YEAR OF THE DRAGON
School’s closed today in honor of the Chinese New Year. A three day weekend—much needed for R&R. Lots of Rest, that’s for sure. Waking up and seeing that the temperature in my bedroom was 51 degrees made me want to go back to sleep and stay under the covers. It’s been particularly cold for the past couple of nights—no insulation, no heat—despite temperatures in the mid-80s during the day. It’s plenty warm for sleeping but on the chilly side for a morning shower.
We had a great time celebrating the Chinese New Year at school on Friday—read a Chinese dragon folk tale, made Chinese tea, watched a video of the Chinese dragon dance and then the kids did the dance. We got then in a line, put a long red towel over their heads, called it a fire dragon, and had them weave their way around the school grounds. They had a great time. Oh, we also made “dragons” from rocks that they colored and added eyes to. Thank goodness it wasn’t the Year of the Rat!
School’s going amazingly well considering we’ve just opened. The first couple of weeks were soooooooo exhausting. Am a bit more used to the pace now. We have two Shan (Burmese) girls but the two boys we were expecting didn’t enroll due to an administrative problem. By the time we re-open in May we should have 5 Shan students. There are eight other students. Sounds like a small number in relation to three teachers (I’m in the classrooms 90% of the time) but we’re all very busy.
The kids are really enjoying the Montessori materials and learning a lot. We can see their concentration and focus improving every day. Feedback from town is the that the parents are saying positive things. Hurrah.
NEW HOUSE – NO WI-FI
On January 1 I moved into my new house which I love. But there’s no internet there. Decided to wait until after the March/April break to install it. Meanwhile, it’s very isolating not to have internet there. No NPR, no WAMC or WMHT, no IM-ing, no Skype, etc. Have been reading a lot.
The house is a 5 minute walk from the school. Very spacious with blue tile floors, high ceilings and one interior wall made of stone in the living room. Lovely setting with a mango orchard behind it and rice paddies across the road, in front. There’s a cute little porch which needs some furniture and a hammock. Also need a dresser for my clothing. It came with basic furniture–bed, wardrobe, small table with chairs, Thai couch (big wooden bench), etc.
Every three months I have to go out of the country and come back in. Last trip was Oct. 15 so I figured I had until Jan. 15. WRONG–turns out the visa was good only until Oct. 12 (exactly 90 days, not 3 months) so I had to pay a $50 fine. Bummer. It’s possible to leave Pai at 5 a.m. and return at 8 p.m. the same day, having spent all but one hour in the minivan. One hour allowed for crossing into Myanmar/Burma, buying fake Ray Bans, and coming back across the border with a new stamp good for 90 days. I broke up the trip by spending the night in Chiang Mai. But it was still a grueling day. Left CM at 8 a.m. and got to Pai at 8 p.m.
Hopefully I’ll get a one year working visa when back in the USA. Then the 3 month Visa Runs will be eliminated. We’re working with the govt. in Mae Hong Son, the provincial capital, for govt. approval of the school. The official said he’d help us with immigration which would be great.
There’s not much news from here other than the above. Would love to hear from you.