Matt, and I planting rice
After a long night of rain we received a wake-up call from the local roosters at around 3:00 am.... one of them is right under the house, I hope we are having chicken with breakfast. We are staying in the local pastors brand new house, it's an all wood cabin with ornate wood furniture and seems like it would fit in better in the mountains of Colorado rather than Thailand amongst bamboo huts with leaf roofs. Unfortunately the pastor can not be with us in Kler Day, he is in Chang Mai awaiting trial for "encroaching on royal forest land". This is land he and his family have been using for rice farming for generations. Unlike many of the other cultural groups in and around Thailand the Karen have always been very environmentally aware and take care of the land around them. Ironically the government is now coming into forests where the Karen live, seeing how nice it is, then making it national forrest land to "protect" it. This is just makes it hard on the people who are just trying to live. One of the heads of the Thai forestry department is rumored to not be a big fan of christians and some think that's why the pastor and no one else got in trouble.
We had breakfast of... yup you guessed it rice. Feeling bad for eating up all their food we headed out to the rice fields for a morning of work. The views on the way to the field were simply amazing - mountains mixed into a cloudy haze for as far as you can see. Living at the top of of a mountain the weather is much cooler and less humid, did I mention the views are amazing!?! The hillside is covered in a hundred or so small stair-stepped fields filled with water all pouring into one another. It is planting season so we spent a couple hours with several of the locals planting seedling rice plants. The work wasn't all that hard, but it did take some time to figure out the exact process of shoving the small plants into the soft mud with correct spacing all while overcoming language barriers of being told how to do it. After half an hour or so I overheard someone talking about how one of the locals pulled a leach off Matt so I looked down and sure enough there was one digging into the side of my leg. Almost everyone found at least one leach on them at some point in the day, but no major problems. After planting, we climbed up toward the top of the hill to see people cutting out the overgrown fields to get ready for planting and the rice nursery that was growing the seedlings we had been planting.
During lunch it started raining so we just hung out, played music, or peek-a-boo with some of the local children from the window. It was nice to take a break and just enjoy things. Once it cleared up we went down the hill a bit to the local school for an introduction and questions. It's still kind of strange walking around the town seeing all these bamboo huts with leaf roofs and a satellite dish outside. The village is so far outside of any big city it would be very expensive to run electricity out so the government provides huge solar panels at the entrance to the village and most of the houses have large car batteries to power things for when it is dark. In the evening we went back to the boarding house and played games with the children till it was well past their bed time.