Men's Volunteer DormIt’s barely six o’clock in the morning and I begin to hear the hustle and bustle of thirty children getting ready to go to school. I stumble my way out of the mosquito net that surrounds the bed. The bed is made up of two or three long cushions that are usually placed on a wooden frame. In this case, a handful of cushions have been stacked on each other on the concrete floor. The rainy season and the leaky metal roof has made it so they are damp and sometimes smell of mold.

The noise outside continues as I reach for my glasses and peek out the door across the courtyard where the kids are running around taking care of last-minute details or eating their rice porridge breakfast. Some of the boys have not managed to get into their school uniforms yet while the girls were helping each other with their hair. As the breakfast bowls are put down, the kids make their way to the back of an old pickup truck. Some of the older kids drive off on mopeds, while others drive off on their bicycles. As the pickup truck drives away there is a silence left behind that reflects the mist of the early morning that has settled on the orphanage.

Since I arrived in Chiang Rai the weather has shown to manifest in any one of the variations of rain. From light drizzles to pouring monsoons, the season is wet. Your senses adjust to the diffused daylight and the moist air. This afternoon, for just a couple of minutes, the heavy clouds part to make way for the sun. The sun brings a bright, lovely color – painting the landscape in vibrancy. This experience is best described by the sensation of taking off very dark sunglasses after wearing them all day. The contrast was such that it felt feels like a different place all-together. Moments like this increases my appreciation of the simple things I often overlook.

I fall asleep with the sounds of heavy raindrops hitting the metal roof of the men’s dorm. The evening sky just finished an encore performance. A fantastic show of lightning and thunder that keeps replaying in my mind as I close my eyes. As I feel sleep take over my consciousness, a large dense fruit falls from a nearby tree. The fruit bounces off of the  metal roof causing a very loud noise that echos within the small shack. I smile as I am reminded I am not home anymore.

This entry is part of a series of posts on my trip to Southeast Asia in August of 2008. You can see all of the posts in this series the post: A look back to my trip to Southeast Asia.

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