Sunday, February 26, 2006


cost of a bunch of bananas in maesot: 20 baht
cost of an xtc tablet in maesot: 20 baht
number of baht in an aussie dollar: 30 baht

so what do you do when the street kids ask you for money?

my mind flies into a whirl wind of motion with this issue. searching...searching for a train of thought which will give me cognitive equilibrium.


option 1. don't look them in the eye, focus on how annoying they are and walk right on past.
PROBLEM - i can't live with myself. i can't deny that they are human beings. the divinty in me dies if i do not respect the divinity in them.

option 2. give them a few spare change to appease my conscience.
PROBLEM - they might by xtc, and i've just made their life worse, but probably a kinder option than option 1.

option 3. sell everything we have, move to maesot and take them all in.
PROBLEM - maesot is 100's km away from the nearest beach, and (as corny, hippy, selfish as this is) it is effecting our spirits. also as far as we know these kids might have good mums already. remember we share not one word of common language with them.

option 4. while we're here carry a bag of bananas with us and hand them out to anyone who asks.
PROBLEM - it doesn't save the world and feels hopelessly inadequate. what happens when we leave? but maybe that's not a problem? i don't know?

whilst option 4 does not exactly strike me as a solution it does bring some small cognitive equilibrum to my mind. at least i can live with myself and sleep soundly at night.


our mate the monk


our mate who hadn't been sober for three days! we rocked up to english lesson on thursday 9am as usually to find everyone ready to celebrate! a ute came and picked us all up and of we went to the monastry.

our friend was already there. he'd spent the night there sleeping on the mountain. by the time we arrrived at about 10am he had new hair cut (shaved) new clothes (orange robe) and a new name.

monk rules include:
no harming animals
no eating meat
no drinking alcohol (praise the Lord!)
no eating anything after midday
no touching women (not even to shake hands)
no owning anything

he can be a monk for as long as he wants. the ute we went in was piled high with vegies (a donation to the monastry). and they cooked us all a big lunch to celebrate.

it was quite an incredible day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

22 february

it's 8.43pm.

it has just rained for the first time in 7 months in maesot... and it poured.
this morning seems a long time ago.

9:00 am
our friend (who is supposed to be at the monastry sobbering up) came to the english lesson, smelling of alcohol. through his broken, drunken english we managed to decipher that his dad has been arrested in burma. He's been beaten up and he's lost his two front teeth. our drunken friend said he's either going to become a monk or join the evil burmese army and shoot everyone. all he's consumed for three days is whiskey, no food or water, just whiskey. he told us that he is the one who should be in jail for stealing, not his dad.

he is very fortunate to have a good mates who are doing their best to look after him. he is such a beautiful, funny guy and he is breaking our hearts.

2:15 pm
there is a little girl at the school where casey coaches soccer with cerebral palsy called 'mimie' (fake name). i will never forget the first time i made eye contact with her. this afternoon i read her an obscure english grammar textbook. she's heaps smarter than i thought. the book was crap though. can't wait until the storybooks from mum and lj arrive.

played pictionary with our evening english class (the oldies who we watched madagascar with). they laughed from their guts. it was priceless.

the rain started and we were effectively trapped at our english class. it's a concrete 'office' where 7 people live. the walls are concrete, the floor is concrete. the only furniture is 4 plastic chairs and three coffee tables. during english class they sit on 2 straw mats on the floor and write on the coffee tables. i wouldn't be surprised if the 2 mats are 2 beds.

going to bed now
good night x

Monday, February 20, 2006


just had a fascinating conversation with a burmese monk.

we met him because we ride home one of the guys in our english class cos he's scared of the thai police, and the monk is staying with him.

he grew up in Burma when the country was still under colonial rule, so he learnt english at school (lots of the burmese people who are 50 plus speak quite good english).

he told us that buddha was not a god and never claimed to be, he only asked that people follow his teachings. he was keen to talk about jesus with us and encouraged us to follow his teachings.

the monastries seem to be wonderful places. all the monks live there and people can go to them if they are in trouble. they also provide free education to the burmese children.

one of the guys in one of our classes (late twenties) is going to stay at a monastry for a couple of weeks. the poor guy was in one of the famous burmese masacres in Rangoon. he was injured but survived by pretending to be dead. he is a really funny guy and had quite good english so we have become friends. unfortunately he smells of alcohol most mornings - which is why he's going to stay in the monastry - to sobber up. i'm pretty sure he also said he's going to sell everything he's owns and be poor so he'll have no money so he can't buy alcohol. or maybe it was sell everything he owns so he can buy more alcohol?? not sure... the language barrier sux.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

made our debut on Maesot radio tonight - 105.5 fm.

valentine's day is pretty big in thailand. it's the theme for the radio station for the entire month.
we got to talk about valentine's day in aus.

they love the fluent english!

one of those moments in time that seemed fairly unrelated to the rest of our lives, but got a good few laughs out of it!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

movie night

in the evenings we teach a small group of people english in their home (which is also their office). the average age would be forty something. all highly educated and quite an incredible group of people. all illegal immigrants. some off not seen members of their family for years.

last night for our english lesson we watched madegasgar... and they laughed their heads off!!! like it was the funniest thing they had ever seen in their lives. i doubt that they understood much of the language but most of the pranks were very visual. we all sat on the 'pyar' (mat) - except casey, they made him sit on a chair at the back (?!).

half way through the movie i had one of those moments when you stop and suddenly become aware of where you are and what it must look like from above. there's something very special (and i wonder spiritual) about laughter - especially when people can find it in the middle of oppression.

i hope when am in my forties i will remember last night.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


since i was a kiddie i had always imagined traveling the world to help other kiddies who, for some reason or another had no home and no mummy or daddy.

i assumed that in the world there were about 300 children in need of this sort of help and they all lived together in one little village that had no toilet. i imagined that i would buy them a field and teach to read and then they would all live happily ever after.

To this day I am not quite sure if it was love or my personal need to be significant that inspired this fantasy. Probably both. And it’s probably both that brought us to Mae Sot, Thailand.

So far we haven’t taught any kids. Which has been both positive an negative.

Why Positive?
I’ve been reading a few books on community development and NGO’s. One of the big problems is the amount of ‘3 month fly ins’. Volunteers who come in, give their heart and soul for a few months then bail, leaving behind a bunch of heart broken kids. The volunteers get to go home and show all their friends the cute pictures. The kids are left thinking that white people are heros. This thought kind of makes me squirm in my seat.

Why negative?
Adults simply do no laugh enough… and I am going mad! I never realized how much I needed my school kiddies to keep me sane. Spending day after day with solely adult company is squishing the life out of me. It’s like some sort of weird solitary confinement.

The Good News!
On Friday we wondered into a Christian book shop in the hope we might find anything (and I mean anything) written in English. Turned out the shop was closing down and it was their last day. I figured the girl working there was likely a Christian (she was) and asked her if she new of any English speaking churches (we tried thai, and sadly, for us it was a failure). She drew us a map and this morning we were there!

Great message on serving the poor (was in thai but quietly interpreted for us by the bloke sitting next to us). Turns out they have a school for migrant children (illegal refugees from Burma) attached to the church.

One woman literally jumped out of her seat when I told her casey was a sports teacher. “We have pray for a man to coach football team!” she yelled in her broken English at Casey. “Hallelujah!”

So tomorrow we go there. My kiddie fix. Can’t wait.

Monday, February 06, 2006


had to go to burma to renew our visa. was a bit like stepping into cambodia. got followed/lead around the whole time by a guy from the immigration department to make sure we didn't do anything dodge or even mention the word 'democracy'. also had to leave our passports with them for the day, just to make sure we left before dark.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Mr Tan

last week we were approached and asked if we wanted to go an a weekend english camp with 180 thai children. at first i was a bit nervous at the prospect of being picked up by a stranger and taken to an unknown place for the weekend. what if this was some strange scam? but my fears were complete laid to rest when i met Mr Tan.

with in 10 seconds of meeting mr tan (a Thai man with fairly broken english) he was so completely stressed out and excited about the english activites we would be leading, we knew there was no possible way he was secretly planning our kidnapping. he turned out to be quite a character. he introduced casey to the 200 plus crowd as 'Mr Crazy' and a doctor called Jerry as 'Dr Jelly' (both names stuck for the entire camp. the humour was of course lost on the thai kids but i found it hilarious). and he kept asking the children 'are you boring?' which we later figured out he meant 'are you bored?' !

anyway, great weekend. tomorrow we go to Burma for the day.
luv to you all (who ever you may be)
Miss Chocolate (as the kids called me!)