Operation Thailand – Complete. Lynn

This will be my last entry as a blogger whose on Senior Projects. As 9 other students are falling asleep before our 5 AM flight, I am sitting with my laptop, trying to sink in the fact that I will be leaving Bangkok in a few hours.

The last few days at the Elephant Nature Park have been an mind-boggling experience. When we went up to the Elephant Haven, an hour hike up the mountain in the dead heat made the hike seem worth it. There was nothing but nature. Even though the hike was pretty bad, “step step break.” After two or three steps, the elephants would stop and eat the nearby grass and they never seemed to be full. But their hunger made the hike more relaxing and gave us more time to enjoy the living nature of the mountain. When it got dark, Pum told us bunch of stories of the elephants, of Lek and the beginning times of the ENP. Lek seemed to have gone through so much to have built all this. Sometime close to 9, we went on a mini-hike around the mountain with flash lights, following the mahouts to find the elephants. The prickles and bushes did not make the hike fun but painful. But it was amazing how mahouts could easily find their elephants in pitch dark without hearing any noises from them.

The next morning, we had even bigger agenda for the day. WE WERE RESCUING AN ELEPHANT. I must say, we are a hell of a lucky group, because we experienced events that wouldn’t have experienced if we weren’t there at that special week. With the forest fire, and rescuing an elephant? The park has rescued 35 elephants over the course of 20 years. What are the chances that we work during the week that they save another one? Anyway, this new elephant was abused by being ridden by tourists for money near by the ENP. It’s back leg was broken for 30 years. The nature park people were the elephant’s 17th and hopefully last owner. The elephant did not go into the truck, so it had to walk back. Most of the volunteers went to rescue the elephants and some decided to walk back to the park with the new elephant.

By the time it was Sunday when all the volunteers were leaving, I realized how much bonding we had with the rest of the volunteers during this week. I met some really interesting people, such as people who quit their jobs to travel, bikers, etc.

Right now, I don’t think I can fully describe how this experience will change my life right now or in the future. I haven’t seen the changes yet, but I am excited to see them in my life and see changes in other people too. The aftermath might not be visible at the moment, because we just left Thailand and the service was physical labor but it will be visible in our actions soon enough. I can’t wait to see everyone and begin talking about our Senior Projects.

Thanks for reading my blogs, and I hope they were helpful in keeping you updated!

Lynn
March 8, 2011

We Are Alive! – Lynn

At the Elephant Nature Park, we couldn’t get wireless and that is why I haven’t updated my blogs. My apologies. Still, I wrote some stuff down and it is not updated fully, but here’s what I have so far.

Day 1 at the Elephant Nature Park:

I am writing my blog posts on my laptop so I can post this when I go back to Bangkok and have wireless. We took the van from Chiang Mai to the Elephant Nature Park this morning, and it probably took us around an hour drive to get here. My first impression was, “I don’t even know what we will be doing here and we are stuck here for 6 days! ” But after spending a whole day here and after going through the orientation, I am excited for the next 5 days.
We started working right when we got there. We thought we were getting a tour, but the people needed help, so we jumped right in. The first task was to make banana balls, and it consists of mashed bananas, corn flour, flour and rice flour. Around the corner, few guys and I helped Susan peel bananas and mash them for making of the banana balls.
Our group leader, Jack ,showed us the elephants and the next second we were feeding them! In order to feed the elephants, we have to hold the fruit, while standing on either side of the elephants, and wait for them to take the fruit from us with their trunks. It is quite fascinating, watching them grab fruit with their trunks, or balance the cucumbers on the inside of their trunks while they chew the fruits that they have in their mouth.
The next step is bathing the elephants. There is a river right by the land, the elephants walk in and the volunteers throw buckets of water onto their bodies. Our first elephant baths turned into a water fight between our group. I didn’t mind getting splashed, until I realized the elephants were pooping in the river during their baths. Ade and David bought Crocs at the airport, and they were putting them to good use. I went into the lake barefoot because I was wearing sneakers the whole day.
Lunch was pretty good, it was buffet style and they had lots of food options, I thought to myself, finally, we are getting some real Thai food! The food was awesome, and for the rest of the day we had some free time, fed the elephants again, then there was a welcome ceremony done by the people from the village next to the Elephant park. The ceremony was interesting, filled with prayers, some rituals and  there old ladies gave everyone white bracelets. It was pretty cool. Then we had dinner, and now its bed time, I am upset that I can’t upload anything for 6 days. But I like not having internet and being away from technology.
Everything seems pretty chill here. I met some interesting people today. This one lady is from Australia and she’s been here for 7 years. Now she is a master at cutting fruits with really sharp knife. The other thing that I noticed is that there are lots of people from around the world. Mostly they are from UK and Australia and I love their accents!
Anyways, goodnight everyone.

February 28, 2011

Day 2 at the Elephant Nature Park:

It’s currently 6:08 PM right now, and work has ended. Today, we went to the corn field to chop off the stocks for to feed the elephants. It was about an hour drive to the corn fields, and we worked for about 2 hours. We picked up 300 bundles in the end, and had to sit on top of the corn stocks on our way back! The truck ride back was very exciting.
I didn’t take any pictures today, because I was very tired today. The truth is, I didn’t even take my camera out of my room. I wanted a day off from photography duty. of course, the moment we stepped off the elephant nature park to go to the corn fields, I regretted that decision.
Anyway, when we came back, we had lunch and bathed the elephants. I don’t know why, but I was very tired today, so I did not participate too much in the water fights or anything extra.

March 1, 2011

Day 3 at the Elephant Nature Park:
“Call us Westtown Firefighters!”

It is only the 3rd day here at the Elephant Nature Park, and we are already having so much fun. As we are enjoying the beautiful scenery and presence of the elephants and dogs, we ran into an unexpected accident today.
The day started out pretty normal, we shoveled elephant poop and drained the mud pits that elephants use, and of course, we had a mud fight. It was pretty fun actually, Alex did tackle me into the mud. But it was fun overall.
After lunch, we had a chance to look at the elephants up close, and we got to see the baby elephants. They were so small compared to the big ones. At one point, one of the baby elephants started to wander off, and the whole herd followed it after.
We were coming back from watching the elephants, and Jack, our group leader, gets a phone call. He told us that the nature park’s property was on fire and that we had to go put it out. We ran to the mountain at the end of the park. and grabbed a bucket and started running up the mountain. I did not get to see the real fire that took forever to put out, so I didn’t get to take pictures because I was busy running up and down passing buckets full of water. But I saw the other fires that started up as we were done with one big one. It was very intense. I broke my flip-flop at one point, but I fixed it.

Everyone’s legs were cut from all the shrubs and had ashes all over because of the burnt trees. We were very dehydrated and sweating from the fire, but we felt very accomplished afterwards. We saved the mountain!
People went tubing down the river afterwards, but I was very tired and didn’t feel like it, so I waited for them to come down the stream and snapped some pictures. Sam, this british guy started throwing elephant poop at the boys. It was pretty funny.

March 2nd 2011
Day 4 at the Elephant Nature Park

This morning, just like the first day, we made elephant food.We  mashed bananas and mixed them with rice flour and corn flour to make banana balls. Then people who did not do the mud pit yesterday went to do that, while Alex Emily and I carried the watermelons off the truck. Later on, the truck filled with pumpkins came, so we had to unload that.
Our official afternoon job was moving the mud bricks that will be used to build more buildings. At first, they were expecting us to carry one by one to the hut which was far away, but we got a tractor and divided into 2 groups loading and unloading the bricks. We were very efficient and I think that allowed us to go tubing the longer stream this time. The water got pretty cold as we were done, but it was fun for the most part. The current was a little unpredictable so at one point, I was ahead of everyone, but later it took me nearly 20 minutes to finally catch up to everyone.
After the dinner, I played Yahtzee with 2 girls from Holland with Amadou and David. Their names are Valerie and Anouk. They seem very chill and cool.  Tomorrow we are going to Elephant Haven. I am pretty excited. Good night for now!

March 3rd 2011
Lynn

P.S. pictures will come later!

Enough fun in Bangkok, time to have fun with the elephants!

Sorry I lied to you all, promising that I would blog. I would have, but yesterday morning Emily, Natalie and I woke up early to do laundry and grab breakfast.

Let me briefly explain what happened on day 2 in Bangkok, and if my descriptions aren’t enough, I hope my pictures will help you.

That morning, our day plan was all set. We planned on visiting the snake farm, going to Chinatown & Indiatown and going to watch Thai boxing. But, like always, we are out of luck. We got lost and weren’t able to find the snake farm. Before we got lost, we had our first  sky train experience. In Bangkok, they have subways that go above the car roads and they call them  sky trains. Wei-Hao got something similar to a water ice on the way. Everyone took a bite out of it and it was very tasty. (On a side note, mom, here are two pictures of me with friends. I am alive and having fun in Thailand!) Anyway, eventually we gave up on finding the snake farm and headed towards china town. We browsed through the streets, and saw more street vendors. We had lunch at a chinese restaurant and I had egg noodles with shrimp.

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After touring more of china town, we tried to find the snake farm again, and when we turned to the other direction and found the snake farm. The snake show was pretty cool. We saw king cobra, mango snake, etc… and at the end they let us take pictures with the snake.
We went back to the hostel to rest a little and left for the Thai boxing match. I don’t have much to say because I was asleep for more than half of the program. It was very humid in there and we did not eat dinner before. (Mom, you will see pictures of me sleeping later.)
After the Thai boxing, we did some shopping on our way back to the hostel and I got an orange purse which I am very happy about 🙂

Day 3 (which was yesterday), like I mentioned earlier, the girls got up and went to Starbucks for coffee and muffins. We left the hostel around noon, after checking out, and went back to china town to find the singing bowl place. We had our first tuktuk experience! We divided our group into 3 tuktuks and headed to “Ban Baht.” T. Deb and Wei-Hao, JM and I were in one, and Alex, Paul, David and Emily were in one, and Amadou, Peter and Natalie were in one. When my tuktuk got to the right place, we did not see the rest of the group. JM and I were stunned to not see the rest of the group there and looked for the others for a little, and T. Deb and Wei-Hao decided that we would eventually meet at the hostel anyway, so my group went to see the golden mount, another Buddhist temple.

On our way back, we got in a boat, headed to the national stadium and went to the biggest mall I have ever seen in Bangkok, maybe the only real mall. We ran into David and Paul in the mall. Us four, 2 teachers and 2 students grabbed dinner, and walked around for a while and went back to the hostel. If there weren’t enough trouble for the day, there was one more problem that we ran into. Our original plan was to leave the hostel by 8 for our train to Chang Mai at 9. T. Deb said that we should get some water and snack for the 10 hour train ride, so we went to Seven Eleven. We were taking our time, deciding on our snack but T. Deb ran in to tell us that our train was at 19:25 and she confused 7:25 as 9:25. So once again, we were in a hurry, running to the hostel, grabbing our luggage.

We lost one taxi, but ended up grabbing enough to get to the train station. We were afraid we were going to miss our train but we didn’t! The train station looked really cool. But we were in a hurry, so I did not get to take any pictures. We chilled on the train for a little bit and I eventually went to sleep around 9.

Day 4 (today!)

I started out the morning with taking pictures of everyone who were up and who were not up. We had breakfast on the train and arrived in Chiang Mai close to 10AM. We drove to the guest house that we will be spending the night at, RUX THAI, and we had free time until 7. So we browsed through the city and went to the market and got some bracelets and presents for people back home.

For dinner, we went to this fancy restaurant filled with tourists. The food was absolutely yummy and there were shows following the meal. Now I am sitting in my room, getting ready for bed. We leave for the Elephant Nature Park tomorrow morning. We are all excited to work with the elephants.

Flickr is currently not responding, so I will upload the pictures to the blog post later, but for the time being, please visit my Flickr to see the pictures! Sorry!

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February 26, 2011

Lynn

For Now By Lynn in Thailand

As the humidity of Bangkok is weighing us down, we managed to take a tour around the King’s temple, palace and street shops yesterday. It still hasn’t hit me that I am in Bangkok, almost half way around the world with my friends. We are having a wonderful time in the city so far, touring and experiencing the Thai culture.

Yesterday, after my blog post, our group went to the riverside to take the boat up to all the sights. First, right after we got off the boat, we walked around this open flea-market that sold all kinds of jewelry, food, drinks, shoes, bags, old coins, you name it and they had it somewhere along the streets. The King’s temple and palace were amazing. There was so much detail in the murals, the outside walls covered with jewelry and gold, etc. We could tell that the place belonged to a royal family. Another thing that was all around was the Buddha. There were temples that people worshipped inside the palace but photography was prohibited. But, we were able to see the “Reclining Buddha,”

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By the time we went to the palace, the boys had to put on pants because people with shorts were not allowed to even see the palace. That was something that everyone struggled with the most yesterday: dealing with the appropriate attire in the dead heat. The boys looked good in their pants, some wore them over their shorts. Anyway, we went inside to see the temple and the palace; and the outside of the buildings were spectacular. I think John-Michael was a really big fan of the gold temple. Maybe it was from the shock of the beauty of the buildings, but we were pretty tired by the end of the King’s temple. We managed to have fun at the same time.

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After the sight-seeing, we went to more vendors and each found a place to eat. I picked Pad Thai. Then we took the boat again, to climb this building. To be honest, I don’t remember the names of the places we went to. But there are pictures! This shrine  had really steep steps and we all climbed up to the top except Wei-Hao. His excuse was a bad shoulder… My knees also hurt while climbing up, but after seeing the view from up top, it was all worth it. The view was absolutely beautiful.

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We are all happy and safe. Tomorrow we go into Chang Mai. It’s pretty late right now. I promise I’ll blog about today tomorrow morning. I know I am behind, but there is more to come! Yay Thailand!

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P.S. if the pictures are not uploading, check out my flickr account, I will upload more pictures from Day 1 soon.

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February 25, 2011
Lynn

Thailand!

Finally here! We safely landed in Bangkok around midnight last night after total of 48 hours of traveling! That was the longest traveling for everyone, and when we got to the hostel, everyone was pretty much exhausted.

Let me do a briefing about what happened so far since my last post. Our flight to Detroit ended up being delayed for 2 hours and 30 minutes. So, when we landed in Detroit, we had no time to waste and started to run towards the other gate. We barely made it to the connecting flight! It was an exciting moment for everyone, running across the whole terminal from one end to the other. Everything seemed to work out after the flight to Detroit. Our flight to Tokyo was long, but comfortable and we were able to get on the flight to Bangkok without any problems. We got in the vans after we landed in Bangkok and headed to our hostel that we will be staying in for the next few days. After we were assigned to our rooms, we went out briefly to grab some dinner to McDonalds. I know what you’re thinking, American food while in Thailand? But, it was close to 1 in the morning, and it was open for 24 hours. So basically we had no choice.

It’s close to 10 in the morning here, and we are about to go visit the King’s temple… I’ll upload the pictures later. But briefly, the things we noticed so far about Bangkok and Thailand. Everything is so cheap here! Our meals at McDonald’s were 3 to 5 dollars. We went out to the market last night to get to McDonald’s and there are were lots of people out still at 1AM! Bangkok is the city that never sleeps! There are lots of street shops, there were people who recognized us as tourists and tried to take us to restaurants and other weird places. People seem nice around here.

I think everyone is going to have fun here! We are all so excited for the 2 weeks that we have ahead of us.

So now, off to the temple we go!

Lynn

February 24, 2011

wait, we are still in America?

That’s right, we are still stuck in Philly! Yesterday morning, I got a call from Emily saying that the Thailand group is meeting at school at 7:00PM instead of 3:00AM the next day. I thought we were leaving earlier than planned because what good does it do when students leave school at 7:00PM when their flight is taking off at 6:00AM the next morning?

Unfortunately, we had to work with the Philly weather and our flight was cancelled, so we got 2 rooms at the Marriott hotel. I know this is illegal, but we had no choice, so it was 2 teachers in one room for sleeping and the other one room was the party room (with ten students)!

Anyway, at least we got to bond and have fun with friends. Some people showed signs of frustration because they would rather spend the night at home, but everything worked out eventually. End of story.

But, I don’t think so. I am sitting at the airport right now, and the clock is ticking 8:51AM. It was a rough morning for some of us. The ticketing took forever for me and Paul, because the machine did not read Paul’s passport. We have a 9:00AM flight, but it is delayed… because the prior plane did not take off for our plane to be at the gate. Could anything else go wrong? I don’t think so. Our originally planned 33-hour trip to Bangkok is extended by 12 hours… So, it will take us 45 hours to get to Bangkok! YAY.

This will be the longest travel for everyone on the trip, and Emily is reading her Bangkok traveling book right now. Ade is reading his Nook, and Wei-Hao is reading Marie Claire. I will keep you guys updated! Bye!

Lynn, still in Philly

February 22, 2011

P.S. Fresh update, our flight is delayed by 45 minutes! I think the Thailand group will have plenty of bonding time now!

From Asia to Asia

Hello!

I am Lynn, a senior from Seoul, Korea and I will be going to Thailand for my Senior Projects with 9 other seniors.

Personally, I am very excited for this trip because I haven’t gone traveling outside of the countries, and also to travel to somewhere close to my home with my friends from half way across the world. It feels a little bit weird to think that we are going to be experiencing a new environment together. Most of the time it was me, trying to figure out new surroundings by myself.

I don’t know what to expect from the two weeks that I will be spending in Thailand. I am nervous, but very excited at the same time. I hope to go there with an open mind and experience as much of the Thai culture as I can during my time there. I will be documenting my experience through blogging and photography.

I am having  a hard time focusing on school work because there is so little time left before my friends and I leave for Thailand! Count down has started, only 19 days left!