Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The trip to Salween River!

The Trip to Salween River

The trip to Salween River, is a very long way by van, which we took about 5 hours. In order to get to Karen village, we need to ride a boat from the port at the point we got off the van and take about 2 hours in riding. The Salween river is the big one of the rivers. It has the source in Hunnan province of China and flow go to the Underman ocean. But it is not as big as Mekong river. I feel exited when I see are strong flowing in opposite direction with our boat and otherwise because I see the river bank are mountain lines with green tries. I also see there are some houses rotating a long the both riverbank which one side is Thailand and another side is Burma and beside this there are some floating houses. I am interested with the view along the river but the same time, I also feel sleepy because of cold and fresh air and tired of taking on the van.
At last, the boat stopped at the riverbank and I see a few people came out of the village to see, greet and help us to carry some baggage. That is the Karen people, who are living the riverbank of Thailand side. When we arrived village, I see many houses which some are located on low land and some on the high land. It was also in the evening, we were divided into 4 groups to sleep with villager in 4 houses and we divided food for each group. In my group there are 4 people. We help each other to the cook meal for dinner and after dinner we went to sleep.
In the second day, after breakfast we took a boat to upstream to see the Hutgyi dam site and it took about 1 hour. Along the riverbank, I still see some villages and school located along the riverbanks. We stop at the floating house, where one is the health center and other one is shop. Before we arrive the dam sit, we saw a note-No Dam putting in the riverbank. And not much time, we arrive the dam site, we got off the boat and had a meeting on the river beach and 3 staffs from Karen River Watch to present us about the situation of Karen people being violated by Burma militaries and about their some of their activities in helping Karen people to organize the movement to protest with the plan of building dam, lasting their work getting successful, that the Hutgyi dam have been delayed. In the evening we have a meeting with presenting by 3 staffs from SEARIN. They showed us some movies about Thai Bann Research (Local Wisdom Research), which the work focus on documenting of fish species, plant species, the way of catching fish by using local fishing gears and technique and also the life way of Karen people. The importance of this document is to make as a report and also as evidence.
In the third day, after breakfast we accompany villager to see their field which on the mountain. When we arrived the field, we took a rest in a shelter and we all ask many questions to our villagers. During this time, I learned many things such as the way of planting rice and other crops, their belief on the strange soul, the way of helping each other in daily live and also I know about their feel to dam construction. I learn about how to collect wild vegetable like mushroom, bamboo shut which is the main vegetable for every family. We cook all vegetable being collected from the forest and we eat lunch right there happily.
In the evening, villagers cooked one pig for dinner as a party for thank, friendship, and farewell. We all enjoyed eating dinner with villager and students in front of the informal school of the village. After dinner, all students played music instruments and sing many songs for us and we also sang some songs for them and we also dance together.
In the last day, after breakfast, I say good buy with my house owner and went down to the boat. Many villagers helped us to bring our baggage to the boat and before we left, we take some pictures with our villagers and then we say good buy to them and rode the boat back, this time I feel very sad while I saw those people are waving their hand to say good buy with us.
Through this trip, I feel that I’ve seen and learnt many new things outside, like the natural view the Salween river and especial like the situation of Karen people who being violated by Burma militaries on their right to life and right to participate in decision making like in the case of dam construction plan on the Salween river, which will affect ethnic people living along the riverbank and destroy environment. So I hop that when I meet some issues in my country, I will have idea how I can participate in helping solving the issue.

Date: 10 September 2006 Written by: Keat Kunthea

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