After a busy first eight weeks of settling into new routines, meetings, boarding duties, new syllabuses, new children - it was time for our first short break. We didn't travel far but we did hire a car for the week and head north, enjoying the Thai countryside.

Pai was once a quiet market village primarily inhabited by 'Shan' or 'mountain' people, whose culture originated in Burma. As it lies at the feet of the mountains it's a good base for trekking and has become well known among backpackers for its relaxed atmosphere, cheap guest houses, souvenir shops and restaurants. In the proximity of the town are spas, elephantcamps, hotsprings and areas of natural beauty. The road to Pai meanders up, around and through a large number of hills and around waterfalls. We tried visiting two falls... one was easy enough as the first photos will show ­the other was a long trek crossing the river at different points and we didn't actually make it to the falls. Still, it made a good day out, although the shoes never did recover!


After 3 days in Pai, we travelled back to the main road, and then further north to Ban Thaton, a small town on the border with Myanmar, to visit an educational resort center that we hoped to use with students later in the year. In Ban Thaton a lot of the time was spent observing schools in action, so we didn't get out to explore as much. We did however drive up and through a hillside temple complex where the following photos were taken.


Accommodation in both places was good! In Pai we stayed at the Belle Ville resort, a small and new resort within walking distance of the town, but with a very country setting. In Ban Thaton we stayed at the Maekok River Village Resort. We can recommend both places, the 'Balinese bathrooms' were very special ­- although ants were a bit of a problem. The final photos are general shots from both places.


All in all, a good week ­- a true break from school, a chance to enjoy the freedom of being off campus and out in the countryside (we really will have to buy a cheap secondhand car). Meanwhile ­things are settling well. All our boxes arrived from Shanghai, curtains arrived from Shanhong's parents, sheets were sent by her brother and we are borrowing a drill this weekend to be able to hang some pictures. The apartment is beginning to look like home ­and so the next report will be pictures from Prem! (We were even given a car to use yesterday).

All the best ­- keep in touch! ­

Trevor & Shanhong.