Once upon a one horse town… Or more fondly known as Chiang Khong, we were fortunate to cross paths with two beautiful, courageous Thai ladies who spend their time protecting the most vulnerable.
Chiang Khong is most popularly known for the friendship bridge to Laos and of course the mighty Mekong which is the lifeblood of the town. Everyday hundreds of tourists flock here to cross out of, or into Thailand. And similarly hundreds of predators target the area for easy prey from Laos to lure into their illicit businesses.
After two weeks of getting to grips with all the ins and outs of centerforgirls, we still weren’t satisfied that we’ve done enough. So on the Monday our visas expired, we decided to just stay put and get an extension for another 30 days.
Taking part in campaigns and workshops for sex education and human rights was truly a great experience and very rewarding. Over our seven week stay, we enjoyed time with the girls at the shelter, we moved house to a more quiet part of town, had a very adventurous but aborted trip to the mountains, cruised the Mekong, toured Chiangrai, met some very interesting, lovely volunteers and of course enjoyed the company of fabulous locals. It wasn’t the ‘city’ but it had all the necessities for me to see the real Thailand…
I learned a few words here and there, but the inflections on the words still leaves me tongue tied! One word could have many meanings depending on the rise and fall of the voice. Only one is my favourite, aray na. The go-to phrase for our hostess who’s English is still at beginner level. Loosely translated to, “what??”. Thai people use ‘na’ after a phrase or word to make it a little nicer.
Chiang khong and its people made an enormous impression on me, we went there as volunteers but left as friends.
No “a-rai na” about it!