surrounding national park!
But before we leave some goodies out on the great brown backyard
that is Australia and see what interesting things turn up on the
nose, to have a sniff, a look and a forage. Let's get the fork and
spoon ready for another serving of the Thai culture stir fried with
lemongrass, chillies and coconut milk. What a place, what people
and what an experience!
If you remember, I was very keen to volunteer my services and had
just very kindly been given a tour of Wat Suan Kaew by its secretary
Mrs Duanjai. Afterwards I was asked what I wanted to do. So I answered
that I didn't mind what I did but suggested that I be put to work
wherever I was most needed. In response to this, Mrs Duanjai told
me that she lived in the countryside next to a University for Buddhist
Monks. She said that the students there desperately needed someone
to help them with their English and asked me if I would come stay
with her and her family and teach.
So the next thing I was living out in the countryside amongst the
rice paddies in a lovely little house on stilts, with three novice
Buddhist monks, no electricity, no running water, dogs, cats, puppies,
kittens, birds, fish, turtles and one of the kindest families I
have ever met. They spoilt me rotten with their hospitality and
their cooking. They relentlessly cooked me the most amazing food
and variety of meals I've ever had. Thai people are like Italians
when it comes to cooking, they really go for it!
And if this wasn't fantastic enough you should have seen the welcome
I would get at the university each day. There were over 1200 monks
and novices there and I was treated constantly like I was some kind
of celebrity. Plain old me!
After the head teacher got to know me I was even invited to give
lectures with the help of an interpreter. I was given free rein
to lecture on what I felt like talking about and this later became
taking questions. Important questions like world peace, ideology,
world politics, Australia, UK, girls, was I married and why not,
did I like Thai girls, could I marry one and settle in Thailand
and teach at the University permanently, did I like David Beckam
and Manchester United, Premiership football, World Cup football
(They were all stark raving football mad. Couldn't get enough of
it!) and finally more about girls.
What was especially cool, was that most of them had been learning
English for years, but had never had a chance to speak it with anyone
other than their teachers and friends. Most of them were very shy
with it, but that soon changed, the confidence grew and they were
so happy about it.
So there you go my champion friends, all these wonderful opportunities
to do something useful, make new friends, have glorious experiences
and receive very happy memories. And just think, none of this would
have happened if I hadn't made the effort to volunteer in the first
place and just go with the flow.
Wait! Someone's calling my name. Sorry, people I've got to go. The
rugby league is about to come on the box and the beers in the fridge
must have started calling my name again. In the next email I will
try to share a little adventure of how I was taken to see something
very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very special. Till then,
take care, Bye now.
here to view images from Wat Suan Kaew, Thailand
Other articles in the series:
the Poor and Socially Disadvantaged in 'Magnificent Thailand',
Part 1, 30 June 2002
Thailand, Part 2, The Splenderous Work of a Little Monk, 15 July
Thailand, Part 4, Helping Monks Care for Aids Suffers, 14 August 2002
Glorious Thailand, Part 5, Family: The Real Meaning
of Being Human, 21 October 2002