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Thursday July 19, 2018
We are a full group! Lots of smiles and endless laughter started our morning. We can’t wait to see what the next two weeks brings.
Friday July 20, 2018
Today we on an excursion to Singha Park. At the park we had an amazing tour starting where we were shown a tea farm. There we tried oolong tea and were able to take pictures in traditional tea gathering clothing that represented a local hill tribe. From there we were brought to a petting zoo where we saw cows, zebras, ponies, and giraffes. After that we went to our last stop, which the tour guide called the “activity center”. There was an open grass area with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains where we had foot races on the grass and took plenty of group photos. Once we were done, we went to the “Thai version of Target”, Tesco Lotus, where we bought delicious Thai candy and other cool items to bring back home. This was our first time traveling outside of our home base and we had an amazing time seeing a little bit more of Thailand.
-by Adaline & Malia
Saturday July 21, 2018
Today was a very beautiful and eventful day! We started our morning visiting the Blue temple. We were able to immerse ourselves into the Thai culture and observe information about Buddhism. We also visited the Temple Of Jade. Here we experienced a true authentic Buddhist temple where we could witness the religion and all of the practices within. Our last temple visit was Guan Yin(The white statue) which contained three separate areas, two temples and a nine tiered pagoda.
Guan Yin, the biggest statue contained indescribable detail within its surface. We were also greeted by monks within the temples. After our excursions, we ate lunch on the river. We were introduced with authentic Thai food, including fried chicken and fish, rice, fresh fruit, and veggies. We ended our day with a relaxing pool party! Overall, today was a very informative, indescribable experience.
-by Harmony And Rebekah
Sunday July 22, 2018
Similar to the past three days, we awoke at early hours of the morning, and had breakfast at 8. However, instead of traveling to sacred sites, we found ourselves in a different place of reflection. The White Temple, although it may sound quite formal, it is closer to a modern art museum than anything.
Displaying the severed head of Captain America is one example of how the White Temple unites formal architecture with modern ideas of art and sculptures. We spent the day looking at art, eating food, and scavenger hunting for different interesting pieces. Not only did we have the opportunity to visit nearby clothing and food shops, but we were also able to eat at a local food court to experience the real food that has inspired so many westernized dishes.
After contributing our fair share to the local economy via purchasing gifts for friends and family, we made our way back to homebase to swim and enjoy the short lived sunlight after three days of rain. Before sitting down for dinner, we listened to John, GLA regional director, about the do’s and don’ts of the school day ahead. At dinner, we celebrated the birthday of our GLA supervisor, Brendon, with his favorite desert, mango sticky rice. Full of food, we will soon head off to bed to get a good night’s rest before our day tomorrow begins.
-by Savannah and Clara
Monday July 23, 2018
In our first day experience of teaching in school, it is chaotic, erratic, but very fun. To begin our day, we traveled to school in traditional Thai school buses: pick ups with modified beds that contained two benches, a roof, and an open tailgate. After we arrived to the school we watched the flag raising ceremony and the entire school was gathered to experience the daily celebration. Throughout the day we worked with various teachers and students. Two examples of games we played with students were: modified hangman and tic-tac-toe. From our experience, a number of students were extremely engaged and enthusiastic about learning and had exceedingly impressive english and knowledge in other languages.
It was an eye opening experience and we are more than ecstatic to continue observing and helping the students over the next two days.
-by George and Lissie
Tuesday July 24, 2018
Today was another day filled with chaos and love. We started our day by taking “song teaws” to school. Once we got there we jumped into our day right away in class , teaching a variety of different subjects. After three periods of classes, it was finally lunch time. We all quickly ate and ran outside to socialize with the adorable kids. Socialize actually means getting mauled by each and every child outside. Rain from the day before meant plenty of mud to go around. We finished off the afternoon with a few more classes before saying goodbye to the children.
On our way home we had the option to either get dropped off at Tesco Lotus (Thai target) or go straight back to home base. Many chose to venture to Tesco Lotus but were then had to walk 30 minutes home with all their Thai snacks. Upon returning back to home base, we had some much needed alone time. We packed, wrote our thoughts down in our journal, showered and everything in between. At 6:00 the group gathered for our usual dinner but was met with the unusual meal of American comfort food. We finished off the night with a GLA activity and free time to end off our last night at Chang Garden Resort. We have had a great time here but we excited to move onto our next home!
-Ava and Alana
Thursday July 26, 2018
Today was our first full day at Elephant Village Thailand and was one of the most exciting days of this adventure. We started the day off with breakfast at 8:30 with elephants walking around us. After breakfast we had an orientation with the owner of EVT, Jack, and got safety tips along with facts about elephants in Asia/around the world. Lunch was served at 12:00 and we had sticky rice, tofu, chicken, and vegetables.
In the second half of the day we split into two groups and started to tour around the EVT grounds. In our groups we were able to meet all the elephants (Jay, Ka-Moon, Claire, Lou, Mo-Dee,Thonginn) and see them in their natural habitat. One very exciting thing we all saw was littlest of the elephants, Jay, slide down a mud wall into a pond. The two groups there came together and saw the elephants get bathed by their mahout (a personal care taker of a specific elephants). At 4:30pm the elephants get fed and we got to feed them! They ate banana tree leaves and stock. We were able to touch and interact with each elephant.
Ending the day we had fried chicken, french fries, rice, and curry for dinner. Then everyone relaxed by playing ping pong, pool, and hanging out together. We finished the day in by breaking off into our mentor groups. The first day at EVT was a success and we are excited to see what more it brings.
-Campbell and Taylor
Friday July 27, 2018
Today our gla team had the pleasure of starting our day with nugget (elephant poop) pickup in the rain. In case you were wondering, it is big and round and smells like horse poop. We spent the rest of the day working on preparing an area to plant elephant grass, a key part of an elephant’s diet. We accomplished a surprising amount, and then finished the day by harvesting banana leaves and feeding the elephants. We sincerely apologize if the elephant stench manages to follow us home. Overall, we enjoyed a rewarding day of hard work for the sanctuary.
-Amy and Réka
Saturday July 28, 2018
Today we had another day of work here at EVT. We had a great breakfeast full of plenty of bread and jams.
We then headed out into the fields to pick up some elephant poop that we call nuggets. We spent the next hour or so observing elephants as they eat. After a while everyone was pretty hungry so we headed in to the dinning area for lunch. We spent a hour after lunch chilling. After our break we headed back out into three groups and conquered our work. The strenuous work made everyone tired so we spent the next hours relaxing and showering. Tonight we have one of are last shopping opportunities as we head to the night Bazzar in Chiang Rai. We all miss our family and friends very much. Also happy birthday Lauren, everyone here at GLA hopes you have a great day!
-by Logan and Sophia
Sunday July 29, 2018
Today students awoke to a beautiful sunrise (that was behind the dark, rainy clouds). After a delicious breakfast of KoKo Krunch, we rejoiced when it was time for… nugget pickup! Today was our last of tossing nuggets and the sweet smell will be dearly missed. 🙁 Then we went to the field and prepared the elephant grass for planting. We planted the grass in the trenches we dug yesterday. Then we went to a well deserved lunch, full of greens and tofu, after we finished. Afterwards we had a interesting Q & A with Jack, the owner of Elephant Valley. We asked many questions about his life in Thailand and the magnificent elephants that live here. He responded with funny analogies, metaphors, and some more serious (great) mentorship.
After, we had an interesting debate; we were all assigned the different sides of the controversial argument: What is the purpose of elephants in Thailand. We were forced to look at all perspectives of the argument, even the ones we did not personally support. We had the side of the Mahouts, the conservationists, the bureau of tourism, and the owners of trekking camps where the elephants learn tricks for tourists and are usually tortured. We had to come up with a solution to the elephant problem and still provide benefit to all sides of the argument. Many students created excellent arguments that clearly conveyed their point of view. What a great time! Afterwards, some of the students went on a walk to the local convenience store, along the way we got drenched in rain! Puddles for everyone! After we got some ice cream, chips, and whatever else, we came back to EVT. We had some free time, had a great dinner, and a awesome game night. All in all, it was another action packed day with GLA. Cheers!
-by Kenneth Warren and Becca Gillespie
Monday July 30, 2018
Heyyyyyyy, this is Cara and Vincent from the depths of the Thailand jungle. We are out here living it up with the elephants. Today we took a voyage to the deeper depths of Chiang Rai. We met a lady named Dada, she was great, and fed us some really tasty chicken wings. Upon arrival to Elephant Peace Travel, we took a 10 minute walk through rice fields up into the deep depths of Thail countryside where we met 5 new elephants from the Karen hill tribe. We learned that although many of the elephants from the region are still used in trekking Dada and her family have taken a new approach to elephant care. They respect their elephants, involve them in everyday activities in their fields, and are returning to the ancient hill tribe care methods.
Not only did we get up and close with these wonderful creatures, we also got to prep their food, feed them, bathe them in a river and watch the tribe elders perform a ritual with the elephants. Some other highlights included diving deeper into the culture of the hill tribe and have the opportunity to be blessed by the elders as well. We then said goodbye to the elephants and made the journey back down the terraced rice fields. On our drive back we stopped by a typical elephant trekking camp to get a third perspective on elephant tourism in Thailand. We watched from the road to view the way these elephants are treated and live. We also stopped at a 7/11 to stock up on snacks and other commodities. Once arriving back at homebase we were treated to a yummy dinner.
Cara and Vinny
This was our last full day in Thailand and it is definitely bittersweet to leave everyone. We started out the day at Thai hot springs spa. It was very fun and relaxing. We had the option to get a Thai massage, swim in a mineral water pool or hang out in a bungalow sauna . We had lunch at a restaurant with a buffet where there was pad Thai made in front of you. It was awesome. Then our personal favorite part of the day was when we got to hike to a waterfall and swim under it. The water was very refreshing and everyone had so much fun. Then we came back to home base and went through a tornado called packing:) Then we had our last dinner in Thailand. This experience for us has been incredible and definitely a trip of a lifetime. We are sad to leave this amazing country and these awesome people but we are excited to see our friends and family back at home.
WE LOVE THAILAND!!!!!!!! -Lexi and Katie
Wednesday August 1, 2018
And just like that…two weeks passed. It was a great two weeks. It was a challenging two weeks. It was rewarding two weeks. The final day here in Thailand was plagued with happiness, laughter and final goodbye tears. This group of 24 couldn’t have bonded more and it was tough to send people back across the ocean to their own worlds again.
Thank you to everyone who made this past two weeks possible; it was a fantastic experience!
(First and final group shots to compare)