The royal family in Thailand is both highly revered and greatly respected and no one more than the late King. King Bhumibol worked tirelessly throughout his life on projects to help support his people and his work is much appreciated. The King died in October 2016 and the country is currently in a year long period of mourning for him. Many Thai still wear black and everywhere you go you find pictures and shrines to honour him. In this shopping mall people are making floral symbols in the shape of a number 9 as they are in the ninth month of mourning. There will be an official funeral in October and I understand that the school has changed the dates of half term to allow all staff to be off for the state occasion.
The children in Shrewsbury are lovely. They are so cute and largely well behaved and always immaculately turned out. And best of all they are voracious readers. Keeping them OUT of the library is the biggest challenge (although the air con might be part of the attraction!)
On the subject of occasions the little children in the school are allowed to bring in cake for their class on their birthday. Shrewsbury as a fee paying school attracts the wealthy and often the parents seek to out-do each other by bringing in not only enormous and lavish cakes but also goody bags for each child too. This week one child brought goody bags where the contents must have valued £30 each. It made me think of some of the children in Lebanon or even the west end of Morecambe who sometimes don’t arrive at school having had a decent meal.
In other news we visited Jim Thompson’s House which is a beautiful oasis in the heart of this busy, bustling city. Jim was responsible for reinvigorating the Thai silk trade but his associations with the CIA meant that he disappeared in in 1976 and the mystery remains unresolved to this day. He was a collector of fine porcelain and Asian antiques. The headless statue of the Buddha in his garden is 1000 years old. We were treated to some beautiful Thai dancing.
Today Miss Roma our maid started work for us. I was so excited. She was a little scathing about the cleaning equipment we had purchased so far and so she sent Kevin out with a shopping list and we now are the proud owners of a rotating mop system. It’s hard to explain but we are happy to show you if you visit. The apartment is Spick & Span now.
I was just delighted to come home from work to a pile of freshly ironed clothes. Such joy. As it was hot we went for a dip in the pool before ordering chicken & cashew nut with rice (pictured) which cost £3.50 each delivered. This is the life.
The kids are back and the noise levels have risen. I have spent most of the day fielding a flood of returned books in a system I am unfamiliar with – always a challenge!
Anyway I also ‘volunteered’ to speak at both school assemblies. I had a 3 min slot on the subject of ‘renewal’. My first experience of a school assembly since I was at school myself. Anyway I threw some thoughts about the change curve together and got up and said my bit. It was actually a great way to introduce the new librarian to the whole school community. Interestingly all the newbie teachers congratulated me on taking one for the team and said how brave I was to speak in front of the whole school. This surprised me as they are teachers and used to speaking in front of people- ah yes they replied but there were adults there… we wouldn’t do that!!!
I’m the meantime Kevin went to a coffee morning for spouses organised by the Head’s wife. He actually gleaned quite a lot of useful local info from the longer standing spouses.
It is very different living in a country to being a tourist. We haven’t seen a single temple or palace yet but we can tell you the best place to buy a mop & bucket.
Induction, training and orientation are all over. Tomorrow the children arrive. The school is scrubbed, tidied and ready. Here are some photos. I love the fancy tables set outside with the satin cloths. They are all outside safe in the knowledge that they will stay dry. Something you can never guarantee in Britain!
I have already had a little weed and a weeny move around of the stock in the senior library (ok all the fiction) but just moving it up I can free up 3 bays which are going to move to the workroom area and replace cupboards which are moving elsewhere (all in a days work)
In a neat idea we make posters with the 12 favourite titles for each teacher. These are displayed in each classroom and in the library. I have so many that I struggled to narrow it down to just 12. I will post a picture of it when mine is ready.
In the meantime some shots of the school…
Today (Sat) we visited the Big Bad Wolf book fair in the equivalent of the Bangkok NEC. It was huge and very impressive. English language and Thai titles for sale as massively discounted prices.
It was about an hour away and we had to take a sky train (& change lines) then a taxi. We felt quite adventurous. The event was free and crowded with locals who clearly loved reading and knew a bargain when they saw one.
Although not organised to librarian standards I still managed to locate several titles which I want to add to the school library. I started modestly and only bought £97 worth of titles but paid only £38. V pleased with myself.
We are finding our way around the school now. I have located the canteen, staff room and toilets (essential stuff). Today I even had an hour at my new desk (uncomfortable chair so that might get replaced)
On the subject of food we have coffee/tea on arrival with mini pastries and sandwiches (what they call snacks) which are also available at break time. Lunch is a huge buffet with a choice of Thai or western dishes and it’s all FREE!! It’s help yourself to as much as you want…
The school are so very friendly & welcoming and you really feel valued which is great. Nothing is too much trouble and they are very keen that we are settled and happy (& fed)
I got my ID badge yesterday and if you look closely at the picture you will see one of the challenges of working here! Their English is good but not always perfect. So the badge is being changed and there are one or two signs in the library which might get altered…
Induction sessions have been useful & informative but also fun such as the introduction to Thai culture where I learned that a female must not sit next to a monk on public transport and under no circumstances whatsoever should a female touch a monk. Monks are highly respected and we should allow them to pass first on the street. I guess my vicar friends might be a little jealous
The other photo is a lotus flower which we learned how to fold. More on lotus flowers later as there is a lot of cultural significance attached to them.
Many of the new teachers here are young enough to be my kids so I do feel a little long in the tooth. Last night they got a Zumba group together and invited us along. Neither of us has done Zumba before but in an attempt to get fit we joined in… an hour later we both resembled boiled beetroots and were totally knackered. It was really hard work but I was told this morning that the others were really impressed that we had ‘kept up’ and their parents wouldn’t/couldn’t have done that- so I’m notching that up as a success (even if our backs are complaining a little today)
Anyway, we are off this evening to a drinks party in the Headmaster’s penthouse apartment. Fortunately kevin is feeling better enough to eat/drink. It might be one of the few opportunities to drink wine as it’s really expensive here & we’ve been sticking to local beer.
This is the end of our second full day in Bangkok. Kevin has succumbed to a nasty dose of food poisoning courtesy of British Airways so has been confined to the apartment. He hasn’t been at all well.
Which has meant that I have had to do the essentials shopping and sorting out by myself. I am quite proud of the fact that I can find my way (& back) to the local supermarket particularly as it involves a boat ride.
The boat is a free shuttle to the sky train stop but waiting for the boat allows time to admire the other craft on the river. One from a big hotel looks like a house and is amazing when it is lit up at night.
Another is the long tail boat which is used for tourist rides which looks sleek as it skims over the water.
One of the things I have discovered is that the ticket touts for the long tail boat rides at the pier avoid you if you are carrying a large drying rack! The drying rack is quite an investment but an essential one. Clothes dry there is next to no time. Tomorrow I will venture out for an iron & ironing board.
In the meantime more revision on makerspaces in libraries…
We have arrived safely. Knackered but fine. These are some pictures from the meet & greet at the airport. It was all very well organised and the staff from the school were very friendly and efficient.
There were several new teachers with quite young children but they were no trouble on the flight and we even managed to get a (short) sleep.
As you can see our coach was quite splendid! The journey to the apartment took about 45 mins so not too bad.
So here we are at Terminal 5, Heathrow all packed and just waiting for the flight. It’s been a whirlwind of goodbyes and I hope that we have managed to see or speak to as many of you as possible.
We had a great send off from the family yesterday and we will miss you all greatly. Hope you can all manage without us.
For now though it’s just ‘au revoir’ as we hope to see as many of you as possible in sunny Thailand.
So with all the goodbyes said it’s time to meet our new colleagues and start the ‘hellos’
Next post will be from Bangkok where the adventure begins…