Things your mother didn’t teach you

I love my mother dearly – but I have found there are a few things she neglected to teach me growing up. Like how to ride a bicycle in a skirt. I can’t fault her for this. Its not the kind of thing you find in a ‘Growing Up Baby’ book, but it is definitely a skill worth having here in Ubon, Thailand. Especially, if like me, your main mode of transport has two wheels, a chain and pedals.

It has taken quite a bit of trial and error to figure out how to get from my apartment to the school without flashing the Thai people along the way. There is bit of riding against the wind, pedalling gingerly and holding the skirt with one hand involved. Sounds complicated but so far it has been working.

Just riding a bicycle on a Thai road is an adventure in itself. Last week I bravely took my bicycle up Chiangun Road (think Eglinton Ave in Toronto) to Tesco Lotus (think Walmart anywhere). In the 40 minute bike ride there and back I nearly became road kill for several motorbikes and a SUV. Thankfully I got to my destination and home without major mishap (although I did almost fall off at one point. I would have been embarrassed but most Thai people probably think foreigners are a little crazy anyway.)

I am pretty impressed however at how fast I’ve been able to ride, seeing that I haven’t been on one of these things in at least ten years. It seems like the memory really does stay with you. It really is like…riding a bicycle.

Can you say ‘around’?

Because a number of my students can’t. Today I spent a good portion of my class trying to teach one of my students to say the letter ‘R’. This is not uncommon in Ubon, and other areas of Thailand, since many Thai people replace the letter ‘R’ with ‘L’. They also replace the letter ‘L’ with ‘R’ which proved rather interesting last week when one of my male students was reading a passage about electricians.

Nonetheless I am always impressed at how hard they try to learn English – which I am learning is a rather difficult language to acquire. (I don’t try half as hard to learn Thai) I now have a greater appreciation for my Asia-born friends back in Canada. We native English speakers don’t know how good we have it.