upcountry Thailand

Kanchanaburi Travel Blog

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Kanchanaburi is full of cows. They wander everywhere, onto the two-lane highway, in the fields and in the valleys between rocky cliffs. The cliffs rise steeply out of the jungle they’re a spectacular sight. In recent years the Thai government built infrastructure. Before Kanchanaburi was just a jungle much like Burma across the border.

I was with Peter’s family and some other kids we were going to stay out on a ranch that belonged to a friend of his. The jeep track to the ranch was not well marked and we had some difficulty finding it from the highway. It was very muddy and there was always the danger our van would get stuck. His friend wasn’t there but the Thai farm hands opened the gate for us and gave us the keys.

The farm hands lived in huts on the ranch and looked after the cows. The guesthouse was a comfortable bungalow. I had a room with Peter and Kristy took the kids to another room. Peter put on the air-conditioner full blast and lay down for a nap. The children dragged me out to see the cows we rode down to the barns on bicycles. The bovines were a Brazilian breed of beef cow with long horns, humped backs, and floppy ears. Some of them were mighty fierce, one black bull in particular would smash the metal fence with his horns. We had some fun jumping from the hayloft onto the bales and hiding about in the barn. On the way back we had to ride through the herd that had been turned loose. My bicycle had a flat tire and I had 7yr old Jan on the back. About half way through one large cow started getting very agitated. My bicycle tire was stuck in the mud when she started heading in our direction the other cows were following her, they were bellowing aggressively. “Wow, let’s get outta here!” Jan was screaming and I put some pedal to the metal all the while I hoped the bull wasn’t around. By the time we got to a safe distance the farm hands were already rounding the herd up. They rode a tractor and shot stones at them with a slingshot. 

The next morning Peter was up early photographing birds, he’s something of a professional at this, we were having breakfast when he came back carrying his tripod over his shoulder. That day seminar in a Boy Scout center. Kristy had prepared a power point that we projected and did a 45-minute lecture after which we demonstrated some interactive TESL activities. The attendees were Thai English teachers eager to liven up their monotonous classes. It was really something to see these dignified looking civil servants scrambling to the whiteboard in a game of pictionary. I took pictures and helped with the activities. By noon we were done we finished the staff invited us to lunch at their canteen. The canteen was open to the breeze with just some wood beams and a tin roof it was good to get some shade from the oppressive heat. I thought to get a beef steak, after all there were cows all over the place, but they only had fried rice. Thais seem to prefer pork or white meat I wonder what they do with all those cows.

In the Afternoon we went to a local primary school for a show. We pulled in and Peter spoke to the principal who was overjoyed to get some free entertainment. Most of the school, about 80-100 children, gathered in the assembly court. This is just an open space under a roof, the children all sat cross-legged on the bare cement floor. The show started by Peter doing his little introduction/comedy routine in Thai, its hilarious the first time you see it. After the schoolchildren had some good laughs our children went up to do a few dances to recorded songs. Kristy then taught all the children some TESL action songs, I went around directing the little hands “head, shoulders, knees, toes, yes, good!” Peter closed the show with a short gospel message. Finally we presented the principal with a set of sponsored educational VCDs and gave all the children colour posters. The staff and students in this upcountry school waied (Thai bow) profusely and did their most to show their appreciation. It was obvious that they never have foreigners visiting them much less giving them things. We left with the whole school waving and calling after us, I’m sure they’ll remember that show for the rest of their lives, they all had the most enormous smiles on their faces.    

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photo by: wbboy29