Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Adventures in Thailand

Hi everyone! 
I know long time, no posts
Now that I have my wonderful Diana Mini 
I will be blogging every time I get film developed!
Which means, I will be blogging alot.

But anyways,
I thought I'd start my first post back with my exciting
adventures in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
 I will apologize in advance, photo development in Thailand isn't the best and it's reflected in some of the photos.

So I'm not sure why, but I was feeling especially adventurous one day
and decided to volunteer as an English teacher for six weeks.
It was an impulsive decision really
little did I consider what I really had signed up for
But due to a mix up of films
My first week worth of film has not been developed yet
I will elaborate more on what I have signed up for next post
But I do have other pictures and stories to give!
lots, actually
First we will start off with half  of my tour to the White Temple
although a huge and stereotypical tourists 
it site was absolutely beautiful.

Although the temple itself is completely white,
that wasn't the case for the grounds around it.
It had dozens of pure gold buildings surrounding it 
along with
multiple Prayer Towers
Which is shown in the picture on the right
What you would do is..
Write your prayer or a name on a thin almost ornament looking thing
and then
hang it in the next available space on the tower. 
As you can see
there are thousands on one tower alone.

And what would a Buddist Temple be without some
Severed Head Statues
hanging off the trees?
Apparently, it's for protection to ward off any bad spirits.
  but it makes me laugh more than anything. 

Along with the White Temple
we visited the Black House
Which is a private settlement that is used to worship and show devotion
between you and me
its just the product of a mans' glorified ego
Inside was filled with elaborate tables and chairs made and covered with..
skins of cobras
horns of yaks
fur of bob cats 
and an array of unidentified animal products.
It was quite a sight 
The cool thing I did like though, was being able to hold a 
live ten foot cobra
but then I thought, I wonder if you're next to end up on the tables..

As a treat after the tour we got to go visit the local waterfall.
Little did we know 
it's a 4 mile hike through the rain forest to get there.
It was so worth it though and the walk was breathtaking.

Yeah, see the thunder thighs in the water
that me.

And now
The infamous home-stay
Included in the program I am volunteering through.
Every volunteer has the opportunity to serve in a Hill Tribe for a week. 
Every home-stay is different--
Sometimes people teach
or dig up rice patties
but for my home-stay
I was assigned the Hill Tribe that was so remote it took a 
6 hour all up hill hike through the depths of the rain forest just to get there.
When I say hike I mean climb.
The hills were almost vertical.
it was miserable but at least my bottom was quite toned afterwards.
 And for our job we were assigned to build/repair a house.
I use the term house very loosely, they resemble something closer to a hut.

I tried to record the entire progression of the building process
I was much too busy.
We had to tear down the old broken structure that was there before 
and start from scratch.
And there is a lot that goes into the construction process that you usually don't think about
especially when it's in the rain forest.
We had to manually find, chop and drag the wood and bamboo logs out of the surrounding forest
and they could range from being a couple yards to a couple of miles away
and there are lots of hills in the commute.
Now I get the term Hill Tribe

Over all 
I aided in the transport of about 100 bamboo and tree logs
Built one house/hut structure 
and built the structure above.
it's a food rack to help serve food the surplus of people there.

Speaking of people..
We were located right in the middle of the Lahu tribe
which is filled with adorable bouncing babies such as this little guy.
I may or may not want to adopt a Thai child one day.. just saying.
Holding him was who we assumed was his grandmother
and she seemed to be the head woman in the tribe.

Don't let the adorable smile deceive you!
This little girl is named Naught'ea
pronounced naughty
and boy did the name fit the girl.

You couldn't play or interact with her without receiving a couple
and punches
And that's when she isn't attempting to steal your belongings
but you still couldn't help but fall in love with the kid.
She'd flash you one of her cute innocent smiles and you were hers.

And wherever there were people there were twice the amount of animals.
This is my buddy cookie.
He loved me, and I loved him.
By the end of the home-stay I was plotting different ways to take him home with me
and he must have read my mind because he followed me home.
He walked right by my side all 6 hours.
I felt like we were Bonnie and Clyde.
We almost got away with it too-- 
until a villager passed by at the last second and took him home.

But the animals couldn't all be cute and cuddly.
I like to think of myself as an animal person
but after one night of sleeping above the pig and chicken pens
I was not so fond of them.
The pigs were the worst.
At all times of the day and night they would go into full on screaming fits
and if you've never heard a pig scream
avoid it.
For our last meal the villagers slaughtered a pig. 
I wasn't that heart-broken.
(sorry mom)

Besides the damage inflicted onto my abused body,
there was the damage to my beloved sandal.
In total my sandal has had about three minor breaks while being in Thailand,
but half way during home-stay my sandal finally broke beyond repair.
Besides my efforts to tie it together using string I found, 
my sandal would stay together for a total of 20 steps before having to readjust the string.
Worst part about it was that they were my only shoes I brought.
Imagine my fun trekking the 6 hours back home.

 If I learned anything from this experience
it would have to be the crafty ways that bamboo can be useful--
for example
On our last night as a form of celebration
some of the leaders journeyed to the nearest town and bought us all Coke.
Which normally I hate the stuff 
but after a week with a diet consisting of only rice, vegetables and questionable meats
Coke tasted heavenly.
Or maybe I was just amused that I was drinking it out of a makeshift bamboo cup--
Either way though I loved it,
and yes I know I look Heavenly as well in my goofy little hat.

Along with the coke and pork
the villagers treated us to some traditional dancing. 
The village chief played the flute and lead the dancing.
It was quite the event.
When I reflect on home-stay
 I generally share the same opinion as the rest of my fellow volunteers--
It was one of the hardest experiences of my life,
but it was also one of the coolest.
I learned so much
and I appreciate so much more.
So glad I had this experience.

Included in the program,
my fellow volunteers and I got a free
elephant ride.
Fun fact: you do it through the Karen tribe
they use elephants for everything and treat them as if they were their own children.

The ride itself was quite bumpy 
I definitely felt it in my abs afterwards
and I wouldn't suggest it for a stroll in the park.

But they were just such beautiful animals.

For a dollar I got to feed them bananas
and pet them as much as I wanted.
By the way they are very rough and have almost wisker consistency hair all over.
-not exactly snugg-able-

The picture quality may not be the best 
but here are just some of the friends I've made here so far.
They are pretty cool I guess :)


  1. Kenzie!!! This is AMAZING! I love all of your pictures, you are so creative with that camera. I can't believe those cheap sandals are the only shoes you brought! And I loved the part about the pig.. Sorry mom! Ha. I am so jealous of this experience. SOunds like something you will never forget. Love and miss you!

  2. Hi Kenz: Loved your post......You are amazing. We miss you and think and pray for you constantly.
    Wow, what an adventure. Love G&G

  3. Miss Mackenzie!! What a wonderful post finally! Guess you need an incredible adventure to bring you back to blogging. I can't even imagine doing the things you have done on this journey but you certainly are your mother's daughter! So happy for you as it sounds like you are loving life :)
    Hugs and love~