Tammy's Volunteer Tour

An Online Journal of My Volunteer Work in Tsunami Affected Areas in Asia

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Vietnam I am,I am

Well my team and some other great friends got together for a going away dinner and to see me off. It was difficult for me to leave Khao Lak, but I was excited to start a new adventure in Vietnam.
I'm not too sure how tired I was when I booked the flight, but when I arrived at the airport in Phuket they notified me that the flight wasn't until the following day. I'm really not sure how I managed that but I was lucky to be stuck in Phuket during the festival. I walked around the entire night market and then found an internet cafe where I spoke to my sister over msn. I was really home sick for Khao Lak, but she was able to get me focused again and looking forward.
Morning arrived and I was only able to hail a tuk tuk. What!?! a tuk tuk to the airport? It's like a tiny open bus, but more like a festiva with the roof cut off and some bells and whistles.hahaha By bells and whistles I don't mean air conditioning and leather seats... I mean just that "bells and whistles" and some random blinking lights!

On my way here to Vietnam I made a short 2 say stop in Chiang Mai. I took advantage of the tours they have running around the city since I had limited time to spend. I went bamboo rafting and took a ride on an elephant (On the list of things to do before I die... this list dates back almost 10 years ago) To be honest I didn't picture it being as slow as it was. To get them moving a bit faster you had to feed them. There were workers in treeforts selling sugarcane ... who knew they had a sweet tooth!

I caught my flight to Bangkok and was forced to find a cheap place to stay for the night. Well I found this place called Nat's Guest House. The communal bathroom was soaking wet and filthy and the bed didn't even come with sheets on it! LOL I guess I got what I paid for. The music from the bar downstairs finally stopped at 4am and the streets eventually cleared... thank god because I was worried I wouldn't be able to hear my alarm clock! I did, however make it to the airport very early. I was so early that I couldn't check in yet so I decided to read. I sat down with this book a friend from Germany had given me. I read it until I finished it and then realized that I may have missed my flight. Yeah, that's exactly what I did! I had just missed my flight! LOL WHO DOES THAT? The woman at the counter just put me on the next flight with out asking me any questions. She informed me that I would be waiting another 2 hours for the next flight and so I decided to get on the phone to pass the time.
The Thai Airways flight into Ho Chi Minh was brutal for turbulance, but the only important thing is that I made it and I wasn't in the bathroom during the landing!

OK so I am looking localy and on the internet for places to volunteer. I am mostly interested in the orphananges here and the rice paddy farming communities. I will update you in a week or so when I get my bearings about me and have started working. I am very excited to say the least!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

At Peace

Well I have now been here a week!
I have been working at a bunch of the different work sites, and have really been enjoying myself. I have mostly been doing concrete work in bathrooms and the plumbing/digging for the septic systems. This has been challenging work because the houses mostly rest on clay and the trenches we dig have to be approx 2 feet deep and usually about 20 feet in length/1 foot width.
Today we finished the last septic system for the Bang Sok area. We are working in conjunction with the Mercy Foundation on this project.

I'm actually pretty sick right now but I am pulling through just like a trooper. I think I have used up all of the kleenex in Khao Lak so they are forcing me to use toilet paper..lol Don't worry, it's nothing serious, just very draining and I think I am starting to scare the locals because my voice is gone. The plan is to sweat this one out!
We have been taking our lunch break at this beautiful beach. The water is gorgeous but it has taken getting used to the baby shrimp jumping on our feet.
I got up early yesterday morning to say goodbye to a friend that was leaving for Australia and we saw a group of monks in town. This was one of the most peaceful sights so far. It was very quiet in town at 6:30 in the morning but you could just hear the monks blessing the families with a prayer song. The community members provide the monks with rice and other dishes of food and in turn the gentlement bless the families.
I spoke to a friend here about visiting the monastery and she actually asked me to come and teach at the monastery with her. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. This has been set up so that I will teach two times a week.
The students are Burmese workers between the ages of 12 and 28. I am really enjoying the time I get to spend with them and I think they appreciate my effort as well. It's funny to hear Burmese and Thai people speak english and sound like a Brit. hahaha... I had to explain that trousers are pants and pants aren't underwear. How bizarre!
I hitch to the temple when I go and I have had a few very interesting people give me a ride. Eak (the Thai that I teach for) doesn't like me hitching and instead gave me a ride back into Khao Lak. The boys I teach wanted to come for the ride, so we all jumped in the back of the truck. When we arrived Eak asked if he could take me to dinner. This was very unexpected but very much appreciated because I was starving. Eak has offered to pay for me to get a scooter so that I don't have to hitch my way to the temple on the days I teach ( he doesn't understand that I like it) so we will see how this pans out... I still have to learn how to drive one. haha

I wear a lot of the local clothes (fisherman pants), and flip flops everyday. I am trying to find the happy medium for the food and my stomach, but have not been successful yet. Chocolate and icecream are dear but available. The mosquitoes are bitches and the bugs are the size of my hand!

There are all kinds of spiders here, but I am more scared of the toads! I had to pull one out of a new septic hole and I was screaming at the top of my lungs, followed by a laugh straight from my toes!..LOL I have seen lizards,a scorpian, crazy little pigs, and a manta ray. They have squirrels here, but none as psycho as the ones at Queens.
There are a few people from my group heading to Pakastan to help in that devastation and I have donated a few supplies and clothes for them to give the people (maybe a few city of Kingston t-shirts will show up on the news;)
Well I better get going and find some neds and disinfect this keyboard so no one else gets this germ. I miss you and love you

Babcock Uncensored! ;)

Holy #&@%, I made it!
Before I begin.. just know that it took longer for me to get from Bangkok to Khao Lak, than it did for me to get from Toronto to Bangkok! Figure that out.. hahaha

From the beginning ....

I spent the evening before leaving with a few friends in Toronto and had a bizarre but wonderful time drinking a few and sharing some laughs.

Well I felt safe on all of the flights, but definitely not sober.. just what the doctor ordered!(Well not really, the doctor ordered me something I haven't had to tap into yet. haha)
The flight from Toronto to Washington was interesting, mostly because it was only 4 seats across and I'm pretty sure the pilot was also the stuart!
Layover what dogshit! enough said!
So I'm boarding the All Nippon flight to Tokyo and a Japanese man says "Hi Canada!" ya that's me! After telling him I was heading to Bangkok he had figured me out..."AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH you're a volunteer for the tsunami work" he said. Damn, I thought.. did my friends in toronto shave my eyebrows and write some message on my forehead? nope! I guess he felt I fit some profile of the typical do gooder Canadian. If there is one profile I hope to fit, that's it, so I was feeling pretty proud.
The flight went well but japanese flight food is not my idea of a good time. I did however enjoy the chopsticks. Maybe a little too much because the dude next to me ended up with food on his lap.. hahahhaa
Soooo I arrived in Bangkok just in time to miss my overnight train. I slept in some hole in the wall downtown that had bugs in the bed .. haha it has been interesting. I no longer have an alarm clock as I blew it up when I plugged it into 240v outlet.

I found out in the morning that it was now a Thai holiday and trying to get anywhere would be a real challenge. To make a long story short I headed back to the airport and took a flight to a place called Suratthan
(or something like that) and then a 6 hour bus ride into Khao Lak
I got off the bus, collected all of my luggage and walked for twenty minutes in the wrong direction. Thank goodness a local lady spoted me and offered for her husband to take me to my bungalow
I rested for the night and took in the sunset. This place is so beautiful and the people so full of spirit despite the disaster that struck not so long ago.
I am so happy to be here and helping out. The volunteers are great. The range in age from 19 to early 70's and they all have their own story as to what brought them here
God, I miss you all, but I need to take off to a meeting at the center and I am already late. Just know that I am safe and having a blast. Orientation was great and I will start work on Khao Ko island (something like that) tomorrow.. serious foundation work so I hear. :)

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