Year 3 trip

In order to be able to take some older children to Kidslit – a reading competition, in October, I need to have experience of assisting on a school trip beforehand . Hence my assistant Marivic and I found ourselves helping out on the Year 3 visit today to the Siam ancient city, park located about 50 mins away from the school.

I don’t see an ancient city for years and years and then I visit 2 in the same week! Seems that ancient cities are a bit like the Number 6 bus!

Altogether there were 5 classes of approx 24 children. My class only had 21 and there were 3 adults so good ratios. However a hundred + highly excited 7 year olds can certainly make some noise (as I discovered)

The journey there was smooth and without incident (apart from one girl on our bus who managed to have 3 nose bleeds but the TA Miss Jo dealt with that. She looked pretty experienced so I guessed this happened regularly)

I passed the time picking up football and other cards from the floor of the bus when the boys dropped them (which they achieved with amazing regularity).

I was given the official school teachers PE kit for the occasion. They only had a massive size left but at least I looked the part. Here I am with the class teacher Tom and Miss Jo

Siam ancient city is in fact a huge outdoor museum of Thai buildings and structures. What we might think of as a sturdy gazebo- type structure is called a Sala and comes in a variety of sizes and can be highly decorated.

Each class had a tram (so the children were largely contained) and we visited 8 different places in rotation where the children did a variety of activities. This is at ‘The Sala of the 80 yogis’ where they had to copy the poses.

Some children were exceptionally supple (she’s a gymnast )

We saw replicas of the royal barges which the children had to draw. My role for the day seemed to be ‘Carrier of the colouring equipment’ and I am pleased to say that all pencils, crayons and erasers were used then returned and accounted for. A job well done I feel.

The barges were beautiful.

We saw a traditional Thai house from Chiangmai

And elaborate fountains…

The children particularly liked the recreation of the elephant wars

After lunch the children were allowed to visit the ‘market’ and had each brought 100 baht (£2).

Well they descended on those stalls like a plague of locusts. I have not witnessed such frenzied shopping for ages. It was clearly the highlight of the whole trip!

The heat index registered 39 degrees today so Marivic and I returned hot and exhausted but having had a lovely day out. Thank you Year 3.


Half term break for us is more of a long weekend than anything else so we decided to explore the ancient city of Sukhothai which is 230 miles north of Bangkok.

Bangkok Airlines are the only people who fly there and they built the Sukhothai airport. It was very much like Koh Samui with a traditional Thai open plan design. I have to say that the runway is the most beautiful one that we have ever landed on being bordered with colourful flowers.

Inside the terminal is colonial charm (odd since it has never been a colony)

And outside we were greeted by a herd of zebra (what else!) Then to our surprise (the zebra strangely seemed quite normal) we saw life sized dinosaurs. Lots of them.

They didn’t appear to be part of an exhibition so we concluded that they must be additional security (idea level: genius)

Personally I think that Manchester Airport could be greatly improved by the addition of multiple large dinosaurs stationed around the perimeter! Just a thought.

Sukothai itself was the capital of Thailand in the 13th century and the walled city housed a number of temples and shrines reflecting various cultural influences from Cambodia or Sri Lanka – all now carefully preserved and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It was extremely calm and peaceful

But you could imagine how busy and bustling it must have been in its heyday.

We hired bikes for a couple of hours at the exorbitant rate of 70p each. Even in the sweltering 36 degrees heat it was preferable to walking…

The box hedges were so pretty with their bright orange flowers

They matched the robes of the visiting monks!

They even do trees in the same colour scheme

You can just imagine how grand these temples were when the statues were inside rather than being exposed to the weather

This is King Ramkhamhaeng who is credited with creating the Thai alphabet (the one that looks like knitting)

I loved the details on the base of the Chedis or Stupas. It’s not often that you see the monks depicted. They are processing around the shrine in a ritual called pradaksina very like the prayer wheel circuits around Stupas in Nepal.

And this Wat is called Chang Lom or ‘surrounded by elephants’. You can see why.

The whole place looked stunning at sunset when it was illuminated

Today we splashed out another 70p and hired more bikes. This time we rode for about 10k (half killed me in the heat!) but it was worth it to see the countryside. Many of the temples are nestled in shady forest clearings or up slopes outside the city walls.

Here you can see how the standing Buddhas were constructed with bricks which were then overlaid with plaster (fascinating)

This is a big Buddha hidden in a large structure which has been lovingly restored in the last 50 years.

At the back was a pond with enormous flowers which clearly had been the inspiration for Wyndham’s iconic book The Day of The Triffids! (We didn’t get too close)

Some plants were incredible. These weeds were growing in cracks and were just stunningly vivid.

We were intrepid enough to scale the 300 metres to this lofty temple in the mid-day heat (mad dogs and English men sprang to mind at this point) the raised rock wall was in fact the path and the stones weren’t all that level or safe!

Ok it doesn’t look that bad in the photo but it was!!!

Oh and we saw an actual imprint of the actual Buddha’s footprint (totes legit- honest)

Overall it was very pleasant as there was next to no traffic and zero inclines! I was very pleased to have done some serious exercise. And naturally the rehydration with a large Singha was exceptionally pleasant too.

Food Shopping

Shopping for groceries in Thailand isn’t always as easy as you might think. I know how exciting it can be to go into a supermarket on holiday and see all the strange and exotic items on the shelves. But you can generally get by for a week or fortnight of self catering by selecting the bits that you recognise.

It’s different when you live here all the time and would like to cook something but are not sure if you can actually get all the ingredients!!! And some things like cheese or decent butter are available but only from certain specialist shops which are a bit of a trek away.

Today I wanted to make a salad which includes spring onions. This is what the shelf looks like

Spring onions here don’t look exactly the same as the ones back home. Any of these COULD be spring onions but with the writing all in Thai it’s very difficult to tell… some are fresh lemongrass and some are stink beans (I kid you not!) we have not dared to try those!!!

Today we visited Gourmet Market where they stock a range of imported items. It is in the basement of one of the mega expensive shopping malls so, as you can imagine, prices are not cheap. It’s worth it though to see bacon, sausages and mince. They even stock Brie at about £5 per small wedge. (We treat ourselves occasionally.) Bog standard wine which would normally be a fiver at home starts at about £13 here!!!

As a rule of thumb anything local is dirt cheap and anything imported is hideously expensive. A box of Alpen or Granola here is about £5 too.

I do love the displays here particularly things that you would never get in Asda or Sainsbury’s. This is the Japanese wild rice which looks very pretty.

However I’m not at all sure about this coffee…

Who on earth drinks coffee AND tea together!!!!

Often their English isn’t quite correct (but at least they are trying)

So we did (but not that brand) although I was tempted by the Wolfthorn body wash billed as suitable for nocturnal creatures.

There are lots of assistants around in the store to help (a level of customer service which we have lost in the UK) in fact here there is pretty much one in each aisle which is handy…

Because, although I can make a good stab at working out what things might be from their shape etc when it comes to laundry liquids they all look like this

I have no idea which is fabric softener or dishwasher liquid or what!!! There are shelves and shelves like this and it can be extremely daunting .

One of the downsides of shopping in Thailand is that they are totally fixated on plastic bags.

They often triple wrap things and the plastic waste is horrendous. I understand that it comes from wanting food to be ‘hygienic ‘ and many of the older generation don’t trust food unless it is multi-wrapped but they have a LONG way to go to reach U.K. environmental standards. It was a bit of a culture shock at first. I take my reusable bags but they often give me funny looks at the checkout as though I am a mad foreigner!

Anyway after paying we left the basement and emerged on the escalator into the sparkling bag department

So if I ever need one I now know where to go….