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Published: July 13th 2010
The plan originally was to head to Sangklaburi and volunteer for a week at on of the orphanages that house refugee children from Burma, however as Lisa was too late in emailing the home there were no beds left!
We decided not to let this deter us and so headed off on the 3 hour mini bus ride anyway, thinking that there would be other projects we could visit for a day or two and help out. Upon arrival in Sangklaburi it was a bit of a shock, dusty, dirty town with more than just smelly markets. After wandering about a bit lost for a few minutes we saw a couple of western girls and asked them where they were staying, they showed us back to their guesthouse which just at that moment was being fumigated for mozzies!
Talk about DDT poisoning! After inhaling god knows what we decided to head for one of the guesthouses recommended by Lonely Planet and thank goodness we did. P Guesthouse was gorgeous, kind of reminded me of what I imagine big African lodge's to look like, with a great view over the lake.
For some reason Chloe and I were suffering from a complete lack of energy, I think Bangkok ruined us. So we spent the arvo snoozing, before sampling the BEST chocolate cake ever from the local bakery which just happened to be run by one of the charities that also has a childrens home. We established from the bakery worker that yes we could go up and visit the kids home anytime, it was no problem. We scheduled it in for the morning and headed back to P for an uneventful evening.
After hiring a scooter (we are so pro at this now, you should see us!) we set off into town for supplies and also just to see what is around. Well turns out not much goes on in Sangklaburi, however I think it is possibly the friendliest town in Thailand. Everyone smiled at us and waved, it was brilliant. Also we dropped our washing off to a local lady "Grandmas Washing" and turns out her name is Pone Pone and she is a refugee from Burma. When we picked the washing up on Saturday she had about 5 kids in her kitchen and she was helping them with their english studies (try finding a western primary school kid doing homework on saturday) She is a wonderful lady, her english was great and she explained that the kids were her neighbors or her friends children and she helps them all with their english because their own parents dont spend the time they need. She understands that they need to have strong english going into high school because otherwise they easily get left behind and also english is best tool to help them be successful in further study or work. An amazing woman, doing all she can to help her people who are still repressed in their own country and have to seek refuge in Thailand.
After lunch we headed up to the Childrens home Baan Unrak so see if we could organise a visit for the following day. Both Chloe and I did not get a great vibe from this place and the volunteer there sort of indicated that the volunteer co-ordinator wasnt really interested in people coming to visit for just one day so we were a little put off. We decided to see if instead we could visit the home we originally wanted to stay at Baan Dada. We had gotten a much warmer vibe from Dada Prashanta via email so contacted him to arrange a visit for Saturday.
The home is situated about 16kms from the town of Sangklaburi in a village called Huay Muay Lai so we ventured off each on the back of a motorbike taxi, crikey I thought there would be injuries for sure! For some reason my driver wanted to break the land speed record and the size of the mountains we were crossing did not bode well for this! The scenery was stunning as we rode through lush jungle country but I had to close my eyes and silently chant 'please slow down, please slow down' quite a few times. Finally we arrived at the home and we saw how desperately this place needs help. In comparison to the Baan Unrak home Baan Dada is certainly the poor cousin. The children were certainly happy enough and had no problem holding our hands and stealing our sunnies but the facilities are very basic. Dada Prashanta gave us a tour and explained a few things about where they get their funding etc. The home actually supports a number of other charities and organisations operating in Burma as well as trying to keep themselves running. Its amazing that they can manage to feed 53 children really. After chatting to the current volunteers about their experience and what is needed Chloe and I both think it is a place that we would like to go back to in order to help out, however due to the isolated location I would have to go with a friend or group I think. Also I would want to take as many supplies for projects and games etc because they just have no resources. There was a group of French uni students there who had been there for 2 weeks and they had decided to take a photo of each child and present it to them as something of their own to keep, simply because the children must share everything, they have nothing that is just their own. So after that huge reality check we made a small donation and hopped back on our bikes hoping to miss the afternoon downpour.....this was not to be. Unfortunately 5 minutes in to the ride it bucketed down and we were soaked - oh well all part of the fun of travelling!
So that was Sangklaburi, after re-visiting Pone Pone to drop off some stickers and clip-on Koalas we chilled out and had and early night ready for the early morning bus back to Kanchanaburi and then on to Ayutthaya.
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