Today is the very last day of term and tonight I will have to do my headless chicken impersonation packing up and moving to my new flat above my friend Punit’s restaurant in Lop Buri before tomorrow catching a train to Penang, Malaysia for a new round of adventuring. I have decided to stay on at the government school and see my 300 students through to the end of the academic year after a one-month break. It’s sad to say goodbye though as many seemed distressed by the thought that I might not come back again. It’s been a fiesta of gifts; my Thai friend Shannon, whose son I tutor, bought me a pair of trousers (farang-size!) and gave me a note saying “I notice you always wear skirts, the flood is coming and you cannot swim in a maxi dress.” Practical and kind. The lovely head of English, Teacher Pad (my Thai mother), gave me a little purse, a key ring and a pink heart-shaped box for my English mother which I shall post home shortly. I felt a bit guilty for not buying gifts for anyone since I figured that I’d do that at the end of the year when I left properly. I shall bring them back presents from Malaysia and Singapore though and I plan to do a painting of the school’s spirit tree to present to them when I leave properly which I hope they will appreciate.
It’s nice to be creative again; at the moment I’m doing tattoo designs left, right and centre and once I’m in my new flat I will be able to continue painting the elephant on the wall with more regularity as all I’ll need to do is step downstairs. What’s going to stop me from living on Punit’s lentil dahl every night remains an enigma though.
How quickly this placement has flown past from when I was writing blogs about my packing dilemmas and rabies jabs to now, with student teachers Jom and Yu hugging me goodbye and asking for reassurance that I’m coming back. I am certain that deciding to stay the full year is the right decision, 6 months is just long enough to really integrate yourself in the community and it would be sad to stop completely now. So for the next month it’s Malaysia and Singapore and then back to school for the start of the Autumn term and all those gorgeous little faces calling out such precious sentences as ‘good morning teacher, I’m-fine-thank-you, elbow!’ Or any other combination of whatever English words they can remember at that moment.