Saturday, March 29, 2008

From Phuket to Pai

After finishing my diving course I made may way from Phuket to Patho, a small village near Ranong where I visited an NGO for few days.

The Thai Child Development Foundation is an NGO running by two amazing Dutch women, though I only got to meet one, Ingrid. Talking to Ingrid about how she started this project and how her life was before, it made me realized that is true that everyone has his on destiny and you have to find it. I was very happy to meet Ingrid, she opened a new window in my mind and I learnt a lot from her in only one day! She was so peaceful and very down to the Earth. She has nothing, but this wonderful project which is divided in two areas: education and social. She will start working with the Burmese refugees in Ranong soon, and who knows, may be I join her.

I spent one day with the kids in TCDF teaching some English and playing with them. It reminded me to my old times in Scouts in Burgos. But the different is these kids pay more respect and obey to the elders... These kids thank for everything you do to them, and they trust you and treat you with all their kindness. You can see that they aren't corrupted in a way for all the world things we are used to in the westerns countries. They are PURE. It was so good to see them playing together because they didn't cheat or shout to each other if they loose... they just played by the rules. And they were very happy just for the fact of playing and enjoying themselves...not rewards, not prizes...just fun.

I left Patho on Sunday... and of course I went to Ranong again..but this time I hitchhiked. Some of you may think that I'm crazy for doing it...but, it's a common thing in Thailand...I heard. And yes, it was really good. First it was an old thai man who drove me for few kilometers, and then I stopped at a police point on the road and they stopped a car to drive me to Ranong. So, there you are...quite safe, isn't it?

I made my way to Bangkok by bus... 11 hours!! I wanted to die! Well, to be honest, what I really wanted was to go to the toilet! You have to understand this, it was a 11 hours trip, only ONE stop...and no toilet on the bus... here it's my question...WHO IN THIS WORLD CAN STAY 6 HOURS WITHOUT GOING TO THE LOO?Come on... So, there you are...Miriam made stopped a full coach just because she REALLY REALLY need to go to the toilet. Here you can see how nice Thai people are... because I was the only foreigner on the bus, there were people standing on the corridor, and they all pass the message to the driver ' the farang needs to go to the toilet, please stop the bus'. Very kind... I wonder if this would had happened in Spain.

Once I arrived to Bangkok I realized that I have changed already since I arrived to Thailand a month ago. I could feel that this country is now part of me... and I'm part of it. I didn't feel as an stranger anymore. That was a good feeling.
As I'm so lucky I found this little bar close to the G.H. where there was live music! And the very best thing is...I WAS THE ONLY I got to choose all the songs I wanted to listen to...and they guys were pleased on playing for me. By the way, to show you that I'm not an farang in this country anymore, one of the guys when I came in the bar talked to me in Thai ...there you are! Well, ok, there wasn't so much light...and maybe the guy needs to wear specs... :o)

I stayed only one day in Bangkok... doing some stuff such as unlock my mobile...which was a real pain that I'm not going to describe because it's worthless.

My next step was from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (North Thailand). I had to take the train at night. I arrived to the train station at 6.30pm, the train was at 7.35pm...of course, I didn't buy the ticket in advanced...therefore I had two options: get that train in a seat (14 hours) or wait till 10pm and get a comfortable bed. Obviously, option 2.
While I was waiting for the train, I went to the toilet (I know, there are toilets on the train too, but I just wanted to go to the toilet) and I met Poo. Who is Poo? Well, she works in the NGO I visited during the weekend in Patho. Yes, I know, even in Thailand where I know few people, I get to meet them all the time.

But the best thing was the train... of course, I was the last one on getting in the train...but once I got to my comfy bed I checked who was around: bed below a mid aged lady. In front of me: upper bed: Thai guy, with a very cool tatoo on this left arm and writting in a book. Lower bed: Thai/Chinese guy reading a book. Cool. No kids around...good sleep.

I woke up in the morning with the smell of my lower bed neighbor's breakfast and of course the noise that every train makes. As soon as I got back from the toilet my dear old lady, Cluaa, offered me to sit with her (her bed had a window), and I started a very good conversation in Thai-English. We shared pictures, music, Thai massage in the hands... and to show how wonderful these people are, she called her nephew, who can speak English, to tell me that if I need to stay in someplace in Chiang Mai I could stay with her in her house. Lovely lady.

But, destiny had something else ready for me. It was after one hour talking to Cluaa when he woke up and with a beautiful smile said 'Good morning'. Of course, five minutes later he was the official translator for me and Cluaa. And an hour later he told me that he was on his way to Pai. Cool! That was one of my hot spots in Thailand to visit. First, because there is an NGO over there that I wanted to check, and second because it said to be one of the most beautiful villages in North Thailand. So, we kept on talking and by the time we arrived to Chiang Mai he offered me to go with him to Pai. My new friend name is Yo.
And you know when a person is right or not... and I knew he was a good person... and for some reason he was on my way. So, there I was...on the mini van to Pai with Yo.

Pai is as everybody says...a nice hippie village. Yep, very small, in the middle of a valley. So peaceful that if you are up in one hill you can hear the voices and conversations of the people in the streets. Pai has this vibe that makes people smile in the streets, and be calm.

We arrived in the late afternoon...almost sunset. He lives in a beautiful tea tree house. Not, it's not a house in the a house made of tea tree! And he has three neighbors... Hoi and Get and Connor. Of course, Connor is English. The 3 houses are in front of a garlic field, and but the time we arrived there were some people finishing to collect the garlic...good picture. Yo offered me to stay with him in his house for a few days. It's amazing how hosted people are in this country. I decided to stay with him and his friends. If there is a rule in a traveler's book is never reject the opportunity of meeting local people and living with them in their houses. So, I felt really happy and lucky.
With Yo I had amazing conversations about Thailand, Buddishm, music and his dream...going to England! How funny is that... he's been working hard and saving money to go to England, and I've been doing the same but to come here. The big difference is that for me to get a visa is really easy and for him is a real pain.

As I said, the destiny had something for me... because after a wonderful day with Yo and his friends, I got bad news from London. A very good friend of my friends Emma, Fran, Chrissy, Lou... Marie died on her sleep. I felt really sad about it. And yep, when you are far from the people you love and you know they are suffering, the pain is even worse. But, a kind person was besides me... Yo. And he was so nice and very supportive during the whole day. Although I didn't know Marie very well, it is always sad when you hear that someone so young and full of life dies. I was listening to her music that night, and just thinking about my friends back in London. Hope the suffer disappears soon, and only the good memories stay with all of you, guys.
Yo explained me that when someone dies what you do it's going to the temple and make a donation to the monks, so they will pray for the soul of that person. And that's what I did. I'm not very religious, but in that moment it was a good thing to be a bit closer to the pain of my friends. So, we went to Pai's temple and I did my donation. Then, we watched the sunset. I love sunsets.... and this one was very special, I dedicated to Marie... and to all the people who loved her. That's what I do when someone dies.

Next day we went to a water fall... very cool. When we arrived there was only Yo and me. And it was very cool to be there, in the middle of the water fall (sitting in a rock) and just listening to the water. After that, we went to a Guest house resort where Yo used to work. There it was Ben, an English man that has lived all his life in, the only English thing he has is his accent. We were having lunch with him and his little kid. And again, watching sunset... you must see sunsets here...where the sun gets red and it goes down to hide into the mountains...Just spectacular.

What's one of the worst things it can happen to someone that is traveling? Getting sick... and the best thing? Having someone to look after you. I've been one month in Thailand already, and I thought I had already passed the critical time to adapt myself to the food, the climate and all that...but not. It was the other night when I got really sick. My stomach was really painful, and I couldn't stop throwing up. Once again, Yo was there for me. Looking after me the whole night, staying awake all the time just to make sure that I had all I needed. And, not only him,but also his friends Get and Hoi. The next day he had to leave to Bangkok, and he offered me to stay in his place and Get and Hoi looked after me. I can't explain how wonderful these people are. They only know me for few hours and they have looked after me, supported me, taking me to wonderful places in Pai and treating me as a good friend. I just hope that if Yo gets to England, and he goes to London, as I'm not going to be there, you, my friends, look after him as he was me, because he really deserves it. He is the kindest person I've ever met.

Now, I can say that this life is not only about money, or sex, or religion, or race... I do believe in something else...I believe in people's heart. I do believe that kindest is something that is inside us and you choose if you want to give it to others or not. I also believe that what GOES AROUND, COMES AROUND.

I left Pai this afternoon, but for sure I'll be back soon. I have to cook Spanish food for Get, Hoi, Yo and the rest of the gang. Probably I'll be back by the Thai New Year in April... also known as the 'water battle'.

Now, I'm going to Chiang Rai, where I will meet Jean again. Let's see what the future brings.
The journey continues...

I'll post pictures soon.
Take care.
Loads of love.


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