Phra Maha Mondop – The shrine of the golden Buddha image

What a lovely find this was and a great morning out exploring bits of Bangkok that we hadn’t seen before.

Buried deep in Chinatown is this amazing Wat. So much more than just another temple this has a modern museum, exhibition space and multimedia presentations telling the story of both the development of Chinatown

as well as the discovery of the golden statue. It all cost £3.17 but I had to laugh at the transliteration of baht on our ticket

The original statue was made in the old Sukhothai Capital in the 1400s. For some reason (probably protection from invading hordes) the pure gold statue was encased in lacquer and plaster where it has remained hidden for centuries.

The 12×15 foot statue was moved around from temple to temple over the years. In 1955 the monks were trying to hoist it up to a different level. It had only gone a few inches when the rope snapped & the statue fell back to the ground chipping a piece of plaster off revealing something shiny beneath.

Following careful restoration this ‘utterly brightly shiny’ (direct quote) statue is now in pride of place at the top of this shrine.

It certainly looks more spectacular than the numerous gold leaf ones we have seen to date. In fact in 1999 The Guinness Book of Records has it as the most valuable religious artefact at an estimated £28.5 millions!!! Given that security was pretty lax, but then again it would be too heavy to lift so it wouldn’t get stolen.

Walking back through Chinatown was interesting. I think we were in the scrap metal district!

And I even found the ultimate widget shop. I’m pretty sure that if they didn’t have the bit you needed then it probably doesn’t exist!

I would definitely recommend this as a place to visit for anyone coming to Bangkok.

Language barriers

It isn’t always easy living in a foreign country. Largely people speak good English (we rely on that) or we do excessive sign language (you can achieve a considerable amount that way)

But there are occasions where it all falls down…

I got myself some new tubes for my hearing aids at the end of Jan from a shop where a man spoke excellent English. However, after a while the right-hand aid was uncomfortable and kept falling off. This can happen. I decided that the right tube was shorter than the left one so perhaps it needed to be replaced by a slightly longer tube.

I returned to the shop. This is how the conversation went (Nb the original chap wasn’t there):

Me: Hi, my hearing aid is not fitting on my ear. I think I need a longer tube

Woman: *looks at ear* Ah *takes hearing aid off me and takes it apart*.


Me: what? You’ve just made it shorter! No it needs to be longer!

Woman: *tries fitting aid in ear* Ahhhh okay okay


Next: WHAT!!! You’ve just made it shorter again!!! No. No. It needs to be longer *moves fingers apart* see Looooooonger

Woman’s: I see, I see (they quite like repetition in Thailand) *snip*

Me *giving up the will to live…* NO you’ve cut it AGAIN. No it needs a new tube!!!!

Woman: no can do. This foreign (NHS)

Me… but I got the tube here in January

*muttered conversation with receptionist* -(in Thai obviously)

They produce a phone and I speak to the man who originally served me and explained the problem. He conveys this to the staff.

New tube produced and fitted.

Woman: Good?

Me: Yes thank you. That feels better. But I will try it and if it feels uncomfortable I will come back.

Woman: un-com–fort-able??? What is that?

Kevin *trying to be helpful * Ouch! aw!! Ouch!!!!

Woman * looks completely blank*

Man obtained on phone again & this message is relayed

Woman: okay okay

Exit Toners – exhausted

I just hope to god that these tubes fit fine. I’m not sure I could go through all that palaver again…


With apologies to TS Elliott…

The naming of Thais is a serious matter

       It isn’t just one of your holiday games

      You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter

      When I tell you a Thai must have three different names”

First of all there is the family or surname. These are usually two syllables for traditional Thai families but for Chinese-Thai families these can be much longer even up to seven syllables and are largely unpronounceable by the average ex-pat! For example Lertkornkitja or Kanthamala, Chakrabongse or Chamnansatol. Interestingly Surnames only became a legal requirement in Thailand in 1913.

Secondly the formal name of the person. Again these can be extremely long and complicated to our western ears and when combined with the long family name – we basically haven’t got a hope! Apparently when a Thai child is born there are particular letters of the alphabet for each day of the week which can be used. These names are usually auspicious and can be a combination of multiple syllables. Many formal names are selected by the monks and largely they are only used in formal situations or for documents.

Finally there is the name that is used daily – the nick name. These are cute, easy and often random words that the parents just like the sound of. Fortunately for us these are the names used at school.

“What’s your name?” asked a new Bangkok English teacher

“Yes,” the Thai student replies.

“No, I mean, what are you called?”

“Yes. My names is Yes.”

The nicknames are brilliant but have taken some getting used to. Ones I have come across include









We have a family at school with the siblings Porsche, Mercedes and Benz. Another family with Pizza, Pasta and Kebab.

One of my library assistants is called Tub. His brother is called Toob because when said together: Toob, Tub it sounds like a heartbeat. Toob, Tub. Toob, Tub. Isn’t that lovely.

Many names are androgonous such as Mint. This is a particularly popular name at the moment and there are several male and female Mints which is quite refreshing in a gender neutral way although does make it difficult when needing to refer to the child with a pronoun. I recently sent an email about Garfield to her teacher calling her ‘him’ all the way through! I have also just recruited a female Tom.

Some names are easier than others. I like the single letter ones: M or Q or A

Thais seem to like duplication so there is also


Bin Bin

Ping Ping

Ten Ten

Tae Tae

Miu Miu

to name but a few

Some nicknames are colours e.g. Daeng means red,  Chompu is pink and Som is orange.

Some nicknames are wicked though and make me laugh. Porn is one which springs to mind. Porn is very popular here and actually means ‘blessings’ in Thai. It is difficult for us to keep a straight face; though Camp and Guff were also advised to change their nicknames before taking up a place in a western university!

Poo is also a popular name here as you can see.


The growth in western influence has spawned a generation with names such as










We do have a young Pearly Peace but my favourite has to be a little girl in the junior school called Smile.






Fully Booked

Fully Booked is the name of Shrewsbury’s annual Book Week – or Book Extravaganza as I’ve come to realise. It is the high point in the library calendar and definitely the busiest week of our year. It has taken weeks and weeks of planning and preparation but was a fiesta of inspirational reading activities and great fun to be part of.

This year we loosely had the theme of ‘mystery’ as we ran a Murder by the Book crime game in the senior library for all of Year 8. This involved them all sitting a detective exam (based on riddles) to choose their ‘lead detectives’ – there were 4 in each class. The game was competitive and points were scored for finding out who the murderer was but also how and why the crime was committed (using the available clues and evidence). Library staff wore CSI jackets for the day and kept the senior library closed to all but Year 8 – it was a crime scene after all. This piqued the interest of all the other year groups who couldn’t get in! I now have requests for ‘special activities ‘ for them too.

It was so much fun that year 8 asked if they could do another one! Maybe next year…

On Monday we all wore sticky labels on ties which had the name of our favourite book.

The idea was to chat to each other about books. We have 1700 children and approx 300 staff including catering, security, finance and admin etc. It was a lot of stickers to cut up and distribute. Obviously some folk forgot or didn’t bother but largely people engaged. In fact the non-teaching staff were delighted to be included in the activity. So huge thanks to Rosalind at Ripley for sharing that idea with me. It was a great starter for our week.

In the middle of the week we ran a reading fair. This was a co-operative initiative with the Literacy coordinator. Juniors could register to take part and the library was busy cutting out cardboard which the kids then decorated with their favourite book. They had to show an understanding of the author/publisher, setting, plot, mood etc and be creative. We had 59 entries which went on display after school on Wednesday. That day the Heat Index reached 41 (the point when outdoor activities get cancelled) but as this was after school the show went on. In sweltering heat we judges squeezed through throngs of proud parents armed with cameras to talk to each presenting child (or team) to check that it was their own work and that they did understand the story . The photos here show the high standards of work and to say that I was impressed would be an understatement. Judging was very difficult.

Wednesday was also our Where’s Wally themed day in the library. We all dressed as Wally/Wanda. The children did puzzles and games from the books. Every single Wally book (including the extras I had bought) were borrowed.

Thursday and Friday were the author visit days. David Bedford was over from the U.K. and we ran workshops with all our Year 1 & 2 children about his picture books and they got to make a little book of their own. Then David talked to Year 4 about his football stories and they made up a group story. He was an inspiring speaker and we sold many of the books at the end of each day.

David even popped into my Year 5 Excellent Readers group to talk with them about an upcoming reading competition.

In addition to all this members of SMT and other key figures came to read stories in the library after school to a dedicated core of pre-prep kids who thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Teachers also volunteered to read in a special story tent, put up in the playground, each break and lunchtime throughout the week. (A challenging task against the cacophony of noise!)

We ran a myriad of lunch time activities including an I Spy wall, a digital scavenger hunt, guess the character competition and daily breakout box challenges.

We ran a bookmark competition and a Tweet a Mystery competition for the seniors. Teachers in the senior school were asked to share a book that inspired them in their subject and whole year groups from the senior school went to read their favourite story to the little ones.

In addition each class in the junior school decorated their classroom door as a book and I am SO glad that I didn’t also have to judge that one!!!!

Running alongside all this is a major Family Reading Challenge where parents undertake to read to their child/children. They sign up and get a sheet then they choose a fiction, a non-fiction, an ebook, a book from a selected shelf of crime/ Mystery stories and a ‘book in a bag’ (it’s a mystery what you get). The objective is to read from all 5 categories to gain a ‘detective certificate’. Families who read 2 from each section can get an ‘inspector’ certificate and those who read 3 will be ‘secret agents’

This activity is hugely popular and on reflection perhaps should be run as a stand alone at a different time of year. We just couldn’t cope with the volume of issues and returns during the week. The parents have until Sonkran to complete this but they ‘peaked’ now.

Then there was a book fair running all week

And a book swap stall in the playground each morning run by the English dept.

But the ‘piece de resistance’ of the whole week was the Friday dress up day. Everyone in the junior school was a book character and it was amazing. The library team had chosen to be the Alice in Wonderland ensemble and the costumes created were stunning. Unfortunately though the Bangkok weather turned from its typical blistering sunshine to a tropical storm just at the time of the Book Character parade. (So yes, it did rain on my parade…) And boy did it rain! The entire playground was flooded in a short space of time.

Consequently the parade deteriorated into a squash in the smaller covered area. This was followed by an exciting assembly where all the various prizes were awarded.

Which was all followed by copious quantities of gin… (not for the kids)