Sixth form in the UK

Like most things in the UK the schooling system is supposed to be very organised, if not regimented. Which is a bit intimating if you do not fit strictly within the parameters they work to.

Jono was seventeen without GCSE. Eventually we got him into a course for repeat students at Chichester College which is graded as Outstanding. But a year later I do have many questions. Not just about Chichester College, or the grading system, its the system.

Fortunately we ended getting locked down due to the coronavirus pandemic and he managed to scrape through with straight fours and a single five.

Chinese New Year

So no, it wasn’t the Chinese New year festival, it was the Ghost Festival. Although I am damned sure she said otherwise.

The Ghost Month is the seventh lunar month of Chinese Lunar Calendar. And the 15th lunar day is the day of the Chung-Yuan Ghost Festival. That’s today and maybe that is why I misunderstood.

Although I am damned sure I didn’t.

The festival has it’s origins from Chinese Buddhism. Moggallana  was one of Buddha Shakyamuni’s best students. One day, he saw his deceased mother amongst hungry ghosts. So he descended to Hell taking a bowl of food for his mother. However turned to burning coals before it could be eaten and Moggallana pleaded with Buddha to help. But his mothers couldn’t be forgiven without the combined power of thousand monks. Buddha told Moggallana that, “the 15th day of the 7th lunar month is the Pavarana Day for the assembled monks of all directions. Prepare an offering of hundreds of flavors and the five fruits, and other offerings of incense, oil, lamp, candle… to the assembled monks. Your present parents and parents of seven generations will escape from sufferings.” Following Buddha’s instructions, Moggallana’s mother was released and similar rituals are held in the Buddhism temples on this day for the deliverance of suffering spirits.


Folklore says these spirits jailed in the Hell have one-month to travel to the towns in the 7th lunar month every year requiring people to prepare and offer food for them.


Letter of consent

Applying for the new Thai e-passport is super quick and efficient. Except when your brother is a minor under the age of sixteen. We had to get a form from Amphoe for his passport. The other complication was that Dad is stuck in the England trying to organise a visa for the family to move and settle in the UK.

In which case he is required to provide a letter confirming that he consents to my Mum applying to renew passports for my brother and myself.

This he did.

He posted us the letter of consent together with a copy of his passport which took three weeks to get to us. Note for Dad, next time pay the extra and send it priority delivery.

Then when we eventually got up to Bangkok we found that they couldn’t accept it. It needs to be certified by the Thai Embassy in London on an official form, all in Thai.

He took leave, the train to the London Victoria Station and the District Line to Grosvenor Rd. From there he followed Google maps to the Thai Embassy.

Grosvenor Road London

The Embassy was not quite as efficient as they are in Bangkok. At first he joined the wrong queue but eventually got everything done and arranged to have the letter of consent and certified copy of his passport mailed back to him in the self addressed envelope which he had bought from the Post Office which is a priority service they offer.

He later found Rosa’s Thai Cafe which is near the London Victoria station before taking the train home. The documents will take three working days to process and when he gets them back he will courier them to us so we can pick the passports up when we next go up to Bangkok.


Ban Rai

Local Weaving Exhibition and Demonstration Centre (Phaichit Weaving Group) is located behind Wat Ban Rai, next to Ban Na Fai Bueng Ta Pho School. Turn into the alley beside the school and go on for 700 metres. It is a group of people weaving cotton cloth with dyes from nature. They also teach others who are interested in weaving passing on the ancient patterns such as Lai Kho Luang, and Lai Kho Kham Duean. There are shops to sell Pha Sin, bedspread, tablecloth, cloth for tailoring and Mon Khit pillow. In this area, there is also a museum of ancient cloth which is more than a hundred years old

Ban I Mat – I Sai Hill Tribe Cultural Centre is located at Mu 4, Tambon Kaen Makrut, under the responsibility of the Hill Tribe Development and Contribution Centre, Uthai Thani, existing in a part of Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. Most hill tribes are Karen, living peacefully and simply while they still practice their old traditions strictly. The examples of major interesting events are the festival to pay respect to the pagoda where there is a show of sword dancing, and the ceremony to pay respect to the Pho tree.

When the festivals are held, all relatives will return home. Those two events will be held every year in April. The date of the ceremony depends on the readiness of the people in the community; for example, when they finish harvesting. The most important thing is that this village does strictly not allow people to get involved in gambling or drinking alcohol.

Visitors can stay overnight at the Karen village, Chao Wat Yang Daeng Village, or shelters in the cultural centre which houses the Hill Tribe Museum. Please call Tel. 0 5651 2026 from 8.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. It also sells hand-made products, local woven cloth in natural color, bamboo basketry, and seasonal agricultural goods, such as dried chili.

To get there, from Amphoe Ban Rai, drive along Highway 3011, Ban Rai – Phu Bon route for about 20 km. to the end of the asphalted road. Take a laterite road for another 1 km.

Tham Kret Dao is 1 km. far from Ban I Mat – I Sai Hill Tribe Cultural Centre. It is possible to see the walking route leading to this cave. From its entrance, there is a bamboo ladder leading downward to the cave. It is a massive cave with large stones which can glitter when the light shines on them. The ceiling is full of bats. Villagers bring those bats droppings to make a fertilizer for plants in their fields. It is necessary to bring a torch.

Namtok Tat Dao is a little further from the entrance of Tham Kret Dao. The 9-tiered waterfall flows over rocks and is surrounded by fertile forest.

Botanical Garden is about 5 km. from the cultural centre. It has a natural fresh and comfortable atmosphere. It takes about an hour to walk around. In the garden, there are useful local plants and various species of plants; such as Sadao Pa whose fruits and leaves can be made into an organic repellent, Ton Sabu whose fruits can be used in bathing, washing hair and clothes, Rang Chuet which has a medical property to sober up. Some plants are poisonous such as hair of Chang Rong which can make peopleûs skin painfully itch when touching. Ya Nong – upas trees – has a poisonous sap which hunters in the past applied to the end of their darts that used for hunting.