The countdown until the end of my program is now in terms of weeks rather than months. With only four weeks left, we’re focusing on our final research field practicum. My group is going back to Ban Tha Pho where villagers are concerned about the quality of water they receive from the local reservoir. We will be conducting focus groups and interviews to understand common uses of the water supply, community responses to their concerns, and any additional factors that may be the cause. I’m excited to learn about this environmental health issue and the community’s perspectives!
Although it feels like much longer, our spring break was only one week ago. During the first half of break, I traveled to Krabi. It’s a quiet beach town in the southern part of Thailand along the Andaman Sea. The southern part of Thailand is extremely lush and green with beautiful rock formations that I never get tired of looking at.
Our first day of tours included Hong Island. We took a longtail boat and I went snorkeling for the first time! It took some adjustment to breathe calmly while underwater, but once I got the hang of it, I never wanted to stop. I regret not having a GoPro to capture the coral reefs and the fish that swam close by, but were always just out of reach.
The second day was spent at the more secluded Railay Beach which is only accessible by boat. We began our day with two hours of outdoor rock climbing (also something I’ve never done before!). The rock face was completely perpendicular to the ground and I questioned how I would ever make it up. But I immediately went straight for one of the longer courses up the cliff. I was challenged physically as I grappled with where to grip the rock face and place my feet. Towards the top when I only had a few meters to go, I experienced a wave of frustration that was quickly replaced with determination. In that moment, I experienced a mental challenge that I didn’t quite expect, but was happy to overcome because the view at the top of both the sea and the mountains was breathtaking.
Our last full day in Krabi was spent touring Koh Phi Phi and some surrounding islands. The most crowded island was Maya Beach, which is famous because it is where the movie ‘The Beach’ was filmed. We went snorkeling again, this time in deeper and choppier water. It was fun to swim upstream and then just let the current carry me back to the boat while I could marvel at all the sea life below me.
After Krabi, we headed to Bangkok for Songkran! Songkran is a 3-day celebration of Thai New Year that is characterized by many people making merit at the temples and people spraying (or dumping) water on you. During this trip I was able to explore the side of Bangkok closer to the Chao Praya River. We took one day to explore Wat Arun and Wat Pho. I think I enjoyed the temples more than if I had visited at any other time because we were treated to cultural performances and activities related to making merit that we wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise.
Wat Arun was decorated differently than other temples I’ve seen, as the base color was a dull white color with flowery designs all around. At Wat Pho we saw the famous reclining buddha and the scale of it was unbelievable! In the evening we stopped by the Asiatique Riverfront Market and stayed to watch part of a Thai concert that was happening for Songrkran. The next day we wanted to visit the National Museum, but it was closed for the Songkran holiday. Instead, we took a trip to the Grand Palace where the royal family used to live. Even though I didn’t go inside because I refused to pay the 500 baht entrance fee, I enjoyed looking around the grounds outside of the palace. In the late afternoons and evenings we enjoyed all of the crazy activities of Songkran. No where is safe during Songkran, as people walk around with water guns ready to shoot anyone at anytime (even the kids were armed and ready!). We even had a bucket of water thrown at us through the window of the bus! Despite being soaking wet, it felt rather refreshing during the day while standing in triple digit temperatures.