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    [post_date] => 2008-07-08 00:00:00
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I have been in Thailand for only 8 days and already I cannot describe everything that I have done. I am proud to say that Where there be Dragons has changed my perspective on life. Two days ago, I learned the hardships that Elephants endure from both their trainers and the Tourist who support it. We went to an Elephant camp founded by "Lek" where we were able to feed and bathe those majestic creatures. Yet this is just one the many things learned on this trip. I have also learned the art of meditation though I am only a novice. Meditation is a means to recognize inner turmoil and has helped me a lot on this trip.

I have also learned what heaven truly means . . . . FOOD. The food I have had during this trip has been awesome. I have learned what the word spicy truly means. I have tried soups, noodles, curries, sweets, and the all important rice dishes. I have also had ชาเย้น which is Thai's Iced tea. It is the best thing I have ever tasted.

Besides the food aspect of the culture, I have gone to the Ching Mai national museum as well as the national park of Sokhothai which had many ruins of the old city. This historical aspect explains many of the Thai traditions here. Overall, this a learning experiance that never gets boring propably because of the Thai massages. Tomorrow we start trekking which is going to be sooooooo fun for me. After that it's our home stays. I cant wait.

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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The way to Enlightenment

Edward Rivera,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

I have been in Thailand for only 8 days and already I cannot describe everything that I have done. I am proud to say that Where there be Dragons has changed my perspective on life. Two days ago, I learned the hardships that Elephants endure from both their trainers and the Tourist who support it. […]

Posted On

07/8/08

Author

Edward Rivera

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We have just finished visiting a large tourist city, Chieng Mai and now have moved north to a beautiful small town surrounded by jungle. I've tryed so many different fruits including some of the best mango I've ever tasted! We also traveled to an elephant sanctuary where they help abused elephants become healthy and live happy lives. We've also learned how to cook tasty thai dishes and visited an organic farm. The good conversations, temple visitsand mediationis just the chocolate sauce on our rotee. (really good Thai crepe like desert)

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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Before we Embark on our Trek

Monique Kelmenson,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

We have just finished visiting a large tourist city, Chieng Mai and now have moved north to a beautiful small town surrounded by jungle. I’ve tryed so many different fruits including some of the best mango I’ve ever tasted! We also traveled to an elephant sanctuary where they help abused elephants become healthy and live […]

Posted On

07/8/08

Author

Monique Kelmenson

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    [post_date] => 2008-07-08 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

We just had the shortest plane ride! And no, it was not short because we got used to our 16 hour ride, in this plane ride, right when we reached our top altitude, we immediately began our decent!

Maehongsong seems really different than Chiang Mai. Less tourist-ty! I mean it's hard for me to say, "good no tourists!" because it woud be easy to argue that we are tourists... but I have to disagree. I remeber being back home and receiving that ... 20 or 30 page introductory packet.. I mean I read it all but I never truly understood what Dragons staff meant with "traveling close to the gorund"... So I have decided that as Dragons Students we are best refered to as "Foreigners". Sure it seems isolating, but even talking to Mandy and Derek and Josh and having them explain to us that even after over at least 4 years here, it's "cool" to be a "foreigner". Sure I wish it could be something else... but that's just me!

Just as a warning, the group as a whole will be somewhat discomunicated because we are on our way to our 5 day, 4 night Jungle trek and Hill Tribe "home stay."

So excited, so loving it!

yay! found a computer with a memory-card-accesible slot! so chackout the pics!!!!

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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On our way to the jungle trek

Kevin Vasquez,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

We just had the shortest plane ride! And no, it was not short because we got used to our 16 hour ride, in this plane ride, right when we reached our top altitude, we immediately began our decent! Maehongsong seems really different than Chiang Mai. Less tourist-ty! I mean it’s hard for me to say, […]

Posted On

07/8/08

Author

Kevin Vasquez

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    [post_date] => 2008-07-08 00:00:00
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    [post_content] => 

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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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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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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    [post_content] => So far, Ching Mai has been my personal favorite. Yesterday we went to an elephant reservation camp where Lek, the owner, bought abused elephants and brought them to her "Elephant Heaven." The camp was about 90 minutes outside of the city and one of the most beautiful places we have seen so far. We were able to feel the elephants fruit for lunch, and later we got to bathe them in the river. Going to the camp was an eye opening experience for me because although I often heard about people like Lek, who dedicated their lives to helping others, meeting her and seeing the place she created made me realize the pain that tourists, like us, cause. We are getting ready to leave the city and start our adventure in the jungle. Most are nervous, but also exited. We cant wait!
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Thailand, Summer 2008

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Ching Mai

Elizabeth Weitzman,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

So far, Ching Mai has been my personal favorite. Yesterday we went to an elephant reservation camp where Lek, the owner, bought abused elephants and brought them to her "Elephant Heaven." The camp was about 90 minutes outside of the city and one of the most beautiful places we have seen so far. We were […]

Posted On

07/7/08

Author

Elizabeth Weitzman

WP_Post Object
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    [post_date] => 2008-07-06 00:00:00
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Throught out the last couple of days, the group has really had opportunities that are quite amazing. As I look back now, probably one of the biggest highlights we've had recently is our visit to the elephant preservation park. On our way there, while riding in our car, we got to see a documentary about elephant preservation in Thailand and were quite amazed to hear that the place in the video was actually the place we were heading to! And the place sure was quite as we had expected it to be. We had a great time bathing elephants, feeding them, touching them was a little nasty, yet still the relaxed air there and knowing what a difference it meant for us to be there, was truly moving.

Another opportunity that we had here was Thai Cooking Class! We've all been so amazed a the food and I think after our cooking class what we are most amazed at how easy it can be made! some of our foods made include: curys, sweet and sour soup, stirfry, mango with sticky rice (ข้าวเหนียวมะม่วง) (...probably the only food we know how to say, how to say well, and we say often!), egg rolls... and the list goes on.

Next on our itinerary are some very intimidating things: jungle trekking with over-night village tribe sleep-overs, straight to Burma, then down to our home stays. This is serious!!!!

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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Group Yak Yak

Kevin Vasquez,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

Throught out the last couple of days, the group has really had opportunities that are quite amazing. As I look back now, probably one of the biggest highlights we’ve had recently is our visit to the elephant preservation park. On our way there, while riding in our car, we got to see a documentary about […]

Posted On

07/6/08

Author

Kevin Vasquez

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    [post_date] => 2008-07-05 00:00:00
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Hi all!

Just a group photo of our farewell to the wonderful staff at Ban Thai Guest House in Sukhothai. They were a huge help in facilitating our laundry lesson and our feast of Thai cuisine - purchased ordered by the students at the night market. The staff was wonderful and hopes to see Dragons again next year.

Best,

The Instructor Team

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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Farewell to Sukhothai

Virada Chatikul,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

Hi all! Just a group photo of our farewell to the wonderful staff at Ban Thai Guest House in Sukhothai. They were a huge help in facilitating our laundry lesson and our feast of Thai cuisine – purchased ordered by the students at the night market. The staff was wonderful and hopes to see Dragons […]

Posted On

07/5/08

Author

Virada Chatikul

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Hello Family and Friends,

On July 4th we left the beautiful surroundings of Sukothai, where we have spent the last few days getting acclimated to Thailand and Thai culture. Some of the highlights have been exploring the ruins, watching the students learn the language and using it to travel and order food for themselves, Thai massage, learning the proper way to washclothes, and adapting to life in a new and exciting culture. The Instructor team has been particularly impressed at how well each of the students has stepped out of their 'comfort zone' and into their 'learning zone' thus far.Students are trying new fooddishes, interacting with local Thais, andadapting their behavior to what is appropriate in Thailand. So far so good.

We arrived last night (July 4th Thai time) for the bustling city of Chieng Mai in the north. For those of you that have been following our progress and itinerary, you will notice we are not heading right intoour trek as was originally planned. Our guide, P'Wasan,was unavailable to travel with us on the days we had wanted, thuswewillpostpone the trek till July 9th.Rest assured this will not be a problem as we will still befollowing the proposeditinerary, but just rearranging the trek and trip to Burma for after Chieng Mai.

While in Chieng Mai we have a number of activities planned for the students revolving around development issues, ISPs, andmentally preparing for more rugged travel in the Karen hilltribe villages and Burma, where we will be traveling shortly. Today the students are taking a Thai cooking class where they can learn aboutwhat Thai dishes they like and how to cook it.When they arrive home I suggest you have them cook you their favoriteThai dish(es) asthe foodhere isMUCH better than youcan find inthe States.

The instructors and students will keep you posted on our time here in Chieng Mai over the next few days, sokeep your eyes peeled for Yak Yaks as everyone should have a lot tofun stories to sharewith you.

All the Best,

Mandy, Virada (Gop), Derek

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Thailand, Summer 2008

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From Sukothai to Chieng Mai

Derek Shepard,Thailand, Summer 2008

Description

Hello Family and Friends, On July 4th we left the beautiful surroundings of Sukothai, where we have spent the last few days getting acclimated to Thailand and Thai culture. Some of the highlights have been exploring the ruins, watching the students learn the language and using it to travel and order food for themselves, Thai […]

Posted On

07/4/08

Author

Derek Shepard

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