Just a glimpse...

Anything that doesn't fit anywhere else, and is NON CH related - chat about the weather, or anything else that takes your fancy.

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Ajarn Philip
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Just a glimpse...

Post by Ajarn Philip » Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:50 pm

It’s hot today.

No, I mean really HOT.

Not hot as in a nice, hot summer’s day, but hot as in getting the roast lamb out of the oven.

And that’s in the shade.

Let me explain what I’m up to. I’m in the middle of translating a daily running maintenance log for a highly technical piece of medical equipment called a bucky-potter, or something. It seems to scan every part of your body inside and out while singing Frank Sinatra and doing a nifty tap dance. It requires a lot of maintenance. About 9000 words a week... <sigh>

For some reason I find myself easily distracted. I’ve been thinking about starting this section for a while, and the latest distraction was the last straw. No time like the present (for anything but work), so like it or lump it, here you go.

The latest distraction I mentioned was the sound of the lady next door quietly but relentlessly beating something to death in the garden. In the vague hope that it might be her husband, I went to have a look. Sadly it was a cobra, and not a very big one.

There are probably a few people in Thailand who know quite a lot about snakes. Unfortunately not many of them are Thai. To almost all Thai people all snakes are deadly. Well, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that the majority aren’t poisonous, and that of the minority that are, most are far from deadly. I bought a book (which reminded me of the ‘I Spy’ books we had when I was a boy) identifying snakes in this region, which is how I was able to identify the bludgeoned snake as an equatorial spitting cobra. Okay, so probably not something you’d want snuggling up to you in bed, but my point is that she had no idea what it was, and neither do the vast majority of people here.

I was once roused from my pc by a sharp shriek from the kitchen, only to see a golden tree snake apparently trying to batter its way through the mossie screen (Mrs Ajarn was shrieking, not the snake). Of course, I didn’t know it was a golden tree snake (mildly venomous, apparently) until later. And that’s the problem. I can’t ask it to hold still while I get the book and fumble through it. So I grabbed a broom and encouraged it to leave my door. It seemed to agree and vanished down a drain. Would I have battered it? I don’t know, but I don’t think so, especially if it was heading in the right direction (away).

Rats, of course, are another matter altogether. Not exclusive to Thailand by any means; I had a few close encounters back in Blighty. Horrible, disgusting things that make my flesh creep. I’d climb over Mrs Ajarn to get away from one... (yes, where rats are concerned, chivalry is dead). I once found one nesting under the bonnet of my sparkling new pick-up truck. I’d always wondered why so many of my neighbours left the bonnet up overnight.

Anyway, back to life in general. Today is Saturday, which is really neither here nor there, as we’re in the middle of the ‘summer’ holiday, so I have no students until early June. This holiday is a real beauty, almost 3 months long. The downside (before all UK-based teachers start throwing virtual rotten tomatoes at me) is that we have only two terms each year, and the other holiday is less than a month.

It’s not summer, of course. My students know the English words for the seasons, but they have no concept of the delights of England in mid-November. You know, incessant driving rain with a strong cold wind and the knowledge that it won’t stop for at least the next 3 days. Here, it’s hot. There are two monsoon seasons, where it’s hot and quite wet. When it rains here, it’s as if someone emptied a bucket of warm water over your head. But that’s the point, really, the water is warm. If you get caught in it, which you inevitably will, you’ll be completely drenched within seconds, and you don’t mind at all. It can actually be quite fun. I can clearly remember the very first time it ever happened to me here – I was living on a small island (Koh Samui) and had left my little bungalow on the beach in the middle of nowhere on my tiny 100cc motorbike in t-shirt and shorts, when the heavens opened. And I just laughed. I roared with laughter all the way. Fortunately there was nobody to see me.
April into May is the hottest time of the year here, but all things are only relevant by comparison, as it’s never cold. Rarely does it sneak below 30 degrees during the day.

Back to today (sorry, this will happen a lot...) – I got up about 8 and leapt athletically into a cold shower. We don’t have hot running water (few people do), but we do have a hot shower. I very rarely switch it on. Sitting outside on the verandah is quite pleasant at that time of the morning and made even more so with a mixer-prepared combination of orange, mango and ice, along with a good book, then a decent mug of real coffee and perhaps a croissant. Then a few hours at the pc. The fan is at my back as I work, but there comes a point at which the fan is of only marginal benefit by drying the sweat fairly quickly. Today at about 1.30 I switched on the air conditioning in the bedroom, had another shower, read on the bed for 20 minutes, then snoozed for an hour. Bliss. To be honest, I’m not sure I could manage without that at this time of year. Of course, leaving the bedroom is torture as the wave of heat literally covers you like a blanket. Back to the pc for a couple of hours, and then cycle over to the swimming pool (only about 500 metres away, but too far to walk!) for 20 minutes or so. Back to the pc.
And that’s today so far. It’s now 6.30 and time for a gin and tonic. I never used to drink gin in the UK, but I find it very refreshing here.

This hasn’t been very exciting for the reader, but it’s not meant to be. I’m just trying to give you a little glimpse of my life here, which is so very different to what went before. It’s certainly not perfect, but then again it ain’t bad.

If there is any interest, I’ll post more from time to time - but don’t feel obliged to comment either way, as I’ll probably post anyway! I’d also very much like to hear some snippets from those other members of the forum who live ‘abroad’ – or from anyone, anywhere who thinks they have something that might be interesting to share.
I know exactly what words I am wanting to say, but somehow or other they is always getting squiffsquiddled around

Phil Underwood Ma A Col A Mid B 68-75

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Ajarn Philip
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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by Ajarn Philip » Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:53 pm

And I've just realised that today is Friday, which rather emphasises the point that it really doesn't matter... :oops:
I know exactly what words I am wanting to say, but somehow or other they is always getting squiffsquiddled around

Phil Underwood Ma A Col A Mid B 68-75

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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by englishangel » Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:57 pm

I didn't even notice, but then I asked my new assistant this morning if she had started at the beginning of last week and she said she had been here nearly a month, Oh Dear! :oops:
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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by Mid A 15 » Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:16 pm

Good stuff Phil!

Swimming pools and ice cool fruit drinks sound bliss to me at the moment!

I've had a morning of fielding phone calls from people wanting things completed 3 days before they give us the things they want completed!!

It's at times like this I can see why businesses have the frustrating call centre system with mechanical voices and I curse myself for being a mug intrying to treat people as I'd like to be treated myself!

Anyway back to it!
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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by Katharine » Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:55 pm

Phil, why do you do it? I'm just making arrangements for a visit back to Sabah next year and it is still a whole year away - I'm just wishing the time away! I want to be back in SE Asia!!! :mrgreen:

I can relate to so many things you say, snakes yes been there got the T-shirts, fresh fruits - mango, rambutans from the garden, pineapple .... swimming pool in the garden ... tropical rain storms (don't forget the storm drains) One thing that continually surprised most first time visitors was daylength, it went dark within an hour of 6pm every day of the year. (Didn't surprise me, I could remember Miss Wilson's blackboard diagrams of it! :lol: )

Oh well back to work, got to earn the money to pay that air fare!
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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by Mrs C. » Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:57 pm

you should know the solution to rats - wear yellow socks! :D
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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by Ajarn Philip » Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:25 pm

Tried it, but you can't wear 'em with pink flip-flops.
I know exactly what words I am wanting to say, but somehow or other they is always getting squiffsquiddled around

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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by blondie95 » Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:17 pm

there is a way of wearing socks and flip flops-it involves slightly diforming the sock and making your foot look even more ridiculous that they already do (i hate feet and will do all i can to make them look nice)
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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by sejintenej » Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:42 pm

Ajarn Philip wrote:It’s hot today.
No, I mean really HOT.
Not hot as in a nice, hot summer’s day, but hot as in getting the roast lamb out of the oven.
And that’s in the shade.

It's cold, cold, cold. Not frigid as in the water takes a solid feel, but cold like damp. windy and bbbrrrrrrrrrr! not the right day to be out. The wind is enough to take you off your feet, the wood store roof has been blown to a strange angle so its continuing verticality is more a mystery of faith than of mechanics - and it is muddy in the garden.

Reading this I think back to March two years ago - I was in a place called Krungthep which Philip will recognise (had to get that
in! :lol: :lol: :lol: and I'm not going to write the full name of over 400 letters) where it was warmish - and up at a temple in the palace about to be reopened by the king. Interestingly I got into converstion with a man who had sponsored a lot of the work and was worried about the King's reaction. Looked pretty good to me (as I told him more glowingly) but I did wonder why he was worried about the King's reaction and not about his own khama. Warm? well, I was wandering around in brilliant sunshine and feeling comfortable. It did get a bit chilly from the wind when in the back of a three-wheeled scooter driven by a maniac on speed! great fun but honestly the humidity didn't worry me even in the back khlongs (sewers to the English!)
Ajarn Philip wrote:Let me explain what I’m up to. I’m in the middle of translating a daily running maintenance log for a highly technical piece of medical equipment called a bucky-potter, or something. It seems to scan every part of your body inside and out while singing Frank Sinatra and doing a nifty tap dance. It requires a lot of maintenance. About 9000 words a week... <sigh>
Got here a week ago to find the electricity had failed. Quite a job because there were actually two problems - one endemic but the other was where the wires had been chewed by a squirrel sized dormouse (the test readings were very strange and it took a several days to track the faults down, pull cables through and replace them !!!) OK so 4 am the next morning there is a strange noise from the phone so I go downstairs. Power has failed again and I am ankle deep in water; the mains inlet has let go in a big way! Turn the water off and go back to bed 'cause it is still dark. Took us quite a few hourse to get 3 inches of water out of the entire ground floor; with a variety of forms of bad weather we are used to such little annoyances (no we don't flood because we are 50 metres up a steepish hill but tornadoes do get water in round four sides of the door, under every tile and up the kitchen waste pipe! So today we are just about dry - another 24 hours to get the walls dry and to,morrow is the finale of sorting out the electrics (which are OK but a bit untidy at present).
So that was a few hours work. Our garden had 6 inches of matured horse droppings last year so the weeds are shoulder height and the compost bins are too small! and then there is the pool to clean out, and the fruit trees to give a second spray ..... Philip reckons a bit of PC is hard work - let me at it!
Ajarn Philip wrote:There are probably a few people in Thailand who know quite a lot about snakes. Unfortunately not many of them are Thai. To almost all Thai people all snakes are deadly. Well, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that the majority aren’t poisonous, and that of the minority that are, most are far from deadly. I bought a book (which reminded me of the ‘I Spy’ books we had when I was a boy) identifying snakes in this region, which is how I was able to identify the bludgeoned snake as an equatorial spitting cobra. Okay, so probably not something you’d want snuggling up to you in bed, but my point is that she had no idea what it was, and neither do the vast majority of people here.
It is not much different here - big blighters over a metre long and as thick as your wrist which rear up to attack. Little ones the size of a MacDonald's drinking straw (we know what they did to Cleopatra) and a thing up to a foot long (in England 18 inches - they're midgets here) which can land you in hospital for observation and a lot of pain. From the skins those ones like the roof and in winter the kitchen ceiling beams though I've only once found one in the house - right by the door. Nothing really deadly but not nice, they say we have scorpions - seen them wild in England not far from Euterpe , but not here. There's a green lizard like fing which terrifies the local farmers - they reckon its slime on the grass will kill an adult bull of cow. I haven't even got the book - for the same reason

Going back a bit to Accra and I'm sitting with friends on their lawn when there is a scream from the boy indoors. This thing launches itself at high speed across the grass, betwen us, up on its tail and up into the tree. Can't remember if it was a black or a green mamba but it was apparently the "slower" of the two. Yes - the broom handle was in use but it jumped down and was gone. No thanks man!
Ajarn Philip wrote:Rats, of course, are another matter altogether. Not exclusive to Thailand by any means; I had a few close encounters back in Blighty. Horrible, disgusting things that make my flesh creep.
I can beleive it. We have mice (the eagles keep then under control) and these pesky Louir Gris or edible dormice. Inagine a grey squirrel with a rats face looking really evil and malevolent to go with it. That is your louir which eats anything except meat and has a penchant for mortar (from between the stones in the walls) and seemingly electric cables.
Ajarn Philip wrote:Anyway, back to life in general. Today is Saturday, which is really neither here nor there, as we’re in the middle of the ‘summer’ holiday, so I have no students until early June. This holiday is a real beauty, almost 3 months long. The downside (before all UK-based teachers start throwing virtual rotten tomatoes at me) is that we have only two terms each year, and the other holiday is less than a month.
Same situation - Friday today so down to the "pub" for the beer but not too much because there is a birthday boozeup at the Welsh bar tomorrow. Yes - they even speak it like in Patagonia but they also do weird things like (last summer) close the street (f*** the mayor) so that the visiting band of strolling musicians and Morris Dancers could entertain the local French I kid you not - a troop from Essex! Another week was Swedish night with Swedish food and karoake Abba! Funny peeps these French Welsh
Ajarn Philip wrote:It’s not summer, of course. My students know the English words for the seasons, but they have no concept of the delights of England in mid-November. You know, incessant driving rain with a strong cold wind and the knowledge that it won’t stop for at least the next 3 days.
Send em here!
Ajarn Philip wrote:Back to today (sorry, this will happen a lot...) – I got up about 8 and leapt athletically into a cold shower. We don’t have hot running water (few people do), but we do have a hot shower. I very rarely switch it on. Sitting outside on the verandah is quite pleasant at that time of the morning and made even more so with a mixer-prepared combination of orange, mango and ice, along with a good book, then a decent mug of real coffee and perhaps a croissant. Then a few hours at the pc. The fan is at my back as I work, but there comes a point at which the fan is of only marginal benefit by drying the sweat fairly quickly. Today at about 1.30 I switched on the air conditioning in the bedroom, had another shower, read on the bed for 20 minutes, then snoozed for an hour. Bliss. To be honest, I’m not sure I could manage without that at this time of year. Of course, leaving the bedroom is torture as the wave of heat literally covers you like a blanket. Back to the pc for a couple of hours, and then cycle over to the swimming pool (only about 500 metres away, but too far to walk!) for 20 minutes or so. Back to the pc.
And that’s today so far. It’s now 6.30 and time for a gin and tonic. I never used to drink gin in the UK, but I find it very refreshing here.
I know how you feel. In the White Man's grave we had airconditioning but it was so noisy I must have used it for one night - if that. A bloke from personnel met me at the airport and I stayed with him for three days. After that I couldn't sweat for several decades (except during a malaria attack) even though I was playing rugby, squash in an open concrete court and cricket in mid afternoon and in full sunlight. We couldn't get gin or even malaria tablets but the weekly ration of beer was a dozen large bottles (the club had an unlimited supply so you know where I lived!)

So a mix of 1960's Africa and today's France - and I would not change it. There is an electric blanket on the bed and I do wish I could give herself as good a noisy orgasm as that blanket!
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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by midget » Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:43 pm

You have made my day! Pink flipflops and yellow socks!
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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by gma » Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:17 pm

http://www.japanesegifts.com

Tabi Socks are the answer to the sock v flip flop problem although I think they only come in black and white so you might have to get white ones and rinse them with some turmeric or saffron to achieve the desired yellow colour!! If you can't get them on-line then get someone to bring you some from Okinawa!

So why do yellow socks repel rats, is this a Housey thing of which we Hertford Innnocents are unaware?
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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by Mrs C. » Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:18 pm

blondie95 wrote:there is a way of wearing socks and flip flops-it involves slightly diforming the sock and making your foot look even more ridiculous that they already do (i hate feet and will do all i can to make them look nice)
Amy, how on earth can feet look nice in socks and flipflops???? :? :? :?
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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by blondie95 » Fri Apr 18, 2008 9:47 pm

they dont they look even worse than they normall do
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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by Jo » Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:50 pm

Great stuff Phil, please continue to give us glimpses of your daily life from time to time. I'm on an email group elsewhere that has a subscriber who lives in Tehran, and everyone loves his "from your Tehran correspondent" pieces. Helps to bring a country to life for those of us who've never visited.
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Re: Just a glimpse...

Post by Ajarn Philip » Sat Apr 19, 2008 5:13 am

sejintenej wrote:
Reading this I think back to March two years ago - I was in a place called Krungthep which Philip will recognise (had to get that
in! :lol: :lol: :lol: and I'm not going to write the full name of over 400 letters) !
Thank you for all the positive feedback, everyone, and for your reply, David, just what I was hoping for. More of the same from everyone, please.

For the uninitiated, Krungthep = Bangkok, and by the miracle of Wikipedia and copy/paste, I offer you the following:

"The full ceremonial name of the city given by King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, and later edited by King Mongkut, is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit (Thai: กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลกภพ นพรัตน์ราชธานี บุรีรมย์อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์, listen (help·info)). This ceremonial name is composed in combination of two ancient Indian languages, Pāli and Sanskrit. According to the romanisation of these languages, it can actually be written as Krung-dēvamahānagara amararatanakosindra mahindrayudhyā mahātilakabhava navaratanarājadhānī purīramya utamarājanivēsana mahāsthāna amaravimāna avatārasthitya shakrasdattiya vishnukarmaprasiddhi. It translates to "The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukam".

Local school children are taught the full name, although few can explain its meaning because many of the words are archaic, and unknown to all but a few. Most Thais who do recall the full name do so as a result of its use in a popular song, Krung Thep Mahanakhon (1989) by Asanee-Wasan Chotikul and will often recount it by recalling the song at the same time, much in the same way that English speakers might sing the alphabet song while reciting the English alphabet.
"

Some of the above will also explain why, although I'm making some progress in speaking Thai, I haven't yet quite got around to reading and writing...
I know exactly what words I am wanting to say, but somehow or other they is always getting squiffsquiddled around

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