Saturday, December 31, 2005

Sot life

We are in Mae Sot which is much bigger than we thought that it would be. This was a nice surprise but a bit overwhelming because of having to deal with traffic again. Mae Sot is a boarder city with Maywndi on the Myanmar side. Yesterday we went to the border market, which was nice but exhausting. It is quite hot and here especially when we just came from 9 straight days of overcast and cool weather. We also went to the daily market, an overwhelming experience in itself. We have been to many markets but this one is crammed into a small narrow street. Here you can buy a new pair of running shoes and bloody meat for dinner in the same stall.
Smell is such a riveting sense. Coming here I realize how devoid of smell home is.
Pungent aromas constantly ying yang between assault and seduction. You could easily go from smelling what I like to call the "waft" , sickly sweet garbage sewer coming from the drains that line every street to citrus tangy-sweet tangerine that a vendor is offering you to try...'the best in the world' he says.
A confusing conjecture of prepared food, fruit, vegetables, meat, animals (dead and alive), household goods, flowers and clothing are crammed in tiny stalls. Plus you are constantly dodging the steady traffic of people, cars, motorbikes, bicycles, carts and dogs. Wow that is exhausting.
Here is the first place that we have gone to that children and mothers with babies openly come up to you and beg for money 'please, one bhat' and food. This is heart wrenching but I am stuck on what to do. I usually look down and walk past or say 'no sorry'. I don't know what is right, I can not possibly give to them all.

On a lighter note today was a very good day. We (Teresa also) took a songthew first to the Highland Farm gibbon sanctuary. This is a place where abandoned, unwanted and injured gibbons and other animals are given to take refuge. More than 40 of the apes live here and we were taken an a very interesting tour. Many of the gibbons have amputated legs or arms from previous abuse or neglect and it is amazing to see how well they can still get around. The sounds they make are also unbelievable. Whoop, whoop WHOOP WHOOP WHOOOP! Over and over then sometimes many of them cry all at once making the listener stare in amazement as the apes go nuts calling and moving about their cages. Listen and you can hear for yourself (strongly recommended)

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Two of the gibbons were raised by hand because the mothers rejected them (sometimes when apes are raised in captivity they do not know what to do when they have a baby) and we were able to interact with them outside of their cage. Simone is two and a handful. He would climb about the house and literally bounce off the walls and swing from the trees it was very entertaining to watch him.


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He even loved to play with the dogs, teasing them then running away.
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Simone out of his cage

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Nok the main caretaker and Roger 8 months old

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Roger

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There is a program that allows volunteers to stay at the sanctuary and Dan and I thought that this would be a great idea but it costs $25 dollars US per person per day with a minimum stay of three days and, unfortunately this is well over our budget.

After the gibbons on the way back to Mae Sot we went to Phacharoen waterfall. I really liked this waterfall and look forward to seeing the more spectacular waterfalls that are in Um Pang.

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You can easily climb up many of the waterfall steps

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Dragonfly at the waterfall

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Teresa

On the road back I was able to take some really cool pictures of a monk on the songtaew-more correct spelling-

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and us

Well that should be all for now

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Its New Years Eve and we don't know what we are doing tonight, hopefully something will come up...

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