You get an extra post this week because the video finally uploaded!!!! Anyways, here is the travel diary I kept as I was there!!!! Love it and miss it so much!!!!
As I was arriving to Japan from Sweden the day before I take off to Thailand, I start thinking of the emotions I am feeling. All I could think was, “It is finally happening! You cannot believe how scared I am?” However, I wasn’t necessarily scared, I was just nervous. I was nervous to disappoint. Disappoint the Thai students. Disappoint the supervisors there. However, disappointing my school was the most nerve wracking. I guess I felt this pressure to represent the school in a good way, and I know that the “board” wouldn’t have chosen me unless they thought I was qualified, but I guess that was the nerve-wracking thing… They thought I am qualified, and I didn’t want to disappoint. I know also that I will have hard time because I have to listen to the stories that all the people have to tell about their lives, and how they struggle. I know that it will be heartbreaking to hear what they have been through. All in all, can’t wait until I am finally on the amazing journey of both tears and smiles.
Day 1- Arriving
The morning that we were leaving, we had to take the bus at 7:08 am so it was quite early. I was still super nervous but stoked about the wonderful experience that I was about to take part in. I just hoped that I had packed everything I needed to pack because otherwise, it would be quite stressful, but I would live through it.
When we got on the van when we landed in Bangkok to go to the hotel, we stopped to eat dinner on the way. Phlippa and I ate vegetarian Pad Thai, and it was delicious. One thing I did realize during our dinner break was that a lot of Thai people stared at us. I guess its because we are foreigners, so that was quite cool to see people’s reaction to us. I felt very comfortable even though it had only been a few hours in Thailand. However, I was very nervous for the speech that I had say in front of the school that had the first ceremony the next day. Even if I did mess up, it wouldn’t be the end of the world because I knew Jeanie could fix it when she was translating to Thai. There was an exciting week ahead of us and I was looking forward to every second of it.
Day 2- First Ceremony
I was sitting on the bus with the rest of our group, on the way to the candy store to buy candy for the students at the kindergarten before the ceremony. It is amazing that a small action like that, makes such a different in these children’s lives. The children were so grateful and I felt so bad for the children who stood next in line when I ran out of candy, but in the end, everyone got at least a little candy. After we finished handing out candy, we headed over to the ceremony. I have to say, the ceremony was amazing. When we were handing the scholarships to the children, there was one girl who was so sweet. She came up to me, said her name, thanked me, said, “I love you”, and then she hugged me. She honestly made me cry because I was so excited that she was so happy. I think it’s these moments that make me understand the importance of education. It is so inspirational that they keep fighting and I love how they are so thankful. I hope my kids will be as polite as they are here. I am so thankful for this whole experience, and this is what is going to change my life. I will learn from this, and I already feel more open-minded.
It was very exciting there, and different and I guess that is why I like it. The bus rides are pretty calming and relaxed. We just asked a bunch of questions to Ms. Stephanie. Since I am such a curious person, I enjoyed it but I am not so sure she did, haha. We actually tried a new dish in a bamboo “banana peel”. Although, it wasn’t really my taste, I enjoyed trying a new food and in such different packaging. We will probably be trying different food here and maybe some I will like and some I won’t. It is always good to try something instead of just assuming you don’t like it.
Lying in bed that night thinking of what we would be doing that week was very relaxing. I thought about how much our school community has helped these kids, and how we did it all together, as a team. It is quite awesome how we all worked as a school instead of as teams against each other, to help the less fortunate. What’s even more awesome is how much the students appreciate it. They were very excited to meet us so they took many pictures with us after the ceremony, and posted them on social media with the caption saying, “Thank you,” and asked for our usernames. I commented back how I loved meeting them too and it was a pleasure, and it truly was. If I could describe the ceremony with one word it would be “gratefulness”, because no matter how old, which gender or whatever it might be, they were all equally thankful.
Day 3- Village
We started the day by going to the Silk Village, and then continued to the so called, “Elephant Park”. At the Silk Village, it was amazing, and I learned a lot. I was awed by all the work that the women there were doing. I found out that you need more than two people to make silk, and many kids don’t want to learn how to make it because there are machines for it now. It is quite sad that it’s going “extinct” but I understand that the children don’t want to learn because it’s very complicated. However, it would be cool to know how to make it. After we walked through the Silk Village, we looked around in some stores to buy some souvenirs. Jiwoo and I started out by trying a shirt that we both like the model of but not necessarily the designs, and colors. We took some pictures in our Thai clothing, and then many more of the group tried on Thai clothes, so that we could take a group picture. We didn’t end up buying anything because we didn’t think we would wear it to school. However, we kept on looking for different items to buy. After we looked around, we had to get into the van to go to the Elephant Park.
When we arrived at the Elephant Park, we were a little late so Jeanie talked to the workers and got us in. Inside of the park, it wasn’t at all like I thought it would be. It was a show where it felt like the workers were just torturing the elephants. They had axes that they would hit them with, and they would kick as well. I felt like I just needed to get out of there. I couldn’t bare the feeling that people were paying to see this, or worse, I was paying to see this. Right after the show, I went out of the bleachers and just walked around until I found a bathroom. I realized that this was a wake up call to help me understand that animals aren’t always treated with respect, especially when people pay to see them. All in all, I learned something insightful about these parks, and I hope many people soon stop supporting the abuse.
Day 4- Second Ceremony + Visiting Houses
The second ceremony was going to happen, and it was something I was looking forward to. This time I wasn’t as nervous, and I thought it was going to be just as fun as the first one. I was really looking forward to meeting all the students. When we handed over the envelopes with the scholarships, then they actually smiled so they showed appreciation. I think it was so fun to hand it to them personally, to see the smiles on their faces.
After the ceremony, we ate lunch then played a game of volleyball. This time we didn’t suck as much as we did the first time. We won the first set, and lost the other two. I think everyone that was watching us play, laughed at me because of my “striking a pose” whenever I fail, haha. Honestly though, I didn’t mind, because I was having fun and I always embarrass myself. We didn’t win the game but, we all were winners in the end because nobody was upset.
After we left the school, we started driving to a house that we were going to help out. When I stepped out of the van to see the house, I was devastated. I listened to their stories, and it was horrible. The parents of four different kids had abandoned them when they left for Bangkok and they don’t contact each other at all. Therefore, the children had to be taken care of by their grandpa. The house didn’t have a toilet, or a roof. They also needed shoes so I donated money for that as well. It was such an experience to see how their parents affected their lives. So much damage done to these children, and the parents don’t even talk to them. The oldest boy works by cutting sugarcanes, but barely gets paid (a pack of 10 sugarcanes for two baht). All in all, it was devastating to see the differences in our houses and lives.
When it started to become darker, we walked around in some small roads and looked at the night market. It was quite exciting to see what the Thai culture had to offer. Some of the items that worked to buy were quite funny and were pretty cool to see in a night market. Since Philippa and I weren’t hungry, we didn’t eat dinner, instead we walked around when everyone was eating. When we got back to the restaurant, I just felt like walking around. Therefore, I decided to walk around the street and take pictures, and that’s when I realized how the details on all the buildings are what make Thailand beautiful. In total, it was an amazing day and I learned a lot about the Thai culture.
Day 5-Hiking+Visiting Preschool
We started the day off by buying candy for an elementary school that we were visiting. When we arrived, they were all sitting on the ground waiting for us to hand out candy. It was so exciting giving out the candy to all the children because they enjoyed receiving it.
After we handed out the candy, we played their team in volleyball, and this time we actually won. It was very exciting to play against them because this time we had a chance at winning. When we finished the game, we took a lot of pictures with them and wrote down our Facebook names again. I realize now how many new friends I made on Facebook, and now my whole timeline is full with Thai posts. However, it is worth it because I had the chance to meet all these amazing people.
We arrived at the mountain that we were going to hike, and the restaurant that we were going to eat at. We took some pictures at the bottom of the mountain, and then we started walking. I really love hiking because it’s a great way to absorb nature in all its ways, and realize what is happening in life around us. Meanwhile I was walking, I took videos so I could use them for my video of the trip when I got home. When we arrived at the top, I saw how the view was breathtaking. It was fantastic and a bunch of pictures were taken. Not only did we take pictures during the hike, but we also talked to each other. It is very nice to talk to people when you are walking because then you know you have time to talk.
After lunch, Ms. Stephanie and I went to the bathroom, and it was the most horrible toilet I have ever been to. There was dirt and water all over the floor, three of the toilets were out of order, and the actual toilets were all Japanese style. I am so glad that toilets in Japan are cleaner. However, it was a great opportunity to see how the citizens in Thailand have their toilets like, and the fact that they are kind of used to them looking like this one. We have such different ideas of what a usual toilet looks like and it is fascinating. All in all, I think it has been a great experience to see the different views in Thailand.
Day 6-Temple+Traveling Home
The last day had come, and I was super upset to leave this place behind, but I know I am bringing the memories with me wherever I go. We packed for our flight and headed towards the van. We were going to visit a beautiful, famous temple. It was only us students, and Ms. Stephanie who entered. I think I separated from the group quite early on because sometimes it is nice to be left with your own thoughts. I thought about how there could’ve been a girl my age in the same place in the 11th-12th century. It was pretty cool thinking about how life kind of just passes by and what remains of our life times, is the monuments. Maybe in another century, a girl will be walking around the same temple and thinking back on it just like I was doing. Life is pretty amazing, because it is like a labyrinth. You never really know where to go, but you figure it out as you walk. Another thing I was thinking about was what the people’s lives back in the 11th century were like. It was probably so different than what our lives are like now. The way the people in 11th and 12th century could entertain themselves, was playing outdoor games or just communicating. All in all, it was a great experience, and I think I made the right decision to walk around alone to think about everything alone.
When we had been at the temple for an hour, we went to the lunch place we were going to eat at. Since it was Amelia’s birthday the day before, we had birthday cake as well. It was then time to start our trip back to Japan. The week passed so quickly and it was an amazing experience. I loved receiving the opportunity to help everyone in Thailand, and visit all the monuments and views. I am one of those people who gets over attached to memories, and I know for sure that this is one of those memories that I am never going to forget. I had the chance to get to know everyone better, and work together as a team. I learned a lot about myself as well, and I think I changed as a person as well because I am more aware now of what is going on in other parts of the worlds. Overall, I will miss this place and I love that we all were able to connect and discover more about each other and the culture here together.