Top of our mountain
David Humenczuk - Xtreme Karen Refugee Hike Day 2
Happy Birthday Marie! (and America)
We awoke this morning from Holiday Inn Xpress (Thailand), it's just a short fall out of bed to work and has such amenities as mud baths, leech therapy, and an excellent view from the penthouse suite. In all actuality the guides and us guys were packed in our hut tighter than the sardines that we had for dinner the night before. There was no room to set-up bug nets, but no worry because all the smoke from the cooking fires below was enough to stop any from coming in, as well as stop our breathing and severely burn our eyes. The girls came up to join us for a freshly prepared meal of rice and more sardines, but they seemed a bit disgusted and would not talk to us (except to say happy birthday to me). I think they were mad because we had not had it delivered it to them in bed like the night before. You are welcome!
We started our hike out across the fields of rice where we had stayed and promptly started going straight up. The weather was cool and wet, we were inside a cloud. Soon we got to the top, but couldn't see beyond the fog. We were not looking up anyway with every step someone was pulling another leech off. I love hiking and really don't mind the hot, the humid, the rain, or the mud, but the leeches really suck! We then started the last six hours, which was all downhill, but at times steep and slippery. There were a lot of bumps and bruises along the way, but thankfully no serious injuries. These days of hiking are to help show us a little of what the karen refugees might have to go through after they are forced to flee from the Burmese army. Emotions and injuries ran high just from the stress of walking on trails and roads in the day time when there is no army after us. It is scary to imagine what it would be like if it was the real thing. We had a time clock,we knew that we were only going to be "gone" for a couple days. The Karen refugees do not know how long they are going to be "gone" for or if they will ever be able to return home.
A quick drive from the village where we ended our hike and we arrived at our second refugee camp. We are going to be allowed to stay within the gates, but have to stay at the bible school across the river in the "unofficial" zone. After dinner we met with the founder of the bible school Dr. Saw Simon, who gave us some more history on the refugee situation.