We said goodbye yesterday to our friends; the Van Dyk and Sayers families from Richmond. They had travelled to Thailand to spend their Easter holidays exploring Bangkok and Krabi with us. It was the first time in Thailand for all the children and I asked them to each write something for our blog describing their favourite experience…
Mikel Van Dyk (age 11)
I went to Thailand and my favourite experience was…Rock Climbing! We went to Railay beach to see Sophie’s friends and go rock climbing. Lola and I climbed five cliffs that were pretty hard but we finished eventually, very tired, so we relaxed at the pool for the rest of the day. It was my favourite because I love climbing and I can now say I have done it properly.
Alex Van Dyk (age 9)
I went to Thailand and my favourite experience was…when we were in Krabi and we went to see massive elephants. It was a two hour drive. It was a wonderful experience to see real life elephants! First we looked around the exciting site and then we got to ride the amazing creatures. It was fun and scary. Next we got changed and went in the the water with two very nice elephants. We scrubbed them and one did a huge poop! We fed the elephants bananas even though their favourite food is pineapple. They are very greedy animals! We made magnets and had lunch and then we went back and it took another two hours.
Jon Van Dyk (age 4)
I went to Thailand and my favourite experience was…washing the elephants in the pool! And the funniest was when the elephant pooed in the pool!!!
If you watch the clip here you will see the situation Jon describes as it happens…pay close attention from about 20 seconds in 🙂
Lucia Sayers (age 10)
I went to Thailand and my favourite experience was…the elephant park because I had never been so close to an elephant. My favourite part was when the elephant decided to go out of the pool and took me and Alex out of the water (without an adult). I also loved feeding them because the elephant just took the banana from my hand with its trunk.
In this clip you can see Lucia feeding the elephant a banana around 25 seconds in.
Isabel Sayers (age 8)
I went to Thailand and my favourite experience was…The day we went to the market in Bangkok. I loved it because I got a bracelet which is really pretty and a washbag which had lots of watermelons on it. We were trying to find the others but we arrived at difference places in taxis. Luckily it started raining but just as it began we managed to get to the train station. Anyway, we went to a restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms. That’s where we had our lovely dinner. It was delicious.
(NB: Just in case anyone is wondering…the restaurant Isabel mentions is run by a charity seeking to promote better understanding and acceptance of family planning in Thailand)
Marta Sayers (age 5)
I went to Thailand and my favourite experience was…Washing and riding the elephants. They had spiky hair and it was like riding a hedgehog.
Lola Ireland (age 11)
I went to Thailand and my favourite experience was… When we went rock climbing! We got a boat from our beach to another beach around the corner. The mums, Marta and Jon went to sit by the pool at a hotel our friends were staying at. We walked over and through some massive rocks to get to the climbing area. The rock face was soooo high! I had no idea how we were going to do it. I was first up to do the big route. It was surprisingly easy at first because I had lots of energy and at the beginning the shoes that were tiny didn’t hurt. Mikel and I did the same runs each time so whoever went first always created a path for the other one. In total we did five routes and by then our feet and hands were killing us. We went to go and relax by the pool for the rest of the day. Now we can all say that we learned to rock climb in Thailand.
Betsy Ireland (age 9)
I went to Thailand and my favourite experience was… The amazing rock climbing! I had so much fun and it was incredible. When I got to the top of the wall I felt so happy! All the instructors were so fun and they couldn’t pronounce ‘Betsy’ so they called me ‘Pepsi’! Some parts were really hard and I had to come down but it was so fun. One time when I was coming down the man dropped me and I went straight down and it was really scary. The rock climbing was such an experience and it was nothing that I have ever done before.
The rock climbing was on an actual rock – mountain – cliff type thing, not just a plastic wall with plastic handles. When you found a really good handle (hole in the rock that you could really trust to hold you up) you felt so relived becuase you feel like you’re so safe and you are not going to fall – which when you’re 20 feet high in the air, clinging to a rock and putting your life into the hands of man that you just met, is quite a good feeling!
This day was one of the best days of this trip. I think I will remember it for a very long time.
Willow Ireland (age 6)
I went to Thailand and my favourite experience was… The elephants in the bath because we got to scrub them and it was so fun. I loved the feeling of their tough skin and I absolutely loved it because they squirted us with water and it was as wet as you would be when you get out of a bath.
So I think it’s safe to say the rock climbing and visit to Phang Nga Elephant Park were the big hits of our two weeks in Thailand for the children! We organised the rock climbing with Real Rocks Climbing School and we would recommend them if you ever find yourself in Krabi. The scenery on Railay beach is a pretty spectacular setting for learning to climb.
The Phang Nga Elephant Park is one of only six ethical parks in Thailand. They take in rescue Elephants who have been forced to work in either the logging or tourist industry and have been badly treated. The park was founded to both care for the animals (the elephants welfare is absolutely number one priority) and also to raise money to help reduce the risks facing Thailand’s rapidly falling population of wild Elephants – there are only 4000 remaining in the wild out of the total population of 40,000.
I researched quite a bit before suggesting to the others that we visit and spend our tourist £ at Phang Nga. One of the concerns I had was that they do allow visitors to sit on the elephants and ride. I know many people (including myself before our visit) would say this is an absolute no and I would never allow the girls to take part in the ‘tourist rides’ where an elephant is being kept purely for that purpose, but we felt that the environment at the park was lovely and they are doing a good and necessary job looking after these ‘domesticated’ elephants. As they have become very used to humans throughout their early life – although not in such happy circumstances, it does create the most incredible, very up close and personal experience.
We all loved our time at the park and as you can tell it won’t be forgotten for a long while.