Most of the students in the Inter program went to Bangkok, but 12 stayed for various reasons. Add to them the 9 ultra-enthusiastic youngsters from Bridging Course and we had a full class for four days!
On Monday and Tuesday we did Thai culture thingamagiggs: Some presentations, some reading and I taught drawing and then we planned murals which we carried out on the green sheet metal walls of the big parking lot.
So those are the first images you will see. Hohn bai hohn ngiaw! (Northern Thai language for “Dang it was hot outside!”)
On Wednesday we went on a half-day fieldtrip to Warorot Market and the galleries on the riverside. That was fun and we had a veritable luncheon in the bowels of the market. Then we walked across the river (on a bridge) and checked out a temple which is dedicated to the astrological symbol of the dog and which also houses a free and incredibly interesting dusty museum of ancient Lanna culture and history.
After the museum, and it was another ‘luxuriously’ humid and hot day, we trekked, first in the wrong direction since I was leading, then in the left direction and arrived at an excellent gallery of Burmese artwork, Suvarnabhumi gallery.
Then the rot dengs arrived and twas home again!
Thursday: The itinerary is a visit to the King’s subsistence center somewhere near Mae Rim or maybe Maejo…
We arrive half an hour later (I love reading in cars, especially now that I am a teacher and it seems the only free time I have is when I am on a field-trip…) and tumble out of the trucks. We always seem to tumble out, never elegantly descend. Oh well!
Four burly young Thai women await us wearing blindingly orange polos. We learn pottery, then how to make Saa paper (Diamond particularly seems to enjoy pounding the tree bark to pulp. Good, get it out of his system, is what I say!), then how to make little roses out of long, green pandan leaves. That is where you lost me. Plus, the burly orange girls seem to have all taken fancy for Mr. Ian and only help him…boo hoo.
I didn’t want to learn anyway. So there!
Then we are off to see how the frogs live in tires, how the pigs live, on 5 layers of carefully arranged dirt which creates healthy, smell-free, organic piggies.
The bridging kids are full of enthusiasm for everything which is a delight to witness. So, a Japanese boy reminds me of curious George: He is not afraid of any animal or plant and is chasing after goats, deer and pigs with a big smile all over his face, sometimes feeding them, sometimes simply watching them, and sometimes jumping up to see how they bound away. I believe all kids should grow up near the countryside. Makes them strong, healthy and happy.
After lunch it’s time to ride a buffalo. What a wonderful animal that is! Neck thick as that of a Hungarian wrestler, they lounge in the pond sniffling and ducking their heads in, much to the dismay of the little yellow-beaked bird that slips and slides on top of their huge heads. My fiance tells me these little birds are called Nok Iak and they are the care-takers of old water-buffalo. He does look like an old guy.
The burly soldier (all the workers at this place seem burly) pulls him toward the green center of the place, a rope going through the buffalo’s nose. This particular old man can sawadi krap AND smile! Just like an old Hungarian wrestler would!
To mount the beast (I just had to use this phrase. It sounds so Hemingway of me) one runs from behind his squat quarters and then propels him or herself onto the beast’s rump. It works! Sitting high on the rump of one of the world’s most dangerous animals I felt quite pleased with myself.
Then ALL the little 11 year olds did it and I felt a little humbled…
So that’s that!