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    [post_date] => 2008-07-18 00:00:00
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For the past week, as Thailand 2008 students we have experienced quite... what we expected. In our trek, we were exposed to just what rural Thailnd means. During the day we were fced with a significantly difficult trek and the truly amazing part came at night with our sleep over in the village tribe people's homes.

Our next stop was Burma. After very long travel days we came to the most beautiful sights we have seen yet on this trip: rice fields. We saw sooo many yet they were all so different in their own way and it was quite amazing!

We are back in Thailand in Chiang Rai, where we just went to a might bazzar to purchase clothes for our temple stay! Next up: Home Stay and Laundry (hopefully)

Thanks for reading!!!

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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It's been a while

Kevin Vasquez,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

For the past week, as Thailand 2008 students we have experienced quite… what we expected. In our trek, we were exposed to just what rural Thailnd means. During the day we were fced with a significantly difficult trek and the truly amazing part came at night with our sleep over in the village tribe people’s […]

Posted On

07/18/08

Author

Kevin Vasquez

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After four days in Burma, we have arrived in Chang Rai. While in Burma, we had one dayof trekking and one solo day. After trekking for four days in Thailand, the one day trek in Burma was a breeze. The solo day, although sounded intimidating at first, ended up being one of my favorite days. Inge and I got to go roller skating at the local rink, where we met some very talented people. Later, we parted ways and I meditated at a temple down the street. The day was ended with a fun game of mafia. Tomorrow we being our home stay, which makes me nervous. Although I am excited to meet my family, I am also nervous. However, I am 100% confident that the home stay will be one of the highlights of the trip. Monique and I just bought white outfits for the temple stay which will follow our home stay. I am also nervous for that, but I look forward to it. So far, at the half way mark, this trip has been not only amazing, but life changing. We are able to experience things on a unique level and explore Thai culture in a way that the average tourist could not.

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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Half Way

Elizabeth Weitzman,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

After four days in Burma, we have arrived in Chang Rai. While in Burma, we had one dayof trekking and one solo day. After trekking for four days in Thailand, the one day trek in Burma was a breeze. The solo day, although sounded intimidating at first, ended up being one of my favorite days. […]

Posted On

07/18/08

Author

Elizabeth Weitzman

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I'm back from a lot of things. Today is my first day back from Burma which was one of the coolest experiences ever. The first day I was able to see the true beauty of Burma's country side as I trekked through the jungles and rice fields. This was a complete opposite of what comes to mind when the word Burma is brought up. during the trek, we went and visited a couple of hill tribe villages where we stayed and saw those who lived off nature. We saw true happiness devoid of the need for materialistic things.

The second day i met really warming people in the town i stayed at who conversed with me and treated me as a friend. It was also a Buddhist holiday and i was invited into Temples where i prayed with the people and talked to the monks there.

Tomorrow i'm off to my homestay which is without a doubt the most exciting part of my trip. in these homestays, I'll stay with a family of whom I've never met which is in itself an experiance yet we also get to teach english and play sports. I am sad to say that we are already halfway through the trip.

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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I'm back

Edward Rivera,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

I’m back from a lot of things. Today is my first day back from Burma which was one of the coolest experiences ever. The first day I was able to see the true beauty of Burma’s country side as I trekked through the jungles and rice fields. This was a complete opposite of what comes […]

Posted On

07/18/08

Author

Edward Rivera

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Lately we have been very busy. Our past four days have been spent not in Thailand but in Burma. We crossed over from Maesai, Thailand to something like Techuleck, Burma. At the Burma we got a good look at a nice market and then headed to our destination, i forgot the name of the city. The drive to this city was one of the most breathtaking drives I have experienced. The country is gorgeous and extemely green. The day after we arrived, we headed out on our day trek through Burma. The landscapes here we equally gorgeous. The trek was very eye opening as we passed through several hill tribe villages. The next day we had the opportunity to explore the quaint safe village we were in. It happened to be Buddhist Lent so I had the opportunity of entering many temples and not only observing some services but also participating in. Overall our trip to Burma was very thought provoking and enjoyable. The food we had there, even though most was Chinese. was amazing!

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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fun in the sun

Inge Sullivan,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

Lately we have been very busy. Our past four days have been spent not in Thailand but in Burma. We crossed over from Maesai, Thailand to something like Techuleck, Burma. At the Burma we got a good look at a nice market and then headed to our destination, i forgot the name of the city. […]

Posted On

07/18/08

Author

Inge Sullivan

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    [post_date] => 2008-07-18 00:00:00
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We just got back from burma and i have to say that i had a blast. we were able to have a solo day and walk around town by ourselves. i felt safe the entire time and i knew that nothing bad would happen because i knew my way around the town. we also trekked for a day and we were able to see some of the hiltribe villages that nobody really gets tp visit. today is a travel day, and tommorow i meet my homestay family.

talk to you all soon,

sam

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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yak yak

sam f,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

We just got back from burma and i have to say that i had a blast. we were able to have a solo day and walk around town by ourselves. i felt safe the entire time and i knew that nothing bad would happen because i knew my way around the town. we also trekked […]

Posted On

07/18/08

Author

sam f

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    [post_date] => 2008-07-13 00:00:00
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Dear all,

We have just returned to the town of Mae Hong Son after a four day trek to three hilltribe villages in the nearby mountains. Our experienced local guide, P'Wasan, arranged homestays with three Karen (or Puk-ah-yaw) villages. "Thub-leu," as we have learned, is both hello and thank you in Puk-ah-yaw. Here is a recap of the last few days:

Day One: We started our trek at a rotational farming plot which the local village guides taught us could be re-used every seven years, giving the land enough time to naturally recover and replenish. The hike started out downhill, and we were given a quick introduction to the muddy trails and to getting dirty! One of the guides sped ahead of the group to clear away jungle foliage while P'Wasan pointed out thorned or harmful plants to avoid (similar to poison ivy or poison oak back home). He also pointed out insects and medicinal and edible plants. We also encountered leeches along the way - which is typical of all past Dragons treks in Mae Hong Son. These jungle leeches are only half an inch long and resemble tiny worms rather than the slug-sized leeches many of us have seen in the movies. Never fear, the students were a great support in sighting and removing them from each other.

We arrived at our first village, Bahn Nahm Hoo. In pairs, the students selected their homestay families who took them to visit a local cave before they rested from the half-day hike and served dinner. Students were introduced to their first taste of freshly harvested bamboo shoots as well as the locally grown rice - grown naturally with no articial fertilizers or chemical pesticides. The students also took their first bucket showers, a refreshing splash after a day of trekking and a new highlight to bathing in Thailand!

Day Two: Another half day of trekking, the majority of which was downhill and even muddier than the previous day. Surprisingly, there weren't too many spills. Our guide taught us how to plant our walking sticks in the mud ahead of us and simply slide down the mud as if we were snowboarding (sortof). We also crossed a number of small ankle-deep streams throughout the day, which was great for cleaning off all the mud. The group began to play some heated games of MOVIE along the way to test people's film and actor trivia. We ate lunch by small rice paddies, and headed to our second village. Upon arrival, the villagers were still off farming and fishing, so we spent the afternoon cooling off at a swimming hole and playing a killer game of mafia. Because this village was a fishing village, every meal was naturally accompanied by fish - as well as rice, stir-fried veggies and bamboo.

Day Three: Our toughest day of trekking: all uphill and went well into the afternoon. We took numerous water and rest breaks. The group had to work together to stay as a group, and account for everyone's trekking/hiking experience. There were some pretty steep points, and we paced ourselves as needed. Some students were skeptical that we had reached the peak of our trail and that the last 30 minutes would be a downhill hike into the village. We reached the village tired and drenched in sweat. Our host families welcomed us and gave us time to rest and bathe before dinner and the evening church service (this was a Christian village). The next morning, the students led the village children in a few childhood games and songs: Hokey Pokey, Red Light Green Light, to name a few. The children taught the students the Thai version of Duck Duck Goose, called "Mon Sawn Pah," which the students said was sneakier than the version they know. We also joined in another morning service, which in addition to prayer and songs, included snacks and games.

We had lunch and said our farewells to the families. We loaded ourselves and our packs into the back of the pickups and headed back down the mountain towards town.

Until next time... now its off to Mae Sai and into Burma!

Best,

Instructor Team (Derek, Mandy, Virada)

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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Thub leu!

Virada Chatikul,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

Dear all, We have just returned to the town of Mae Hong Son after a four day trek to three hilltribe villages in the nearby mountains. Our experienced local guide, P’Wasan, arranged homestays with three Karen (or Puk-ah-yaw) villages. "Thub-leu," as we have learned, is both hello and thank you in Puk-ah-yaw. Here is a […]

Posted On

07/13/08

Author

Virada Chatikul

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    [post_date] => 2008-07-08 00:00:00
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Hey everyone,

So far this week Thailand has been extremely fun and educational. This week we left Sukothai and went to Chiangmai to see what it's culture was like. Chiangmai was not what I was expecting, it was nothing like Sukothai. Sukothai is medium sized city that doesnt have a large ammount of tourists and it honors traditional Thai customs. When we got to Chiangmai I was in awe, it was a huge city and about half the people there were tourists (and it's the low tourism season). Almost everyone spoke a little bit of English and hardly anybody did the customs and rituals that we had learned to do in Sukothai. In Chiangmai we went to the Elephant Camp and we were able to finally get close to some of the elephants that I had wanted to see. This elephant camp takes in abused elephants and tries to help them recover from their past traumas and nurse them back to full health. In this camp the elephants are able to live happy life and never have to deal with abuseful owners again. We were able to meet the famous elephant conservator "Lek." She was extremely nice and she seemed exceptionally passionate about what she did and how she was able to help save these elephants. It takes 70 full time staff and ~20-30 volunteers a week to take care of the thirty elephants in the camp. We got to bathe with the elephants too which was so much fun and we were also able to see the new babies that had just been born there. There used to be over 100,000 wild elephants in the jungle in Thailand now there are only about 3,000. The wild elephants are considered indangered but the captive elephants are considered livestock so their owners can do what ever they want to them with almost no consequences at all. In Chiangmai we also got to go to a Thai cooking class and learn how to cook thai food. The woman that tought us was Peenise (pronouced P-Nice, honost to god that's her name). The food was okay but was a little to spicy for me personally. I had a good time cooking with my friends there and we were able to have a lot of fun there.

So after the cooking and elephant camp we decided to have a free day to go around the city and explore. Half the group got up to go to a forest temple at 5:30 AM and the other half decided to sleep in. 5:30 was way too early for me so I decided to stay behind a cathcup on my sleep. The rest of the group came back at 8:30 and we all got in a Song Tow and went to the blind massage center to get massages. The massages were phenominal and I ended up having on of the best massages I've ever had. After that the group split up to go on seperate excoursions. It was our first time going out without any leaders with us so we were forced to use out Thai and our knowledge of the city to get from place to place. I felt safe the entire time and never did I have second thoughts about what I was doing. Half of our group went temple hopping and then the other half of us went on our way. Eddie, Gabby and I decided to go to the Chiangmai national museam and check out the history of Chiangmai. I ended up learning so much about thai history and the hardships that thai people weathered through. That night we went to the "Night Bazaar." I've have never seen anything like it in my life. All the sidewalks were inclosed in a tunnel of shops and the sidewalkes were packed with crowds of people and everyone was going bmad with buying stuff. In thailand they already have all the American movies that are in theaters on dvd copy (they're all pirated). They had Wanted, Kung Fu Panda, Journey to the Center of the Earth....... basically everything, oh and they're 50 baht which is like 1.6 USD. I didn't buy any, but I'm going to in Bangkok at the end of the trip so I can come home and catch up on what I missed in the theaters.

Right now this very second im sitting in a PC cafe in Mai Hong Song. We took a 45 min flight here, but it will take a 8 hour bus ride to get back (a.k.a. the "vomet comet"). We're about to embark on our 4 day trek and then go to Burma for about 4 days. Mai Hong Song is alot like the Thailand I invisioned when I first signed up for dragons. It's a mix of old cultural Thailand with a hind of modern technology and western influences. It's somewhat small and I hope that I have a great time for the one day I am here for.

I'll see you all in 5 weeks. Best wishes,

Sam f.

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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Yak Yak

Sam F.,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

Hey everyone, So far this week Thailand has been extremely fun and educational. This week we left Sukothai and went to Chiangmai to see what it’s culture was like. Chiangmai was not what I was expecting, it was nothing like Sukothai. Sukothai is medium sized city that doesnt have a large ammount of tourists and […]

Posted On

07/8/08

Author

Sam F.

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    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2008-07-08 00:00:00
    [post_date_gmt] => 1970-01-01 00:00:00
    [post_content] => 

hi everyone,

the past couple of days have been amazing. last sat. the entire group went to a Thai cooking class to learn how to cook a few of all of our favorite meals. we learned the difference between many different herbs, and just had a great time. the people who taught us also gave us a cook book so that we could cook the meals at home. the next day, we went to an elephant protection group, where we fed, and bathed elephants. we all had a lot of fun with the elephants, and with eachother. they showed us a documentary on how elephants are treated in thailand in order to taim them, and it changed the way we reacted when we saw an elephant on the street today. on monday, we were able to create our own schedule for our last full day in Ching Mai. me and three other kids in the group went on a "temple run", and visited about four different temples. we meditated in each of them, and really enjoyed observing the environment of each. for example, the tourists, and even the way that the different monks reacted to our presence there. in one temple specifically, we went to a (monk chat), which is where you go to talk to monks who are trying to learn more english. you are able to sit down and talk to monks about anything, it was great. today, we woke up at about 9, and went to Doi Sutep temple, which is a temple that has 309 stairs in front of it. 3 of us tried running up it, however only 1 of us made it all the way. i was not one of them. after that we went to the airport and flew for 30 mins to our new destination, Mae Hongsong, where we will begin our four day trek.

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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Thailand

Stephen Zaro,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

hi everyone, the past couple of days have been amazing. last sat. the entire group went to a Thai cooking class to learn how to cook a few of all of our favorite meals. we learned the difference between many different herbs, and just had a great time. the people who taught us also gave […]

Posted On

07/8/08

Author

Stephen Zaro

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    [post_date] => 2008-07-08 00:00:00
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Today we said our official goodbye to Chieng Mai. We traveled to Wat Doi Sutep first, a temple on the hill where we were able to check out the entire city. So beautiful! While some of us walked laps, lit incense and gave lotus flowers as offerings, others were blessed by monks. After visiting the temple I think we were all ready to begin our next step of this journey: trekking!

Tomorrow we are off into the hills of northern Thailand. We landed in Mae Hong Song today and we will be walking into the forest in the morning. We have a very experienced guide Pe' Wassan that will be trekking with us. We will climb to our first village, where we will be sleeping on bamboo floors in home-stays and eating some amazing food. We will be staying in two different hill tribe villages, where we hope to engage in daily chores!

We will be in the forest for the next 4 days so there will be no Yak Yaks posted until we reach the next destination along our journey, Chieng Rai. We should be able to post again from Chieng Rai and let you know of the amazing adventures we had while we were trekking in the hill tribe villages.

We hope all is well back in the States!

Thailand Instructor Team,

Virada, Derek and Mandy

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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Headed to the Hills

Mandy Hammond,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

Today we said our official goodbye to Chieng Mai. We traveled to Wat Doi Sutep first, a temple on the hill where we were able to check out the entire city. So beautiful! While some of us walked laps, lit incense and gave lotus flowers as offerings, others were blessed by monks. After visiting the […]

Posted On

07/8/08

Author

Mandy Hammond

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Food. A very important aspect in my life. My usualbreakfast back at home in San Antonio, Texas, which would consist of some frosted flakes and milk, is replaced in Thailand by rice, noodles, and many other things which are far from frosted flakes, even though we have had some tasty pancakes. My lunch back at home which would consist of a toasted Subway sandwhich or a slice of pizza, is now replaced by probably some form of rice and noodles. My dinner back at home which could be fajita tacos, or steak, is now replaced by rice or noodles. Lets just say everything is very different. Cheese, unfortunately cheese does not fit into our normal diet of rice and noodles, its very sad.

However, we have prepared some delicious treats on our own such as mango sticky rice, spring rolls, chicken with basil, curry, and cocunut milk soup. A few days ago we spent the day at an organic farm preparing all of this food, that was an amazing day.

Another amazing day we spent was when we went to an Elepahant Conservation Center for the day. We bathed them, fed them, and even got a kiss from them.

We are embarking on our trek tomorrow, so wish us good luck! =)

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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It Comes and Goes

Inge Sullivan,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

Food. A very important aspect in my life. My usualbreakfast back at home in San Antonio, Texas, which would consist of some frosted flakes and milk, is replaced in Thailand by rice, noodles, and many other things which are far from frosted flakes, even though we have had some tasty pancakes. My lunch back at […]

Posted On

07/8/08

Author

Inge Sullivan

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