All Roads lead to Bangkok:
The last 10 days have seen me busy at school as national exams are due. In hindsight, I wish I had known about this sooner, as I have got last years’ exam paper (English) and seen what lies in store. However, better late than never as they say, so for the time I have available I am concentrating on teaching them similar exercises. Children’s day has come and gone, a chaotic time, with games for the children and performances from the students that covered song and dance. The children were given gifts, and free food was available throughout the day. My time at Ban Borpla is drawing to a close, and I believe this spell has been enjoyable and productive. Thailand is a smashing place, particularly at this time of year as the weather is cooler. Using the motorcycle has been of huge significance in my enjoyment, as it gave me the means to come and go as I pleased, and the boyish thrill that the feel of wind rushing thru your hair can give. The journey from Pak Thong Chai to Ban Borpla is long and comprises three roads. By far the most treacherous is the first part, the main highway 304. This takes around 15-20 mins being full of morning rush hour traffic. The second road is longest, and straightest of the three. It is where you can roll the throttle back and let the bike do its stuff, well at least reach 80 Km per hour. Nine-tenths of its length is straight, but as you approach the last tenth, it winds through small hamlets, where the smells of cooking replace the countryside air. As the road continues, another bend reveals a different vista. The schools, hamlets and trees become open fields, and on both sides, mountains appear in the distance. It is the moment I cherish, as the colours vary in their shades of browns, yellows and greens, and here I always throttle down, and slowly drive the last 20 kilometres. A turn to the left and onto the last stretch where there are more potholes than tarmac. Testing my bike control is to the full, I weave continually trying to find a solid piece of ground. Some holes are large and might do the bike some serious damage, not forgetting the aches and pains I could suffer. However, I like it, as it comprises straight sections, followed by the winding curves that pass through the villages en route. It is here that I stop the bike and take in the flavour of rural Thailand. Farmers have started their long gruelling day in the surrounding fields, a few mechanised farms, but overall, the people are manual workers with rudimentary implements. Old ladies and young women seem to form the backbone of the labour, while scooters roll by with 2 passengers plus the driver, and occasionally 4 or even 5: quite a feat getting 4 kids on a small bike, then weaving through potholes on the way to school. Often I am greeted with a ‘good morning teacher alan’ as my students pass, a nice feeling I must confess. The final bend reveals the shop opposite the school. Owned and operated by the P4 teacher, Kitikom, here I pause for 10 mins or so, drink coffee with him, and have the occasional cigarette (no smoking on the school grounds). His broken English is enough to get by, and during these last 3 months, it has improved considerably, just wish I could admit to my Thai improving as much. So, that is the journey I have made during my time at Ban Borpla. Now, all roads lead to Bangkok, and my flight to the U.K. Farewell Thailand and thanks for the memories….loved them all.