I am feeling like I’m really not in civilisation at this point in time! But I think that is pretty normal for any teacher returning from a field trip! First of all, I wasn’t too sure how we were supposed to dress for this as they are very strict here on skirts instead of pants, smart shoes, smart shirts with sleeves, high necklines and so on…so I wore my usual kit. Everyone else had jeans and a T-shirt on, so I felt like a tart! So, the field trip wasn’t just my class or junior primary – it was the whole of the primary school on the special course! My class headed for a very smart-looking orange bus and I’m thinking, Wow, these guys really know how to do things! Then I overhear someone behind me asking, “Is this the new bus?”
“Oh no!” Someone replied, “We just painted it”. And ‘just paint it’ was really all they did! We all climbed on and they asked the last teacher on just to hit the door to close it. He did this and the door fell off its hinges! They couldn’t get it back onto the rail, so the driver just pulled out a hammer and started hammering away until it looked more or less like a door on a bus should when it’s closed. I was seriously debating whether or not I’d ever get off that bus again! About 20 minutes delay and we were off. It is certainly one way of travelling and seeing Phuket…
The trip was wonderful to see Phuket but incredibly hot. I had two Russian children behind me on the bus babbling away in Russian while I was taking in the sights. The sun was beating down on me so I opened up the pleated mustard hessian curtains to shade myself from the sun. After 5 minutes the Russian child behind me promptly pulled it over to cover them and I was in the sun again. I decided against taking on the strong-willed children – I’d rather have a one-sided tan!
Shortly after heading south, I began to smell rubber and then brakes…awesome – we’re on a long flat road and his breaks are burning! Then the others started to catch on and the anarchy that comes when a crowd gets carried away ensued: “Oh my gosh!”
“What’s that smell?”
“It’s really gross, isn’t it?”
“What is it?” The females ask the males (because they’re the only people who could possibly know…)
“I think it’s the brakes…what do you think?”
“Yeah, it smells like the Brakes”
“Oh, really?” Asks a female teacher, “Did the brakes fail?”
Ah! Save me now….
“It’s giving me a headache!”
“I think I’m going to throw up.”
“I can’t breathe!”
“Do you think we should pull over and have the other busses pick us up?’
Eventually the driver noticed that his bus was burning and I had to laugh because he went to the back of the bus and began to open the air con vents (which don’t work). After a 10 minute investigation, he opened up, essentially the bonnet, inside the bus and let the smell waft right through the whole bus. Closed it and continued to drive. I mean, he found the problem…why sort it out? 10 minutes after that he pulled over – still covering 3/4 of the lane and chatted to his wife on the cell phone. The highlight of my trip was that we passed some very rural-looking homes that had three elephants that were working in the forest. It was quiet amazing to see them. With their tiny little ears, it makes a wild animal look deceptively cute and gentle. When we finally arrived at the Gibbon rehabilitation centre, our bus’s brake pads were billowing with smoke – seriously, it was a sight to behold!
The gibbons were really incredible to watch, they’re a type of white-handed ape and this project aims to release them into the wild. Their calls sound like a type of wind instrument and then they screech, so loudly that a lot of the time we thought it was the kids. A few of us teachers also went on a mission to see a beautiful waterfall nearby (me hiking in my skirt and low heels – mmmm… I really did feel like a dumb foreigner!
We all then had chicken and fried egg-rice (which is pronounced flied lice) from the school. I saw another transvestite working in the kitchen there and then we headed home where the Russian kids kept their dumb excuse for a curtain to shade them…smoke free (maybe brake-free too!) and got back to school safely. So, that was my first field trip and it was educational! An American teacher Tom taught me a phrase…T.I.T. Which means… “This is Thailand”. And that’s supposed to make up for lateness, disorganisation and lack of knowledge of whatever’s going on. I think it may become my motto while I live here – it seems pretty apt…