Monday
Jan122015

We've had a full on time taking in Bangkok

Its our one week anniversary of travelling for the trail! Yay! It's starting to feel more less like a holiday for people with the end not quite in sight and the cravings for western food already beginning!

A lot can happen in a week it seems! We've had a full on time taking in Bangkok, it's beautiful palaces and the circus that is in Koh San Road. On to Chiang Mai to look for some monks to chat to only to find out they don't come out in the rain :( Two days of straight rain in Chiang Mai's high season - freak weather or what?! We didn't let it dampen our spirits though and the group all enjoyed the temples despite the weather. Well done to the three volunteers who made it up after a night at the Night Bazaar for the Doi Suthep and who weren't too disappointed by the fact the weather meant there was no sunrise! As we covered in our introductory talk: things will always go wrong and the best attitude to have is to go with the flow!

On to Pai and all the volunteers seem to really enjoy the hippie atmosphere of this small mountain town. Breakfast with a view has definitely been a highlight, as has living down the road from a Circus School, hostel kittens, bamboo huts and hammocks, tubing down the river and even trekking today! Pretty knackered already and we've still got an elephant experience to come!

So yeah, busy but brilliant first week for the trail. It's been great to meet everyone and see everyone bonding and getting to know each other. Here's to nine more weeks!

By Maria Sowter, Trail Leader

Find out more about the South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail.

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Wednesday
Jan072015

Ten Reasons I chose South East Asia

Hi! I’m Maria. I’m the new South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail leader. I used to be Frontier’s Online Content Editor, which basically meant I got to look at lots of photos that field staff from all over the world sent in and get very very jealous on an almost daily basis. It got to the point where I realised: that’s it! That’s the last photo. Now it’s my turn! I’m just going to go and do it. And that’s what happened. I spent the next four months travelling from China, to the Philippines and on to Vietnam and am now very much looking forward to picking up some volunteers and leading the January trail! My first piece of advice for anyone wanting to travel would be ‘just go’. If you want something enough you’ll find a way to make it happen; you’ll work hard and save money and overcome challenges before you’ve even left the country, all because you know the promise of the reward that awaits, and you know before you’ve even left that it will be worth it.

My second piece of advice if you’re thinking of travelling would be: COME TO SOUTH EAST ASIA! I looked at photos from Frontier’s projects all over the world from Costa Rica to Tanzania to Fiji and every single one looked amazing. But the opportunity to travel in South East Asia is something really special and that’s what I want to share with you in this blog: so here’s just my top ten from a very long list of reasons why you should come visit two.

1)    The opportunity to take in a really diverse array of countries and cultures in a relatively small space in the world.

2)    The food is amazing! Thai curry. Vietnamese pho, Indian dosas, Chinese dim sum – come and experience your favourites for real.

3)    The weather – time it right and you can travel in the sun all year round and even when it does rain it’s the lovely warm tropical kind.

4)    The beaches are some of the best in the world and have some of the best marine life that you can help conserve! With so many island and so much coastline there’s also a lot of beaches on offer to chose from.

5)    Koh Tao island in Thailand specialises in PADI qualifications and is the cheapest place to get qualified in the world so challenge yourself and try something new!

6)    The physical challenge of climbing mountains and trekking jungle hills turns out to be one of the most rewarding experiences.

7)    From Koh San Road to Pham Ngu Lao it has some of the best party spots on offer.

8)    There are loads of people to meet and conversations to be had with people from all over the world, locals and travellers alike.

9)    If you love wildlife this is the place to see it! Visit an elephant sanctuary and help bathe of feed rehabilitated elephants, help track wild tigers in the Indonesian jungle or join in protecting ancient sea turtles as they come to shore to nest – just some of the opportunities on offer!

10)    People are really friendly and keen to learn English so it’s kind of like being a little bit famous or having a lot of friends. Everyone will try and talk to you to practice their English. You will have lots of conversations with small school children, university student or street sellers quite randomly and once this covers your name, where your from, your age and do you have a boyfriend, it’s likely to end on a detailed explanation of the royal family or a debate on the best and worst bits from Harry Potter.

By Maria Sowter, Trail Leader

Find out more about the South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail.

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Monday
Nov172014

Adventures in Siem Reap

This week, we are in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  The first days were used to settle into the Frontier flat and meet the city, helping us relax and recover from the long bus ride here.  Also, we welcomed another volunteer this week, who joined in on the trail activities.

The days later on were filled with sightseeing and wandering around.  We watched a beautiful sunset at the temples, and the next day woke up at 5am to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat.  It was really beautiful, and these temple are completely different from what we were used to seeing in Thailand, as they are all stone structures.  This day was spent wandering around Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and a couple of smaller temples around the complex.


We also had the luck of being able to take part in the first national party to happen in Cambodia in five years since the King died.  It was the Water Festival, and the celebrations included boat races on the river, live music, games and a lot of food!

Two of us also visited a nearby city, called Battambang, a 3-hour bus ride away.  There, we took a ride on the Bamboo Trains,  and visited a small village and were able to talk to som Khmer children.  The next day, we woke up really early to catch a boat back to Siem Reap.  The boat ride was great, because you pass through a bunch of river villages, and get to see how most Cambodians actually live.  While we did that, others visited the War Museum.

Cambodia has been treating us really well.  By the end of the week, Island volunteering starts and half of the trail participants will be off.

By Sofia Antoniazzi, Trail Volunteer

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Monday
Nov172014

Teaching grade 5 classes in Siem Reap

During my time with Frontier I spent one week (it should have been two however there was a weeks national holiday in Cambodia) teaching English to underprivileged children in Siem Reap. The school is a free school to give the children better opportunities in life, the children even at such a young age all seemed to understand how important it is to speak english as they are all very enthusiastic to learn. They are always happy and excited.

I was assigned two grade five classes to teach of which had to be outside as the school is not finished its construction. But this was never a problem, the students from both classes still showed great enthusiasm and their English was very good. When I taught them they listened and asked questions if they didn't understand making it easy to teach them. I used the grade 5 workbook to teach them which had questions asking them to answer in correct English. Some of the questions for example were 'how long have you been taught English' and 'how long have you known your best friend'. Once they had wrote the answers and I had marked them they asked me to answer them which was nice as they were interested in me.

At the start of every class they say good morning/afternoon and ask you how you are. When they leave they thank you for the lesson. One of the children even made a paper boat for me. The children's general enthusiasm and kindness made them a pleasure to teach and I think their time at the school will really give them better opportunities in life!

By Cole Newton, Trail Volunteer

Find out more about the South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail.

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Thursday
Oct302014

Volunteer blog: South East Asia carbonara diary

Hello. My name is Emily and I'm a carbonara addict. This is my South East Asia carbonara diary! We've almost been travelling for a month now and have visited so many different cities, which has given me many opportunities to try out all the varieties of carbonara that Asia has to offer. If you're a fanatic of this creamy bacon spaghetti like I am, then I suggest you take my professional opinion and visit the beautiful island of Koh Tao! It maybe known for great diving and snorkelling but it will forever be known in my heart as the carbonara capital of Asia! It had the perfect ratio of creaminess to bacon to spaghetti, and as all you carbonara lovers know, there's always the risk of getting a dish too creamy! What a tragedy when that happens!! It was the perfect meal to eat while sitting beach side watching an amazing sunset over the sea!

Out next island that we visited was called Koh Phangan which somehow has even bluer waters than the last! It's a good thing too because it makes up for the islands lack of good carbonara! This carbonara was just way too creamy and lacked a serious amount of bacon! However, there could be worse ways to spend an evening than having a bad bowl of carbonara while sitting on the beach in Thailand! Our final island was called Koh Samui which is the biggest island we've visited, and which also means many more restaurants to try carbonara!

What's fantastic about this island is that they offer you the option to not only order your carbonara with spaghetti, but penne as well! What is a girl supposed to decide! After much deliberation, I ended up on the decision to try the penne which was great aside from the overload of mushrooms. So there you have it ladies and gentleman, your full guide to carbonara in Thailand! I hope that I've been able to shed some helpful light on the state of carbonara here, for all those considering coming to South East Asia! **NOTICE** This blog does in fact represent the genuine and true opinions of Emily, however, the blog was written by Kristina :)

By Kristina, Trail Volunteer

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