Wednesday
Aug132014

Staff blog: Volunteering is a great experience

Trail life over the past four weeks has been a mixture of trains, buses, tuk tuks, hostels, shopping, socialising, parties, beaches and fun. However, since touching down base in Siem Reap, Cambodia, it's lovely to have a bit of stability in our quirky little flat. Finally we can unpack all of our belongings without worrying about squeezing each item of clothing tightly back in and wondering what we can sacrifice to the "culling pile". It's a weight off of our shoulders-quite literally.

The frontier flat is basic, but lovely! We have a large communal area which we spend most of our afternoons between classes lesson planning and eating oreos! The average school day runs between 9am-11am with a break until 3pm when classes resume until 5pm. This means we have time between lessons to cook a communal meal-some better than others. Unfortunately my cooking skills are not particularly up to scratch, but the volunteers are always very polite in their lying responses..cheers guys :). This week we said some sad goodbyes to Jenn, Charlotte and Melissa who had been here teaching before we arrived. It was great speaking to other volunteers and getting ideas about how they have found their experiences the last few weeks-all positive we were pleased to hear! However, it was not all sad, as we welcomed new volunteer Mitchell all the way over from Australia. All the volunteers have really found their feet teaching and are loving the response that they get from their classes every day. The children have an end of year exam coming up which determines whether they are able to move up a grade in the school so these few weeks of teaching are crucial for the students!

Although it is a lot of hard work, we can always find time to do activities such as finding a rooftop skate park bar and visiting a local circus which was by far one of the most impressive things I have ever seen! We are also really looking forwards to visiting the beautiful Angkor Wat and some of us are searching for our inner zen and winding down with a bit of yoga. However I have to say my favourite recreational activity here is the Khmer class that the children hold for us after school. This involves changing roles with the higher grade classes and having them teach us their language. It's absolutely brilliant and we have learnt a lot from them including a song about how much you love your mum (awww).

Volunteering so far has been a great experience and we are all so glad we are here! 

By Siobhan Fray, Trail Leader 

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

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

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

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

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

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 

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

 

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

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