Whew boy, back up on the blog. I should have known when I started this thing that I would be an irresponsible updater, but I thought that this time would be different. Nope, I’m still the same old, procrastinating, lackadaisical character that I’ve played my whole life. Whatever, all you blog readers out there will just have to deal with my inconsistent posting. When I do actually get on here to write I try to put a lot into it at least. So much has happened these last 7 weeks that it would be impossible to fit all the details in, so I’ll try to provide some vivid snatches while attempting to capture the essence of the experience over here.

That really raises the bigger question that I’ve often thought about in regards to this blog, that is, what do I want this to be? It was started as a way of keeping friends and family abreast of my situation as I live for a year in Asia. However, it seems to me like if I’m going to write more frequently on here there should be some kind of a bigger purpose. I’ve always wanted to spend more time writing, ya know, just getting ideas out, letting thoughts crystallize, and expressing myself through this great reflexive medium. So, I’m going to do my best (again) to post more frequently even if it’s just a small thought for the day or a couple paragraphs of jibber-jabber. More than anything I want to communicate the magical feelings that Thailand has permeated my head with. It’s something that I talk about a lot out here, but I don’t think I’ve really gotten my head around just what this place is and what it has done for me. Hence, I have one more reason to write and maybe work some of these things out, all while keeping you informed of the goodness that is life in the south of Thailand.

So, where to begin? This week we’re having evaluations at school for the students. It is the third evaluation period we’ve had. They happen when the school decides it’s time to get some grades for these kids home, and involves us testing the students. The first two weren’t so bad, as they happened after about six weeks of lessons. However, this one is really getting on my nerves. We already had an evaluation period 4 weeks ago, and since that time we’ve had two four day weekends, a sports day, and numerous students missing class because of various competitions. I think I’ve had maybe five lessons in total with my 8th grade class this whole EV period and now I’m supposed to test them on all the new info I crammed into those classes. This is on top of the fact that we already have final exams scheduled for three weeks from now, so I’m really wondering why I’m now going to be forced to design 3 new tests (1 each for grades 7, 8, & 9) and then grade 160 of them when it’s really of no benefit to almost everyone, but oh well such is life in the constantly changing education world  of Thailand. This has definitely kept me quite busy at school (my only destination for Internet access generally) and is another contributing factor to my sparse posting.

Haha, I just looked back at my last post from back on July 10. It probably requires some further explanation. For some reason it seems that bodies just require less sleep here in Thailand. Many others have reported feeling the same way. I don’t what it is , but a standard routine for me is staying up on weekends until 5 or 6 am sleeping a bit and then restarting the whole process over again. As for weekdays, I’m expected at school by 7:30, which means I have to be up every morning before 7, which means that I don’t get a lot of sleep then because I like to go out on weekdays as well. There’s always something to do. Take the last few days as an example. After a long weekend, it was Sunday night and I made an appearance at Peach’s house. Peach is a teacher at our school who was getting married on Monday and was therefore having a nice little gathering at hers. I passed the evening by drinking whiskey with and talking about Muay Thai with her father. 10 o’clock hit and when everyone else was turning in to get ready for the 6 am wedding, I decided to stop by the local farang hangout Brittania Pub, to see if there would be a football (soccer) match on. Sure enough, there was a small crowd gathered there to watch Man U take on Fulham. It was a great match that went until midnight, when I finally decided to knock out. I had a 3am wake-up call though as I had to finish those aforementioned tests. Monday was a long day as I went from 3 am, through the school day on into Peach’s wedding party. Thai wedding receptions are great! They served up some awesome food and each table received at least one bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label. Needless to say, this night lasted well beyond the wedding party and ended like any Monday should, at a dance club at 1 am. Last night, was the rarity for me. My body does still need a bit of sleep I guess, so after playing frisbee and running a few errands I hit my bed hard, and before 10 pm too! Now that I got my rest in I’m sure I’ll be rearin’ to go again tonight, even if it’s just staying up late to watch a movie. More likely though if I stay up late tonight it will be to read the Alan Watts book I was just recommended, The Book on the Taboo of Knowing Who You Are. I haven’t been doing much reading out here, but I think this is the book that will jump start the reversal to that trend. I can’t quite say what it’s about yet seeing as I only read the first few pages before I zonked out last night, but there’s a sort of mystical, spiritual, self-knowledge character to it that is just what I’ve been craving.

Edit: all the preceding paragraphs were written six days ago. I will now attempt to fill you in on the goings on before and after that day and then maybe try to wrap this sucker up.

So, what have I been up to in these last eight weeks? Well, as I said earlier we had two four day weekends in the last month, both of which were quite nice. For the first four day weekend I took off to Railay. What a wonder that place is! It was a great trip down there. I set off immediately after school got out on Friday (well almost immediately, had to get a bit of a tuneup first). It was a three hour drive from the east coast to the west coast of Thailand, right around the Nakhon mountain range. Definitely the scenic route. I spent my time in Railay hiking up crazy paths to viewpoints and lagoons, spelunking caves, climbing rocks (got up to 20 meters!) taking kayaks out into the ocean, getting myself all messed up when said kayak flipped into the raging sea, and dodging the rain the whole time. It’s truly a magical place, worthy of a whole blog entry itself. I guess I’ll just have to go back there soon and write about it in the immediacy of its aftermath to convey its full effect. Here’s the link to my Facebook album from the weekend which tells a pretty detailed story of the trip. That is, until my camera died after the kayak incident. Unfortunately, those are the last pictures I have taken in Thailand. I should be getting a new camera soon though.

My second four day weekend found me adventuring on the bike again a few week later. This time I chilled out on the first evening after school got out and took off early in the morning on Thursday with my boys Abim and Steve. The destination was the ferry port about 120 km north of Nakhon. We flew up there, but missed the morning ferry by literally 3 minutes. We had four hours to kill until the next one, which was easily done with some nearby caves and the chess board in my backpack. The ferry took us to the infamous island, Ko Phangnan. A destination I reached once before, but only for the a quick full moon party run. This time I wanted to do it right (and I think I did, at least as much as time allowed). I split off from Abim and Steve upon arrival and set about exploring on my own. What an island for driving around the hills were high and the roads were gnarly, but the fun was great. I found a nice guest house for cheap and had a quiet evening listening to the band playing at the bar down the road. Friday morning brought a nice yoga class, and a book from the instructor which wound up causing more troubles than I could have ever imagined (more on that later). I set off from the guest house around 11 for another day of exploration. I took perhaps the gnarliest route in town to get to this waterfall that had a few sparse signs posted for it. I knew I was in for a treat when I was still 5 km out and passed a little shack that proudly boasted, “last motorbike repair shop before the jungle.” Anyway I bumped my way along and found the falls, which really weren’t much falls at all. That’s not to say it wasn’t amazing though. It was a steep collection of rocks with a pleasant stream undulating in and out along the way down. I was able to hike all the way down and the falls led straight to a beautiful beach that was basically mine (seeing as there was no one else there). I did not have all that much time to savor this spot though as it was starting to get late and I did not want to get stuck out somewhere in darkness. I took the hike back up to my bike, set back off for Haad Rin (home of the full moon party), parked the bike and took a boat to the quiet and secluded beach called Haad Yuan, only accessible by boat. Here, I had many more friends waiting, including Abim and Steve who made the trek earlier in the day. From this point on this beach is basically indescribable. I’ve actually tried to put into words, but it really doesn’t do justice to the wonders that await you there. All I can tell you is that I stayed up until about 7pm the next night having a grand ole time with some amazing people in one of the most incredible environments I’ve ever seen. I’ve already planned my next trip out there for the beginning of October break in one month.

Anyway, to get back to the story of the book. The instructor had given me an awesome book on an introduction to the chakras. I read a good bit of it, but he said to just return it whenever I was leaving. Well, it was quite the mission getting back up to the northern end of the island, but I made it and delivered the book at 12:42. Unfortunately the ferry was leaving at 1 pm, so I had to book it back down. In my haste, I took my bike too quickly over some sand patches and began to slide out. I caught myself, but in the process, broke my right sandal. Anyway, I got back going and jetted down to the ferry by 1:01. They wouldn’t sell me a ticket. I called Abim, he said we are still sitting on the boat, and sure enough there it was docked. They still would not sell me a ticket. Major frustrations. I had to wait until 5 to catch the next ferry. I was driving back and was no more than 600 meters from the ferry port, when I missed my turn. I caught it at the last second, rushed into it, meaning the bike swerved out and I bit it. I tried to catch myself with my feet, but of course I had no shoe on my right foot. Disaster. Long story short, I lost all the skin off my right heel. Pretty nasty. I still only had 20 minutes to catch the 5 o’clock and needed a new pair of snadals and some bandages. Luckil, I came across both immediately, got myself all sorted and made the damn ferry and biked home injured, through the darkness on a cool rainy night in Thailand. I made it back though just in time to see a nice Liverpool Arsenal match to open the EPL season and was back at work again the next day. This is Thailand, and unfortunately all the time I have for today. I better post this now so as not to drag it out any longer, I’m already late for frisbee as it is. Anyway, I promise to post again soon. Honest. Peace to all!