After tripping through Israel and all the incredible adventures I had there, I decided to fly to the other side of the world, back to where it all began, Thailand. I was quite excited to head back to Asia after having spent the previous 18 months in Europe and the UK, it was a massive change of scenery for me and sometimes that’s just what I crave. I arrived in Bangkok after some marathon flights and stop overs which had me awake for 3 days, found the nearest hostel and crashed on the couch in the lobby out of pure unadulterated exhaustion.
I decided to go back to the Bamboo school to help out where ever needed as they didn’t have any volunteers there at the time. For those of you who don’t know what the Bamboo school is, it is a school for orphans, or children whose parents cannot afford to provide them with food or schooling. It is set up on the Thai border with Burma and caters for the children from the Karen hill tribe who have been persecuted for decades. I have been there several times to help where I can, in recent years I have been given the task of building various structures including bathrooms, toilets and walls. Momo, the lady who set up the school is from New Zealand and she was happy to have me back there. The kids, ah the kids, they warm my heart like nothing else. I think it was my first day back in Thailand when I heard a strange tapping noise on the roof and couldnt figure out what it was, it turns out it was rain???! What are these droplets of water that fall from the sky in such a fashion? I had actually forgotten what rain was, as ridiculous as that sounds, after waking up every day for nearly 3 months without ever even thinking about rain, barely seeing clouds even, rain was a bizarre concept to me, and I must say, not something I particularly missed!
As I arrived back at the school, I was welcomed with hugs and smiles from everyone, and I felt like I was home once again. I also felt like I was home again because I was straight back into some concrete work, mixing up some plaster to make the bathroom down at the lake look slightly more presentable. I got to catch up with all the children soon after their public school time had finished, the smaller kids use my body like a jungle gym hanging off my arms and legs, the bigger kids want to know where I have been and what I have seen in the 18 months since we last met. It was good to be back!
The days seem to fly by when I am at the school, each day moulds into the next so quickly as I was constantly busy, Momo had to travel to the south of Thailand for a week placing me in charge for that time, it worked out fine as the kids really take care of themselves, I am constantly amazed at how a 9-year-old boy will take care of his 5-year-old brother, washing his clothes by hand for him, making sure he eats all his meals and helps him get ready for school each day. The level of independence these children have at such a young age is incredible. The Bamboo school celebrated its 15th year of operation when I was there, the children all got to eat ice cream as a treat, the youngest of them, Soi fa painting her face with vanilla goodness.
The kids singing on Sabbath at the lake
Just when I thought I would get a quiet Saturday afternoon to myself, someone in the village was in dire need of medical attention and an ambulance. So off I went
After two and a half weeks there I decided it was about time to take my motorbike for a spin. I bought a Honda CBR 250 two years before and it had been sitting at the school when I was out of the country, I had gone without riding for 18 months and was actually feeling sick from withdrawals, so I jumped on the bike with a small bag of clothes and took off up the country for a ride through some of the most amazing roads I have ever ridden on.
Happy as Larry
I stopped at some sights along the way including this incredible hydro dam just outside of Tak. I didn’t realise this before but Thailand uses dams to produce around 7% of their power, and in the next 20 years hope to raise that to 20%. This particular dam reminded me of one I saw in the south of Switzerland (the one used in the film Golden eye) this one was significantly smaller but still impressive.
My ride took me through Chiang Mai and up around the Mae Hon Song loop, a ride I have done a few times before but can’t get enough of.The Route 108 has 1864 curves along the route from Chiang Mai through to Mae Hong Son a distance of 349 kilometers, I decided to stretch it out by finding more ridiculously curvy roads around that area, it was impossible to remove the smile from my face as I cained it through the almost empty roads, with gorgeous jungle either side of the road, I have yet to find another place that’s more fun to ride.
I headed back to the school after a week of riding in the north of Thailand, mainly because my cheeks were sore from all the smiling, but also because I was preparing for my next adventure!