dora the explorer
hits the bustling metropolis of
samut prakarn

Wednesday, September 13, 2006
crap hospitals, good hospitals, soon holidays


when i don't write for a while i suppose it means that life isn't very interesting.  so for that reason i won't bore you with details of my fairly uninteresting present existence.

but i do want to say that i went down to my local hospital last week, a good hospital, much more efficient that the old one, and had a few tests done for a second opinion on this whole endometriosis thing.  and guess what i was told?  apparently there is nothing wrong with me, and wochera prakarn hospital misdiagnosed it, and it was probably just an infection or something.

of course this made me absolutely furious and absolutely relieved at the same time.  i guess it's one of the perils of living in thailand.

city life suits me.

but at the same time, i'm looking forward to my holidays next month.  after agonising about where to go, i finally booked a ticket to England.  I'll also be in Romania for a week.  Yay!

Oh, by the way, I'm changing web pages for the next post (it's about time).

You'll be able to find me from now on on


Posted at 04:41 pm by doramills
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Friday, August 18, 2006
new classes and child killers

So, a new teaching job.  no complaints so far.

The big news here at the moment is John Mark Carr, the 'beauty queen killer', who was arrested in his apartment in sathorn (down the road from mine) on wednesday.  He was teaching grade 1 at my school for a couple of months from april, but was fired because he scared the kids.

So today the school's been crawling with reporters, whom we're not allowed to talk to.  The school, and the Ministry of Education, are trying to cover up the fact that he worked in Thailand, for fear of implying they don't do proper background checks, or that Thai schools are a welcoming haven for murderers.   

Strange way to start.  Anyway it's Friday afternoon and I'm about to go for a beer.


Posted at 04:24 pm by doramills
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Monday, August 07, 2006
oh yeah

by the way, you'll find some new photos up if you click here, and some more here, and a few more here, too...

Posted at 04:59 pm by doramills
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progress report


So, i passed the second interview with the board-of-director-fuddy-duddies, and am now a god-fearing, soon-to-be-skirt-wearing, employee of the Bangkok Christian College.  Yes, it's the new me.  Nobody need know that I'm actually an atheist lesbian with a fried egg tattooed on my leg.  That can be our little secret.

On Wednesday I go in to the new school to observe the classes I'll be taking over, and then I start work officially next Tuesday.

Since the only real way to find a place to live in this country is to go door-to-door, I spent Saturday wandering around Sathorn, walking into any place with a sign saying 'Rooms for Rent'.  It worked, too - I have found a smart studio apartment close to the school, for less than I thought I'd have to pay.  I move in next Sunday.  It'll be hard getting used to living in a small space again, after the last few months of luxury in a real house with badminton court, big kitchen, etc.  And our cat's just had kittens, cute little monkeys that I'll miss, because it's just not practical to keep a cat in a little apartment where it can't get outside.  Boo hoo.

Still, I'm very much enjoying my time off right now.  The last couple of weeks were difficult; a double job working and looking for work at the same time, especially since the DOS wouldn't let me miss any classes to go to interviews.  I wasn't too impressed, and my last afternoon at the school took the cake: I didn't even get a 'goodbye' or a 'good luck' from this supposed boss.  Is that just because he's South African?  I suspect it probably has something to do with it.

The kids, meanwhile, and the Thai teachers, were gorgeous, showering me in flowers, cards and presents, 'wai'ing me, the whole bit.  And I will miss the grade 1s - thery made teaching there for the last few months just about bearable.

But none of it matters any more.  I've got a new job, with a maximum of 18 students per class (although all boys - will that be a problem? - let's wait and see), friendly staff, only 20 classes a week (as opposed to the 26 we ended up doing at Praphamontree because of Bell's ongoing inability to recruit teachers), and a 10 minute walk to and from work.

I'll be living right by the Sky Train, no more nasty 3 hour taxi rides in infuriating traffic, close to my favourite area of Bangkok, full of good restaurants and bars.  No more used car joints and cheap brothels for me. This has got to be progress, right?

Still, I can't help being just a little bit nervous... 


Posted at 04:05 pm by doramills
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Friday, August 04, 2006
only very briefly unemployed


I've just been offered, and accepted, a job at the Bangkok Christian College.  Good.

But: It starts in two weeks!  Aaargh!  To do list: find new place to live...


Posted at 11:48 am by doramills
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Friday, July 28, 2006
the final countdown

It's Friday afternoon and I've just been thrown a surprise goodbye party by my grade ones, and I'm all fed up on junk food and have a basket full of apples, at least, the ones that didn't get splattered during an apple-throwing competition with my grade 5s immediately afterward.  How heartless of me! - but, those little children will never know.

But I'm not leaving yet.  I still have 3 days to teach next week, after which...
I have made it through to stage 2 of the recruitment process with the Bangkok Christian College, maybe helped by the fact that the Melbourne gay guy who interviewed me recognised me from somewhere on the scene, sometime in the last century (isn't it fun to be able to say that these days, and not be exaggerating?).  Next interview is with the school board of directors.
I've also scored another interview with another international school in town.

So next week I'm finished.  We have been 4 teachers down for the last four months, and now that I'm leaving they have suddenly managed to hire seven new teachers.  Whaa?  Obviously I'm not irreplacible.  I like to think that they need 7 new teachers just to cover the work that I've been doing.  Maybe I am Wonderwoman, but never knew it.  Come to think of it, maybe these testosterone injections at the hospital are all part of a school plot to turn me into a superhero.  Maybe if I hadn't decided to leave I would have metamorphasised into the Incredible Hulk.  Idiot.

Anyway, it's probably a pretty good thing on the whole that I am leaving, as whoever's doing the recruitment at head office seems to have gone a little off his rocker.  That is, they've started to hire amazingly irritating Americans with eccentric names like Newton Piper who have websites like (click here).  Oh my god.  Now you can see what I'm up against. 

Have a good weekend!

Posted at 04:33 pm by doramills
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Friday, July 21, 2006
some people get everything they want

Now that there's only 10 days til my contract finishes, I guess it's probably time to find a job  (aaaaargh!).  So I have been stepping up my search, which has so far resulted in three interviews.  The first was yesterday, at a rather prestigious and beautiful international school in the north-eastern 'burbs of BKK.  Yes, even more over-the-top than my school, which is fairly far gone.

The interview went well, with the two overweight middle aged directors sounding positive, yet still bringing up my under-qualified status.  What?  No PGCE?  Surely, if that really bothered them, they would have simply thrown my CV in the bin.  Not invited me in for interview.  Anyway, I'm hoping that I managed to convince them that a teacher of my caliber has no need of such banal rubbish.  The pay is fairly fab.
Another interview is lined up for Monday at the Bangkok Christian College.   If  I get the job, of course, I will secretly start a satanic cult which will meet in the girls' toilets on Wednesdays to plot the assassination of the Pope.

I want to get a job.  I want a job at an international school that pays lots and lots of money.  It has happened to PGCE-less friends of mine - could it happen to me?
I sometimes get the feeling that I'm condemned to always missing out on the best stuff, just by dodging out of the way a moment too soon.  Like bending down to pick up a one baht coin right as the bride's bouquet's being thrown - the bouquet ends up in the hands of the fat lady with discharge behind me and the one baht coin turns out to be chewing gum.  A terrible analogy of course, and not least because I would never put myself in the vicinity of any bride's bouquet.  All I mean is, I want more than I always seem to end up with.  Is that just the way life is?  A well of disappointment? 

A colleague of mine, a fellow teacher, gets everything he wants.   For example, yesterday he wanted a fireman's outfit for class, to dress up for his kinders.  You know what he did?  He went down to the local fire station and (not being able to speak a word of Thai) demanded to see the firemen's boss.  He then managed to communicate that he needed one of their uniforms, that he was a Very Important Person, that he and the Queen of Thailand were like that.  And he was back at school an hour later with the whole shebang.

I want to be like that.  I want to learn the art of bullshitting.  I want to be the sort of person who just goes in and grabs exactly what they want.

Except then I probably wouldn't have any friends.

Posted at 05:29 pm by doramills
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Sunday, July 16, 2006
happy birthday to me


I am 30

I am big and old and smelly

I still love your mum

I still live a bit stupidly

and I am still alive

There must be a god.

Posted at 04:52 pm by doramills
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When I first shuffled painfully into the hospital, I was directed toward the emergency room.   The woman at the reception asked for my medical card and, upon typing in my details, asked, 'How are you today?' I could tell by her expression that she wasn't loking for a 'Fine thanks, and you?' kind of answer, so I told her where it hurt.  I was asked to wait, and then my name was called and I was led into the emergency unit.  As I walked in I glanced at the booth where Charlotte breathed her last.  Please God, I thought, don't let me be examined in there.  Thankfully, asking me some questions the doctor directed me upstairs.

Gynaecological tests revealed nothing.  The woman decided I was just a whinger with a painful period, and attempted to send me on my way with some Ponstan.

'No,' I argued. 'Something's wrong.  I need to find out what it is.'

'Okay,' she said.  'I send you for ultrasound.'

I knew something was up by the way the ultrasound woman kept running over and over the same spot, drawing up measurements on the viewing screen.  

I waited an hour for the results.  Finally I was called back into the gynaecology office.

'We have found a lump in your uterus,' she began, 'measuring 6cm by 7cm...'  Alarm bells rang in my head.

Suddenly a nurse rushed into the office, said something in Thai and raced out, and the gynaecologist muttered an apology and raced out after her.  I was left alone in the office and, confused, started picking my way through the file which had been left on the table between us.  The notes were all in Thai, though, and I could fathom very little.  A lump in my uterus?  Was this it?  Was I going to have to do like in the movies, and stammer, 'How long?  How long... have I got?'

I sat there for a few minutes, panic starting to well up inside, until finally a nurse entered.  'The doctor,' she said, 'go upstairs to deliver baby.  Maybe half hour.  You can go back to school, come back later...'

Come back later?  I could be in the middle of the most damning news of my life.  I'm not going anywhere.

I did, however, shift as far as the waiting room, where some idiotic late morning talk show was on, like probably every hospital in the world.  They only put them on to remind you how futile everything is when you're about to be told you're dying.

Finally, finally, finally the gynaecologist reappeared and invited be back into the office, apologising. 

'Boy or girl?' I managed to ask.

She looked confused for a moment.  'Oh.  Boy,' she said, a miniature smile flickering across her face.  And then, back to it.

'So, you have a lump in your uterus.  It's not cancerous, so...'


I come to to hear her saying, '....option is surgery, but there is every chance this lump will return.  The other is medication.  Either an injection once every month or a pill once every day...'

'And how long will I have to take this medicine for?'

'Oh, until menopause.  Of course, you could have a hysterectomy, but you prtobably don't need it, and it is a bit risky, and of course you would never be able to have children...'

'Sounds great.'

'You like this option?'

'Er, no.'

'Okay.  So you need this medication.  It will make the lump smaller and stop your periods.'

'What is this medication?'


Oh, fabo.  Just what I need.  Any more of this shit and my mother will no longer be able to claim to have a daughter. 


Posted at 03:54 pm by doramills
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Thursday, June 08, 2006
Yellow T-shirt Fever

'An old lady collapsed, people screamed and officials argued amid the pandemonium as patriots scrambled for yellow t-shirts going for195 baht each yesterday.'

No, Thailand hasn't suddenly developed a world class football team, bribed the judges and catapaulted itself into the World Cup.  We here are in the grip of a different kind of fever.  For this weekend, His Majesty King Bhumbibol Adulyadej celebrates 60 years on the throne, making him the longest reigning monarch anywhere, EVER.

'On the last day of official t-shirt sales, at Government House by 9am a thousand bargain hunters had already packed the second floor, panting for air... an old lady turned pale and became dizzy, falling to her knees.  As people behind kept pushing and shoving, the waiting crowd started shouting and screaming, but officials steadfastly denied their demands.  One person suggested, "Guess we need to smash the (meeting room) door, grab a T and flee." '

I didn't read this in the Bangkok Post until I got home from Tesco, disappointed to find the t-shirts with royal insignia were no longer on sale.

The royal guest list for the weekend is huge, from the Queen of Spain to the Emperor of Japan to the Sultan of  Brunei with his 11 wives.  Unfortunately Queen Lizzie won't be able to make it - she's busy  picking cat  hairs off her sofa - but she's sending  Andy instead.

Meanwhile, back on the streets of Thailand, 50% of the population is clad in this (possibly not-so-fethching) yellow t-shirts.  And, I have to admit, I find myself looking at them a little jealously.  For I am one of the sorry few who wasn't quick enough off the mark, too busy marking Grade 1 homework.  What a fool!

In my household, we've thrown around ideas  like mugging little old ladies for their shirts, or jumping over back walls to raid washing lines.  But at the end of the day, it looks as though we'll have to leave Bangkok with our tails between our legs this weekend (a five day weekend, as befitting of such an auspicious occasion) - hop on a train to  the rural provinces to hide in our yellow-t-shirt-less shame. 

Somewhere with TV, though.  For if we can't proudly participate in one of the biggest events in Thai history, then at least we can catch that first England match on Saturday night.

Posted at 12:41 pm by doramills
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other links:

The Guardian

lots of stuff on thailand on

journalist andrew heavens has an intelligent and humorous take on ethiopian politics and beauty

more on the ethiopia theme from ethiopundit

humorous political commentary on chicken yoghurt

good stuff from Norman Geras

or else try samizdata, hmm

thomas herzen sets out to liberate the inmates at guantanamo bay by throwing things at them and playing beethoven

it's better living through sarcasm

tiff copes with the bizarreness of urumqi, a uighur city in the taklamakan desert colonised by han chinese madmen

a budding french-american critical theorist lives it large on the pebble beaches of brighton

or try
in the states, she's got her head screwed on

john hutnyk is the don of cultural studies

sugar coated rice krinkles

johnny & sally - black people love 'em

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