Sunday, May 19, 2013

Folks on the Top of our Hero List - DEPDC/GMS

We moved some folks to the top of our Hero List.  They are Sompop Jantraka, the founder of DEPDC/GMS (Development Education Program for Daughters and Communities/ Greater Mekong Sub-Region) and Patricia Oliver Martinez, International Volunteer. 

Sompop Jantraka has been nominated for the 2013 World’s Children’s Prize for his almost 25 year struggle against trafficking and exploitation of children in the sex industry and other harmful forced labor.
His organization, DEPDC/GMS, has given thousands of poor children from throughout the Mekong Region in Thailand, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and China - protection and education. 
Daeng was one of the thousand that he has helped. When she was a young lady, trying to support herself and her Mother, she went through a program at DEPDC and learned how to sew.  She got up very early in the morning and worked putting fried pig skin into small bags.  She was paid  four (4) Thai Baht (about 12 cents US) for every one hundred (100) bags.
When she finished that work she went to DEPDC sewing class so she could learn to sew.  As she remembers, Sompop Jantraka even gave her money to help her buy gasoline for her motorbike so she could get to the sewing school.  To read about Daeng going to sewing school at the DEPDC/GMS blog CLICK HERE.
A few months ago, we saw that Patricia Oliver Martinez, an International Volunteer at DEPDC/GMS, had a fund raiser to help remodel the restroom area at DEPDC/GMS in Chiang Khong.  As a plumber, I'm always interested in projects like this.  We contacted Pat and last week we visited the Chiang Khong facility along with the 22 young ladies that live there.
Wow, what a wonderful experience!  We met all the ladies and each one told us their names, ages and school grade level.  Each one told us they liked school, which I was glad to hear as what folks like to do they usually do well.
We also met "Fanta" who will be traveling to Sweden with Sompop Jantraka.  He will be accepting the CHILD RIGHTS HERO Award.  You can read all about Sompop and Fanta, along with other folks involved in the program, on pages 70 through 89 in the PDF copy of THE GLOBE. Just CLICK HERE.  The file takes a little while to load but it is well worth it.

I also want to say: "Pat, I have been a plumber for over 46 years and you did a wonderful job putting together this restroom project!  Thank you for having us visit you and the young ladies at Chiang Khong."

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bored in Mae Sai so Chiang Mai Trip

Well, we're a little bored here in Mae Sai.  It's the old get up at five or six o'clock, shower, dress, answer emails and go to the morning market for breakfast.  The Ban Pa Mueat Morning Market usually is in full swing by 5:00 AM.

After breakfast it is stop at the exercise equipment beside the road by our house and work out a little.

We then watched the monks do their morning walk collecting food.  Many folks come out of their homes and businesses and give food to the monks.

Home and work on quilt or if it's raining, clean the third floor tile roof. Our third floor roof is ceramic tile but does need to be cleaned every once in a while, especially after the jungle being on fire.  There was a lot of ash on our roof.

Daeng's quilt is looking good.  She put it on the bed today, as well.  She starting making it almost a year ago.  It is a patchwork quilt, double sided with a soft filling inside.

Because we are bored, we decided we would make a little trip to Chiang Mai for a little holiday.  Chiang Mai is about 250 kilometers, by road, from us.  It is up through the mountains so it takes about three and a half hours without stops. 

We started off pretty early, about 6:15 AM.  We stopped at our local market and had a little breakfast.  We drove to Jan's coffee shop in 60 km south in Chiang Rai.  We talked a little with Jan to be sure she was doing okay.  Our friend Charlie is her boyfriend.  He is in Canada for a few months.

Then we drove a little more down route number one and made the Chiang Mai turn off onto route 118.  About 19 km after the turn off, we stopped for sweets at the Charin Gardens.  They have great cheese cake and pies.  They are so good you want to lick the plate.

We also watch a man net fishing in the river by the restaurant.  We hope he got some fish as he laid out a lot of net.

We drove to the hot springs and stopped to use the rest room.  Here they charge five Thai Baht to use the facilities.  Many public places in Thailand charge three Baht so it is not that much more. 

Onward to Pooie's home.  Pooie is one of Daeng's four older brothers. It was easy to find him again as I marked our GPS locator.  When we got to the house, Kat, Pooie's daughter said her Dad was coming home for lunch in about a half hour, around noon.  We hung out.  Daeng took a little bicycle ride with Gla, Pooie's son.

As for me, I just hung around hugging trees.  These teak trees grow right in the middle of the road.

Pooie and his wife, "Ley", came home around noon and we spent some time together.  They both had to go back to work.  We said: "Good-bye" and headed down the road ourselves.

Then onward to the Royal Lanna Hotel in the Night Bazaar section of Chiang Mai.  We have a friend, Jay, that lives in the hotel on a monthly basis.  It is a big hotel, 22 stories tall in a great location. 

We booked the room from their old website for a nice discount.  The discounted rate was 1050 THB, about $35.00 USD, a night including a buffet breakfast for two.  This picture is a view of part of the night bazaar from the hotel window.  The hotel sits in the middle of this Night Bazaar.

Eat, sleep, eat, sleep and a few meetings with friends for the next few days.  I took Daeng to stay a few nights with her brother Pooie.  I hung out with my friends Brian & Jay.  It was pretty relaxing. 

While driving across a single lane bridge that crosses the river we saw a small, new hotel with a sign "650 THB" on it.  Daeng said lets stop to see it.  We liked it and made the decision to change hotels.  It was only two blocks from the Royal Lanna Hotel. 

The name of the hotel is Mawin Hotel. You can see the Royal Lanna Hotel across the bridge and down the street.  It is the large building on the left of the picture.

After seven nights in Chiang Mai we made the trip back to Mae Sai.  It was May Day, May 1st and a holiday in Thailand.  It is like Labor Day in America.  The nice part is almost everything was closed, banks, schools and businesses so the traffic was very light.  That was a nice change.