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07 Dec 2001


We've often looked out from the factory and marvelled at how rural the surroundings are, so today we asked Hum to be our guide for a walk around the neighbourhood. We received a mixture of friendly smiles and wary glances (mainly the latter), something we've experienced before in the villages. The contrast of rich and poor is very marked, with three storey stone houses right next to small wooden shacks. Some of the larger houses have outbuildings, subdivided into tiny rooms, which are rented to workers in the local factories for US$20 a month - four to a room. We walked through the grounds of a nice wat (temple) and there we met a teenage boy living in a wooden hut. He works part time in the wat in return for free food and lodgings and then studies in his spare time. On the way back we stopped to talk to the owner of a beautiful wooden stilt house and admired the flowers trailing her fence. She thanked us as we left. And just outside the factory we chatted to the animated owner of one of the houses in our panorama an elderly man with rotten teeth but welcoming smile. We will wave to him next time we're staring down from the factory fire escape on our evening tour...