Dawn in Bangkok
Hu decided to get up. She couldn't sleep. The first bird of the Bangkok dawn, the cuckoo, started its noisy, morning cry, 'Gow-wow! Gow-wow! Get up! Get up!' Hu could hear the growing noise of the early morning traffic. It was not yet six o'clock.
It was impossible to sleep. She walked over to her window and opened it. The noise and the smell of the big city washed over her. It was still dark. It was a cool January morning, the first day of the spring term.
Hu looked out of the window. The newspaperman arrived on his motorbike and gave his parcel of newspapers to the man at the entrance of the apartment block. The two men laughed, and then the newspaperman waved and drove noisily away to the next apartment block in the Soi, the next street. There was light in the sky now, a soft orange light in the grey dawn.
It was always difficult to sleep the night before the new term, but this time it was even harder. Hu was excited. She would see Marwa and Thomas and Yoshiko again, and that was exciting. She would do less housework and more school work, and that was exciting too.
Hu was seventeen and a good student. She studied at the Bangkok International Academy, an international school for the children of foreign people working in Thailand. It was expensive, but the Chinese oil company, where her father worked, helped her family to pay for her education. She had to study very hard, and all the classes - except her Thai language class - were in English. Hu loved English. Her father wanted her to become a doctor. Her mother said she didn't mind what Hu wanted as long as Hu was happy. But Hu wasn't sure if she wanted to be a doctor, or that she would get good enough results to go to medical school.
Hu liked to work hard, but she was worried about her studies, about her English exam. Today Mr Stanyer, her English teacher, would give out the results of last term's English test. Hu knew she had problems with her English, but she didn't know what the problems were. She loved English - or she had loved English until she started with Mr Stanyer last term - and she thought she was good at English. Her classmates thought she was good at English too. She helped Marwa with her English homework sometimes, but then Marwa got better results than Hu. Better results with her work!