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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Blog attempt Jan 21

The power has been out for a while this morning, so I'll take this opportunity to sit in the creek and get a little of my experience here in Thailand into writing.
In early fall I heard about the orphanage and school here needing some work.  At that time there was also an opportunity to go help build a house in Guatemala, so I quickly looked into which place it would be better to go to.  Soon I was semi-frantically trying to get everything together for coming here in early November. 

I'm really glad that didn't work, because I ended up going to Bella Coola instead to help with flood cleanup and restoration.  It was an awesome experience with great people in an amazingly beautiful place.

Now I've been here at the school in Thailand for a little over two weeks.  This school is really close (probably less than a kilometer) from the small river that forms the Burma border.  Most of the staff and students here are from a Karen school in Burma that got shut down because of fighting.  The Burmese are inhumanely trying to kick the Karen people (pronounced "Corrin") out of their villages in Burma.  Many of the students here are orphans.

For being a tropical place, I couldn't have asked for it to be much nicer here.  It's surrounded by steep hills, and you can see tall mountains from viewpoints.  It's nicely forested here: not with dense jungle, but with forest that's often open enough for good hiking.  And hiking is what I've been doing. 

On my first Sabbath here, eight of us went exploring.  We took a trail that passed through a small farm, then followed a creek bed up to the ridge it came from.  We were about to turn back, but decided to explore a little more.  Then Jason discovered that he knew where we were: on the trail to a mountaintop pagoda.  So we went to the pagoda, got a nice view, and explored underneath some rocks before we went back.  Jason brought a couple of the kids that the Adams take care of on the hike: a five-year-old and an eight-year-old.  We gave them some assistance in tougher places, but they did amazingly well.  I don't think kids their size in Canada would be allowed out of the rear-facing car seat yet.

Last Sabbath Jason took me to a waterfall with a nice pool below it for swimming in.  It was totally worth the almost 50km on the back of a tiny motorbike and the resulting novice cowboy strut that resulted for a while.  

On Tuesday afternoon this week, Jason and the same two kids and I went camping.  I slept in Jason's mosquito-net equipped hammock, while he and the kids used my net and mat.  The next day we went exploring again, and found some amazing rock structures to climb and explore.  The rocks are porous and grippy, but strong.  There are lots of holes and tunnels, and I felt safe climbing to one of the peaks.  There are roots and vines hanging down the rocks in many places: I wished I knew which ones I could trust...

Anyway, what have I been doing here aside from  hiking?  Slacking, of course.  And to break up the slacking, I built a couple beds (it takes me a long time to do them, especially since I was hand-sanding for quite a while).  Now we have an angle-grinder with sanders, so I have to find another excuse.  I also got some initial prep done for pouring sinks, but that project's on the backburner until we get some plastic.  

I'm staying quite comfortably in a bamboo hut that Jason built.  Sleeping on a bamboo floor with a thin plastic mat is hardly uncomfortable.  It gets nice and cool (about 15C with trees dripping dew) at night, and the daytime heat is nothing crazy.  It is hot enough to make it hard to get out of this creek though. 

Anyway, I'm enjoying it enough here that sometimes I forget how much I miss snow.  And the bike I left behind to play in it with.  And the outdoor skating and XC skiing I enjoyed just before I came...  All right, time to get busy again before I go too far with this...

...Looks like we're going camping by the rocks this weekend: I might be okay.

Jan 23 update

We did go camping up at the rocks this weekend.  Heading up the trail with a 5 gallon water bottle made me realize what I forgot to bring: a stairmaster exercise machine...

On Sabbath, we explored a whole bunch of passages in the rocks, including a cave with stalactites. We found routes to the tops of some rocks where swimming through thick tree branches was necessary to get a great panoramic view.  

A few crazy experiences happened, such as trying to make pancakes on banana leafs.  Now the question is, will I get any work done before the next distraction?

Jan 27 update
I did get a bunk bed made since the last distraction.  I I'd say today's distraction is an example of God working things together for good.  

Mr. and Mrs. Adams were going to take a handful of people on a trip about 16 hours south of here yesterday.  However, that plan got delayed due to truck problems  (later that morning Mr. Adams found it to be a simple problem with the fuel filter primer and a non-venting fuel cap).

Today, I got invited to go meet some people at lunch in Mae Salit, but I declined.  Then a student who is really awesome about helping people came and told me about four girls who needed malaria tests: I had only two tests, so I couldn't really help.  Then Paul Adams came back and told me I was going to lunch with them after all, so I told him he was needing to take a bunch of girls in for testing too.  

I got dropped off at the restaurant, and ran into a surprise greeting: it was Rob Deas, the friend I met in Bella Coola who also came to Thailand.  He's volunteering about 18 hours from here, working with a Thai lady who helps the Adams with legal issues. 

After lunch, I took Rob up to the pagoda ( that I had just sent a picture of to him 11 days before).  I took him on a slightly more scenic trip than planned, but that led us to another good viewpoint.  Fortunately, it wasn't hard regaining our bearings after that.  

Rob hopes to make it back here again while we're both still here.  As for the girls taken in for testing, one has malaria, and another has mumps.  Everything worked together for their good too. 

Jan. 29
I explored another trail this afternoon, and found a nice palm grove, chili field and farm.  When I was showing pictures to a friend, I learned that those palms were betel nut trees.  Aside from that, it's a really nice place.