treat us very well. Sometimes I feel like a celebrity walking into school. The students run to you and touch you all over. They love to look at my skin color and nose and tell me how beautiful I am. Funny, because I hate my nose and the students over here all say “teacher beautiful nose!” The grass is always greener on the other side, right? I have learned the lighter your skin color the more well respected you are. (Kind of racisit!) For example we have English teachers from the Philippines who at an eye’s view seem to be treated just as well as Joey and I. However I have been told they are not. For example, they have to pay for copies and we don’t. Another plus is that we get a lot of breaks, which is a very good thing because teaching students who don’t understand you is VERY exhausting!!

The Down Side

We each have 21 different classes with about 40+ students in each class. We only see each class once a week, so it can be very hard to remember what you taught to each class the previous week. Some classes are very very naughty. For example, I just came from a low level class where the boys were fighting each other and dragging each other across the class room. One boy spit in a girls face, and then ran to my desk and drank my water. By the time I turned around the rest of my class got into my bag and started playing with my phone etc. We are not allowed to punish the students but we are allowed to get a Thai teacher to do it for us. I try not to bother them, but sometimes it is necessary. On the bright side I only have about 3-5 classes that act up and the rest are well behaved. We don’t have air conditioning in the class rooms so there is no need to try and look pretty because after one hour of teaching you are soaking in sweat. By the end of the day and week I am absolutely ready for some much needed rest!

Fun Adventures

Joey and I have already done a lot of site seeing! Two weekends ago, we went up north to Nan to visit some teacher friends we made and watched a boat race. Basically its a 40 man canoe decorated with dragons and flowers on it. The men race their boats from one end of the river to the other. Its a huge festival and a very big deal to win the race! It was very nice to see our friends and we even had our first American breakfast at a tiny restaurant called Hot Bread.
This past week was one of the biggest holidays of the year. It is called Loi Krathong. From my understanding it is a festival to celebrate the water and to get rid of your sins. There are parades everywhere and lots of partying. The main thing about this festival is the lighting of the lanterns. Every night for a week, people light these paper lanterns and send them into the air. The sky is then filled with hundreds of lanterns that eventually look like stars. It is very beautiful! Another tradition is to make a Krathong (mini boat made out of flowers) and light candles on it. You then say a wish and send it on down the river. It is quite the romantic holiday!

This past weekend Joey and I went to Chiang Mai to visit my brother and his friends. It was sooooo much fun and very lovely to hang out with my brother, John. The first night we were there he took us to the big Loi Krathong festival, which is most popular in Chiang Mai. It was absolutely beautiful. We ate lots of food, set off paper lanterns and watched fire works. Later we went to dinner with Johns friends on the river and had a great time. The next day was very busy, we woke up at 7AM and went on a elephant/rafting tour. What an experience that was! We rafted down the river on a boat made of bamboo, and then rode huge elephants through the mountains and waterfalls. It was an indescribable afternoon, you will have to see my pictures! To end the exciting day we went to a tiger preserve where we were able to go into the cages and sit with the tigers. (They are not mistreated or drugged if you are wondering) The tigers have been raised in captivity, making them very friendly animals. Again, you will have to see the pictures to imagine this experience!
Later that night we went to a club with John’s friends and some of our teacher friends that were also in Chiang Mai and had a lot of fun dancing! The Thai people love to watch us Americans dance because we do it so differently. To end the wonderful weekend we had, we went shopping and all got Thai massages. Joey got his hair cut by one of John’s friends who owns a hair salon. It was a wonderful week and I am so happy I got to experience it with John. I am even more happy I will get to see him a couple more times before I go back home.

It has been a busy but exciting time for us so far. This coming weekend we will stay in our town and do some site seeing. Please try and set up a skype date with us sometime! We would love to talk to you all. We miss you and love you!

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