Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dan Chang 1

Good people of Chicago, Kentucky, Minnesota and other concerned citizens of the great U.S.A, we have arrived! Late Tuesday night we rolled into Dan Chang, Suphanburi, Thailand. Our orientation ended after a 2 night trip to Kanchanburi with the other teachers in our group. We rode an elephant, a pretty awesome animal and as you can see from the pictures I was in complete control of Walter (we named him that in memory of Wally, our campervan from New Zealand). Our day also included a bamboo rafting trip down the River Kwai and yes, we also visited the famed Bridge Over the River Kwai, it was nothing like the movie. Over 100,000 P.O.W's died building the Thai-Burma railway and the construction of the bridge alone caused over 12,000 deaths because of disease and maltreatment from their Japanese captors. Unfortunately, the area around the bridge is very touristy and not much attention is paid by visitors as to the significant loss of life the bridge caused.
On a happier note, I found chips over here that turned my tongue blue! I have no idea what they are called, the bag looked interesting and I gave them a try. Kinda of a cross between BBQ and salsa flavored, not too bad. We drove back to Bangkok and were immediately picked up by Saci and Dick, they drove us 2 hours north by northwest (another famous movie) to Dan Chang and took us to dinner. We then tried our best to settle into our “cabin”.

You will maybe remember that there was a discussion last week as to whether we were camping or in a cabin, its both. We are in a cabin in a campground. The first evening was spent removing the assorted spiders, bugs and other creepy crawly's that called our new home their home. It is not big, one room about 14 by 14, with a bed, fridge, table and t.v. That gets 8 channels of riveting Thai t.v. We have unplugged the television so Deb can plug her hair dryer in, we cannot understand the shows anyway and because Most Extreme Elimination Challenge is not showing here, I have no use for it. We are also the proud renters of a wet room, what is a wet room you ask? There is a sink, western style toilet (you cannot put tp down it though) and a shower head coming out of a wall with a drain in the middle of the floor. You turn on the shower and everything in the whole room gets wet, there are no curtains, doors, etc. its a free for all. Anyway, the first shower was quite nice as Deb could not yell at me for peeing in the shower because our shower has a toilet in it!
Yesterday we went to Anuban Dan Chang school for orientation and meeting with students and other key members of the campus. The school is K-6 and there are kids everywhere! Its like an anthill, children just pour out of buildings and then disappear into another or they chase each other around outside until a lovely wind chime type sound comes over the loud speakers and they dive into a classroom for an hour. We were brought around to 5 or 6 classrooms and in each one the entire class would stand up and in their very best English voice say “gooooooooooooooooooooooood moaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaainnnnnnnng teacha”, nicest welcome ever! Also, we were repeatedly quizzed on our age and where we were from from boldest of students. Deb was a hit with the girls because of her blonde hair and the boys were fans for the right reasons as well. Again, it made me smile as I heard a number of the little buggers mention how tall the farang (foreigner) was! Joe Wronka considered tall, can you believe it?
We are still a bit clueless about what classes we are teaching or even our schedule for work. The big concern from the staff here for us is whether or not we will be able to memorize the words for a song that we will be singing as part of a festival on Monday. Oh will they regret inviting me anywhere near a microphone...

Our orientation day ended with Deb and I getting a set of wheels for our time here. We even got to pick out the make and model. For a couple thousand Thai Baht we scored brand new bikes! Deb is rocking a fire engine red one and I went with black to ensure my masculinity is never questioned over here. Riding home was an adventure, not because we haven't ridden a bike in 10 years, but because of the vehicles that had little consideration for the foreigners cruising on the side of the road. We had a surprise waiting for us when we arrived back at he cabin, a refrigerator! Not stocked with beer, but you cannot have it all, all the time...


  1. More and more exotic! *How ya gonaa keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree!* is the tune I hear eveytime I read a post! Ma Wronka

  2. Hello!

    My name is Graham, and I just finished reading through the entire Thailand time period of your travels. Why? Well because my girlfriend and I just found out that we got placed in Dan Chang for 5 months of teaching! We are super excited, and largely didn't know what to expect until we read your blog. Thank you so much for documenting your experience, it was really helpful! I would very much appriciate if you could write me an email ( and give us a heads up on anything we should be aware of, expect, get ready for, make sure to check out, etc! Thank you in advance! Also, these are our placement details ( ) does it look like we are at the same school and living in the same place? Any recommendations on that front?

  3. Also.... we will be making 18,000/month. Is that what you made, and if so, how hard was it to live on?