Sitting together on our lovely king bed we have come to realize that the La Quinta in LA is looking better and better.
Tonight our bed is a little firm…but the worst part is that it is on the move! Apparently the maid nor the current residents can figure out how to properly lock the wheels so while reading in bed we roll off the headboard.
The last two nights the mosquito net was a bit faulty. Unfortunately Marqee was tortured by rude Thai bugs. Her legs are red and swollen (to say the least). However, it was quite fun sleeping in a ‘jungalow’. (A bungalow that was in the jungle–just in case anyone didn’t figure that one out.)
Additionally, we are looking forward to real showers instead of wet bathrooms from the lack of distinction between shower and the rest of the bathroom. As I type this, Marqee says she is looking forward to a bubble bath…
We are also excited to stop seeing bidets. Although they have been useful for flushing ants out of our bathroom in the jungalow (oops..granola bars!), they just are not a fixture we need in our personal bathrooms…but they will always hold a dear place in our hearts! (Just to elaborate, these bidets are not separate bathroom pieces…they consist of a spray nozzle attached to the wall near the toilet.)
TV channels that we recognize will be fun too. We plan on “watching” the Packer game on the computer in the morning. Gooooo PACK!!!
We are definitely looking forward to some comforts that we take for granted while at home, but we have truly enjoyed all of our time (and hotel rooms!) in Thailand.
It is so hard to believe that this is our last night in Thailand…the next will be in a plane…and then in LA…and then in our own comfy beds with bathrooms we know how to use!
Eileen and Marqee
This NCEP started with several rules pertaining to student safety and cultural appropriateness. The ones most repeated by the students is our current list of don’ts. :) We started with 1. Don’t touch monks (women) and 2. Don’t touch childrens’ heads (everyone). This is the current list:
- Live coral
- Sea urchins
- Bugs you find in the jungle
- James Bond*
*James Bond was a large white dog at the Elephant Reserve and the only one we were instructed not to touch
We’ve followed these rules well, but I suspect they’ll be of little use when we return.
Today was our first and only full day on Koh Phi Phi. Koh means island and we arrive about 45 km south of Phuket yesterday afternoon. We are staying at a lovely little simple hotel that is a series of bungalows either on the beach or just steps from it. The electricity is only on from 6 pm to 6 am and the water in the shower only runs cold. As it never gets below 75 here, that doesn’t bother us too much.
This morning, Marqee, Eileen, Dan, Greg and I went snorkeling. We started at Bamboo Island–a beautiful elliptical shaped islands with soft white sand all around. From the moment I put my face in the water, I was taken aback by the damage to the reef. I knew the tsunami caused significant damage to these habitats, but it was startling to see it first hand. However, I was also able to see how the reef is rebuilding and we had marvelous expereinces swimming among schools of fish. We were mistaken for food more than once and can report that fish nibbles are sharper than we would have guessed.
Next, our long boat headed for Mosquito Island. There was very little beach and, unlike Bamboo Island, it was not immediately obvious what we should do when the captain tied up to a buoy in deep water. After a little round of charades, he finally gestured towards me and said “Jump in, Madame.” And so Madame jumped. The damage was less in deeper water and we saw an impressive number of sea urchins as well and numerous species of fish. We finished the morning in even deeper water and all declared it a successful adventure (for the pricetag of $22 no less!).
We leave Koh Phi Phi to travel back to Phuket tomorrow afternoon. We adjusted to island life quickly and I don’t think I’m the only one who hasn’t put on shoes at all in the last 36 hours. As the Relax Resort is the only place on this beach, we mostly just move between our bungalows the restaurant and the beach/ocean. Some of the students hiked up to the lookout point this morning and got some beautiful pictures of the bay and I hope to follow in their footsteps tomorrow morning. I have had numerous requests to either hold semester long classes here or just start a Carroll sattellite campus nearby, so I think it is safe to say that everyone is enjoying themselves.
feeding the elephants at the park
Yesterday we got back from the elephant nature reserve. We learned about a interesting contradiction in Thailand, although elephants are considered sacred religious animals in Buddhist culture often times they are mistreated. Although it was sad to learn this reality we felt Iike what we were doing there was helpful in making a difference.
The owner and person who started it all is a woman named Lek, she feels that elephants should be treated with love and compassion not as livestock, which is how they are categorized under Thai law. She found that they respond to positive reinforcement, such as being given a banana for behaviors that are encouraged by mahouts. She uses money raised by the park to purchase elephants and provide freedom and an experience as close to being a wild elephant as possible after being domesticated for so many years.
While at the park, we helped bathe the elephants, helped prepare their food and feed them. As it turns out, elephants are way more intelligent than we could have imagined and also have their own unique personalities. We also played with some of the 60 stray dogs the park is home to. Not only has Lek taken in elephants, the park has dogs, cows, water buffalo, a bear, horses and pigs.
Before we left for our trip we did a fundraiser on campus to make a donation to the park. After being at the park we felt that we should give more so we (the students) adopted an elephant for one year in honor of Dr. Imes for all she did in preparing this trip for us. We chose to adopt hope, an unruly teenage elephant who is very popular with the ladies at the park.
To say the least, the elephant nature park was an eye opening and enjoyable experience for all of us.
Krista, Kendell, and Katja
feeding the elephants at the park
Before all the craziness of zip lining, we had an amazing opportunity to see the sunrise from a beautiful temple on the top of a mountain. Seeing this sight meant getting picked up at about 5 30 am and driving through crazy curving roads to reach the top. By the top, I mean approximately 324 stairs away from the top. The hike up the stairs paid off when we saw the gorgeous sunrise come up through the town. I have seen many sunsets, but never a sunrise. It was crazy to see the town go from night time city lights to a slightly lit town. The sight was absolutely breathtaking and any pictures can not do it justice. After we saw the sunrise we also got to make a food offering to the monks who can only eat two meals a day. We got to go to the school were the monks learn and practice to give them a meal offering. While offering, we had to kneel and received a sort of ”blessing” of good luck and fortune. This “blessing” must have done something because we all survived the longest and tallest zip line in Thailand.