The last week has been super busy but full of fun times. To recap...
On Thursday morning we had an early-morning wake up call along with the 200 or so EP students as we took off for a "camping trip" to Kanchanaburi (camping trip = luxury resort?). Kanchanaburi is a beautiful province to the west of the Soup with trees, mountains, waterfalls, etc. I have a feeling I will be making many trips there over the next year. The camp involved a lot of ice-breaker games for the kids and 4 hours of group activities on Friday with teams rotating through stations such as "color with nature," crossing a rope bridge across the river, and my spot: "the human knot." Initially they asked Nell and I to lead an exercise on global warming. We were told to put the whole group (18-20 kids) into a tent, close it for a minute, take a breather and then put them back in the tent, this time with some burning incense, in order to discuss air quality and why it was hard to breathe. Our co-teacher told us, "just don't keep them in there for too long or they will pass out," ooookay. Once we arrived at our station and were greeted with a one-person tent, we decided to ditch that idea so we didn't have to rely on our CPR training and go with the human knot instead which I think the kids enjoyed.
Since Nell and I were already in Kanchanaburi, we decided to stick around for part of the weekend rather than go back with the bus full of kids, so we had an extra day and a half to check out some sites. Friday we took a long walk through town back to the River Kwai, caught a beautiful sunset from our hostel right on the water, and treated ourselves to a pricey but deliciously worth it pizza dinner to satisfy our cheese-deprived taste buds. We went out on the town that night and made friends with some British boys and a few Thai bartenders who were actually impressed by our Thai skills - we're working on it! We ended up closing down the place at 5am - yikes! But Nell and I were true champs and still managed to make our self-imposed 7:45am wake up call to hit up the Erawan Waterfalls where we met up with some fellow teachers and hiked up all 7 tiers where we were able to swim under the falls and see some breathtaking, picture-perfect scenes. Along the way we had to fight off some "fierce monkeys" that like to steal tourists' bags, fish that like to eat the dead skin off of feet (free pedicure!), and an hour and a half bus ride seated next to a crowing rooster on his way to a cock fight. We barely made the last bus back to the Soup on Saturday night, the bus was literally overflowing and Nell rode the first half of the journey halfway out the open door at the back of the bus. We made it home and promptly crashed for the evening after a long but amazing day.
Sunday was a big day in Thailand, Loy Krathong, or the festival that celebrates the spirits of the water. Thais celebrate by making small floats or Krathongs out of banana leafs or bread and candles which they then place in the river. It's all very visually captivating, and it seemed like most of the Soup was out to celebrate with traditional Thai dance, coconut ice cream, fireworks, and large paper lanterns launched into the sky. All in all another amazing/ridiculous weekend in Thailand: meeting cool people from around the world, trying new things, and hiking up mountains for some gorgeous views.