Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Interesting Exam

"I don't know what you think. But I feel that student over there should be expelled from school because someone just walked past him and talked to him." One of the volunteer teachers asked me.

Yes, I know that it is exam now and the students are not supposed to talk to anyone. We (the volunteers from other countries) know that back home, we would be kicked out from school if we were caught cheating. But since we are here, we have to follow the culture here. I'm not sure about other schools, but it's seems that these under-privileged students do have some unspoken privileges. The ultimate objective of this School is to provide all students with a skill that they can use to earn a living when they leave the School. English to these students are not that important as most of them would probably return to their hometown to start a small business in electronics repair or programming. They may not use English at all once they return to their hometown as there will be no other person to speak to them in English. So, the School will NOT expel them so easily, I think. We, as the invigilators, could only try to stop them from cheating too much by taking away any pieces of paper that they hide somewhere; and also, ask them to stop talking to one another.

But I must qualify that it was only a handful of students who cheated during the exams..... Those weaker and cheeky ones (Note that it's a AND. I found that those who cheated fit both criteria). To my relief, there were genuinely obedient ones who tried their very best to complete the exams....... “There is a cat in the living room.”....... Nice try! But I asked for furniture (not animals) in the exam papers. One point for creativity and good effort. As I always tell my students: "Write something so that I can at least give you some marks."

Friday, September 21, 2007

My NEW Chinese Name

I changed my last Chinese name to "芫". It's still read as "yuan2".

This is the third time in my life that I had been asked to change my name. But I never take the advice previously. This time, I was told that the number of strokes in my old name was not good for me..... Not good for career, relationships, health and perhaps may have miscarriage..... It was so scary when I heard all these.

I knew that they were not trying to just earn my money and so told me scary things because there was a standard template which they used. They calculated the number of strokes in my Chinese name and then checked to the explanations on the template. Well, since I had decided to check my name, I had to believe in changing it as it turned out to be not so good. It should be time to change for better luck and blessings.

So, please don't call me "Circle" anymore. I am now a Beautiful Purple Flower..... That's what my new name means..... Hee hee.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

To Mom

Dear Mom,

I still remember the times when I lay in your arms, playing with the buttons on your blouse. I still remember the times when I sat outside the bathroom watching you washing our clothes by hand and we chit-chat about my day in kindergarten. I also remember those days when we had to get up very early in the morning to travel from the West to Pulau Tekong to visit your parents (i.e. my grandparents).

However, things changed when Dad met with a serious accident and you had to make major changes in your life and our lives. From a lowly educated housewife to become the sole breadwinner of the home. U had to take care of Dad's medical bills, our living and education expenses. You always complained that you had a bad life. But I know you will never leave us, even when times were tough. Subtlely, you taught me about family, responsibility and commitment.

Although there are seven of us, u strongly believed that no child of yours should be deprived of the chance to get education. You should know that I like to go to school cos I'll always dress in uniforms (including shoes) about an hour before setting off to school. To tell the truth, Dad's accident had an enormous impact on my life. I dreaded the first week of school term because my textbooks to be sponsored by the school due to our tough financial situation never arrived on time. I had to share the books with my classmates (some of whom made nasty remarks about our family). Luckily, I met some good natured ones. You taught me that though we were poor, we should always stand tall. We should never do something bad or harm anyone.

You also taught me about planning and saving. With just 30-40 cents in my pocket everyday in primary school, I had to think very carefully where I should use the money.

You always think that I'm weak cos I'm a crybaby. I cry NOT because I want my way. I cry because I'm sad, angry, frustrated and pressured. And whenever I cry, I remember your words "If you fall down, you have to get up yourself". I realized that this simple theory applies to life too. Whatever hurdles I faced, I had to get over them myself. Even if I were "knocked down" by someone, I can't expect others to help me up. So thanks for training me to be so strong since young.

THANKS for giving me so many precious life principles and I'm still trying my best to grasp some more theories from your words along the growing up road. HAPPY BIRTHDAY and stay healthy.

P.S. Pls don't keep popping the question on "kids". So much so I wanted to have one, but there are many other factors involved which made it not the best time now. I feel terrible every time I faced this question, so pls stop making the situation awkward. I promised you will be one of the first to know if there is any good news.

Friday, September 14, 2007

They Made My DAY!

As I'll be going back to Singapore next week, I brought a volunteer who will be taking over my class temporarily to my class so as to introduce her.

Once we stepped into the class, I noticed the strange / worried faces on my students.

"Ok class. This is Teacher B. She will come and teach you next week. Teacher Yan is going back to Singapore next week."

Questions came flying "Why are u going back?", "Are u coming back?", "When are you coming back?", "I want Teacher Yan to teach."....... I teased them by saying that I'm not coming back anymore. They all started to say "No. U must come back.", "I'll miss u." And one of them actually said in a pathetic manner "Teacher Yan, U go back to S'pore. U don't miss me?"

Ok, ok..... I gave in. Class, I'm only going away for a week and I'LL BE BACK!

"Is it? Yeah!"

I din know that I'm actually so popular (thick-skinned!)...... Hahaha. They really made my day!
Then they started asking me to buy them chocolates (with almonds if possible) and also bring them photos of the Merlion..... Hmmm, Sorry. The Merlion Park is an attraction more for tourists. Don't think I'll visit it on this trip back home. One of them also asked me jokingly to buy him Whiskey...... "NO! If the school catches u drinking whiskey, u'll have to go and wash the toilets." ...... I'm not going to be your "accomplice".

Public Transport in Pattaya

This is what I mean when I said public transport: the public mini baht bus, known as the "Song Theow" in Pattaya. It's like a truck with seats & shelter at the back for the passengers. So, count your blessings if u r in Singapore enjoying the air-conditioned buses. But at least the Thai guys are more gentleman. Most of them will give up their seats to ladies.

And don't complain if your S'pore bus come one minute after the schedule time..... At least it comes and goes in a specific route. Here in Pattaya.... yes, these baht buses are quite frequent but u can't be sure of the route. I guess it depends on the mood of the driver. So, I always have to get off the baht bus once I see that the driver is not taking the "usual" route which I'm familiar with.

There is also this air-conditioned tourist bus service which is meant to take tourists around Pattaya. I'd on many occassions waited for this "friendly tourist bus" at the designated bus-stops but did not manage to catch one. I saw the bus on the opposite side of the road and convinced myself that if there's one on the opposite, there would be one in this direction that I'm waiting. Apparently, I'm wrong. It's not a 2-directional bus. Till now, I still haven't figured out its frequency and worse still, the route. My advice: Don't wait for this bus. Take it only when u see it.

The other common public transport is the motorbike taxi..... Take it only if u r in a hurry cos I feel that it's a bit too expensive.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I feel that when one is getting old, u start to reminisce about the past and start to remember important dates of your life.

I'm not sure why this date leaves a deep impression in my mind. 8 years ago on 13 Sep 1999, I started work in one of the big 4 accounting firms...... No name to be mentioned and so no free publicity for this firm. Those who know me will know which one.

I must say that actually my first 2 yrs in the firm were wonderful. I learned a lot of things which were not taught in school. I made a lot of frens who are around my age and so, working was fun. Only the first 2 years were wonderful and yet I managed to survive about 5 yrs. A pat for myself on the shoulder.

I remembered that my batch started with about 80 of us. Not sure the exact number who survived the tough working situation till now..... Those whom I know and still are there - TT, THW, BC, LKW, LSW, HHC. Guys and gal (Note: only one gal left!), keep up the good work. U have done our batch proud. Maybe a few years down the road, I'll see your face appearing on the alumini magazine "Featuring the new partners of the year"...... By then, I hope u will still remember the petite lady whom u all named as Choosy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

5 star hotel... hospital?

It was 3a.m. (Monday) and here was I sitting on the toilet bowl and a dustbin in front of me as I might vomit anytime. Feeling very cold but I was sweating profusely. Slowly, my eyesight turned blurred and my ears were blocked...... I turned and looked into the mirror...... My face was all white and my lips were pale....... I was about to faint.

I thought I was getting better after falling into sleep again but the same ordeal happened again in the early morning about 7a.m. I must be suffering from food poisoning...... not sure if it was the sashimi that I ate in the late afternoon or the cute little mooncake which I bought from the supermarket..... it no longer looks cute to me.

YH was rushing to go out of Pattaya for a seminar in another city but he still sent me to the hospital. Thanks dear! and sorry for causing u & your boss to be late for the seminar.

Why the hospital and not any clinic? Well, that's probably the first place that came to our minds. The clinics that I had seen around here were those offering Botox, Liposuction, Permanent hair removal, Sale of Viagra or HIV test. Perhaps they are the same type of clinics as those in S'pore but providing additional services. But I just simply don't feel good visiting one of those. And this hospital is on the main road which is easily accessible by the public transport. So, I guess going to the hospital was our best and only choice.

The nurse took my weight, temperature and blood pressure. Then I went into the doctor's room for about 10 minutes and was diagnosed with food poisoning. The doctor told me that I was a little low on blood pressure..... Whatever that means - I was not alert enuff then to ask the doctor. Maybe that explains why I felt faintzy.

"No milk and seafood for the next few days. U have 2 options. One is to stay in the hospital for 6-8 hours. We will put u on a drip and antibiotics. This method will make you well faster. Another option is u take the medicine at home and rest well."

Oh, how I wish I could stay in here. U must be thinking that I'm crazy. Who in the right mind would want to stay in a hospital!? But if u had visited this hospital before, u would have the same thought as me. Bangkok Pattaya Hospital is the newest kid on the block which just opened recently. I had been there once to visit a volunteer who was hospitalized. It was exactly like a 5-star hotel or maybe even better. Each room has a big bathroom, closet, kitchenette, dining table, sofa, etc. Why would a patient need a microwave, teapot and dining table in the ward? Hahaha, it's more for the visitors I guess.

Too bad! I'm not going to waste unnecessary money. And I know it's not going to be cheap, given its classy standard.

This consultation costed me a hefty sum of about S$65. It is the most expensive General Practitioner that I had ever seen in my whole life. I'm beginning to understand the saying "The poor can die but cannot be sick".

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

WhaT A DaY!!

"Do you have class today?"

A strange question.... U see me everyday and knew that I have class everyday. Moreover, if I don't have class today, why did I come to School so early. "Yes".

"YES?! Then why are you not in your grey T-shirt?"

What an interrogative conversation to start my day......

How on earth am I supposed to know that I have to wear the grey T-shirt everyday to school when I was only given three pieces...... And I'm not wearing any revealing clothes. When I first joined as a volunteer teacher, I was told that teachers in Thailand are well-respected by students and hence, should not wear clothes that show the knees and shoulders. I was in a green polo-T and ¾ pants; All well-covered...... And how to explain those days (especially on Mondays) when people turn up in yellow T-shirts in respect of the Thai King...... And also, who can explain to me why one of the volunteer teachers was not issued any grey T-shirts when he had already taught in the School for almost 3 yrs...... There is no standard and yet I was grilled on why I did not follow the standard...... worse still, by someone who was not even in charge...... What nonsense is this???

I would not have been so upset by this conversation if the tone and attitude was better. I just felt that this could have been better managed, and I could have willingly accepted the "so-called" standard. The interrogative tone & attitude were just totally uncalled for and all this had to happen early in the morning...... Okie, after I'd said it all out, I shall forgive and forget!

To add to my day..... A haircut meant to help me release the tension and unhappiness in me turned out to be a bad haircut, with one side longer than the other...... Help! WHAT A DAY!