So this is our last stop, Thailand. We're writing this with six days to go until we pack our bags for the last time on this adventure and head home. Strange feeling to be so near the end of such an amazing 6 months - partly sad about not continuing the exploration together and partly very excited about being home to see family and friends just in time for Christmas.
We arrived in buzzing Bangkok at the begin of November and after a few days we were tired of the city life and ready to head north to the jungle. We met Ole at the Bangkok North Bus Terminal and took the eight hour night bus to Mae Sot. Ole is someone who Ed knew from KT's Bible School and who now runs three orphanages called Blessed Homes near the Thai-Burma boarder.
On day one, we visited all three orphanages, and eventually arrived at the last one in Noh Bo, about two hours north of Mae Sot. Noh Bo is a little village surrounded by beautiful hills and jungle. The orphanage is right next to a river (which marks the border) and the bamboo walls of our room gave us the feeling of living in a tree house.
There are about 40 Burmese (Karen) children at Blessed Homes, aged from 10 months to 20 years.
Most days the kids were up at 5 or 6am and we would wake to the sound of them singing before breakfast. While most of them (apart from the little little ones) were at school during the day, we got on with building a concrete stage and installing flood lights over the football and volleyball pitch, as well as making a 2014 calendar and photo updates for the children's sponsors. The kids arrived back at around 3pm most afternoons, at which point the evening routine would start with volleyball, football or table tennis. This was followed by a swift dinner, homework time, devotions and then a bit of free time before bed. Beth spoke a couple of times at the evening devotion, as well as spending a lot of time hanging out with the girls in their dorm and helping with their homework. Ed taught the drums to some of the boys and even attempted a game on Fifa, which didn't go so well. He was given a Karen name by the kids which when translated means "Great Love" (Beth thinks its perfect).
In some of our spare time, we visited a pretty cool cave which continued to go further and further into the rock, crossing a fairly fast flowing river, until you could no longer see the light from the cave entrance. Inside were some pretty spectaluar stalagmites and stalactites. We also hiked up a nearby hill for a fantastic view of the border and the surrounding hills. We made some good friends in Ole, the kids at the home and some of the guests from Norway and the UK who were also visiting. We're grateful to Ole for welcoming us and we enjoyed our stay their very much.
And now, we're currently part way through one of the mandatory mammoth bus journeys for Thailand backpackers from the north to the south, which will total over 32 hours of road travel. We visited a child Ed has sponsored with compassion yesterday, which was very special. We were able to meet his family and the project staff. And now we will head south for a few days of R&R before returning home.