|After dropping off Pam in Nathong Sawan (so she could catch a bus to Bangkok for a big donor's meeting) and eating ka pow gai at a small roadside shop, we continued on to tiny Suan Pheung. There we stayed at the dubious Yadaa "Resort". Not much of a resort and we heard later of the hourly rate! However, be that as it may, it was the only place to stay. It was a 10 minute walk out of "town", so after we settled, Louie and I walked in to find some supper. We ate at one of the roadside places asking for an on-the-spot deliciously cooked meal via broken Thai and much finger pointing. Eventually a woman came and helped us order in very good English. On our way back in the dusk we were threatened by a very large "guard" pig (honestly!). OK, it wasn't a guard, but it sure acted like one. We had insisted that the 3 men take the larger room so as to have enough bed space, which meant that we had a fan rather than a/c. Also our bed was a mite miniscule, but we managed! :)
The next day we walked back to find breakfast and I discovered my favourite Thai meal: freshly fried dough dipped in hot soy milk with bits of white sticky doughy objects that are really tasty, but I still havn't discovered what they are made of! Some say soya, others say bean paste. Now every where I go I'm on the lookout! Of course Louie and "the boys" had rice and meat. As Asterix & Obelix would say "these Asians are crazy" :)
KLH drove us into camp on a lovely "road" (kinda like the "resort") for a couple of hours and suddenly in the middle of the jungle was a "village". We had arrived at Tham Hin "temporary shelter" on the Thai/Burma border near Kachinaburi (which we would visit later). It is the smallest of the camps with about 10,000 people. Here we met the DARE workers who were in the middle of their 9 month training to be addiction workers at the treatment centre. This team had just lost most of their old staff to 3rd country resettlement, and so treatment had to be suspended until training of the new staff was complete. Resettlement, as I believe I wrote of earlier, is a big ongoing issue, as mainly the leaders, educated, and trained are leaving the camps to try for a better life abroad. There is a growing Karen community in Vancouver & Surrey that I hope to connect with when I get back home. Life for traumatized new immigrants isn't easy and they need all the support they can get even if it is only a friendly Canadian dropping by to say "woh la ghay" (good morning in Karen).
KLH was here to give support and pre-tests to see how their training was going so far. TTS was left behind to give further training. He is an old hand (although a young man) and they are lucky to have his experience and knowledge. He will come home in a month. (I forgot to say we had already lost one member of our group as we had left LLS in Mae La camp, just outside of Mae Sot, but more of that camp later). Louie and I hung out and went for a little walk. I was struck by how jam packed everyone is. In a normal village there would be space in between the homes, with vegetable gardens, vehicles, benches, and other sundry things one would have around one's house. Here it is a warren of one small house smack up against another with narrow alleyways and no space for growing anything (although some camps have gotten creative and make many tiny gardens or have made roofs into gardens). This really sucks as refugees are not allowed to go out of the camp to grow stuff or pick wood, or work in a Thai field for some pittance; no they have to somehow survive solely on what NGO's can give to them. This means rations, it means boredom, it can mean feeling powerless & without purpose, it can mean anger & depression, and of course, it can mean addiction & domestic violence.
But it also means many amazing community members doing amazing, creative and much needed work with dedication and fortitude. HI (Handicapped International) was next door to the DARE centre and the children's garden looked like an oasis of peacefulness and fun.
On the bumpy road back I continued to exclaim at various vegetation and birds, wondering what they were named. At one point KLH suddenly pointed to a tree a said "look, a coconut tree!". Ha ha