After eating dried bananas in our room, we left the resort at dawn and headed roughly north on small roads. Leaving the intersection where we’d eaten our second breakfast of delicious omlettes with tomato, we made a small navigation error. We didn’t rush, though, and we had a comfortable afternoon rest behind a copse of bananas trees, till we were forced to get moving as the smoke from burning a nearby cane field nearly engulfed us. Unfortunately, this is the season for farmers to burn areas of both cane and scrub, and the lungs and eyes of passing cyclists can suffer.
Chris and I were whisked to the market on the backs of Goong and Rin’s scooters, where we helped shop for supper ingredients. Rin prepared supper for us and served it in her room.
2009/ / : to Khampag Phet km
The school of over students was having exams in the morning, so it was not a normal school day routine. Some students arrived on campus as we were getting up, and music came on over the loudspeakers. The students all stood to attention for a rousing piece that we realized was the national anthem.
Over coffee, we met with Goong, various teachers, and students in the administration building. At Goong’s request, I wrote a short story about the series of coincidences that brought us to the school. We looked at the excellent Oxford series texts they use to teach English, and checked test questions with a native speakers’ eyes. They clearly have good abilities for English grammar and writing, but they struggle to improve their oral fluency and pronunciation. This is a challenge, because they have been unable to get a native speaker of English to stay at the school for long .
We chatted about about our intended journey, and Chris’s academic credentials were brought to the fore as he explained the nature of particle physics and the ATLAS experiment to a keen group of students. This slip from English to science began because one bright lad, when asked about his plans for his future, had responded that he wanted to be an engineer. Translation was challenging as Chris came to the concept of the Big Bang, but the students had strong backgrounds, and with the help of the ATLAS outreach web page, not much was lost in translation.
We were escorted out of town by Rin and another teacher on their scooters, stopping to see a local glass artisan’s workshop. This was part of the late Thai Queen Mother’s OTOP development program: One Tambon One Product. As we pedalled on toward Khampang Phet, Chris mused that there might have been difficulties in some U.S. schools with him explaining that the universe isbillion years old. There were no such difficulties in gentle and enlightened Thailand in a Buddhist State school.