- Hand not in glove -

3rd March '17

My schedule eventually came a day later than normal, but once it did... it was glorious. I had everything I'd requested and more.

Not only did I only have two weekday classes, meaning that I don't have to go into work until 6:45pm on Monday to Thursday, but they are both levels that I've taught before. I have zero to plan from scratch.

And as a bonus to that, neither of them are testing levels.

Of course, this was only half of my schedule; the weekend was still to come. But even at this stage my new manager had given me something that my previous manager didn't give me once: No weekday classes to plan.

It's still early days, but I like this new manager. And if this is any indication, I guess that he doesn't hate me too much yet either.

It doesn't quite mean that I have nothing to do but show up at 6:45pm each evening and teach... but it's a damn sight closer to it.

If there was ever a time to start learning Thai again, then this was it. With this schedule, I might even be able to get a PS4 and watch Game of Thrones as well.

This wonderful news came-in mid-afternoon on my penultimate day-off. And for the last day, my plan had been to get out and do some more foraging for the best PS4 prices.

I really wish that I was a person that could just go into a shop and buy something, but it's just not me. I have to understand everything about a product before I'm willing to spend money on it; especially one as expensive as this. So I not only want to know the price that it's sold everywhere, but I spend ages sat at home researching too.

I knew the physical dimensions of the three various models, and had been using my tape measure to figure-out where a PS4 could sit in my apartment. I spent hours researching between the 500GB and the 1TB models, and the benefits of buying Pro. What are the best games? How much are they? Can I find them cheaper second hand? Do I want to buy CD games or digital downloads? What's PS Now? How much is that? How is that different to PS Plus?

If you looked at my Google history for the week prior to this, you would have found literally hundreds of PS4-related questions. I'd even looked-up historical price fluctuations of the games that I want to buy, and I still wasn't even set that I was going to get a PS4 yet. I still wanted another scouting trip around the shops to find the retailer of the best combination of value and reliability.

It's hard to be me. Most people can just wander into a store, put down their money and be done with it. But hey.

Right when I was about to go out to the shops though, I had a sudden change of heart and was like... you know what? I should wait. Once I know my schedule in full, and once I know if/how I'm going to study Thai this term, then I can decide if I have time for video games in my life too. But until then...

That's the harder thing about the schedule changing every term. Yes, I've got it good this term, but next term might be back to normal again, so it's hard to set any long-term goals or make any long-term commitments.

Like buying a PlayStation.

So what I decided to do instead on this day, was sit in front of my laptop and figure-out... ok, how am I going to learn Thai?

And I fairly quickly ruled-out getting a private tutor again, just because I'm going to be earning less money now, and that's an expensive way to study.

Perhaps with good reason, but none the less.

I was also trying to be more realistic in how I studied because... well this was exactly why I stopped studying in the first place. I'd kind of burned-out, and I wanted to take a step back for a few weeks, look at how I was studying from a distance, and then get back into it with a new mindset.

And I could now see the mistake that I'd made before, of just trying to do too much.

When you start doing something one way, you just become determined to continue doing it that way, even if it's not working.

Using flash cards, for example, had definitely helped me to recollect the language. But I was investing so much time into both making and studying them that... well I might not want to use them again.

Or if I am going to, then use them more wisely.

Study them for 20% of what I was before. Minutes rather than hours. And don't commit to turning every bit of Thai that I learn into a flash card.

I was also conscious about doing too much.

I wanted to learn quickly to an extent. But more than that, I wanted to enjoy learning Thai. If I'm having fun doing it, it won't seem like a chore. And that means dedicating... maybe five hours per week to it. Certainly not twenty or thirty or forty.

But therein lay the dilemma that I've faced this whole time: How/where do you get Thai tuition in Bangkok, reasonably-priced, where you commit only reasonable time?

Well that's what I sat-down at my laptop to figure-out.

This was a Sunday; a day when most schools are closed, so I couldn't do much more than sit at my computer. But after hours trying to sift through all of the misinformation, I had three schools on my screen.

'Alright,' I said to myself, 'I'm going to go and see these schools before I start work tomorrow.'

One was a school, conveniently located, that offered only intense, five days per week courses. But... their next term was starting this coming Wednesday.

Not ideal; I don't want to study that much. But I'll talk to them anyway.

The second was the school that a colleague of mine had unearthed last term. Inconveniently located, but about the only school offering a reasonable amount of hours at a reasonable price.

And then the third was... well I wasn't convinced by it, but it was nearby to the first school, so if I'm there anyway...

And I'm sure that all of this sounds like I'm being overly fussy; and maybe I am, but I really don't think what I'm expecting from a school is unreasonable.

I've said this before: If I could find a Thai clone of the English school that I teach at, it would be perfect for me. That's basically what I'm looking for.

Same hours, same method, same price. There's just nothing even closely resembling it.

The method of study in most Thai schools is archaic, the hours unreasonable, and the prices excessive.

It had me wondering how that came to be, because after all, native English teachers command far higher salaries than our Thai counterparts. So excepting the economies of scale of less demand for the Thai language, the cost of providing Thai lessons is significantly lower. And if the cost is so much lower, is it unreasonable to expect prices similar to those of English courses?

I guess that there are two types of people that want to learn Thai:

There are those who have no job, no responsibility, and their solitary commitment in Thailand is to learn Thai. Retirees moving to Thailand, wives of businessmen, foreign students of Thai culture etc.

That describes 95% of the students that I've shared classrooms with, and these are the people that these intensive, five days per week courses cater to.

Then there are people, expats mostly, who work here, and are trying to learn Thai on the side. This is who the less intensive, but very overpriced courses cater to, because these are the folks that have money.

If your company sends you to work overseas, then not only are they going to pay you a handsome salary, but they'll probably pay for your Thai classes too.

There really is nothing to cater to someone like myself though, who wants to learn Thai at a low intensity, but who has very little money to spend doing so.

My situation is similar to most Thai people that learn English; I have a job with a modest salary, and I'm trying to improve myself on the side, hence why I yearn for a methodology and price similar to my own school. But alas, the market has dictated that I am a rare breed, and the market of Thai schools caters to either the weathy or the bored. And I am neither, so finding a school that fits my needs is very much fitting a square peg into a round hole.

Despite doubting there would be much point, I did get up by alarm the next morning, despite not teaching until 6:45pm, in order to go and see some Thai schools, my first stop being the school two trains away that a colleague of mine goes to. And my skepticism was compounded by it taking an hour simply to get there.

I don't want to go somewhere that's a two-hour round-trip; it'll just eat away at the time that I'm saving by not working very hard.

And once I got there, my first impression wasn't great either. It was clearly a very small school with very few students. Hidden up on the somewhat dirty 19th floor of a rather unsightly building, the woman in the reception, who I think was the owner, didn't even acknowlege me for about three minutes, as she spoke on the phone.

After that initial negative impression though, she actually sold the school to me very well. I thought very positively of it.

The text book looked good, and she was open to my level and to answering my questions.

She concluded that I would be fine to study in intermediate level. I disagreed with that assertion, but at the same time, you need to be challenged in order to progress, so I was also open to it.

And the price was... acceptable, shall we say, and the hours reasonable. Three hours of study, two days per week.

I was actually sold. It sounded great. I'd even be willing to forget the four hours of commuting that it would take me each week.

The problem lay in that the beginner course, they had in the morning. And the advanced course, they had in the morning. But the intermediate course... in the afternoon.

Signing-up to study here was a commitment of a couple of months. I didn't like that already, because there was no refund for missing classes, which means that I'd be tied to Bangkok for my next holiday from work; a two-week holiday for Songkran.

And although I might not end-up going away anyway, if I do, I don't want it to be at the expense of missing Thai classes that I've already paid for.

Worse was that I didn't want to study in the afternoon, because although this term it would be feasible, although hugely inconvenient to get from this school to my school by 6:45pm each day, the commitment would carry-on into my next schedule. And I don't know if I won't be working until 6:45pm on my next schedule. And if I do have to work earlier, then I won't be able to attend these classes that I've paid for at all.

This was a very small school, and as a result, the woman was very personable. I got the feeling that the fees paid by each and every student were important. And so I said to her, if you start any intermediate classes in the morning, then give me a call. But afternoon classes just don't work for me.

It was a shame, because I probably would have signed-up to study there, were there intermediate classes in the morning. Apart from the commute, it looked pretty good. But afternoon classes just weren't what I was looking for.

It's very frustrating when you can't seem to find a glove to fit your hand.

I then moved-onto my next school, but I wasn't so impressed by this one, and nor was I expecting to be.

The name of it and the website made it sound like a school to make profit rather than teach people.

Another of the many flaws in the Thai visa system, is that you can get a Thai education visa if you study a certain number of hours. And for people who want to come to Thailand for a sustained amount of time, this is the most viable way.

Some schools therefore exist, more as visa factories than as schools.

They still have to teach students. I imagine (perhaps wrongly) that there is a degree of official oversight to ensure that they are actually real schools. Although to do the medical check for my visa, I don't go to a real doctor, so who knows? But the first thing that I saw when I walked through the door of this school, was 'Bam,' a visa office.

I wasn't so impressed with the text book at this school, and nor with the method. However they did have classes in the morning, and it was easy to get to.

The woman told me that I could come back the next morning to observe a class. I told her that I might.

This school was in the same building as my first Thai school from almost a year ago. It's a huge building with a tiny amount of elevators, so on trying to get from floor to floor, you have a long wait then have to cram into an already full elevator.

I did that, and then found myself pressed-up against... hey, I know you.

Back when I first studied Thai, I mostly worked in pairs with a Swedish girl in my beginner class, and here she was, being crushed in an elevator.

Rather than looking happy to see me, she had more a look of 'great, now I have to make small talk with you,' but we walked in the same direction for two or three minutes.

She had stopped, and then come back to this school to study several more levels. She told me that a couple of women from our class; housewives of businessmen stationed in Bangkok, were now studying in the very advanced, specialised classes.

Great. Makes me feel so good that we started learning Thai at the same time, and you're all advanced speakers now, and I can just about manage 'hello, what's your name?'

Why can't I have a rich husband and to never have to get a job either? I'd speak Thai fluently too.

She told me that she'd heard great things about one particular school; one that I hadn't really considered but... well I suppose I could add it to my list of places to check-out.

I didn't go to the third school that I'd been thinking about for today because... well I wasn't worried that I wouldn't like it. I was worried that I would.

This is a school that only offers intensive, five days per week courses. And my worry was having a momentary lapse in laziness, deciding that this was a good idea, signing-up, and then having no life for the next four weeks.

I didn't want to do that, so opted to skip going to it altogether.

I still hadn't found a glove to fit my hand, so figured that I'd probably check-out the school that this girl had heard good things about the next day, but I wasn't very optimistic about it.

Perhaps I set my standards too high, but at this stage I was on the verge of returning to where I'd been a couple of terms ago; kind of mashing together my own Thai course of flash cards, text books, audio I've found, apps to communicate with people, and observation-only classes at my school.

The last time that I tried to study that way, well... it didn't go so well. And I have no reason to think that it would be different this time, but I wasn't really unearthing any viable alternatives.

All I want is to study Thai in a similar way to how I teach English. Why is that so hard to find?

All that being said, when I think back to when I learnt the most, and to when my Thai was at its best, it was actually after I got back to Bangkok from London last August.

Back then, I was messaging people in Thai, I was speaking to one person in particular in Thai on Tandem. The four weeks that I was in England, I progressed from knowing about half of the letters of the Thai alphabet, to being able to read and write simple sentences. So it's certainly not impossible to progress on my own.

It was looking increasingly likely that I was going to find-out if I could be so successful again though.

This first day of term had also been very eye-opening in exactly how much free-time I'd been given.

I'd visited two Thai schools, one of which was an hour away. I'd then come home, cooked and eaten lunch, watched an episode of Game of Thrones, which by this point, mid-way through season 2, was becoming a somewhat cumbersome series. Then I'd had my second shower of the day, put on a loaf of bread for dinner, and I still had time to kill before going to work.

Especially if I'm to study by no more than my own methods, I'm going to have a tonne of free-time this term.

Enough to exercise, to relax, to study. It's perfect. And not to be wasted, because for how many terms will this last?

It took a year and a half in this job to get one term like this. It might be another year and a half until the next one.

I didn't bother going to the trial class of the second school that I'd seen. I'd been sufficiently unimpressed when talking to them to deem it worthwhile. Instead the next morning, I visited two other schools, despite being all but accepting of going at it alone now.

Rather than thinking of them as good places to study though, by this stage I was visiting them just to ensure that they weren't.

The first was yet another school in the building that I first studied Thai in. There seems to be a school on every floor of this building, and this time I was going up to the 24th.

I hadn't heard many good things about this school, apart from a couple of suspect online reviews. And it very quickly lived-up to my negative expectations, when on walking in, the girl behind the desk seemed reluctant to help me, saying 'I have so many things to do.'

Well I apologise for interrupting you by trying to find-out about the school that you work at.

It didn't really get much better from there either. I was trying to ask her about the classes and the teaching method, and she was clueless. Completely.

Needless to say, I left with no intention of returning.

Then I continued onto the second school, which was the one that my Swedish former classmate had eluded to when I'd seen her a day earlier.

My expectation of this school was, judging by their website, that it'd be a perhaps slightly more ethical clone of the first school that I ever taught at. And I have not a single positive word to say about that place.

It was why I'd been reluctant to ever go to this school to begin with. Their website just stank of sales pitches and gimicky ways to make you part with your money, without ever giving you anything of substance in return.

As with all of the schools that I'd seen by now, the first question that I was asked was 'Are you here for an education visa?'

No, I don't want a fucking education visa. I actually want to learn, rather than just pretend to learn in order to stay in the country.

It was as I'd anticipated though, as rather than being seen by the person on reception, I was quickly handed-off to a girl who assumed herself a salesperson.

She then got-out an iPad with pre-loaded presentation slides that she would use to try to convince me to study here.

That part didn't go so well for her. I'm a salesperson's nightmare, because I'm skeptical, and because I question everything. And after the first couple of slides, which were just graphs to tell me how quickly I was going to learn (the exact same method that my former school used), the slide about prices appeared... 'but we have a special offer, ending today. You must sign-up today!'

I'm not signing-up today.

But if you sign-up today, you'll get double the number of hours.

I'm not signing-up today.

'That means that instead of being 169 baht per lesson,' she said, 'it'll be 98 baht per lesson.'

'No it won't,' I responded, 'it'll be 84.5 baht.'

I've always been quite quick at simple maths, so her inability to halve 169 on the spot left her feeling even more inadequate.

I don't think that she was actually bullshitting me on the part of this offer ending today. This was the last day of February, and they seem to have a special offer themed to each month. This was the Valentine's offer, which made me chuckle, much to her ire as I was supposed to have been wowed by it.

I'm not going to sign-up today.

But this offer expires today.

Well I'm not going to sign-up tomorrow then either, if it's twice the price of today. What's March's special offer?

She had to pretend that there might not be any special offer in March.

Next came a series of slides about why this was such a great place to study. Most of these amused me, but I couldn't hold it back when she got to the slide that said 'Convenient location,' explaining to me that 'Our school is in a very convenient location for you, next to the BTS.'

'I know,' I responded, 'I'm in the school now. You don't have to tell me where it is.'

The slide after this one included a few pictures, and she told me that 'If you sign-up, you get all of these things for free.'

'What, a pen?' I responded. 'And a coffee?'

She quickly moved onto the next slide saying 'Yes, all of that is free.'

On another slide it said, and she really stressed that we have 'Native teachers.' We're in Thailand dummy. It'd be a bit weird if your Thai teachers weren't Thai.

In her defence, this is a school that also teaches English, and I guess that they have one set of slides to advertise both courses, so that slide about native teachers might not have been as ridiculous as it sounded. But you'd think that she'd have had the wherewithal to skip over it, instead of telling me that the Thai teachers in Thailand are Thai.

I didn't actually find-out too much about the school or the teaching method, because I spent most of my time rebuking the ridiculous things that she was saying to me.

To me, special offers are far more of a deterrent than they ever are an incentive, because on the likely assumption that I don't want that particular special offer, it puts me off every other price as well.

To get this special offer of double the number of classes, you had to commit over £600 and... I'm not giving-over £600. But then to pay one of the lower prices, I'd be getting significantly less value for money, so...

Aside from the ridiculous sales-pitch, the school actually looked quite food. Had I been able to walk through the door, get some straight answers about the teaching method, and then pay a flat-price that I was confident was no more than what everyone else was paying, I might have been sold.

As it was, they tried to blind me with bullshit, leading me to just feel like they were trying to cover-up the school rather than tell me about it.

Like everywhere, they offered me the chance to try a class for free. Which I considered. 84.5 baht per class is actually incredible value. But the way I was feeling by this point, was that handing-over £600+ would be the equivalent of studying with a private tutor twice per week for twenty-five or so weeks, depending on how much he/she charges. And that wouldn't entail the time and money cost of getting to this school in the first place.

This school, in its convenient location, is also two trains from my condo. I'd spend an extra £10 getting there and back the three times per week that I was supposed to study.

I won't rule it out forever. When, in the highly likely scenario that studying by myself fails, I'll consider it again. But it wasn't something for now.

It's time to settle-down into my reality of studying by myself for a bit, and to see how far I can go.

Just out of curiousity, the next day I went onto the website of this school to see their March promotion and... oh look, they've extended their offer that I was told I had to take advantage of because it was the last day, for another month.

And not only that, they posted about it on their website on February 27th; the day before I went into the school. So under instruction to do so I'm sure, that lovely, sweet girl who was trying so painfully to get me to part with my money, is a lying bitch really.

It's why I can't deal with this kind of school. We're going to take from you as much as we can, and we're going to lie to you to get it.

Apart from this stuff, they genuinely could be the best school out there. I won't ever find-out though.

This girl did actually phone me later on this third day of term, unbeknownst to her, at a rather inconvenient time. I found out the hard way that I can answer phone calls on just my watch. She never knew that I was talking to her into my wrist while sitting on the toilet.

And it was as you'd expect, 'when would you like to come in for your trial class?'

Well like I said yesterday, I'll call you when I'm ready.

Which will be never.

I wasn't caught off-guard by it at all, but it was on this day that news started filtering-down to the teachers at my school, that there likely wouldn't be enough students to offer everyone a full weekend schedule.

It was the same at this time last, so wasn't surprising to me at all, although some teachers still reacted with unnecessary malaise.

It's key, because for logic that I've never understood, the weekend classes pay significantly more than the weekday ones. Therefore, you can take fewer weekday classes, as I've done this term, with minimal impact on your pay-cheque. Losing classes on the weekend really stings though.

This kind of thing is always followed by dour mumblings, whether accurate or not. And this time it included things like the school (the entire nationwide network) lost $1 million last year. And that five Thai members of staff at my branch were just let go.

True? I don't know.

I like my sayings, and philosophical phrases. If you read this blog, then you probably know that. And I always think that 'bend, but don't break' is one of the more profound things that humans have ever said.

Used primarily for sports, I feel like it can be applied to many... even most situations in life.

Bones. Bones are like muscles. If you don't use them at all, they weaken, but if you use them too much, they break.

So bend them, but don't break them.

Your immune system similarly needs to be used to remain strong, hence why I cringe at things like hand sanitizer and unnecessary medicine. But at the same time, you don't want your body to face such an enslaught that it gets sick or even dies. You want it to bend, but not break.

Most things in life need to be used in a bend but don't break philosophy of moderation, and I kind of think it applies here.

As someone who likes to work as little as I do, I quite like this bend. I like that a drop in student numbers allows me the freedom to request fewer hours, and I kind of like how it makes others consider their futures.

When the going gets a little tougher, you find out which people really want to be here.

I still really like this job. I know that I'm not going to find a better one in Bangkok, so a term or two where I can't quite break-even doesn't make me question my medium-term future. For others it seems to though, and that's perhaps no bad thing.

But this is of course, under the assumption that things don't get so bad that they break, in which case...

I think that teachers are shielded a little more than Thai staff from termination, because we're paid hourly. If there's less work to do, then they just pay us less.

But let's say that things get so dire that teachers need to be laid-off... where do I stand? I've often wondered.

Seniority at this school is usually determined by tenure, and I'm not completely opposed to that, although I often feel like it should equally be based on merit.

However, if it comes to letting people go, are you going to get rid of the younger, more energetic, more photogenic (that matters in Thailand) teachers, who I would imagine create greater revenue determined by the number of students that re-sign for further terms after their classes, in order to keep elder teachers, simply because of their tenure?

It's an interesting thing to ponder, and I have no inkling of the answer. But it's relevant to me because excepting those who transferred from other centres, I'm still the second-newest teacher through the door. And those who transferred have been with the company longer, just not at my branch.

I do wonder what'll happen if things get that bad.

And although saddened, I don't think that I would react to being forced to change my life too negatively, because it has become rather comfortable.

Great job, great apartment. I could live-out the rest of my days like this without hardship, but would perhaps do nothing more meaningful with my life.

A forced change could, despite my reluctance, give me purpose to have to build and to achieve again and...

Although I certainly wouldn't welcome it, I don't think that I'd view losing this job that I love too negatively. Sometimes you need change forced upon you, and maybe I've become too comfortable.

There are a few of us at work who've set ourselves the challenge of running 100km during the month of March.

That's not really a challenge for me; I'd have probably run 100km in March anyway, so it would have been somewhat anti-social of me not to have joined. The problem for me is that, although I try to suppress it, I'm a fiercely competitive person. I also take some pride in my ability to run. It's just something that I'm quite good at.

I kind of wanted this challenge out of the way as soon as possible, so I could just forget about it and get on with my life, so was thinking that I could quite comfortably run 100km in the first ten days of March, and then relax for the rest of it.

The problem was that, taking pride in my running ability like I do, I wasn't simply content to cover the 100km. That's easy. I wanted to do so with style-points. So on the first day of the month, at close to midday, I went to Lumphini Park to run my first 10km.

It was hot by now. My Nike+ app recorded it as 30°C, another app told me it was closer to 35°C. Whatever it was though, it was moderately hot.

That would normally be a time to pace yourself; to not push too hard. Especially when you still have to go into work later that day.

Fuck that shit. I covered 10km in a personal best time of 43:03, running for a total time of 44:18.

That would be fine in a cooler climate, but in this heat... well it's hard to recover afterwards.

I went into work feeling a combination of nausea and light-headedness.

Nothing too out of the ordinary for the heat-exhaustion that I seem to regularly give myself, but I probably didn't teach my best class either.

I planned on running another 10km before work the next day (yesterday), but when I woke-up still feeling some ill-effects, I...

Yeah, maybe time to be a bit smarter. And not going running, I suddenly had a free morning.

Considering as it had been on my mind for about two weeks now, and I'd researched everything, you wouldn't think it possible that I could just happen to buy a PS4 on a whim. But after a morning I'd allocated for running, I was suddenly 'fuck, I've got a free morning. I guess I'll go and buy a PS4 then.'

It actually worked-out in my favour that I'd deliberated so long and didn't buy one a week earlier, because then the cheapest price of 9,500 baht was only in one store, and it was for the older, larger PS4.

Yesterday the lowest price was still 9,500 baht, but now it was the price everywhere, and for the newer, slimmer PS4. But even this couldn't be straight-forward with me.

I went and spoke to some shops, found-out their prices, asked them some questions... and still needed more time to think, so went and had a pot of green tea.

Eventually though... yes, I will buy a PS4.

Bangkok has a wide-range of buses. Some have AC, some don't, some have fans, some don't. From my apartment to work, there are six possible bus fares, depending on which number and which type of bus I get.

It's one of the reasons that I rarely see other foreigners on the buses here. It's not that people don't want to take the bus, it's just that it took me living here for a long while, just to figure-out how.

A lot of Thai people don't even know.

I'm not fussy though, I just take the first bus that comes, AC or not. And it just so happened that the bus back from this shopping mall was one of the free services; presumably in existence so that Bangkok's poor and homeless can commute around the city.

You'll often see homeless people, with giant bags of plastic bottles that they've collected, sitting on the free buses.

And here I was, carrying a PS4 that'd just cost me over £200, wearing a watch that cost me over £300, using my phone that cost me over £600.

No one can ever accuse me of being the most extravagant guy in the world. I'll wear a £1 t-shirt until it has holes in. I still couldn't help but feel a bit out of place carrying my shiny new PS4 on the free bus though.

I remember the few occasions when I bought video games consoles in my younger years. There was such excitement and anticipation. It wasn't quite the same this time around though, partly because I'd concluded that the cheapest way to buy games, was online.

It's long been a pet-peeve of mine that whenever there's an international price discrepancy, I always seem to be on the wrong end of it.

For example, PS4 consoles are much cheaper in England, but to download games is much cheaper in Thailand.

Well I'd just bought a console in Thailand, paying a premium just for the privilege. I don't have a Thai credit card though, so to download games, I'd have to pay the significantly more expensive UK prices, using my UK credit card.

Fuck that shit.

During my pot of green tea, I'd learnt that you can in fact buy online credit in stores, so I had done that whilst buying my console, being able to therefore have a Thai account, and buy games online at Thai prices.

One of the games on my wish list was on special offer, so for roughly £20, I bought Battlefield 1.

The problem with this though, is that it needs to be downloaded, and games nowadays are rather big. So any teenage anticipation to tear my PS4 out of the box and start playing was tempered with... well I have to wait an hour and a half to download a game now.

It all worked fairly flawlessly though, and... well this might stifle my attempts to learn Thai for a bit. You forget how addictive video games can be.

It only downloaded in time for me to play about 20 minutes before going to work; and I still can't believe that I don't have to start work until 6:45pm everyday. God is good. This one was a big day though; it was weekend schedule reveal day.

And after all the bluster and the negative comments, it was basically as you'd expect it to be. Few to no teachers got less weekend classes than normal.

I was reasonably happy too.

For the first time ever, neither of my weekend classes replicated what I'm teaching in the week.

In the week I have levels seven and three, where as on weekends I have levels six and one. So it means a little more work on my part. Certainly not enough to complain about though.

As schedules go, this is probably the best term I've had since being in this job.

Today is my day-off. And apart from writing this blog, I did go for another midday run, although had the common sense to pace myself a bit this time. I also had to make a trip to the shops to buy more PS4 credit, hopefully for the last time as I'm endeavouring to figure-out how I can buy games online directly from my Thai bank account, hence cutting-out the commission that I've so far had to pay shops.

Even this is saving me a tonne of money on buying games on disc, or downloading them at UK prices, but I think I've figured-out that by opening a second PayPal account, I can cut-out the middle-man next time.

It's perhaps no coincidence though that I bought a PS4 yesterday, and I've done nothing towards learning Thai ever since. This might not have been the best purchase to help my Thai. I'm damn happy with it though. Video games have progressed a lot since I last had a console.

And I got it just in time to have loads and loads of free time to not study Thai and to play.

Well I've been stressing the importance of relaxing and... it looks like I'm poised to do a lot of relaxing now. Life could be worse.