Team Rubicon Arrives in Thailand

Mike Lee

Mike Lee, a native of Chicago, graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Creative Writing. At LMU, Mike developed international and domestic volunteer trips and served as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Student Veterans Organization. Mike’s professional background is in advertising and marketing, and has experience in executing large print and digital campaigns for non-profit and tourism clients. He lives in Los Angeles where he thinks a lot about dogs, bourbon, and the Chicago Bears.

Scribe’s update August 3, 2010 (Local)

After almost 45 hours, we’re on the ground in Thailand!

The combined team departed LAX at around 2230 on a near moonless night for what was a grueling, 12 plus hour flight. I’ve now fully come to the conclusion that long flights are just forms of self inflicted torture we pay lots of money to experience.

This particular flight was not only a painful study in physical confinement but also an exercise in total visual depravation. There wasn’t anything to look at during the entire trip but a nebulous nothing in the darkness. Our course and speed kept the sun from finding us; we were scooting around behind the planet, hiding from it like a kid playing a game… Looking out the window you could just barely make out the shape of the wing and looking down there was only the slightest hint of detail in what was a solid layer of overcast stretching to the horizon. Later on, as we approached the Philippine Sea, the solid cloud deck broke into little irregular cotton balls floating on a sea of black ink.

Along with sleep, another thing we missed on the trip across the Pacific was Monday. The sun set on us Sunday night and rose on Tuesday morning. I suppose Monday found us for a nano-second as we crossed the International Date Line but I’m not sure. The problem’s just too difficult for my sleep deprived brain to figure out, like time travel and why J Lo picked Marc Anthony over me, just beyond my comprehension…

The remaining 3 flights we had went very smoothly and thankfully weren’t as long.

Before leaving the US, the five of having flown in from different areas of the US, assembled at a house of one of the volunteers. We had cultural and situational briefings and final gear checks before departing for South East Asia. Dr. G gave us a thorough view of the Karen people; their customs, history and what are no-nos culturally to help us avoid any oops moments.

Dr G’s talk along with research I’d done on this gentle group of people really has me fired up to begin the mission. I’ve met marginalized tribal peoples like the Karen during my travels before and it always seems that the most peaceful people are the most oppressed.

The photographer in me is impatient to see and photograph the beautiful faces of the people we’ll be helping. The humanist in me can’t wait to learn more, first hand, about these people and experience their lives. I honestly can’t wait to reach out my hand for the first time and say “mingla ba.”