Experiencing the Simpler side of Life

Posted: 26 May 2013 in Travel
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When I lived in Thailand, I had the amazing experience of being able to visit the villages where most of the kids live. It was truly an eye-opening and remarkable experience. To get there, we had to catch a bus in Chiang Rai (which cost us each only 50 baht each way) and drive some two hours until reaching Wiang Pa Pao where we got off. We then had to wait for anybody with a truck who might be going back to the villages after they were done shopping. Pratya was able to find us this ride so all we had to do then was wait. I ended buying a cheap but nice jacket since I had forgotten mine and some of the boys bought poppers and fire crackers. It was a loud but fun wait to say the least.

When Jirasak had said the roads were difficult, I had no reason to doubt him. When we began our way to the villages, I had begun to doubt his claims. The road was fairly smooth and paved, but for only the beginning until we got out of the city limits. It then turned to plain dirt with the occasional patch of cement. I had been sitting on the edge of the truck bed like Tawat and Achira but that was soon a major struggle. Not only was the road filled with potholes and  ditches (in the middle of the road) but the drivers generally drove as if the road was smooth. At one point, I ended up being thrown to the floor of the bed, sitting hard on Yulila’s leg and then elbowed him in the head when trying to apologise. Despite the earthquaking journey, I was able to catch a few photos of the journey and the scenery.

The first stop we made was where I was staying. Yulila had been gracious enough to let me stay at his house. More or less, I was bounced from house to house as Jirasak said I could stay at this kid’s house or this kid’s house and Yulila ended up being the last person he offered and that is where I ended up. And I’m glad I did, which I will explain more of as the story goes.

So we got out of the truck and headed up the hill to a raised house (as they are all raised). We were greeted by a man who was sitting behind the house. We entered the house and set our stuff down. The man prepared some drinks and nuts for us while a lady appeared and began laying down some mats and bedding. I was to find out later that these two people were in fact Yulila’s parents. They were lovely people who were very friendly and gracious enough to let me stay there, whether or not they had any prior notice.

That night we took it easy as by the time we had gotten there the sun had started to set. His mother prepared some food which was amazing. There was lots of flavour and just the right amount of spice. I tried to take my dishes to clean them but I was told (via hand gestures) to just leave them there. I did clean my dishes the next time before they made the gestures and they just laughed as I had already cleaned it.

After we ate, there was seriously nothing to do. They had electricity, but unlike every house in the western world, there was no t.v., no radio, no computer, nothing. It is no joke when I say it is like camping but their actual way of life. So Yulila and I sat outside on the porch and attempted talking. It proved a bit of a challenge as I still don’t know Thai and his English is not the best. I was still able to find out that he has a sister who is 22 and he went to the centre when he was 10. This new information helped me realise why perhaps these kids are the way they are.

The rest of the night was pretty tame. I was given a melon by a random person. It was quite the surprise but a very sweet gesture. It tasted good as well. Then Yulila and I went to the house in his village with the t.v. to watch something. We mostly watched some music videos and weird thai shows.

IMG_3058Saturday was quite the day. After a somewhat fitful night sleep, we woke up at 7 am. I hadn’t realised how early it was and wasn’t too thrilled to be awake so early but what could I do. I also was a bit apprehensive about showering as is was cold enough to see my breath. To combat this fear, I got my hair wet and then washed my pits and face before just rubbing the water on my ares and legs. I wasn’t nearly as cold doing it that way.

Once we were ready, we headed over to Nupon’s. We were in luck as they fed us and I, and maybe Yulila, hadn’t had anything to eat yet. To be honest, the food was nowhere near as good as Yulila’s mother’s, but it was food. I had figured that since Nupon was Yulila’s friend that he would stick around to be with him. I was very wrong. This was the beginning of my realisation. Nupon had disappeared and we saw him playing with his friends and/or relatives. We found Darid a little bit later, but only stuck around like 10-15 minutes as all we were doing was watching t.v.

The resto f the day comprised of a lot of walking and visiting of the kids’ homes. Yulila took me to their church and we also visited another church by Sukanya’s house. It was on the top of a hill so I was able to get a good view of the valley. It was gorgeous up there. There were houses dotted all over the hillsides. Many more of the children lived on that side of the valley. (Sukanya, Pratya, Tawat, Arisa, Anchalee, Achira, and Jiriporn are the ones I know of). We stopped by some of their houses. We ate again at Sukanya’s house and were invited to eat at (but didn’t) Tawat’s. At Sukanya’s, Pratya gave me back my camera case. I had taken it out in the truck to photograph the scenery and ended up leaving it. I was very happy to get it back.

IMG_3071The people there are so very friendly. We didn’t stick around to terribly long and headed back to Yulila’s house. We’d been given a ride to the other’s kids’ village, but walked back. We crossed a stream over a bamboo bridge and into a rice field. There were people working there but they paid us no mind other than the occasional glance. On the other side of the field was a second bridge that was nothing more than a log with a rail built next to it. Simple but effective.

We chilled out back at his place until Achira, Nupon and Tawat showed up. They chatted for a while as I laid there, but when they left he stayed. I felt guilty that he stayed there, but he acted like he wasn’t bothered either way. He ended up tinkering with some objects and taking a lighter apart. Yulila is a very clever boy. He likes to know how things work.

It was a slow evening. He wanted to go watch television, but we ended up playing with my camera. I took some pictures and then gave it to him. He took many pictures and a few videos. A couple younger kids (twins if I remember right) brought over some pellet guns and we played around with those for a while.

On the sunday (and our final day) we made ready to leave. I had no idea if plans to leave had been made and it seemed like Yulila didn’t either. So we just did as we did the day before and did whatever. Yulila took more pictures with my phone and we ate some kind of fibrous plant. It was very juicy. You couldn’t eat it, so you just chewed all the juice out of it and then spit it out. It was delicious. We went back over to Darid and Nupon’s house, but they were already gone. On our way back to his house, we stumbled upon Pratya who helped us secure a ride back.

IMG_3087

What can I say about the weekend? I loved it. There is something so beautiful and relaxing about getting away from the chaos of the usual. Sleeping on mats on the floor, eating food cooked over a fire pit, no distractions from the internet or the usual electronics, walking places, and bathing without the pleasure of heated water. Sounds extreme, but oh my goodness it was nice. I dreaded going back to work the next day.

I guess I would be remiss if I don’t offer some sort of info on how to have a similar experience. You can check out the Eagle House, the Akha Hill House (for smaller excursions), and G Adventures  are just a couple of examples. Check online to find more to your liking. Most of the companies take you to places outside of Chiang Mai. There are plenty of different options to go along with what you can afford. It is a great experience that I would definitely recommend 😉

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Comments
  1. great post and awesome pics!…Im actually in Phuket right now and Im blown away with the culture and all the beauty this place has to offer 🙂

    Like

    • cetracy says:

      thanks!!! thailand is such a great place. i don’t know much about the south (i was only in bangkok a couple times passing through), but try and visit the north. it is amazing. try for cambodia as well. angkor wat is worth the detour. enjoy your time!!! 🙂

      Like

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