I haven’t written in a while – because frankly – I haven’t wanted to. Today perhaps, I’ve felt a change of heart. February and March have flown by faster than the blink of an eye. I turned 24 last week and had an incredible birthday – one of the best I’ve ever had! Let me entertain you with some recent projects and travels. It’s been a very busy few months and I’ll briefly share a few events.
PALA U – I’ve posted pictures of this waterfall spot before (located at Kaeng Krachan National Park on the Thai-Burmese border). But again, six of us hopped on three motorbikes and took the hour or two drive back to Pala U – passing wild elephant warning signs and monkeys on the streets. We parked, we hiked, and we arrived at the waterfall swimming hole. As we were laughing and throwing around fish food (sold by park rangers) we saw monkeys far off in the trees (very normal – we were in the jungle). But the monkeys got closer and closer and began to surround us. The six of us notice the monkeys aren’t the normal species we are used to having contact with – and began to evacuate the swimming hole and making our way back to the national park entrance. The monkeys (now identified as stump tailed macaques) began to chase us through the jungle. My friend, Markus, began picking up rocks and throwing them to prevent the macaques from getting to close to our group and stealing our belongings). And my friend, Helen, threw the macaques our leftover fish food as we continued making a swift exit from the waterfall. Eventually, with the conquer our fish food, the macaques stopped following us – and we made it home safely.
I’ve been working with an extension of the Rotary Club – specifically for people ages 18-30 – in order to participate in community service projects. In February our Rotaract club, was invited by other local Rotary clubs, to help with the “Annual Handicapped Children’s Day,” where local handicapped children were treated to a day on the beach – with famous Thai personalities, karaoke, buffet foods, toys, and swimming. The Rotaract club was in charge of holding the children in the water while they swam – some of the children had never been in the ocean before!
Currently in the Rotaract club I am the Education Executive Member – so with the help of my friend Mint and my family back in California – I make lesson plans and take them to a local Thai school and teach the kids English. The English-teaching program is on a hiatus currently because it is summer vacation in Thailand right now – but I’m excited to grow this program and make it something rewarding and special for all involved!
Aside from the Rotaract Club, I’ve started working with NGO Rescue Paws – with other people from school. The stray dog situation in Thailand is not something I am going to elaborate on – but here’s a link from National Geographic about the stray dogs in Bangkok alone (published in 2009).
Rescue Paws is a NGO that feeds, immunizes, and sterilizes local street dogs in Hua Hin (where I live). The health condition and shear numbers of street dogs in Hua Hin alone is both depressing and overwhelming. Our aim with Rescue Paws is to help the NGO create a sustainable way of supporting themselves. Right now we are in the process of creating a merchandise store – that can hopefully be sold online or at local shops or markets in order to create a profit. Rescue Paws wants to build a paid-volunteer program that invites international volunteers to pay to stay and help with day-to-day activities. I just hope we can somehow help this organization. If you want to check them out or donate 🙂 …
Krabi and Ko Jum
A big group of us went on vacation to Krabi and Ko Jum. The trip was full of delicious foods, glow in the dark plankton, and boat tours. At the island of Ko Jum we stayed in bungalows overlooking the sea and ate French cuisine everyday.
The island of Ko Jum was bigger than we expected – because the resort we stayed at gave us an island map of all the places tourists were “wanted” and not a map of all the places that were actually on the island – without explanation. This colossal failure resulted in spending a day kayaking (with Helen and Markus) with a geographically useless map and getting lost in the Andaman Sea. After ending up in a VERY religious village that specifically did not want tourists – we attempted to escape the village quickly (but the entire beach surrounding the village was literally covered in quick sand and only 8 inches of water so we had to walk the kayaks through shallow water while our feet sank 12 inches with every step for about an hour) and had to find our way back to our resort on Kayaks, with no phones, at night in the dark…. A textbook example of what you don’t want to happen. I could elaborate but it’s better if I just, don’t. All I can say is that day left me with very bloody feet, two friends that have essentially turned into my Norwegian brother and sister, and a $60 bill to repair two fucking scratched up kayaks.
Krabi – usually one of the pictures that comes up immediately whenever you google “Thailand” – was beautiful. Ao Nang, Railay Beach, Tiger Temple….. I could go on. I can’t wait to go back this May with my friends when they come to visit! The trip was extremely affordable – until I lost my wallet and all the money inside it. You win some, you lose some.
I got the pleasure of visiting Wat Songkhammakalayani, the only temple in Thailand where there are fully ordained female monks. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that female monks generally deal with a great amount of gender inequality and suffer from discrimination because of their gender. Not only did I get to visit this temple, but I got to sit in on the abbess, Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, answer a Q&A session. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and it was truly a life-changing moment being in the presence of someone who devotes their life to advocate for a better more equal world.
Thank you for letting me share my life with you,
Until next time friends,