Rimu

In November 2014 Vivian and I stayed on Don Det at a guesthouse and ‘commuted’ to the KCDA office on weekends to teach english. We did this for three weekends. In the past we stayed at the KCDA office instead.

On Saturdays we would get up early, hire bicycles, travel to the mainland, have breakfast in the Nagasong market (the noodle soup there is good and cheap), then follow the river south until Ban Touamong, and from there to the office.

We then taught english and stayed overnight at the office, eating the food we bought at the market earlier.

The next day, Sunday, we taught english again and then biked back beside the river to Nakasong, the boats and Don Det.

In the morning the temperature is mild and cycling is very pleasant. While returning on Sunday it can be quite hot but even so the path beside the river is shady and much nicer than the main road which is totally exposed to the sun the whole way. The main road is about 1.5 times as long as the river route although you can move faster because it is a real road rather than a tiny winding mud path...I think both route options take about the same amount of time but the river route is much more pleasant.

We had a tablet, a Mac laptop and a smart phone with us which we used as teaching aids. It is easy to find apps that present words with pictures and speech followed by some quizzes or games to make it more engaging.

The students were really enthusiastic about using the computer and tablet, often crowding around in large numbers and reacting noisily to whatever happened.

As well as teaching english we also experimented with teaching maths by using some simple educational games on the laptop. They loved that also.

The relatively comfortable life on Don Det makes it easier to be in the area for longer and I am more likely to come to the area again. While living at the KCDA office because of the slightly remote location it is necessary to hire a motorbike every day, which is about the same cost as a bungalow on Don Det. So if you are only needed at the office for a couple of days per week then there is no financial reason to be there 7 days per week.

However the distance might be a serious barrier for first time volunteers who are still discovering the area, getting to know the people and figuring out how they can best contribute, so I don’t recommend it for everyone.

Vivian and I really enjoyed our time here and look forward to returning again in the future.