Your Thailand Experience in Suphanburi

 Elephant rides

What to Expect.

Buddhas Head

The Unexpected

 

 

So why am I writing this?

Every one’s experience is different. Many of us have travelled widely, including to Thailand but for some it is the first time. We are working here, so this means that we see people and places from a different perspective. In part, we become adopted as we adapt to our new home.

Kylie, a colleague when I first arrived in 2006, wanted the last word so here it is first ‘and then before you know it you’ll be going home. Enjoy every moment of the experience; don’t let homesickness get you down. Just think to yourself that the people back home are doing the same old routine, people back home are doing the same old routine where as you are doing something so different. Live by the mantra “Corpe Dieu” and go and seize the Thai experience’.

Many thanks to those whose experiences and knowledge have been incorporated into this which is a constant work in progress. We have come from many places, US, Australia, China, Finland and the UK. Also thanks to our Thai colleagues and friends for allowing us to be here and who shared their views as well.

 

Festivals

 

Don Chedi Festival

This is a food extravaganza for about a fortnight in late January to early February. There is spectacular show with battling elephants acting out a very important part of Thai history. You may like to attend the performance (separately from the school) and if so ask the staff in the EP office for guidance as to how to arrange transport and buy the tickets. The school canteen will be closed for a month and students and staff are expected to spend time at the festival to help with the food stalls. We were not asked to help but it is good to be involved. If you are here at the time try and be involved, it is a special event.

 

Chinese New Year.

This occurs around the 16 February depending on the Moon. The pagodas are lit up and the Chinese temples are decorated. You will be woken early in the morning with very loud firecrackers. So get the day started with a bang and go to the food festivals near the market in the afternoon. You may like to check out the Dragon Descendents environ as well whenever you like.  

 

Sonkran Festival.

 

Sonkran ParadeSonkran Ute Fighting

This is a mid-April celebration for the Thai new year. It is a water festival starting with a ceremony at the school at about 9 am. This starts the festivities for the teachers.

The wet crowds

At about 2 pm there is a spectacular parade through the streets of Suphanburi. All the participants have containers of water and a white clay powder. They go up to strangers and friends alike and tip some water on your shoulders and wipe a little of the powder (now a paste) on to the cheeks of the lucky person. Have fun, buy the biggest water pistol you can While doing this you are wished a happy new year or a happy Songkran with much Choc Dee (good luck). This degenerates into a good natured water fight with parties, singing in the streets and some roads are blocked with people.

Ute Wars with waterBrother and Wife

Have fun, buy the biggest water pistol you can, hitch a ride in a ute, and be prepared to be wet for three days. Oh, buy a bright patterned shirt, you will fit right in.  

 

Lent Day

This is a Buddhist festival held in early July each year.

 It involves candles and the belief in what candles do in Buddhism. In Suphanburi and elsewhere, organisations and groups construct floats and with costumes and traditional dress drive in a parade around Suphanburi.

With the wax statues, Suphanburi Lent Parade

All I can say is find a good location and bring your camera.

Loi Krathong

This Buddhist celebration (usually in November) involves the creative creation of small floats that are lit and cast adrift on the river at night.

WaitingAsking forgiveness of the river for all the bad things doneMore blessingsFloating blessings on the river for good meritMore merit

At school you will see them constructed and floatation tested on every water pond that the students can find. You can watch on television the spectacular versions (with fireworks) being launched in Bangkok by important people or the millions constructed by the industrious people everywhere.

This festival is held at the same as time as Yi Peng in Northern Thailand. In this festival, candle lanterns are launched into the air.  

Your Thailand Experience in Suphanburi

 Elephant rides

What to Expect.

Buddhas Head

The Unexpected

 

 

So why am I writing this?

Every one’s experience is different. Many of us have travelled widely, including to Thailand but for some it is the first time. We are working here, so this means that we see people and places from a different perspective. In part, we become adopted as we adapt to our new home.

Kylie, a colleague when I first arrived in 2006, wanted the last word so here it is first ‘and then before you know it you’ll be going home. Enjoy every moment of the experience; don’t let homesickness get you down. Just think to yourself that the people back home are doing the same old routine, people back home are doing the same old routine where as you are doing something so different. Live by the mantra “Corpe Dieu” and go and seize the Thai experience’.

Many thanks to those whose experiences and knowledge have been incorporated into this which is a constant work in progress. We have come from many places, US, Australia, China, Finland and the UK. Also thanks to our Thai colleagues and friends for allowing us to be here and who shared their views as well.

 

Festivals

 

Don Chedi Festival

This is a food extravaganza for about a fortnight in late January to early February. There is spectacular show with battling elephants acting out a very important part of Thai history. You may like to attend the performance (separately from the school) and if so ask the staff in the EP office for guidance as to how to arrange transport and buy the tickets. The school canteen will be closed for a month and students and staff are expected to spend time at the festival to help with the food stalls. We were not asked to help but it is good to be involved. If you are here at the time try and be involved, it is a special event.

 

Chinese New Year.

This occurs around the 16 February depending on the Moon. The pagodas are lit up and the Chinese temples are decorated. You will be woken early in the morning with very loud firecrackers. So get the day started with a bang and go to the food festivals near the market in the afternoon. You may like to check out the Dragon Descendents environ as well whenever you like.  

 

Sonkran Festival.

 

Sonkran ParadeSonkran Ute Fighting

This is a mid-April celebration for the Thai new year. It is a water festival starting with a ceremony at the school at about 9 am. This starts the festivities for the teachers.

The wet crowds

At about 2 pm there is a spectacular parade through the streets of Suphanburi. All the participants have containers of water and a white clay powder. They go up to strangers and friends alike and tip some water on your shoulders and wipe a little of the powder (now a paste) on to the cheeks of the lucky person. Have fun, buy the biggest water pistol you can While doing this you are wished a happy new year or a happy Songkran with much Choc Dee (good luck). This degenerates into a good natured water fight with parties, singing in the streets and some roads are blocked with people.

Ute Wars with waterBrother and Wife

Have fun, buy the biggest water pistol you can, hitch a ride in a ute, and be prepared to be wet for three days. Oh, buy a bright patterned shirt, you will fit right in.  

 

Lent Day

This is a Buddhist festival held in early July each year.

 It involves candles and the belief in what candles do in Buddhism. In Suphanburi and elsewhere, organisations and groups construct floats and with costumes and traditional dress drive in a parade around Suphanburi.

With the wax statues, Suphanburi Lent Parade

All I can say is find a good location and bring your camera.

Loi Krathong

This Buddhist celebration (usually in November) involves the creative creation of small floats that are lit and cast adrift on the river at night.

WaitingAsking forgiveness of the river for all the bad things doneMore blessingsFloating blessings on the river for good meritMore merit

At school you will see them constructed and floatation tested on every water pond that the students can find. You can watch on television the spectacular versions (with fireworks) being launched in Bangkok by important people or the millions constructed by the industrious people everywhere.

This festival is held at the same as time as Yi Peng in Northern Thailand. In this festival, candle lanterns are launched into the air.  

Good Manners

 

Good Manners.

The Thai Wave.

Thai's have a particular gesture (wave) for attracting (stopping) taxis and sontaews etc. Stick your hand out away from your body with your palm down and angled toward your body and wave your hand back and forth beckoning with your fingers as well. Similar to many Western gestures except that the hand is palm down. This is a polite gesture.

 

Without clothes on

Thai's are generally conservative, so brief clothes can offend them (especially tops) and certainly walking around without a top on in very public places can be offensive to many. Even men in a public place are being offensive without tops and women are expected to cover shoulders and have a limited amount of skin showing.

Public buildings, police stations, museums and palaces all require shoulders to be covered, so for females no bare legs and wear semi covered-in shoes as opposed to flip flops or in Australia thongs (same as flip flops). Many of the tourist places will supply a sarong for both males and females to wear if they are visiting.

Laundry.

As we are taking about not wearing clothes so here is some extra comment about what to do with them after use. There are many small businesses that do the laundry. They will do it for you including the ironing (extra of course). As Thais are conservative there is on occasions a reluctance to do your underwear. Some laundries have coin based machines for public use and are cheaper than having the laundry people physically do it. Some people do theirs in a hand basin in their home.

The Wai.

A casual Wai (pronounced like Thai) is reserved for equals and casual meetings and for this the hands do not have to come far up the body. As a guide try and equal the height and length of time you hold the Wai to your equals. Tips of the fingers may reach the chin line. Always accompany this with a sa-wat-dee krub/ka. You will notice that some will do a high Wai and hold it longer, they are paying you a lot of respect but it does not hold that a person giving you a brief Wai is not giving you respect.

thai waithai wai

 

A Wai to the monks is with the thumbs about level and almost touching the tip of the nose and a Wai to Buddha is to the bridge of the nose.

When in schools etc do not overdo the Wai to students,do not overdo the Wai to students  they will find it amusing and not tell you that the highly emphasized Wai is reserved for Royalty, Buddha and Monks.

You will notice that most buildings will have a shrine outside. Homes will also have a shrine inside on a shelf or in an alcove. Some trees are considered to be ‘spirit trees’. You may also realise that there are Thais who are ‘once a year Buddhists’ (as told to me by a Thai) and those who believe in daily devotion and ritual.

Loss of face.

This is a serious matter for any Thai, especially if dealing with a foreigner. All I can suggest is to be aware and polite. However, there may be situations where you do not want to lose face either.

Comment made by Thais about other foreigners.

The negative comments do exist and sometimes you will be advised because that Thai person wants you to be aware of what other foreigners are doing. They hold you in high regard and want to warn you. It may be that they want your assistance to contact that person and so are the ’go-between’ to give advice (a friendly hint) to that person.

A viewpoint has been expressed to a colleague that most of the problems happen when people are not aware of Thai social conduct. A Brazilian female teacher from another school was using a hula-hoop for exercise next to the shrine of the Yee Dee Mee Suk apartments (2009). This activity, as well as clothing worn (as little as it was), was observed and mentioned by Thais – the information filters through Thai society.

Go with the flow.

It is necessary to go with the flow but I have seen some of the ‘Westerners’ were having problems with this approach to lifestyle. Many people like to have an idea as to what to expect and what might be needed but they often lack the flexibility to fit in without knowing what is happening. Hence these few pages. You will still need to be flexible. Many things will happen on the spur of the moment and you will have no control over it. The school was notified about one long weekend late on the Thursday night. We did not have to be at school on the Friday. It is certainly no-one’s fault, we need to become used to this. So we get over it and enjoy the day. If you are truly adaptable you will have a few resorts or back packers accommodation on standby and simply see a bit more of Thailand.

Mai pen rai.

This is the official motto of Thailand. Well, maybe not official but certainly very common. It means ‘it’s ok’, ‘you’re welcome’, ‘don’t worry’, ‘take it easy’ and ‘it doesn’t matter’. The possibilities are endless. The Thais believe in having a very relaxed attitude to life, they don’t get stressed or uptight like many ‘Westerners’. Whenever something happens in Thailand that if it was happening at home would blow your top, just take a deep breath and say ‘mai pen rai’ and let it go. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you learn that you shouldn’t stress over the little things.

So why do I say ‘Westerner’

Mainly because that our Chinese colleagues over the years have not (so far as I know) exhibited the same stress patterns as the proverbial ‘Westerner’. One of my colleagues had an interesting discussion with Thai colleagues about what is a ‘Westerner’. According to Hofstedes research Chinese accept the status quo better than Westerners who often stress about not being in control or part of the action. 

Communication

 

Communication

Language.

How many Thai's can read Thai?

Most Thais can read but don’t rely on that happening all the time.

There are regional language differences between north, central, south and the north-east (known as Issan). Please be aware that these areas of Thailand have a slightly different language, therefore if you are travelling you may have some difficulties with some words. As the Thai language has 5 tones, you can say something and the Thai person you are addressing will have no idea what you are saying. Keep repeating it and try different tones, eventually they will understand and repeat what you’ve said in such a slightly different way, it’s hard to pick up. However, this can be dangerous as some slight tonal differences can generate a word with a significantly different meaning (oops!!).

Do Thai's speak English?

A good question, what do you think? Generally, I would say never be surprised if their understanding is higher than they let on. Sometimes, people are reluctant to try out their English as they may consider it to be a loss of face if you heard poor English from them. However, businesses may gain an advantage if you do not know how much they can understand of you and you not of them.

As was told to a colleague by a Swedish man who ran a restaurant that use to exist opposite Yee Mee Mee Suk, ‘the shop assistant in a hardware shop (in Suphanburi) spoke perfect Swedish (she had been an exchange student in Sweden) and knew the technical terms for the items that he wanted’. Just think of our students and their abilities.  

 

Electronic Communication.

Phone.

This is probably the most common method of using a telephone in Thailand. You can buy a mobile from many shops and you can recharge it from many more. If you want to use your foreign phone, check that it is unlocked (or that can be done at some shops for a fee). Choose the company whose sim card that you want to use, such as DTAC, True etc. You will note that you do not have to fill in a form to buy a sim card or phone. Most companies can trim sim cards to fit iPhones.

Using the internet.

It is very easy to do and is at all the usual places such as the many Internet shops in Suphanburi that offer high speed Internet connections. They have MSN, AIM etc. It costs roughly 15 baht per hour. Timing is everything though; do not go after school as they are always packed out with kids gaming. It’s best to go after 7pm. Most of them stay open until 10pm.  

Travel

 

Travel.

Entry into
National Parks,
Monuments and Museums.

Make sure you have your work permit; as there are Thai prices and foreigner prices for many things. Many, maybe most but not all, government run parks, museums etc have two prices.

KohYai park. work permits get cheaper entry.National Parks take your work permit for cheaper entryTake your workpermit to national parks to get Thai price entries

Often you will see the Thai price in Thai only and the foreign price in English only. Although many Thai officials will gladly and happily give you Thai prices with your Work Permit, there are those that are reluctant to do so. There are some places that have a ‘compulsory’ two price system.

Multi-pricing at other places.

Even international companies have a two price system based on perceived racial differences (not nationality). A Chinese and an Australian colleague went to Madam Tussauds in Bangkok (2011). The Chinese was charged the Thai price and the Australian the foreign price. A ‘discussion’ followed and when the details of the work permits and passports were shown both were allowed in with a discount on the Thai price. Others have described in the Australian media this happening at the same place with the company owners claiming that it does not occur (2012).

Similarly, the double pricing occurs with tuk-tuks in Chiang Mai. The Thai price is 20 Baht and the foreign price is 40 Baht for a single trip anywhere in the old city. The same colleagues received the correct lower price after a short ‘discussion’ (2012).

Pay attention to what you hear in the markets if you inquire about items that are not priced marked. The prices can increase amazingly if you don’t look ‘Asian’ prices can increase amazingly if you don’t look ‘Asian’ and show interest. If buying produce in the market, such as fruit, always asked for it to be weighted as you usually buy by weight. Although it is not known if the scales are certified as accurate. Another Chinese colleague asked for a weight check which showed over charging and received an adjustment of some 20% more (2012).

Checking into hotels.

As in many parts of the world you will need your passport which will be photocopied and the details of your visa recorded. A deposit is commonly required. As is elsewhere in the world be careful about leaving cash in your bag in your locked room. A Chinese colleague (mentioned above) lost most of her holiday money this way in a guesthouse. An argument followed and the owner of the guesthouse threatened our colleague (2013).

The forms that you fill out are forwarded to the police so that they know where all the foreigners are.

Backs of Utes

If you get asked to go somewhere you might like to check if you are in the back of a standard Ute. It is normal to travel hundreds of kilometres in the back but you may be uncomfortable. Put some sunburn cream on and take a pillow.

I am informed it is the fun way to travel. On a recent trip to a distant town 6 girls got ferried everywhere for free by kind Thai people, you do get knocked around a bit but hey, its free and fun

Maps - GPS.

Many smartphones have GPS. These give you a good perspective of where you are going even when on the bus. However, you may need to check if you phone is in ‘data roaming’ mode which can be expensive.

Smartnav. Igo and Speednavi worked for me on a PDA and Smart phone but even google maps has become very good although I would not use Google for driving through Bangkok with the freeways etc..

On the Roads.

On the Roads.

Licence.

There are two licences Thai’s need, one for driving a car and one for riding a motorbike. If you are staying long term it is strongly suggested that you go through the process of getting a licence.

Thai Car Licence

If you are coming for a long holiday or for working get an International Licence before leaving your country of origin. Most importantly check your travel insurance to insure you are covered either riding or driving. Many insurance companies will insure your travel if you are driving or riding a vehicle legally.

If you are not legal and you have an accident you may find your travel insurance will not cover you and it could be extremely expensive.

Road Laws.

The road laws are similar to Australia, NZ, UK, Japan etc, that is they drive mostly on the left hand side of the road. In the Suphanburi area (at least) you can do a left turn against the red light. You must wear seat belts (definitely in the front of all vehicles). All motor bike drivers and their passengers must wear helmets. There have been major police initiatives in many Thai cities on this matter. This has been observed in Suphanburi and elsewhere. I did say ‘mostly on the left’, why?

However, motor cycle taxis will often not give you a helmet until they see the police. Colleagues have observed that even illegally parked cars in Bangkok being wheel clamped.

Other drivers.

No room for road rage, as you would have to fight the world, so get used to it and if you have a tendency to getting upset with other drivers, don’t drive or ride. Everybody else is relaxed (or used to it) and you cannot afford to be upset. Expect everyone to do a u-turn in front of you, or cut you off because you have allowed an appropriate gap in front of you and the next vehicle.

Be aware that very few look to the right when they merge on to the road, they just expect you to miss them because they are going slow. Many people will drive the wrong way in the left hand lane so they don’t have to go kilometres down the road to do a u-turn. Be careful when you are using the left hand lanes, the bike lanes or even the footpath where motorbikes are concerned.

Trucks, buses and cars coming toward you will see you and then overtake because you are smaller if you are on a bike. It is expected that you will go over to the bike lane at 100 kph and let them pass. This can lead to some hair-raising moment especially as you are braking as someone pulls out of a drive way without looking. If there is a gap a car will fill it or ten bikes will merge in front a car will fill it or ten bikes will merge in front. The technique at intersections is to drive up past the cars till you join all the bikes at the lights. Everyone takes off and all the cars you just passed then go past again till the next lights.

At night if you see a dull light approaching you from ahead in your lane, it is probably a motor scooter coming towards you. Many Thais put their helmets in the basket in the front of the headlight. The headlight serves to indicate that the helmet is still in the basket.

If you want to practise counting in Thai, how many people, dogs and shopping can you have on a scooter? If it rains, hold your umbrella in one hand and adjust the throttle for the other is used for making that important phone call or sending a text, which by the way it is illegal under Thai law to use a mobile phone while in control of a vehicle.

Safer driving.

Remember if you are prone to road rage don’t use the roads. Be patient but above all stay switched on and practice defensive driving techniques. The death toll on the roads is horrific. If you are considering driving or owning a vehicle in Thailand, find out and understand the Thai requirements for accident reporting, licenses, registration and insurance for your vehicle and your medical insurance. You will note that the many cameras carried by Thais become very useful.

Remember if you are not Thai do not do as the Thai's in that the law states only 2 persons to a motorcycle, all persons on a motorcycle must wear a helmet. Adhere to speed limits even if they are hard to define. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE, it is against the law and as a foreigner if you have and accident it will be expensive and your travel insurance most likely will not cover you as you have broken Thai laws.

Walking.

If you are walking through towns on foot and want to cross the roads – be warned. Drivers do not pause for pedestrians as they seem to be thinking pedestrians are a target rich environment (until they face the problem of the accident). Walk when there is a chance or you’ll be waiting all day and beware of zebra crossing they are only there to indicate that there might be more targets (I mean people). Crossings with lights are not necessarily to be obeyed either as cars will not wait for pedestrians so beware.

Always look both ways when crossing the road especially in one way streets as motorbikes often go the wrong way as do the occasional car going to a nearby driveway, and buses often have a special lane that goes the opposite direction to the one way traffic

Police Checks.

Carry your work permit and licence in case they ask for it. Mostly they have checked the rode worthiness of my bike for lights etc and helmets. If it wasn’t there is a 500 Baht fine. The work permit will have your job as a teacher written in Thai and there is a lot of respect for teachers so you will most likely be treated very fairly. Just because most Thais don’t wear helmets don’t assume you will get away with it. It is illegal and you will be fined. See the comment above.

Don’t try and bribe a policeman. It is illegal and as a foreigner it will most likely back fire and get you into strife. My dealings have always been very pleasant and friendly, always Wai and be polite. When you Wai the police are supposed to salute if they have a helmet on and Wai if no helmet.

Carrying ID.

Thai law requires that everyone carry an identity document. Thais carry their national ID card and foreigners will need their passport. In the school you should have your Work Permit as the appropriate government department can check at any time and you need to have it with you. So as far as we know, this has not happened.

Taxi’s.

There are no motor car taxis in Suphanburi unless they have been driven from Bangkok or similar with a fare. There are only sontaews, tuk-tuks and motor cycle taxis.

Bangkok transport.

In Bangkok always ask for a meter but after 9 pm most taxis quote. 200 Baht should get you a long way in the city, even to the airport. Tuk-tuks are expensive and generally double to thrice the cost of a taxi and you get stuck in the exhaust fumes without air conditioning (2013.)

The Sky train (BTS) is the above ground railway system for Bangkok city and suburban areas. A ticket can be bought at each station or you get buy passes for longer durations. There is a person/s in the glass cubicle to get change for the ticket machine. The BTS is divided into zones with the price dependent on distance. The price starts from 10 Baht (2013) for one stop. It’s a cool way to travel and the carriages are clean It’s a cool way to travel and the carriages are clean. The signage is very good and the whole system works well. Just put your card in the slot and walk through the gate, be ready to walk before inserting the card as the gates don’t give much time to go through and tend to close on you or your luggage. There is a gate for luggage and often the staff will insist that you use it. Visit their website for maps etc.

The Airport Link is the train between the Suvarnabumi airport and Piathai. The Airport Link Piathai station is connected to the BTS station at Piathai with a walkway. It train is quick, convenient, smooth, air conditioned, frequent and cheap but it does end late at night. The taxi at the airport is organised with a receipt system and so you only pay a tip to the driver.

To and from Bangkok.

To and from Bangkok.

Terminal Mo-chit.

If you are travelling Bangkok to Suphanburi you get tickets from one of the counters that have Suphanburi written in English on the window. They will then direct you to the terminal number for the bus, close to the counter.

If you catch a Sky Train to the bus station you go to the Mo-chit BTS station and then catch a taxi to the Mo-chit bus station, about 110 Baht. Or you can just hop on the bus and pay there.

Ask for route bus by Suphanburi you can try saying tee-nai ka/krub? (Where is) and someone will direct you. I think the zone for Suphanburi is a 70 series number. Be warned that most buses do not have toilets and it’s a 2 ½ hour bus ride (2009).

Southern Terminal.

If you want to go further south you will need to get a taxi, bus BTS etc from Mo-chit to the Southern bus terminal at Central Pin-klao. Further research is needed on this topic.

Minivan from Suphanburi to Bangkok Victory Monument (in Bangkok).

The minivan that goes from Suphanburi to Victory Monument leaves from Wat Prasaat Thong (the songtaews go pass this wat before turning north by the fire station to go to the market). It costs a fixed price of 120 Baht and just ask for Krung Threp fixed price of 120 Baht and just ask for Krung Threp. The time table is listed on the board for the day. It takes about 2 hours and there may be a refuel stop (they use CNG) or to drop off a passenger or a parcel at a pre-determined location. This results in slightly different routes at different times. If the van is full before the departure time they depart or may even leave early if the driver feels like it.

The staff of this particular van company (in their office in Victory Monument as opposed to competitors in and around that area) have always been careful, in the experience of one of our former colleagues, to ensure that foreigners do not miss their van and you board the correct vehicle. It is often busy and counted over 100 vans one morning. The desk for Suphanburi is inside the office and all signs are in Thai. If not sure ask – you can practise the tones to say Suphanburi (2013.)

Suphanburi to Democracy Monument (in Bangkok)>

Catch other minivans in the street at the market where there is a lot of buses, songtaews and tuk-tuks. You walk round the corner into the street and near the entrance of the street you will find a person sitting at a table with tickets etc on table and a minibus nearby. The van costs about 250 Baht each. It drops you off at the Democracy Monument or a number close to Khao Son Road and you have to get a taxi to where you want to go. Or you can catch a number 47 bus to MBK (2009).

Other vans (Suphabnuri).

There is a third location for vans near the Clock Tower. This has not yet been researched but they appear to be ‘private’ as opposed to the ‘company’ vehicles described above.

Luggage on the minivan (Suphanburi).

Space is at a premium as they for passengers. A large rucksack on your lap is generally ok with anything larger being problematic (depending on how many passengers are travelling). You may be asked to buy a seat for the bag although there may be a little space behind the back seat.

Hiring a van (Suphanburi).

Thai staff or others can organise this with a phone call and will cost about 1 500 Baht a day plus you pay for fuel. The driver fills up at the end of the day and you pay the fuel bill at the bowsers. A former colleague from the US and another from Australia hired a van for the weekend to explore Thailand. They also funded appropriate accommodation and meals for the driver (2010).

Sontaew (Suphanburi).

These are the ute with a canopy and seats you see driving around Suphanburi. They run regularly up till about 7 pm and after that you would be lucky to get one. All you do is flag one down and swing on to the back.

taxi

When you want to get off push the button and they will stop almost straight away. When you get off walk to the cab and pay the driver the 8 Baht a person (2013). I usually give 10 Baht as the price has increased (from 7 Baht in 2009) – correct change is always given.

Taxi

They all go to the market and after you get used to them you can travel all of Suphanburi only paying when you get off. Their destination is written in the windscreen of the cabin in Thai so you will need to become familiar with the shape of the letters (as in learn the language) so you can determine your destination. Although there are routes that they follow, no information has yet been found for Suphanburi songtaews. The songtaews that goes to the school leaves outside the optometrist shop on the main street of the market.

Tuk-Tuk’s (Suphanburi).

Generally there are a lot of these about, sometimes called tricycles. 40 Baht would get you just about anywhere in Suphanburi, for example from Lotus to Yee Dee Mee Suk apartments.

TrikeMotorised TrikeUpmarket Tuktuk

The price includes as many people or goods that fit in it although be reasonable overloading is silly and the driver is well within his rights to charge more.

Motor cycle taxis (Suphanburi).

These are becoming more common in Suphanburi. As for tuk-tuks, negotiate the price before the trip.

Transport to and from the airport in Chiang Mai.

The taxi receipt system is similar to that at Suvarnabumi airport.

Transport to and from the airport in Sukothai.

This airport is privately owned by Bangkok Airways. They have a van to take people to any point in and around that city. However, you may consider it expensive and may like to consider other options.  

Health.

 

Health.

Heat.

Drink plenty of fluids and be careful you don’t over exert yourself until your body adapts to the temperatures.

Drinking Water.

This comes down to a personal viewpoint on how safe is the tap water. There is also the issue of changes to water quality during the seasons. Although many consider tap water safe there are many water dispensers which contain filters (according to the instructions they should be changed at least every fortnight) at a cost of 1 Baht a litre. You can buy bottled water (of very high purity) from several manufactures in many shops for about ten Baht a litre. The water in Suphanburi does contain an amount of dissolved salts, but it is treated. Some Thai's fill a bowl with tap water and leave it in the sun so the chlorine leaches out with the sunlight. They then use this as their drinking water.

Sports drinks and vitamins.

Water does not absorb readily into the body at the same rates as you can sweat so you will often be very lethargic or get a headache. Add a little fruit juice or sport drink to the water so it absorbs quicker. One opinion is to only have the sports drinks when they are watered down by adding the small bottle of sport drink to a medium sized bottle of water adding the small bottle of sport drink to a medium sized bottle of water, and then no more than two a day as they are very sugary and have salts in them. Most people after they start doing this with their drinks notice an almost instant change in how they feel. A second opinion is that you may prefer vitamin tablets dissolved into bottled water. A third opinion is to use a rehydrate solution added to bottled water.

Drinking yoghurt.

Many people may find this useful. Drinking Yoghurt (for example Yakult) can be bought most places such as 7/11 stores and often in small corner stores. Due to the amount of fluids you will start to drink from the heat you will be washing your system clean of good bacteria (acidophilus). The result of this is you will feel a little sick or ‘off-colour’. ‘Yakult’ (or other drinking yoghurts)this can be like a miraculous cure as you feel better as it goes down.

Food.

I have even eaten the beetles that come from the rice fields and are very similar to large cockroaches. The whisky helped but I had no ill effects from the bugs. This does not mean you will not get stomach problems. We generally avoid raw seafood but eat just about everything else. We even eat kebabs from the street sellers and some of the dried fish. Thailand is a taste sensation Thailand is a taste sensation and we have had very few stomach problems in our time here. In case you are wondering, Thais do get sick on occasions too.

A former colleague always chopped up his rice with a folk. Why? To look for those very small stones that regretfully survives the harvesting and milling processes. In other words always be careful about biting a piece of food, regretfully or though rarely there can be surprises.

One important thing is that Thais use a lot of MSG (monosodium glutamates) in their cooking. If you have an allergy, saying ‘mai MSG’ (meaning no MSG) sometimes works or get a Thai teacher to write down in Thai ‘No MSG please’. Try saying ‘Mai Sai Choo Rot Ka/krub’. Back To Index

Hospital.

Health checks at the hospital.

These are carried out at the government hospital in the city next to the river. It is a busy place and the checks can take nearly the whole day. They keep the x-rays etc on your file and give you an identifing card for future reference. The medical staff speak and understand English well. The shops outside are good for cold drinks and ice cream etc. There are vendors in the streets for lunch (after all this is Thailand).

Private hospital.

The hospital next to NASA Mall shows the difference between it and the government one. Similarly, the staff understand English well and will also issue you with a card for future reference. It does not take long but make sure that you take your work permit and passport. We have found the hospital and doctor system to be excellent with very little or no wait.

Sickness and injuries.

Once again just have your card and you can pay with cash or credit / debit card etc. There is a dispensary at the hospital. Check you medical insurance so you know what to do, such as claims etc.

You may have to make your own way by getting someone to take you. If you ring for an ambulance the chances are you will not be able to get them to understand what the problems is or where you are.

Pharmacy.

There are several major pharmacy chains in Thailand, for example Boots, Watsons. These can be found in malls (for example, NASA) or department stores that have their own brand (such as in Lotus). The staff speak English and are often trained in English speaking countries. The range of medicines etc are to the same standard and often the same products. You will note that prescriptions are not required but you should know what you want. Similarly, many pharmacists can advise you if you have an ailment.

You will notice that there are small shops that sell medicines. A colleague bought a well recognised propriety cough medicine from one near the school but was not convinced that the ingredients were as stated.

 

Homesickness

This will depend on your personality and experience in living in a different overseas environment. This is what a colleague found.

In the first three weeks expect to be very tired. The heat, the food, everything is different. At 4 to 5 weeks and you are wondering if this was worthwhile, you can’t have a normal conversation and your brain never stops trying to decipher the Thai language into something that makes sense to you. This deciphering makes you very tired and even asking for a meal can make you short tempered. By 6 weeks you want to go home and you miss everything you consider normal. Getting a meal is wearing you out and some food you may not like but don’t know how to order something you do like. Your language for food is getting better but you are sick of fried rice. 8 weeks things are starting to seem normal 8 weeks things are starting to seem normal. Food language is getting a little better and you are starting to form some routines. 10 weeks you start to surprise yourself by not noticing things as different, in fact they are starting to look normal. 12 weeks you are settled enough and enjoying yourself. As you have routines and everything is settled you can recuperate your strength by staying in some weekends but you do start to notice the extraordinary. 14 weeks you are enjoying the difference that is Thailand, you can get a good feed, saying hello and doing a Wai has become automatic to the extent you don’t even know you have done it. You don’t ring home as much as you are out exploring and having fun.

At Temples.

 

At Temples.

 

Monks.

Some seem to talk to females but apparently many are not allowed to. Never face the soles of your feet toward Buddha, a monk or other persons as it is an insult. If they make eye contact just Wai but make your Wai high and a Sawat dee Krub/ka never hurts. If you are running or walking I think you should stop to do the Wai and then continue on. If you have some food you can always donate something for the monk’s day, especially if you see them early in the morning. Real monks do not beg or ask for money.

Making merit.

Make a donation of about 20 Baht and get some incense, a candle and a lotus flower with a little gold leaf. Light your candle and incense in the oil burner and place the candle on the rack provided. Drip some wax to help it stick. Then kneel in the appropriate place in front of a Buddha, making sure your feet are pointing away from the Buddha. Either kneel or adopt the ‘mermaid pose’ with feet and legs beside and turned behind you. Make sure your hands are in the Wai position with your thumbs about the bridge of your nose. The incense and lotus will be between your hands. Make your blessing or offering to Buddha and place your lotus flower in the nearby container and your incense in the sand box. You then one of the Buddha statues and press your gold leaf on to the statue go to one of the Buddha statues and press your gold leaf on to the statue. Make sure you don’t touch the gold leaf as it sticks to you and doesn’t come off easy. Use the paper the leaf comes in to hold and transfer to the statue. Where you place the gold on the statue means different things, the head is knowledge, heart courage and stomach wealth. Sometimes a spray bottle of water is there to help the gold leaf stick. If you are only making a prayer to Buddha kneel in front of the statue with your hands in a high Wai position about level with the nose and bow three times with your hands leaving your nose area to touch flat on the floor and as you straighten return to the high Wai position.

Hearing a loud noise like an explosion.

Each time a person is cremated large firecrackers are let off. All the festivals are accompanied with firecrackers from early morning. It gets you going early in the day with a bang.

When someone dies.

Males wear a black shirt and dark trousers, women wear dark clothes. Take some money in an envelope to offer the grieved persons. I have attended several and I think this helps with the funeral costs and donations to the temple. The ceremony lasts for about a week with guests on the last day to walk past the closed coffin and pray briefly for the departed soul. Be warned though as some funerals have open coffins, be prepared and act respectfully. If in doubt watch what others are doing.

Tipping/Photos/School

 

Tipping
Photos
Schools

.

Tipping

Not normally required in Thai society, you will often see charity containers to donate change and I often leave the change only selecting the notes. If you feel you must 20 Baht is ok.

Taking photographs.

Department stores.

In most it appears to be a no-no.

In temples.

Seems to be ok except in some rarer places or areas such museums and special buildings. You will generally see a sign stating if it is not allowed, sometimes fines apply. If you ignore it deliberately you will be told.

School.

At School.

Go for it as the kids love having their pictures taken. Be prepared for unusual poses, they like to imitate movie stars.

The Kings Birthday.

There is a holiday for the King’s Birthday. The proper day is the 5 December. To be accepted in our school and most of Thailand wear a yellow shirt often, not just for the King’s birthday. Yellow is the King’s colour and never treat his name, picture or anything he does with anything other than with the utmost respect.

You can also buy yellow king bands from any 7/11 store and many markets for about 100 Baht. If your yellow shirt is in the wash, wearing this is another way of showing respect. There is no humour in the Thai culture about the Royal Family and this why I have devoted a whole section to His Majesty.

Monday is the main yellow day as it is the King’s day of birth. You will note that many Thais will wear a uniform on this day.

General Living

 

General Living.

 

Living issues

Sensitive matters.

Please learn what is considered to be good manners If in doubt ask for clarification from someone at school.

Buying food.

When in doubt, ‘cow pad gai’ said toward the back of the throat instead of the front will generally get you fried rice with chicken pieces. Build up from there with your food repertoire.

‘Café rorn’ will get you a hot coffee with coffee whitener. Sprite will get you lemonade, Nam will get you water and for White coffee ‘sai nom’. We even eat food from the street sellers and have had very little stomach problems. Most Thai food is not as exotic as you may have been led to believe with the exception it can be spicy (as in ‘chilly –hot’). If you can’t stand much chilly ask for ‘mai pet’ (‘mai’ means ‘no’ and ‘pet’ is ‘chilly’ or ‘spicy’).

You can buy food from the supermarket of which there is 3 main ones in Suphanburi or from the market. Many Thai’s get up very early and get fresh food each day. The food does not keep very well unless refrigerated (which also keeps ants at bay).

Ants, cockroaches, mosquitoes and geckoes.

Mosquitoes.

These can be a hassle but are quite manageable. The drains are sprayed with a chemical once a month and you will see a person walking around the streets with a machine that looks like a blower over their shoulder. It makes a noise and blows out a big cloud of chemicals. The operator directs this down the drains to kill mossies and cockroaches. If you see or hear it coming shut your windows. Remember not every mozzie is a malaria carrier or dengue fever carrier not every mozzie is a malaria carrier or dengue fever carrier but a rare one might be so try to avoid them. Some areas are worse than others but Suphanburi seems to have fewer problems with these diseases.

You can buy mozzie repellent and apply if you are going outside in the evening. The locals tell me the day time mozzies are the ones to be careful of. A good mozzie repellent is Soffell and it comes in three varieties, all in white bottles and contains 13% DEET. The pink lids are floral, orange lids are orange, and green lids are citronella. A former colleague bought jungle strength mozzie repellent from home and still got bitten. But since using this stuff she had no a problems. Trust us you will need it. Why not buy yourself an electronic badminton racket and have fun zapping mozzies. It can be an entertaining pastime.

Cockroaches.

Depending where you live cockroaches can be a problem. We buy cockroach bait in the form of a 60mm round red plastic container about 10mm high. I replace these about every two months or when I start to see live cockroaches about in the morning. Check your shoes as I squashed a few when putting my shoes on of a morning.

Ants.

There are ant baits that work well with the larger ants but there are very tiny brown ants that move very quickly. I use a white chalk anti-ant crayon (with gloves of course) and trap a few in a chalk circle and let them go. It appears to wipe the nest out quickly until another group finds its way into our kitchen again.

Geckoes.

You will see many geckoes in Suphanburi especially at night when they are out hunting for insects. If you live in Yee Dee Mee Suk you will probably have your own room geckoe. An Australian colleague even saw a metre-plus long monitor lizard run into the canal in the middle of town during the afternoon (2012). Remember, Thailand is in the tropics.

Finding something to read.

The two major English language papers (Bangkok Post and The Nation) are available as paper or free on-line. You may like to consider e-books from various suppliers.

Swimming pools.

The Suphan Hotel nearly opposite the Sa-nguan Ying School has a pool. The back of the hotel faces the street that the school is on. Roll up with your towel and bathers (swimmers) and go to the front desk and ask for the use of the pool. The person behind the desk will charge you about 50 Baht each and a little extra if you want the hotel’s towel. You have unlimited time in a 15 metre pool. We have nearly always been the only ones in the pool.

The Chalermphatara Rachinee Park contains the Baharn-Jamsai Tower, gardens and a water park. It has slides and pools for children and adults. Great fun give it a go, the dark (black or blue) slide is quick and fun. The gardens are spectacular as is the musical fountain  The gardens are spectacular as is the musical fountain.

The sports University has an Olympic sized pool which will cost you between free or 20 Baht. You can catch a sontaew from the market and ask for ‘by wit-ti-a-lai pa la ka/krub’. Yee Dee Mee Suk apartment has a pool as well. You can join the gym as well and several teachers (Thai, Australian and Chinese) have done this.

The market.

A great place to explore, it is near the Tower. The whole area is good to visit and there is a very wide range of merchandise. These are a good option to the larger shops and malls.  

Dept. Stores & Gov. Offices.

  • Dept. Stores & Gov. Offices.
  •  
  • Major malls, department stores and smaller chains

TESCO Lotus.

Known locally as Lotus. A large department store with food halls and a large range of goods inside and outside.

NASA Mall.

A wide range of shops including restaurants, clothing, electronics and sporting goods. There is a TOPS supermarket in the basement and a bowling alley up top. Karoke rooms also exist next to the genuine Thai massage.

Robinsons.

This is a large department store selling a large range of international foods and goods. There is also a TOPS supermarket and many restaurants as well as a cinema.

7/11.

These are everywhere; you will never be more than walking distance from a ‘seven eleven’ in Thailand. Locally they are known as ‘seven’. These stores are useful for phone recharge, ice cream, even a place to cool off as they are all air conditioned. Alcohol is available within the appropriate hours (but they use their clock which may not agree with anybody’s else).

CJ’s.

A small supermarket with a more domestic range of goods than the 7/11.

Macro.

A bulk-buy style of warehouse and you can buy single items as well.

The Big

A slightly more pricy ‘white goods’ stop than Lotus with a different range. A place for those more upmarket and harder to fine models.

Homepro.

As its name implies, everything for the home. It even has a restaurant – surprised?

Big C.

Being built as I write. I think it may be large.

Government offices that you will visit.

Post Office.

The Thai Post Office is an efficiently run organisation to send all the usual postal articles anywhere. Registration and insurance is recommended for all items leaving the country and is most strongly recommended if sending things to China etc. This enables you to track the item. Some staff speak English and the forms are in Thai and English. It is located opposite an entrance to the Tower.

Tax Office.

You will get to know this place and with help from a Thai colleague it is easy.

Labour Office.

We go there with a Thai colleague to obtain our work permits. It is just on the northern fringes of town.

Immigration Office.

Currently it is in Ayutthita. We go there with a Thai colleague for our required 90 day immigration checks and for re-entry permits as required.

Cost of Living

 

Cost of Living.

 

This has been discussed at length amongst some of the teachers. The exchange rate does not relate very well to what you can buy with your money in comparison to our home countries. A consensus appears to be about 1/5 overall, For example 1000baht relates to about 100$ in Australia in relation to what it buys. It is important to note that the relationship between the items is very different from our home countries. For example, fuel costs about the same, electronics and airfares about 10% less. A monthly rent at about 10% of the gross salary is significantly less. Food is as you eat, Thai or imported.

Costs in 2012/13 for a single bedroom / bed sit apartment (Yee Dee Mee Suk) The running costs of the building appear to be included within each component of the monthly invoice. Note that most apartments do not have hot water. The costs are an approximate monthly expectation based on the experience of several teachers between 2009 to 2013.

Electricity.

The air conditioner is the main cost. A couple of hours a day will cost about 2 000 Baht a month.

Rent

3 000 Baht a month.

Water.

About 50 Baht but about 100 Baht if you like to wash the balcony more than once or twice in the month.

Telephone.

Everyone appears to use their mobiles and so there is zero cost.

Internet.

This is included in the cost and you will be issued with the access code. No information about load limits has been advised although connections have at times been poor.

Laundry.

It is a private business and charge about 20 Baht for the use of a washing machine. They will do you shirts, trousers, jeans, dresses, t- shirts, uniforms etc at about 10 Baht a short sleeve shirt. More for larger items. See the comment above about conservative and underwear. You may find the laundries elsewhere in town cheaper but you have to walk there.

Shop.

This is run by the apartment staff. The stock range is a miniaturised range of CJ’s. There is also a microwave and kettle.

Security.

Biometric (fingerprint) and swipe cards (electronic) are used. There does not appear to be a deposit for them and the cost of losing one is not known.  

Banks

At least two of the banks will transfer money to Australia without too much of an issue. Several of us have used the one near the clock tower. Up the stairs, through the doors but collect a ticket first (right hand side just inside of the doors) and wait your turn – just watch for the number on the screen and the announcement in Thai. Have your account numbers, BSB and the address of your bank in Australia. Instructions written in thai are a bonus although many staff speak some English. The Thai equivalent of BSB is the Swift code that you will see on the paper work. You have to justify sending money out of the country but I just said it was to make house and tax payments in Australia. These are valid and accepted reasons.

You can open an account in a similar manner. You will need your passport and the work permit makes it quick as it shows a source of income. An account also gives you an ATM card, life insurance etc. Closing an account is also easy and cut up your card as well.

If you are working at the school you will have to open an account with the school bank which is the Krung Thai Bank as the allowances are made by direct deposit.

Safety

 

Safety.

.

Bars everywhere.

The Thais tell me they lock everything so they can sleep without worry. Although there is crime this isn’t an indication of a crime wave and I don’t think it is any worse than anywhere else in the world. In saying that be sensible about walking along dark streets by yourself late at night. A necessary precaution if you are travelling anywhere in the world. A former female colleague from England tells me ‘as a female, I feel very safe, in most cases Thai people hold westerners in very high regard, so wouldn’t try anything unless you were flashing the cash’.

Although most female colleagues consider the city to be safe there have been occasional matters of concern. Keep this in perspective the EP department alone has had over 40 foreign teachers over the last 7 years and the language department of the school has had another 30 (approx.) and there has only been 2 major instances for female teachers. In 2010 a female colleague was assaulted in town and it was a very frightening experience for her it was a very frightening experience for her. A year later another was assaulted more verbally than physically and this frightened her. All of these have occurred at night when the person was walking or jogging in an area with few people and poor lighting on sections of a walkway. The trauma from one case was such that the colleague returned to her home country. Suphanburi would be as safe as any town in the world of a similar socio economic climate. Treat the town the same as you would any other town in the world and regardless of the differences in culture practice safe and sensible habits

Some of us are also aware of burglaries against Thai premises (houses and businesses) when unoccupied during the day and night, but the rate would be about the same as in any city in the world under similar circumstances.

Motor bikes.

Don't drink and think you are a budding Evel Knievel stunt performer, one of our staff had a very nasty bike accident and had to be sent home.

Dogs.

This has been an issue for a number of people at different times. Anecdotal evidence has been that about 40 Chinese teachers in Thailand were bitten in one year (2010/11) requiring repatriation. This could have been their attitude to dogs, as it has never been that bad in Suphanburi. Two colleague teachers have reported being surrounded by dogs when going to the Suphanburi railway station (2010) and another colleague in 2013 was set on by one dog. Dog packs have run out of houses and bailed up a colleague near Yee Dee Mee Suk one lunch time (2010). Small packs of dogs have been seen on the streets at night and also in Yee Dee Mee Suk car park (2012). Spraying water from a water bottle towards the dogs appears to discourage them. Apparently, the dogs can count and more of you than them will work as well. Be sensible do not pat any dogs even when they are quiet and come to you sniffing for food or curiosity. The dogs are not used to this type of attention so consider a pat as an attack to defend themselves from so consider a pat as an attack to defend themselves from. So far only two people have been bitten in Suphanburi where only one went to the hospital for inoculations (no rabies in Suphanburi) as a precaution. In seven years of living here the author has only had one incident when out running and a pack of dogs were aggressive. I sprayed water from my water bottle at them and ran at the most aggressive dog yelling at it. The dogs all thought I had rabies and lost interest in me.

Toilets.

If using the traditional ‘squatter’, face the back wall as I am told this is the easiest way to navigate the perils of a squatter. Plan ahead and take some toilet paper where ever you go. Hand sanitiser is good to carry as some places do not have water to wash your hands.

Disposing of paper, tampons and pads

Mostly the paper is supposed to be placed in a bin beside the toilet and tampons or pads are not to be flushed in the toilet. Carry a small plastic disposal bag if you are concerned.

Paying for entry.

If you don’t have to pay for paper you will most likely have to pay for entry so keep some Baht for emergencies in your pocket. Don’t be surprised if the cleaners walk through while you are occupied. The quality of the toilets vary with the location, some even have nice rural views without doors to interrupt the view.

At the School

At the School.

Manners.

If you look at a student you can expect them to Wai to you but generally you only dip your head and acknowledge them. You can Wai if you like but it is very overkill and students will find the overkill amusing (not necessarily bad).

Teacher dress code
and sitting posture.

These are important points so please check if in doubt. It is very easy to cause offence. You will note that the head of the student cannot be equal or higher than that of a teacher. Take care where and how you sit. Consider the conservative matters mentioned above and this includes wearing covered in shoes across the school grounds and in public places.

Staff meetings,

Chaht runs a staff meeting with the Thai staff and then a few days later runs a meeting in English. There have been planning meetings and welcomes / orientations for new staff at the start of term. Sometimes the school is closed for a staff meeting for all the Thai staff. As we can’t understand the Thai sometimes we are given the day off. Don’t take for granted but you may be lucky.

Visitors.

There are many visitors to the school. They can be other teachers seeing what you are doing, ‘pop stars’ to entertain the students and high ranking officials. Usually, you will be briefed beforehand.

Teachers Day (Wai Krue).

All classes are suspended and students give a presentation of specially arranged flowers to the teachers. The teachers sit on the stage and the students chant their appreciation for the work teachers do for them. They also pray and then make the presentations. After the student presentation the teachers present the students with certificates for academic excellence. Nothing needs to be done but take a camera on the day as it is a very moving experience.

Mothers’ Day,

All the women teachers and mothers sit in a seat in front of a child and the children give thanks to the mother for bringing them into the world and nurturing them. Many of the children get emotional which brings the mother unstuck quickly. No mother should miss this moving experience, of having flowers presented to her by the children.

Long weekends,

There are many long weekends, sometimes it is the Friday sometimes it is the Monday. There are some occasions where the school is not notified until the day before the holiday, others you can plan for. Be prepared to go and holiday at a moment’s notice. This can play havoc with your curriculum so be prepared for this type of interruption. I set a lot of homework to cover this problem and had the students email assignments to me. I also answered questions on MSN so my curriculum could continue.

Computers - viruses and malware.

If you have your own computer make sure it has an up-to-date anti-virus software that can be updated. I suggest the following combination of free products to reduce grief: Anti-virus - Microsoft Security Essentials (from Microsoft) Registry checker – Ccleaner (from Piriform) Anti-malware – Spybot (from Safer Networking) The combination is the key and various IT professionals suggest them and they are easy to use.

Exams.

Students have to get 75% as a pass mark. To achieve this you need to give the students some pre-tests or practice tests to be sure they understand the language used. During the exams you may not be with your class, so brief the teacher taking your class on your expectations.

If the student does not get a 75% pass then they are to have a re-sit. These are a pain so be prepared for them. If the student has trouble understanding the questions they will need some more teaching. A student cannot get more than a pass regardless of the score from a re-sit.

Be very aware of the language you use in your exams. As a general rule what would take you ½ hour will take about 1 ½ hours due to the language. Make your exams easy as the language automatically makes them hard for the Thai students.

Practice exams.

Be sure the students understand the language of your exam by giving plenty of practice tests.

Re-sits.

See above the section in Exams. Be ready for these, you only ‘think’ that the students understand the language in your exam.

Entry exams.

Students have to sit for exams to become part of the school. They take place all over the school and happen about the first week of March. We have to test the students applying for entry into the EP Program and may even do this over a Saturday and a Sunday. All the staff are involved and it is a government requirement so there are certain requirements. The times are given to us and the tests are dictated by the government. Due to this there is not a lot of flexibility. Papers have to stay in the school so you cannot take any home to mark. We can be at the school from about 8.30 till 3.00 Saturday and the Sunday. This was a long weekend for us so we headed out of town afterwards.

Thai exams.

You will be expected to help supervise Thai exams during exam weeks with a Thai teacher.

Sports Carnival.

Students prepare for the event over a period of about 5 weeks. Quite often the students will be out of class practicing. The whole event is organised by the Mattaysomsuksa 6 and is their leaving presentation to the school. Each day there is a different cheer leader / rock eisteddfod presentation. These are extravaganzas of music drums chanting and costumes. After the cheer leader morning, the sports take place, such as volleyball, netball, basketball etc. Nothing needs to be done other than enjoy the show which is spectacular, just be prepared for disruptions to curriculum and class routine.

Study habits.

Be sure to fill in the homework boards in the class rooms. Students are generally good with homework. The Thai teachers set a lot so I always shuffled my expectations so the students had a manageable work load. Sometimes in insisted that my work had priority and it got done. Don’t forget many of these students have weekend classes as well so there is not much personal time for them; even so they seem to cope well. Even taking into account of the above, the students are still teenagers and will not do work if they feel it is not important or they can get away with it.

Student misdemeanours.

You need to, as the teacher, decide what to do etc. Having a plan of your expectations and responses is a really good idea. A discussion with other foreign staff can be helpful. If you need, check first with the Thai staff in EP. Manners are not normally a problem but on the rare occasion talk to a Thai teacher, don’t accept bad manners as nobody else will. Remember, the Thai staff handle all disciplinary matters not the foreigners.

Monks at school.

Once a month the monks are at school and many students go to make merit in the morning. Two or three times a year everyone takes in a basket of food and the monks parade past the 3 000 students and collect food in their Alms bowls. This happens before class starts.

Students as monks.

Some of the boys will leave school for a period of about 1 week to live with the monks.

Buddhist camp.

The students will at some time during the year attend a Buddhist camp. This may be for a few days or even a week and sometimes you will be advised on short notice.

Camps.

At least two depending on which area you are working in. These will go over the weekend but are a great way to see a bit more of Thailand. There are very few teacher responsibilities to worry about and the staff briefing before you leave will give you an idea of what you need to bring. The camps are organised by the people at the places we visit and we just tagged along to talk to the students and enjoy the whole event.

Exchange student lessons.

Towards the end of the school year in late January into February there are extra courses at about 3 pm or 4 pm for the students going on the exchange to Tasmania. Someone has to take these and the topics are survival English covering things like food, money, manners, humour, general conversation, how to ask for something and transport.

Prathom 6 courses.

This is to prepare students for the exams they have to pass to get into the EP Program. Most of the program can be taken from the book called Get Real Starter. We tried to adapt the activities to give the students more hands on activities to make them practice their language.

The courses are evenings and go for about 10 weeks, depending on holidays in between. Courses are 5.30 pm till 7 pm and in the year we were there, we shared the 3 nights a week, The works is mainly introductions, talking about yourself and ordering food, very basic work. The process drags on a bit but it is no real stress and part of the expectations of working in the EP program. We are paid for this and also receive a takeaway meal. Once a month the monks are at school and many students go to make merit in the morning. Two or three times a year everyone takes in a basket of food and the monks parade past the 3 000 students and collect food in their Alms bowls. This happens before class starts.

Displays.

Through the year there could be a few displays. Sometimes, EP is involved but mostly only a few students will be missing from class setting up Science or Maths displays. If you display work in the class during the year these posters and examples of work can be used for the displays. .

Critical thinking, Learning styles and evidence of understanding I think are important.

Parent meetings.

These consist of parents being addressed by Chaht and then the English speaking teachers addressing the parents. I just talked about some of the things I do in class and why I do them.

I consider that Critical thinking, Learning styles and evidence of understanding are important. You speak for a few sentences and Chaht or another teacher translates and then you continue on for a few more sentences. You will notice many of the parents nodding at things said and you will realise many of these parents can understand most of what you say but may not be able to reply in English. The parents pay a lot to have their students in this program so they want a bit of feedback.

Student uniform and hair.

The tops of the socks have to be regulation with regulation folds on the top. Shirts tucked in and hair below Mattaysomsuksa 4 must be no longer than the ear lobe for girls and almost shaved for the boys. Mattaysomsuksa 4 and up can have long hair and a different shirt (blouse). Not your problems, as the Thai teachers on duty at the gate every morning check for discrepancies. It can be amusing on an inspection day (also known as hair check day) with students all racing around with scissors cutting each other’s hair.