A look back to my trip to Southeast Asia

The White Temple during sunsetIn August of 2008, I embarked in a month-long trip to Southeast Asia. During my trip I made various posts describing my encounters and experiences. I have decided to go back and revise and reorganize my posts applying a lot of the new writing techniques I have learned over the last couple of months. I have removed some posts that were not interesting or just unnecessary. I have also renamed some of the posts so they are more relevant to the contents. It’s been a lot of fun to go down memory lane and read over my posts, the scribbled notes on my journal and the pictures. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! (more…)

Trekking in Chiang Rai

Houy Kaew WaterfallI feel the spray of the monsoon-swollen waterfalls on my face. The Houy Keaw waterfalls roars all around the large boulder where we take a moment to appreciate magnificence nature, well, not Mr. Bean, he is napping.  I close my eyes and just listen. I think to myself how just this morning we were guests in a Lahu village atop one of the many mountains in northern Thailand. Extending from the bamboo house where we slept a large bamboo deck presented me one of the most beautiful views i have ever seen: the morning fog drifted over the mountains barely touching the trees that dress the mountains in a gorgeous jungle green while the pinks and oranges dance through the clouds.

Mr. Bean calls me over. We are on day two of a three-day trek in the jungles of Chiang Rai province and our charming guide, nick-named Mr. Bean, reminds us its time to continue to an Akha village nearby. My mind begins to wander again as I pick up my backpack. I think about all that has happened so far in the last couple of days. I think about the sad faces of the elephants. I think of the leech that made it’s way into Davide’s sock. I think of how strong the waterfall current was and how I was afraid of swimming too close to the edge. I make my way across the bamboo bridge leaving behind the waterfall and looking forward to what the rest of the day may bring.

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.

Orphanage

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.

Doi Hua Mae Kham

Doi Hua Mae Kham

View from Doi Hua Mae Kham

 

Destination: Chiang Rai, Thailand

Half of IHF’s mission is to educate the poor and the other half is to educate the world about the poor. Our vision is to strive for a world of leaders and citizens who have interacted with, and are truly knowledgeable about the world’s poor.
– IHF Website

IHF OrphanageIn addition to various sponsorship programs such as classroom or orphan sponsorships, the International Humanity Foundation (IHF) operates multiple orphanages in Indonesia, Kenya and Thailand with a focus on creating a nurturing environment for the children where they can make their education a priority. The IHF presence in Thailand is located in the city of Chiang Rai, Thailand. Nestled in between Burma to the west and Laos to the east is the northern-most province of Chiang Rai, Thailand. This summer, Chiang Rai will serve as my introduction to Southeast Asia as I will be volunteering at the orphanage in Chiang Rai as part of my trip to Southeast Asia.

I have been volunteering online with IHF since March 30th of this year. The volunteering work has consisted primarily of reviewing volunteer applications and determining which role would fit them best by reviewing their skills and experience against the needs of the organization. Compared to other volunteering opportunities around the world, IHF out-of-pocket costs for volunteers are relatively small. IHF accomplishes this by having most of the administrative work be done by volunteers online before they arrive at their center of choice. The requirements to log hours volunteering online are strict but well worth it.

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.