the ethics of coconut theivery and the discovery of the birdsquito
By now we ere having a great time at school and because there were so few students we pretty much knew everyone (although my incredibly poor aptitude for remembering names meant that i couldnt remember even one childs actual name and had to rely on my nicknaming skills. My favourites where: monkey boy, kook-a-look, special, porcelain boy, boy scout and weird face boy, i know poetry right?). There was one girl at this school who was real eccentric, like a tad mental. She told us her name was jasmine but i later saw her pencil case and it was called 'jasmin love' it was like one of those chinglish pencilcases that says things like 'i am desirous of joyous moment for you' rather than 'happy birthday'. Anyway she would wear like pink sweaters over her uniform, these ridiculous green dame edna sunnies with white out all over the lenses and carry a parasol. When we asked the class to draw a human body and label the parts she drew a bodybuilding woman with devil horns and coloured the whole page in black. Yeah she was great. One day she was running around howling like a wolf, while we were playing table tennis, and then she found a stick and was climbing walls with it, cackling like a witch and jumping off and trying to fly. The builders were funny too, when they saw us playing table tennis they all stopped working and ran over and challenged us to a tournament. I couldnt discern there scoring pattern but every point they would yell Thailand vs. Australia YEA!! and then smash the ball. No wonder the construction site didnt change the whole month we were there.
Ive finally remembered, the school was called 'Pak Dern'.. maybe.. As im writing this my stomach is grumbling thinking about the lunches we had there. Lunch was really hit and miss. Some days it was amazing, we had this dish that was some kind of minced meat with chilli sauce that was delicious and some days we had this sort of spamlike pink meat in sticks. Not so great. At lunch they would give the kids these icecreams that were just full of sugar. Having just taught them and knowing that i had two more lessons after lunch i would almost cry watching them devouring their sticks of sugar crack and beginning to transform into monsters just as the bell rang.
The coming weekend we where planning to go to Koh Tao so i had to return the fuschia phantom. Oh yeah and sometime during all this rob had left to meet sam in phuket. Bye rob. It was a sad day returning the phantom but it was time to move forward. Back in my room i was playing my wantstock playlist and writing on the balcony, feeling a little blue. All of a sudden it just started pouring, the classic monsoon rain. In all of 5 inutes it was over and at that moment hundreds of birds came from the trees and flew back and forth right in front of my balcony. It was an amazing sight as they darted between wires, dove down and flew up under the watch of a newly formed rainbow. This natural display cheered me greatly and my fuschia fuelled melancholy was alleviated.
There was a temple between our guesthouse and the beach and we thought it was about time we checked the place out. We had been told that it was reputed to be one of the ugliest temples in chumphone but i thought it looked nice. All places of worship have a distinctly peaceful aura. On this occasion the aura was destrpyed as we walked onto the grounds and a pack of dogs started howling and ran at us. Oddly enough they wouldnt stop, even when i did my excellent crocodile dundee impression. As the pack of dogs was about to have a jugular feast courtesy of us a monk stepped out and yelled at the dogs. They stopped running and ran to heel. The monk lived in a little hut with a clothesline which was covered in his greatly varied wardrobe of saffron robes. The old fellow ambled towards us and greeted us kindly. He showed us around the grounds and took us into the temple. A big golden buddha and his two bodhisattvas gretted us with omniscient smiels and the monks encouraged us to burn some insence and pray. We went outside and Richard, one of the colunteers with us, asked if we could have a coconut from one of the temples trees. The monks, who did not speak a word of english, laughed, as he often did, and conveyed that we could have one but we had to pick it from the tree beceause the ones on the ground had ants in them (he was excellent at charades). He then walked of laughing a loony buddha laugh and disappeared. We tried, very unsucessfully to climb the tree like Baghera but fell like Mowgli (go watch the jungle book its epic). We picked up an old branch and started bashing the coconut until it fell. I now wasnt completely sure the monk had meant for us to pick a coconut (so he was pretty good at charades but you know, actions are ambiguous) and i started to wonder what level of hell was reserved for those who steal coconuts from toothless buddhist monks. Just as i was beginning to stress out the monk returned with what might with some large bulky weapon of choice on his shoulder. Oh no, he was coming to deal us holy retribution for a coconut fuelled greed!! But no, we were still good, it was what could loosely be called a 'ladder'. In reality it was a sketchy peice of rotting wood with little sketchy scrap wood sketchily nailed with sketchy rusty nails across it to form sketchy steps. This thing looked more like a trap left over from 'Nam than a device for vertical advancement. I mean it really looked like it could go at any moment and there was no way in coconut thieving hell that i was going to scale a tree with that thing.
Of course the monk used his superior charade skills to ask us to please climb the tree with his sketch-a-letch 'ladder'. Everyone else felt the same way i did about our chances of getting down from the tree with both a coconut and our skulls intact but the little man was so earnest and buddhist that i felt obliged to pick the damn coconut for him after he carried his sketch ladder so far. You know how most trees have solid branches that come out from the trunk? The coconut tree is not blessed with this design function and the 'branches' were giving the 'ladder' a run for their money as to which would snap first. I began to climb the deathtrap as it wobbled to and fro and creaked away, the coconut branches squeaking and shaking ominously. My slow progress was hilarious to the monk who cackled away. I told him that if he thought it was so funny he could do it but its kind of hard to do charades from a sketch-a-letch. I laughed back at the crazy little monk and climbed higher, just in reach of the coconut. I stretched out with one hand, rocking side to side, stretching with all my might. I grabbed hold and started to twist the coconut to break the steam. At this point, to the joy of the monk and to my horror, a string of ants swarmed up my arm from the coconut. In a flurry of cursing i climbed down and touched onto blessed earth, determined to never climb a sketch a letch again. A vigorous dance relieved me of all ant action. The monk then moved the 'ladder' around to the other side of the tree and charaded 'excuse me young lad could you please climb again and pick me one more coconut, thats a good man' (he was pretty good at charades). Again no one volunteers, especially after seeing my ant attack so i had to climb the sketch again. The second picking was a little smoother and blessedly sans ants.
After coconut gate the little fellow took us over to a tree scarred with long cuts on its roots. From somewhere on his person he whipped out a large machete. He had proven to be an erratic chap in the past and i was worried he wanted some meat on the menu with his coconut soup but he swung past me and busted the coconut wide open. Having tasted fresh coconut from natures well sealed cookie jar we went to go home but the monk charadely informed us that we had picked two coconuts and now had to eat all the coconut from both of them before we could leave. I tried to charaderemind him that he wanted two but he chardeignored me so we waited as he busted both coconuts and went about the long process of popping the peices out from the hard shell of the coconut. Im a patient man and i dont mind waiting, especially if food is involved, but the problem with this waiting room was the presence of particularly vicious mosquitos. Actually they were not mosquiotos. A mosquito you can kill with two hands. These were like devil offspring of an ill fated fusion between a bird and a mosquito, like some creeply large insect from the seventh level of coconut theiving hell. The monk was unaffected as he prepared our obligatory coconut so i decided to dance to keep the mosquitos away. One girl we were with got 7 bites in the time that we were there which came up bright red as we stood there. Sick of being birdsquito buffet i advanced my dance to the next level and began to routinely slap around my body in a kind of hybrid irish folk dance and drug rave manouver.
The coconut monk finished his work and we drugravefolk danced our way out of the birdsquito forest of death past the jugular seeking dogs out into the sweet ocean air. The monk sat sharpening his machete and laughing as we left with a fresh bag of coconut and a nice dose of coastal malaria.