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Holy shift gears, Batman!

June 17, 2010

. . .and out of the smouldering ashes gave a deafening roar and flying up towards the heavens was the fiery and magnificent Phoenix, gazing down at the Earth below.

I think it’s safe to say this near year long voyage has taken an abrupt ‘about face’.  Yes, the charred remains of Will the Dive Instructor have given birth to Ben the Volunteer English Teacher.  Anyone who has been following with this blog could tell that things were no longer sunshine and rainbows in terms of the professional dive community.  My trip is less than 2 months from termination and all things considered, I felt as though I had little to show for it.  Particularly when you consider I was completely stalled in the diving business and not willing to recommit to the job hunt and stay on Ko Tao for the sake of a few extra weeks of diving (It all went to shit anyway). 

So here I am now, with a new haircut and my old name and oh my lord, did it come at a good time.  I’m in a village outside of Chaiyaphum, a seemingly forgettable town in the middle of Thailand.  It feels a lot like Vietnam in the sense that I’m new, know nothing and everyone wants to talk to you.  Best of all, I haven’t seen another Westerner, let alone a tourist since I left Bangkok.  The trip up here was all a bit sketch, of course.  The ferry and train ride into Bangkok was no big deal, but if it wasn’t for the explicit instructions on how to get here from Bangkok I’d have never made it.   It depended on the trust of complete strangers who don’t speak your language and hoping the bus driver remembers to tell you when to get off.  Thankfully things work themselves out and now it won’t be long before I’m in long pants, button shirts, shaven face and ready to hit the classroom.  I’m quite the grub as it is now.

I don’t really have many details about the job exactly but it’s a secondary school with kids from ages 12-18.  From what I can tell, there have been other volunteers through here in the past, but I’m the only Westerner out of 52 teachers now and 700 some odd students.  Did you know I’m allowed to strike students?  Wild.  I can’t say for other nations but I’d be shocked to find out some Canadian volunteer smacked some poor bugger for disrupting class.  It doesn’t seem to be significant concern either way.  On a somewhat related topic, I also might be the biggest person in the town.  Grrr. 

Just kidding.

Already I’m learning more Thai in a day than I probably did in my first 8 weeks in the country.  Minimal English around here, for sure.  The thing with language on Ko Tao is you don’t learn to speak Thai – You learn to speak shitty English for the Thai and they respond in kind.  This place seems to take itself a little more seriously.  I guess we’ll find out.

I’m going to hike about the grounds and see what’s going on.  No pics yet, but next time I promise.

Above: English Teacher.

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