Public transportation in Thailand seems to take all forms, from the buses (air-con, no air-con, local, express, regional), trains (same options), motorcycle taxis, car taxis, SkyTrain, subway and tuk-tuks (motorized 3-wheel taxis).
One of the more interesting, especially common in the provinces, is the two-bench bus. Ranging in size from a pickup truck to just a little bit larger than a pickup truck, these modified trucks have shells in the back, steps, and two row of benches inside.
They ply set routes, but are operated privately and are not part of an official government-organized transportation scheme. They’re very popular for getting factory workers to and from work, students to and from home, and everyone else to and from their daily errands.
What really amazes me, though, is how crowded they can get. After teaching on Wednesday I was driving home and was following one of these two-bench buses on a road about 15 km away from school. I was shocked by how many people were on the bus, many just barely hanging on to the back.
Either life is less dangerous here or people just take more risks!
Speaking of Wednesday, Tod volunteered to come with me to teach. I think he had a good time, although was pretty worn out by the end of the day. After class he told me that one of the students asked him if he was “dek-khrung” – literally “half-child”, meaning someone of mixed parents, Thai and non-Thai. I’m not sure what prompted the question, but maybe it was Tod’s flawless English.
Having a second child-wrangler, er… teacher, was very helpful. Among other things, it allowed enough time for me to pull students out in groups of three and work with them, conducting flash-card exercises. This way I get a more in-depth understanding of their individual strengths and opportunities.
It was also helpful having Tod there because he was able to reinforce my instructions in better Thai than I can!
As the day wore to an end and students in grades 1-3 were copying their homework assignment, we wound up with one little boy who was in tears! One of the local teachers explained that he is pretty new to the school, so when he was the last one left in the classroom writing down the homework assignment, he probably felt bad that he was being left behind by his new friends.