TIE TRIP 2016 (CHIANGMAI) – REFLECTIONS
Two months ago, my friends and I went on an unforgettable trip to Chiang Mai, a city in Thailand. Through my overseas experience, I picked up many new skills and made many friends.
On the first day of the trip, I had no friends as the students who were going on this Chiang Mai trip were all strangers or acquaintances whom I rarely talked to. Yet, I managed to befriend some people and socialize with them very quickly. When the trip ended, everybody was quite reluctant to leave the place because of all the fond memories we had created together in beautiful Chiang Mai.
During our trip, we got to experience the lives of ordinary Thai students. We also had the golden opportunity to venture around their school. Honestly, I felt quite uncomfortable because the conditions were different from Singapore and we were perspiring profusely. This taught me to appreciate our school life in Singapore, cherish what we have and not complain so much about school. In the Thai school, we also made our own banana cups (Loy Krathong) and we placed them by a nearby river. This tradition is a way for them to express respect and thanks to the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha. It is also supposed to bring good luck to the people who practise this ritual. In all, the school trip was a very meaningful experience as I got to see for myself how the average Thai student behaved in a school environment.
On the second day, we got to the highest point in Chiang Mai, which was about 2500 metres above sea level. The temperature at the elevated ground was especially cooling at about 13 degrees celsius! It was definitely a good respite from the typically hot climate that we were accustomed to. We also got to have a go at making our own paper umbrellas. Everyone was truly engaged at work as we tried to create an umbrella that we could proudly call our own. One of the students also had the chance to make paper out of elephant dung. It was a unique experience and I was simply amazed that fecal matter could be put to beneficial use!
We also had two awesome father-and-son tourist guides! They were very aware of the happenings of the contemporary world and were updated about the various social media phenomena like Snapchat and Instagram. They were both very likeable and convivial and conversing with them was a tremendously pleasurable experience. They also shared with us anecdotes of what the average Thai person does and some cultural traditions that we were unaware of.
If I have the chance, I would like to visit Chiang Mai again!
ANG TZI SOON, EUGENE (2E3)
The Chiang Mai trip has taught me to be independent, especially when I am away from my loved ones. I have witnessed how paper umbrellas were crafted and how paper was made from elephant dung. I have also learnt to work with my friends in simple tasks like painting the lines in a basketball court.
One observation which struck me throughout the trip is that Singapore is a concrete jungle with high-rise buildings and shopping malls while Chiang Mai has few high-rise buildings and more huts and nature. There are also many wild dogs roaming around freely unlike in Singapore where the strays would be reported and taken in by the SPCA. It is common to see night markets springing up at different neighbourhoods, yet they are still as orderly as the pasar malams we have in Singapore.
During the trip, we visited many interesting places like a local school, an elephant sanctuary, and the highest point in Thailand. We were also brought to the long neck village where we were able to see tribal women with their uniquely long necks. Through this experience, we realised that the standard of beauty differs vastly in different cultures. We also visited some ruins and temples and a University specialising in the arts and we were able to have a first-hand feel of some traditional music instruments.
My key take-away from this trip is learning how to appreciate other cultures and respect people from other countries.
HAN XIN EE KRYSTAL (2E4)
This trip was very memorable as this was my first opportunity to go overseas with my friends. I had gained many interesting experiences on Chiang Mai, one of which was umbrella painting. At first, I was afraid that I would not be able to paint my umbrella beautifully as I was not very good at art. However, through the activity, I learnt that if I put in effort to complete a given task, I would be very pleased with the outcome even if it was not the best among everyone else’s. It was a refreshing and educational experience for me as I got to know how paper umbrellas were made in the factory.
One of the places we visited was the Doi Inthanon National Park. It was the highest point of Thailand. We also went for a city tour around the City moat, Three Kings Monument and Wat Chedi Luang. At night, we went to a popular night market which was very different from Singapore’s night markets. I was surprised that the stalls at the night market were more orderly arranged.
We also visited a school in Chiang Mai. We painted the basketball court and made banana cups for good luck during our school visit. Through these activities, I observed that Thai students were very patient and optimistic. It was quite hard to interact with them at first because of the language and cultural barrier. However, as they were very pleasant, we did not feel awkward for too long. Our buddies also taught us slowly and patiently how to craft the banana cups. Through watching our buddies, I reflected that if I could be as patient and calm as they were, I would certainly be a better person. I believe I would be a better communicator if I could calmly listen to my peers. I also learnt to be more positive about any situation and the value of patience.
CHOO EN TING CHERYL (2N2)