Winter on the Border

Well it’s still “winter” here which means that the mornings are cool and pleasant and the afternoons are hot and sunny but not uncomfortably so. I hear that the weather in England is bitterly cold… what can I say? I’m happy to be here!

My landlady called round yesterday with a gift of a huge bunch of bananas from the tree in her garden, which was much appreciated. I still find myself looking at the coconuts on the palm tree next door and marvelling at how different life is these days. From apple and pear trees to banana and coconuts. Have you noticed that fruits that grow together, at the same time and in the same place are usually delicious when combined in dishes? I’m thinking of the apple and blackberry pies and puddings my mother used to make as well as the lovely sweet “cakes” you can buy on the street here for a few baht made form coconut, banana and sweetcorn. The corn is amazing! No need for butter, the taste is so much better than the supermarket corn cobs I’m used to.

I don’t know where the food theme came from, unless it’s because I’m trying to improve my diet at the moment! This is not the forum upon which to share my domestic arrangements however, so I’ll spare you the meal plans for now. I eat at the camp on Wednesdays and Fridays, usually fried rice with chicken or maybe noodles and soup. The food is very good, and the principal of our college (PTMJC) often does a shift in the canteen/cookhouse before she starts work. I cannot begin to express the admiration I have for this woman who is dedicating her own life to the youngsters in Mae La camp to try to give them a future of some sort. She herself has been there for over 2O years and has a daughter of her own who, at 9 years old, speaks almost perfect English. As the years go by the funding is becoming tighter, facilities more difficult to access and aid of all kinds more scarce. Yet Khu Paw, and people like her, continue to battle on, refusing to take the easy way out (she could be resettled in the west if she chose). I feel privileged to work with her and her dedicated team of teachers, some of whom are in the same situation as she is but continue to put the needs of their colleagues and students first.  It kind of helps to put all of the depressingly gloomy news and comments on Brexit and other issues from home into some sort of perspective.

The health service in Thailand is very good and guess what? It is government funded. It is not in place to make a profit and access to doctors and clinics (which you can find on every street) is very affordable. You may pay a few baht for some antibiotics for example but not as much as you’d pay for a prescription on our NHS.

I’m not going to use this blog to make political statements ( I can do that elsewhere) but I am going to say that the arrogance of the so called “developed” world is truly breathtaking at times. Trust me “West is best” is a misguided and very narrow minded view. We do not always know best that’s for sure.

The photos at the top of the page show myself and my students getting on with preparing for their exam which  will take place in March. The pairs of students are Lolla and Conquer, Mountain and Mayflower. ( I have their permission to share these with you). As ever, the whole class continues to delight and inspire me and, as I get to know the students better, the more I realise that I will truly miss them when it’s time to leave. I never, ever, hear them moan or complain. Every time I arrive in camp I am greeted by cheery faces and excited greetings “Good morning Teacher!” “How are you Teacher?” and, how lovely is this? “You look beautiful today teacher” !!! What??? I’m ashamed to say that my first reaction was to assume that they were being cheeky or sarcastic (too long spent amongst disaffected youth I expect), but no, they were just impressed with my Karen clothing and new earrings!

I hope I have managed to make a few of my teacher friends jealous now! It’s a great place to work as long as you aren’t looking for a five star lifestyle.

That’s all for now folks. It’s Sunday and I feel like doing something relaxing now. I might check out the herbal sauna at the Temple later, and of course there is my “private pool” to visit.

Take care all,




1 thought on “Winter on the Border”

  1. Hi Caroline!
    You sound so happy, fulfilled and content- good for you! You really are an inspiration, dear friend. Can’t wait for to come back to Blighty- but you probably can!
    I’m back on FB now and Messenger, but I’m still restricting my digital use!
    Love you loads, ‘Iron Spirit ‘( a more than fitting moniker to compare with your students ‘ )😁
    Much love always,
    Anna xxx


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