Every so often in your travels, you come across one of those travelers that just knocks your socks off. They’ve been to the most obscure places in the world and have typically done it the hard way–by boat or overland. Their stories are jaw-dropping and inspirational and leave you thirsty for more. Steve is that traveler. We met Steve McGrath while preparing for our wedding in Sayulita and were fortunate to spend several weeks with him (and another traveler Cat, who will hopefully be featured here soon too.) Over some fresh fruit-smoothies in Steve’s “penthouse-by-the sea,” he humbly had us reeling for more when he said the following things: “I’ve traveled for 11 of the last 20 years” and “I went from Vancouver to Hong Kong starting with $900.” That’s $900 Canadian, folks…about $600 buck-a-roos at the time!
While Erin was learning Thai Massage in Chiang Mai, I spent my days volunteering in the medical office of the Free Burma Rangers (and was Erin’s practice “dummy” by night…rough, I know.) Erin’s friend Kate, an expat teacher living in Chiang Mai for the past 6 years, invited us to a BBQ during our first day in town. There, amongst others, we met an Aussie named Mon who introduced us to her mission with the Free Burma Rangers. My ears perked up upon hearing of the atrocities taking place on Thailand’s western border and immediately expressed interest in helping out while in town. Two days later, after researching the situation on the internet to ensure my comfort level, I joined the team for their Monday meeting and agreed to spend 5-7 hours per day for the remainder of the week. Day 1, with ample amounts of coffee in tow, was spent helping with bookkeeping (ah, bookkeeping, how I love thee so), while the rest of the week was spent packing medical bags, organizing supplies and creating manifests for everything which would be going “in,” a term they use to mean “Inside Burma.” There is inherent risk and things could go–and have gone– terribly wrong, with villages being attacked, burned and pillaged by the Burma Army while the FBR are there. Continue reading “Volunteering with the Free Burma Rangers”