So this is home…

This is somewhat anticlimactic for my readers in that I sort of left things hanging as to what my final decision was going to be on teaching. After a rather disappointing interview with the school in Medan I was left hanging for about a week waiting for an answer. I had already made provisions to go to Jakarta. I sent a follow up email and the job I wanted, I got.

Fast forward a few weeks of hanging out in Bangkok, I’m now in Medan, Indonesia where I will call home for the next year. My contract doesn’t begin until Sept 12 and ends Sept 30th of next year. It’s been a rough first week here as the accommodation they placed me in is rather uncomfortable. If it’s one thing I’ve learned about myself it’s that I have one absolute non-negotiable when it comes to any housing going forward. There must be A/C. I’m miserable in this room with just a fan. It doesn’t cut it.

I had heard some unpleasant things about the other house so I was afraid that I wouldn’t be happy with it but I decided to check for myself right away so I could make a final decision on whether or not I could stay here. The other house is absolutely amazing. There have been reviews online about the conditions there, with leaks and rats and break-ins, but I addressed those issues with the teachers living there now and have assured me those things have been resolved. Although, rats are a part of life here, I see them everywhere.

The house I’m in now is big but the one I’ll be moving into is just massive. It has 4 levels, several bedrooms, a big garage. The roommates there seem like they will be easy to get along with. Having fellow beer drinkers is always important. The girls I’m staying with now are really nice but they pretty much keep to themselves. Which is good but at the same time occasionally letting loose will be nice, which just won’t happen where I’m at. The new house has WiFi, a big bed, a washing machine and a balcony. My room will be very big.

Observations
I observed a class today and it gave me some real incite into how things are going to be. It’s really structured with a specific curriculum, however it’s not so strict that you can’t add your own personality and flavor. In fact, anytime I want to deviate from a lesson plan, I’m allowed as long as the subject matter they want covered, is covered.

Most of the students at the school are Chinese-Indonesian. They seem a bit more shy than the Indonesian students I had in Bukit Lawang but I think it will be a fun challenge. I’ll be teaching every age group from around 5 up till adults. Classes seem to range from about 10-15 students with the occasional one-on-one tutoring. This is not a public school, it’s a language center so this is not their primary education.

Back to Bukit Lawang
I have over a month before I start so there is no sense in sitting around waiting. Tomorrow I’m going to take a bus to Bukit Lawang to go visit. I was going to wait until I bought a bike but I’m not prepared to make that trip just yet. I want to get some city driving under my belt. I’m excited to see all the friends I made during my volunteer stint. My first stop will be the clinic and then make my way towards the river saying hello to anyone I can. I’ll stay through the weekend probably and maybe even longer. A week long public holiday for the end of Ramadan starts at the end of August. I have to make sure I get wherever I’m going to be, before the holiday and then leave after. There will be no buses running before and after. My plan is to head to Lake Toba and stay a week on Samosir Island. The island is predominantly Catholic so it would eliminate any risk of being stuck somewhere, unable to find food due to the fasting periods of Islam. Plus, it’s really nice on the lake and I can cool off for a little bit.

I’ll be back in Medan for good right after September 1st. That’s when I’ll shop for a motorbike and start learning my away around the city. Unfortunately, the guy I’m replacing doesn’t leave till after I start so there will be a 10 day overlap before I move into his room. It would have been nice to settle in the room before but what can I do?

That’s about it for the update. I’m just going to be touring around a bit and relaxing so I don’t expect much updating.

Waiting game…

The waiting game is about to be over. I’m still here in Ban Phe, Thailand. I decided to stay for the weekend and not move around too much because it’s easier to not spend much money that way. If I was in a bigger city the baht flow a lot faster. I have a beautiful room at Christie’s with A/C, hot water, TV and a great WiFi connection. I spend most of the days inside trying not to spend any money. The job in Medan is what I’m holding out for and I was told I would hear an answer a week from last Tuesday. If I do get the job I have to decide if I want to wait till the end of August to start. It is a tough decision because I really want the job but going that much longer with out a salary isn’t the best idea.

If I do decide to wait it out I’ll probably stick around Ban Phe longer and rent out this guest house for a month along with a motorbike for a discounted price. The interview itself didn’t go really well last week so I’m not expecting much with that job.

Could be worse places to wait around for employment

That leaves Jakarta, my eternal safety net of a job as my probable final destination. This is by no means a consolation prize as Jakarta is sure to be a great city for me. A lot of people don’t like it because it is a crowded mega-city but I can find the good in most places. If this is the plan then instead of flying the expensive $200 route from Bangkok to Jakarta, I’ll instead take a train south through the Malay peninsula to Singapore and then do a short hop on to Jakarta for much cheaper.

Either way, by Tuesday my future should be clear. Either I’m going to live in Medan or Jakarta for at least the next 12 months.

Offers Coming in…

After spending the entire month of April in Ban Phe staring across the gulf at Ko Samet, I finally took the 45 minute ferry ride to the island. I have been vigorously applying for jobs since getting to Thailand. I even started sending out my resume to schools I don’t really have any intention on working for in locations that are not my top choices just so I can gauge my worth and perhaps take the chance to get an interview under my belt with the intentions of declining any offer.

Just before hopping over to the island I got a job offer for an international school in Khon Kaen which is a small city in the North East of Thailand in a province called Isan. Isan is the poorest area of Thailand and has always been a possibility as a landing spot for me. It’s often less Thai and starts blending into Lao and Cambodian culture the further north east you get. It is interesting to me and the job offer itself is pretty sweet. It’s only for about 3 months till October but the pay is good for the location. The best part is that they want me teach more than just English. I would get experience teaching mathematics, science and arts to students around 9 years old. This would be really valuable experience.

Ko Samet

Drinking a coffee shake on the beach in Ko Samet

However, once I arrived to the island I got a reply back from my top choice school in Medan. They like my resume and want to hear more through a phone interview. I’m kind of in limbo right now. I don’t really want to be far from a fast WiFi connection and phone lines so I have stayed in Ko Samet town away from the beaches. It’s OK because I’m spending less money by not going out and eating at a fancy resort. I’m hoping that by Monday I have the interview and a possible offer so that I can make my final decision. If Medan wants me, I take it. If they don’t want me I will go to Khon Kaen and do 3 months in Thailand.

For now though I’m just going to hang around Ko Samet town and maybe hit one of the beaches tomorrow. It would be nice if the school would give me an exact time they will call me so that I can go off and play but it’s worth it to wait around. The school in Thailand has laid out the offer officially so if I want it, it’s mine.

These are very good predicaments to be in. There was a time where I thought the only job I’d ever be able to get was in a cubicle with a headset. This is exciting! Time to get beat up with a Thai massage.

On my way to the jungle

I wanted to update quickly of my upcoming plans since I don’t know how well connecting I’m going to be going to be while in Sumatra. I arrived to the island last night via the city of Medan. Medan is the 4th largest city in Indonesia and doesn’t really have a lot to do upon first arrival. Tomorrow morning I’ll head west into the interior to Bukit Lawang where I’ll arrange jungle trekking from local guides and hopefully do some wildlife viewing. Sumatra is home to the orangutan so I hope to get to see some in the wild. I don’t know how long I’ll be away from the city for and so I don’t know when I will be posting again but when I return I’ll make sure to share the photos and tell the story!