The Royal Thai Consulate, Hull
By Thursday night, I shall be in Thailand. From first agreeing to take up the work opportunity, time seems to have flown by. What was once just an idea is now very much a reality. A few days ago, I drove over to the Royal Thai Consulate on the western edge of Hull to acquire my work visa and I have had my typhoid and hepatitis B jabs. At "Matalan", I bought three short sleeved shirts and two pairs of trousers suitable for schoolteaching. My Emirates flight from Birmingham is booked. I shall be leaving on a jet plane on Wednesday evening. With a luggage allowance of just 37kg, I shall be struggling to pack enough stuff to get by.
It's all pretty exciting but other feelings are also swirling in my mind. Life with Shirley in Sheffield has been good these last few months. I will miss her and my peaceful, unflustered existence. I will miss the local pub and my quiz mates - Mick and Mike and I will miss watching Hull City who seem to have re-invented themselves and could be pushing for the Championship play-offs again this season. I shall miss my vegetable patch and the gradual emergence of plants one can eat.
But one thing I know for sure is that if I had declined the opportunity, I'd be forever kicking myself. Sometimes, when you meet a challenge, you just have to to take it. Besides, by all accounts, teaching in Thailand has many pleasures - no OFSTED inspectorate, no league tables, high levels of trust in and respect for teachers, children who want to learn because they know that education will be their key to a better future. Towards the end of my teaching career proper, I was utterly fed up with pompous hangers-on who were handsomely rewarded for passing judgements upon schools without even meeting the children that their judgements revolved around. And I was sick of children without bags or pens to write with, children who seemed to resent any interruption of their social tittle-tattle. In these senses, I am sure that teaching in Thailand will be really refreshing.
Long-term readers of this blog will recall that I have no religious beliefs whatsoever but nonetheless religion fascinates me. In Thailand, I will certainly learn more about Buddhism and what it means to live a Buddhist life. Where ever I go I shall be looking, looking at the birdlife, the sea, the urban chaos of Bangkok, lizards on rocks, the falling of rain through a jungle. It will be an adventure and I am almost ready to go.
At the Buddhist Temple of Animals, Thailand