PEER Centre

Wang Nam Khiao

The Primary Education English Resource (PEER Centre) is established in the Wang Nam Khiao District, Nakhon Ratchasima Province. My volunteer school goes by the title of Baan Butako, and I will report to the school coordinator, Ms Khan (Siwaporn Anuwiang). I depart the hotel at 11:00 hrs, catch a taxi to the city suburbs and meet up with Neelat (at his home). After lunch, we take a four-hour drive north to Wang Nam Khiao.  An unremarkable, yet pleasant drive for three hours, then a steady climb as flatland gives way to hills. The scenery changes: lush forests straddle the mountains,  roadside factories replaced by sporadic houses and farms.  By the time we reach our destination, dusk is imminent. Ms Khan welcomes us, provides refreshments, then guides me to my temporary home. The house is large; three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a sitting room, dining area and veranda. I am the sole occupant, but, as Ms Khan likes to keep the ground floor bedrooms vacant (if possible), I have to drag my luggage to the basement. The gap between each step is wide and the gradient steep. Ms Khan informs me she will return in the morning and left to my own devices, I explore the house. The kitchen has enough crockery and cutlery for 4-5 people, a water heater (kettle) so I can make tea/coffee, and a few cupboards. This extends into the dining room (open plan) occupied by a table and chairs. A doorway leads to the sitting room, which has two sofas, a coffee table and a TV. The bedrooms are a good size, (the mattress feels like a slab of concrete), yet devoid of any cupboards or wardrobes. The shower room is antiquated, but (a blessed relief), the water is hot. Feeling cleansed, but shattered, the concrete mattress cannot prevent Morpheus’s embrace. 

School is closed due to a public holiday. I depart around midday with Ms Khan, and a driver. We arrive at a monastery to finalise details concerning an upcoming school trip, when an interesting fact emerges; Buddhist monks (in Thailand at least) cannot meet the female gender without a male in attendance. She invites me to go with her while she discusses the details. Business complete, we head northeast for 2 hours, moving through a landscape populated with varieties of trees and shrubs, but there is little colour yet as the flowering period is normally late February. The road winds and turns, rising and falling as we move north. The ride is uncomfortable, due to the car suspension, which is in poor shape. If you close your eyes, it would be easy to imagine being at sea as bodies sway from side to side with each bend and twist in the road. This is an indirect route; the direct highway is (I’m assured) more akin to our motorways, and takes half the time. Still, I’m don’t complain, I am enjoying the intermittent views I snatch as we pass the odd clearing.  The distant hills, the valleys in between. Winding tracks and fields of crops stretch into the distance, Houses of varying colours with spirals of white smoke add to the panoramic scene. Nakhon Ratchasima Province, a tropical Worcestershire.

next – Baan Butako

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