Our first activity of the year was to Thailand. And what an incredible journey it was. Every person present gained so much in so many ways, from learning independence, sharing time, space and emotions to the stunning experience of Thai life. We visited Temples, stayed in small villages and experienced life in Thailand from chicken basket making to learning the process of collecting rice.
Day one saw us excitedly meet at the airport hotel where we discussed our thoughts and expectations over dinner.
The flight was long! After 14 hours to Singapore, we transferred to another airline to do the last 2.5 hour stretch to Bangkok. Jet lag kicked in and we all had a restful afternoon in the hotel until we were ready to hit the streets of Bangkok, where we walked around exploring the city before finding a local restaurant to have dinner.
Our first full day took us to Wat Pho, the temple of the reclining Buddha. A 46 metre long, gold leaf covered Buddha. We were surrounded by different sounds, smells and incense, as well as a hundred pots to drop small coins into. Then we went across to Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand and checked into the Krungari River Hotel for a dinner cruise on what was a converted teak rice barge.
The next day we took a tour of the Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. Following the interesting but very very hot tour, we were presented with fresh coconuts to drink from. Nectar!
In the evening we had the chance to explore the night bazaar and try some street food. All of the young people really enjoyed the new experiences and tastes.
An overnight train to Chiang Mai was a very interesting and new experience. We woke many hours later ready to explore the elephant camp. We enjoyed learning about these wondrous animals and feeding them before walking with them to a local stream, where the young people got into the water and helped to bath the elephants.
We moved on again to Phayao, Baan Dok Bua, where we stayed with families in the village. Dinner was a communal affair and very tasty.
The following day saw us up in the hills visiting incredible temples and having the opportunity to meditate, facilitated by our guides in Thailand.
Later we were back in Chiang Mai to get a flight to Phattalung.
We experienced many examples of Thai life such as helping the locals make Pon Drums, shadow puppets, and baskets.
Another highlight of the trip was a boat trip across a fishing lake where there was an abundance of bird life, as well as local people fishing from their boats.
The last couple of days we went south to the Trang Province and had the opportunity to visit a fishing village and buy fish for our final supper cooked over the BBQ.
Every one of us had an amazing adventure and were humbled by the Thai way of life.
Want to read more? Find out how attendee Matthew got on his account of the international trip to Thailand.
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Written by Tracie Tappenden
Chief Executive Officer