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Abandoned cabs producing crops in Covid-quiet Thai capital

AFP, October 3, 2021 3:00PM Kids News

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Taxi companies have seen a significant drop in business due to the lack of international tourism throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ratchaphruek Taxi Cooperative's owners set up the community garden using disused taxis, growing vegetables to provide stress relief and food to their employees. Picture: Getty Images media_cameraTaxi companies have seen a significant drop in business due to the lack of international tourism throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The Ratchaphruek Taxi Cooperative's owners set up the community garden using disused taxis, growing vegetables to provide stress relief and food to their employees. Picture: Getty Images

geography

Reading level: green

Cemeteries are not generally associated with budding new life, but Bangkok’s “car graveyard” for its brightly coloured cabs has been turned into a sprawling* vegetable garden with frog ponds, set up to help feed out-of-work drivers.

In an open-air parking lot in the west of the Thai capital, green shoots fed by monsoon* rains sprout from the roofs and bonnets of row upon row of the city’s famously flamboyant* pink and orange taxis, left idle and decaying by Covid-19 restrictions.

Bangkok's Taxis Turn Into Gardens As Low Tourism Bites media_cameraA staff member at the Ratchaphruek Taxi Cooperative waters a community vegetable garden built on top of idle taxis in Bangkok, Thailand. Picture: Getty Images

Tiny green-brown frogs squat croaking in the tropical heat on makeshift* ponds fashioned out of old tyres, tucked in among the 200 or so abandoned cars.

The site is owned by Ratchapruk Taxi Garage, which has seen most of its drivers quit Bangkok for their home villages because fares have dried up following lockdown restrictions.

“This is our last option,” Thapakorn Assawalertkun, one of the company owners, told AFP, saying many of the vehicles still had large loans outstanding on them.

“We figured we’d grow vegetables and farm frogs on the roofs of these taxis.”

media_cameraFrogs sit in a tyre sat on the bonnet of a taxi that is just one of many vehicles out of service due to the tourism downturn in Bangkok, Thailand, as a result of the pandemic. Picture: AFP

Thailand imposed tough restrictions to deal with a deadly spike in Covid cases in recent months, including a night-time curfew.

Tourists, normally a mainstay* of the Bangkok taxi trade, have dwindled* to almost none because of strict rules on entering the kingdom.

The eggplants, chillies, cucumbers, courgettes* and basil grown on the cars, along with the frogs, will help feed the out-of-work drivers and employees.

And if crops are good, they plan to sell any surplus* at local markets.

“Growing vegetables on top of the roofs won’t damage the taxis since most of them have already been damaged beyond repair,” Mr Assawalertkun said.

“The engines are broken, tyres are flat. There’s nothing that could be done.”

Bangkok's Taxis Turn Into Gardens As Low Tourism Bites media_cameraStaff at the Ratchaphruek Taxi Cooperative in Bangkok, Thailand, are growing a variety of vegetables and herbs on the roofs and bonnets of taxis no longer in service due to the pandemic. Picture: Getty Images

GLOSSARY

  • sprawling: spread over a large area in a disorderly way
  • monsoon: seasonal pattern of wind and rain
  • flamboyant: lively and colourful,
  • makeshift: temporary, provisional, make-do
  • mainstay: pillar, cornerstone, provides support to something else
  • dwindled: reduced, diminished, decreased
  • courgettes: zucchinis
  • surplus: extra, more than required

EXTRA READING

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World Bee Day creates buzz

Meet Australia’s frog whisperer

QUICK QUIZ

  1. Where is the “car graveyard” located?
  2. What are the makeshift ponds made from?
  3. Where are the green shoots sprouting from?
  4. Whose business is missing from Bangkok and why?
  5. Approximately how many taxis have been repurposed?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Solve a local problem
This story is about a solution to a problem caused by Covid in Bangkok. Can you think of a problem caused by Covid in your local area? Think of a creative solution to this problem. Write a description or create a design of your solution.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Civics and Citizenship; Design and Technologies; Visual Communication Design

2. Extension
What is inspiring about this story? Write down what you think is inspiring, or is a lesson that this story can teach kids. Then, write a creative story or create an artwork based on it.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Visual Arts; Personal and Social Capability

VCOP ACTIVITY
Adjectives
An adjective is a describing word. They are often found describing a noun. To start with, look at the words before the nouns.

Search for all the adjectives you can find in the article.

Did you find any repeat adjectives or are they all different?

Extension:
Pick three of your favourite adjectives from the text and put them in your own sentences to show other ways to use them.

Have you used any in your writing?

Extra Reading in geography