Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Vegetarian Festival

ECC made an offering to the spirits during this morning's Vegetarian Festival parade.. We were all invited to take part in the offering. It didn't require anything of us, just gave us a place to stand and watch the parade. It was an amazing parade, with some quite awesome acts of self-mortification going on.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

All you can eat!

Went along to an all you can eat BBQ last night. It was a similar deal to Korean BBQs in that you have a BBQ in the middle of your table. It's different in several ways however. Firstly, and most importantly, the meat is available buffet style, and you have as much of it as you like! Secondly, and rather annoyingly, the grill top to the BBQ is domed, which makes balancing meat on there rather difficult. There's also a moat around the grill top. We think it's there to boil noodles and such, but we didn't try anything like that.
We were shown by a Thai woman from a table near us that you need to get a bit of fat first to sit on top of the dome to grease it up. She kept giving us encouraging grins from her table whenever meat slid off the dome and splashed into the water. It was pretty funny. Almost as funny as the live performer they had at the restaurant. He didn't seem to be doing much performing of his own. He just appeared to add little guitar riffs and random sound effects to whatever track was playing at the time.
All in all, it was a great way to have a meal.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Jungle trekking!

After coming to Thailand last Saturday evening, I've finally had some free time. Time away from lesson plans, Concept Checking Questions and Student Talk Time. Three of us met up to go along to a gibbon project towards the north of the island. We took a tuk-tuk ride up there, which in itself was a bit of an adventure.
The gibbon project itself wasn't quite what we expected, that said I wasn't quite sure what I was expecting. Perhaps I was hoping for something more visitor centered. This place however was all about the gibbons, which is the point I suppose. After we had a nice chat with one of the volunteers we headed off into the jungle to see the waterfall there. Supposedly the biggest on the island. The guidebook said it was 15 meters. It wasn't more than 4 meters. There is a good chance however that the waterfall we saw was another one entirely. Suitably unimpressed, we pressed on further into the jungle. There was a clear trail and signs along the way, naming plants and commenting on famous events that happened in the area.
We took a plunge in a pool where, long ago, a leper took mud from there to ease his lesions. When he returned home he discovered that the mud had turned to gold. None of that happened with us, but we did have a very refreshing dip. The trek through the jungle went very well. We were walking along, and it started to get a little dark. Not long after the heavens opened. So very fortunately, at that moment, we happened across a covered work area. We took shelter there for a while, a little longer than it took us to realize that in Phuket, especially in the rainforest, it can rain for an exceptionally long time. Already the path was turning into a small stream. So we headed out into the downpour. We got thoroughly soaked, but still managed to enjoy the experience.
This weekend is the beginning of Ngan Kin Jeh, the Vegetarian Festival. It marks the beginning of Taoist Lent, a month long period of purification. Practitioners abstain from meat, alcohol and sex for six days whereupon they fall into a trance and, to prove it, perform acts of self-mortification. They skewer themselves and walk over hot coals. Sounds like it could be quite the spectacle.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


So I've been in Phuket for a day now. The flight here was great. I don't know how I do it but, like my flight out to Korea, I received an upgrade on the long haul. So no sitting in economy class seating for me.
I arrived in Phuket late last night, so I'm still pretty severely jet-lagged. I didn't get to sleep until the early hours then got woken up at 8am by my alarm. It should pay off soon I hope. I spent all of the morning wandering the streets of Phuket. I got pretty hungry as it took me rather long to stumble across a restaurant that had a menu in English. The place that I finally found was great and I'm hoping to go back there tomorrow morning if they're open early enough.
Today I had the intro to the CELTA course. It wasn't so much an intro as it was the first day of the course. We went through a little admin stuff, got given sheaths of paper to go away and look over and we were given our tasks for tomorrow. Come 2pm tomorrow we'll each be in front of a class of students, albeit for just 15 minutes. The lesson we have to teach is pretty straight forward. I'm under the impression that we're being assessed more on how we relate to the student rather than our ability to convey information. That'll come in later I'm sure. As we were all warned its a full on course, 9-5:30, plus 4 written assignments and lesson prep to be done in our own time. That said it looks to be manageable. I guess after a month of being left to my own devices, as nice as it was, I'm kind of looking forward to having some sort of structure back in my day to day existence. With so much to do I'm hoping that this month will fly by.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ready for the off.

How long would it take you to prepare to move to a foreign country for an indeterminable amount of time? I only ask because it seems to have taken me bloody ages and I'm still not ready.
I've been in the UK for about a month now. I'm pretty much set for my departure this Friday but I still haven't finished all the CELTA precourse tasks, nor have I gotten any baht but the former will be done tomorrow and the latter... Well, I have a long flight ahead of me.
I'm not particularly nervous about the move, partly because I've known it was going to happen for a long while now. Long before I returned to the UK so its not like I've put down any roots here. It might also be that its such a big thing, too big for me to fully comprehend, so I'm not even trying. I don't know the language, I don't know the culture, I don't even know what the job situation is like. But I'm committed to it so I'm going to see it through. Obviously I'll keep you updated on how the whole fiasco goes :)
All this...

...into this.