Trip Start Jan 01, 2010
17Trip End Jan 27, 2010
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Where I stayed
Homestay who knows where
I have to agree with those from the previous week that this was a, if not the, highlight of my stay at Mirror… unfortunately, I'm forced to remember from 4 days ago… and more than perhaps any of my other trips, the 'feel’ of the tribe villager’s life is what it was all about for me... not especially easy to recall without notes.
Plus this has been a difficult place for me to know what is ‘going on’. While my hearing is considerably better than before this last implant, I still have trouble with following conversation with more than one person…and that one person better be an American, preferably with a loud, gruff Brooklyn accent. Not the case here, especially since Jeff left…mostly soft-speaking British & Aussies left at Mirror
Also, this placement location has offered the most genuine flavor of the native people’s ‘slice of life’ of any place I’ve been…meaning 75% of the time signs & descriptions are only in Thai and not translated/subtitled into English for tourists. Truly this is their everyday existence and making signs, menus, and such easy for foreigners is not part of their thinking.
Anyway, here goes… about ten of us left right after lunch on Tuesday. The purpose of our work during the stay was to help the Paduit (sp) tribe construct a building to gather in and hold supplies. Also, we would be teaching at the school in the afternoon.
Like when we made name tags for Children’s Day, every detail and component is labor intensive with no shortcuts
Later in the day, about 5 of us taught in school and that was a blast… English alphabet, numbers etc., but we made very playful games out of it… these kids have amazing smiles and are absolutely adorable. Plus all my dopey songs just work with this age…"No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed” is a particular ‘can’t miss’ for me.
Accommodations… Luke, Holly & I stayed with a very nice family, sleeping on the floor in the main room
Oh, and my strategy for dealing with trench toilets during homestay went just as planned…American ingenuity at its best. However, it may have worked a bit too well & it may have actually backfired… as I myself have yet to backfire.
Perhaps the real life of the tribe came across to me most clearly by just noticing the 6 or 7 pigs that wander among the hens and the roosters and cows and dogs of the village…the hens just wander in and out of the homes… Waking up to the cock-a-doodle-doo of the rooster as it just starts to get light out & 10 minutes later seeing our host family mother lighting a fire to cook a breakfast & heat the kettle…all in the same room where we are sleeping… just so real. Also, it seems so strange to me that the pigs that seem to be wandering pets much like the dogs, will soon be slaughtered to feed the family
The absolute highlight tho was that we got lucky that it was New Year’s day for the tribes and it is a big time celebration. The year of their calendar is 2555 and that is marked by the death of Buddha as I gather. But we joined in the tribal dancing and seemed every bit the part that the villagers were…they loved us and totally took us in! I just can’t tell you how much fun these 2 nights were…firecrackers and fireworks being set off constantly…the kid’s playing the game of jumping over the fire pit, and the circle dance/bongos being done around the sacred, elevated offering pedestal upon which was 1 pig’s head the 1st nite. The 2nd nite, with a different tribe we joined with, had a 3 pig head offering. I believe all this is tribal custom and not to do with Buddhist life.
This is just something not often experienced by many…we were fortunate in that we were at the village tribes that 2 of the Mirror staff belonged to (Sergib (sp) who runs the outdoor work projects & another whose name I never remember) and thus we were warmly welcomed.
Two final things we did during homestay…first we went to one of the Buddhist temples that was absolutely magnificent
The 2nd place we were taken was to a mineral hot spring located nearby. What I can say is that in addition to the pools we bathed in, they had a mineral steam room like no other I’ve experienced. Not sure I even enjoyed it since the mineral most obvious is sulfur. Sulfur at room temperature isn’t pleasant to me, at steam room temperature it’s nearly intolerable.
There is much more that happened during homestay but these were some of the highlights… I left Mirror today and have traveled nearly 8 hrs. by minibus and bus to where I’ll be spending my last 3 days in Thailand… it is the quaint, artsy/hippie town of Pai. It’s located in the higher mountains of northwestern Thailand about 120 km. from the Myanmar (Burma) border. Hopefully, I’ll get to fish, and will have a real truthful story and pictures to show.
Since my Mirror stay is over, I’ll give you my thoughts, insights into the program, the volunteers and overall experience in my next entry. Good night all.