What Would You Buy A Wendy

After looking at the essentials and getting lots of people asking about what else would make your journey more comfortable I thought I would look into what I always tell myself I will get and always forget to, these ideas are great for when family and friends ask you what you want as a gift to take travelling with you.

I know that before every trip I take, both my mum and my dad ask me about what I think I might need for my trip, in all honesty I never really give it a thought because I have traveled so much with all the things that I usually take that I never give thought to new things in the market that might be really useful for travel.

Having had a look around the Internet and on some of my favourite travel blogs I have noticed that there is a definite trend for what people now use as their staple travel items. So when your parents or friends are fussing and asking what they can give you to make your trip easier then just hand them this list of useful items and let them pick out whichever thing they think will be best, just make sure to remove anything from the list that someone buys you or you might be stuck with several of one item 🙂

Now the things on this list vary from relatively inexpensive to the more pricey side of life, this is mostly down to ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’. Some people are very lucky to have more money in life than others so this list is made to accommodate everyone, no matter what their monetary income.

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Portable Harddrive

As I have mentioned before, a portable harddrive is one of the number one things that everyone should have when they travel. Harddrives vary in size from as small as 1GB up to a 1TB, chances are you won’t be needing a one terabyte harddrive, but 16GB to 32GB is a perfect size. It will allow you to free up so much space on camera memory cards by transferring pictures over to a hard drive, not only that but you can fill a harddrive with movies as well which can be great to watch when you are stuck in an airport or on a bus or car for a long journey. You can get harddrives from anywhere on the Internet and they vary wildly in prices but you can expect to pay around 40GBP for a 16GB portable hard drive

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Swiss Army Knife

My Dad gave me a Swiss Army Knife when I first traveled to Thailand, I must admit that when he first gave it to me I did give a look that I often do with my Dad. My Dad is a cross between Liam Neeson, Bruce Willis and Grant Mitchell, he is very protective of me and is constantly concerned that, much like Liam Neeson, he will need to come and rescue me at some point in life. Over the years my Dad has been the person who has wanted to put a tracker in my phone, have direct numbers to ‘friends’ at the Embassy and to break the legs of every boy that’s ever made me cry, so needless to say when I told him that I was going to Thailand he insisted that I have a Swiss Army Knife, to use not only for the useful tools it possesses but also as a weapon if I ever get into a situation. Now I haven’t had to use it as a weapon but I can’t count the amount of times that my Swiss Army Knife has come in useful as a screwdriver, bottle opener and pair of scissors.

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Back up ATM or Bank Account

Credit cards and debit cards are totally fine to bring out to Thailand with you when you volunteer, the one thing I would suggest that people organise is a secondary back up account that has emergency money in. The details and card for this account should always be kept separate from your normal account, if anything happens to your regular card and account then you have a back up there to help you. This isn’t really something somebody can buy for you but many people are concerned about volunteers when they leave for Thailand, having an account which they have put money into for an emergency can ease people’s concerns about your safety and also provides you with some help if you need it.

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Travel Towel

This might sound really silly to some people but everyone should bring with them a Travel Towel, a normal towel is perfectly ample, but if you get a specific travel towel they are normally very compact, light weight, made of quick dry material and nearly always have their own pack away bag. I have one of these and it is great to just clip onto whichever bag I am taking with me for the weekend, the week or however long you are travelling for; especially as not every hotel or hostel will have their own towels. These kinds of towels are also great to use as blankets on flights or buses and as pillows as well, the amount of times that I have been sat on a bus absolutely freezing is just too high, but thankfully I have had a travel towel on hand to keep me snug, warm and comfortable.

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Adapter Plug

You HAVE to have an adapter plug for when you travel to a new country, it is just something that comes with travelling, not everywhere has the same plug and voltage so having the right plug is important. The best one you can buy is one of the universal plugs that you can make every other plug from, but if you can’t get one of these or just don’t think you need one that makes every plug then you should pick up a US adapter. Thailand uses the two prong plugs so US plugs work just fine here, they cope well will the voltage difference as well, I have two that I use every day and they haven’t failed me yet.

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Power Box

There are never enough sockets in any room that I have ever stayed in, in any country in the world, so having a power box that allows you to increase the amount of outlets you have is a god send and will save you time with charging everything up at once as opposed to one at a time. I personally always carry with me an iPhone, iPad, 3DS and my Thai phone so I need at least 4 plugs in my room, something which never happens. I normally have to unplug a fridge or TV in rooms I stay in to individually charge items which is not only a pain but is time consuming; having a power box eliminates the need to wait for one thing to charge at a time.

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Amazon Kindle

I personally don’t own one of these, yet. I keep looking at them when I have a snoop about on Amazon for things I need, and I keep wanting to buy one. They are so small, lightweight, robust and have access to thousands of books through Amazon. They work in the daylight as well with some strange magic technology that, in all honesty, sort of freaks me out, I always think the screen looks like it is just one of those paper ones that phone shops put on phones back in the day when you didn’t have real phones to test. At the minute I use my iPad as my e-book reader, it is great and has all the books I want but my iPad gets heavy and chunky when I read from it for a long time, so I think if you are just wanting an e-reader for your trip and you don’t already own a tablet then a Kindle will be your best friend. Here is the link to the current Amazon Kindle section.

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Books

Some people just prefer to have a physical book in their hands as opposed to an e-book reader or tablet, I can completely sympathize with everyone who thinks like that. I really miss having an actual book in my hands, the smell of the pages and the glue and the actual feel of turning the pages and being able to see how far you have read through a huge tome of a book.

Books are hugely space consuming however and also weigh your bag down more than you will realise, but if you insist on having books then just be prepared to deal with the weight of them. I always have to have a physical copy of Lonely Planet guides, I find they are perfect to travel with and read through when you have a spare hour or so and I can also highlight and mark the places and things I want to see.

Don’t think you have to have just travel guides with you though, bring any book you fancy and when you have finished it you can swap it with the books that we have in the volunteer houses. I personally have recently finished reading all of the Game of Thrones books, which I can tell you are much better than the show gives credit too. They are however very large books in part so I read mine on my iPad.

Here is a link to the Lonely Planet Travel Guide section of their website so that you can have a look and pick out the guide you think will suit you best.

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Journal

I think that everyone should journal every day when they travel. I know it seems tedious to do it everyday but I promise you that when you get back to your home country you will wish that you had done it. If you make note of every hilarious quote and situation you won’t ever forget them and when you look back to your journal years later if will bring back all of the memories as if they were yesterday. For me, I love to have leather bound journals with recycled paper pages, I think they feel and look beautiful and filling them up feels amazing. Knowing that in a few years I can look back at my journals and remember everything makes me very happy.

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Cards

Playing Cards are an invaluable item to take whilst volunteering or traveling, no matter what language you speak or the people around you speak, everyone understands the universal language playing cards. They provide hours of entertainment without the need to have electricity or batteries, something which can be incredibly useful when you are in the Elephant Village on our Elephant project or you are on the journey to and from any other project. Cards can be as cheap or as expensive as you like, just as long as it is a standard 52 card deck of cards, Bobs your uncle.

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Waterproof Money Belt

Now I always have a little giggle to myself whenever I see volunteers with these money belt things, they always come across as really uncool and completely unnecessary to me. Thailand is not a place that has crime enough for you to need an underclothes money belt; I have lived here for 9 months, I can assure you that having a wallet is just fine.
I will say however that the money belts, especially the waterproof ones are perfect for keeping all your valuables in like your passport, money and booking confirmation papers in. You don’t need to wear them with you everywhere you go as the volunteers houses are secure and safe and you won’t get your passport, money or other possessions stolen.

I wish that I had had one of these at Songkran in April as I must admit that my phone and money did get absolutely soaked and having a waterproof money belt would have been a god send.

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Travel Pillow

Much like with a travel towel, a travel pillow might seem like a silly idea to some people but I can assure you that these amazing, squishy, comfy pieces of cloud can make a stressful, long and normally uncomfortable journey into one where you can sleep your way through it. They might look silly, but I assure you that they will make you so comfortable that you won’t care if you look silly or not. They are inexpensive and easy to find so there is no excuse to not have one 🙂

Now that you know all the smaller things that you can bring with you to enjoy your time with us here at Starfish Volunteers, you can go to the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page to find which volunteer program will be your once in a life time memory.

Then as always check out my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see what else I am up to on a day to day basis 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Questionable Wendy

Seeing as 99% of people who read my blog don’t know me and I am terrible at writing a bio I thought I would do one of those old Facebook question note thing instead 🙂 I found this on my own Facebook from nearly five years ago and cringed at the answers I gave 55

Enjoy 😀

Pick out a scar you have and explain how you got it – When my face gets wet you can see on my left check that there is a lot of scar tissue that came from a very bad ice skating accident with me being the only girl playing British Bulldog. Needless to say, I went about 6 feet on the ice, on my face, because a boy couldn’t face being beaten by a girl 🙂

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My resulting face – beautiful right

What is on the walls in your room? – I don’t actually have anything on the walls in my room at the moment, I am going to be filling them with all of my Thai language revision though

What does your phone look like? – It is a 64GB white iPhone 5 in a green edged case with a lots of blue heart stickers that Nikki gave to me yesterday

What music do you listen to at the moment? – I have developed a huge love for Thai and Asian music in the last few months

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Bodyslam, possibly the most famous band in Thailand

What is your current phone lock and home screen? – At the moment my lock screen is Rainbow Dashs’ cutie mark from My Little Pony, and my home screen is the reflection of water on a thatched roof at my friends lake house.

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My lock screen

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Home screen

What do you want more than anything in the world right now? – To be fluent in Thai

What time were you born? – I think it was some time in the mid afternoon

What are you listening to right now?Kook Kao by Cocktail (click the name to check them out, they are really good; I promise)

Are you scared of the dark? – I am scared of the dark when I am inside but outside doesn’t bother me

What colour hair/eyes do you like on the opposite sex? – I have no real preference but everyone knows how much in love with Asian boys I am 555

Coffee or energy drinks? – Energy drinks, but I would always choose an ice smoothie over anything else

Cats or dogs? – Dogs are number 1!

What is your favourite pizza topping? – I can’t get pizza in Thailand sadly, but my favourite in England was the Chicken BBQ with bacon, sweetcorn and onion with a BBQ sauce base and stuffed crust. God I miss pizza!!

If you could eat anything right now, what would it be? – Well now I am desperate for pizza

Do you speak another language? – I am getting pretty damn good at Thai now

What was the last gift you gave? – I bought my big brother a crate of beer the other night

Are you double jointed? – In my thumbs I am yes

Who is the person you call the most? – Nangfa

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Miss her face so much!!!

What annoys you the most? – That it isn’t ok in Thailand to tell someone when they are being prat; sometimes people just need to be told that!

What is your biggest weakness? – That I am probably the most stubborn being on the planet

What is your favourite Western and Thai holiday? – Oh this is an easy one, Western holiday has to be Christmas and favourite Thai holiday is hands down is Songkran – the worlds biggest water fight

What were you doing before writing this? – Writing even more blogs 🙂

What do you get complimented on the most? – Thai people are obsessed with my skin being white and girls are always telling me how jealous they are! Western people always say I have nice eyes

What do you want for your next birthday? – I would really love a pair of high tops, sometimes I get tired of wearing flip flops and want to wear socks

Who are you named after? – I’m not so much named after anyone, it was just that my mum never knew a Wendy. My Thai name, Rung, is because I always have rainbow hair

Worst habit? – Definitely that I stay up for way to long on an evening

Where is your second home? – My big brother, Dooks house

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My big brother Dook and his beautiful niece, Per-sia

What was your favourite toy as a child? – It would have to be my stuffed lamb, very aptly named Lambsy

Most treasured memory? – I think that it would have to be when my sister and her family and my best friend, Aron, and my mum came to the airport to see me off. Everyone was in tears and I have never not wanted to stop hugging someone so much. My sister gave me a note that I read whilst waiting for the plane that made me bawl my eyes out!!

Best live music you have seen? – Speed hahaha But I think it would have to be Atreyu, they were so good, and made a huge effort to talk and interact with so many of their fans

Do you have any pets? – I did have a beautiful puppy called Skylar for a month or so but then was told I wasn’t allowed to have her anymore, definitely one of the worst moments during my time in Thailand.

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I miss my baby, Skylar, SO much!!!!

What is your favourite colour? – Always has and will be, green

What was the last book you read? – I have recently read every Game of Thrones book, which makes it very confusing for me when I periodically hear about events on the TV show and knowing that far worse things happen later on

What was the last thing you ate and drank?-Me and a volunteer called Alice went to Swensens, a beautful ice cream company, for dinner last night. The last thing I drank was water 🙂

Who was the person you spoke to on the phone? – I am always on the phone with Nangfa!!!

Do you believe in love at first sight?– I believe in love at first sight with Thai boys haha

Best present you have ever received?  – Even though they came from an idiot, the best present I ever got was my CCM Ice Skates

Do you have any siblings? – I have a beautiful older sister called Emi. A younger brother called Josh and my Dads wife is currently pregnant with a baby girl 🙂

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Sibling in progress

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Baby brother Josh

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Big sister. Emi, and her son, Reuben

What colour hair do you have? – I have every hair colour!

What was the last thing you watched? – I have been obsessed with Jeremy Kyle lately haha

Summer or winter? – I adore Winter but now live in a constant Summer state

What is your favourite movie? – Tangled is by far the best movie of all time, oh and Josie and the Pussycats, and Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves!

Have you met any life changing people in the last year? – I think my two best friends in the world Aron Jackson and Anya Gartside would be at the top of that list, closely followed by my big brothers Dook and Tee.

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Aron on his recent volunteering trip to Africa

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My homeslice Anya

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My brothers, Tee, the one on the left, and Dook on the right

Morning or night? – Always night

What is your full name? – Wendy Ann Victoria Reece

If you could be an animal for a day, which animal would it be? – It would have to be a snow leopard as they are the coolest animal on the planet!

You get granted one superpower, what do you choose? – I think teleportation would be the best thing in the world, I could go to all the places I have always wanted to go!

What is your favourtie smell? – Bacon. Bacon and bacon.

Hopefully these silly questions will give you a bit more of an insight to me and my life and will mean that you understand my madness a little better from now on 😀

If you want to volunteer with a mad woman then take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page.

You can also always check out my TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages for more of my silly antics!

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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What’s Been Going On With Wendy

I have been living and working in Thailand for nearly seven months now and I know that I this blog isn’t really about what I am up to, but what I think that it would be a nice idea if everyone reading this got to know me a little better.

These past seven months have been incredible, a learning curve, stressful, upsetting, fun and more than anything they have been life changing.

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Ignore the boy, he is an idiot who we aren’t friends with 🙂

I can remember when I first went to New York and I thought whilst I was there that it was the place I wanted to move to and work and live, I didn’t realise however how much of an effect Thailand would have on me. I never intended to get a job from my volunteering, I came out to Thailand in order to do the placement part of my degree, I didn’t think that I would be quitting my degree, packing up half of my clothes and leaving my beautiful and huge Playstation collection and moving to a town in the North East of Thailand where I would get to work with incredible people and amazing volunteers, who like me, just wanted to make a difference and experience some of the incredible things this world has to offer.

I have so many highlights in this first 7 months in Thailand, everything from the children at Childcare knowing my name, having an elephant remember me every time I visit her, making some incredible friends, learning and using more Thai on a daily basis than I thought I would ever learn, making friends with Thai people based entirely off my Thai skills and getting to see some of the most beautiful places in Thailand.

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I can’t say that everything has always been roses though, there have been times where I have been more than frustrated with the way that things are done in Thailand when I know that the way that I would do it would be more efficient, times where I have felt that I am treated completely differently and that doing so is ok when I know that it isn’t. I have had to learn to build up my own self control as in Thailand, you don’t get involved in other people’s business, now if I see something that isn’t right and I think something needs to be said I will always do so, I was brought up to have an opinion and be proud and stand by it, not only that but I was taught to stand up for myself and others if I feel as if they are being mistreated or getting away with things that they shouldn’t. Here that isn’t something that is done which I find very hard to deal with myself, I am very opinionated and everyone that knows me will tell you that I never give in and I always stand up for myself, so this change is probably the hardest one for me.

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Things are a bit different when you aren’t a volunteer anymore

Another huge change that I have had to adopt to is just the general way of life for Thais, when I was a volunteer I was living with other Westerners and could talk and do whatever I wanted and was used to but living with Thai people means I have to live by their rules, no matter how much I think at times that they are silly or need reevaluating. I am getting better and have stopped making the small mistakes that I did when I first moved over, like putting my feet up on things, moving things with my feet, stepping on doorways, and or tiny things that nobody ever teaches you not to do, you are just expected to know, which naturally I didn’t.

I do like the Thai way of life though and the respect they have for everything though I do sometimes feel as though certain aspects could benefit from a little more communication, for example in Thailand, if you do something wrong people tend to not say anything and then consider that forgiving you, but how can you know you have done anything wrong if nobody says anything?

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I have met some of the most amazing people in the world and I wouldn’t change that for the world

But like with every journey in life there will always be good and bad sides to everything and anything you do or experience, you just have to weigh up the negative and positive things and see if you are getting enough of the positives to outweigh the negative. Here I think I have found far more positives than negatives so overall I am very happy and loving the incredible new experiences that I get to have everyday. I just have to adapt everything I do so that it works with my life here and hold my tongue at times where I know that I normally wouldn’t.

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I miss my best friend more than anything

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My beautiful niece Pixie, I wish I could see more of her and my nephew Reuben growing up but luckily my amazing sister loves photography so I always get to see what they are up to

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My nephew Reuben enjoying the blanket his mama made 😀

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My beautiful sister, I think the hair is the one family resemblance we have 555

Everyone always asks me who and what I miss about being in England and honestly I always reply with the fact that I was an army brat as a child so I have learnt to deal with people not being around so that’s not really a huge issue for me. Yes I do miss my family and my friends but I have friends and family here, I have two amazing boys who are my big brothers and care for me so much, they are my knights in shining armour who always look after me. I am also lucky enough to make friends with people everywhere I go, now I know this is down to the colour of my skin as it attracts a lot of attention, but I am a very social person so making new friends is always lots of fun for me; and hopefully for them as well hahaha

I do really miss certain foods and snacks though, I would do unspeakable things for a roast dinner or Yorkshire pudding, chips, sausages and gravy. Or Mattersons smokey sausage. Or real bacon. Or proper chocolate. Basically I want all the junk food, which realistically I don’t want I just want it because I can’t have it. I now eat so healthily here that I feel ill if I ever do eat any junk food, I had a McDonald’s when I was last in Bangkok and felt horrid for like two days!!! Even if I have Tim Tams, the super chocolatly Australian snack that is similar to Penguin bars in England, they make me feel ill, which is such a shame as they are delicious!!!

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I am lucky enough to have some amazing friends who keep me occupied ALL the time!

I think that because I am constantly busy and doing something or going on some silly adventure, that I am distracted and constantly being entertained so I don’t really have the time to be missing anyone or anything in particular; but you know, if you feel sorry for me or you want to send me anything, then please feel free to 😀

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House Gymnastics is always a fun way to pass the time; even if we were terrible at it!!!

Hopefully no matter how long I stay here, which I hope is for very much longer, I will keep having amazing adventures and learn even more Thai and make a real difference to the people on each and every project we work with and every person that I come into contact with. As long as I know that I have made a difference in my life then that is all that matters, I know that even though I may be one person and my contribution may not be as life changing as walking on the moon or curing cancer, I know that if you add my small difference to everyone else’s then it will be a fighting force that will change this world for the absolute best.

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The few days spent fixing this water pipe in the elephant village is nothing to volunteers but makes such a huge amount of difference to the elephants and their mahouts

I have been lucky in my life to gain the experiences and opportunities that I have had and I know that if I can help someone else to have even a part of what I have had in my life then I have done what I set out to achieve. Your background, upbringing or personal history should never shape what you can do in the future. Everyone can do everything, you just need to dream it, work to get it and then help others to realise their potential.

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Sometimes life is all about eating a rose and being at peace, do what makes you happy and everything else will fall into place

Life is what you make, so go out and do everything you want to do and make a positive change to the universe.

My TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages are jammed full of pictures of me being an idiot and just enjoying my life, so check it out!!

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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An Insider Wendy

You now know everything you need to about the what to bring and expect from the Elephant Project, bet you are getting pretty excited about it all now huh? Well I was thinking about what else you might need to know about the project or the village, just a couple of small things mostly but they are things that I wish that I had known before I came out here.

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I had no clue what any of these people said to me but still remember spending the whole time laughing loads!

First thing is that NOBODY in the village speaks English, when I say nobody, I mean nobody, Worn, your coordinator speaks very good English, you might need a day or two to get used to his accent but he will be your translator throughout your project. This doesn’t mean however that you don’t need to try to learn any Thai yourself; I would highly recommend that you get a phrase book, the Lonely Planet one is fantastic, and learn a few small things like ‘thank you’, ‘hello’ and ‘my name is’. These very small gestures will not only impress the locals but make you feel a little more independent whilst in Thailand. You won’t feel as though you are completely alone in a place where nobody understands you, for me personally knowing a few phrases helps immensely and always leads to you having fun experiences and meeting new people.

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You don’t want to make a social faux pas if this is the consequence!!

Another must know tip, remember where you are. It is very easy to forget where you are and what is socially acceptable when you are around other ‘white’ people. I did this and still do. I have lived here for 6 months and still make mistakes when it comes to social etiquette and rules. Thai people are too polite to mention when you have done something wrong so it is very hard to be sure if you are in fact in the wrong. The only thing I can suggest to remedy this is what I get told constantly, ‘If you don’t know, then ask’. Even if you think something might not be a problem, just ask, there are no stupid questions, and wouldn’t you rather ask a silly question than offend somebody?

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The evenings are a great time to help the local kids with their English practice

One more thing to remember with the social rules of the Elephant Village is your behaviour, it is very important to us that everybody involved with us is happy. This applies to you, the volunteers, us, the staff and also the villagers and individuals that we work with every day. On an evening at the Elephant Village it is totally ok to have a beer, sit down and smoke or to play about with the local kids. Just remember that we aren’t the only people in the village and we do need to keep noise levels down where we can as well as be respectful of people’s space. You stay in a home stay, this means you are living in a Thai persons home and must treat it as such. Tidy up after yourself, keep your room tidy, help out where and if you can; you will have a much better experience if you get truly involved and ingrained into the Thai society and way of life, but you can only do that if you live and breathe by the rules of Thailand.

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Helping out is always appreciated

Something else that might prove useful to know is that the house that you stay at has a washing machine, I can’t tell you how amazing it is to wear clothes that have been washed in a washing machine after a day of sweatily cutting down banana trees. It is perfectly ok to use the washing machine at the house just make sure that you bring your own washing powder and conditioner.

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Looking for bugs with Mr Lee

Your host is a man called Mr Lee, he is the single happiest man on the planet and whatever he asks you to do, just do it, I promise you won’t regret it.

He will just come up and grab your arm and get you on the back of the moped and take you off anywhere he fancies wether it be to the local temple to chat to the monks, to a party in another village or just to go and look at the stars over the rice fields. His random journeys are never boring or a disappointment and show you a part of Thailand that you might not otherwise see.

Eat everything you are given by anybody. Now normally I wouldn’t suggest you take food from people you don’t know, especially in another country but the Elephant Village is a very safe place so if someone offers you food, take it. I promise you it will either be super tasty or the most horrible thing you have ever had; both of which are experiences you need to have whilst in Thailand. My first day I ate a cockroach and I know that I don’t regret that in any way, it is a great story to tell people and the pictures are incredible.

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Enjoying some cricket ice cream with Worn 😀

The river is clean. It might not look like it, smell like it or feel like it but you won’t get infected from the river if you have any cuts or grazes. I know this from personal experience, I had so many infected mosquito bites, cuts, scratches and grazes and I was constantly in the river. I never got ill from the water in any way, it just made all my clothes a funky brown colour 😀

This isn’t an official medical piece of information, but from my experience and the experience of ALL of the staff here, we all say that malaria tablets are not worth it here. In Surin you do not need them, in all fairness they will probably make you worse due to the side affects. Bring them if you want but you will be recommended by all of the staff and from the pharmacy not to take them as you don’t need them.

Seeing as the Elephant Village is QUITE far away from anything I would recommend you bring a small first aid kit, we have supplies that you can use but it never hurts to have your own. You will get bitten by ants, mosquitos and maybe even small spiders here so Tiger Balm will be your best friend, plasters are always invaluable as well, as are Paracetamol or Ibuprofen tablets. You will get Thai tummy, I promise you that much, I can assure you it isn’t the food, it is just your body getting used to the massive temperature change and the change in diet as well. Don’t let being ill for a couple of days put you off the amazing food that Worn cooks; I promise you it will never be Worns food that is making you ill! To fix Thai tummy bring some Imodium with you and you will be fine in a day or two.

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You don’t want to be this sad do you?

DRINK, DRINK, DRINK!! You need to make sure you are keeping on top of your hydration levels, you won’t know you are dehydrated until you can’t walk. I have had volunteers in the past who have promised me they are drinking enough water and then two days later I have had to take them to the hospital to get treated. It isn’t a nice experience having to be hospitalised when you are abroad so it is IMPERATIVE that you are always drinking enough water and if possible taking rehydration tablets as well; they don’t taste great but they will help you more than you can imagine.

There are no ATMS in the village so make sure you bring enough money so that you won’t be caught short. You don’t really need money in the village itself as water and food are included but if you want a beer, a coke or one of the beautiful and famous Pineapple drinks then you will obviously need to bring some with you. The place you are most likely to spend money is at the night market on Wednesdays, I know I always get the chicken and the pineapple biscuits; they are both incredible and so super cheap you just have to buy them! The Study Center nearby also has some of the most amazing things you can buy made from and to do with elephants, including their poop!!

There is reception in the village but only for Thai sims, so make sure you pick one up. There is some, limited, internet coverage for internet capable sims but there is no Wifi or computers with internet access in the village; so don’t be expecting to get onto Facebook for about a week haha

The Thai national anthem is played very early in the mornings, normally about 6am, so be prepared to have that as your morning alarm.

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This is Charizard, she doesn’t have Rabies, nor do any of the other dogs in the village

Finally the dogs barks are worse than their bites, mostly due in part to the fact that they don’t bite. There is one sort of unfriendly dog at the local shop but apart from that they are all nice dogs they just don’t know you and in all fairness you are some strange gangly white human type thing, wouldn’t you let your friends know if you saw something that strange walking down the street?

I think that is everything I can think of. I obviously don’t want to give everything away as it won’t leave you with anything to find out for yourself but I know that I would have found all of this useful before I came out as a volunteer so I hope you will as well 😀

To keep up to date with everything going on on your project and everything else Starfish related check out the Starfish WebsiteStarfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page or the Starfish Tumblr.

You can also check out my TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages, click the blue button below for my Instagram 🙂

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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A Watery Wendy

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Lottie shifting her own weight in clay, mud, gravel and concrete in order to put in the new pipe system 😀

So for the last two weeks me and the volunteers on the Elephant Project have been working super hard on replacing the water pipes that are at the elephant shelter in the jungle. This was not as easy as it sounds I can assure you!!

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Nice early starts to the day 😀

The shelters themselves were built by the government and provide shelter for 11 elephants during the blazing hot days that the village sees everyday. They are in great condition and are looked after by the mahouts really well, the only issue is that over the last few years the water pipes have deteriorated hugely and this has meant that there has been no water supply for several years. Not only does this mean that the elephants don’t get a supply of water when they are in the shelter, it also means that the mahouts who work very hard have no running showers or toilets that they can use.

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This is the basic water collecting system one of the mahouts had installed in his shelter but there has been no water for quite a long time so it has laid empty for many months.

Now we here at Starfish do not think that that is OK so Worn (our elephant coordinator) decided that we should replace the whole piping system including all the taps and to refill the very large water silos so that everyone can enjoy a nice cooling off 😀

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Definitely no water in there is there??

The volunteers that started on our Water Pipe Project were Lottie, Cas and Ruth. They were very lucky to be able to work for several hours in the blazing heat trying to find where the old pipes were hidden beneath the extraordinarily strong clay, gravel and occasionally concrete ground.

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Needless to say much water was drunk as well as perspired!! Boy was it hot that day! Not only that but we were greeted by about 5 very large elephants who were having some sort of debate about sugarcane or some other elephant topic and it certainly gave the volunteers a shock to see just how loud and at times dangerous our beautiful elephants can be.

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Lottie sawing off a damaged bit of the water pipe in order to replace it with a shiny new bit 😀

Thankfully nobody got trampled and the elephants actually did us a favor by flattening down the ground that we had used to cover new sections of the pipe system 😀 They are now elephant proof which is certainly a relief as I don’t know how well it would go down if the elephants had managed to destroy the several hours of work the volunteers had done!

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Cas digging out the space to lay the new pipe. Great work there Cas!

In the second week of building we were down to only Cas and Ruth but they did a stellar job and managed to pretty much finish the whole new piping system. Unfortunately we ran out of straight connectors after having to replace many sections of the pipe that had been burnt. So hopefully Worn will be working the new elephant volunteers to get it finished this week 😀

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Luckily it rained a fair bit the night before we dug the new sections for the pipe as it would have been impossible otherwise. We even had to use a machete to cut away at the ground at one point!

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Oh hey Cas!

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We actually had to go through the jungle! Worn is gluing some connectors together and making sure they are water tight, not to mention a little giddy off the very strong glue 😀

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Thanks for helping there Tom!! Typical mahout 🙂

This new pipe is so important to the elephants and their mahouts in this village and it is great to see that Starfish are the ones who can achieve a new, working system in just a few weeks. So to pay homage to the hard work done by our volunteers I decided that we needed to make some sort of sign to show the names of the hardworking individuals who had completed it.

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+10 resourceful points for Wendy

So I found a plank of wood, some paint and fashioned a paint brush from a piece of sugarcane and some banana leaves and set to painting it and covering it with the names of our volunteers. Thankfully Worn turned up with a small headed paintbrush so painting the Starfish logo and the names of the volunteers was much easier than it was to paint with the sugarcane banana leaf contraption 😀

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Just needs a few more names and some finishing touches and then it will be done 😀

Here is our snazzy sign 😀 It isn’t finished just yet but it is looking pretty awesome I think. Hopefully baby elephant won’t try her own hand and painting on it though!!! I know elephants can paint but she doesn’t even remember she has a trunk sometimes!!

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She loves having her belly tickled 😀

Talking of baby, I may as well do an update on how she is doing!! She is such a bundle of naughty energy at the moment and all she wants to do is play, much to the behest of Pailin. There have been several times we have all heard Pailin roaring at Katin to come back, even resorting to hold onto her tail to stop her from chasing after chickens! It always reminds me if the Jungle Book 😀

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She loves to play with peoples feet for some reason!

She is also big enough to go down to the river now, and goes down with Pailin a few times a week to get used to the river and the trek down there. It amazes me just how far she can walk without getting tired or bored; Mr Lee kidnapped Cas for around three hours one day to take Pailin and Katin out for a walk! Katin can’t swim just yet as she isn’t quite big enough yet but she is certainly enjoying rolling around in the shallower sections of the river and splashing mud everywhere as she does it as well. The elephants might leave the river clean but me and the volunteers certainly don’t 😀

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Pailin looking very pleased that Katin is getting better at swimming 🙂

If you would like the opportunity to teach Katin how to swim or to spend time with any of our beautiful elephants then you need to head over to the Starfish Website and sign yourself up. And whilst you wait for your project date to come around you can keep up with all of our Starfish goings on on the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page and the Starfish Tumblr page as well.

You can see more of what I am doing on my Twitter and Tumblr as well as my Instagram which can be found by clicking the blue button below. These are all really great places to contact me if you have any questions about any of our projects as well 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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Found this funky millipede whilst we were digging, look at his crazy legs!

A Working Wendy

First of all let me just throw my hands up and say ‘my bad’ for the very sporadic blog posts, with the Staff Meeting in Cha Am and my airport pick ups and volunteer numbers I have been running around like a crazy person and taking care of everyone.

So yeah, my bad 🙂

This is a post that should have been up about 3 weeks ago so you know what to do; pretend it’s three weeks ago 😀

At the moment I am sat on the train from Hua Lamphong in Bangkok to Surin, I am so excited to get home and to take my new volunteers to see our beautiful elephants.

Going from left to right: Mike, Allison, John, A Monk, Riley, Jody and Donna

The team at their monks blessing

I am so in awe with this group of volunteers that I currently have, they consist of a family of 4 and a married couple, it doesn’t sound all that exciting but their story on the other hand is very interesting. The family is made up of mum, Jody, Dad, John and then their two beautiful children, Riley and Allison. They came to Bangkok last night from Bali which was where they had spent the morning in a monkey jungle filming them jumping all over their iPads and shoulders, ill link their blog at the end of this and you can check it out. So they had a pretty busy day to say the least!

The truly amazing thing about this family, apart from giving up their time and hard earned money to volunteer, is how much they are actually doing, they are travelling around the world, and I mean the world, to volunteer in every country they go to along the way. The stories they have been telling me so far have been so astounding and inspiring to hear, and the fact that the two kids are doing all of this and studying at the same time is just incredible. I would have loved to have the opportunity to travel and learn at my own pace when I was the same age; Riley, who is 16, is sat right now working on his early college entry work and Allison, who is 11, is doing some spelling practice. They are both using iPads to the fullest extent of their capabilities, and they are so diligent and disciplined to still be learning even when they are travelling the world with their parents.

The married couple, Donna and Mike, that are also with us are actually videographers, who are from the States like the family, and they are filming the family as they travel around the world, making a documentary about their wonderful adventure. They are both also heavily involved with photography and seeing some of the most amazing candid shots of the monkeys in Bali and the family themselves is also very beautiful to see; I wish I had the eye for a shot that they both do.

We here at Starfish certainly feel very privileged that they have included us in the their travels and documentary and we hope, and I know, that we can show them the most amazing time here in Thailand. Hopefully we can be one of their favourite destinations on their trip, I mean we have a baby elephant, so who can really contend with that???

My secret weapon!

I am pretty lucky that the family and Donna and Mike are huge conservationists and are so mindful of the issues and problems going on in the world. These are definitely my kind of people, Mike was a zoologist at the San Diego Zoo for 15 years so I know that we shall be having many lengthy conversations about training and animal care, some of you may know that I was studying Animal Management and Science before I came out to Thailand so I am hugely passionate about welfare and training as well.

I cannot wait to be able to get these guys up to our elephant village and show them the beautiful elephants we have and to show them how by them coming to care for them that they make sure that for one more week that these beautiful creatures don’t have to be on the streets trying to entertain people for food and money.

What I have noticed about this group is how close they are. The family are so in tune with each other and you can just feel the love and passion that they have as a family, I feel so lucky to be with a group of people who are just so caring and kind towards each other, and not because they have to be but because they want to be; and they don’t do it expecting anything back which I think is such an amazing quality to have.

It is people like this that make my job incredible and so unbelievably rewarding, just to know that I can ensure that this family and Donna and Mike have a wonderful experience down to the hard work and dedication of every single person in the Starfish team, is the reason that I do this job. When I was a volunteer it was the people that pushed my experience over the edge and made it once in a lifetime, so hopefully we can make it so for this group as well; pretty sure the baby elephant will achieve that for me 🙂

Well, we are all safe and sound in the elephant village now and I can tell you with a huge smile on my face that the whole team is certainly blown away with our baby elephant! The family are so enamored with her and it is so amazing to see just how much time they are spending with her as well, every time I look outside I see Allison with a massive grin on her face and Donna making sure that Mike captures even more of that incredible footage.

All of our volunteers love spending time with the elephants but there is something about this group that feels as though they need to be near them. I don’t really know how to explain it but the first time I took them down to the river with the elephants you could just feel the vibes that they were giving off and they were nothing but positive.

I won’t give away any of their travels as they have their own blog that you can read and see everything they did so here are a couple of pictures that I took over the week that they were here 😀

Enjoy!

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Beautiful sunrise on the families first day of work 😀

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Allison working super duper hard!

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Jody and Riley helping with planting our new sugar cane field

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A tasty snack for Pailin! Great work Ally!

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Everyone spent a day teaching at the local school

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The kids loving the book the Donna and Mike wrote!

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Mikes first ride into the river 😀

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The family enjoying a dip with the elephants

To read more about the White family and their incredible adventure then take a look at their blog, The Courage Vibe, and Facebook page. There is a great video on the Facebook page of them swimming with the elephants so take a look at that!!

If you want to come and swim with our elephants or teach our beautiful children then all you need to do is visit the   Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page, the Starfish Website or even the Starfish Tumblr page. Alternatively you can also check out the Instagram page which is #starfishvolunteers or even my personal Instagram which is constantly being uploaded to, by clicking the blue icon below.

I have a huge new found love for Twitter and Tumblr as well so take a look at that at as well, from there you can also see the other members of the Starfish team and what they are getting up to as well 😀

Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto

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