Saturday, April 16, 2011

Highlights of the Past Month

So I haven't written in this blog for a while so here are a few highlights as of recently:

Songkran - is a water festival celebrated in Thailand, Burma, and maybe some other countries too. It is basically a 4 day massive water fight/party. SUPER FUN!! Just driving around town people line the street throwing buckets of water and passers by, which is nice actually cuz it is super hooooootttt right now. So I've spent the past few days running around town.

The Waterfall: There's a waterfall just on the outskirts of the village which some local friends took me to last week. It was a fun afternoon/evening filled with swimming, guitar playing and the best part - cliff jumping. Despite my youth/adolescence spent in a coastal town with abundant cliffs suitable for jumping off of, I still feel as though my lifetime cliff-jumping resume is not as distinguished as I'd like. It was a great time.

The Butterflies: The beautiful natural environment continues to amaze. A few weeks ago I was taking a short-cut from my village (Doh Ki Tah) to the nearby Thai village (Nai Soi). The path involves cutting through some farmer's paddy fields and walking through a river. It was a quiet morning. I am walking down the path approaching the river, and I notice along the river bed a few butterflies just sitting together along the river's edge, green on the bottom, white on the top. They were in my path and as I continued to walk toward them they started to take off. I quickly realized that what I first thought was 5 or 6 butterflies was in fact, 25 or 30 which proceeded to dance in circles around me. I didn't dare move, as that might scare them off, and besides I was awestruck. They danced away leaving my thinking, "THAT WAS THE COOLEST FREAKIN' THING I'VE EVER SEEN!!!" wish I had my camera.

The Chinese Village: I went to it for the second time, this time I took some friends from out of town (you can see pictures on Facebook). We put our toe over the Burmese boarder heavily guarded by a bamboo fence, although after we were there for a while some Thai soldiers did show up - but no one was to be seem the first time I went. The other highlight was playing on the man-powered, wooden ferris wheel, and shooting our very small friend Grace around. I was too heavy for my friends to push me up o the top, but I was able to climb up the rungs to the top and fly down. figuring out the weight balances was like physics class mixed with a carnival WHAT MORE COULD SOMEONE WANT?!?!?!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Logical Man

This song is a bit of a before and after of my experience here. The first verse is a kind of how I felt when I arrived and the second how that changed. I've never chosen my words so carefully when writing a song before - I felt like I had to for this one.

The Logical Man

Drink down the calculations of my brain,
Eventhough I believe em, I don't know if I want to,
And I feel the blood pump through my veins,
and eventhough I want to I know I won't appease the pump,
its pumps truth, too bad thats no use.

I'm locked up by a logical man,
He's responsive to a rational demand,
And I'm slipping him notes through the bars,
Sayin' you gotta let me out, my patients only goes so far,
But on my parole date I can not state that I've been rehabilitated,

For now I'll stay far away from home,
I'll prove I can do it, and say that I've done it,
How long will I be locked up alone?
There's comfort in the fact that time is passing,
Sometimes passing feels like about all that it is doing.

On the wall of this room there sits a dichotomy,
Posters of my two idols Batman and Ghandi,
I only recently became aware of the irony.

So I stared at myself in the mirror, 
And hoped the image was nearer,
To what I pictured in my head, 
Almost chose not to care instead,
I don't want no idle pleasure, 
I just need to find my pending pride

I just spoke with the logical man,
He said pick yourself up take my hand,
Take a good, hard look all around,
How could you let this place get you down?
You got everything here that you need, I think that you will agree

You'll find just what your looking for,
It's incased in these walls and this floor,
And that blood pump you whole-heartedly ignore,
For its service you better implore, 
It'll turn this place into a home, this locked safe into a treasure chest

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Local Fauna Part 2

I had an almost poetic follow up to my last blog post last night. I was driving back to the village on my motorbike. The night had just gotten completely dark and a fellow volunteer Laura and I were driving through a perpetual cloud of bugs that splattered into our faces. Without warning what looked like a piece of garbage fell from a tree in front of us. I didn't notice it until I felt it on my right hand that clutched the handle bar and it hit the front of the bike with a solid knock.

We were both baffled. We weren't sure what it was that hit the bike but thought it might have been a bird. I turned the bike around. I parked the bike so that the head light was shinning on the road where the thing lay. It was a beautiful owl. It wasn't too big. I'd guess the wing span would have been 2 or 2 1/2 feet. He was kind of looking around and moving his wings a little bit, but didn't make any attempt to fly. I remember thinking that he moved like a mechanical animal out of the first jurassic park movie.

We wrapped the owl in my jacket and Laura cradled him on the ride back to the village were we though someone would know what to do. He stopped moving on the ride home and I was 84% sure that I had now failed to save two birds in as many weeks. We brought him back to the village and showed him to our friend Ri Reh, who told us he was still alive. He found the owl's pulse in his armpit (or should I say wingpit?). I was once again blown away by the local people's knowledge of wildlife in the area. We still had hope!

We lay him down on a table under the window. My eyes were glued to him for the next two hours. He didn't move much in that time, but every once in a while he'd wake up look around and then pass out again. About three hours later he let out a couple of hoots and flew into the night.

Lifetime record for saving injured birds: 1 for 2. I'll take it

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Local Fauna

Two very interesting things happened to me over the past week. Both things directly related to the local fauna. The first thing occurred on a very unsuspecting morning. I was sitting at my desk working on something which I can't remember what it was now when I heard a rustling outside. I was the only one in the office. I figured it was probably just the chickens running around or climbing on the roof like they so often do (those crazy cocks!) so I left it alone. So I'm working away and once again I hear the chickens but then I thought to myself, 'that is too loud to be a chicken'. But then it got quite again and I ignored it. Anyway this little song and dance went on for the better part of an hour before I finally decided to put my curiosity to rest. I opened the front door of the office and there was a water buffalo standing 2 feet from me and staring right at my face. We both froze. I stared into his tantalizing eyes for what seemed like 10 minutes but which was probably only 12 seconds. after a long moment the freeze was broken by the water buffalo abruptly turning his head to eat a bar of soap sitting on the bench next to him. He chewed exactly twice and then swallowed the bar of soap and continued starring at me. I paused again more briefly this time and then burst out laughing which scared the water buffalo away. hahaha! Man that was funny.

The second story is a little less funny. I went on a rafting trip this weekend with a couple friends (soooo fun), in which I managed to let the rapids throw me off the raft twice.... no one else on the trip got thrown off once. Anyway, at one point our guide steers the raft into the river bank and runs up the hill without a word. He is rustling in the bushes for a minute leaving the rest of us to only guess what he is doing. After a minute or so he pops out with what looks like a parakeet, her two wings pinched at the ends between his fingers. Of course we all launch in with the questions. He said the bird was endangered and she had been injured, probably from a larger bird (maybe an eagle he said) that tried to eat her. I have no idea how he spotted her or knew that she was injured from 50 meters away, but somehow he did. This guy has talent what can I say. Anyway it had become our mission to get the bird to the end of the river ASAP so that we could get her some medicine and hopefully nurse her back to health. Margery wasn't going down without a fight! (I named her – it kinda stuck) Unfortunately this tale of heroics has a sad ending. Margery died on the way back. She now lays to rest buried in the beaches of the river where she lived. That was a beautiful story that I'll never forget. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Now here's a little story about cross cultural understanding! There's a teacher at a bible school in the village I work in just up the street. The teacher is a middle-aged American guy, who clearly has been teaching in strict Catholic schools for way too long, and I guess he had a hard time embracing one aspect of Karenni culture, which is that they have no problem with horkin' up a fat loogie.

SIDE NOTE: Actually it was pretty hilarious, a little while ago I was talking to one of the girls at work. Imagine a beautiful young woman with long hair, who is soft-spoken, shy, and has a smile that'll make your heart melt. Half of the men here have fallen in love with her. Anyway, I'm talking to this girl and I'm in mid sentence when a snort rages through her sinuses that I was worried would start a land slide. She turns to one side and drops a huge wad on the ground that would have filled a shot glass. Personally, this is one part of the culture which I think is amazing! and I have fully embraced the spitting ways! I can't wait to play the culture excuse card whenever I wanna hork back in Canada.

Okay back to the story. This teacher starts punishing his students every time they spit because he thinks it's rude, and it's not like they do it inside the class or anything, they just walk over to the window when they have to spit. The kids are at a total loss, having no idea why they're being punished. Eventually, one of the other adults at the school explains to him that in Karenni culture it's considered rude and quite disgusting to sniffle and then not spit, because that means you're swallowing it. So this guy felt like a bit of an jerk at the end of all that.

As of today the office is closed for Christmas. I've got a few fellow volunteers that are coming up to my place for Christmas. Some are staying with me since they're coming up from Chiang Mai, so it'll be a full house which should be fun. Merry Christmas!

My Mom and Sister Visited

Well it's been a while, so I guess I have a lot to catch up on. A while ago my mom and sister came to visit, and we went travelling around Thailand a little bit. Highlights included bamboo rafting, beachin' it, getting taken out on a sail boat, and going on a “short” drive to the wild sunflower fields just to get stuck out there after it got dark and winding up staying the night in an empty dorm of a small boarding school. It was pretty unreal but mostly it was just really nice to see my mom and my big sister. It really helped to recharge my batteries.

Oh! bamboo rafting: So there we were enjoying a drift down a meandering river at an easy pace with a local man driving the raft with a long bamboo pole that he used to push off against the river bed to direct us. This were going smoothly, we were laughing and joking until our local guide decides get my sister to drive. for anyone who doesn't know my sister – the last person I would choose to do anything remotely athletic or involving hand-eye coordination. In five seconds we drove directly into a rock. I literally still wonder if she even attempted to avoid it. Straight as a ruler into the rock.

Anyway, the driver took over and we were moving smoothly again, and eventually we came to a narrowing of the river where there were some kids playing and splashing in the river. I got a feeling as we passed these kids. Although I couldn't make out what they were saying in Thai, I knew they were planning to ambush us. I just knew it. As we passed, I stared into one kid's eyes for what felt like a hour and a half. It was like I was the Batman staring down the Joker while I was speeding towards him on my motorbike while the Joker is muttering, “C'mon I want you to do it, I want you to do it, C'mon hit me. HIT ME!” Then without thinking I pulled the trigger and I splashed that little kid as fast as I could. 

Totally worth it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mary Thompson's Prize

Here is Mary Thompson's video dedication. For those of you who didn't read the comments the answer to what the theme was in the puppies names was that they're the RESERVOIR DOGS!! At least I know there is one Quentin Tarantino fan out there who got it right. Anyways this one is for you Mary. Sorry it took me so long to get the video up.