Thursday, 19 February 2009

Mae Hong Son to Nai Soi

2nd February
Again after a grand total of 3 (max) hours sleep we headed off bright and early to visit various Karenni villages where the refugees have relocated. Before we could go anywhere we had to pay a visit to the local governor man to sort out all our passports and sign some very dodgy forms and give finger prints! allowing us to visit the camps without being SLAUGHTERED. They also kept asking us what our names meant, olivia was an olive, rosa was a rose.... we then asked the lady officials name. Her name was 'Oi'. We found self restraint very difficult.
And then, off we plopped...
Onto the serious stuff - there are 3 different tribes; Kayaw (who have massive holes in their ears), Karen (who wear big broze rings up their necks) and the Kayan (who wear rings round their knees. it looks most odd.) It was very hot and hence, we were very hot. First up was Huay Pu Keng and we got to go on a little, very unstable looking, boat across a river to get there - this is where we're going to teach next.
We also visited another small village on the way back where a refugee lady (Malo) who had taken off her neck rings was setting up another village. The difference with her village is that it's not aimed at tourists which is very unusual - her philosophy is that people work for what they have and we spent a few hours helping her around her museum, labelling fish-catchers and bamboo capes for the rainy season.
We didn't get back to KSDP until about 5ish, hoping, PRAYING, to be able to go to sleep but alas no. We went out to dinner with Beryl and Steve at our faaaavorite restaurant here owned by a nice Karenni refugee with an eyeless dog. They do sweet potato chips so we were won over instantly (and they have baked beans AND they are practically the only place that makes bread. we love them.)

3rd February
WORST.NIGHT.EVER. No exaggeration. It was horrid. We shudder at the memory. We slept on/off for about 2 hours and then could not get back to sleep from 1am (olive read the whole twilight book in one night) only to have to get up at 9am. Again. We tried to remedy this by going on a 8am diet coke run (caffeine don't ya know) and got some very bizarre looks from people on their way to work...
We visited Stephanie Lee's grave in the morrow which was a bit overwhelming and then took a peek into Ban Nai Soi CLC (OUR SCHOOOL!!! we're there RIGHT NOW.)
After being herded around the WHOLE of the Karenni camps by a rather excitable Beryl we were pooped and just wanted to chillax for a while so we ESCAPED and went for a wonder of our own around the town of Mae Hong Son. After sampling the wholewheat spinach bagels of Mae Hong Son we found ourselves in the one bar- Crossroads. It was rockin'.
OH YEAH and brad and angelina were in town. Pretttttttty, pretttttttty cool.

4th February
Finally all the touring was over and we got to settle down at school and learn how everything works....
We have our own little room next to the french volunteer (Boris aka Bob, Bar Bar, ass-face, pretty-ass-face, gay, croissant... you get the general abusive idea) and a shared porch where all the teachers (us lovely ladies, boris, emmett and his girlfriend kozue) hang and work and eat our meals. The students always come up and say hi and chat to us to improve their anglais.
On our very first day we had to jump in the deep end and teach a lesson (on body parts...) to the lowest level class. At this school, there are 3 classes that are based on ability, not age and they have lessons every hour between 9am and 4pm (lunch between 12 and 1).
Some of (most) the students are older than us... they don't let us forget it.... in class 3 there is a 34 year old. But we like her. It feels a bit odd telling her what to do.... But we kinda like it! All the students refer to us as 'teacher' although we're trying really hard to get them to stop and just call us by our names.
In Thighland the education system is only available to those with a Thai ID Card and nearly all of the Burmese refugees have been refused these...for obvious reasons, ie.they aren't Thai! Anyway....schooling in Thighland is very strict- the students dont speak unless asked a question. they themselves are not allowed to ask questions and especially in English lessons it's pretty much just copying things off the board-BORING!
At our school this isnt the case.. its relaxed and very very fun. We are teaching the Burmese refugee children who arent allowed to be educated fully in Thai schools.

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