Last weekend I was lucky enough to celebrate Children’s Day in Udon Thani, around an hour’s flight from Bangkok. My company sponsor 25 children in a small village an hour or so from the city, which is very close to the Laos border. It was nice to be up in the hills, where the temperature was cool enough to wear jeans and a cardigan – I wish I had worn shoes as well – and to see a different side of life in Thailand.
Because it was children’s day there was a big party on, and all the kids were running around and there was plenty of smiley faces. Seeing how the children lived most of the time was pretty harrowing, and I didn’t take many pictures, as I was trying to get my head around it all, and felt it was a little invasive. One of the sponsored children is a boy of twelve who was severely disabled, I had tears in my eyes as my colleague translated the story of his life, but even if she hadn’t the strength it took to bring him up in such conditions was etched on his mother’s face.
We handed out gifts in the afternoon and their excitement at the sight of toys was infectious! I am used to standing out in the crowd thanks to my blonde hair but some of the younger kids were so surprised by my appearance that they became frozen on the spot when the giant lady from England handed them a doll.
After this we visited two impressive temples in the region, one which had the most serene looking reclining Buddha I have ever seen, and another which was filled with unusual statues, including a tree from which naked women grew.