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Published: August 11th 2007
A weird birthday back at school
At school I prided myself on the fact that my birthday never fell on a school day as it's at the end of July. Thus birthdays could be spent playing in the garden, jumping off the patio or running round and round my mam's clothes airer until me and my friends pulled it to the ground dirtying all her clothes for work the next day and resulting in me being chased indoors.
...Anyway, that's before I got a job as a teacher in Thailand where the western-style summer holiday doesn't exist. Probably cos in Thailand there's never really summer and winter. Just hot and hotter. So there I was on my 28th birhtday in a Thai school on the outskirts of bangkok. Not only was it weird to be at school, but the rest of the day continued to be a departure from normality.
1st, after flagpole (where all the kids sing the Thai national anthem under the Thai, Taiwanese and British flags) the Thai teacher had a world with grades 1 and 2 outside the classroom in Thai. This happens quite a bit and I don't know what's going on so
I wasn't really listening. Until all the kids were pointing at me. It turns out the question the teacher asked was "who's birthday is it today?"
Before I knew it, 60 little Thai kids were singing "Happy Birthday" to me. While I stood awkwardly by smiling. After the performance 2 little girls from my class came and gave me a hug and one little boy gave me his pencil as a gift. This just made me feel bad as a week earlier it was his 7th birthday and he'd come to me demanding a present. I told him plainly I didn't have one and commented on what a "cheeky get" he was to Kate. He solemnly walked away. No doubt saving his pennies to buy a nice pencil for my birthday and make me feel like an arse. Buddhist Holidays
My birthday fell neatly on a Buddhist holiday. So after the morning sing-song we all crowded onto a fleet of minibuses bound for the local temple - as if it was all in my honour. I hadn't the heart to tell then that due to time differences between Thailand and the UK I was actually still technically 27.
Sia, Kingthong and Leng Leng all dressed up in their Thai dress
I'm not entirely sure why they were dressed like this for the temple, but they looked cute.
We spent an amazing couple of hours at the temple listening to the monk knelt on the floor telling the kids....well...something in Thai....but I'm sure it was profound. He didn't sing happy birthday though. Can't have everything.
It was all very beautiful! But I was never made to kneal on the floor and by the end I was half crippled. I don't know how they do it for such a long time.
Soon it was back to school for some spelling tests and PE. Yey. On to Bangkok
As the final school bell sounded we climbed in a taxi and hurried towards central Bangkok for my night on the town. Coincidentally, it was also the night Kate's mam and dad were arriving for their 2 week holiday. So, happily we were checking into their plush hotel on Sukhumvit! It was dead nice!!! I think we may have stayed in all areas of Bangkok now - the ritz to the rubble. Our hotel room, on the 10th floor even had a huge window taking up one side of the room with a view across the skyscrapers of Bangkok. The bathroom was as big as the downstairs of our flat
and their was a minibar. Obviously we didn't use it (the mini bar, not the bathroom), but it was nice to know it was there and glance at the little bottles of fine scotch whisky when you walked by.
Kate's mam and dad didn't arrive till later later that night so we hit the town as we were rendez-vousing with our mate James in an English pub called the Robin Hood where we could drink beer out of pint glasses. The joy! After a few drinks there and a few pictures with the live music and waitresses it was on the the Londoner Brew Pub round the corner for more British fun - this time less in the style of a real British pub but more in the way Walt Disney might dress up a British pub - you know, waitresses dressed as Beefeaters etc...(see pic). We bought a keg of beer between us and sat down to enjoy the Guns and Roses cover band chucking out the hits. For one split second I could have been in any pub in the north east of a Friday night....until a beefeater-dressed Thai waitress wandered into my field of vision. You
never get that in the Flemming in Shotton. Not until at least the 10th pint of Stella.
Just as I was suitable sozzled we get a message to say that Kate's mam and dad have arrived and are at the hotel...so we headed back. What followed is somewhat vague to me...but I attempted to maintain my composure. I remember being presented with a carrier bag of Marston's Pedigree from back home and then staggering to a bar down the road for another drink. I decided to put it down to a birthday night out and loo forward to the next days activities! Thanks for the beer though!!!!
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