When in Bangkok I had lunch with a teacher who had been over here for 10 years… when I asked him if he could speak Thai his answer was:-
“I can talk about food and the weather- as long as you can speak about these things you should be fine!” Eric
At the time I remember thinking… how can you possible get by on those two topics… and actually you would be surprised!!
Thai’s LOVE to talk about food, a question all the student’s love to ask me is…. ‘Teacha, Pet pet or mai pet?!” i.e. do you like your food very spicy or not spicy.
I can actually order a few things in Thai, tell them when it is delicious (or not however I never actually tell them when its horrible)
The weather however was something I hadn’t quite grasped bar saying ‘hot’! However in the last week I feel like I can hold quite a decent conversation about it after the náam tûam (FYI that’s Thai for flood)
During the wet season (which we are in now) it is common for very heavy down
pours of rain, however every so often one comes along that just never stops…. Hello typhoon from the Philippians!!!!
On Saturday night on the way home from a friends house the downpour started… I had heard the talk of náam tûam however and had figured out what it meant however I never expected quite what was coming!
The rain continued well into Sunday and Monday and then on Tuesday I had the weirdest day. My first class…. usually full with 40 odd children had 20…. they were all going on and on and ON about the weather so much so that they only wanted to talk about it. (Fine by me as to communicate with me they had to speak in English) From them they told me that the other class mates were flooded in and that a few of them were waiting to get picked up by their parents.
After the flood last time I could see why as once the main bridge spilled over getting to small communities becomes very hard!
My next class (usually of 46) had 33 pupils and was actually a mix of two classes, by the end of the 50 minute lesson 16 pupils remained!
Walking back to the English lounge there was such a hub of activity as all the rooms on the bottom floors were being emptied of anything that could be damaged in water. All the musical instruments, storage room for new jotters and electrical equipment were being moved upstairs in anticipation of the coming náam tûam.
Finally, school was called off and all children were sent home…. a nice little half day for us then!!
After school I took a trip to the bridge to see if it had burst over the banks yet. What I found was the main bridge gone, water 200meters along to the smaller bridge, that gone and water another 50 meters up the road and flowing right though someones house! In the distance you could see someone wade though the water with only their torso showing.
Many of the locals stopped to talk to me about the rain, the floods and their houses and about the coming weather!
Along the road and I caught sight of a news crew, the army, police, fire brigade,
Phrae rescue and loads of locals standing at the end of the road. I went up for a look and soon found out why they were gathered.
The road to one of the smaller towns…. completely gone and shoulder height water!
I retreated back to our hotel where there was fear of the city flooding, that night I went to bed FREEZING! I mean so cold I had long bottoms, a top, a duvet and a blanket over me! Has to be a first for Thailand!
The next day we went to school and out of 1550 students 0 showed up! classes were cancelled and after a few hours the teachers could go home as well!
The government declared a ‘state of emergency’ in the province and everyone seemed to work hard to help. Small cafe/restaurants that we can eat at for dinner were ordered to make food packages for those who were trapped by the floods. Local were given emergency packs with food and water all in a watertight back so they could get them home safe and dry
I took the road to Long, usually full of traffic and the way to the weather station where you can see the depth of the river… usually. This was a complete wash out!
As I was taking some pictures I saw a little girl and her mum wade though the water. She looked up and started running towards me “TEACHER JENNIE!!!!” she ran up and gave me a hug and proceeded to tell me all about her house and where the water was up to and and what they were eating (Mostly all in Thai, but I could understand most!)
After she went back to her mother’s side a police man came up and started speaking to me about…. you guessed it the weather and food!! He had overhead the girl shouting teacher and wanted to know where I taught. Turned out his officers had received English lesson from my school (before I got here) he brought me over to his officers who started asking me what I thought of the food here in Thailand and what I thought of the náam tûam, and showed me the food rations for the people stuck out in the water, was all quite funny.
Just as I was about to leave I took one last picture of the road…. only to turn round and see 4 locals all taking a picture of me!!
Was nice to see that despite the devastation they were still able to keep their calm and Mai Pen Rai attitude… something I could never see happening in the UK. Also that despite not being fluent in the language Teacher Eric was right…. as long as you know food and weather you will get along quite well!