Saturday, September 8, 2007


It rained all night.

Today we were supposed to either go to a village, or, if it was raining too much, the back-up plan was for the Leaders (maybe 5-6 altogether) to come to the hotel, have a storying training for maybe 2-3 hours. I was exhausted last night to plan much, and didn’t get up early to plan anything today, but somehow I wasn’t worried about it. (picture: ricksaw transporting people through the high water)

We got up, and it was just pouring rain. We looked outside, and saw trucks lined up on the hill outside the hotel. Finally, we figured out that the town was flooded and the trucks couldn’t go through. I suggested that we go out and see. ZL was hesitant – saying, ‘you may get wet,’ I said, “yeah…so?” I didn’t say it like that exactly, but tried to communicate that it wasn’t a big deal to get wet. So we went out of the hotel.

The policeman who was stationed at the hotel (For my protection) said, “You can’t go out, where were you last night? You were supposed to report – you can’t go anywhere without us, etc, etc.” ZL explained we had dinner at a friend’s home. And how it wasn’t a big deal, etc, etc. He explained we were just going out to see the flooding and then come back – and asked if the police wanted to come with us. The police said no and went to get a higher ranking officer. That one came back and said the same things.

ZL explained what we were going to do, and said ‘if you say we can’t go, we won’t go” The policeman said, “No, we can’t tell you, you can’t go, but some police should go with you.” ZL said, “okay, if you want to come, come.” Then the policeman said, “We don’t have the people to send…” So ZL was like, “okay, then what do you want us to do?” The officer said, “You can go out, but if anything happens, it is not our responsibility.” ZL said, “okay, I will take full responsibility.” Then we left. I said, “That policeman who is stationed at the hotel for my protection – what is he doing? If he was just going to stand at the hotel all day, why doesn’t he come – if they are so concerned?” ZL agreed, and said that they just didn’t want to get wet probably… (picture ZL and me in the middle of the road/river)

Anyway, we went down the hill, and quickly were in knee deep water. Zar Lawm asked many times, ‘should we go back?”
I said, “And sit at the hotel all day long? We should go to your friend’s homes and see if they are okay.”
He said, “but it’s far…”
I said, ‘I’m fine.’
So we pressed on. We were in almost waist deep water, crossing bridges that were now the river. We saw a fence come down, people playing in the water, people fishing, homes that were completely covered in water – well the roof was showing, people gathered in shops trying to wait it out, but the water was only increasing. There were bicycle rickshaws making a lot of money since they are the only mode of transportation that could go down the street. Oh, and boats – but we didn’t see any of those…We did see a few kids in a tire tube floating around. The road had become part of the river - there was no distinction between it - the whole town was a few feet under water. And yet, in general, it seemed people were in fairly good spirits.

Finally, we reached the home of the local worker. His home had been flooded. The water had gone down when we got there, but it was actually flooded about 2 feet of water into his house. You could see the marks on his house where the water had been. They had moved the plastic flooring outside- it was hanging on a tree that functioned as a clothes line. They had put their table and chairs up, and their refrigerator. They said it was the first time the water had ever come that far. They said once, it came up before, but not inside their house. The water had gone down when we arrived, but actually while we were there (maybe 15 minutes), it rose again about 2 inches…they said it rises and lowers continually.. It was amazing to think we had just eaten dinner there the night before. (picture: a man tries to save his most valuable possession - his tv!)

After visiting them, we went to another home of a worker who had broken is leg a few months ago. They had moved in a home a little further from their own home, because their own home was made a mud, and had cracked from the water. It was still standing, but there was no telling how long it would still stand.

We then went to one of the local leaders homes. His home is built up a bit higher, and so his home was still okay. He had maybe 10 people staying with him who had either lost their homes, or whose homes were under water at the moment. We decided we would leave- since if we stayed, the local leader would feel obligated to serve us lunch. We got in a bicycle rickshaw and went back. The water was even higher than when we came, and even though we were in the bicycle rickshaw, our feet still got wet! The drivers of the bicycle rickshaws actually get off and walk the bike through the waist deep water – putting the rickshaw behind them.

We got back to the hotel, got dry clothes and then had lunch. The whole time I felt so sad for those who we had seen, whose homes were either in pretty bad shape, or even perhaps ruined from the water. I wanted to do something for them, I said I wished we could take food to them…but there wasn’t much we could do…

At the hotel, we played a game, and then ZL showed me pictures of different places. He showed me pictures of the village we were supposed to visit today. He also showed a picture of the church building that was burnt down– it was burn down by Buddhist group who doesn’t want churches/Christians there – that happened last year.

I slept maybe ½ hour. Then the local worker, and the local leader came to the hotel! They had come by walking and rickshaw- through the water. They said after we had left, the water had gotten worse – coming in his house even more than during the night, but now it had gone down a lot. They invited us for dinner, and said, ‘why did you leave so quickly today, you didn’t even eat lunch!!’ ZL explained how we thought about staying for lunch, but due to the situation, felt it was better that we didn’t. He then explained how the police were being kind-of strict and since the weather was unpredictable, we had already told the hotel we would stay for dinner, and since almost all of our clothes were already soaked, maybe we shouldn’t go to dinner. They pressed, but finally said okay.

We talked for a while, and then they left. We ate dinner, and then went to bed.

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