Thanks for the checking out the blog for this Global Leadership Adventures program!
Here are a few things you can expect:
- We typically receive 2-3 blog posts per week here at GLA Headquarters from our program staff and students, so please don’t be alarmed if you don’t see a blog post daily – that’s totally normal.
- Blog updates sent on weekends may not be posted until Monday.
- Due to many factors, including but not limited to internet accessibility, photos may not always be available to post onto the blog. Sometimes onsite program staff are only able to send text back to Headquarters, where our team updates the blog.
Cell Phone Policy: The GLA cell phone policy is currently in place this summer to help foster meaningful connections between students. This means your student’s phone will be collected every day and returned to them throughout the program during designated spaces of time we call ‘tech time’. Actual tech times and regularity will vary greatly by program location. During designated ‘tech time’, your student may use their phones as they wish. Please note that your student may not always choose to use this time to get a hold of their parents. If you are not hearing directly from your student each day, you can assume that no news is good news! We strongly recommend you follow the blog to follow your students’ experience without talking to them every day. If you are a parent and would like to get in touch with your student directly, you can call us at +1-619-758-3031 and we can set up a formal time for you to connect with your student.
Thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope you enjoy following along on these unforgettable adventures.
For frequently asked questions about the blogs, please visit our Program Blog FAQ page.
-The Global Leadership Adventures HQ Team
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 19
Our Thailand Elephant adventure has finally started and all of our students have arrived in Bangkok – yay!
We started the morning by picking up Adelena, Alyssa, and Gabrielle pretty early, 5am! We got back to the hotel, they ate their first Thai breakfast and then rested after being on a plane for so many hours. We then picked up Alex and Ronit in the afternoon, who joined the group at the hotel for some time at the swimming pool and an early dinner followed by a well deserved rest.
Nani, Ella, and Walker arrived late at night and went straight to bed to regain energy for tomorrow.
We’re glad that everyone (and their luggage) has made it to Thailand safely and we look forward to getting started with our orientation tomorrow morning.
Stay tuned for more updates!
Photo of the whole group will come tomorrow!
Written by Luismi (GLA Staff)
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 20
Our second day started with the whole team sharing our first breakfast together. Those who arrived late last night got to meet everyone else and we all started to get to know each other better.
The morning was spent learning about Thai culture and language, discussing program policies and expectations, talking about safety, and getting excited for the itinerary ahead of us.
In the afternoon we spent some time at the pool and then headed out to explore a very cool and artsy part of Bangkok. We then ended the day with a very yummy dinner at a local restaurant.
Written by Luismi
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 21
Written by Margarida
Today we had a cultural day ahead of us. We started by visiting the temple Wat Traimit with the Golden Buddah, and some of us had the chance to ring the hanging bells at the temple to wish for good luck. Then we headed to the temple that is the home for Thailand’s largest reclining Buddah and where the best masseuses in the world have lessons. We learned about Thai massages, its healing techniques with a very strong spiritual component, and just let ourselves get immersed in the whole atmosphere. The architecture and the details in every structure were impressive. Lastly, we visited the Grand Palace, a complex of buildings that is one of the residences of the Royal family, and where you can also find the Emerald Buddha. Here we had the chance to sit inside one of temples – while buddhists were praying and placing offers to Buddha – to fully observe and have our own discussion about the different aspects of Buddhism. It was a very special opportunity to visit these beautiful temples, learn about Buddhism and its strong influence on Thai culture.
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 22
Written by Luismi
Today we left Bangkok. After 3 hours in the van we arrived in the city of Kanchanaburi. We checked out the Bridge of the River Kwai – a historical site of a bridge that was bombed during WW2. We then went for lunch at an all-vegetarian restaurant that also had very good smoothies. In the afternoon we visited the Death Railway Museum to continue learning about the historical importance of Kanchanaburi area. We then checked in at our new hotel and had some time to enjoy the pool. Vijo, our Local Director, led a very insightful discussion about Captive Elephant Welfare and prepared us for the next three days of service work at elephant sanctuaries.
Get excited as tomorrow’s blog will be written by the first pair of Leaders of the Day! Who is it going to be? Sign in tomorrow to find out …
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 23
Written by Alyssa and Ella
Today we woke up and had our first breakfast at our new hotel. We then headed out to the first elephant sanctuary. First we fed the elephants squash and then watermelon, then we walked and cooked rice balls, that we would feed the elephants later in the day. We ate lunch at Elephant World before we all packed into the back of a truck. The ride was long and when we got there we found out we were going to cut down banana trees for the elephants to eat. We walked through lots of mud before being taught how to cut the trees using cone-shaped cuts. After cutting the trees we would carry them all the way back to the truck.
If they were too big we would use teamwork to help carry it or we would cut it in half. After many trips back and forth, muddy falls, cuts and bruises, we were finished. We, and our favorite dog, Happy, rode back to the sanctuary on top of all the trees, there we fed the elephants all of our hard work. Our last stop at the elephant sanctuary was feeding the rice balls that we preciously made to the elephants. We packed up and went back to the hotel for some much needed showers and down time. For dinner, the vegetarians and meat eaters were united for a family style dinner. Post dinner, a diplomatic but passionate debate about elephant conservation took place. After a weak compromise that no party was truly happy with, we all headed to bed for some much needed sleep.
The first and best leaders of the day,
Alyssa and Ella
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 24
Written by Gabi and Adelena
Elephants and Mud fights!
After breakfast this morning we headed out to Elephant Heaven. We learned about the sanctuary and made rice balls (with bugs) and cut up watermelon to feed to the elephants.We got to join the elephants on a jungle walk and learned a ton of new information about elephants while reviewing what we already learned.
We had a yummy lunch at Elephant Heaven. We were told we would have the opportunity to swim with and help bathe the elephants. While some of us were hesitant, Vijo (our Local Director) soon convinced us with the encouragement of a mud fight. After slight fun chaos ensued, we quickly jumped into the river to help bathe the elephants. We got to continue our fun & play, doing tricks on the rope swing and having chicken fights. Following tons of memories, we cleaned up and changed out of our wet clothes. Our next stop was the mall where we were able to get some essentials and delicious drinks. We got to have some pizza for dinner, which was quickly devoured by all of us. After returning to the hotel, we played a competitive game of who knows who best. That about wraps it up!
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 25
Title: The Truth Behind Elephants
We started off the day with breakfast as usual at our hotel. Our third sanctuary of our trip is Samboon Legacy where we learned a lot about the hard truth with what happens with elephants in the tourism business. We quickly started the service part of our visit where we planted bamboo trees for the elephants to eat from and we made food for the old elephants to eat. We soon wrapped that up and moved on to a nice lunch with the river view next to us. Samboon Legacy has a very pretty handmade museum where we did an educational survey with a DIY elephant poop paper. To cool off the day we watched elephants bathe in the river and we swam in a pool at the resort. Of course to end the day we had dinner at a very pretty veggie place with very nice people. We would definitely rate this day a 10/10.
Written by Nani and Walker
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 26
Title: River Float and OurLand
Today we divided into two groups to create our own elephant sanctuary. We used what we learned over the past 3 days to create a sanctuary that we believed was ethical and profitable. After, we floated down the Kwai river. We saw lots of pretty wildlife. It was so fun! We got out of the river at OurLand and hiked to the centre for lunch. On the walk we learned about the jungle.
After lunch we presented our elephant sanctuary ideas. One idea (Together Land) was based upon the idea of having a ropes course and zipline in coexistence with elephants. The other sanctuary was based on the idea of a luxury hotel having elephants be part of the amenities that the hotel offers and using profits to increase living conditions of elephants. After, we learned about Ourland – an organization that protects a wildlife corridor and educates people on human-wildlife coexistence. Finally, we wrapped up our day with dinner and Uno Flip.
Written by Ronit and Alex
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 27
Title: Fish Nibbles
Today we got to sleep in and choose when we went to breakfast. After we ate, we packed up and headed to the waterfall. We were reunited in one van instead of two. Our amazing bus driver let us connect our music and he turned on the disco lights. We then made a pit stop for snacks and then drove to the waterfall. We grabbed all our stuff, packed our lunch, and after a quick history lesson we started our trekk. At level 2, while we waited out the downpour, some of us decided to take a swim. After a few nibbles for some fish, we started our hike to the top of the waterfall, which was a total of seven levels. After a long and steep climb we reached the top. We swam under the waterfall and with the fishies. Those who didn’t like the fish nibbles sat on the rocks. After some time there we went down a couple of levels and spent some time there. We then went to our meeting spot for lunch. We walked down to the vans and went back to Ourland for free time, a tour, and dinner. There we played with the dog, got massages, and met a snake. Nani (sort of) conquered her fear of snakes. Then we headed back to the hotel and got some rest.
Still the best leaders,
Ella and Alyssa
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 28
Title: Bees and Trees
Today we ate breaky at 8 and left at 9. We the took a short van ride to the Kanchanaburi Tree Nursery and learned about Human Elefant Conflict (HEC). One of the solutions for HEC is to plant more fruit trees and plants for the elephants away from the people’s farms to prevent destruction. We learned about bees and we got to try the honey straight from the comb. We then dug big holes in ant infested jungle and planted trees. We then headed over to Ourland and snacked on some rambutan before planting some banana trees. After that we had a disco party in the van and headed back home to shower. We then went out for dinner and played lots of Quackdidioso before having another van party back to the hotel.
Adelena and Gabi
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 29
TItle: Concrete Service
Today our day started off really mellow and had breakfast at our hotel. We went off to do service at the banteng cow sanctuary where we hauled rocks and mixed concrete to help with erosion. We then had lunch at our service site and said goodbye to one of the staff and translator M. We went back to our service to do the finishing touches and wrapped up our service time by heading back to the hotel to rinse off. We had our last dinner at the hotel and had a Tourist vs. Volunteer activity and wrapped up our day.
And that is about it. Hope you enjoyed!
Written by Nani and Walker
BLOG POST FOR JUNE 30
Today we learned about snakes in Thailand. Ourland holds many rescued snakes and before they’re released into the wild they’re used for educational purposes. There were many snakes in an array of sizes and colors, some were even venomous. After lunch we did a trash pick up with the national park service. The funniest things that were found are a lizard catcher and a rabies vaccine. After that we bought coconut ice cream inside half a coconut. We had the opportunity to watch a snake rescue from a resort, the snake was taken back to Ourland and then released into its natural habitat. After dinner we had a campfire at Ourland where we played games before going back to the hotel for some rest.
Ronit and Alex
BLOG POST FOR JULY 1
Title: Mud, kayaks, and water fights
Before breakfast many people woke up to get some exercise. We all ate breakfast together before packing up and leaving the hotel. On our way to Ourland we made a pit stop to see the effects of mining concrete and discussed sustainable solutions. At Ourland we started the process of making mud bricks. First we chipped and transported the dirt into the mud pit. Next we added water into the pit, hopped in, and mixed the mud with our feet. We ate lunch before packing into the van to go kayaking. We kayaked down the Kwai river which is home to the most dangerous water splash fights. Not a single dry spot was to be found, especially on Nani who took tragically slow fall into the river. After much needed showers we went to the mall where everyone shopped for fun. We got pizza and pasta for a western style dinner. Lastly we went back to the hotel to rest.
Bye from the new and improved best leaders of the day,
Ronit and Alyssa
BLOG POST FOR JULY 2
Written by Adelena and Alex
Dear parents and friends. We started our day off with a tasty breaky. After that, we headed over to Ourland for our first day there. While there we participated in the making of mud bricks and snake box cleaning. We then said goodbye to the doggies and went bamboo rafting. We lost a friend to the gators – just kidding there are no gators in the river anymore. Anyway, we swam off the raft and floated down the river. After we went back to our hotel to pack and eat din din. Oh, also a spider crawled up Alex’s leg on the raft and he screamed. Prior to going to sleep, we all participated in an activity that reflected on our past 2 weeks.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 3
Written by Nani, spoken by Gabi to Nani
Title: Travel Day
After an early morning breakfast (Alex and Walker slept in too late) we finally said our goodbyes to Kanchanaburi and made our long trip to Hua Hin – a little beach town in the south of Thailand. Following a 4 hour van ride we stopped for a delicious lunch with an amazing view and a swing!
We then checked into the beach hotel and after getting into our rooms we took a trip to the beach. As we swam in the warm waters and crabs nibbling our toes, Alex and Alyssa destroyed Ella’s, Nani’s and Gabi’s sand castle. After a few hours of soaking in the sun and refreshing smoothies we went back to the hotel and prepared for an evening at the night market with delicious foods and lots of small businesses. We ended our night with a comedy magic show and went back to the hotel and packed up for another travel day to another woodsy location.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 4
Written by Ella and Walker
Title: Wild Elephants
Today we woke up and had breakfast at our hotel. We were all excited to have a different breakfast than the last 10 days. We then drove to our new place and had lunch there. Kui Buri is located in a valley so the views are breathtaking and there is so much wildlife. After setting into our new rooms we went to make paper from pineapple leaves. We decorated them with flowers and then left them to dry. Soon after we headed to the National Park to go on a safari. We saw lots of birds, gaur, and even some elephants. It rained for a while and we danced in the rain. Still soggy we went to dinner at a farmer’s house. After a delicious meal we sat around the fire and asked her questions about her experience with human elephant conflict. We then headed back and went to sleep excited for tomorrow’s adventure.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 5
Written by Alyssa and Ronit
Title: A busy day
We woke up early to see the sunrise. It was super cloudy and we saw a pretty mountain view. We walked and came until the tractor came and picked us up. After our short break we met with a local wood worker. We had the opportunity to make our own. Our last stop before lunch was at a mulberry farm. We made mulberry leaf tea and learned about the process of making silk. For lunch we had a cooking class and made boba, salads, chicken skewers, tempura vegetables. It was so fun and delicious!
After lunch we visited Bring the Elephant Home. We learned about resolutions for the human elephant conflict using bees and alternant farm plants. Next we visited a farm that uses agroforestry, stingless bees, and organic pesticide control. We also tried raw sugar cane. We stopped by the Kui Buri national park for one last look at wild elephants. We saw a mother and baby elephants. We enjoyed dinner together and ended our day with a short watery walk.
Alyssa and Ronit
BLOG POST FOR JULY 6
Written by Adelena and Alex
Title: Beach 2.0 and Trees
Today we started our day with breaky at the Kui Buri hotel and enjoyed the idyllic scenery. Then we went to Ourland to plant some trees. We put goat poo and a fertilizer that we made the other day to help the plants grow. It is made with rice and a green liquid that is a fungus. After that we rode back on the tracktery thing to the hotel to pack and shower and then vanned to lunch near the beach. They had the best veggies!
Following that we headed to the hotel we stayed at two days prior and then went to the beach. Unfortunately there were no paparazzi this time. After a couple of hours at the beach we prepared for dinner and went to a middle eastern style restaurant. Alex got a 6lb steak and passed out (kidding) eating a spicy pepper. We wrapped up our day with a local night market and got some coconut ice cream before going to bed.
With the mostest of love,
Adelena and Alex
BLOG POST FOR JULY 7
Written by Gabi and Nani
Title: Second to last day 🙁
We had an early morning breakfast before leaving to Bangkok. Along the way we stopped at Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand and toured the facility to learn about rescued species. We saw a variety of species including elephants, gibbons and other interesting animals. We had a delish lunch at the place and then continued our drive to Bangkok. During the drive we had to say a sad goodbye to one of the local directors and friend Carly. A long drive brought us back to our hotel in Bangkok. We had some downtime before our second to last dinner as a group. After dinner we had a closing activity where we talked about the things we learned on our trip and goals we want to set in the future for ourselves and for the group.
That’s all folks.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 8
Written by Ella and Walker
Title: Americans know how to dance
We woke up and had breakfast at 9:00. “It was a 5/10” (Walker), “I think 8/10” (Ella). Then we headed to the mall. First we looked around an illegal animal trade center. The exterior just sold animals like bunnies, birds, fish, raccoons, foxes, and tortoises. But deeper in they sold things like big cats (we didn’t go there). Then we went into the actual mall. “It was even scarier” – Walker. It was a disappointment, there was little for us to buy, but fun stuff to look at. After a few hours we headed back to the hotel. We packed and then did some closing activities. We reflected on the trip, each other, ourselves, and it was surprisingly enjoyable. Side note: we love Luismi, Margarida, and Vijo!!!
After we all got ready for our dinner cruise. We all dressed up and headed out. As we waited for the cruise we explored the arts and exhibits. Then we loaded on the boat. After the delicious dinner (Walker scoffed, Ella is telling the truth), we enjoyed the views from the deck. As the music became “spicy and rigorous” we headed to the dance floor. We became the entertainment for the rest of the guests. Many filmed and watched the crazy Americans in awe, but we had the time of our lives. After what seemed forever, the music stopped and we got off the boat.
Signing out, the true best leaders,
Ella and Walker
BLOG POST FOR JULY 9
Our last day started pretty early for Ella who had to leave for the airport at 3am. Everyone woke up to say a final goodbye to her!
The rest of the team had a late breakfast and a chilled morning. We then went out for our last mall experience (three malls in 21 days, that must be a record!). We ate lunch and everyone got their last bit of shopping done.
Nani departed in the afternoon and Alex was taken to another hotel to meet up with his new group for the marine program. Everyone else had an early dinner and then went off to the airport.
Until next year!
Luismi, Margarida, Vijo.