The Beauty and Diversity Offered By Thailand Markets

Thailand Markets

Thailand offers some of the best markets that I have come across and I have been to 18 countries. The Thailand markets are vibrant and full of energy.  Not only will you find some great items for a discounted rate, but you will also see things that you are not sure what to make of. The markets provide an experience of a lifetime that will make you smile, make you want to puke, and just make you say, “Oh, My Gosh!” It is a place where all retailers, fishermen, farmers, and so many more come to sell their goods. It attracts tourists, locals, and just about anyone that visits the areas of a market.

The Thailand markets are an inseparable aspect of the country and they can be found in any city or town in Thailand. You may see more of them versus grocery stores, depending on the area you reside in. You will see clothes, shoes, and food such as vegetables, fruit, meat (that I would not buy unless it is cooked), and live animals to eat such as frogs, fish, chicks, and bugs. Though there are questionable things there, some of the best items that I have purchased have all been bought at a market. I have bought clothes, shoes, food, and I have even gotten my clothes hemmed there.

The Market Bargaining Experience

When you enter Thailand markets, know that you are in for a treat and that you can bargain just about any price that you want but, be prepared to not always get the price that you want. Overall, it is customary to bargain unless you just want to be oversold on a product and pay more than a regular retailer. Thais will generally start off with a much higher price, especially if you are a foreigner but, know that you have the upper hand because you have the cash in hand. FYI, Thailand is more of a cash based place. There are some places that take cards but, you won’t find them in the Thailand markets so, come prepared.

When in Thailand markets, be reasonable while starting off and know that you will more than likely meet in the middle for a price that the both of you will find suitable. If you do not agree on the price, then keep shopping because more than likely that is not the only retailer selling that particular item. I always find it nice to walk around first depending on how big the market is to get an idea of what is there.

My Favorites

I love to go to my local market in Phibun, Ubon Ratchathani at various times of the day because there will be certain foods only offered until a certain time. For instance, I love the grilled bananas and sweet potatoes but, they are only offered until noon. For dinner, I like to go for grilled chicken, bagged salad (made by a local), and various Thai dishes like Som Tam (papaya salad). Other items such as vegetables, fruit, raw meat, clothes, and shoes can be bought at any time.  In addition to the larger market that my town has, there is also a market that is set up on Mondays and Fridays. I tend to skip the Monday market but, the Friday market usually offers clothing items that you will only see at this market.

Overall, the market experience in Thailand can’t be missed or replaced by the mall. The lively atmosphere and the random things that you will see in Thailand markets are unique about Thailand. My favorite market, other than my local market, is the Chatuchak weekend market located in Bangkok. It is only open on Saturday and Sunday nights but, provides the best deals, live bands, antiques, food, and a hidden rooftop to watch it all from. While you are here, make it a point to go to a market. Not only will it save you money but, it will leave you with a memory of items that you can only see at one.

Factors To Be Considered When You Plan To Teach English In Russia

Recently, it has become a lucrative option for teaching professionals from different countries to teach English in Russia. In order to understand why it is so, it is necessary to learn about the country and the most significant aspects that define its position in the contemporary global scenario.

Overview of the Russian Economy

Russia is officially known as the Russian Federation and is the largest country in the world. Located in Eurasia, Russia is famous for many reasons. The natural beauty of Russia attracts many tourists, and its biodiversity too is amazing. In recent times, Russia has become a favorite destination among corporate and business executives due fast-paced economic development. The resource-rich country has huge reserves of oil and natural gas which make it a top-ranking exporter and a strong player in the international trade arena. Russia also exports timber and metals. However, the country has been observed to have high levels of domestic demand and consumption due to rapid industrial development.

Due to these reasons, the export volume of Russia has reduced recently; however, these have in turn enhanced the nation’s economic growth. The developments have been taking place steadily and sustainably due to the fact that the political scenario in Russia is highly stable. Thanks to all these socio-political and socio-economic aspect of modern Russia, it attracts professionals from the oil and gas, and construction sectors. Legal and accounting professionals too look forward to getting job opportunities in Russia. Upon getting jobs, it is easier for these expatriates to relocate to Russia because in most cases the relocation process is fully-funded and the compensation packages are also attractive. However, if one lacks skills in these areas, there is still a chance for him to migrate to this country if he is interested to teach English in Russia.

There is a high demand for individuals who are professionally qualified to teach English in Russia. This is because the national economic development fueled by intense industrialization and scientific as well as technological developments calls for an educated workforce who can interact with global peers. Before going into a detailed discussion about the factors that need to be considered when you plan to teach English in Russia, it would be helpful if we provide you with an idea about the country’s demography and education system. We, at On The Mark TEFL, feel that this initiative would help you conceive an idea about what a student might expect from you when you begin to teach English in Russia.

Demographical Trends in Russia

Once you decide to migrate from your home country in order to teach English in Russia, it would make a lot of sense if you make serious efforts to learn about the people of Russia and the education system that are accustomed to. It is interesting to note that despite having a large population; Russia’s population density is considerably lower than that of many other developed countries. This is attributed to the enormously large area of Russia. Given the fact that Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of surface area, this is not too surprising. Maximum population densities are recorded in European Russia and South West Siberia. The impact of industrialization and economic development can be better understood from the fact that almost 75% of Russia’s population inhabits its cities. This leaves a meager 25% of the Russians to populate the rural areas.

Also, you shall need to know that the population of Russia had started to decline very fast in the mid-1990s. The declining trend has recently stabilized, owing to decreasing death rates and increasing birth rates. In addition to these, continuous immigration has also played a significant role in stabilizing a declining population. The fact that Russia has been traditionally a nation that gives utmost importance to education is especially vital in this context. A rising population, in the midst of sustainable industrial as well as economic developments supported by benevolent government policies, and an effective education system, would mean that Russia will have a large number of young educated people in the near future. Cognizance of this projection should encourage many people from all over the world to teach English in Russia.

Education System in Russia

Russia has always been observed to have considered education as highly significant. Almost inherently, Russia has been extremely strong in the fields of science and technology, and industry. Russians being supremely talented in mathematics and science, the country has gifted numerous inventors and innovators to the world. It is worthwhile to mention that, among all Eurasian nations, Russia boasts of the maximum number of postgraduates. Owing to all these factors, it is quite obvious that Russia is a favorite destination for students, educationists, scientists, industrialists, and technocrats. If we calculate the number of graduates and postgraduates as a percentage of the total population of a country, a staggering 54% of Russians have attained tertiary education. This is undoubtedly a commendable feat. Another vital fact about the Russian education system is that as per the Constitution of Russia, the government guarantees free education up to secondary school level to all through the public school system. Russia has an eleven-year school education system.

Education in universities is also provided for free, although with certain reservations. While planning to teach English in Russia, you would be amazed to know that the country has an extremely high literacy rate of almost 100%. Among the most prestigious accolades received by the Russian education system, the most significant ones during recent years include the following:

  • In a 2014 ranking, the Russian education system bagged the 8th best position among all European nations and the 13th best position in the whole world. During this year, Russia had also achieved the 21st position globally in terms of highest education attainment rate. The cognitive skills possessed by Russian students ranked 9th highest. In addition to all these, Russia was the sixth most preferred destination among foreign students.
  • During the year 2015, the science and mathematics skills of Russian students were given the 34th rank by the OECD.
  • In 2016, the US based firm Bloomberg gave the third best rank to the Russian higher education system.

General Concept of English Teaching

For any person who intends to teach English in Russia, it is important to recognize the significance of Teaching English as a Second or Other Language (TESOL). This is also known as Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) and is popular mainly due to the traveling advantages that are provided. You would be fascinated to know that TESOL/ TEFL is a huge industry that spread worldwide. There are countless employment websites and other institutions that provide certification pertaining to these. These certifications are especially necessary for non-native English speakers who wish to teach English in Russia. While in Russia, a TESOL/ TEFL certification serves as a proof of thorough knowledge in grammatically correct English. This, again, is very crucial in order to teach English in Russia because Russian students are very particular about grammar.

How to Teach English in Russia

Despite the fact that Russia has the highest percentage of graduates and postgraduates in the entire world, English is a foreign language for Russians. Owing to this fact, the level at which English is taught in Russian schools is poor in comparison to that in English-speaking countries. Many Russians feel the urgency to learn English at that stage in their lives when they start looking for jobs, or when they come across better prospects in Multinational Corporations (MNCs). This is where the process of adult education comes into the picture, and students, as well as professionals, start looking for people who can teach English in Russia. Thanks to the enhanced awareness about the importance of English as a vital medium of communication in today’s globalized world, Russians have started recognizing the fact that their children should learn English from an early age. So, it can be easily understood that the overall demand for individuals who can teach English in Russia is immensely high.

From the above discussion, it is evident that an assignment to teach English in Russia can be challenging and, at the same time, quite interesting. A TESOL/ TEFL certified teacher can opt for various types of English-teaching assignments in Russia – he can teach English to school goers, to college and university students, and to business professionals. He can even teach English in schools. The remunerations shall vary with the type of assignment. While teaching English to students in their homes or private facilities, the general approach is quite informal; however, in corporate setups, it is important to wear business attire and adopt a more formal approach. Russians are a cordial people; hence you can expect a lot of bonding and interactions once they get properly acquainted with you and, of course, feel satisfied with the way you teach English to them. Owing to fact that the country is developing further each day, it is safe to say that you shall have a long-term prospect if you choose to teach English in Russia.

An Unforgettable Road Trip Through The Amazing Northern Thailand

Author: Danielle Butterly

When I’m not teaching in Thailand, I’m adventuring. Weekends or holidays, you can always find me on a bus, motorbike, car, plane – whatever – exploring somewhere new. Thai schools have this really cool thing about them where you actually don’t teach that much. I’m just kidding. Well, kinda! You do teach, but there are just a lot of holidays that you have off. So, this past week, I had 4 full days off! What to do in this time?! A good relationship with one of my Thai teachers Pkie lead to a fantastic 5-day camping road trip around the amazing Northern Thailand that I almost can’t even believe I had been blessed with. An experience like this is almost too hard to fully describe in a blog and probably deserves something more like a book, but I will try anyways.

 

The People

The people that were with me on the road trip through the amazing Northern Thailand included Olivia who is one of the other two foreign teachers at my school, my best friend here, Pkie, who is basically my Thai mother here, and two of Pkie’s friends, Pippin and Honey (those are their Thai nicknames). We had quite the crew! Pippin and Honey could speak very little English, so it was a rather interesting trip being in a car with them for 5 days. Honey was our main cook on the trip, Pippin the navigator, and Pkie the driver. Olivia and I just tried to help out whenever we could. The whole thing was hilarious because while camping, the three Thai ladies would wake up at like 4:30 AM – while I lay in my tent trying to sleep at least until the sunrise, be speaking Thai and boiling water on the fire in a pot, and generally making me feel like I was either Aragorn or Legolas from Lord of the Rings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mean, we were in the forest (a mysterious forest located in the amazing Northern Thailand!), their names are Pippin and Honey (like, come on!), they are short Thai ladies speaking Thai, banging pots around a fire, not wearing shoes; they were totally the hobbits, and I was Aragorn (or Legolas), waiting for my coffee to be served to me as I emerge gracefully from my tent exclaiming what a wonderful morning it is for an adventure! It was seriously too funny.

 

The Trip

When Pkie asked me to come to the Hill Tribes in the amazing Northern Thailand with her, I honestly didn’t think too much about where we would stay, so when I got in the car to leave the morning of and saw a bunch of camping gear in the truck bed I had to ask, “Pkie, are we camping?!”. Yes. She had failed to tell me that we would be camping for the next 5 days! Upon seeing our camping spot on the top of a mountain that literally felt like you were floating on top of the world, my original agitation about surprise camping turned into utter excitement and gratitude for where I was. It was absolutely, breathtakingly, extraordinarily (are there any more adjectives that I can throw in there to describe the amazing Northern Thailand?) beautiful. Colossal mountains surrounded us, watching the sunrise, sunset, moonrise, moonset every day and it was just fantastic. It was like we had placed our tents right in the center of a postcard. We soaked in all the beautiful elements that were in abundance across the amazing Northern Thailand.

Our day with the Hill Tribe was just as amazing as the views presented by the exquisitely amazing Northern Thailand. These kids had never seen white people before and I had never been so scrutinized. They were as intrigued with my face as they were frightened. It was hilarious and astonishing all at the same time having these children look at me like I was an alien. They were very eager to learn English as well and we did a lot of games and songs with them. They were so cute and shy at first, but quickly warmed up to us and were soon dancing with and jumping all over us. The rest of the road trip through the amazing Northern Thailand consisted of a trip to the White Temple in Chiang Rai, hot springs, a Ganesha museum, art galleries in Chiang Mai, riding for hours in the truck bed after refusing to be scrunched in the back seat for any longer, and of course a lot of singing in the car!

 

The Take Home Message

The take home message that I got from this road trip through the beautiful stretches of the amazing Northern Thailand was, well a lot of things, but one of them was that road trips in Thailand, especially the amazing northern Thailand, are the same as they are in the States – filled with a lot of stopping for people to go to the bathroom, for snacks and gas, and for incredible sights to take pictures of. This is the main thing that I like about traveling – the part about it being the same. It takes away any hint of division or stereotypes one may have about different cultures.

 

You realize and understand that we’re all just HUMANS living on this giant sphere called Earth and that everyone has the same needs, wants, and desires as you. Living in another culture opens your eyes to the different ways that people go about living on the Earth, but also shows you how similar we all are. This road trip was, for lack of a better word, an amazing experience and one that I just wouldn’t have had if I were back at home in the United States. Just another reason I am so grateful that I decided to take the leap of faith across the pond just 5 short months ago, and leaving me with the feeling of “What’s next?!”

 

The Teaching Art

Albert Einstein said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Wow, that is heavy! It’s like one can feel the weight of the responsibility unloading on their shoulders, with every word in this sentence. But let us look at the bright side, “art” is fun!

In my experience, teaching is an art, and the art is displayed in the joy and enlightenment of the students I teach. Anyone can hold up a picture, point to it and say, “Dog,” That’s not art, that’s drone work. Anyone can even be liked by students, that’s just a matter of personality. But learning how to engage, interpret, and get the synapsis’ of each student to fire at exploding rates, that’s where the art comes into play.

Thailand Classroom

Erin Gruwell is an American teacher who won several awards and had a movie written about her mastery of the art of teaching, called Freedom Writers. She now travels the world and motivates teachers to motivate students. Her most famous words of wisdom, “follow your heart.” (Ugh, so cliché). In an attempt to take something practical from this frequently uttered phrase (after all Gruwell is a genius, so let us give credit where credit is due), this could be translated to, do what you know.

The teacher is the best role in the class, (considering there are only two roles: teacher and student, not including the chalk board, of course). The teacher does have a curriculum, but how they deliver that curriculum is left up to them, which is wonderful because then they can play to their own strengths and the class has to do it, it’s the law! Ultimately students want a teacher that has fun, when a teacher has fun, their students are inspired to have fun too.

So what does this look like in front of actual students? It means, Arts-and-Crafts Day, can be every day or if a teacher loves to sing, they can work out words for students to repeat in songs. For the actor out there, they can have students role play or enjoy some charades. For the artist of the bunch, have the students play Pictionary, or make them label everything you draw on the board (They love this game).  For the competitive athlete, make teams and turn every activity into a contest. Students love to win, and you can’t win if you don’t play!

Thailand Classroom

Writers can create paragraphs and sentences to be copied and dissected. I know this last one sounds boring but shockingly, it can be so fun. Students love to be right, and when they can copy something and know it’s right, they feel so accomplished. Of course the art is that they learn what it means.

The point is, all of it can be fun for them, if it’s fun for you. Each teacher can uniquely play to their strengths, and in doing so live out the words of Einstein and, “awaken joy in creative expression” in their students. Naturally, this tactic can be over-done, anything gets boring when done every day, even coloring. However, that’s when a teacher can break out and try something that isn’t their strength (Don’t get scared, we’re in this together).

The best method to teaching, is leading by example. If students never see an example to learning, they don’t believe it’s possible. Internalizing takes time, and teaching and learning become synonymous in this way.

The teacher is the leader, the students follow the leader – so show them what you’ve got! Show them what you know and what you don’t know, and like art, practice.

 

King Bhumibol – The Thai Monarch Who Will Be Loved Forever

Most recently, it hit the 100-day mark of a significant loss to Thailand. The Great King Bhumibol passed away on October 13, 2016, at the age of 88. He had been sick for the past 10 years but, when he passed, he left a country in a state of mourn. He was the 9th king that ruled over Thailand and probably the most memorable monarch.

King Bhumibol graciously accepted the crown at the age of 19 after his brother was shot and was the longest living monarch in the world. He had touched so many hearts, which is why the demise left the Thai people and those living in this nation in a state of utter dismay and heartfelt sadness. As the news spread, many people wept from an acute feeling of loss. There were many ceremonies and broadcasts on all the television channels that were held daily in his honor.

King Bhumibol

King Bhumibol was known for his love and spirit that touched all those that knew of him and due to this, he was known as the father of Thailand. He contributed to Thailand’s being what it is today. He taught his people that in order for something to be meaningful, it needs to enter your heart and then be projected out to those surrounding you. This created the Thai heart and the smile that we all know to love.

As a foreign teacher here, this meant that whatever way I taught, it needed to be heartfelt, and I needed to ensure that my students actually felt it when I taught them. It needed to touch their hearts, so that they would feel the confidence to succeed in all that they worked on.  This also helped create a balance between work and life that many westerners often do not know before coming here. In Thailand, this balance is very crucial for all the activities that occur in the schools and within the community. It makes large communities feel like small groups with everyone’s heart being on their sleeve to offer a helping hand and smiles that are shared among each other to alleviate burdens.

King Bhumibol had worked on over 7,000 projects. Some of these projects included creating dams to bring clean drinking water to his people, agriculture that offered food, and tourism. He worked on developing a country that could take care of itself without the help of the outside. This ultimately made a stronger economy and helped in creating a lifestyle that could stand for and by its own. During this time, when the news of His Majesty’s passing broke, I was living here. This news was extremely upsetting to hear and left many of us with an uncertainty of what will occur next for Thailand and its royal family.

Know What To Do In Public

The royal family is a very much protected entity and, as a legal binding, you cannot speak ill of anyone representing the family because it is a great offense. While speaking to the members of the royal family, it is advisable to ensure that you speak with kindness and don’t ask too many questions. Such information left many of us curious but we couldn’t ask about it due to the legal statutes and, honestly, many locals were unsure of the answers.

We wondered who would take the place of King Bhumibol, what changes would be made, and how would we be affected. Until most recently, no one knew these answers. In mid-December, it was announced that Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, as his father’s successor, would become the next king of Thailand; however, we are still in the year long mourning period to show our undying love and respect for such a great monarch.

During this year of morning, there was a month of silence. Bangkok felt like a ghost town with just whispers going through the airport or on the streets. After that first month, life started to regain normalcy and there were places where music started playing. Despite this, there was still a void left within all of our hearts. We continued to show our love for His Majesty King Bhumibol by wearing either all black, or a black ribbon, or a number 9 in Thai.

As the mourning reached the100th day, we showed our respects by paying our homage to the beloved Father of Thailand – King Bhumibol – with a ceremony at our school. When traveling to or visiting Thailand, please be aware of this significant national loss and treat it with the kindness of losing someone dear. King Bhumibol is gone but he shall never be forgotten.

 

Healthcare in China for Foreigners

One of the most important factors in making a decision on whether or not you will be coming to China is the cost and quality of healthcare, especially as a foreigner.

Drink hot water – Traditional Chinese Advice

So, let us start with the not-so-nice side of healthcare in China. If you happen to start feeling ill here, and you tell any of your Chinese colleagues about it, they will begin with “Oh no. Drink hot water!” and then proceed to give you a cup of hot water. Telling you to drink hot water is a genuine effort in trying to help you (even though after hearing it for the fiftieth time, you want to blow up). So what does one do when confronted with the “drink hot water!” advice? Politely inform them that you have tried it (even if you have not) and request that someone accompany you to the local hospital to be checked by a doctor.

General Chinese Healthcare

When I say general Chinese healthcare, I am talking about the cheapest form of healthcare in the country, which is extremely basic, as well as cheap. There are a few limitations such as the certain hours one can come to consult a doctor. At the hospitals in Ningbo, one can only see a doctor during these times: 8am – 10:30am; 1pm-4pm and then after that you will have to make use of emergency services.

Usually it will cost about 15RMB to visit a doctor. You will have to register yourself first, so be sure to bring your passport and let a local help you register yourself at the hospital. You will get a medical book and card with your details and your medical history will be recorded in both the book and on the card. Doctors will load prescriptions onto the card, which will then be taken to the dispensary and you will receive your medicine there at the hospital as well.

Chinese Hospital

The only thing is, as they are so incredibly busy, it is usually a 5 minute consultation and then there are no questions about your medical history. The quicker you can get out of there with a few scribbles in the blue medical book, you won’t exactly be getting premium healthcare. It is true that you get what you pay for.

The good thing about this is that if you have a chronic illness, such as asthma, and you know exactly what kind of medicine you use back in your home country, paying 15 RMB for a doctor’s appointment to renew your prescription makes it super convenient. I usually just go to the doctor once a month, get my prescription renewed for the month, fetch it from the dispensary and within 20 minutes, I’m off again.

VIP Chinese Healthcare

Now, if you feel like you are developing some serious illness and feel like you just need a normal doctor who actually looks at you and follows normal healthcare protocol, then you will have the option to receive such healthcare! Phew! However, a more expensive price tag comes with it. When I was stricken down with laryngitis and flu, the visit to a proper English-speaking doctor in the “Foreigner Outpatient VIP Clinic” cost me about 200 RMB. However, the peace of mind I had was priceless.

Chinese medicine

She made sure to get a good medical background check and noted everything in my blue medical book. She was also the first doctor that did not advise me to drink hot water. However, I did have a bit of fun with the nurses who took photos of me with the doctor for the clinic’s social media pages. I guess you could say I’m an official poster girl for Ningbo International Health Care Clinic.

To be honest, if you know where to go and who to ask, you’ll be fine. I was up and going within a few days of visiting the doctor at the VIP clinic and plan on going back to her if the need ever arises for me to go. I visit the general doctor for 15 RMB to renew my prescriptions. China is different, and I’d be silly to expect anything else, but they have their systems in place and somehow it works. I hope this will put some of you at ease with regards to any of your healthcare concerns you have.