A Weekend Away

School was closed on Friday because of Mother’s Day, so we were gifted a three day weekend! In fact, school closed at lunchtime on the Thursday, so another half day was added on too. What a treat! A group of teachers from around Surat headed straight to the pier to book tickets for the night ferry to Koh Tao. I was itching to go diving again. The beach and culinary delights of the island were also calling. Much as I love the Thai food available throughout Surat, it is a real treat to sample the Western foods and flavours of home that Koh Tao does so well. Better than all the other islands I’ve visited so far, I’d happily argue.

The boat over involved 37 people jammed in next to each other, on tiny mattresses all in a row down each side of the boat. Pillows and blankets are provided, and the air con keeps the temperature pretty ambient. As long as you’re not a wriggler, it’s possible to get a reasonable night’s sleep. Waking up to a beautiful sunrise over the silhouetted form of the island, as the boat docks, makes it all worthwhile anyway.

The weekend was spent exploring the sea floor, with all its swim throughs and underwater critters. A highlight was swimming alongside a gigantic jellyfish, billowing along on its ghostly path. It was incredibly beautiful. No whale sharks this time though. Maybe next time!

We also took the time to visit Koh Nangyuan, purely to see what all the fuss is about really. Honestly, I wish we hadn’t bothered. Whilst, yes, it is incredibly beautiful, it is possibly the least friendly place I have ever visited. There is a fee as soon as you step onto the island, and a sign informing you the use of beach towels is prohibited. After you’ve paid your entrance fee, your water bottles are snatched from your bags and thrown into bins. Apparently water bottles are forbidden. I suspect smiling is too, I can’t be sure though, not many people were trying it! The white sandy beach is not so much white sand, as broken shards of dead coral. Not that comfy to sit on actually, without a beach towel. The long hobble out through the shallows, to swimmable depths is likewise hindered by quantity of dead coral and squelchy sea cucumbers. The main attraction of the island is the viewpoint which looks out across the bar of sand that connects the islands. Whilst the view is pretty impressive, the half hour queue you have to stand in before you get anywhere near the rocky peak dampens your appreciation somewhat. I wouldn’t recommend it!

The food, weather and nights out on Koh Tao didn’t disappoint. The journey back was a little more comfy. The boat offered bunk beds and air conditioning, even if my ticket dictated that I had to share a teeny ‘double’ mattress with a colleague. Fortunately there were a few spare beds, so we were able to find one each once we’d set sail. We arrived back in Surat at 5:30am feeling revitalised after our well-deserved break!

We Love Mum

The 12th Augus14074547_10153845884743595_630600442_ot is the queen’s birthday, and therefore Mother’s day is celebrated across Thailand. School was scheduled to be closed on the 12th, so we celebrated at school, the day before. All through the week we’d participated in activities in the build up to the big day. Most classes, throughout the school, made cards or small gifts for their mothers. Some also wrote letters, telling their mums what they were grateful for. In P2/12 we also drew portraits of our mums and got creative writing messages of thanks. We also made small pop-up cards complete with a miniature bouquet of flowers. We do love our mums!

There were two assemblies held throughout the morning for all the mothers. Anuban went first, and did a beautiful job of singing and dancing in their incredible outfits. They all look so grown up already with their perfect make-up and immaculate hairdos. The Prathom assembly was no less spectacular. The crowd was awash with blue shirts, as this is the queen’s colour. The students, however, were adorned with a rainbow of colours, from pale turquoise Hello Kitty dresses, to vibrant pink embellished gowns. It was a riot of colour. The performances were beautifully choreographed and executed. I had no idea my students could dance like that! It was beautiful to watch. The music and lighting really enhanced the magic and moods of the performances. What a spectacle!14060335_10153845851503595_1819749807_o14059935_10153845884753595_1136743024_o

Anuban 3 Classroom Olympics

Anuban 3 MEP had an absolute blast with our Classroom Olympics!

To celebrate the competition we have had great fun learning about some of the sports and countries involved in the Olympics. We began by picking some of the countries taking part and learning about them before dividing into groups representing those places. Then it was time for the games to begin.

We had a brilliant time playing baseball and badminton, having running races, doing archery, discus and even having a paper airplane contest.

             

During the games we kept track of the results with our own Medals table, learnt about ordinal numbers as well as the colours gold, silver and bronze.  We had loads of fun and the students are now eagerly anticipating the next Olympics in four years time!

 

 

Midterm Mania

August is our first semester, Midterm exam season. Our MEP studentP_20160803_035041s sit two days of Thai exams, then their English exams over another three days. Because of the dates of our August break this year, our review time had to be condensed into five days. Fortunately this was ample time to go back over all the topics from this year in plenty of detail. Energy levels were high as the exam dates approached. I’m sure I was more nervous than they were!

On the day of the first of our English exams the mood was apprehensive, but excited. The students were sat at their evenly spaced desks, with their bags lined up outside, and their stationary ready for action on their desks. There was silence as I entered the room, which is not a common occurrence in P2/12!

I distributed the papers, and then we began. Everyone worked away P_20160803_034909studiously, as I monitored the class, ensuring no pages or questions were missed out. Those that finished quickly sat happily colouring worksheets while they waited for the rest to finish. We finished each exam with a big cheer before playing some review games to prepare for our next exam. When the exams were over, we celebrated by playing our favourite games and singing our favourite songs from throughout the year so far.

Grading their exams and seeing just how much they’ve progressed is incredibly rewarding. I’m so proud of each and every one of them. Good job P2/12!

P5 IEP English Camp

Last Saturday, the farang forces of English teachers from both Thida I and Thida II met to give an awesome English experience!  Teachers Jenna, Kris, Ashton, and Keith from Thida II and Teacher Matt from Thida I each had stations in different classrooms.

Of course, no English camp is the same without some songs/games.  To kick off the camp, the students played Simon Says with the winners getting points for their teams (students were wearing their Wednesday sport colors and were competing against one another).  After two rounds of stations, assembly two was a Banana race game, where seven students lined up and attempted to pass a banana using only their feet.  The final assembly was a Balloon Pop game, where students popped balloons using their stomachs in a relay fashion.  All three games were fun to watch and are on display in the pictures below.

Each of our individual stations related to the general theme of shopping.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but ended up using a very applicable theme in Thailand:  Cell phone shopping!  I implemented a simple PPT explaining features/apps and asking some simple questions.  We discussed what features and apps we’d want on our phones of the future.  After showing them a unique phone from the future, the kids worked in pairs/groups of three making the ‘cell phone of the future.’  Of course, there were a lot of the same apps, like Line, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  But some of the kids got really creative with it!

Other stations included an auction, where the students used their ‘money’ to purchase things, going to the market, and clothes shopping.

It was amazing to see how big some of my former P3 and P4 students have grown!  To me, they will always be so much smaller and younger….but they’re closer to middle school than Anuban now!

Camps will take a break until the next semester, where we will have a Thai teachers camp in November, as well as P1 and P2 IEP camp in mid-late January!

 

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Creative craziness in Art club

Students from Anuban 3, up to Prathom 3 have been having a great time in Art Club this semester. We have been exploring lots of artistic techniques and creative ideas. It’s a really nice opportpic_01unity for students from different grade levels to mix. I love seeing the older kids helping out the younger ones with trickier tasks.

Allowing the students to express their ideas and interests in crazy new ways can be absolutely hilarious. It’s so nice to see how they view the world, and some of the bizarre things their imaginations conjure up.pic_04

This week we did a folding, cutting and sticking activity to help develop their fine motor skills. We made concertina dogs, a bit like Slinky from Toy Story. Instead of colouring our dogs brown or black though, we made them in beautiful rainbow colours, some with wings, stars and different magical powers.

Welcome to the Jungle

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If you are moving to Surat Thani, I highly recommend living in the jungle. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that I get to enjoy every day. The town of Surat is filled with street vendors, motorbikes, and shops, but once you cross the bridge into the jungle, you’ll find a peaceful little paradise.

This is the view from my bungalow… can’t complain.

 
While there are many perks of living in the jungle, I would be lying if I didn’t say that it’s not the place for everyone. I grew up loving animals, and that is part of the reason I wanted to ditch living in the city and give it a try.

If any of these pictures freak you out, stay away from the jungle!

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My favorite backyard monitor lizard.

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It took a team of 3 screaming girls to get this hand-sized guy out.

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A friendly visitor.

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This man’s monkey is trained to collect coconuts for him.

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You will find gecko eggs and geckos everywhere in your house, but at least they keep the bugs away!

As you can see, living in the jungle is quite the adventure. Although freaky, some of my funniest memories in Thailand have been trying to get giant spiders and snakes out of the house with my friends. This life is obviously not for everyone, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world!