The final word

What a great trip! We are about to head to the airport, but before we go, here are some final thoughts from our students:

Aiesha – It was a really good experience and opened you up to new ideas and opportunities and helped you see the world differently.

Holly – This trip has opened up my eyes to see how lucky we all are and we’re grateful to get to go on trips like this.

Meg – I have changed my perspectives on people in other countries with different religions, wealth and ways of living.

Mitch – I’ve learnt that there’s a lot of other communities out there who have much less than we do, and I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to help people in need.

Jake – I learnt that the Thai people take their religion really seriously and I enjoyed visiting the temples and getting to experience their culture first hand.

Andrew – Visiting Thailand really changed my perspective on the world and made me realise how privileged we are.

Max – A highlight for me was visiting the temples and experiencing the Thai culture.

Dippy – My highlight was visiting the elephants and seeing how traumatised they were before coming to the elephant sanctuary and it’s given me an understanding of conservation.

Sam – The highlight of my trip was archery and I learnt that the Thai people are happy with what they have, even though they don’t have as much money as us.

Sera – A highlight for me was going to the markets and having the freedom to walk around at night and buy our own dinner.

Lochie – A highlight for me was the elephant park because you got to see how bad it is to ride them – I had no idea how bad it was!

Kasey – One of the highlights was seeing how the mistreated elephants were given a second chance.

Grace – I will always remember building our rafts and going down the Maekok River.

Sophie – Overall it was an eye opening trip and shows how much we take for granted.

Emma – I’ve learnt that money doesn’t always bring happiness.

Lucy – I’ve learnt to appreciate what I have.

Finn – Not everything in the world is perfect and you need to think about people who are less fortunate.

Felix – I liked going to the market and having the responsibility of having our own money.

Bradley – The trip was a great experience as it helped me grow as a person.

Jackson – I’ve learnt a long day of work is really satisfying (and coming back to the hotel and having a long shower and sleep is awesome!)

Josh – I believe my self-confidence was boosted because of the independence we were given,  I also saw how lucky I am compared to the hilltribe kids we met.

Teachers – the coffee, the friendships, the tuk-tuks, the learning, and the opportunity to  develop great connections with our students.

See you at Brisbane airport, 7.30 Saturday morning. 🙂


… And more mud!

Today in Thailand we went cycling through farmers land, rice paddies and the village roads. It took a while to start the ride due to some flat tyres, broken chains, and some broken gears. We set off after heavy rain into the mud and found as many puddles as possible. Many things happened on that cycle, including girls putting dirt on their face to supposedly ‘clean’ them. We had a competition for who could stay the cleanest and who could get the dirtiest. It was so much harder to stay clean than dirty.

Thailand cycling 4

In the first 20 minutes Brad had gotten dirtier than anyone else throughout the rest of the cycle. We didn’t quite understand how Max and Sam could stay so clean but somehow, they were pretty much spotless. When we were going through the farmers land all the girls put green mud on their faces, and claimed it was a great beauty mud mask. Jake and Josh basically carried the team by sitting in a truck and eating ice – cream.

A peddle came off Mrs Close’s bike so Natty, one of our guides swapped bikes with her and after a quick bush repair they set off, only for the peddle to fall off again after a few hundred metres. Natty then walked the bike through the mud for the following few kilometres to meet the support vehicle, where she received a loud round of applause for her efforts.

The best part of the ride was getting off the bikes and into the pool. I think that after riding through the farms and villages full of people that we learnt just how difficult life in Thailand is compared to our life.

By Lochie


Update from the teachers

We can’t believe how quickly our time has gone here at Maekok. We are off hiking this afternoon, and then its time to get packed up before we make the journey back to Chiang Mai tomorrow.

We’ve had a fair bit of rain and some beautiful tropical storms over the past few days which has cooled things down, and has made for some very muddy adventures. We’ll have some more blog posts and photos tonight (you might not recognise your children for all of the mud!)

This morning we took up the noble art of fruit and vegie carving.  What appeared to be a relaxed and easy activity turned out to be a test of patience and precision. The results were hilarious, and needless to say, none of our efforts will be displayed at the buffet tables this evening!


Lauren, Ben and Anita

Above: Jake’s packet of crunchy crickets; flooding on the way to the markets at Mai Ai, and Felix and Aiesha’s quality carrot carving. 

Teachers for a day

Two days ago (on Monday) we travelled to a local school on ‘songthaews’. Beforehand, we were put into groups of three, and given an English topic to teach the students of the school. On the day, each St Andrews group were put with four Thai students and had twenty minutes to teach, rotating after each session. Many of us were quite shocked at the lack of English that they actually knew, so we had to improvise for some of our lesson, to adjust to their level.


Thailand school

Sophie: My group decided to play a game of heads down thumbs up at the end of the lesson, however when we were demonstrating the game, instead of staying down with their eyes closed, their imitated us even when we were pinching their thumbs 😊.

Kasey: The hardest part of the lesson was the language barrier between us, however my group managed to improvise a knew game that worked unexpectedly well, as they were on their feet and engaged.

This experienced really showed us how little that they had and how much we take for granted in our everyday lives. However, these children were some of the happiest we’ve ever seen, with what little they have. This was so eye-opening for us, and we will remember the experience forever.

By Sophie and Kasey xx


Culinary Adventures

Today was a great day. At the start of the day we were taught how to say numbers and ingredients in Thai, this was very helpful for the markets we soon went to. We saw many varieties of exotic ingredients such as pig heads, fruits and some voodoo stuff we haven’t seen before. We had a list of ingredients for the dishes we had to cook which we handpicked from the market. Once we got back we were taught how to prepare these dishes. We were taught many new skills like different ways of cutting and different ingredients we could use. Then, after a demonstration from the resort chef, we started cooking . We put loads of hot stuff in it to make it spicy, I think it was chilli or some random curry stuff? Also, just as we walked outside the market Mitch bought 18 packets of Pocky. When we were cooking the egg, everything was going perfect but then…  Mitch kooked everything up, and that’s the end of the story kids. The end.  For real. Actually stop reading this. No. seriously. Stop.

by Bradley and Felix (with a bit of help from Finn)


Rafting the mighty Maekok River

Yesterday afternoon we went rafting down the Maekok River. We started off by getting into groups of 7 and then designing the raft we planned on building. Then we hopped on the back of a truck and started driving to the Maekok River, where our raft building materials were waiting for us. We started off by tying the bamboo together with the knots that we had already learnt. Once we had finished building our raft out in the boiling hot sun, we were so sweaty our clothes were soaked!

We all pushed our raft into the water and as soon as we all got onto it one of the bamboo sticks snapped and we almost fell in! But we kept going, and we started to get the hang of paddling and steering. As we were peacefully paddling down the river we saw Mr Dean push Mitch into the water! (He denies this, of course!)

We soon finished rafting down the river by walking up the bank carrying our rafts and walking in slippery mud. Once we had taken apart our raft we ended the journey with an activity where we had to tell everyone what we liked and what we didn’t like about rafting. Ms Norbury said she didn’t like the sun which we all thought was funny because she was in the shaded rescue boat taking photos the entire time!

Over all of that I really enjoyed rafting and so did everyone else and it just reminds us how lucky we are because at home we have air-con and most of the people here don’t and they have to live in that sun and heat all the time.

By Sera


Mud, Sweat and Tears

We arrived at the Ban Luang School to see the teachers welcoming us with open arms. They informed us about Thai culture and how to say thank you properly. They also provided us with beautiful food and drinks. Because it was Jake’s birthday, he was chosen to turn the first sod of dirt on what is a new project – extending a nursery so more children can attend the school. (This also means that their mums can go to work and families will have more money and not live in poverty.)

We went on to grabbing hoes and spades and choosing where we would dig our foundation holes.

Most of us found of that the ground was harder than we first expected – built up with hard clay and mud. Only a lucky few had just dry dirt. It was hard work but it was very satisfying, especially when we could see the results. It is good to accomplish something that will help the local people and will help children learn and grow.

There was some spade stealing and limited shovel resources, this made it challenging because we had to negotiate with each other. We also had problems with water flooding into the holes – it made it really hard to get the dirt out and to see how much we had to dig. We had to dig holes a meter wide and a meter deep.

Seeing the school and its resources really had an impact – the toilets were ‘interesting’ and there was lots of dust and cobwebs. The classrooms were really different and would make learning hard. It makes me feel very lucky to go to St. Andrew’s.

By Jackson C.

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From the teachers

Trying to get the kids out of the pool to write a blog post is proving difficult, so we will do an update from the teachers for the time being!

For our second evening back in Chiang Mai, students were again charged with finding their own market food dinners. Unlike our first night when they tentatively purchased some basic rice dishes and ice-cream, the students raced off with confidence to try curries, stir-frys, and all kinds of exotic treats. They then navigated their way to the markets with confidence and expertly haggled with stallholders to get the best prices.

Their street-sense, maturity and independence has developed rapidly, and this really was highlighted when they negotiated prices with tuk-tuk drivers to transport us back to the hotel (with no help from teachers!) As teachers, it is genuinely pleasing for us to watch their growth and to see them tackling the challenges of travel so enthusiastically.

Our final morning in Chiang Mai saw us training in an authentic Muay Thai Boxing gym. You can read Jake’s account of this adventure – we had eight trainers working with the students in a traditional Muay Thai gym – very much a ‘bucket list’ experience!

We are now at the Maekok Outdoor Education Centre in Thaton – a four hour drive from Chiang Mai. Today we’ve been busy doing team challenges and rafting down the Maekok River. We have also spent time preparing lessons for when we teach English at a local school on Monday. The students will write more about this in the coming days.

We are all happy, healthy, incredibly well fed, and looking forward to our next adventures.

Lauren, Ben and Anita. 🙂 Thailand 4

From Monks to Muay Thai!

To start the third day of our journey through Chang Mai, our guide, named Pi-Amy, gave us heapings of different foods such as curries, fruits, desserts and even a mix of flowers and candles. These were the products that we offered to Monks as they walked through the streets of Chang Mai at 6am in the morning. Once we offered the food to the Monks they spoke a prayer which would give us luck throughout our adventure on Thailand.

After we finished receiving our blessings we caught a bus trip back to have breakfast at the hotel Amora. Once our lovely breakfast was done we set off to a Muay Thai boxing gym to eventually find out it would be one of the hottest and hardest training sessions that the human body can handle.

We started off with the simple moves of Muay Thai to then use these simple skills in a full on workout that was made most of us so hot and sweaty that it looked like we just jumped in a pool. Muay Thai was very fun and extremely hot but everyone is keen to have another go, and Mr Dean is threatening to use it for pre-season rugby training! After our fun, hard, crazy and amazing Muay Thai experience we fished it with the most scrumptious lunch that we have so far experienced at Thailand.

by Jake T.

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Temples and Markets

After arriving in Chiang Mai we set off to explore many Thai Temples. We discovered many differences in their religion compared to ours at home. We experienced their religion by: getting blessed by monks, meditating towards the Buddha, and getting holy bracelets 😉.

We then took a ride around the city in a rickshaw, each of us discovering the different Thai ways. We stopped by the hotel for the upcoming event of the Night Markets. At the markets, we found different foods including insects! We found that we had to barter to ensure that we were not going to get ripped off, some were better than others. A few people bought some very interesting things including bum-bags, fake Gucci/Supreme bags as well as looking at many dangerous goods like tasers, knives and knuckle dusters which MS NORBURY WOULDN’T LET US BUY ☹! It was a very great and productive day with many learning opportunities as well as leaving us dead tired.

By – Josh and Meg

Thailand 6 - shopping

Showing off some market purchases.