A Cambodia Bound Wendy

Many of our volunteers want to continue to travel whilst doing their volunteering work. The best and easiest way to do this is to visit the beautiful and historical country of Cambodia. Most of our volunteers will spend the weekend in this amazing country, giving themselves just enough time to see, arguably, the most famous city, Siem Reap. A few days really doesn’t do this magical country justice though so I really do try to encourage volunteers to spend at least a week in Cambodia if they have time available at the end of their trip.

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Tonle Sap Lake which drains into the Mekong River that runs through Phnom Penh.

A lot of people don’t really know much about Cambodia and what there is to do apart from see temples so I have put together a week long travel plan that will let you experience Siem Reap to the fullest. I have also made one for the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh and then a combined week long plan that encompasses the very best of both of these places.

There are obviously several other places to go in Cambodia that are beautiful, but if you only have a short time then I think that these two locations will offer you beauty, history and also some of the most famous sights of natural and historical significance that the country has to offer.

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Ta Prohm Temple, home to the famous Banyan tree seen in the Lara Croft movie

If you are thinking of volunteering with Starfish Volunteers and you would like to have some time in Cambodia then mention this when you book your trip and our wonderful staff in Bangkok will arrange for you to have the travel week of your choice added onto the end of your trip. This not only ensures that you will be able to see the very best of what is on offer but will also take the hassle and worry out of you organising it yourself 😀

Win, Win, Situation!

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Independence Monument in the capital, Phnom Penh

Visit the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page to take a look at the different projects we have on offer, don’t forget to mention the Cambodia Extension when you book as well 😀

Once you have done that take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see what else I am up to on a day to day basis as well as what you can expect on each of our incredible projects!

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

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A Culture Shocked Wendy

After spending a couple of weeks on one of our projects, no volunteer wants to go home. I know I would rather wake up with a baby elephant in my back garden, playing with children who appreciate your love more than anything or helping those who are much less fortunate than myself, than spending 9-5 in a stuffy office worrying about staplers, invoices and work politics.

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Mr Incredible, certainly has a hard time adjusting to office life

Heading home is never easy when you have been having the time of your life for the past few weeks. In the same way that volunteers have to adjust to the customs and everyday life of Thailand, they also have to re-adjust to their lives back in their home countries. This is otherwise known as;

Reverse Culture Shock

I know that I had a really hard time when I first went back to England after being in Thailand. I found Thailand to really fit my personality and the way that I think that people should treat each other. Being back in England with a culture I am not fond of, weather that is bad to say the least and people who don’t treat each other as nicely as they do here, made me genuinely sad.

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When I visit Suvarnabhumi Airport I see a lot of people not looking forward to going home

I found it difficult to merge myself back with the routines and expectations of a Western county. For some people, they manage to slip back into their lives very easily, being only enriched with their time as a volunteer but some people however, myself included, find life lacking.

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Reverse Culture Shock can manifest itself in many forms from;

– Boredom

– Reverse homesickness

– Misunderstanding of your behaviour from others

– Feelings of alienation

– Negative feelings towards Westerners and

– Restlessness and being irritable

There isn’t anything wrong with feeling like this, but it can be very hard to adjust to going to back to your previous life after having such a life changing experience. The best ways I found to deal with Reverse Culture Shock was to just leave the country as soon as possible. I understand however that this is incredibly impractical for most people though so if you aren’t able to just up sticks and move then you can always try some of the following ideas;

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Talk About Your Experience

When you first get home, everyone you know will be desperate to hear all about your experiences and the adventures you have been getting up to. Embrace this time. Use it as a means to relive some of your most incredible, hilarious and meaningful memories. Sometimes just talking about what you miss will be enough to stop you missing it for a while; just be careful not to turn into the person that is always saying ‘When I was in Thailand…..’, ‘In Thailand…’, ‘That reminds me of when I did_____ in Thailand…..’. Your stories can become boring for people when you constantly tell them 😀

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Skype to the rescue; as always

Stay In Touch

Make sure to keep in touch with all of the people you met on your journey that mean something to you. Who knows when you might be able to meet them again. Losing connections with people that were involved in an important part of your life is terrible and something I hope never to do. Talking and keeping in touch with the people you met along the way is also a great way of reliving your experiences together so that you don’t ever feel too far away from your adventure.

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Scrapbooks or Photo Albums

I know this is definitely more of a girly thing to do but I can assure you, that if you pick up lots of small trinkets during your trip, like napkins from restaurants, cards from hotels, postcards or even something simple like leaves and keep hold of them, then you will be able to create something that you can look back on in years to come and smile at. I keep everything, so I have a lot of scrapbook type things, but if you aren’t the hoarding kind like me then photos, quotes or even written notes can have the same effect. Writing down hilarious things in the moment will ensure that you don’t forget them and when you look back on it in a year, five years or even fifteen years, you will remember that ridiculous moment.

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Stimulate Your Senses

A great way to get over Reverse Culture Shock is to eat your favourite foods from your trip. For me that would be any of the food I eat at Gois everyday, she has the best Goi Djab, Salads, Pad Thai and dishes I don’t think even have a name. If I went back to England and managed to find somewhere that could make those dishes I know that I would feel like I was back in Thailand; something that would definitely make me happy!

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Be a tortoise for a bit 🙂

Take It Slow

If you really are struggling to integrate back into your Western life then take it slowly. I know it can be terribly overwhelming to visit something as normal as a Walmart or an ASDA, when you have been used to living in the Elephant Village, or spending time with children who will never even hope to have access to such a large amount of food. I found it difficult to adjust to how much the Western world wastes in comparison to Thailand, here people make a living from recycling, where as in England people don’t really care too much about what happens to their trash. Don’t try to push yourself to adjust quicker than you feel you can and let people know that you are having some trouble so that they can help you as well.

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Plan Another Trip

This doesn’t always have to be back to the same place, for some, travelling itself it the thing that they miss. By having something to work towards that you know will make you happy will provide you with a distraction and also motivation; two things that will really help you with dealing with Reverse Culture Shock.

If you are wanting to experience our life changing volunteering projects for yourself then just take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page, there you will find everything you need!

After that you can always relive your Thailand experience or get excited about your impending one by following my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages.

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

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A Fact Filled Wendy

After having so many ‘How To’ posts over the last few days I decided to do something different.

Thailand is a very beautiful country, parts of it are never seen by tourists or travelers and even now secrets are still discovered in abandoned temples. There is so much of this country that people just don’t know about so I thought that I would share a few of my favourite ‘little known’ titbits about Thailand.

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1. Thailand means ‘Land of the Free’ and is the only country in South East Asia that hasn’t been colonized by a European nation

2.It is considered uncultured to place your bag on the ground. This is because both the floor and your feet are considered filthy

3. It is illegal to leave your home if you’re not wearing any pants

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4. Thailand is one of the largest producers of pineapples in the world – good thing as well, as I LOVE me some pineapple!

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5. The Miss Universe pageant has been won twice by Thai contestants; once in 1965 and once in 1988

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตรโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบูรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

6. Bangkok is the Western name for the country’s capital. It is in fact the longest country capital name in the world… Krungthepmahanakhon Amornrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharat Ratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amornphiman Awa-tarnsatthit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. The name itself is a story about Thailand, when translated into English can be read as;

The Capital City of Angels, The Residence of The Emerald Buddha, The Great City of Impregnable, The Gracefulness of the city is steadfast and thriving, The Grand Capital which is abundant with The Nine Noble Gems, it is a Pleasant Capital, The City is abounding with the enormous Royal Palaces that resembles as the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated God, Home of the Gods Incarnate, which was Erected by Vishnu at Indra’s Behest.

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7. Thailand has around 35,000 temples! Better get yourself some good walking shoes to see that all

8. One tenth of all animal species can be found in Thailand

That’t about 870,000 species!!!!!

9. It is forbidden to touch a Monk if you are a woman

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10. The Beach starring Leonardo di Caprio was filmed on Phi Phi Island

If you fancy discovering more of Thailand’s secrets then you should take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page for projects that will allow you to experience this amazing country yourself.

Once you have done that then take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages to see some of the unknown sides of Thailand that I discover everyday 😀

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

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A Girly Solo Wendy

I know that I already did a post about single travel but one thing that came to mind when I was writing, and is always a question I get asked, is about sole female travel. I know that there are some places in the world that are dangerous and are even more so for female travels so I know there is a concern when it comes to solo female travel. I decided to write this post to tackle the most regularly mentioned concerns by female travels and how best to deal with them and make your traveling experience the very best that it can be.

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Don’t Think About The Possible Dangers

There are a million things that can go wrong, no matter how you are travelling. In fact, there are a million things that can go wrong in your life just by stepping out the front door. But, that doesn’t stop you from getting on with your life right? So when you are travelling do the same thing!

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Be Aware

Keep your wits about you and an eye on your surroundings at all times. Spend time looking around you and taking note of what you see. Be present in every moment. This will help alert you to any potential dangers. Don’t make the mistake of suspecting danger or problems that aren’t there though. Simply walking down a dark street will not end up in you getting raped and kidnapped, trust me, I do it all the time and I have yet to be raped or kidnapped.

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Trust Your Intuition

It always knows best. If something doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. There is a reason why you get that unsettled feeling in your stomach when you meet that strange person on the beach, in a club or restaurant. Don’t freak yourself out by imaginary monsters, but definitely pay attention to those little messages our animal instincts give us. They are your friend but don’t mix them up with nervousness, nervousness can be an amazing emotion that when beaten gives you the most incredible adrenaline rush.

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Walk Assertively And Confidently

You know when you walk down the street and you see people who just give off that vibe of ‘don’t screw with me’? You need to become one of those people, or at least fake being one of those people. If you walk with confidence and don’t make yourself look like a target then you won’t be.

Possible con men and attackers look to those who seem vulnerable. Walk with your head held high, and confidently greet people and look them in the eye. I have done this many times when I have felt that familiar pang of fear in a situation where you don’t have control, and it instantly made me feel very strong and brave.

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Keep People Informed

This is especially important for solo women travelers. When you are travelling with someone else, you always have someone watching your back and looking out for you, but when you are own you need to have someone who knows where they can find you if anything happens. Let people you know and trust know where you are going and when. With today’s social media this can involve something as quick as an email, Facebook message, twitter update or Skype call.

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Remember You’re A Girl

This might sound stupid but you have to remember that if you are a girl, guys are going to look at you. Whether it be a night out or a trip to a temple, guys will always be on the look out for girls. I know that I notice when cute boys walk past me, they might not be trying to get anyone’s attention but, your face is your face and there isn’t much you can do about that.

If you don’t want to be getting unwanted attention from guys or even girls then just remember how you may be being perceived. If you are wandering around wearing a small skirt and a low cut shirt then people will naturally assume you are looking for something you might not be. Don’t take this as you have to dress like a nun the whole time but just be aware that if you were tiny shorts when you go out then chances are you will be greeted with whistles and comments. So just be conscious of how other will see you.

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Don’t Be That Drunk Girl

No matter where you go in the world, there will always be ‘That Drunk Girl’. You know the one you just feel the biggest sense of pity for, she has lost one of her shoes, her hair is a mess, smells like sick and look, now she is getting hit on by someone she will definitely regret in the morning.

Remember which drink is yours, keep and eye on it and don’t ever let it out of your sight. These are standard rules in life but when we travel and begin to feel safe and comfortable we can all get a little careless. You don’t want to become that drunk girl now do you? So just watch how much you are drinking and stay aware of your surroundings, like where the exits or security are.

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He Isn’t The One

I know that some people do meet the loves of their lives whilst traveling but you do need to remember that in countries where white skin is coveted, like Thailand, Cambodia or the Philippines, that guys find it an achievement if they get a white girl into bed.

Yes he might be charming, handsome and speak a little English but you have to wonder how many other girls he has been like that with. If someone is trying to get you back to theirs, kiss you in public or get you to leave with them, they probably aren’t the best person for you. Having lived in the same place in Thailand for a while now, I know the sleezy guys that just want to bang a white girl, so when I see them on a night out where volunteers come with me, I make sure to let the girls know; as well as the sleezy guys!!

Also just remember the view you leave of white girls with the actions you do. If you go home with some guy the night you meet him, him and all the people who see, are going to think that that is what white girls are like. I know from being friends with Thai guys that the general opinion is that white girls are easy. For the girl it is just a fling on holiday but for the guys and the other people who see, she is fueling the idea that white girls are easy. So just be conscious of the things that will be said about you.

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Listen To People In The Know

If I was in a situation or country that I hadn’t experienced before then I would always make sure to trust and believe what the people who have been there before, live or work there say to me. I find so often that female volunteers will say ‘Him putting his arm around me in a photo is fine’ or ‘Its just a kiss on the cheek in a photo’. Yes this might be what it is to you but when it comes to local customs and displays of public affection you REALLY should listen to the people in the know.

In Thailand you DO NOT show public displays of affection. You just don’t. This is Thailand, not your home country. Things are different here. When a guy puts his arm around you in a photo it means MUCH more to him than it does to you. He will use that photo to show his friends, and when you look that close to him, he can make up anything he wants to his friends. So on a night out, or any situation in fact, if someone in the know tells you not to do something, you should listen to them.

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Just Trust This Face ^^

I think what I am basically getting at with this whole post, is just to be aware of what you are doing and don’t make yourself a target. It really isn’t scary to travel as a single female traveler, I know, I have done it several times, but you do have to have a heightened awareness that guys don’t have to, purely because you are female.

To see how I cope as a female in Thailand with the situations that I get into then take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages.

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

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A Non Comfortable Wendy

When people go to a new country, whether it be on their own or with people they know, it is very easy to stay with the things you know, like food, drinks and also experiences. I find it best to force yourself out of your comfort zone, you experience so much more and gain some hilarious stories from it as well.

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One that comes to mind for me is ‘Wolf Creek’,  when me and two ex volunteers decided to walk back from a resort to their hotel, not knowing where exactly we were or were going. Thankfully nothing happened but doing something like that is way out of most peoples comfort zones, hence why it felt a little like Wolf Creek. But silly adventures like that, or perhaps less silly ones will provide you with some hilarious memories.

So how can you step out of your own comfort zone?

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Go Out On Your Own

If you always travel with people or in an organised group, then the first thing you should do is go out on your own. It might be scary at first but you very quickly learn to adapt to change and enjoy everything around you. Plus you will end up meeting other people who are travelling alone and you make a connection from that, I love meeting new people and travelling alone forces you to meet new people.

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Ask Questions Like A Child

We love to celebrate children and their wonderfully refreshing, honest behavior. When we become adults we no longer act honestly as we have so much other stuff to think about. Travel provides an endless stream of unfamiliar things that strike the chord of curiosity. Unfortunately, we adults are often too inhibited to ask questions for fear of exposing what we don’t know. Nobody wants to look stupid after all; but sometimes asking a question will open up a whole world you weren’t aware of.

Kids don’t care if they look stupid, that’s why they eat mud and bugs and junk. It is also why they are always asking, “Why? What? How?”

So next time you come across something you’d like to know more about, resist the urge to bury it or Google it on your iPhone. Instead, ask someone on the street about it. Sure, it helps if you have some foreign language skills, but you may find that either the person you’re asking speaks some of your language or that they are able to decipher some of your charades regarding whether that pepper at the market will send your mouth to the emergency room or whether it’s mild enough for a newborn.

Despite being able to cope on my own in Thailand with my own language skills I sometimes like to completely forget them and try to communicate only with crazy hand movements and facial expressions; and my face makes some very odd facial expressions!!

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Walk. Feel The Country You Are In

Walking always brings you closer to the environment; activities, people and most of all smells will draw you in, or even turn you away in some cases!! When you drive past vendors, shops or groups of people you never notice them. I know from my own experience that I will drive a route that I have done hundreds of times before and not pay attention to my surroundings; but when you take a second to do so, you can find the most beautiful things.

Distances too far to walk? Take local transport. Tuk Tuks, SongTeaws or even moped taxis are a great way to explore as well as provide you the opportunity to talk to locals and discover new neighborhoods. Working out the SongTeaw system, how to buy a tickets and having to squeeze in between people just going around their daily business is something that many travelers find to difficult and often shy away from. I implore you don’t do the same though, embrace the difficult situations, learn from them and then teach others, not only will you gain new experiences but you will help someone else to do the same as well.

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Don’t Worry About Getting Lost

Travel is all about exploring a new place right? How can you hope to explore if you never stray from a designated or previously organised path?

When I talk about getting lost, I really don’t mean when you are drunk at 3AM, but rather about exploring side streets and taking a few unexpected or wrong turns. You may find that you never get reach your once desired destination, but maybe you’ll find something even more eye-opening along the way.

Thailand is all about being relaxed and enjoying life, as long as you get to your eventual destination, shouldn’t you have had the most exciting journey to get there?

I have gotten lost so many times in Surin, when me and my friends have just gone wandering around. I even found a street which has about 100 dogs living in it. Another that has the most beautiful gardens and waterfalls and even a hidden lake that I didn’t know was even there.

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Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

Not only is this a lesson in life, but it is also a lesson for expanding your own horizons. There are so many times where I have heard volunteers say how they don’t want to go somewhere as it doesn’t ‘look safe’. I obviously don’t recommend you to explore anywhere that is known to be unsafe but just because somewhere isn’t as clean or as beautiful as another doesn’t mean it doesn’t have it’s own hidden gems. These kinds of neighborhoods always have good food in my experience as well!

Not only will you experience a new environment but you will be able to observe the people that live in it, how they don’t care about not having the latest iPhone or watching the latest movies. They just care about being happy, being full on a night time and loving their family. I think everyone could learn from these people.

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Be Courageous In Foreign Language Environments

I must admit that I am guilty for often taking over communication for volunteers. I know that they don’t speak Thai, I can see that they are struggling in a situation where I won’t so I will more often than not, step in and help. What you as a volunteer and traveler should do, is to not let me do this hahaha

It’s easy to allow others who speak the language to do the heavy communication lifting for you. The more you place yourself in the foreign language frying pan, the more surprised you will be by your ability to deal with the heat. After all, how else are you going to learn if you don’t just get stuck in? When you do this, one of two things will happen: either you will improve your language skills or you will force yourself to become damn good at charades 😀

At the very least, you will have a story – and probably a funny one at that.

Restaurants are a great place to try out language skills, yes you might not get exactly what you thought you would but you will have tried and learnt something. Plus you never know, the meal you ended up getting might be nicer than the one you had been thinking about in the first place!!

Obviously if you are allergic, vegetarian or vegan, you do need to make sure you know the Thai or have the Thai written down so that you don’t end up in the hospital!

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Visit The Fresh Market

This is nothing to do with food. This is all about going into a situation where you have no control, people are hectic and getting on with their lives. Whilst you wander around, maybe try to buy something from a vendor, but don’t just use your fingers for numbers or let them use a calculator to show you the price, get stuck in and try to talk to them, even try haggling if you haven’t ever done it before!

None of the things I have suggested are things that are particularly crazy or challenging, they are just things that will ease you into exploring and experiencing things that you otherwise wouldn’t do. So go out there, get lost, take hundreds of pictures and experience the real country you are in, no matter how smelly, hot, humid or tiring it might become.

If you haven’t already booked your comfort zone free adventure then go over to the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page. There you will find LOTS of projects and adventures that will take you to places that you wouldn’t even know existed or would think you would ever go to.

And as always, please take a second to subscribe to Life On The Back Of An Elephant for more advice, stories and tales of my own life in Thailand, to see more, take a look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages where I regularly update with nonsense 😀

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

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A Very Happy, If Older, Wendy

So a couple of you may know that it was my birthday yesterday and I can honestly say that it made me realise how much I love traveling, and especially Thailand. My 21st last year was spent being Lara Croft in the temples of Cambodia and this year, having spent a week in Cambodia to arrange a new visa, I got to spend my birthday, this year, back in my adopted home town of Surin.

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Belated Birthday celebrations in Bangkok with two AMAZING girls, Caroline and Becki (2012)

I can honestly say it was one of the best birthdays I have had, although I may not of had all the people that matter to me celebrating with me, I know that they were there in spirit and luckily I had all my friends here to make up for it. I got to hang out with my two big brothers, have my favourite local band sing one of my favourite songs as well as sing me Happy Birthday and I got to do it all after having some great Skype calls with people who I cherish around the world.

But like I said, my birthday this year really did make me appreciate what I have in life and appreciate even more the wonderful place I get to live and work in. I have never really fitted in in England, I don’t so much like the culture, the way people treat each other and the lack of morals of many of the people that live there. Thailand on the other hand fits me very well and these are a few reason why I, and you, should love this, the beautiful ‘Land of Smiles’.

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When I step out of my house each day the heat wraps around me like an embrace and the familiar smells waft up my nose. This might be the smell of rotten fruit, previous evening’s garbage and left over food for the Soi dogs, but I a 2 minute walk to 7/11 conjurers the beautiful and mouth-watering aroma of roasted pork, noodles and petrol; most people won’t know that petrol is one of my favourite smells, and when you mix this with pork you are on to one of the most beautiful smells ever imaginable!!

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One of the cute Soi Dogs that lives near my house

Every place and every step in Thailand brings you something new to savour: tastes, smells, warmth, humility, friendliness and spiritual peace. I have never found anywhere else that has managed to always surprise and humble me at the same time, even on a journey I have done a thousand times, I can’t bring myself to close my eyes and sleep as this amazing environment still instills so much excitement in me.

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Cannot get enough of the food here

So here are some reasons why I love Thailand so much.

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A sunset in Khao Yai National Park

Freedom

England is a culture that is rigid with rules, fees, fines, taxes and expectations. Humans are meant to be free and able to enjoy this wonderful journey. Being ferried from one part of life to another, because that is ‘what you do’ just doesn’t fit me, or what I think life is about.

I love what seems to be almost an absence of rules in Thailand. Despite this people generally go about living their life making responsible decisions and being kind to one another; I think this is mostly down to their Buddhist upbringing but also Thais seem to just have a much greater level of respect for each other than Western society does.

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Tom Yam Soup

Food

Even though I only tend to eat once a day, I could honestly eat Thai food constantly, if I could create some kind of portable Thai food conveyor belt that was always stocked with my favourite foods then I would be a very happy rainbow 😀

The Thai create dishes with ingrediants that if you saw them on their own, you would think to be completely inedible, but as with most things in life, Thais find a way to make something beautiful from nothing. If you want to see a couple of beautiful Thai dishes you can experience whilst here, then take a look at my ‘Top Ten Thai Dishes’ post from a couple of weeks ago.

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Phi Phi Islands in South Thailand

Exoticness

(Unsure if this is a real word or not haha)

For me, Thailand is the height of exotic. There are countless different sides to this beautiful diamond of a country that, even in my 9 months here, I still stumble upon new and beautiful places and things that I wasn’t aware of.

I love the cultural celebrations, the religious ceremonies, the strange food, beautiful beaches and most of all the charming and welcoming people that no matter how stressful a day has been, will always make me smile.

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My two big brothers!!

People

I can’t explain how homely Thailand feels, if you are in the tourist hotspots you probably won’t experience this but if you are in ‘real’ Thailand then you will defintily know what I am talking about. When you come to Thailand, the people here make you feel as though you are part of their family, the people at my local 7/11 for example have included me in so many of their staff nights out, in jokes and general banter. This all comes from Thais being very open and kind people who accept everyone for who they are, no matter how silly or brightly coloured their hair is 😀

You instantly feel good around Thais and all your guards drop because you know all they bring to the table is acceptance, warmth and love. There have been a couple of times I have had a bad day, either from stresses at work, people giving me a hard time or just from getting out of bed on the wrong side and one kind word from a random Thai person on the street, in a passing truck or at Big C has completely lifted my spirit and made me smile again.

They want to laugh more than they want to argue, complain or be bitter. Life is all about being happy, so why waste time being anything other than that?

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Monks presentation

Spirituality

Thai people are very much in tune with their religion, they live everyday in order to be a good person. Following the teachings of Buddha and accepting life as it is makes Thais very laid back and appreciative of the small things in life.

Their attitude is to be kind always.

Choose happiness, be respectful, consider others, laugh often.

I love how they stop to honour Buddha and the King at every photo and statue they see. They bend low to pass you something with two hands. They greet you with a Wai blessing. They are so reverent and believe that your actions have consequences, so choose the actions that bring about those happy, positive results for all people involved. More people need to learn from these peaceful and loving people.

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Language

I don’t know why I love Thai. I think it has a lot to do with how different it is from any other language and that it is still very mysterious to the vast population of the world. Hundreds of thousands of people learn Spanish or Japanese every year but nobody learns Thai. In the touristy locations the Thais speak English and for the places that Thais don’t learn English you can get around with hand signals and Google translate. For me though, I want to learn one of the lesser known languages in the world, not only to improve my own life experience, but also to show that even though my skin may be white, that I can put in as much effort to learn a language as the Thais do.

Thais are very humble and kind but they will happily laugh with you at all your silly mistakes and pathetic attempts to speak their language!

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A boy enjoy Songkran – Thai New Year

Living For The Moment

Thailand forces people to live in the moment. When you walk down the street you can’t do so whilst worrying about all the silly things in life as you are on an adventure of sorts with the countless tuk tuks, cars, mobile street carts, motorbikes, people, all moving amongst one another. You are forced to be present or die. And when you think about it, that is what life should be. Live for the now, not for the past that is gone or the future that will never be.

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There really is nothing like Thai traffic

Living With Chaos

When you first see Thailand, all you see is the hundreds of busy and bustling cars, tuk tuks, motorbikes, people, children running around barefoot, dogs chasing each other for territory, cats stalking their pray, vendors hollering about their wares and school children on the way to school.

Yet despite all this chaos their is a constant essence of calm in Thailand.

Take a second to stand and watch the chaos unfold and you will still see a beautiful moment of calm amongst the storm whether it is a stolen smile between to young Thais, a child’s beaming smile after being given a sweet snack or an old dog just observing the territory he has spent years protecting.

Seeing butterflies is my personal reminder to just take a second to appreciate the here and now.

When I am busy with things in my own mind, or worrying about things I really have no control over, I always see a pair of butterflies playfully chasing each other in the warm breeze and it makes me realise that I need to stop.

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Miss International Queen Pageant in Bangkok

Acceptance

One of my favourite things about Thailand is that you will be loved and accepted no matter who you are and what you believe in. You aren’t treated differently for anything, whether it be your skin, your hair, your gender, your sexual preference or taste in fashion.

I have always admired how gay/lesbian and ‘ladyboys’ are  treated with respect and love within society. They are teased in a friendly way that is not meant with any malice, much the same as people who aren’t stick thin are. There is absolutely no bullying at all, so snickering remarks about people you see on the street or in a club or bar. Everyone is a person and for that are honored.

Thinking about it, the only times I can think of any sort of derogatory comments or behaviour towards anyone seen as ‘different’, is from Westerners who can’t seem to accept that, just because a person doesn’t think the same as you that they should be ridiculed and made to feel worthless.

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All you need for 1 day in Thailand – around 2GBP

Cheap Living

I won’t lie, I have lived here for 9 months and haven’t once used the kitchen in my house, if it wasn’t where the cups and bin lived then I wouldn’t even know where it is. It is only 30-40B to eat out for any meal so I really have no reason to make my own food. Travel from Surin to Bangkok is 407B, around 8GBP or $12, I couldn’t even get from my house in York to Leeds on that much money!!!

You can live well in Thailand. And life is for living well.

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Beautiful Beaches

The beaches are stunning, the sand soft and white, crystal clear, blue or jade water, depending where you are. The water is calm and gentle and beckons you to come snorkelling and play with tropical fish up close.

Fresh fruit is available everywhere, with the added bonus of being locally sourced and organic. The catch of the day is cooked on an evening, the smell of roasting fish, crackling and spiting over hot coals, always makes me smile and my mouth water.

There are still many beaches that haven’t been taken over my 20 something Westerners so don’t loose hope when you see most of the beaches are advertised for the bars and pub crawls.

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The Famous Tuk Tuk

Transport

One of my favourite ways to travel in Bangkok, whenever I am there, is my motorbike taxi. I love being a part of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok traffic. Your driver will career around bends with oncoming traffic from every direction but does so with such control and experience you don’t bat an eyelid.

Having a tuk tuk drive on the way home after a night out is one of the best parts of my night. I love tumbling into a tuk tuk and knowing that all the local drivers know where my house is so there is no worry to getting lost. I haven’t found anywhere else that remembers where I live!!

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Enjoying a night out with my best friend Nangfa!

Night Life

In Thailand life begins at night time. This doesn’t just mean the bars or clubs but includes the night markets, the street stalls full of tasty and delicious food by the park and the generally more relaxed vibe on an evening. I have sat outside 7/11 with friends just people watching, trying the food of the various stalls and joking with the 7/11 staff; I really don’t miss my Playstation in times like that haha

So those are the things I really love about Thailand. I would to hear what you love about Thailand and what makes it a truly amazing travel destination.

If you haven’t made your way to this incredible country then you need to check out the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page, where you can pick a project that will change your life as well as the lives of the Thais you will work with.

And as always have a look at my TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages for my own Thailand experience!

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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Take one Wendy Every Four Hours

This will be the final blog in the Project series, sad, sad times for us all right?? Following the same structure as I have done for the other projects Starfish has in Surin, I will now be looking at the hints and tips and other bits on information that you might find useful for the Medical Project.

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Apparently this isn’t a medical project appropriate face so I had to write this blog with the help of some ex volunteers!

Now I don’t work on the Medical project, strangely enough they aren’t too keen on visible tattoos, facial piercings and the fact that my hair changes colour every other week, so for this blog I had to turn to some ex volunteers and ask them what they would pass on to the next generation of Medical volunteers.

This is what we all came up with 🙂 In no particular order as well I might add haha

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Jesse feeling the ‘baby’ in this training dummy at the Surin School of Nursing

The first thing that each volunteer I spoke to mentioned was, to expect the unexpected. This is Thailand, you never know who will come through the doors that day, who you will go to meet or what you will be doing. Sometimes days will be regimented and organised into activities for the whole day and some days? Well, some days may be more free flowing and relaxed with some people going off to do one activity with others going in a completely different direction. Everyone here goes with the flow and takes everything in their stride so don’t be too startled if you don’t do everything you thought you would for that day and you do something else instead. It is all a learning experience and sometimes a change in plans can be an amazing adventure and experience in itself.

All Medical volunteers must be aware that they can be doing anything, from spending the day working in the hospital learning about how Thailand train their student nurses, to walking several miles between homes and villages in order to do health checks on villagers that have no means to get to a hospital. Everyday will be a new adventure and learning experience, just go with the flow and take part in everything that is planned, or not so planned for that day.

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We do work with all walks of life from monks to children

The work you are doing is real work. It isn’t a show put on to please the foreigners. This is real work that the hospitals and the clinics need doing on a day to day basis, you will become part of a working team of Thai medical staff that will expect you to work with them and help out in every way you can, to teach them about the culture of working of where you come from and to take on board how different things might be in Thailand. Naturally some days may be quieter in the clinics or the hospital might not be running any special classes, so it might be a quiet day but, take this as an opportunity to talk with the Thai medical staff and learn what it is to work in Thailand. You can learn some incredible techniques and diagnostic tricks just from hearing stories, one that the volunteers learnt that is very helpful is, that when drawing blood from elderly Thai people who work in rural areas, is that their circulation tends not to be as it was, so a little massage on the area you are going to take blood will make it much more comfortable for the patient and also bring up veins much quicker as well as stimulate the blood flow as well.

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We do regular work with the tallest man in Thailand, the check ups we do are very important on assessing his condition and his flexibility levels that will hopefully one day improve enough for him to walk again

One thing that Mary Gross, a nursing student from the Lane Community College of Nursing in Oregon, told me to talk about is pockets. Pockets are invaluable and provide somewhere to keep hundreds of pairs of latex gloves, hand sanitizer and also your camera; so if you don’t already, get some scrub trousers or travel trousers that have easily accessible and large pockets; believe me you will thank us later when you don’t have to be scrabbling at the bottom of your bag to find anything.

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The Lane Community College Nurses always had pockets stuffed with useful things like gloves and sanitizer

Another thing about clothes as well is that you need to make sure you have light breathable clothes, cotton preferably, and if possible invest in some travel clothes or scrubs that are meant for humid climates; these will be invaluable to your stay and keep you cool in our VERY hot and humid weather!

Don’t forget that Surin is also a normal bustling town with bars and a club so don’t forget to bring non work clothes with you as well!

It is super useful to bring several small tubes of hand sanitizer with you, you will be seeing several ill people who have a multitude of different conditions so making sure that your hands are sanitized is always incredibly important and some places might not always have sanitizer available.

Also have on hand lots and lots and LOTS of latex, preferably non latex, gloves. Some clinics may be running low or not have any spares at all so having your own is always a good back up.

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Even inside with air conditioning it is still hot for the girls on the baby unit!

Thailand is hot. You will be walking around and travelling around in several different places for the entire day so staying hydrated is incredibly important, being medical professionals or students you will know how severe dehydration can get if left unattended or ignored. The volunteers I spoke to used to drink big bottles of watered down Gatorade every day in order to keep high levels of hydration; you obviously don’t need to bring over the massive bottles with you but the powder or any other re-hydration powder would be an amazing idea to have everyday. Even when you aren’t on project you do need to keep on eye on your hydration levels; just follow the advice you would normally give to any patient that was travelling to a very hot and humid country for several weeks.

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Here you can see Marys very full pad of BP measurements; efficiency is very important when you see as many patients as we do

Another item that is always helpful to have is a pen and a paper pad, this is an efficient and easy way of communicating to the Thai staff on the project, sometimes they read better English than they understand and is also a great way to communicate BP or sugar levels as well as height and weight; the last thing we want is for information to get lost in translation at the expense of the patient. Its also a great way to make a note of any interesting things you have learnt that day, fun anecdotes or events that happened. I always like to write down place names of everywhere I have traveled and if I didn’t have a pen and some paper I would never remember them all!!

Something that Racheal Willingham mentioned to me is that you don’t always need to be taking pictures. Yes they are an amazing way of capturing memories but sometimes it is better to just let the experience happen and effect your soul, let your experience change your life and your outlook on the world.

Photographs are perfectly fine but do always make sure you are asking patients, monks and parents as well as the medical staff if it is OK to take pictures. Sometimes there won’t ever be an issue but the fact that you asked will show that you respect others and will also gain a lot of respect for you as well.

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Group photos are a great way of remembering every single person you worked with on your trip

We always need to make sure that we constantly show the highest level of respect for the Thai culture and way of life, this also extends to their medical practices as well. Things will be different here, same as they would be if you went to practice medicine in any other country, but Thailand especially, is a very spiritual and culture loving country. You are very lucky to have a Thai with you as your coordinator and translator that will be able to educate you about all of the different practices, their reasons and their relevance, they will also inform you if you accidentally make any cultural faux-pas that you other wise might not know about.

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This is the way in which some of the beds at the hospital are raised and lowered, it probably isn’t what you are used to but sometimes this is all we have to work with.

Another area that will always need to be respected is that Thailand isn’t as developed as other countries in the world, at times the facilities you visit might be very basic and often very old fashioned with out dated equipment that you may not even know how to use due to is primitive nature; this however does not match the expertise and the intelligence of the healthcare providers, every nurse, doctor, physio and other members of medical staff are trained to the very highest level with an incredible level of detail in both modern and traditional methods. All of the staff and students you will work with will be taught to the same level as you, they just learn in a different environment that’s all; they do get taught some areas that other countries don’t even think about though such as massage. Each student is required to be proficient in massage in order to provide the very best care possible for each and every patient; something which I think is amazing and should really be included in other countries.

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Sometimes volunteers work in the most rural of locations with equipment that is not the most up to date but they always make the best of what they have to work with

This experience is a way for you to gain experience and expertise that you can’t get in a classroom, working in the field in another country really does test you and everything you know, don’t be scared to learn from our Thai staff and the way in which they do things as well. They are so incredibly experienced and have so many tricks in order to make healthcare in Thailand extremely efficient and effective; take every new situation as a chance to learn something new and you will go back home positively brimming with amazing experiences that you will want to incorporate into your own practices.

Mary Gross told me to let all of you reading this know, that no matter how much you put into Thailand and the project, that you will get more back than you could ever imagine. The staff both at Starfish and the hospitals and clinics we work at love having volunteers who are open and passionate about wanting to learn and experience a different way to work and live; be that and you will have the greatest experience of your life.

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Also don’t be too shocked if a patients BP is particularly high if you are the first white person they have ever seen, been close to had touching them!!!

If you haven’t already signed up to the Starfish Volunteers Medical project and want to know more information then take a look at the Starfish Website and the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook pages. Also have a look at the Starfish Tumblr to see photos from across every project that we do.

Make sure you also look at my own TwitterTumblr and Instagram, I am constantly updating with stories of what we get up to everyday including blog updates, photos and my own silly adventures as well!!

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

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A Wendy In The Know

Hey, hey people of the world! So today is my ‘hints and tips’ blog for the Starfish Volunteers Teaching project – lets get started then shall we?

The first tip that I can give you is a small one that you probably wouldn’t even think would need to be thought about if I didn’t mention it, and that is your shoes. When you get to your classroom at school you should always make sure that you take your shoes off, it isn’t the end of the world if you don’t, but I would advise you to just remember to do it. The kids all take theirs off so maybe seeing their holey socks will kickstart your brain to remember to take yours off as well 😀

The kids socks are really holey though, no heels or toes on most of them; it would be much easier to just not even wear socks haha

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Sasha working very hard to teach the kids about time, which is definitely not an easy subject to teach

I think the most important thing to remember is to be patient. I can’t talk enough of how much of a difference it makes to be patient with our students, English is not these kids first language so this is hard for them. Learning a new language is difficult enough anyway but for these kids they are going from a Sanskrit based symbolic language to a Germanic language that is letter based.

I can tell you from my personal experience with learning Thai, that that transition is hard, learning any language is hard but it is even harder to learn a new language that has completely different sounds to your native language. All native Asian language speakers have the same difficulties with learning English and that difficulty is pronunciation. The most obvious pronunciation difficulty is the letter ‘R’, Thai people especially have difficulty when initially learning the ‘R’ sound as they don’t have it in Thai. It is hard to teach this sound not only because it is entirely new but all Thai people don’t want to ‘loose face’, and by this I mean they don’t want to make a mistake or look silly and this sometimes holds people back from learning.

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Getting the kids up and doing something silly breaks their fear of looking silly in front of others

From teaching my own lessons I have learnt that the best way you can get the kids to relax is to be patient and to make your lessons fun, I always get the kids to make silly and stupid faces as well as making stupid noises, this helps everyone to relax and have fun. A friend that I am teaching is having difficulty with the ‘R’ so the way that I have been teaching him is to try to roar like a lion. Yes this sounds stupid but it really does work, you have to make an ‘R’ sound when you roar like a lion and it is just shorting the initial roar to the ‘R’ sound; and bobs your uncle.

Just be patient and fun, people always remember more not only when they are having fun but also when they are relaxed and being calm always makes you more relaxed. Just think about how you would have liked to have been taught when you were back at school. I hated having vocab drills in my German class, they did not help anyone and made the lessons feel like boot camp! They just made the class feel regimented and constricting, I think when learning a language you should learn without realising it; this happens through games, being competitive and letting your inhibitions go.

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Henry teaching one of his lessons outside with some of the boys, they look like they are just messing about but Henry is teaching them new vocab which they remember more because they are having fun

Teaching can be daunting for those who have not done it before but just remember that the kids are there to learn not to criticize or judge what you are doing. Once you get into the swing of learning you will be able to take it all in your stride and you get so engaged with the children and build up genuine bonds that make you even more passionate about what you are doing.

One thing I must stress though is that kids learn at different speeds. Some children already know a little English, this can be for a multitude of reasons whether it be that they have learnt through music, television, the internet or they just paid more attention. What this also means is that there are some kids that don’t know as much or even any at all and it is these children that need the most amount of help. When I was at school I picked up everything straight away, I was bright and intelligent and so got targeted by teachers as it is always easier to teach a child who understands as opposed to one that doesn’t. It is very easy to ignore the children that aren’t as good and concentrate on the ones that are, but this isn’t the right path to go down. Have a contingency plan for if your class has some very bright children, have extra work set up for them for when they finish the lesson but don’t just move the whole class along because they are finished. You need to concentrate on the children that need the most help, bringing those children up to the same level of the brighter ones is hard at times and can be frustrating for both you and the children involved but when they get there, and I promise with hard work from you, that they will, it is so satisfying and makes teaching, on a whole, much easier. If everyone is the same level you can all move forward together as opposed to lots of people going off in all sorts of directions.

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Kids are great at boosting each others learning process, often the brighter children will come to the aid of the children that aren’t quite as quick to learn

English is your first language not theirs and even though you might not understand why one kid can’t say ‘three’ without it coming out like ‘tree’ just remember that there are going to be words that you can’t say in Thai that they can do with ease. It isn’t that they are stupid it is just that they are learning something completely new. Speaking is natural for humans which is why we can all do it, but a Westerner learning Thai or a Thai learning English is pretty much learning to speak again so be patient, be encouraging and have fun.

Being encouraging is very important when teaching a difficult subject such as language. I always find that volunteers feel as though there is no bridge between them and the students as they can’t communicate in any way. I think the best way to combat this is for you, the teacher, to bridge the gap by learning some key phrases; nothing too difficult just some basic encouragement and questions that will make it easier for the children to understand what you want from them.

Here goes.

The first thing you need to know is

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No

No in Thai is pronounced as ‘Mai’ try saying ‘m’-‘eye’. When it comes to teaching I try to use ‘no’ as little as possible, I always try to just ask them to try again instead.

The next is……………

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Yes

‘Chi’ is the way to say ‘yes’ in Thai, try saying ‘ch’-eye’ This is something that hopefully you will be saying a lot as the children will be doing well in your lessons!

Next up………………..

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‘Dee Mak’ pronounced ‘dee’-‘mark’, and this means ‘very good’. This is one of my most used phrases at school, I think that kids should be praised instead of chastised so I am always saying ‘dee-mark’.

Another one that is really useful is………………..

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‘Samsong’ this means ‘try again’. The way to say this is ‘saam-sorhng’. I use this a lot, so definitely try to learn this one! This is a better phrase to use instead of ‘no’ as ‘no’ is very negative whereas ‘try again’ is more supportive.

The last thing I think that you should know is……….

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‘Nee-Kursintee’ this means ‘What is this?’ It’s pretty easy to pronounce even though it looks really long. Try ‘Nee-khur-sin-tee’ pretty simple huh? This is great to use when you are trying to find out if a child remembers something themselves.

All of these phrases are super useful and will make your time teaching so much more enriching. Being able to communicate with the children in a way that they understand breaks the wall that separates you and them and helps to bring you closer with a better understanding of each other.

Hopefully all of these tips are helpful for you and make your volunteering time with us even better than it will be anyway. If you haven’t already signed up for our teaching project and want to then you need to check out the Starfish Website. Take a look at the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook and Starfish Tumblr pages to see what is happening with all of our other projects.

My own  TwitterTumblr and Instagram pages are updated several times a day with everything from blog updates, what I am doing on the projects as well as my own adventures in Surin.

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

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Video

Ban Beung Bow Oon School – P6 Presentation

This is the video project that was put together by volunteers and P6 in the last few weeks at Ban Beung Bow Oon School. The progress these kids made with their English still astounds me, when I first met them they could speak the usual ‘Hello’, ‘My name is……..’ but they couldn’t read or understand to the level that they can do now. The reason that they can do this is, is the inspiring teaching volunteers that give their time in order to make a difference in a child’s life.