Tuesday, February 28, 2006

First day volunteering in Thailand

Today, in the village of Tap Tawaan, I sifted sand, mixed cement, cut bricks, made sure all the bricklayers had enough supplies, saved a cow in distress, and... watched on as a large room full of volunteers sat in a circle and watched a dog vomit five times. Read on for all the exciting and educational details.

In the mornings, many volunteers meet at the Nang Thong Supermarket to get a ride to their projects via sawngthaew (a pick-up truck with 2 benches in the back). Mine missed me somehow, but I was able to hitch a ride with another truck.

Sok works at another village called Nam Khem

Upon arrival, I found Andy, the project manager and he introduced me to Albert, a Dutch guy who leads the bricking team here at Tap Tawaan. He taught me the responsibilities of the “feeder”. He says the feeder is the most important job on the bricking team, since it keeps the brick layers productive by feeding them with cement, bricks, rebar, drills, drinking water, and so on. Some of the Canadian brick layers, however, prefer to use the crude term “brick bitch” for this job. All in good humour of course. :)

One of the perks of volunteering at Tap Tawaan is that the villagers make an amazing lunch each day (paid for by the Tsunami Volunteer Center) and there’s always plenty to go around. Today was gai (chicken), pak (vegetables), and khao (rice), with fresh fruit for dessert.

lunch at Tap Tawaan - that's Albert and Steve in the background.

A curious lunchtime visitor.

The homes in the current project at Tap Tawaan were originally built by a German organization called Malteser. However, for some reason they had no kitchen, so that’s what the Tsunami Volunteer Center is helping with now. Like all the TVC projects, it’s a cooperative effort between the villagers and the center, and I was impressed to see how productive we were. The bricking team finished bricking up two houses, and the rendering team started and finished the inside walls of one home.

At the end of the day, a cow across the road that had been yelling all afternoon was still quite distressed. As I had suspected, she had wound herself around a tree and was stuck. These cows were tethered by either a ring or a plug through their nostrils, so pulling to get away I can imagine wouldn’t feel so good. No one seemed to know who the actual owner was, so I decided to go help the poor girl and walked the heifer around the tree about six or seven times. I like the look of these cows. I think they must have been the inspiration for the look of Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars.


Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Every Monday night on the top floor of the Tsunami Volunteer Center, there’s a meeting where all the new volunteers are introduced, status updates are given by the project managers, and upcoming events for the week are announced. There’s also a “Thai vocabulary lesson” given by a few of the Thai volunteer staff.

Thai vocabulary lesson.

On this particular night, when Scott, the project manager for the Pakarang Boat Yard project was giving his update on the longtail boats being built, his cute but gimp-footed dog, “Lucky” decided to come upstairs to join the fun. Well, not only did he join the fun, but became the center of attention when he puked up a big ol’ load of something foul onto the floor near the stairs, and then just laid down casually in the middle of the room. As Scott continued with his update, Lucky began to wretch, and vomited again in the center of the crowd. Scott tried to go on, but was interrupted by laughter and groans from the volunteers as Lucky delivered his dinner once more. After Lucky graciously shared his culinary exploits 2 additional times, Scott let his associate take over the update and took poor Lucky home. Sorry kids, no photos of “lucky vomit”. Maybe next time. Ha.

Instead, here’s a view of the sunset from the top floor of the Tsunami Volunteer Center:

Khao Lak sunset

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Blogger cat said...

I demand some photo updates.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Rafael said...

Your demand is my, um... command. haha

3:45 AM  
Blogger cat said...

good boy.

11:32 AM  

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