Day two started out with an early morning and a walk to the Lahu Outpost; sounds simple enough except that the outpost is on top of a mountain. Now last year at this point in time I was at the tail end of my basketball season so I was in good shape. This year; long story short, I slapped a guy in the face, threw a temper tantrum and quit the league. So I was out of shape. I actually wanted to die going up the mountain. It sucked really bad. The kids were fine, only a few Americans (of course), and some others, were out of shape or lazy. The majority were talented athletes easily capable of climbing a mountain. One boy even had really strong fast twitch muscles (whatever that means).

About 45 minutes into the hike we stop at a beautiful waterfall for a bit of a snack and a chill out. This is where it gets interesting. Most people trek up the mountain the easy way and down the mountain the hard way. But we do the opposite. We go up the hardest way possible. It is funny because every year we pass tourists (who are on the way down) who tell us that we are going the wrong way. They say it is crazy to go up using the path we are using. This really frightens some students but always makes reaching the top more enjoyable.

Once we reached the top we chilled for about 30 minutes and then met with the village elders. I always wonder if these meetings are mutually serving. One part is for us to ask questions and learn about the village. But (with Lahu being a small, close nit community) I wonder if they want to find out a bit about who we are; and more importantly, if they should have a close watch on us.

Once we exhausted all of our questions and thanked the village committee for their time we got right to work building trash receptacles and picking up trash as well.  This work sounds horrible, but surprisingly it was hilarious. As one student put it during our nightly recap/debriefs…

“We were picking up trash…yet everyone was smiling…joking. I couldn’t believe it.”

Here are some photos of the trash pickup. My favorite is of Anders giving gang signs; nothing is more gangster than a private schooled Norwegian kid (on the swim team) in front of a pile of trash giving 90’s era gang signs.

After a hard day of cleaning up the village we cleaned up ourselves, ate some great tasting pasta and then went off into the village for a party. It was festival time on the mountain and the Lahu people party hard. There was no sound system at the beginning, only traditional Lahu instruments. Our kids were hanging with the local children. The boys were rough housing and the girls were dancing and braiding hair. Really cool.  After a few hours we headed back to the bungalows for some much needed rest. Or so we thought.

So I guess if you work every day all day in a remote village then you have an excuse to party hard. After I dropped off the ISB students I went back to the party. This time the little ones were in bed and the teenagers were out. The songs were a bit more intricate and the dancing more elaborate. There were also way more foreigners there as well.

The teenagers would take a break from dancing and inhale paint or glue behind a shop (I was told this is a bit of an epidemic in Northern Thailand). The older ones would drink beers and try to talk up the girls. The elders were on the outskirts of the party area talking politics and laughing and drinking.

I left the party around midnight.

But little did I know the party had just begun. The music was now accompanied by vocals. The sound system which was on full blast was echoing throughout the mountain tops. The locals were trashed; some even falling over when I left at midnight. But they kept going strong until 6 am. I didn’t get much sleep to say the least but Lahu people know how to get down; that’s for sure.

The next day we all went to the school to hang with the students. We separated into stations and had the kids rotate every 20 minutes or so. The biggest hit was LEGO. Guys, girls, our students and even the teacher loved making towers, planes and trains. So if anyone would like to donate some old LEGO please leave a comment and let me know. Go Fish was a big hit as well.

 

 

 

 

Going up to the Lahu Outpost is always a highlight of the Global Citizen Week camp. This year was just as rewarding. It is a great bonding experience for the students and a great way to help a local Thai village. The people are welcoming and loving. The scenery is majestic. Can’t wait to go again next year.