Monday
Aug112014

Volunteer blog: Kate

On the last Wednesday of our time on the islands, Shiv surprised us with a trip to Koh Phangan Total Wipeout. After a few days relaxing on the beach we were all ready to launch ourselves into an action packed day and conquer the Total Wipeout course. When we arrived and saw the course our confidence wavered a little but we got straight into it, throwing ourselves into the lake off a large swing. Needless to say we were all pretty hopeless. We managed 3 of the 5 obstacles and had a brilliant time doing so...... Unfortunately none of us conquered the big red balls- no one made it past the first ball.

Out next challenge was 'The Blob'. We took it in turn to crawl to the end and waited nervously for the two men in charge to jump on the opposite end, launching us high in the air before we plummeted back towards the water- it was insane! Overall we had a great time, the only down side was that we woke up the next morning aching all over and utterly exhausted.

By Katherine Singleton, Trail Volunteer

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Monday
Aug112014

Staff blog: Time to teach in Cambodia

After a lovely few days in the southern islands of Thailand, we had all recuperated and were ready to continue with our adventure. First stop was back to Bangkok where we had a special event to celebrate! Alice's birthday! It was extra important that we gave her a great time because sadly Alice's time on the trail was up! We made a weekend out of it, having a brilliant night out followed by a day of shopping at MBK shopping centre and a lovely meal to say farewell! We will miss you Alice!

And onwards we went. A 13 hour journey by bus to Cambodia was next on the cards, crossing the border and adding stamps to our ever growing passport's collection. We arrived at the frontier guest house tired but excited as to what the next month would hold for us as we began volunteering in a local school.

The first few days have been challenging as we have thrown ourselves into lesson plans, game ideas and all things grammatically correct. However, it is safe to say we are all loving everything about it so far, from the scenic commute by bike to the excitement of the children when you give them homework (genuinely)!! It's safe to say it's going to be a great month!

By Siobhan Fray, Eco Trail Leader

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Tuesday
Jul292014

Volunteer Blog: Polly

After leaving Kangchanganuri we took an overnight sleeper train (surprisingly luxurious - it had beds!) down to the islands. We started in Koh Samui where we spent pretty much all of our time sunbathing on the beach (despite the fact that it wasn't actually that sunny we all managed to get quite tanned and Kate and Laura are both varying shades of black.) We made friends with a little man who serenaded us on the beach to persuade us to buy his ice creams. He was so happy when we asked if he would pose for a photos with us! 

It was Shiv's 22nd birthday while we were in Samui. We spend the day chilling on the beach and then we surprised her with some prezzies and a cake before going out for a fab night celebrating with lots of people from our hostel.

We then took the ferry over to Koh Phangan which was an experience to say the least. The boat was very very rocky and really getting thrown around in the waves so we had to do lots of deep breathing to make it across without being seasick!

We have done lots of sunbathing again here in Phangan. The beaches are so beautiful here! We have also been doing lots of market shopping and buying things that we definitely do not have room for in our rucksacks. It's so hard to resist when everything is so cheap.

The night life here in the islands has also been a highlight. A couple of nights ago we went to the famous Black Moon Party which was in the middle of the jungle. We covered ourselves in UV paint and had such a fun night!

Tomorrow we are doing the total wipeout course which we are all super excited for before heading back to Bangkok on Thursday. We are all really sad that Alice is going home on Sunday but not before we celebrate her 20th birthday in Bangkok!

By Polly, Trail Volunteer 

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Thursday
Jul242014

Staff blog: Enjoying the beautiful waterfalls

After a busy few days in pai, we started to make the long trip south to the islands for some well earned relaxation time. We broke the trip up into two parts and stopped for a night in kanchanaburi-famous for its beautiful waterfalls.

We took the two hour bus journey to erawan waterfalls to be greeted with crystal blue water nestled amongst amazing scenery. We wasted no time jumping straight in for a swim but were not expecting to be a food source for the waters residence! Fish! 100s of them. A comparison for anyone wondering would be a relaxing fish foot spa, but swap the fish to Koi carp, that took great pleasure in nibbling any exposed skin. It wasn't painful at all but provided us with many minutes of hysterical screaming and giggling.

After a great day at the waterfalls we got our bags packed and ready for the sleeper train. The train took us down to Surat thani which is where the dock of Don Sak is where the ferries collect the tourists to take them to the islands. The sleeper train was a good experience and everyone managed to have a comfortable night in the luxury of second class-air conditioning and all!

The journey in total to Koh Samui took us 20 hours but everyone was in good spirits when we finally made it to the lovely beach of chawang and had a great day sunbathing! Just what we needed!

After Being here for a few days I turned the ripe old age of 22! The girls got some balloons and cake and wrapped up some Oreos and sweets with a bikini string! It was absolutely lovely! We then went out to enjoy samuis nightlife and had a great night dancing till the early hours!



By Siobhan Fray, Eco Trail Leader

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Wednesday
Jul162014

Assistant eco trail leader blog: Adventures in Chiang Mai

The trip to Chiang Mai took around 14 hours by night train which involved going through some beautiful landscapes and Jungle which reduced the intensity of such a long journey. We decided we were in need of a day of relaxation and found a lovely local swimming pool to cool off in!

 The following day we decided to obey to the daredevils inside of us and take a zip lining course. We went for the gold package which worked out the same price as the silver if we left at 7am. Despite the early start,  everyone was in agreement that this would definitely be worth it and we were not wrong!
We got to the jungle area and were dressed in our harnesses and helmets and given a small piece of bamboo that was told was our "brake" at the end of the zip wire. We spent around 3 hours flying through the jungle on zip wires and completing obstacles high up in the tree tops. This was certainly not for the faint hearted and we were all thrilled that we managed to finish the course! The most exciting part for me was the drops off the tree ledges. It was like a really fast absail and so much fun. We then settled for a lovely lunch and its safe to say we had a huge appetite that was fulfilled by the array of food on offer at the park.

The evening entertainment in Chiang Mai we chose to go to included muay Thai boxing and a lady boy cabaret. We chose these events as they are traditional to Thai social culture and something everyone was interested in experiencing. We all got involved in the boxing, placing internal bets with each other on who would be victorious. Similarly, the lady boy cabaret had us all up on our feet dancing! What a great start to the north of Thailand!

Whilst in pai we decided to take advantage of the amazing scenery and book a jungle trek with self proclaimed "George of the jungle". Hiking shoes and sleeping bags at the ready, we set off into the unknown. The trek was to last two days with a one night stop over in the jungle. 

The first day of trekking was extremely hard in heat reaching mid 30's. Everyone coped really well with this despite the unfamiliarity of the terrain we were walking. At lunch time we stopped for a well earned break at a local tribal village who showed us great hospitality cooking us delicious mango and rice. This gave us the energy we needed to continue on down to the camp. 

We trekked for another few hours to reach our base which was by a small stream. Our guide immediately got to work building the base for our shelter whilst we went for a paddle in a nearby waterfall. Upon our return we all got stuck in, helping with the building work and collecting the firewood. 

After so many hours of walking this was hard work, however when our bamboo and banana lead shelter was finished it felt like a great achievement. The guides began preparing dinner as night fell which consisted of rice and bamboo and felt like real jungle food! 

Safe to say we all slept like babies with our guides keeping a watchful eye throughout the night. We awoke to the smell of breakfast cooking: frogs and squirrel, which had been hunted overnight. Everyone had a taste and we were pleasantly surprised by the chicken flavour of the frog! 

We packed up camp and headed back on our second leg of the trek before the rain got too heavy! With our aching muscles, we took the second day slightly easier than the first , so as to all make it back in one piece! 

Overall was a fantastic experience and we are all slightly more equipped for a life in the jungle should we chose that path in life! 

By Siobhan Fray, Assistant eco trail leader

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