Tsunami Relief Camp

Trip Start Mar 10, 2005
Trip End Jul 2005

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Friday, March 18, 2005

Hi everyone! This has been a really amazing week. I've been at a Tsunami Relief camp in a small village outside Ranong. The experience was a bit different from what I expected, and it's had it's ups and downs, but it has been really great to work with the people here and see how everyone's come together to recover from the Tsunami... and I've learned a little Thai along the way (I can count to 99, say hi, how are you, and how much does it cost). The people here are so friendly and welcoming. It was so easy for me to find my way to the camp because everywhere I went someone would approach me and try to help me.

There are about 25 volunteers at the camp and we are all sleeping in one big house. I feel almost like I'm staying on a hippie commune. We are responsible for everything except cooking - we clean the dishes, the bathrooms, etc. During the days we've done a lot of very random activities. The organization that I'm with really has almost no resources, so we have to work with very little. The first day we went to a stilt house that was kind of falling apart and tore down the kitchen and bathroom so that they could rebuild it. There ended up being too many volunteers for the task, but it was in this small fishing village that was really beautiful. Since then, we've been working on a shell-fish farm. We spent a lot of time tying rocks up in netting and scraping bricks off to be reused. The other day we had to float the farm out into the ocean about 2 miles. There were 26 of us and a lot went out into the water on the floating farm, but others went out in 3-person canoes. Then we had to get all 26 people back in 3 little canoes. Most people ended up swimming or being towed by the canoes, either by choice or by accident. (My canoe capsized.)

Last night about 40 kilometers away there was a party for a lot of Tsunami Relief volunteers. It was a really big event - I think the military is pulling out today and last night was a final celebration for them. They've rebuilt tons of tiny, tiny row houses along the shore. We expected there would be a lot of foreigners at the event, but it turned out we were almost the only ones. At one point I was walking down the beach and was stopped by two Thais who asked to take my picture. They took one of me by myself, then one of me with each of them separately - so yeah, I guess we stuck out a little in the crowd. It was really awkward, but it made them happy, so it's ok with me I guess.

Today is my last day here then I'm going to spend the next few days on a beach somewhere before heading back towards Bangkok. I hope everyone at home is doing well! Miss you all!
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