We have safely arrived in Bangkok and will go for some dinner soon.....although we had plenty of food on the plane the boys are still hungry.Everyone amazed at the size of Bangkok airport and loved going on the flat escalators (travellators?)Lots of tired travellers at dinner so bed time ready to go to Chang Mai tomorrow
All woke up relatively early and have checked out around the hotel....had a bit of rain last night but fine so far today. After a nice breakfast we are now heading off to see our first temple.
Day 2 continued....
We went for a walk to see a temple where we found some monks bagging sand to stop localised flooding at their temple. The students pitched in and helped them for awhile. After visiting the temple and learning the protocol with bowing as you enter and leave, we fed the fish. These fish were really huge and really hungry. Mr D, who wished he had his fishing rod with him, believes the fish were from the catfish family. Now waiting at the airport....again....to go to Chang Mai. The boys are eating....again...
Day 2 continued....
After arriving at Chang Mai and being presented with a freshly made jasmine lei each, we were taken to a restaurant for lunch where we all experienced authentic Thai food.....some spicy, especially Sally's chilli prawns and the chilli paste the boys tried with sticky rice. We then went to our hotel and after settling in quickly, headed out to see some of Chang Mai. we went to a shopping mall to get snack foods for the village visit and then went to the 2nd hand store to but coats for the refugees. These 40 coats were bought with the Interact money raised from the free dress day. We could really see the good use this money has gone to. Finally we went to the night markets where we shopped a little and then had dinner. Most people bought some Thai pants as well as the copr sunglasses, but generally we looked and checked out what we would be buying on our way home. Home to bed but first the fashion parade of the purchased Thai pants....interesting look, especially on the boys. They are waiting for next free dress day at school ...... We are going to Mae Sariang tomorrow and will visit the orphanage. Not sure if we will still be able to get internet reception.
We are at Mae Sariang and the Orphanage has wifi internet. A long day of travelling in the vans today. We stopped for lunch along the way and some had a very hot chillipaste based noodles. A lot of windy mountainous roads but the scenery was great......and the vans had a drop down DVD screen. The students have decided they would like some of these people movers at BTC!!!. We have also used the traditional Thai toilet...which was interesting for some. Finally reaching the orphanage where we met some of the students and went for a walk around the property. It is really lovely with the setting amogst rice fields very picturesque. We played soccer with the locals and then came back for a great meal with the students and supervisors. The girls sleeping area had a small pool attached to it .......so after dinner a cool swim was popular. Next we will be going to have "get to know you" activities. Tomorrow we head up to the Hillside Village in 4 wheel drives. It will take about and hour and a bit with the plan to leave about 8.30am.
We will be back at the Orphange Thurdsay evening so should be able to update the blog then. All slept well. Going in local trucks up to village.Should take about an hour and a half. We are building a meeting place in the centre of the village. Out time is 3 hours behind Australian time.
|Sleeping undr the nets|
Day 9 and 10
We are passing through the orphanage picking up our gear on the way to Mae Hong Son. We have just visited the refugee camp and it was EVENTFUL. The roads(and I use the term road loosely) are mud tracks cleared through the jungle winding around moutain sides. The mus ruts in some places were a metre high with the trucks not only using 4 wheel drive but also chains on the tyres. Of course one truck got bogged (amazingly given the state of the road only 1 truck got bogged) and we were interested to see the thin rope they were hoping to tow the truck with......it snapped. Then they got a wheel chain and attached it to the truck and managed to get it out. Finally we got to the refugee camp.....and had to cross walk across a rickety bridge over a swift running river to get to our guesthouse. The refugees ues the river by building waterfalls and harnessing the swift flower water along a man built type of chute which directs the water through a pump to generate power, After depositing our gear at the guesrhouse we headed off to findone of the schools where an Aussie was doing some voluntary teaching. The classrooms were muddy with only a whiteboard. There was no internet and most students had not used internet before. The kitchen for the dormitories was extremely hot as they cooked on open fires . This school had students from dormitories and students from the village.....about 150 students at the school. The actual refugee camp has a population of about 10,000...the size of Charters Towers ......and they have about 5 schools and have competitions between the schools....just like in Charters Towers haha. The camp had a huge storm the night before which was why the road was extra muddy, the classrooms muddy and moving around the camp muddy. After we had spoken to the Principal we headed back to the guesthouse as another tropical downpour hit. Needless to say all our raincoats and umbrellas were back at the guesthouse so we all got absolutely saturated.......at least we didnt need a shower that night. Dinner was sticky rice and meat before we again went to a nearby dormitory and spent a few hours talking to the students . We gave them the coats we had bought in Chang Mai with the interact money, plus other gifts. At the end of the night Morgan and Sally sang for them as well as Ross singing and Cal playing guitar. Some of the bigger boys with a better command og English came back to the guesthouse and spoke some more with us, describing their life, aspirations and life and thoughts on Burma. That night we all slept upstairs on a bamboo floor, which is much more comfortable than the hardwood floor of the hill tribe village. It rained again during the night and when we woke up we heard that a surge of water came down the river and took 3 of the 4 generators away. The guesthouse is right on the river and last year had water in it. In the morning we had our scantest breakfast.....plain bread and a custard filled cake. It would help make the students more aware of the small amount of food the refugees live on.
We split into 2 groups and were both supposed to go to orphanges but 1 group went to the monastary while the other group went to the orphanage. At the orphange were children as young as 7years who had no parents and had fled through the jungle from the Burmese military. They lived on 7 kg of rice for 2 months and had to look in the jungle for bamboo shoots to eat. The group visiting them bought some shoes and clothes and gave them some money. We hope to raise some more money when we return to BTC to send directly to these students.
.Back in the trucks and down and over the mountains. Our trip down was quicker lol ...only 3 hours....before we packed up at the orpha nge had a quick rice lunch then back in the vans to go to Mae Hong Son..........I have been on windy roads in my travels and this one is up there with the worst........ 162 km up mountains and down, hairpin bends......the actual road sueface was good bitumen but it took us over 4 hours to travel 162km. It has been a long day of travel but have arrived safely and looking forward to a bed (sort of) and a shower. Went for a quick walk around a few streets of Mae Hong Son where there were some markets. Everyone over rice so grabbed a snack at
Kitchen for the boarding house
After a western style breakfast (no rice!) we headed off to see the elephants. When we got there we could feed the elephants some bananas before climbing aboard. We had one person sit behind the head while the other 2 got to sit on the seats. Off through the jungle we went until we arrived at the river where we transferred into boats to take us up the river to the village of the long necked tribes. Here the students could get photos and buy some jewellery and crafted goods. Back down the river and onto the vans which took us up a mountain (yes another mountain….only a little one) to see a temple . Unfortunately it was being re-painted so it was not as spectacular as it would have been when it was all gold. Finally time to head to the airport to fly to Chang Mai. Our bags were taken to Chang Mai in a van , which took 7 hours to get there…..so glad we didn’t have to drive there. There is a drive you can do around Mae Hong Son which has 1864 curves and it is world famous. Don’t ask me why you would want to drive that. We are now back at the same motel in Chang Mai and we have had a little bit of down time for hot showers and now we are heading out to a market which is very long…. 7km. We had pizza first which was so nice then we had 2 hours at the markets. they did not start shutting until 11pm with the city life still very vibrant on a Sunday night at 11.30pm.
|Check out the mountains|
|Have to be careful we dont all do this when we get back home|
|Shopped out.......for the moment|
Our last full day in Chang Mai. After a bit of a sleep in we had breakfast and then unfortrunately had to say goodbye to Kinga....our wonderful Hungarian Rustic pathways guide. Everyone felt a little sda saying goodbye but we have great memories and photos of her.....and facebook friends were made. Then we headed out to the Chang Mai zoo which is built .....on a mountain........to everywhere you wanted to go involved hills and steps. The students enjoyed some of trhe more exotic animals.....tigers , lions, giraffes, bears, rhinos etc although a group did go to see the cattle and take some photos! After the zoo we went to Peepet's wifes restaurant . ( I am not sure how to spell his name but he has been a driver/ cook throughout our trip) The foos was great and the best treat at the end was when she brought out the icecream dessert menu. Back to the motel for a small rest before heading back into the centre of Chang Mai. First stop was everyone for a Thai massage. Sure got the muscles relaxed and ready for the markets. Once again eveyone hit the markets with gusto enjoying the competition of bartering with the shopkeepers. Back home agian to pack as we need to be all packed and ready to leave at 10am. We plan to go to an umbrella factory in the morning have lunch maybe see a temple before going to Chang Mai airport to connect to Bangkok. Unfortunately we have about a 4-5 hour wait at Bangkok before flying through the night to arrive back in Australia. I imagine there will be a lot of tired faces when we finally arrive back in Townsville. See you all then. PS Tomorrow is Scotts birthday so we will have to find a cake somewhere in our travels.
|Thailands perception of what a map of Australia is like.|
Today we went to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep which is the most famous temple in Chang Mai. Not only did we have to goi up another mountain , when we got there we had about 300 steps to climb. It was worth it, though as it was a very impressive temple. After climbing back down the steps we had a quick lunch then onto the umbrella factory where not only did we see how they make the paper umbrellas but most students got beautiful paintings on T shirt, short, wallets, bags etc . Finally more sad goodbyes at the Chanh Mai airport. Our guides have become our friends ....in such a short time they have endeared themselves to us and vice versa. Luckily in this day and age facebook is a great way to continue to keep in touch.
We are now at Bangkok airport waiting....waiting.... for our flight to Brisbane which doesnt leave until midnight.
Finally some reflexions from the students.
Seiarne- Just have fun and enjoy it while you can
Scott- Rustic Pathways journey opened our eyes, our mind and now our world
Harry-Experience was great especially getting to know the hill tribe and the tribe leader
Callum- Sabai, Sabai (Thai saying for ‘ whatever…don’t worry’)
Ross- Sabai, Sabai- Thai life
Dylan- Throughout our journey whenever anything was not quite as planned our saying sabai sabai…..it is what it is.
Maddie A- I liked going to the village and refugee camp. We saw how privileged we are
India- Be respectful of how you live
Kaylin- Free yourself with your dream
Taylor- Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined
Morgan- Life is either a great adventure or nothing
Sally- Any idiot can face a crisis- it’s day to day living that can wear you out
Madi S – You don’t appreciate the little things in life until you are put in a situation where it is all taken away.
Lucy_ Rustic Pathways journey lifted my self- esteem to help me believe that there are opportunities in the world to help those people that are less fortunate then myself
Renee- People here are happy with what they have while other people take things for granted.