Thailand, as with almost every other country in the world, has turned its full attention to the World Cup. The Bangkok Post has launched a “Special Content” page within their sports section to display photos, timetables (with game times posted in GMT +7 hours), and brackets. Because we are five hours ahead of South Africa, many of the games start well into the night here, rendering football fans very sleepy during the day. My English co-worker Pi Tuk, for example, told me during lunch the other day that she went to bed after 1:30 am the night before (practically unheard of in a region where people normally rise at 5am) and needed a nap. Sure enough, that afternoon I saw her napping on a comfortable fold-out lounge chair in the library. Napping teachers are not a new phenomenon in Thai schools (especially during severe heat) but this was the first time I saw a female teacher take one at my school.
Living in a country other than the U.S. during the World Cup has helped me realize how important and unifying football is for the international community. The tournament has given me something more to talk about with my principal and co-workers than the weather and the spiciness of the som tam. It’s really fun to hear my teachers talk about last night’s games and upcoming matches. I’m also learning more vocabulary, like how to pronounce more countries’ names and the word for “goal” (which, interestingly enough, is the same as “door”: pra-tuu). The other day when I visited the local post office, I immediately noticed the triangular banner of the World Cup team flags strung above the counter and the clerk told me he’s cheering for Spain, a country I also called home for a time. It’s been fun feeling more connected to a global event even in the far reaches of Isan.
I will be the first to admit I’ve never watched a full football game on television before, and have never played the sport, but even I am feeling the pull to read up on the latest scores in this environment. Now if only I had a TV….