We left Mae La Oop and the students staying for their internships on a rainy Friday morning. After saying our goodbyes to our homestay family, our host drove us in the back of his truck the 11km down the mountain to the closest town. As we reached the town we came upon a songtheow Continue reading
Our favorite part of the day in Mae La Oop was the evenings. After teaching English in the morning, we would relax on our mats in the main house. At 6pm Oon, the nine year old daughter in our homestay family, would walk in and announce, “Dinner time” in accented English.
After spending several days in Mae La Oop, I needed to do some laundry. I had noticed clothes hanging on lines in front of houses all over the village, but I wasn’t sure if there were washing machines. I wonder/worried that I might have to hand wash all of our dirty clothes. I asked one of the students if she had figured out what the laundry situation was and she said there was a washing machine at her homestay. I peeked around the back of the family’s raised hut and found that, yes, they also had a washing machine.
So I asked our host if it would be all right if I did some laundry. He said that his wife could do our laundry, but I said, no, that was OK, I could do it myself. I mean, I have done thousands of loads of laundry in my lifetime. I could certainly do my own laundry in rural northern Thailand. Or so I thought…
One afternoon our host said, “Tomorrow we plant rice.”
“OK,” we said.
I didn’t think the girls and I would have much to do in the little village of Mae La Oop while Rand’s students were doing their internship. The whole town consisted of a couple dozen wooden houses on the side of a hill, a church, a Buddhist temple, a school, and a hospital. No restaurants. No stores (unless you count a few little shops run out of people’s homes that sold an assortment of snacks). And the wifi was sporadic at best. So we were excited when we were not only invited to go to the school with the students to help teach English, we were also asked to teach our host’s family in the evenings.
One afternoon as I was sitting on the porch of the house we were staying at in Mae La Oop, I looked across the yard at the family’s raised wooden house and saw the grandmother of the family weaving. The grandmother was from the Karen Hill Tribe and spoke no English or Thai, only Karen. She wore traditional Karen clothing and was weaving a skirt in the tribe’s distinctive striped pattern. She was using a loom she attached to the porch and then to herself as she sat on the floor of the wooden porch.
One of the first things I noticed when we arrived at the home in Mae La Oop was that there was no shower. In the bathroom, there was a western style toilet (which was the envy of the others in our group whose homes only had squat toilets) and a concrete tub filled with water.
At first, I thought perhaps you were supposed to get into the concrete tub to bathe. But the side of the tub came up to my waist, so I wasn’t sure how to go about getting in. Sitting on the edge of the tub was a small pink bowl. I soon learned that using the pink bowl to scoop up water from the concrete tub and dump on yourself was how you shower in this part of the world.
For the next part of our journey we traveled with Rand’s students to rural Northern Thailand where the students participated in an internship. We observed and sometimes join in.