Posted by: marthacoolcat | December 2, 2008

Chaing Mai family

My friend Rebekah studied for a year here, and lived with a host family. She set me up with them, and I lived in Rebekah’s old room for a few days. She told me about Khun Mae and Khun Pa, so that’s what I called them, which must have been a bit odd when the tuk tuk (taxi drivers asked me who I lived with and I said “Mommy and Daddy’ confidently. I did learn their real names as I was leaving.

Khun Pa, Khun Mae

Khun Pa, Khun Mae


They were some of the kindest people I’ve met. Khun Mae would hug me to her breast and say she loved me, because I reminded her of “Leebekah” because I laughed a lot. Their daughter whose (nick)name is Kam (which means cheek) was also home, and we went out together to see the town on Saturday.

Khun Pa does the cooking, and it was so good. “Alloy alloy” was a very handy phrase (= Delicious delicious). He made me a pad thai on my first night, and fresh fried salt fish. and noodles and rice and meat. The second night we had fish, and an interesting “expensive” vegetable soup. The vegetable was something I have never eaten before, some kind of little balls on twig branches, and you boil and eat the whole thing, in a delicious broth. His cousin came over the third night and made a spicy glass noodle dish.

One night Kam and I hand-washed our clothes. It takes a long time. I enjoyed sitting in the … middle of the house for the evening, and watching the stars come out ( that part of the home has no ceiling). I hope someday I can open my home to visitors the way they do. They were really so very very kind.

On the night I was leaving, it came up in conversation that Khun Pa likes to sing. “When the girl in your arms, is the girl in your dreams…” “Silent night” It made me really happy. Then they put on a tape of 50-s Christmas music. I suppose it is coming to that season, but it was strange. I really liked it. I could imagine living with them for a few months. They host Trent year abroad students, and many of the students only stay one month and then go get an apartment on their owns. How dumb!!! What an amazing family! What a great opportunity! Khun Mae is a retired Thai teacher, and I learned lots of words from them in just my short short time.

From abundant family to no family
I also got to visit wiiht an amazing inspirational woman named Sewigaa. She runs an orphanage for children from hill tribe villages. It is sad/ odd interesting/ noteworthy that the issues facing indigenous people here are similar to those in Canada. Kids come while their parents are too sick, or not handling alcohol ro drugs, or in jail – so the kids aren’t necessarily “orphans” and don’t always stay for th rest of their childhood. They also do a dog rescue, which is so needed here. No human e society, adn all the countries I have been in have had stray dogs everywhere. The kids do some work, ( no more than an hour a day, no child labour says Sewigaa) in the gardens, and the kitchen buys the produce from the kids so they have some spending money.

Often families don’t bother to educate girls, because they’ll just get married and become the property of the husband’s family. Seewigaa’s organisation teaches girls to read.

She’s looking for a volunteer to come help write reports in English, and be involved in various things around. Ideally some one who studied native studies, women’s studies, social work, sociology, peace and conflict studies, development – something like that who would understand the issues. Three months woudl be the shortest stay possible, a year would be great. The organization is secular. Sewigaa is Christian. She’s very active wiht many human rights issues. Chaing Mai is a great place to live. The centre is a 20 Bhat ($0.80), 20-minute minibus ride out of town. There’s so much to do. If you know someone great, get in touch with me.

On my trekking trip, I shared my elephant with Mr. Shin from Korea, who wanted to be my “Father for the day”. It’s very interesting to me, the people you meet when you travel alone.

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