A Travellerspoint blog

Day 8 (AM) - Falang down!

Khao Lak - Phuket - Penang = 23 December 2013

sunny 32 °C
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After my little break down on the train from Bangkok (see The Longest Day), my lovely boyfriend agreed to fly from Phuket to Penang, rather than trying to get back to Surat Thani and get on the same train for another 12 hours. The flight didn’t leave until later that afternoon, so we spent the morning visiting the police boat in Khao Lak town:
The boat was a police patrol boat that was down in Khao Lak because members of the Thai royal family were holidaying there when the tsunami hit. It was thrown inland and now sits along the main street of Khao Lak town.
Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel to swim until it was time to leave. On the walk down to the pool we noticed that one of the balconies appeared to have fallen away. When we arrived at the hotel, we were supposed to have a balcony seat like one of these, but our balcony didn't:
but the one we saw looked like this:
When I made a comment about it to Justin, he said he wouldn’t have sat on it anyway, because ‘they don’t look structurally sound’.
The night before we had heard a big crashing sound, a thud and a scream but didn’t think too much more about it. Looking at the balcony the next day, we now think that a tourist may have fallen through! This was also a big ‘I told you so’ from Justin.
Anyway, we had a few more delicious cocktails in paradise:
About lunchtime, we got in a taxi for the ride to Phuket airport and jumped on a plane to Penang, Malaysia.

Posted by MealsEeles 01:33 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

DAY 7 (PM) - Ban Nam Kem

Takuapa - Ban Nam Kem - Khao Lak = 22 December 2013

sunny 33 °C
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After the orphanage we went to the next town, which is a little fishing village called Ban Nam Kem. This area was very badly hit when the tsunami came through. We went to the wave memorial that listed the names of many foreigners who died. Khao Lak and the surrounding areas are very popular with the Germans, Swedes, Finnish and Dutch, which you could see from many of the names.
There are two fishing trawlers in the middle of the town, which were thrown inland by the tsunami:

Posted by MealsEeles 01:21 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)


Kuala Lumpur International Airport

sunny 31 °C

Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family - we love you all, and thank you for following along with our overseas adventures. At the moment we are sitting in Kuala Lumpur airport, waiting to fly to Beijing. xx Justin and Amelia.

Posted by MealsEeles 00:35 Archived in Malaysia Tagged airport Comments (0)

Day 7 (AM) - Baan Tharn Namchai orphanage

Khao Lak - Takuapa = 22 December 2013

sunny 30 °C
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We had a nice sleep in, and a leisurely breakfast (the amazing buffet again!) then had a car delivered to the front of our hotel. We headed north, up to Takuapa town, where the Baan Tharn Namchai orphanage is located.

The orphanage started after the devastating 2004 tsunami – many of the children were up in the hills at school when the wave hit, while their parents mainly worked on, or near the water. Many Thais can’t swim, so hundreds of them drowned in this province – whole fishing villages were wiped out.
A Thai charity sent a woman called Rotjana down to Takuapa province, and she ended up with about 20 children, who could not find their parents or any relatives, and had no home to go back to. They set up tents to live in and took what donations of food, water and clothing they could get.
While this was happening, an Australian called Peter Baines was in the area, leading international teams in the identification process of dead bodies. He came across the tent village and was very affected by seeing the number of orphaned children in the area, and swore that he would return to help them.

In late 2005 (nearly a year after the tsunami had come through) he set up Hands Across the Water, for the purpose of raising funds and awareness for the Thai orphans. This charity does not spend any money AT ALL on administrative costs. Since 2005, the orphanage has built two orphanages (including Baan Tharn Namchai), purchased a rubber plantation (to help ensure a sustainable and regular income), constructed a medical and community centre in the Khao Lak region, and is currently working towards the construction of a HIV Paediatrics Hospital in the north east area of Thailand.

After some time, Peter Baines quit his job, and starting doing corporate speaking events about his experiences, and putting the money back into Hands Across the Water. It was reading about Peter that made me want to volunteer at Baan Tharn Namchai about four years ago, and being able to return there and show Justin the good work that they do was very important to me.

The children that were orphaned after the tsunami are older now, but the orphanage keeps expanding, taking many of the children of women who work in the sex industry in Phuket and Bangkok. Many of the Australian men who visit these areas should visit this orphanage and see how the sex industry in Thailand affects the local population. It isn’t just harmless fun.

We arrived shortly after lunch with two big suitcases full of toys, clothes and shoes, that Justin had taken his six godchildren to buy last Christmas. The children were all sitting in rows on the floor, but we could see they were all watching the suitcases, wondering what was in them. Some of the older girls performed a traditional Thai dance for us, while a few others unpacked the suitcases. Allyson, an English woman who lives at the orphanage, explained that there would be a big Christmas celebration and that these toys would be wrapped and be given to the children on Christmas day.
After the dance, Allyson took us around the orphanage. We went out the back to where all of the young children were having an afternoon nap. The beautiful little boys and girls were all spread out, sleeping under the ceiling fans. Allyson explained how some of the younger ones had come into the orphanage, including one gorgeous little two-year old girl.

Her parents had been older when she was born – her father had been 60 years old. He had a stroke shortly afterwards, so her mother had to go out and work each day, so that the family could eat. The father could no longer move his arms, or speak, so he sat in a chair each day, and the young girl stayed with him. When she came to the orphanage, she didn’t speak at all, and when she sat in the laps of the adults of the orphanage, she would lift one arm, and then the other, and put them around her, because she was used to being with her paralysed father. Although both of her parents loved her, they had to give her up because they couldn’t afford to feed her.

We then went upstairs to where the older girls slept. Allyson explained that they have more older girls than older boys because as the girls get older and mature, it can be become dangerous for them to stay at their home. There was a beautiful little girl, who looked about nine years old, who was packing her suitcase to go to another province to visit her aunt. Each girl had a little cupboard for her belongings, and this cupboard was totally spotless, and all of the clothes were immaculately folded AND colour coded – Justin joked that she would be the perfect daughter for him.
Allyson explained that one of the other nine year old girls had only recently come to the orphanage after asking her school teacher to find her some where to live where she didn’t have to go out begging at night.

After this, Allyson took us to the back of the orphanage to show us a rice paddy that the orphanage had set up to show the children how rice is grown. Then she took us to a glasshouse where they were growing hydroponics. When I had visited four years ago, the glasshouse had been set up, but was not in use. After the tsunami, there was a flood of foreign donations that came into the area, but this didn’t last long. World Vision had donated the money to have the glasshouse built, but the orphanage didn’t have the skills or the money to get things growing. They have since planted lettuce and other greens, and it looked fantastic.

Allyson mentioned that the orphanage had recently gone back to World Vision to ask them to fund a second greenhouse, citing how successful they had been with the first one. World Vision agreed, only on the condition that the orphanage put a large sign out the front of the orphanage (not the greenhouse that they would be paying for, but the actual orphanage, which they did not start, and haven’t been involved in) with the World Vision branding on it. The orphanage declined this, so World Vision declined the support.

This makes me really angry - when you have a small charity like Hands Across the Water that spend all of their money on those children, asking for help from a large organisation like World Vision, and being able to show that the donation would make a real and impactful difference for these children – but being declined because World Vision doesn’t get to advertise to their donation. Quite frankly, that is disgusting.

If you want to help make a difference with a donation, or find out more about this great charity, please visit: https://handsacrossthewater.org.au/pages/

Posted by MealsEeles 00:24 Archived in Thailand Tagged orphanage khao lak baan tharn namchai Comments (0)

Day 6 - Some R & R

Khao Lak - 21 December 2013

sunny 32 °C
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After a restful sleep in a huge king size bed, we woke feeling refreshed, and headed down to the amazing buffet breakfast at the JW Marriott in Khao Lak.
There were so many different types of food from several different countries, including noodles, fried rice, miso soup, and even sushi. There was also a smoothie bar where you could pick from a huge selection of fresh fruit and an omelette bar where you could pick from a range of ingredients and have a fresh omelette made for you. After this, we settled in at the pool bar for a drink and a swim, where Boy (the bartender) made us delicious raspberry daiquiris and mango margaritas.
For lunch, we headed into Khao Lak town, and Justin got his first ever manicure – he wanted me to put a picture on the blog to show his mum – Judy if you are reading this, here we go:
Then we went to the elephant, monkey and snake park. We started out with an elephant (Thai word = Chang) ride through the rubber plantation. Riding an elephant is a very bumpy ride, but once you get used to the rocking, it is pretty cool being up so high, with this massive creature slowly stomping along underneath you.
The elephant was named Chai, and Chai was very hungry, because he kept making detours into the plantation to rip off tree leaves, or to use his truck to swirl long grass and then rip it out of the ground and stuff it in his mouth. We came to a particularly lush green area, and Chai couldn’t help himself – he wandered into the middle and started snacking… We were there for quite awhile, before a group of Thais pulled up on scooters and were giggling and pointing. We looked up and saw another, bigger elephant coming through the forest, and the Thai on the other elephant was shouting something to our ‘driver’. Justin guessed (correctly) that our driver was still in training, and wasn’t able to convince Chai to turn around and head home, so they had sent the other elephant to guide Chai back.
When we got back, we bought some bananas to feed Chai and the bigger elephant. It is so cool holding up the banana, and watching the long trunk, with two little ‘fingers’ pinching together like a pair of tongs, and hearing the air being sucked up the trunk – it sounds like a vacuum cleaner hose - before the trunk sucks onto the banana and it goes into the mouth.
We then moved onto the monkey show, where a monkey called ‘John’ did a series of very cute tricks, including untying Justin after the trainer had tied him up:
Shooting hoops:
And riding a bike:
Then our last stop was the snake show. The handler pulled out three mean looking black cobras, and got down on the ground with his face inches from theirs - we could hear the cobras spitting venom with a hiss every time they launched at his face:
After the shows, we headed back to the resort, for some more tropical cocktails and to watch the sun set over the Andaman sea:
Then we went back into town where Justin wanted a photo next the Thai Ronald McDonald (he didn’t believe me that in Thailand the statues are all ‘wai-ing’ which is the traditional Thai greeting – Justin calls them ‘prayer hands’):
We had dinner at a seafood restaurant, where they steamed a whole fish with ginger, chilli and garlic – perfect end to the day.

Posted by MealsEeles 20:38 Archived in Thailand Tagged sunset monkey elephant snake khao cocktails lak Comments (0)

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