Teacher Tim's TEFL International Blog February 18th, 2012

The Dangers Of Blogging

Blogging can be a dangerous business. I’m thinking of asking for Combat Pay, or at least an upgrade on my medical insurance.

I normally write my blogs about teaching English in Thailand on my laptop while sitting at the kitchen table. That’s because the kitchen table is the sturdiest platform in the house; it’s made of teakwood and weighs about half a ton. Nothing short of an earthquake is going to cause it to wobble. I tried writing my blog on a TV tray in my bedroom, where the air-conditioning is, but the darn thing swayed like a palm tree in a typhoon, causing me to multiply typos until I was writing like a Third Grader (and I am definitely at a Sixth Grade level!)

So I sit in my shorts, no shirt, when I’m writing in the kitchen, which leaves me prey to the persistent mosquitoes that like to sneak in through the back door whenever my Thai gf does the laundry. She used to do it by hand, in a big, soapy metal tub, which involved a lot of sloshing of suds, drinking of Leo beer, and swearing (on her part); but recently she bought a washing machine. I don’t know how she did it; I certainly did not give her the money. But one day it appeared on the back porch, and I noticed one of her gold necklaces was missing from around her neck. I decided not to ask. Don’t ask, don’t tell – it worked for the Pentagon and it might as well work for me . . .

Thai washing machines are a different breed from the sturdy Maytags of the West. They are the size and shape of a small filing cabinet. One chamber churns the dirty laundry around. Then you have to fill it with clean water by hand to rinse, and then manually put all the sopping wet laundry in the other chamber for it to spin around for a while. Then you take the whole mess out and hang it under the tropical sun, where it either dries in ten minutes, or becomes soaked in a sudden downpour and begins to rot like overripe fruit.

Another reason I sit at the kitchen table to write my blogs is because it is never used for anything. I have tried to train my Thai inamorata to serve meals on it at regular intervals, to no avail. She is a khon Isaan, and will only eat meals out under the sala – the thatched gazebo that stands next to the fish pond. There is a low table out there, on which she spreads a woven mat, and places all the food for the flies to devour before I can ever get to it. Then she sits cross-legged on the mat on the table, sucking on pumpkin seeds, while I battle the red ants for some curry and rice. I once succeeded in getting her to serve khaw dom for breakfast out on the front porch, where we could watch the insanely gorgeous tropical sunrise together, but she refuses to place food on the kitchen table for us to eat; she says it doesn’t taste as good eaten inside as it does eaten outside.

The real trouble with writing my blogs on the kitchen table is my close proximity to the refrigerator. Well do I remember the good old days, when I first came to Thailand; there were no refrigerators for the common people. You went to the market to buy everything fresh, every day. Because of the egregious amount of msg that Thais put in all their food, they could leave a curry out for a day or two and it wouldn’t spoil, so what was the use of a farang ice box? Besides, you inundated everything with fish sauce, which tastes spoiled to begin with, so what did it matter?

But today no Thai kitchen is complete without a fridge. Still, most Thais prefer to go to the market each day to shop for fresh food. Which is a marvelous idea, really. But it leaves the refrigerator running in the kitchen, with nothing to do. Thais don’t believe in saving leftovers; at our bungalow we fling every uneaten scrap into the fish pond for the tilapia, turtles and ducks to finish off.

Our fridge holds about ten gallons of home-made fish sauce, made from tiny clams that my gf and her friends dig up on the beach when the tide is low. They simply sieve the clams into a bag, bring them home, rinse them, and then put them in old beer bottles to ferment. Once fermented the bottles are put in the refrigerator, where they occasionally explode like a land mine. I have vainly tried to keep lemonade cold in there, but it always comes out tasting fishy. For some reason that I wish scientists could explain to me, keeping tropical vegetables and fruits in the fridge simply turns them brown and gooey twice as fast as if they were left out. The freezer is chock full of ice, which comes in handy whenever the gf decides to treat her friends to a beer bust; Thai women will not drink beer from a bottle, but must have it with ice in a glass. The wimps.

There is much more I could write on this subject, but the gf is going to the market to buy lunch right now, and I want her to get me some fried bananas and a skewer of grilled chicken livers . . . You need some baht, sweetheart? How much? That much?! All I have is a thousand baht note . . . okay, but bring me back the change. S’long. Kissy-kissy.

(I’ll never see that thousand baht note again, nor any part of it.)