Heading to the hill tribe villages of Thailand, squeezed into an old pickup truck with our new friend, Dr. David Mar Naw, we were all a little bit on edge. Although we had heard great things about Dr. David’s volunteer medical clinics, details about our living arrangements were hard to come by. We knew that mosquito netting and blankets would be provided, and that we’d be preparing the food just purchased from the street market in Chiang Rai. To the hundreds of questions the kids asked, I had no answers.
When we arrived in the village, we unloaded crates of medical supplies into the village church and then we were off to meet our host family. The house was teak and bamboo, stilted in the local fashion, with bamboo floors that left just enough space to view the menagerie of roosters, chickens and dogs beneath us. A stack of tattered Disney themed blankets and pillows with a pink mosquito netting became our princess castle in one corner of the living area. We leaned on full bags of rice since there was not a single chair in the home.
A few days later, after lunching a few times in other local homes (villagers take turns preparing food for us when we take a break from clinic work), our daughters determined that OUR host family was like the Kardashians of the hill tribes. Why, I wondered? The kids noticed that our family had more rice bags stored for the year ahead, more chickens, a larger living area, a better roof, and a central hearth that had a chimney. The lap of luxury, for sure, because everything is relative.