Monday, March 27, 2006

Baanchivitmai Bakery

We are currently sitting in an internet cafe/bakery/restaurant in Chiang Rai called Baanchivitmai Bakery. It's sole reason for existence is to provide job opportunities for the local hill tribe young people so they aren't forced into prostitution or the drug trade. So simple and so effective. Why does it seem all so complicated when we are at home?

Charlie likes the marzipan!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

leaving MaeSot

got up at 5.00am.
dark, moist, warm.
my bag digs into my shoulders.
we walk past the monks receiving their arms.
we walk past the cage of 'illegal' refugees.
we hop on the bus and drive away.

we drive away.

Friday, March 24, 2006


last day in maesot today.

said a sad good-buy to class one this morning
said a sad good-buy to class two last night
the teachers from the refugee migrant school are throwing a birthday party for case tonight, which will end in another sad good-bye.
the people here are amazing.
we leave tomorrow to continue our travels of the great free world.
they stay in maesot, waiting..............

how can the world which is so wonderful to me be the same world which is so devastating to them?

Friday, March 17, 2006

teacher training

did a storybook session with teachers from the migrant school this morning (the kids are now on holidays for 2 months) it was great fun, very relaxed. (see photo bucket for pics)

they have never had any training before (no uni, no college, no PD) and they were really greatful. we sat around on the floor laughing a children's books together. they are such beautiful people.

heart full of love.
ego nicely plumped.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

walk on

the last elections in burma were in 1990. The Nation League for Demorcracy (NLD) won over 80% of the votes in a landslide victory. The ruling government responded by shooting or arresting many NLD party members. (Today their are around 150 of them in prison). Their leader is called Aung San Suu Kyi. She has become a national hero and icon and she inspired the U2 song Walk On She has been in and out of house arrest since the election. The burmese government army (ironicaly called State Peace and Development Council - SPDC) will allow her to leave Burma, but everyone knows if she did that she could never return, and so she chooses to stay.

a singing bird in an open cage...
the boy we prayed for yesterday was at school today... smiling :)

Monday, March 13, 2006


went to the boarder markets in the morning. bought some funkie hippie pants. caught the bus home. on the way we passed the famous Dr Cynthia clinic (the only place all the illegal burmese immigrants who aren't in the refugee camps can get medical care). a brand new mother hopped on the bus, 2 day old baby in arms. the mother looked at me beaming, and gave me one of the most beautiful smiles i've ever been given. a few kms down the road we were stopped by police who wanted to check everyone had their id. everone who had their little blue books pulled them out and nervously opened them for the police. those that didn't put their eyes to the floor... including the brand new mum. i held my breath, thinking surely noone is mean enough to arrest a brand new mum.

and, thank the Lord, today they weren't. after glancing at a few of the id papers the police waved us on. brand new mum resumed her beautiful smile. baby slept unknowingly in her arms.

in the afternoon we went to burmese church. they have it in a thai church, who very kindly allow the burmese to use their facilities. it's pretty obviously that there's a fairly major difference in class between the two groups -thai rish, burmese poor. the first service is in thai. then they all have lunch together, paid for by the church offererings. the burmese quietly walk around the eating thais and take their place in the pews. the burmese get to give a tithe (which goes to the thai pastor) but they don't get to eat lunch.

for once i could understand the sermon because it was given by casey! (with the aid of both a burmese and karen interpreters). he preached up a storm on james 2 (faith with out works is dead). quote: everyone's 'works' will look different. it is important we don't make too many rules on what works should look like. each of us must make sure our works look like jesus, and he looks a little bit different to everyone.

later in the afternoon we went to visit one of the school kids (from casey's soccer team) who was sick and hasn't been to school for 2 weeks. again it was a bamboo shack amoungst fields, no electricity and a little stream for water. chicks scurried about underneath. while we were praying for the 10 year old boy a couple of chicks jumped into the 'kitchen' and then into a cold saucepan full of potatos and onion. they hopped in and out of the pan having a good feed. eventually a man came along and kicked them out and put the lid back on the pan.

Friday, March 10, 2006

interesting things

in thailand "the West" and christianity are considered almost the same thing.

when it is someones birthday at the little christian church we have been visiting, the birthday person must stand up the front and everyone 'prays' the Happy Birthday song at them, eyes closed, hands raised, eye brows furrowed in seriousness. casey finds this very amusing.

'tooting' does not mean 'get out of my frickin' way' or 'you're hot' as it does in perth. it seems to mean something like, 'just letting you know i'm coming'. everytime a car overtakes us on our bikes they toot before hand.

pointing your feet at people is very rude (which is more of an issue than it sounds because most people sit on the floor, not on chairs).

putting a fork in your mouth is considered very rude.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


went to the burma border this morning to renew our visas.

went to the 'house' (bamboo barn-yard shack) of one of the kids from the migrant school this evening. his mum had invited all the teachers over for a thank-you dinner. the shack (one room. 3 1/2 walls) was in the middle of about 50 acres of veggie plants (owned by thais. worked, as usual, by burmese). we could see puppies and chicks scurring about through the cracks in the bamboo floor as we ate our banana flower curry.

they told us that their 12 yo son and his 15 yo friend (both who attend our school) will be moving to Bangkok tomorrow to work - they think in an orchard, but no one seemed quite sure. Bangkok is about an 8 hour bus drive away.
we've heard horror stories of girls being sent to bangkok to work.

as the sun set the candles came out (no electricty or running water at this place). the 2 boys sat in the middle and all the teachers prayed for them. the principal offered a few finals words of advise, 'don't take drugs, don't steal from or lie to your boss. Jesus loves you where ever you are, call on His name if you ever get into trouble.'

the familily is buddist but seemed happy for us to be there. the 12 year boy old had his little 3 year old sister on his back. i wondered what she is thinking this evening.


went to mae la refugee camp. bamboo city. 45 000 people nestled into the side of a tropical mountain... waiting. the 35 000 registered refugees get weekly meagre rations of rice, oil and salt. the family we visited were unregistered. they live (like everyone at Mae La) in their homemade bamboo house.

we were blown away by the impressive lunch they put on for us, which meant they would have (once again) gone with out.

we dropped of some beads and showed them how to make braclets. we're hoping to be able to sell them in australia to provide this family with a small income.

in many ways they refugee camps are quite incredible communties - people with nothing sharing everything they have. sadly though, there is alot of mistrust. people are scared of burmese military spies, who go into the camps pretending to be refugees. the result is a fragmented suspicious community who fear strangers - heart breaking.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

new story books from oz arrived today !! (thanks mum) so exciting. the kids loved them, and the teachers seemed pretty happy to. the first thing most of the kids did was just flick through the pictures and point to anything they could say in english... 'bird!' 'cat!' 'snake!' ...great day :)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

freedom of speech

been going through the United Nation's Declaration of Human Rights with one of our adult english classes. this morning we did number 18.

'you have the right to think what you want and say what you like, and nobody should forbid you from doing so. you should be able to share your ideas also with people from any other country' (plain language version).

my mind is a bubbling pot of soup rather than a neatly organised speider's web. i can't seem to string a paragraph together so here's a few dot points.

  • mohammed cartoons (i assume they've been big news in perth)
  • thais openly critising their prime minister and demanding he resign.
  • our friends fear the police because they critise a government who shoots people at rallies and imprisons their family members without trial.
  • google censorship in china
  • 50 000 new bloggers a day in china (according to Time - we managed to find it in English YIPPEE)
  • The Da Vinci Code
  • Luther (movie)
  • Constantine (not the movie - the actual man)
  • That 'crazy' guy who denied the Holocaust
  • who writes the history books?...... the winners.

it seems like in years gone by there was a certain elite who controlled what infornmation was recorded, kept and read. and of course there are still people trying to be the ones who control 'what gets out'.

i have heard this current age referred to as the 'information age' . far more people now participate in the writing and sharing of information. (including bloggers!)

hmmm. i would like to end this blog with a snappy oneliner that sums what i'm trying to say up.

any suggestions?