Thailand is the best place to be a foreign worker… apparently.

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I just stumbled across this article on Coconuts Bangkok (great news website for any expats in Thailand by the way).

According to the site, a recent poll by HSBC ranked Thailand as the number one country for foreign workers and Asia coming out on top for pay too.  The poll took into consideration the ease of setting up a job, making friends and integrating into day to day life.

I wonder who was actually polled as I am currently sitting in a room with seven other farang teachers, none of whom have been asked anything by the HSBC peeps…  I don’t disagree that Thailand is a great place to work, but with visa limitations and a really narrow number of employment options (teacher, teacher or umm… teacher?) surely there are other countries out there with even better prospects?  Also, this poll didn’t seem to take into account what it was like actually working in the country itself – all it takes is a quick google search to see there are plenty of other countries that have better systems for employment of foreigners, better paid jobs and with more bonuses.

I guess being the land of smiles makes up for what it lacks in organisation and generally not knowing what is going on ever!

Don’t get me wrong – I love living and working in Thailand – but number one?  In the world?!  I guess I am a very lucky lady then!

Click the link at the top of this blog to see more details about how other countries ranked.

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A to Z of me: X, Y, Z…

And so I find myself at the end of the alphabet and my final post as part of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  X, Y and Z are stupidly tricky letters so I have lumped them together and I don’t care what the alphabet police have to say about it.

I have never had a proper x-ray and I’ve never officially broken any bones (although I have a weirdly contorted toe from when I probably broke it and never did anything about it other than watch the nail fall off and limp about in flip flops for a few weeks).  I don’t play the xylophone (I prefer the glokenspiel anyways).

I can’t wear I can’t wear yellow, it makes my skin look a funny colour.  One day me and Tom hope to live on a yacht, but that’s not happening yet.  Let’s see what next year brings for us.

Finally, Z is for ZOOLANDER.  Because, because.

zoo zoo2 zoo3

And that brings us to the end of my A to Z challenge, the ultimate blog challenge, and my blog clogging up your news feed!  I might take a well earned rest for a few days now.  I’m planning on creating a bit of a posting schedule so you can look forward to a more organised blog in the future!  Well, let’s see…

A to Z of me: W is for…

wilberforce

WILBERFORCE!  I have no knowledge of the contents of this book but it is one of my earliest memories of sitting in the back room at my nan’s house, looking at the cover.  Wilberforce the Whale.  It’s a book I will always associate with that time of my life; my early childhood; and yet I’ve never even read it.  Maybe it should go on the reading list.

Wouldn’t Wilberforce make a great name for a pet?  Maybe even for a son?

A month of mourning in Thailand.

บรรยากาศประชาชนรอส่งพ

Image source: Bangkok Post

Thailand has entered a month of mourning following the death of His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch, Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara Suvaddhana Mahathera.  The Supreme Patriarch is the head of the order of buddhist monks in Thailand – the most important monk, as chosen by the King (wikipedia.org).  The usual period of mourning for a highly ordained monk is 15 days, but in this case it has been extended to the full 30 days usually reserved for the death of a royal – showing how truly important he was to the King and the nation of Thailand.

So what does that mean for us foreigners?  How will this period of mourning affect us?

Firstly, today we were informed that we should try to wear black at school, or at least to avoid bright colours.  I say informed, it was more of a by the way…  as we left for lunch.  It would be nice to be told these things properly, as I really don’t want to offend anyone!  Stood there in my fuschia pink shirt and floral skirt I started mentally thrashing through the rail that holds all of my teaching clothes.  Pink, orange, green, red, orange, pink, purple… I need to get myself some new mourning teacher clothes it seems.

Local bars have shortened their opening hours (in Hat Yai that means closing at 1am as opposed to 4, 5 or 6am).  Sales of alcohol will be limited and probably further affected as the funeral preparations take place (a standard funeral in Thailand is 4 days long so you can imagine that the head Monk’s funeral will take up most of the month ahead).  A big party that a lot of foreigners were going to this weekend has been postponed until the end of next month – the organisers may not be Thai but they have common sense and cultural sensitivity.  Big shows that had been planned for Loy Kratong celebrations (see this post for what I did last year) in the middle of the month may be toned down, fireworks cancelled and all generally excessive activities are to be avoided.

It is difficult to find ourselves in the position of being in a foreign land at a very sensitive time.  I don’t want to make any mistakes or come across as disrespectful so I am google searching as much as I can right now.  Bangkok Post have some details but no one can seem to agree the official dates of mourning, so I guess I will just play it safe for the whole of November.

Sorry if it’s a bit of a gloomy post but it is interesting to see how differently things are done here to how they are back home.  We might get a token bank holiday so that everyone can watch the funeral being televised on BBC (who here remembers watching Princess Diana’s service?) but I reckon a month of mourning would interfere with the economy too much for the UK government to give it a second thought!

A to Z of me: V is for…

V is for VOLUNTEERING.  It may seem pretty boring, but it has been a part of me for a fair few years.

I have volunteered in some way, shape or form for about ten years.  The benefits of volunteering range far beyond the people you are directly helping; I even landed a couple of jobs out of volunteering so it can sometimes actually PAY to give a little first.

I have volunteered in youth centres, making cups of tea in the evenings or being a kind ear to a worried teen.  When I climbed Ben Nevis I was volunteering on a week youth camp in Scotland.  I’ve helped out at church events (and I’m not a religious girl or anything) and been on litter picks along the Cornish coastline (although they were always repaid with free food!) but the main voluntary service I have been part of throughout all of that is the Girl Guides (10th Falmouth Methodist to be precise).

I loved helping to run guides, especially as I was at the same unit that I went to as a young girl.  I wasn’t the best guide, I got in trouble a few times and I left early when I got too cool.  But I had been a rainbow, brownie and then guide so the uniformed services were a big part of my childhood and were something that I wanted to give back to.  It was only a few hours a week but out of those few hours I got to help enable a group of lovely girls have something positive to do.  Like I said, I’m not a religious girl and so some people are surprised to discover that I spent every Tuesday evening and some Sundays at the local Methodist Church, but our particular unit isn’t religious itself, other than the fact that we use a hall in a church and take part in spceial church parades every few months to fly the flag alongside the other uniformed services.  We spent most of our time playing games, doing crafts, looking at issues affecting young girls today and generally being a lovely happy group of people.  I got to go on a really fun regional camp (yes, camping, moi), and take part in plenty of outdoor activities and local community events.  I also got to meet countless fellow leaders, all helping out for their own reasons but also sharing a common theme – we were doing it for the girls, because without voluntary leaders, there would be no uniformed services left, it’s that simple.

The worry of losing young people on a trip is made slightly worse by being on the highest peak in the UK and walking into the clouds!
The worry of losing young people on a trip is made slightly worse by being on the highest peak in the UK and walking into the clouds!

When I came to Thailand, I had hoped to be part of guiding out here but it is nowhere near the same – it operates as part of school hours and isn’t voluntary – the girls don’t choose to participate, they have to.  When I visited home a few weeks ago I went to see my old unit and it was really nice to see the girls and lots of new faces too.  They had all brought books for me to bring back to Thailand so I now have a small library which I will be setting up at school for the students to dip into if they want to – how nice is that?

Volunteering can only mean giving a few hours a week or even month, but the positive affect it can have on you, the people around you and your experiences makes it worth every minute.  If you can, get out there and help in any way you can!