A Travellerspoint blog

Living the camp life

We finally got to spent time playing with kids and teaching them english!

rain

We spent the last three days living in a refugee camp! there was no air-conditioning, electricity came from a generator for a couple of hours before bed, and we found ourselves sharing our shower with a variety of "interesting" bugs. Suppose you could call it a glorified camping trip.
megan was lucky enough to witness a grasshopper eat a spider, in the shower. we thought that closing our food in a drawer for the week would be sufficient, but we were sadly mistaken. the first morning we went to get breakfast and instead found a bug infested cliff bar and our melon wrapper torn and covered with small juicy holes. we ended up splitting the other cliff bar and fantasizing about waffles and hot coffee. :) the next morning i was sad to find that the persistent little suckers had bitten clear through my soy milk carton and drowned themselved in my favorite creamy drink. nothing is safe from bugs here!
it was interesting not having proper electricity. if we hadn't cleaned our faces and brushed our teeth by the time the camp generator went out, we were left with our headlamps and visions of the unknown bugs sure to be scurrying around our feet. thank god for mosquito nets! they should also be called spider and cockroach nets. mosquitos were the least of our worries.
we have a million pictures of the kids we taught (and become very attached to) for the time we were there. they were all about 4 or 5 and we got to play with them for 5 hours everyday. by the time we left this afternoon they could all sing their ABCs, play duck duck goose and count to 20! and they repeated almost everything we would say. Kim took the liberty of teaching them to say "starbucks" and "cool dude". :) it was amazing. the whole time it didn't even matter that we didn't speak the same language. all they wanted from us was to tickle them, fling them in the air and sing with them.
alot of people have lived in a refugee camp for over 20 years! and many of them had fully functional lives before they were persecuted by the burmese government. they have been forced to start their lives over within the confines of a camp.
it makes us feel really lucky! but i do miss sleeping under a mosquito net simply b/c it goes with the decor of my room. :)

this weekend we are heading to Sukothai, the first Thai capital and center of Thai history. we ran out of shopping money in Chiang Mai last weekend, so we will be spending time actually learning about this countries history and customs. till next time... WE MISS AND LOVE YOU ALL!

Posted by orourkem 06:52 Archived in Thailand Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Our second week in Thailand

This week we worked in one of the refugee camps for 2 days and travelled to Chiang Mai for the weekend.

we got to teach in the actual refugee camp on tuesday and wednesday and don't think we've met a nicer group of people! they ranged from 18 to 85 years old but all of them are so excited to go to the US! after class we walked through the camp's market place(which we completely didn't expect would even exist, but they make clothing and things and sell them to each other) and the kids were obsessed with us. they would follow us for a bit and pose for our photos. they think its so cool that they can see themselves in the camera after the picture is taken. it was so sweet!
this weekend we went to Chiang mai for 4 days.... home of THE MOST AMAZING SHOPPING EVER! we seriously spent way to much baht... and more US dollars than we're wiling to calculate. Our hotel was situated right in the middle of the night bazaar, so every time we stepped out there was another pashmina or handmade necklace just waiting for us. we both had two extra bags coming back! (don't worry, the items aren't only for us) and we got 3 massages, each. they were like 4 dollars for an hour and amazing. We feel like new people. :)
the highlight of the weekend by far was the all day cooking class we took at a local womans house on saturday. we learned how to make 6 (delicious) dishes; everything from Pad Tai to Mango Sticky Rice. our instructors name was Yui and probably one of the nicest and happiest people we've ever had the pleasure of spending the day with. she runs her business out of her home with her husband and two children always popping in and out to say hello and check on our progress. we were full for about 36 hours afterwards, but it was worth it. before that day neither of us thought our kitchen skill would ever go beyond boiling water for noodles and heating up lean-cuisines in the microwave. (don't worry parents, we are actually excited to make you all a meal when we get back!)
our comical/annoying part of the weekend happened when we showed up at the bus station to return to Mae Sot and discovered that we had been sold bus tickets to the wrong town. the lady at the ticket counter only pretended to understand english and must have guessed where we wanted to go. so there we were at 8 in the morning trying to explain to someone, anyone what had happened and wondering if we would ever make it back to Mae Sot. it turned out that our correct bus was at one in the afternoon, giving us 5 hours to get yet another round of massages and hole up in the local 3 story starbucks with the left-overs from our cooking class.

so to sum it up, its has been a really great week! we've gotten to see and do so many cool things and we cant wait to see what will happen next!

we'll keep you posted :)

kim and megan

Posted by orourkem 03:00 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

quick catch-up... the first five days

we're sitting underneath our bug nets right now, praying that malaria is just a glorified wives tale. we'll keep you updated on that one. so far we have approximately one million bug bites (each). everytime we leave our nets the little suckers attack us.
we spent the last four days in bangkok, which is such a crazy city. there are a million street vendors selling everything from Louis Vitton purses to half a fried pig. here there seems to be a huge cultural obsession with designer labels. everything from playboy to chanel, or as they like it "plalboy" and "Channel". but we went to movie and the theaters are like first class airplane seats, little modules that recline and come with a pillow, blanket and reclining leather seat. we also went through UN Advanced Security Training, hours of survival scenarios..... we can now escape any sticky situation involving an angry rebel fighter by fashioning a compass out of a blade of grass, a needle and some water.
today was such a good day! it was our first day in Mae Sot. after our traditional thai breakfast, we walked about 15 minutes to our "office", which we spent about 30 minutes at, meeting and greeting our fellow IOMers. then,
we went to the refugee Processing Center where the families spend the night before leaving for the US. its a new center and hasn't been used yet, so we got to sit in on a lesson where the trainers were learning how to teach the refugees about airplane and travel conduct. its amazing because these ppl who will be leaving the next day don't speak any english and have probably never witnessed electricity, so the trainers have a little over an hour to teach them a few key phrases and things like how to use a western toilet! (okay culture shock... the toilets in this country are porcelain holes in the ground with a water basin and a small "cleaning" cup next to it... hmm) i can't imagine going from a refugee camp to the US.... our boss was saying that the cultural differences give the refugees a huge disadvantage. like how they have spent their whole lives under a strict schedule, given food when its time to eat, and given work if and when it is available so they are afraid to ask for anything. there is a huge concern that when they get on a plane they won't tell someone if they are thirsty or feeling sick. hopefully we will be able to help come up with some lesson plans that will be used to provide these refugees with as much information as possible in the insanely limited amount of time the trainers have with them.
here at the rujira guesthouse we have two matching twin beds, a western style toilet (thank god!!), and picture frames to hook our mosquito nets to :) its not exactly like the pictures on the website, but after getting a quick glimpse into the refugees' living conditions it is quite apparent that we have absolutely nothing to complain about.
sorry for the novel here, we will try to make these entries more frequent!

bye for now!

megan and kim

Posted by orourkem 09:56 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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