Bangkok scenes always impress
I had the pleasure of co-leading a study abroad group to Thailand. We have to plan these about 18 months before going and so I happily suggested my favorite places which meant we spent a few days in Bangkok, a couple in Hua Hin (south) and then up north to Chiang Mai. Not going to lie, it was a tough 10 days of travel with nonstop exploring and socializing. Packing and unpacking with a night her and night there is not my favorite way to travel. We much prefer slow travel but it was a great way to have student experience different places.
We did the Palace and reclining Buddhas etc. but also were able to attend a class in meditation (walking and sitting), visit a big STEM high school, and take a wonderful cooking class. We made the best food and the chef was delightful. It was extremely well organized with plates of ingredients for each person appearing at one station where we learned about them before going to another station to cook them. We made four dishes and could barely move as so full. If you are there check out:
In Hua Hin we hit the night markets and beach but then drove to a huge national park with a lovely lake. We took a boat ride around it and visited islands with monkeys on them. You could also rent bikes and ride around although I chose to sit in the shade as afternoon sun in Thailand is a tad intense.
In Chiang Mai we again shopped (always popular) and spent a day at an elephant sanctuary. We fed them, ground up herbs to make healthy snacks for them, and then it was bath time. Quite a muddy process!
Another muddy process was visiting a seed saving NGO called Echo. It was really interesting to hear about their work around the world aimed at helping collect seeds to share with small holding farmers and also to work on promotion of better farming practices as well as sustainable (and cheap) tools. It was cool to see them collecting natural methane gas from pig poop and then fire up a stove with it. We were able to sit and clean seeds and do some weeding in the gardens.
One of the best events was visiting Chiang Mai University and interacting with the students and faculty. Their students put on quite an event at the American Center on campus as they love to practice English and make connections. They had us playing some drawing games and fact finding warm ups that had everyone holding their sides from laughing so hard. Everyone was so welcoming and gracious that it was a really lovely day.
All in all, a wonderful “work” trip (struggle to call it that as it was so much fun with incredible students). It did remind me of how much I’ve missed S.E Asia.