Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pizza Fire!

I got a lovely note the other day from someone whose been watching the videos I make about my life here in Thailand.  As I've mentioned, it's been a couple months now that my camera has been broken.  Using the phone to record just doesn't work as well, so the video series 'Joko in Thailand' has been on a hiatus.  Well, I got the camera back from the shop, unrepaired, and discovered I could actually still record with it, but as the viewscreen in not working, I can't see what it is I'm recording.  As her note mentioned how she'd actually missed watching the vids I make from here, I thought I'd do my best to make something with the limited camera capability I currently have. 

Worked out okay, if I do say so myself. 


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Smartass or Future Cannibal?

One thing we like to do in 'The Staffroom' at my school is share some of the hilarious stuff our students occasionally hand in. Here's some of the answers I got from a particularly challenging part of the test given to my M-1/1 students... the same boys who brought us the Robot Cats a few months back.

I gave them a particularly tough question for their level of ability: write something in the context of what we've been talking about lately, the circus.


I dunno if this kid was just being a smartass, either because he realizes he can't fail and doesn't give a shit or was purposefully trying to be funny to impress the teacher, or if we may have a serial cannibal on our hands. 

 In case you can't make that out, it reads: "I kill all animals is die! and am eat animals in zoo am kill Hunman in zoo and eat Hunman."

To tell the truth, these sentences are in the upper half of what I got back in terms of intelligibility. He made sense. He used the exclamation point properly. He said what he would do if he were in the circus (zoo, whatever). Comparatively speaking, this was a pretty good response. Out of 6 possible points, how would you score this?

He didn't get to the 50 word requirement, but he got more than halfway. I have to admire how this kid got to the 50 words. Just keeping naming animals until you get there! Flies and "rads" are loveable animals, right?  

Like I said, 'free writing' is perhaps the hardest thing I could have asked of these 7th graders. For example, this kid did really well on the first two thirds of the test. He would have passed it had he just written something... 

Maybe I should give him a point for the question mark.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Walking Down the Street

I've been recruited to be a part of a video project, the details of which I won't go into, suffice to say its about an American coming to live in Thailand.

Today, we did our very first test videos.  I'm not putting this on Facebook.  Not sharing it with Ajarn Forum, an internet community in which I am quite active.

This is just for friends and family, the tens of folks who read my blog, as my video-making partner and I turn HIS idea into something that might go out to millions of Thais in the form of a TV show.  These are just the first few screentesting steps...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Running the Barricades at 'Shutdown Bangkok'

In the midst of an unplanned week off from school caused by the political unrest here in Bangkok. The anti-government protests are into their third month now, and neither side seems willing to back down. All of us can only speculate as to how and when its going to end. School was canceled for students on Monday, but we teachers were required to attend. On Tuesday, things sorta got back to normal with about 70% of the students showing up to school, the main protest sites miles away and no significant disruptions.

Then, Tuesday night, the staff (not us farang, the Thai staff) all got together, talked about it and decided to close the school for the remainder of the week.

I'll refrain from talking about any of the issues or positions involved; it's not my fight. Suffice to say that this is the week the opposition promised to 'shutdown Bangkok' by blocking major intersections, government buildings and stopping traffic.

I had an appointment at the dermatologist this morning not more than half a block away from Victory Monument, one of the city's main junctions and a site of one of the protests main stages. I was seriously wondering if I'd be able to get my motorcycle through the blockades and to the clinic. I thought I would go ahead and try.

Fortunately, the appointment was for 9 AM, and a lot of the protestors were still getting up, some had to go to work, what have you. I got through with only the smallest of detours to circumvent the main stage. Here's a pic of the main stage:

Err.. I got photobombed.

Alas, my video camera is still broken, so these half-hearted pics com from the phone. After taking a couple snaps, I kind of got a vibe that maybe this wasn't the place for a farang to be taking holiday
snaps. I got some dirty looks. I'm no empath, but I felt like the protestors were starting to get grumpy, frustrated and tired. This has been going on a long time now. How this increased feeling of discontent will effect the endgame of 'Shutdown Bangkok', I can't say for sure, but it is interesting to think about.

Thing is though Shutdown Bangkok has never even stated its goals to be to completely shutdown the city. They were only going to block most traffic, not all.

Here's one of their barricades on one of the main feeder roads into Victory Monument. It's a 6-lane boulevard. The barricade takes up 3 and a half lanes in the middle of the road. It's an annoyance, a symbol. Still, the main positions taken up by the protestors are replete with walls of sandbags, metal gates and (unarmed) guards.

Would your country or city authorities tolerate a group of protestors setting up sandbagged bunkers in the middle of major intersections?

I got out of the area with pretty much the same amount of ease, and since it was still early, I stopped at one of the few 'diners' in Bangkok and had myself an American-style breakfast. 

What's going to happen next?  Who knows...  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hot Sauce, Tigers and Hopes for the Break

Ohmygosh, it's been two weeks since I've posted anything here on Leaving Amerika.  My bad.  Everything is good here. No problems in Thailand, at least for me, anyways. 

In my last post, I talked about fulfilling a promise to bring American Sriracha Sauce to the town Si Racha here in Thailand and record reactions.  I did so, but not as well I might have hoped.  Anyways, any video that includes moments like this:

Yeah, that moment alone was pretty freekin awesome.

This ain't just a tiger kitten.  It was definitely an adolescent, and he or she really loved the warm milk I was giving him or her.  Thank God.  If not, she surely could have turned and ripped me to shreds.  About as big as a large dog, this Tiger kitten was a lot heavier.  She radiated POWER in her muscle density.  Despite my friendly smile, this encounter with the ultimate apex predator was very, very intense for me.

Here's the rest of the video:

I'm now in the second half of the second and last term of the school year and my employment contract. It's time to think about what comes next.  

I really like my job, but there are some days when I just get so frustrated that I think about what to do next.  I've got my TEFL certificate. I don't have a LOT of experience in my new career, but it's a little.  What to do for next year?  

Do I go home to America?

Would pretty much be the end of this blog.  

Anyways, I am defintely NOT done with my exploration of SE Asia.  Putting aside next year for a moment, there was a more pressing need.  What to do for the break?  Summer vacation here in Thailand is March and April, coming soon, and I won't be getting paid. What to do for money? I got some reserves, but I really don't want to tap into them. 

I've found a job that seems tailor made for Thai teachers on break.  Found it on a TEFL Thai teachers website.  Eight weeks of teaching summer school.  March and April. $1300/mo salary (which goes a long way in SE Asia).  Free accommodation. Free lunches.  Reimbursed airfare from Bangkok to...  Rangoon, Burma.  

I want this gig.  I'm applying this weekend.  Wish me luck.  

Nowadays, Rangoon, Burma is known as Yangon, Myanmar, and if everything goes as I hope, 6 weeks from now, I'll be packing up to move to the next destination in the Tour d'Joko: Burma... err... Myanmar.  What have you. 

Discovering Northwest Myanmar 16: Kataung to Mandalay

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