We have left Ayutthaya and given our last lessons. For me that was sad as my school colleagues and diminutive fans were genuinely upset and I received mob cuddles, hand shakes, high fives and awkward hugs and kisses – Also a punch in the bum from one of my more mentally challenged students. Rachel sadly was robbed of similar experiences since a number of her last classes cancelled through illness or work which left her feeling a bit cheated. We have learned a lot in Ayutthaya about our craft and been able to experience a wide range of age groups and class numbers at Zenith and various schools. Surprise, surprise Rachel knows full well that she prefers either bright willing students or adults whilst I have learnt that I will never teach maths and science to children unless I speak the country language or the children speak mine. Seriously – trying to convey the concept of genetic make up, trait characteristics, DNA, cell structure and what a nucleus is to an 8 year old thai child. Really!??
Two very notable events whilst we were still in Ayutthaya was the passing of Rachels Nan at 97 years of age. A truly beautiful woman who still used anti wrinkle cream up to the day she died and was living testament to how some care can kick the ass of the seven signs of aging. Rachel plainly was very upset but had come to accept that this might happen on our travels. Not that one can truly prepare for bereavement. After much consideration she decided that the visit home was not necessary for nan, family in England who had support or herself and so we went to a beautiful temple - Wat Yai where she lit some candles and whilst holding the customary lotus flower and incense sticks knelt before Budhha and contemplated nans life and said her goodbyes. The picture below tells of her pain but can not also convey the sense of right in doing what she was doing and certainly does not show the peace she received walking around the lovely setting and gardens after.
On a lighter note. My sister and Josh shared a couple of days in Bangkok with us and One in Ayutthaya. Bangkok included using the river taxis to move around the city, a visit to the Royal Palace, Wat Aran and the Khoa San Road (all spiritual in their own way). Back home, in Ayutthaya, we did the ruins and drank some beers and we felt quite proud showing them our turf.
Generally we have met some lovely and interesting people over the three months we have been here with special note to Oh, Charlie, Joy, Diew, BB, Dom, Glenn and Angie. All of whom provided us with support, kindness and laughter. Even though we didn’t finish our full term our employers were great and up to the moment we left were still doing things to be helpful. Very Buddhist, very inspiring and I guess partly in response to the considerable notice we gave them. Lesson from the Rachris book of travel. Treat others well and they will treat you well.
Ayutthaya has ruins and elephants and picturesque temples and friendly people but ultimately I think we should have stayed in Chiang Mai or gone coastal. Since we are leaving Thailand for some time we have just returned from a short visit to Chiang Mai to say goodbye to our friends and returning to that city again certainly confirmed that belief. I agreed to sell the bike to one of the our friends up there so I sent the motorbike up on the train the day before for £28 and a £2 backhander to the station master at the other end. It was kinda cool driving my bike along the station in Ayutthaya to leave it at the baggage hall and equally exciting getting off the train in Chiang Mai to find it sitting on the concourse waiting for me.
The friends we were visiting were those we made on the TEFL course. Good people and a strangely cohesive bunch for such an eclectic group which numbered Sarah, Mike, Patrick, Chris C and Niall. Lovely to see them and certainly worth the effort and cost of getting there and back. We walked in the night markets, toodled around the city, drove up the mountain to the Doi Suthep temple and the palace and looked down on the city whilst cool clouds emersed us in cold ethereal vapour. We ate and got drunk in a shit restaurant one night, had Smoothie Blue (fave breakkie place) breakfasts twice. Ate in a nice Thai/Western place another night who made Rachel a birthday cake (arranged by Mike F) and got very drunk and danced till 5am – something we haven’t done for a while. And here’s one of the great things about this city. You can have beautiful hills and forests just 10 minutes away. Great temples, and picturesque streets, go the gym, swim, eat in good restuarants but still be dancing in packed bars, clubs etc all night and find restuarnats and hawkers open everywhere even at 6.00am. Leaving Chiang Mai again is sad.
One night back in Ayutthaya en route to a dentist appointment for Rachel in Bangkok. Had to pack everything for the first time in almost half a year this morning and consequently have had to throw stuff away and consider the weight/need ratio of everything. Decided that the weight and in this case the volume of our pillows is a problem so walked into a seemstress’ shop this morning and got her to cut pillow in half and sew it up so I had two half pillows thereby saving one pillow space in our luggage. The ladies did it instantly and wanted nothing and only accepted 100 baht after I physically ran out of the shop so they couldn’t give it back. IFLT moment.
I am now waiting in the Mahidol school of dentistry whilst Rachel has the final part of her implant/crown treatment finished – something that has been going on and on and on for weeks and caused her much distress. That done we are off to Cha Am – our first stop en route to KL over the next 10 days.