Our first week at Pattaya Orphanage has just finished and we are exhausted! Our week started on Tuesday at 8am and our began with an amusing ride on a small bus into Pattaya - the bus ride takes about 40 minutes and we can safely say that Thai people don not see white girls on this bus very often as we are stared at in amazement every morning and even more so on the return ride home which I shall tell you about later! The orphanage is much bigger than we had expected and on arrival we were greeted by several adorable babies wandering outside the entrance with the nannies! We spent around half an hour with these little guys in what is called 'the baby room' and there are around 25 babies! The room is filled with cots and a small play area with some toys scattered around for them to play with! We were shown around by another volunteer - Christine who has been there for the past three weeks and she also takes an english class which we shall be taking over from next week when she leaves! There are 6 children in the class all together, all of which live in the orphanage their names are; Boom, Bam, Ya, Ai, Korsan and Angel ahhhh they are all amazing, although Angel does not live up to his name all the time! We sing songs, go through the alphabet, count 1-10 and basic colors, its very repetitive but this seems to work well and is a good routine for the children! The class runs from 9.30 till 10.30 and then we return to the baby room where we simply entertain the babies, I have not had the pleasure of nappy changing duty as yet however Lisa has! At 11am we are then thrown out of the room as the babies have their morning nap and we have until 2pm till we are needed again, during this time we entertain ourselves with banana milkshakes (made with ice not milk) and have found a small hut on the side of the road which serves chicken and rice for 70p each and have become regulars! At 2pm we head back to the Orphanage and spend the rest of the afternoon until 5pm with the babies who are at times quite demanding but adorable, before leaving it is their bedtime again and we try and get them to sleep; I have been unsuccessful in this department however Lisa seems to have the knack - although today I was very proud after finally getting one baby asleep.
Yesterday however we got to spend the afternoon in the Pattaya School for the Deaf; the school is on the same site as the orphanage but there are only a few deaf orphans so they open the school to the public as both day and boarding for children in Pattaya. We sat in on a computer class and a speech therapy session which we both really enjoyed and even picked up at bit of Thai sign language! Today we were invited to join the children from the deaf school and our class we teach in the mornings on a school outing! This weekend is a Buddhist festival and the children go to the local temple to give gifts to the monks.
We arrived at the temple on a very full bus, not much health and saftey regulations in Thailand as we both had children on our knees, no seat belts and two or three children occupied the same seat on the bus! After waiting outside the temple for 20 minutes or so waiting for another group of children to finish their ceremony inside the temple we made our way up the steps ready to enter the temple; inside the temple were 10 Monks sat on the floor humming. Initially we though we would be going straight inside however the other teachers and children started walking slowly around the outside of the temple with their hands pressed together and heads down; we decided to join in and proceeded round the temple, hands pressed together and heads down. When reaching the front of the temple again we though that was it however the children and teachers continued to do another lap around the temple, we both wondered how many of these we were going to be doing as at this point felt a little silly slowly wandering round a temple with no shoes on, heads down and hands together - fortunately it was just the three however we decided at the end of the second to jump out of line and wait for the children to come back around again so we could take some pictures of them. We then entered the temple and and all the children and teachers went down on their knees in front of the Monks and began praying and by waving their arms up and down. This we decided not to join in and simply knelled down at the back, there was some chanting and some more praying and them some more chanting and suddenly a mobile phone went off, both Lisa and me though it was one of the teachers phones but no; it was in fact one of the monks who pulled a phone out from under his robe and promptly switched it off!! This was a rather entertaining moment for us but we managed to control ourselves from laughter and remained quiet at the back, shortly after this the ceremony ended and we left the temple.
The bus ride home is our least favourite part of the day: it begins with having to walk in the heat for half an hour before reaching our bus stop; which is not really a bus stop but a piece of cardboard saying bus stop on a random bit of pavement. The bus which is not a bus as you would imagine but a a very old pick up truck with a tin covering over the back and some make shift seats and a metal grid on the back for when there is not enough room inside the back of the bus (pick up truck) and people stand of this and these people are usually us! We did try standing inside the back however due to the average height of Thai people this very difficult even for myself and almost impossible for Lisa. When we first attempted it everyone one on the bus was greatly amused by the view of local people stood in front and behind us with a good few inches between their heads and the roof of the bus and myself just about fitting and poor Lisa completely crouched down unable to look up and pretty much looking like a giant! So we now simply hang of the back of a pick up truck everyday for around 20 minutes being pointed at and laughed at by all the local people we pass as we literally hang on for our lives!
Tomorrow we are up at 5am and being collected by our volunteer co-ordinator 'Aa' as it is the orphanages 36th anniversary and for some reason they have decided to take a picture of everyone in the orphanage at 6am on a Saturday! We were looking forward to a lie in tomorrow after a busy week but that will have to wait tomorrow however we are happy that we have been asked to take part in the orphanage's celebration (36 is a special number here?) we have obviously made a good impression!
We are sure that next week will bring just as much if not more amusing tales, so after our early rise tomorrow we are off to spend the weekend on a beach and will update you all at the end of next week with our adventure so far!
Love to everyone
Lisa and Sarah xx