Village People

Kenny and I took a bike ride today to visit another AJWS volunteer, who is volunteering in a small village about 20km away teaching English and computer skills to young adult refugees from Burma. Asking around town before we left, we had gotten different estimates on how long the bike ride would take, ranging from 20 minutes to an hour and a half. The top end of that range turned out to be the correct estimate, which meant that we got to enjoy a nice long ride through the hills in the 40°C heat. Heh. But actually, it was great to get some serious exercise, the bike ride was beautiful, and the visit with Daniel was fun.

When we arrived in the nearest town to Daniel’s village, we felt confident that we had reached our destination because we recognized its one large wat from Daniel’s description. He had asked us to call him so that he could come from his village to fetch us, but there was no mobile coverage for our provider and the one pay phone outside of town wouldn’t accept anything bigger than 1 baht coins. Fortunately, we met a nice gentleman with betel-stained teeth riding a pink motorbike, who spoke great English and let us make a quick call from his mobile. We spent a few minutes talking while we waited for Daniel, and he told us that he had founded a local school which we had passed a few minutes earlier.

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The bridge was the first major landmark to assure us that we were headed in the right direction

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Kenny stopping for a water break after a big hill

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We knew we had reached the correct town when we saw the wat

When Daniel arrived in town a few minutes later, he took us on a path from the main town through some farms to reach his village, where his 12 students were assembled to meet us. They arranged a set of chairs in a circle, we passed around the cookies that we had brought, and they went around the room rising and introducing themselves one by one in English. When our turns came, we also rose to introduce ourselves, and Daniel drew a US map on the whiteboard to explain where Seattle is located.

Then the students all disappeared rapidly – Daniel explained that they wanted to get back to their families — and we sat down for a delicious feast that they had prepared earlier. After lunch, Daniel gave us a tour of the facility, including the cute bedroom that the NGO had set up for him, the computer room, student rooms, and the cistern where everyone bathes. This tour was followed by a tour of the village, which consists of about 20 houses, mostly made of bamboo.

We all spent some time relaxing, and then walked back to town to tour the wat before Daniel sent us on our merry way back home. The ride home was a bit quicker than the ride out there – either because a bit more of it was downhill, or perhaps because we didn’t need to stop to consult the map. It was a great day, and I’m sure we’ll sleep well tonight.

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Daniel’s students prepared a delicious feast

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Daniel showing us the laundry area

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Everyone uses this cistern for dishes, laundry, and bathing

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We walked through some beautiful farmland to get back to town

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