Volunteer blog: Mike Hanson

We have just completed our first 7 days on the Frontier South East Asia Trail and it has been absolutely fantastic so far! It already feels like the group have been together for so much longer since we met on that first day in Bangkok and we have done so much already it’s unreal! We spent a couple of nights in Bangkok down Khao San road, experiencing the night life, the new food and a day trip to the Grand Palace (for some us after a very warm and pretty sticky boat journey!) and we were also lucky enough to bump into the Princess of Thailand. A very royal start for us indeed!

Next we got the night bus down to Chang Mai (where the bus driver treated us to some Thai music at 3am…) where we spent a few days exploring temples, finding exciting places to eat, indulging in massages and for some of us a night down the local Thai boxing ring! My personal highlight during our stay in Chang Mai was our opportunity to speak to Olay, one of the local monks who offered a very insightful, inspiring and refreshing outlook on not only being a Monk, but also teaching us the concepts and philosophies behind the Buddhist religion, something which I’m sure will stay with me for many years to come! As much as I would love to shave my head, get an orange robe and go full monk, I don’t think I could live without dancing and singing like a bit of an idiot (which unfortunately Monks cannot do!)

We have just arrived in the northern town of Pai which I have absolutely fallen in love with, it is so peaceful, tranquil and calm compared to the humid hustle and bustle of Bangkok, I think I have learnt that I am very much a countryside kinda guy! The group are just about to go tubing down the local river now and I cannot wait for what the next few weeks have in store for us!

By Mike Hanson, volunteer

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


On the ending of the trail

Shadia, one of the Trail Leaders on the South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail has written up her thoughts on the entire 10 weeks, now that this particular group has reached the end of thier travels together.

The last 10 weeks have been incredible, from Bangkok to Hanoi we have seen so many different places, and had so many different experiences and met so many amazing new friends. 

Thailand - We started out in Bangkok, visiting the Grand Palace and various temples along the river before we heading north. Chiang Mai was great fun with the night bazaar, Muay Thai boxing and a two day trek. The trek was hard work but staying at the elephant park, getting to bathe them in the river and ride them made it all worth the effort. The view from the open air sleeping platform was incredible. After the trek we made our way further north to Pai, for a more relaxing couple of days by the pool and learning our to make spring rolls in the Thai cooking class. Everywhere in Thailand has a completely different feel to it and Kanchanaburi did not disappoint. We spent the days learning about the history of the area and visiting the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai, as well as visiting the Erawan National Park and enjoying the 7 levels of waterfalls. We were very lucky with the timing of our trip and were able to join in with the nationwide 3 day long water fight that fills the streets for the Songkram festival (Thai New Year). Then we made our way south, to the islands Koh Tao and Koh Chang. In Koh Tao everyone got the PADI Open Water SCUBA certifications before we all spent a couple days relaxing on the beach in Koh Chang. Thailand is a truly beautiful country.

Cambodia - Heading into Cambodia signified the start of the volunteering aspect of our trip. Before we got started with our beach conservation project we went to Angkor Wat for sunrise and explored the amazing temples which are unmissable if you visit Cambodia. We then spent four weeks down on the marine camp learning all about the fish species and local underwater ecosystem. After passing our fish ID and spot tests we carried out surveys on the local reefs, hopefully one day the data collected will go towards helping to protect the reef as the surrounding areas develop. We ended our time in Cambodia in the capitol Phnom Penh, where we visited the Killing Fields and S21 Genocide Museum. Our trip was full of highs and lows and although learning about the Khmer Rouge Campaign was a harrowing experience it is so important to gain this knowledge about the terrible things that have happened in the beautiful places we visited.

Vietnam - After four weeks at the beach or teaching, everyone was ready to get on the move again. We started in Ho Chi Minh City where we learnt about the guerilla warfare of the Vietcong at the Cu Chi Tunnels and the devastating effects if the war at the War Remnants Museum. We visited the famous sand dunes of Mui Ne and visited a local fishing village as they brought in their catch, before moving on to Nha Trang. We had a great time in Nha Trang, going the local island hopping tour and then visiting the Vin Pearl Water Park where we all enjoyed the rides and slides for the day. Hoi An, our next destination, is a beautiful town full of tailors and lanterns, anything you want made from hats to dresses, suits to shoes, Hoi An is the place to do it. The Citadel at Hue was a beautiful stopoff point on our way to Hanoi which was our final stop. We spent the day at Ha Long Bay, one of the new seven wonders of the world, and spent the day swimming, kayaking and visiting the amazing cave whilst sailing around on our own private boat. We all went out for dinner for our final night and the last couple of days in Hanoi were the perfect way to round off our trip! Vietnam and the whole trip has been a completely unforgettable experience. 

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


A busy week!

'Having a fab time in Vietnam on the SE Asia trail. Here's an update of some of the activities we've been doing this week:

- A tour of the Mekong Delta: this landscape yields a huge amount of rice production and there are also many fish farms, sugarcane and fruit fields

- Took a stroll of Mui Ne and had freshly caught seafood for dinner

- A jeep tour of sand dunes, a fishing village and Fairy stream in Mui Ne, along with some sunbathing and swimming in the sea

- Travelled by bus to Nha Trang and went on a 4 islands boat cruise

- Visited hot springs and mud baths before catching a bus onto Hoi An

We'll be back with another update soon!

The SE Asia Eco-Trail Team :)

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