I decided that for this course... I would explain it through pictures in hope that it would be a little more exciting :) I hope you enjoy it!
This is my backpacking group on our hike from Pa Ko Lo village to Hua Nam... We made a grand total of 30 river crossing and hiked for about 5-6 hours. In the village of Huay Hee, they practice shifting cultivation... this is a rai that is waiting to be planted. The pink bag is a handwoven Karen seed bag. They plant rice, pumpkin, papaya, cucumbers, beans and so much more on the mountain side.
Sweet bug on a chopped down tree in the middle of the rai. Hiking Doi Pui... the tallest mountain in Mae Hong Son. We are all pretty excited.
The view was gorgeous on the top of Doi Pui. Mountains everywhere!
Village kids were always following us around and as soon as we pulled out a camera they instantly dropped what they were doing and smiled.
WEAVING DAY: Mugah teaching us how to spin cotton into string... then we took the string and dyed it using natural things like bark, plants, dirt, etc.
One of the village kids watching while we learn how to weave.
My curious little host nephew. So adorable.
These kids would run up and down the mountain road playing with their cars and wheels for over 2 hours.
Our host mother with her grandson. It is not uncommon for Karen to carry children this way.
My host siblings in Huay Tong Kaew. Always smiling.
My future job: Blacksmithing!
Patti blacksmither watching over us as we try our hands at hitting metal... mai di.
This is a typical Karen roof (inside view)... it is made out of fan palms. They are put together when the fan palm is still green, then it has to dry out until it is cream colored. Over time the roof changes color as a result of the kitchen fires. In most Karen homes, the kitchen is located inside of the house and everything is cooked over open flames. So everything inside becomes a nice deep red-dark brown color.
Huay Tong Kaew's traditional medicine man and healer. He taught us about which herbs, roots, plants, and bark can heal someone or prevent an illness. Side note: he is also the midwife.
Mugah Kanom (Mother of the treats). Everyday we would visit her treat shop and buy various sugary snacks. After awhile we didn't even have to tell us what we wanted, she just knew.
My beautiful host mother is one of the most loving people I have ever met. She spoke very little Thai, but was extremely excited to teach me about her culture. I have never seen anyone shower people with love and care the same way that she did. She taught me so much. Thank you.
My little sister (Supava) learning how to embroider a traditional Karen shirt.
The pink bumpy thing is a chicken. We nicknamed it Meat. Yes it is alive.
A beautiful ecological gem... 900+ ft waterfall about a 2 hour hike from Huay Tong Kaew
Teacher of traditional ritual songs used by Karen people to sing to their lovers.
Teaching us the correct way to ask a lover out. haha
Pi Pookie: The basket queen.
My whole family in Huay Tong Kaew. So wonderful.
Neon purple flower in Mae Hong Son
I have so many more pictures, but this kind of summarizes a lot of what happened on the last course. If you have any questions or comments, let me know!
After we returned from the Forest course, we had a block break (2 1/2 days off + weekend). It was a great time to think things over, take some time to myself, and relax. On Thursday, I was 100% sabai (translates to complete relaxation and happiness). I went out for breakfast with Aajan Mark and then hung out in a really comfy chair and read Eat Pray Love. Then I met my roommates for lunch and had a grilled veggie pesto sandwich (aroi maak... very delicious). At 1:00pm, I met Laura and Acadia at Urban Spa Thailand and spent four hours getting a massage, body scrub, facial, and foot massage. The best part was this whole spa package was only $60.20... you can't even get a good pedicure for that much in the states!! For dinner we went to Mi Casa, which serves amazing Tapas andMediterranean food. Our waitress liked us so much she even gave a free after dinner liqueur. It was a wonderful day and it was spent with wonderful people.
Today, we started our first day of the Coast course. This week is an introduction to what we will be learning when we go out into the field. We will be in the south of Thailand learning about mangroves, reefs, and coast ecology. I'm stoked. I will tell you more about it later this week. Have a wonderful day! Thanks for the prayers.