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February 24, 2005

Planning for Thailand

Plans for the trip are underway. We're researching places where we can help the most. Shanti has a lot of connections in and near Phuket, Ao Nang, and Koh Lanta. She will help restore a Buddhist temple+monestary before we all connect midweek. I may decide to return there if they still need help. Monks are not allowed to complain or ask for help, as it must be provided for them, so no one was aware the Kamala Temple was in trouble until volunteers happened by to check it out.

We had hoped to build a daycare center on one particularly damaged island, but Shanti's further research revealed questions about the way that project is being managed. We want to make sure every donated dollar (baht) and moment goes to those who are able to use them well, so we will be checking the groups out through word of mouth and in person before we commit.

It's hard to know what we will encounter. Shanti has a lovely photo of herself with her mom at a resort at the edge of Koh Phi Phi. They are poolside at an infinity-wall pool, with a bar at one end situated so you can get your drinks without getting out of the pool. Within days of the photo, it was all gone, flattened by the immense force of the sea.

Can't imagine it? It's impossible to get your brain around it. Here are some photos a Canadian couple took of the tsunami rolling in, via AP/CNN. Sadly, they did not survive the disaster.

Some areas have received help already and are trying to get back on their feet, others still are being discovered. Speaking of feet, Shanti learned this week that many of the children have lost their shoes, and she convinced Nike+Teva to send a bunch of sandals that some of them can wear. One of us will take them on the airplane, along with a bunch of clothing Oakley contributed, and inside backpacks that Solomon has donated.

Other preparations for our journey will require minimal packing and precise planning. I'll be bringing a water filter, and to enhance the sense of surreal adventure: Malarone pills, the Malaria preventative—although locals have emphasized disease has not been present in the areas we are planning to visit. I've also got some serious Deet bug juice packed, which came with advice from the clerk at Adventure 16 that 100% Deet will eat through synthetics, so don't wear it under your clothes. But "It's completely safe!" (Isn't that what they told the soldiers spraying Agent Orange?)

I already had the bevy of major vaccinations, finishing off the complement with Typhoid pills this week (which my tummy has not been all that excited about). The weather will be in the 80s-90s and 100% humidity, so I'm packing a few light items with plans to pick up some clothes of the proper fabric in Bangkok. My goal is to keep my one pack less than 35lbs so I can travel light and manage the other large bags of donations we'll be bringing.

We're still looking for cash donations to take with us. Whether you'd like to give to the Thai people outright or by buying a hand knit washcloth, or to support our trip to Thailand to help others, we're interested. Please contact us.

Posted by sedda at February 24, 2005 02:22 PM