April, Cows, and Orphans: 40 photos.

Summary of my first 10 days in Thailand: Landed, met up with old friends in Bangkok a few times, caught a bus to Mae Sot, hung out with new friends, worked on thesis stuff, ate tonnes of good food.

Then, today, I woke up and went to an orphanage.

My new friend Erin, who’s staying at the same guesthouse as me, runs some really neat schools in California, here in Mae Sot, and in Palmerston North (New Zealand). I still don’t fully understand the entire deal, but it’s quite amazing. Anyways, she has all these connections here and so this morning she was heading to an orphanage and invited me and Rachel, another girl staying at this guesthouse, to join her. What an adventure!

A tuk-tuk was called to pick us up, and we joined Erin’s friends Cathy and Gloria, local artist and philanthropist Maung Maung Tinn, as well as May (a very kind Burmese lady who works at Mae Tao clinic) and her amazing daughter April with thanaka on her face.

As we drove along, I couldn’t help shoot a couple of photos of others sharing the road with us. In both cases, I got huge smiles back after they noticed the camera.

After arriving in the neighbourhood with the orphanage, we walked toward the open area where the children were playing as there is no school on Sunday, and this big cow was chilling in the grass:

The kids were eager to show me the cows grazing on the other side of the fence (they later came and shared our play area, then moved further on).

This is the gentleman in charge of the cattle:

We brought along a big tin of small cookies for the kids as a treat, and because little kids in developing countries generally benefit from the energy in cookies whereas kids in developed countries often don’t need that extra energy source, and become fat instead.

The children lined up and each took his or her turn greeting the woman in charge and saying thank you before leaving with five small cookies.

This girl showed up late but wasn’t upset at all – she was SO happy to join us and seemed to have a natural leadership instinct among her peers:

If you know me well, you know that I can’t resist joining children for playtime. I let the adults have their conversations at parties and barbeques and I join the kids, cuz that’s where the fun is at. Luckily Maung Maung Tinn was very happy to take charge of my camera for a bit, and later on Gloria took a turn taking some shots with it, so a big thanks to them for capturing some nice moments.

I really like taking photos of children fooling around but getting along with each other at the same time. These kids were really good at playing together!

This girl is a bit older than the others, and I think she was there to help handle the large number of kids.

This girl was 20, and helps her sister who has some position of responsibility at the orphanage.

This kid actually liked me, but the photos of me holding her in my arms were completely out of focus, so I can’t prove it.

These kids were bursting with energy; everyone wanted a turn being spun around and flipped in all directions!

After a bit of this intense activity in the hot sun, with many kids wanting more rides and me needing a slight break, I pretended to faint (but with a big smile on my face). The kids surrounded me like the Lilliputians around Gulliver, but trying to pick me up instead of tie me down.

Soon I was back up and carrying multiple children around again.

Some time later, we had to leave. As we walked away, I couldn’t help but catch this guy on camera. Look closely and you can read that his shirt says “Je ma’pple” instead of “Je m’appelle” (My name is).

Cow (left), Gloria (centre), and Erin (right).

We then walked a few minutes to a small house where two artists have their studio. One is from Rangoon (Yangon), in Burma and has been here only about 6 months. The other, Nyan Soe, (seen here) is from Mon State, Burma, and has been in Thailand for several years now. Both have produced some amazing artwork, and Nyan Soe’s stuff is currently on exhibit at the Borderline gallery here in Mae Sot.

After a nice visit, we caught a tuk-tuk back to the guesthouse and I took a nap.