Maegumpong Village

Trip Start Jan 02, 2013
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13
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Trip End Jan 25, 2013


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Where I stayed
Maegumpong Village

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This morning we ate breakfast at each of our homes. We gathered together and walked down to the Learning Center. The Learning Center used to be the village's school; however, as the student census began to drop the school closed. Now the students are transported to a school outside of the village. The school now serves as the village’s educational center. We met with the leader of the village and he provided us with the history, background and organizational structure of the village. It was a very informative session. Aj Aoi served as our interpreter. She did an excellent job. She was extremely nervous as this was her first time to serve as an English translator.

The village is over 100+ years old. There are 300+ villagers and around 120 homes. The people work in one of the following village trades: Coffee, Tea (pillows, leaves, fermented), Home Stay, Hydroelectricity, Local food shops, Security and Thai Massage. There is no personal gain in one’s trade. Everyone works for the Community fund. The community is self-sustaining. The busiest time for the Home Stays is around the New Years. They said this year they were so busy that they experienced traffic issues. This is so hard to believe b/c this village is isolated on the top of a very high mountain. There is one main road and it is very narrow and very windy. The village does not allow any pesticide use and the villagers must receive permission before cutting down any trees. The villagers must approve of those who want to move into the community. The village is getting smaller as more and more young people are deciding to move to the city as young adults.

After our morning session we walked back to our homes. During our walk the students were to create a "walking map" of the village. They were to count the number of steps from one building to another, taking note of the important businesses and landmarks along the way. We stopped to interview an 86-year old women along the way. She is not the oldest in the village. There is another women who is 92 years old. Our interviewee was born and raised in the village.  Her single son lives with her and helps to take care of her. She told us that her home was the only home that was visited by the King of Thailand. He had come to the village to see how he could help them. Her home was the closest to the temple so he came to visit her in her home. They consider her house to be very lucky. The only health problem that she has is a peptic ulcer. She contributes her longevity to hard work and consumption of local foods. She chews fermented tea. She was missing a fair number of teeth and her teeth were yellow. It would be interesting to know if chewing fermented tea has any negative health effects. The Ajaans present did not know if there was any documented research regarding this question.

After lunch we reconvened at the Learning Center to compile the information that everyone gathered using the 7-Tool Community Assessment. The students learned a lot and found it very helpful. Around 3 pm we went to the temple area where the villagers taught the students how to make bamboo baskets and animal toys (frogs, crane and fish). The faculty went to the coffee shop located at the top of the mountain. The view was gorgeous and it was so tranquil. While we were sipping on our coffee, a huge peacock came to join us. Apparently, there are 4 in the area. He was absolutely beautiful and was not afraid of us.

Following our break, Decha and I received a 2-hour Thai massage.  It was not the most relaxing massage I ever had. They were rather strong so I was in a fair amount of pain. I tried to hide it but Greg said he heard me moaning. A 2-hour massage was only $9. At this price I could afford a daily massage. The students received a 1-hour massage at their homes. Jeremy was to get a Thai massage but he fell asleep waiting for the therapist.  So, his therapist arrived to find him asleep so, he missed out on his massage. Boy, was he disappointed when he woke up.

We had dinner and talked with our Khun Ma during the evening. She was born and raised in the village. She has several siblings that live right around her house. She had 2 sons. One died 5 years ago at age 19. He was traveling home on a motorcycle when he had an accident. She is currently living with her other son, daughter-in-law and 2 grandchildren. She had developed a ruptured appendix and was in the hospital for 23 days. They expected her to die from her infection. Her son moved in with her to take care of her and they have lived together ever since. She is 55 years old and very active. After a time of conversation we called it an evening and went to bed. It was a little cooler than the night before. But still good sleeping weather.
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