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Archive for September, 2010

Commute

Wow. One year in Thailand already. Also, this blog inexplicably has 70,000 hits? Anyways, teaching has been a great experience for me thus far. It’s done wonders for my confidence in public speaking, ability to think on my feet, and understanding of some basic epistemological/developmental learning concepts (since I get to see the immediate results of my various modifications and tweaks to my teaching style). My Thai language (since deciding to take my study more seriously by attending Sumaa) is progressing at a pretty steady pace (especially my reading/writing), but my shortcomings in pronunciation are a constant source of frustration. My language is such that a normal thai person, without knowledge of common western mispronunciations, will only figure out what I was saying hours after communication, after mulling it over while making dinner, discussing it with friends, and finally discovering what I meant to say whilst brushing his teeth before bed.

One thing I like about my company is the opportunity to see 5 different schools a week. It makes it more interesting in terms of seeing all ages, discipline styles, religions/cultures, and varying ability levels. My schools range from relatively wealthy Bangkok private schools (one in Chinatown, one that’s significantly Muslim) to less well-off schools an hour out of town in the country. As I’ve mentioned, Fun Language is a logistically-impressive, well-oiled company and I’ve enjoyed working there. A downside is the sheer amount of time I spend en route either to the company or my various schools. Although it’s true that Bangkok commutes are often fraught with peril, excitement, and absurdity at every turn, it’s equally possible to be stuck in the most grinding, unending gridlock you’ve ever seen, all because someone thought it’d be ok to park their truck in the middle of a 2-lane road.

"Thai time," a euphemism for arriving as many as several hours late, has certainly taught me some patience. But believe it or not, there's very little honking.

Curious about the numbers, because the traffic here muddies my concept of distance and time, I decided to record some data by GPS to satisfy both my own curiosity and your utmost reading enjoyment. The number of different forms of transportation (walking, motorcycles, cars, vans, the skytrain, the underground, canal boats, tuk tuks) in Bangkok is amazing, and it’s difficult to accurately judge just how long and far a trip may be. It’s common to spend most of a day making a trek with some shopping or visiting goal in mind only to be foiled by severe rain or hope-crushing traffic. Will and I do it more often than we should, returning home with nothing to show for our day but an indescribably drained, empty feeling.  Keep in mind these numbers are rounded, and for convenience’s sake, re-used if the trip is a daily one. In other words, these stats have pretty low reliability. So, here’s the breakdown for my 5-day work week. Only commutes to and from work were recorded.

Never a dull moment in Bangkok Traffic (if you keep your eyes open, have a sense of humor, and don't mind being hours late)

You can skip the boring dailies for the total at the end. Click the school names for class pictures from that school.

Monday (Malakhit) – 25 miles (41 km)

1 hr 43 minutes (1:23 moving/0:20 stopped)

Distance in Miles (ระยะทาง ไมล์) Time Moving Time Stopped (เวลาติด)
Motorcycle Taxi 1.4 5:41 0:00
BTS Skytrain 5.1 12:20 2:01
Walk .25 4:03 0:00
Taxi 5.84 19:40 9:00
Taxi 5.84 19:40 9:00
Walk .25 4:03 0:00
BTS Skytrain 5.1 12:20 2:01
Motorcycle Taxi 1.4 5:41 0:00

Tuesday (Kasem) – 13 miles (21 km)

51 minutes (0:43 moving/0:08 stopped)

Distance in Miles (ระยะทาง ไมล์) Time Moving Time Stopped (เวลาติด)
Motorcycle Taxi 2.1 7:45 0:30
BTS Skytrain 4.9 7:27 1:02
Motorcycle taxi 1.4 5:20 0:12
Taxi 4.55 22:15 6:01

Wednesday (Prasatwut) – 29 miles (47 km)

2 hr 26 minutes (2:01 moving/0:25 stopped)

Distance in Miles (ระยะทาง ไมล์) Time Moving Time Stopped (เวลาติด)
Motorcycle Taxi 1.4 5:41 0:00
BTS Skytrain 5.1 12:20 2:01
Walk .25 4:03 0:00
Taxi 7.54 38:20 12:45
Taxi 7.54 38:20 12:45
Walk .25 4:03 0:00
BTS Skytrain 5.1 12:20 2:01
Motorcycle Taxi 1.4 5:41 0:00

Thursday (Kantawan) – 78 miles (125 km)

3 hr 2 minutes (2:32 moving/0:30 stopped)

Distance in Miles (ระยะทาง ไมล์) Time Moving Time Stopped (เวลาติด)
Motorcycle Taxi 1.4 5:41 0:00
BTS Skytrain 5.1 12:20 2:01
Walk .25 4:03 0:00
Office Car 32.2 54:10 14:19
Office Car 32.2 54:10 14:19
Walk .25 4:03 0:00
BTS Skytrain 5.1 12:20 2:01
Motorcycle Taxi 1.4 5:41 0:00

Friday (St. Mary and Ake Ayuthaya) – 100 miles (161 km)

3 hr 16 minutes (2:44 moving/0:32 stopped)

Distance in Miles (ระยะทาง ไมล์) Time Moving Time Stopped (เวลาติด)
Motorcycle Taxi 1.4 5:41 0:00
BTS Skytrain 5.1 12:20 2:01
Walk .25 4:03 0:00
Office Van 43.5 59:03 15:14
Office Van 43.5 59:03 15:14
Walk .25 4:03 0:00
BTS Skytrain 5.1 12:20 2:01
Motorcycle Taxi 1.4 5:41 0:00

Total

Distance Time Time Moving/Time Stopped
245 miles (394 kilometers) 9 hours 18 minutes 8 hours 23 minutes/1 hour 55 minutes

Wow – 9 hours a week in traffic just for my work commute. Since I’ve taught almost 30 weeks in Thailand, these stats work out to quite an impressive number of days spent in traffic. Then again they don’t even compare to the days wasted in WoW and other such games, but it’s certainly not a small portion of my day. I should probably write some sort of cohesive summary or explain why this data is valid, but whatever.

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