The cocks start crowing at just before five AM. It is still dark at this time. Bt they start and then in the distance a reply from another group and then in an even further distance another as it gradually passes along to the end of the land. Then another round starts. It is still hard to see anything in the house but after a few rounds it becomes possible to make out the bamboo poles stored under the roof and gradually a crack in the wooden wall exposes a lighter shade of grey visible even through the mosquito net. Then th electronic click and whine as the village’s aging tannoy system starts followed by the village headman announcing events of the day and current price of rice amidst anything else a farmer needs to know as th cocks continue their competition with the crackling tannoy speakers. And a motorcycle or two start spluttering into life on their way to the market while the deeper sounds of the E-tan readying to attend to matters at the farms can be heard in the distance.

Tom arrived in Thailand after leaving a mundane job as a burnt out case. This was not unique at all to those who made up a large proportion of the expat community in Thailand if you removed the retirees and deviants, who made up other large proportions, and the highly paid expat specialists who represented a smaller segment of this not so diverse group. Tom arrived with money, but money can go quickly, but little idea of where he was going next in life or even of whether he would remain in Thailand for one day or one year or forever. Nobody living an expat existence should say forever as things change but enough who came ended up cremated with no or few attending the ceremony so forever cannot be discounted. And of course a few, but not so many, went home in a black bag or even a wooden box.

Wan now has her youngest sister staying with her. Having completed a lower technical course and graduated from it she had decided leaving home and not doing the upper level, that could lead to university, was the way ahead. A factory job in Ayuthaya beckoned complete with the freedom of being away from the village. And life with Wan was more exciting anyway. So Pun upped and left and moved in sleeping in the crowded storeroom at the back of Wan’s little shop. The nice factory job with nice overtime payments made it all worthwhile and of course Pun was going to register to study at the op[en university on one of those courses that you studied in your own time and had up to 12 years to complete. Her life was set for now.

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