Each year we welcome over 2,500 students and staff from schools worldwide.
Our 2018-2019 Programs
Rising Star China Krabi
1 - 14 July 2019 Memories start as you get on the plane farewelling the places that you have got to know during your trip. What amazing memories the Rising Star students took with them. Memories of crab eating macaque in the mangroves, and dusky langur at the edge of the forest; memories of a forest owl caught in the torchlight and giant sea cucumbers on the rocky shore; the sounds and smells of bats from the limestone caves and the calling of gibbons over the canopy. Memories of fishermen and their traps, rubber tappers and their knives, weavers, kite makers, soap producers and batik artisans. The exploration of biodiversity took us to so many places and as our understanding grew, so too did the appreciation of how all these parts are connected. The south of Thailand is an amazing classroom!
Headstart Phuket River
29 April 2019 - 1 May 2019 We observed the river environment and did some activities about water quality and pollution issues. In the afternoon, the fun part was barge crews. All the students separated into four groups and each group had a mission to do, cooking, navigation, cleaning or games. While cooking, some students felt so proud that they had to come out to tell their friends “Tonight’s dinner will be super delicious!” On the first night, we had camp fire. Even though many people didn’t perform the dance group was brilliant to show how well they worked together. The second day, we woke up early and headed to the barge to start barge crews again. The first thing to freshen them up was a cup of hot chocolate. You could see they were happy to have one cup in the early morning. After breakfast, we started to do “Macro Invertebrates” activity, trying their best to find out the tiny animals from water hyacinth, which floats on the Chao Phraya River. Most students were excited when they found something. After hunting, we identified the animals and calculated the data to check the water quality. This enabled us to compare with yesterday’s water testing to see if the water was any different. I think the most interesting activity was “Settlers Game.” In this game we talked about the natural resources that we as humans take and use from the earth. Most students were so engrossed in the game and tried to think how they could win. Each round we would add some new situations in and they would experience how they could deal with the lack of natural resources. After lunch, we arrived at Ayutthaya. First we talked about the history of Ayutthaya and we took a tuk tuk to Wat Phra Sri Sanphet. In the temple, the students needed to follow a map and find out the answers of the questions in the journal. The second night, before bed, the students performed a drama show about Buddha’s story and discussed about it. That night students experienced how to sleep on the floor without air conditioning! A new life skill! The final morning, the students did alms giving and learnt how to fold the lotus flower. When they saw monks, they became quiet and a bit more serious to serve the food. After breakfast, we headed to Thai Arts Centre to learn how to make decorative flowers from sesbania wood. The staff from the centre introduced the sesbania tree and how to make pieces of material like paper. Every flower had different difficulties, so the students choose a suitable one for themselves to experience. Finally with their own beautiful flowers, they headed to the airport where we were able to say a final goodbye.
Rattanburi English Programme Chanthaburi
11 – 13 March, 2019 What a fun week we had with Rattanaburi students, coming all the way from Surin! Our aim this week was to practice our English skills while learning about the natural world and the importance of our mangrove and marine habitats, and the students arrived prepared heading straight to the Kung Krabane Bay Aquarium to begin learning about the animals of Thailand’s seas. Afterwards we walked down the beach to our resort where we collected litter to clean up the area, as well as doing a scavenger hunt for interesting items on the beach. With time to play on the beach we built sandcastles and swam in the ocean before playing Turtle Hurdle where we learned about the life-cycle of turtles and got to run around on the sand! With a final reflection and revision of what we learned that day, we headed back to bed for some rest. Day two began with considering the lives of local fishermen and the problems they face. We played Commons Dilemma where each student got to control their own little village and sell fish to the market, before heading to the real village where we interviewed the local people about their lives. Next we walked through the mangrove forests, observing the plants and animals found here and how they have adapted to such a unique environment between land and sea. Finally after more free-time on the sand we had a campfire at the resort where our talented students performed songs and dances for each other as well as taking part in games run by the Barge staff and, of course, roasting some marshmallows. On our final day we went to the Chanthaburi Maritime Museum where we learned about Thailand’s rich history and relationship with the oceans. We concluded by presenting to each other about what we had learned that week. We said our final goodbyes after lunch, ready for our long journey home. Thank you to all students at Rattanaburi – we had a wonderful week with such fun, talented students!
Regents Pattaya Yr4 Khao Yai
27 Feb-1 March 2019 Poem by Gabi aged 9 Birds fly out of their nests Elephants swim in the pond Snakes slither away Tailor birds sing a song Danger lurks in the dark Ants finding food Yahoo!! Fun trip!!
KIS G4 Auytthaya
20 – 22 February 2019 Arriving at the historical Fort Pom Phet before lunchtime, Grade 4 started their Ayutthayan adventure by observing the river and comparing its uses today to those in the 14th – 16th centuries. This week the students would explore how the past shaped the world we live in, and how Thailand developed its strong cultural identity – and the role the Chao Phraya played in all of this. After lunch our students visited the Japanese Village, one of the many old settlements dating back to when Thailand was a hub for traders and thinkers from all over the world. Here they learned how these cultures meshed and created group presentations to tell stories of the important people, trade items and events of this time period. Before dinner G4 experienced what it was like to be an archeologist, digging for artefacts and learning the skills required to build an image of the past. After some team games in the evening (including the infamous Stepping Stones where our students had to cross a toxic river and save each other and their natural resources!) KIS were ready to rest and ready themselves for day two of exploration. In the morning we headed straight to Wat Phra Sri Sanphet where we found archaeological evidence for the temples' uses and stories. This involved a photo challenge between the crumbling walls and Buddha’s of the old temple. Afterwards G4 headed to the nearby market to gawk at the assortment of handcrafted items and Thai snacks! Next we heard the stories of some of Ayutthaya’s most important artefacts at the gold museum and wrote our own stories imagining ourselves in the world of Ayutthaya. To end the day we headed to Wat Chai Wattanaram to paint in watercolour and learn about the final days of the kingdom. On the final day of our trip together we spent the morning at the Ayutthaya Historical Institute where we watched some amazing Thai dances, and even got a chance to get up and party ourselves! Then we took part in other traditional Thai activities, including making roti sai mai, pottery and reed fish making, all of which we got to take home with us. Finally we headed home after three days of cultural fun! Thank you to KIS G4 for a wonderful time!
Nord Anglia HK Yr6 Kanchanaburi
18 - 22 February, 2019 It was another busy week for the students of Nord Anglia Hong Kong as they travelled to Thailand to explore Kanchanaburi Province. A day of WW2 History, an elephant service project day and a Maximum Fun!!! team building and games day awaited upon arrival. WW2 History and role of POWs was explored at the Thai Burma Railway Centre and at Donrak Cemetery students considered the wider impacts of war, on the soldiers their families and communities across the many countries affected. A walk across the bridge over the River Kwae gave a closer look at some of the damage caused when the bridge was bombed by the allied forces. Finishing the day at the Hellfire Pass Museum and railway cutting students listened to a diary extract from one of the Australian POWS before writing their own creative pieces. At Elephant World students worked for the elephants, providing a delicious mid-morning snack of bananas and pineapple before heading off to cook lunch for the older elephants. After learning that elephants only have six sets of teeth which they often lose at around sixty years old, the students were eager to help cook the sticky rice and banana mash needed to make a soft palatable meal for the parks oldest residents, who are still going strong at 80+ years old. A recipe for elephant mash- to feed your elderly elephants Finely chop green banana (or pumpkin) Add to pan to begin cooking. Then add sticky rice Cook fruit and sticky rice until water has been absorbed Mix with wooden paddles to ensure the mixture is evenly cooked and to stop the mixture burning or sticking to the pan. Mixture is ready once the rice and banana is soft. Take off the heat and leave to cool Once cool mix with special elephant pellets to add extra nutrients and vitamins Finally roll the mixture in fibre powder Serve to your hungry elephants! Maximum Fun Day involved a number of stations, including natural tie dye, popcorn making, holey pipe, an egg and spoon relay, doughnut on a string and the grand finale, the Total Wipeout course!!! A day where teamwork and communication were the key, the students worked hard and laughed lots while undertaking the many challenges set them. The evening was topped off with some excellent campfire performances by students (and teachers) even inspiring some students to write original songs and sketches.
Regents Yr6 Chiang Mai
11 - 15 February, 2019 Exploring Life in The North (Chiang Mai) The students were invited to reflect on their relationship with and impact on the environment and learned about the natural world, focusing specifically on mountains. One of the places we visited was a Hmong village in the mountains of Chiang Mai. There we discovered how traditional clothes are woven and experimented with a traditional go cart as well as crossbow shooting. Our time with the Hmong people was enlightening and allowed students to observe how indigenous people lived as well as how they have adapted agricultural practice to remain competitive in a modern market. The students had the opportunity to visit a local crafts such as basket weaving as well as a rice mill and Buddhist temple in the northern style. Later that day we learn about the process of growing and processing rice. From ploughing the field with buffalo, which every student took part in; planting seeds and harvesting; then milling and winnowing, the students got first hand experience of each and gained the perspective of the traditional rice farmer. After learning the agricultural process, students were able to take it the rest of the way by cooking and eating rice grown at the farm along with a number of other northern Thai delicacies, on wood burning stoves. Gathered around a communal tray of food we ate in traditional Thai style, sitting on the ground and with our hands! We also took part in a Khantok dinner followed by a performance of traditional Northern Thai war chanting with fire and dance. The centrepiece of our northern experience was our trip to the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthanon. At the Siriphum Waterfall we collected macro-invertebrates to investigate water quality which was then compared to our expectations of the Chao Phraya River, and discussed way water quality may change as we progress down the watershed. Then we hiked a mountain trail, through jungle, over rivers, and along waterfalls to get to the Karen Village where we would be staying the night. Divided into small groups we spent the night in traditional Karen houses and had dinner with our hosts. The students were able to learn some words in the local language as well as some traditional Karen customs. What a wonderful night and fruitful experience. When sharing our stories we observed the contrasts between our life in the city and the lives of the Karen people. The next day the students visited the local school and played games with young students. It was a great exchange and opportunity to realise we can all have fun and communicate even if we live in very different ways. Before heading back to Chiang Mai we stopped at the summit of Doi Inthanon, where we learned about forest adaptations and water sources. One of our visits included The Royal Project site where we had a delicious lunch and visited the greenhouses, hydroponics and the gardens. What a beautiful place and amazing project! The children also had time to explore the night bazaar in Chiang Mai after dinner on the way down from Doi Inthanon. We will miss you Year 6 and we hope to see you again next year!
Regents Yr4 Khao Yai
13-15 February 2019 We were joined in Khao Yai by year 4 students from Regent’s International School Bangkok. As we entered through the gates of the National Park the atmosphere changed from restlessness to excitement. Students kept a careful watch through the windows of the van for any signs of wildlife. This excitement continued after we had checked into our rooms and began our first activities in two separate groups. Our first afternoon saw us explore the grassland habitat looking for tracks and signs of animals and it didn’t disappoint, students were lucky enough to find lots of evidence of bears that had been using the area, although the bears themselves remained safely out of sight. We managed to fit in an additional game relating to the fluctuating predator-prey populations in a national park, before dinner. Our evening activities had students pretending to be bats and moths and learning how to stealthily catch predators. After breakfast, students were ready to begin another day of activities. In our groups, we rotated between a hike through the forest and exploring the use of bio-indicators. The forest hike allowed students to use their identification skills learned the previous day. To explore the use of bio-indicators we focused on macro-invertebrates in a river habitat and lichens in a forest habitat. Students enjoyed searching for, and identifying species and interpreting what these species tell us about the health of the environment. Before the day’s activities came to a close we enjoyed a night safari during which a civet, a mouse deer, sambar deer and porcupines were spotted. Our third and final day was short and sweet before heading back to Bangkok. With their new-found knowledge about human impacts on habitat and armed with bin bags and tongs the students completed an extremely successful litter pick around our accommodation. With two large bags of rubbish, all of our staff were extremely impressed by the commitment of the children to improve their environment. Lastly, we took a short walk through forest habitat focusing on plant adaptations before finishing at the souvenir shop.
Wellington College Yr6-8 Kanchanaburi
11-15 February 2019 The Barge Program was delighted to welcome students from the newly opened Wellington College International School, Bangkok, for their first ever residential trip. The intrepid explorers headed to Kanchanaburi to investigate the natural and WW2 history of the province and take part in a service project working with a local forest community. We began at perhaps Kanchanaburi’s most famous landmark, the Bridge over the River Kwae to discover why POWS were first bought to the province- to work as slaves on the epic 415km railway planned by the Japanese to run from Thailand across the mountains into Burma. After witnessing first-hand the bridge and railway the POWS had worked on, it was time to find out more about life as a POW. The living conditions, workload, rations and medical treatments were further explored at the Thai Burma Railway Centre, before we considered the impacts that war has, not only on the men fighting, but their homes and communities a during a visit to the Donrak POW cemetery. We then moved on to learn more about the areas natural history and began to understand the challenged faced by the POWS in this mountainous terrain. A long tailed boat ride along the river allowed us to observe the diversity of birdlife and also consider modern settlement and the impacts of tourism and development on the famous River Kwae. To reach our next destination involved a steep climb up to Lawa Cave, located in Sai Yok National Park. Here we traveled way back in time to consider how the caves were formed and learn about the impressive stalactites and stalagmites decorating the caves interior. The cave is also home to several bat species which the students were able to ‘overhear’ using a bat detector to eavesdrop on the echo locating mammals. The afternoon saw us enjoying a walk along the nature trail to immerse ourselves in the bamboo forests of the mountains, enjoying the sights sounds and smells of the National Park, followed by an ice cream treat to reward ourselves after the walk and climb! The evening’s campfire provided many laughs and marshmallows were a great finale to a busy day. Our final challenge of the week was spending time at Samakee Tham Village and community forest and learning about their sustainability practices. Working with two of the communities’ expert dam builders we learnt the importance of water management in the forest. After several drier than expected rainy seasons and hotter dry seasons, the community suffered severe water shortages, eventually running out of water and having to buy and import it in from surrounding areas. Since then the community has worked hard to ensure they can better manage their water. Creating a small reservoir has helped with water storage and they have been creating a series of small bamboo and stone dams in the forest to slow the flow of water and reduce run off from the mountains. With a plan to build 1200 dams across their community, the Wellington students rolled up their sleeves and worked to create dams number 667 and 668. Using only natural materials and elbow grease the willing year 6s showed excellent teamwork and communication skills to get the hard work done. After a break for lunch the students went on to learn more about the other sustainability practices employed in the village, including using bamboo to make bamboo blinds which the students got to assist in making and using the scrap bamboo to shred and make into a plywood which can be used to make items such as shelves, cabinets and birdhouses. The students also learnt how villagers from the community are travelling to other local communities in Kanchanaburi to teach them how to build dams to manage their water and how they can make the most sustainable use of the natural resources around them and working with the government o raise funds to provide more villages with the machinery and expertise needed to shred and create the bamboo plywood. After a busy week learning about Kanchanaburi’s history, the Wellington students had practiced their communication and teamwork skills, learnt independence and resilience and had enjoyed the challenge and opportunity to give something back and contribute to an important project within the local community.
PREM G7 Khao Yai
4 – 8 February 2019 The students immersed themselves to their new wild surroundings and adapted to the rainforest environment very quickly. The students were treated to some wonderful wildlife moments throughout the week with the highlight being their own personal serenade form a wild gibbon whilst eating their breakfast outside the accommodation. Despite the insects and the heat the students did themselves proud and took part in three hikes through the rainforest where they were rewarded for their efforts by encountering ten hornbills in one tree, very fresh tracks from the elusive wild dog (Dhole) and bear, as well as the magical experience of watching a million bats leave their roost for a night of foraging. Leaving nothing but footprints and taking only memories the students respected the rules of the National Park with great maturity. Everyone on the trip had a great time and they returned to Chiang Mai full of new knowledge, appreciation and memories of this wonderful forest.
Bromsgrove Yr8 Chanthaburi
28 January – 1 February, 2019 Naomi, Te, and I were waiting at 8am on Monday in the red and white halls of the prestigious Bromsgrove international school, peering at the accolades of previous alumni that adorn the walls, through sleepy eyes. All three of us were certainly feeling the 5am wake up that was necessary to avoid Bangkok traffic and get there on time. Finally our group of thirty three year 8 students and their teachers were ready to set off on their adventure. Chanthaburi awaits! Setting the fast passed and outdoor based tone of this trip our initial destination was not to drop off our bags at the accommodation but rather to immediately take a boat to the beautiful Koh Manai Island and visit the turtle sanctuary there. As usual the students took to this task with ease, dawning their lifejackets and settling in for the ride. Upon arrival we were chaperoned by the warden of the sanctuary here. A genuine expert on the subject with an endless fount of knowledge and seemingly as many turtle themed shirts as he has years of conservation experience under his belt (trust me that’s A LOT). With this man extensive knowledge the students learned much of what can be learned of giant sea turtles in Thailand’s seas, all while seeing live turtles in various stages of development, many of which will be released when large enough and some who despite being injured will still aid the conservation initiative via captive breeding programs. An hour later the students and teachers where snorkelling over the nearby coral beds to get a better idea of all the beauty the sea has to offer, while Naomi and I put our hard earned life guarding qualifications to the test. The next day after a filling and soon to be much needed breakfast we set out for our mangrove walk on the labyrinth of boardwalks that pass over the brackish muddy water. During this walk students got a chance to encounter many of the animal and plant species that live in this environment and with the help of information cards educate each other about how well adapted they are to it. This is all on the way to a personal highlight of the trip, mangrove kayaking. After a demonstration of how to conduct oneself properly in a kayak what follows is a master class in teamwork, communication and cooperation…ideally. It took a little while for everyone to get into the rhythm of it but after they did a combination of the physical exercise and amazing scenery while passing alongside, and sometimes under, the twisted roots of the mangroves, left everyone with a smile on their face. Next was a visit to a sea farming demonstration unit. This fantastic location allowed the students to not only observe the farming of a number of commercial fish species that many will have only ever seen on the plate, but also get to observe some of the larger non-commercial species that have been rescued and are currently being rehabilitated such as bull sharks, leopard sharks and sea turtles. As well as this in-depth look into food production and responsible marine practices, the students got to interact with the men and women who work in this environment and hear their perspective. On this vain the next activity, after a short ride to a local fishing community, is to investigate these perspectives. This challenges our students too, from the perspective of either; economy, society, nature, or wellbeing, to come up with and ask questions to locals who have agreed and are happy to be questioned. The result is a greater understanding of how the rapidly changing world can affect the people of this community and how this community in turn relates to the wider world and the students life in Bangkok. After reflecting on these heavy academic concepts the surprise arrival of an ice-cream man was much welcomed by students and teachers alike. By 9am the next day we arrived at our community service location of a nearby agriculture unit. Over the course of the next three hour the students got their hands dirty planting kale, felt the wondrous spongy qualities of moss, helped plant new mulberry trees as well as make and sample some mulberry juice, and finally create nearly one hundred nutrient bags to be used in mushroom growing. Phew! A busy couple of hours deserved the large lunch that followed. After lunch, a number short games explore our ecological impact on the environment and the dynamics of a fishing economy, perfectly preparing the students for the subsequent litter pick. It is quite amazing to see children, many of whom have never cleaned more than their room before, take pleasure in cleaning something that does not belong to them but rather to us all. Some clean with a fervent energy, desperate to get the largest piece of plastic while others are meticulous in there combing of the beach for the smallest scrap of wrapping. Swimming in the sea, dinner and some more beach games follow before a well-earned nights rest. Our final day took place entirely in the nearby national parks with their nearly untouched jungles. By the time lunch rolled around we had already been on our first hike, experiencing both the tranquillity that can be found in the forest while contradicting listening to the deafening sound of life that surrounds us. After lunch was the trips second ice-cream treat, this time served by yours truly! I shall forever have patience when it comes to getting my ice-cream scooped, it’s very difficult after the 50th scoop or so, so much so that Te thought he could do a better job…he couldn’t. After a second hike in which the students summited an eight tier waterfall, at the top of which many photographs were taken, it was time for our greatest challenge yet…cooking our own dinner. This involved the preparation, cooking (over coals) and serving of all of our food that night on banana leaves and coconut bowls. The kids preformed fantastically! From lighting the coal stoves to cutting meet to garnishing with fresh herbs the students where great and I wager we way have some budding chiefs on our hands. To round off the night we toasted marshmallows over the fire thoroughly exhausted and full to bursting, but unquestionably content. Our final day consisted of a quick morning breakfast, packing and heading back early for a 3pm arrival at the school. After the students had been dropped off that led to Naomi, Te and I sitting once again in Bromsgrove international, staring at the accolades of the students who have passed through those red and white halls, this time with a greater appreciation of how amazing the students are.
ELC Yr1 River
21, 22 and 23 January, 2019 Having arrived early in order to prepare, (the deck was soon cleared, journals and pencils clipped together, life jackets laying in neat rows,) our barge team settled in for what we suspected to be a long wait. However contrary to the whims of Bangkok traffic we were not waiting very long. Over each of the three days we lined the students up in front of the life jackets, and each day you could visibly see excitement change to nervousness and back again in an instant. This nervous energy lasted through our safety briefing, as we fitted the life jackets (which they continued to wear for the duration of the trip), as they boarded the boat, and up until the first time ' snack time' is uttered, at which point it is immediately replaced by an obsessive desire for hot chocolate! Our first activity is river bingo which prompts the young students to observe their surroundings and consider why the things that they see are there and what effects they (as well as themselves) might have on the riverine environment. After a quick 'river boat' song we move on to our next activity, river soup. This lesson builds upon the previous themes of anthropogenic effect on the river with a focus on pollution and gives the students a visual representation of the effects that each action along the river may have, the result is a container full of water that the kids have seen become increasingly more 'polluted' as they discuss the sources of said pollution. After such an intellectually stimulating conversation, the students have accumulated vast quantities of energy that can only be released by a little movement, 'captains coming' a Simon says type game is sufficient to expend it, as well as exhaust our own. The Barge staffs’ last activity before lunch is to investigate the water hyacinth (which can be found in vast quantities in the Chao Phraya) for macro invertebrates, challenging the students out of their comfort zones as well as considering the living world in a more scientific manner. Immediately before lunch our ELC colleagues have a chance to lead their children in some project work, in this case observing the visual world in the form of pictures and monochromatic drawings. After children and adults alike wash our hands it is time for a lunch spread prepared by our master-chef two-man barge crew Pete and Pat, who specialise in a delicious selection of both traditional Thai and western fare. It is important to us at the Barge Program that we are not only stimulating our students academically but also that they gain important life skills with us also. To that end we prompt the children to wash and dry their own plates and cutlery, a task that they always take to with gusto, so much so that the mop is almost immediately employed. Bellies full, the students settle in for a story depicting the relationship between a river dweller the river, tentatively indicating that simply taking the resources of the river without regard for the river itself may have wide and long lasting implications. Finally after a packed five hours we only have enough time for one more game before the students head back to their school.
Bangkok Patana Yr6 Chanthaburi
20-25 January, 28 January - 1 February, 2019 Like driftwood washed up on the beach, residential programs contribute to the change and growth in young people. Y6 students from Bangkok Patana International School experienced one such residential as they explored human impact on the marine environments of Chanthaburi. From the social aspects of sharing a bedroom away from home, personal organization of turning up to each activity with the right clothing and equipment to the challenges of kayaking, cooking over fires, and communicating with fisherfolk, the trip exposed students to a range of new ideas and experiences and has contributed to the stories that will be told and retold in weeks and years to come as students recount their “year 6 resi” adventures!
14-17 Jan 2019 We finally escaped the smog of Bangkok and arrived in the beautiful fresh air of Charloem Rattanakosin National Park. After checking in to our accommodation, we started preparing for our jungle cooking session. Many students did not get the opportunity to cook at home and were enthusiastic about cooking and eating some new things like barbequed tofu and hand-made salsa. After we had eaten as much as we could possibly eat we went on a walk in search of bats. Whilst we could hear them on the bat detector they were staying out of sight. The following day we hiked up a mountain, stopping along the way for stunning views, and finally finishing at the temple at the mountain top. The students had earned a rest after this walk and so we headed to Prasat Muang Singh where students could take a leisurely walk around the ancient khmer settlement. Despite some heavy rain the students were eager to explore. Later that evening students learned about the different peoples that have inhabited the Kanchanaburi province over millennia. Day 3 took us the Elephant World, an elephant sanctuary, where everyone fed both adults and babies and bathed 2 adults. At the end of a very long but enjoyable day students were set the challenge of making popcorn using limited supplies including foil trays and candles. Our penultimate day was more somber. Students visited Donrak Cemetery, a Railway Museum and Hell Fire Pass to learn about the Death Railway during WWII. Students really engaged with all of the activities and showed a high level of maturity whilst discussing the tragic history of the Death Railway. Lastly we explored Sai Yok National Park. Taking a walk through a cave system everyone was lucky enough to see bats roosting inside as well as the incredible stalagmite and stalactite formations. The week was rounded off nicely when kingfishers were spotted on the boat journey to the restaurant for lunch.
ISB G5 Chanthaburi
14 – 16, 16 – 18 January, 2019 On a morning reminiscent of 18th century London smog, Bangkok was barely visible as the barge team left early on Monday, happy to be leaving the city behind for the sands and sea of Chanthaburi. Our first task was to race the ISB buses down to our accommodation, a task made more pressing as we bumped into them at the service station on the way there. We made good time however thanks to the skills of our exceptional driver P' Tor. Without even a moment to contemplate on the peace of the lapping surf, fifty-nine energetic grade 5 ISB students arrived with a mountain of luggage to boot. To ensure safety and effective education this large number of students were promptly split into three smaller groups, as such the remainder of this report will be from the perspective of one of these groups while other groups are doing all the activities in a slightly different order. After a quick introduction, and a much needed lunch, first on the agenda is the local aquarium. One of the benefits of our Chanthaburi location, out with the amazing teaching opportunities it provides, is the close proximity of all these locations to our accommodation, with none of the sites being more than a five minute drive from one another. The aquarium provides the students with a two tiered lesson. The first is the more obvious ability to take time to observe the marine species in an intimate manner that would be extremely difficult to do so in the wild, and as such the students always engage this activity with gusto. The key lesson here is observing behaviour and physiological adaptations, prompting students to consider nature’s boundless diversity and ingenuity. The next lesson, conducted in a quiet corner, is an ethical debate on the role of aquariums and the moral as well as socioeconomic implications that such a facility may have. The discussions the students subsequently engaged in highlight the complexity of the topic as well as how many of our students are bound for a career in politics or litigation. Next is a visit to a sea farming demonstration unit. This fantastic location allows the students to not only observe the farming of a number of commercial fish species that many will have only ever seen on the plate, but also get to observe some of the larger non-commercial species that have been rescued and are currently being rehabilitated such as bull sharks, leopard sharks and sea turtles. As well as this in-depth look into food production and responsible marine practices, the students also get to interact with the men and women who work in this environment and hear their perspective. Back at our accommodation and after a riveting introduction to sea turtles by yours truly regarding my time spent working with them in a scientific and conservation based capacity, the students played our very own 'turtle hurdle' game on the beach. This game not only tires the students (and occasionally their teachers) out but also demonstrates just how difficult the life of a turtle can be, how stacked the odds are against any single individual making it to maturity are, and to what degree humans play in this difficulty. Using this lesson as a jumping off point, all student groups get together and conduct a beach clean-up, competing to collect the most rubbish from the beach while working together to record what they have found which is then discussed afterword’s. It is quite amazing to see children, many of whom have never cleaned more than their room before, take pleasure in cleaning something that does not belong to them but rather to us all. Some clean with a fervent energy, desperate to get the largest piece of plastic while others are meticulous in their combing of the beach for the smallest scrap of wrapping. Dinner and some more beach games follow before a well-earned night’s rest. The next day starts early for a 7 am breakfast before a short bus ride to the nearby mangrove. As an introduction to this fascinating ecosystem, a game is played that emphasises the complex relationship between the importance of mangrove management and development, and the needs of the species that live within such areas. As high minded as this sounds the game largely involves the children throwing small soft balls at each other, as such they tend to enjoy… Next up is a personal highlight of the trip, mangrove kayaking. A half hour walk into the mangrove takes us to a jetty with a mixture of brightly coloured kayaks much to the students’ excitement. Beside this jetty is another with a large pile of life jackets that the children are promptly taught how to wear properly, much to their chagrin. After a demonstration of how to conduct oneself properly in a kayak what follows is a master class in teamwork, communication and cooperation…ideally. Sometimes it takes a little while for everyone to get into the rhythm of it but after they do a combination of the physical exercise and amazing scenery while passing alongside, and sometimes under, the twisted roots of the mangroves, leaves everyone with a smile on their face. This smile becomes a grin after returning when the students find out that their hard work has earned the glorious reward of ice-cream. After lunch it’s the mangroves again for a walk on the labyrinth of boardwalks that pass over the brackish muddy water. During this walk students get a chance to encounter many of the animal and plant species that live in this environment and with the help of information cards educate each other about how well adapted they are to it. On the return journey there is a chance to observe the nearby shrimp farm and discuss the benefits that the mangrove provides for filtering waste water from the farm. The last night of the trip involves a campfire, allowing the kids (and barge staff) to showcase some of their skills and let off a little steam. Particular favourites include, the numerous ghost stories involving the same scary doll and number of sketch comedy shows. The night wraps up roasting marshmallows and activity many in the group have never done before making observing it all the more enjoyable before a relatively early night. The next morning, a couple of closing games allow students to reflect on the past couple of days and what they enjoyed before leaving early to beat the traffic back home. As the barge team wave the group off we congratulate each other on a job well done, and head off for a well-earned rest on the beach…for an hour…as the next group of eighty is about to arrive…
ISB Girl Scouts River
12-13 January, 2019 ISB Girl Scouts joined us for a weekend on the Barge. The girls were great to work with; they actively engaged in Barge Crews cooking yummy breakfast, lunch and dinners for the group; keeping the barge clean and helping us navigate. After cruising down the river for a couple of hours we stopped off at Piyawan Resort where we spent the night. At the resort the girls got to go kayaking on the Chao Phraya and to tie dye cloth bags using natural dyes. In the evening we had a campfire which was lots of fun, especially when the scouts taught us some new songs that we all loved. We finished, of course with toasting marshmallows. The next day after a delicious breakfast we set off sailing back down the Chao Phraya to Bangkok stopping on the way at Ko Kret to explore the temple and have a go at making some pottery. On board the Barge we played games and made recycled paper studded with seeds which the girls will plant to find out what the surprise flowers are. Then it was time for one last set of Barge Crews before saying goodbye to the girls in Bangkok. Thanks for a great trip and hopefully we’ll see you next year!
St Andrews Samakee Kanchanaburi
9-11 January 2019 After a long journey to Kanchanaburi, we arrived at the famous Bridge over the River Kwai for our first history lesson and some sketching of the bridge. After lunch we explored the Jeath Museum, and were lucky enough to interview the curator of the museum. Pupils asked some excellent questions about where the artefacts had come from and why the museum had been set up in the first place. Arriving at Tree Tara Resort it was time for some team-building games; parachute, gutterball and a rather wet holey pipe where most of the water ended up over the staff and pupils rather than in the pipe! This was followed by some free time in the lovely pool and playing on the sports field. On day 2 we travelled to the Lawa caves via longtail boat. This was a hugely enjoyable ride for all the pupils and during the forty-five minute journey we saw egrets, kingfishers and ancient waterfalls. After exploring the Lawa caves and seeing the beautiful formations of the stalactites and stalagmites, we travelled onwards to Hell Fire Pass. After visiting the newly re-opened Hell Fire Pass museum we went for a walk through Hell Fire Pass. After a hard walk at Lawa caves some of the pupils found the walk a little of a struggle! This helped them envisage the hardship and atrocities the Prisoners of War faced whilst working on the cutting, and this creativity was channeled into their poetry writing, with some excellent poems being written. It was campfire time this evening, and the pupils all took to this with gusto. After some games and songs by barge staff many of the pupils volunteered to lead activities too. We had dancing, games, and an excellent rendition of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ by the Forces Sweetheart Vera Lynn. Our final day in Kanchanaburi started with a tribal mapping activity, where pupils explored different groups who colonized Kanchanaburi province. We then travelled to the Thailand Burma Railway Centre where pupils explored further about Thailand’s role in World War II, and got to see artefacts left behind by the Prisoners of War. This was followed by a poignant visit to the cemetery to see where some of the Prisoners of War had been laid to rest. After our final reflection and lunch we headed back to Bangkok and said goodbye.
St Andrews 107 Yr7 Chanthaburi
8 - 11 January, 2019 An adventure in Chanthaburi Camping at Khao Kitchikut, Having fun jungle cooking, Adventuring and exploring waterfalls, Night time games and scary stories, Talent show with dancing, gymnastics and comedy skits, Beach clean ups to start the day, Understanding the importance of mangroves and kayaking through them, Remembering how we can reduce our- Impact on the environment. We had a great time with Y7 St. Andrews 107 and were very impressed with how enthusiastic they were with the beach clean up and that they carried it on throughout the day even picking up litter whilst we were kayaking.
Fernhill Canada & St Andrews USA, Auytthaya
4 – 6 January 2019 Fernhill School (Canada) and St Andrew’s School (USA) joined the Barge team for a third successive year for a “Once in a lifetime” trip to Ayutthaya, Thailand. Day 1: After a well-deserved lay in to combat their jet lag, The Barge team collected both schools from their hotel and travelled to the historical city of Ayutthaya. We arrived later afternoon at a camp situated on the side of the Chao Phraya River. The students spent the evening taking part in activities that included an introduction to Thailand, Thai culture and learnt a handful of useful phrases. Day 2: An early wakeup call was needed as breakfast wasn’t going to cook itself! The students were responsible for preparing, cooking and serving all the meals on this trip and they were up to the task! After breakfast we boarded the barge and set sail on a trip down river to visit two very different Wats or temples. Wat Protsat is a very traditional Thai style temple, however Wat Niwet, with is European, gothic church style is vastly different. In the afternoon the students took part in creating flower decorations out of Sesbania flower, an invasive species in Thailand, which is now being use by locals to create beautiful arrangements. Some of the final creations were really good and would not have looked out of place in a 5- star hotel lounge. The day was finished with lessons in Buddhism, a subject all the students were very keen to learn about and they took a lot away with them before settling down for an early night. Day 3: The Buddhism lesson and early night were definitely needed as day 3 started early, very early in order to give alms and make merit with visiting monks to our camp, an experience that was made even more special by the picturesque Chao Phraya river as our backdrop for our last morning together. We spent the rest of the day visiting museums and temples important in the understanding of Ayutthaya, Thailand’s fallen capital. The students got to experience a ride in Thailand’s world famous ‘Tuk Tuk’s’. After an exciting drive though the city we arrived at the impressive and ancient ruins at Wat Chai Wattanram. The students were tasked with taking photos of interesting areas around the temple, something that proved very popular. Before we left the students took some time to reflect on the stories they had been told of the fall of Ayutthaya and spent fifteen minutes creating stories in the minds of how the events could have unfolded through the eyes of various citizens…..and an elephant!
RIS G6 Khao Yai
12 – 14 December 2018 Day 1 Students started their three day trip by learning about food webs within Khao Yai and how loss of vegetation/habitats affects all species within the food web. This was followed up with bird-watching, allowing the students to find and identify the many species in the forest and grassland habitats. Here students learned the important lessons of staying quiet and keeping alert to have the best chance of sighting wildlife. To further develop identification skills students collected and identified macro-invertebrates from a river – species included stonefly and mayfly nymphs – these were then used as bio-indicators to assess the quality of the water at this site. Similarly, students learned about the make-up of lichens and then tried to identify some of the species on the edge of the forest, as another type of bio-indicator, in order to assess the air quality of the site. Day 2 Students started the second with a short hike through the grassland trail looking closely for the tell-tale signs of wildlife such as tracks, scat, nests etc. This hike finished at a raised bird hide where students were able to get a better view of the grassland, lake and salt-lick pit. Whilst there was a lot of scat around animals unfortunately remained hidden. For the final part of the morning students played a game to learn about the theory of island biogeography – how the size, shape and connectivity of a habitat island affects the abundance and diversity of species the can survive in the island. We considered the effects of human actions such as habitat destruction and looked into the optimal design for national parks. After lunch we walked through the forest, alongside a stream before hiking out of the valley paying close attention to the various adaptations of plants before returning back to our accommodation for a well-earned rest. Day 3 On our final morning students took on a range of activities and challenges which focused on the United Nation’s sustainable development goals, which hope to be accomplished by 2030. Activities included building the best tower from sustainable materials (egg boxes, newspaper etc.), eating insects during the ‘sustainable eating’ challenge and designing plots of land with as few sources of pollution as part of the ‘sustainable development’ challenge. The nine teams raced around the activities and used team-work and communication to complete as many as possible in the two- hour time frame. Barge staff were extremely impressed throughout the with the students’ team-work, their lateral thinking and their determination throughout the challenges, and so certificates and medals were handed out to students before saying our final farewells after which we all headed back to Bangkok.
Ascot Yr3 River
27,28 November 2018 Today was an exciting day for year 3 students from Ascot international School. Not only was it there first time on a barge for most but for many it was the first time they had even seen the Chao Phraya river. We spent the morning cruising up and down parts of Thailand’s longest river. The students got the chance to learn how we can use creatures living in the water hyacinth, of which there is an abundance on the river, as a ‘bio indicator’ to test how clean the water is. The students also learnt about the origins of the Chao Phraya and the impact humans have on the river and saw for themselves the amount of human trash that is floating on the water. Ascot International School showed great enthusiasm and learnt a lot of information but most importantly everybody left with smiles.
Brighton Yr9 Snake Farm
21 November 2018 A great day was had with eight Brighton College Year 9 pupils at Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute’s Snake Farm in Bangkok. The day started with pupils learning how to classify living organisms and find out how various snake species are adapted to their habitats. This was followed by pupils watching the snake handlers milk banded krait for their venom, before studying how anti-venom and vaccines work and why the Red Cross Centre is so important. The highlight of the day was the snake show, where the highly trained snake handlers held a multitude of venomous and non-venomous snakes and demonstrated their various adaptations. Some of the pupils were even brave enough to hold a yellow python at the end of the show.
ISB G1 Ko Kret
20, 21, 22 November, 2018 ISB Grade 1 joined us on Ko Kret for a day exploring the island, making pottery and learning about the history of Ko Kret and the culture of the Mon people who settled there. The day began with a ferry ride over to Ko Kret where the children enjoyed looking out at the Chao Phraya. Once on the island the group split up to do a rotation of pottery making, a visit to the pottery museum, map reading and a trip to the leaning chedi. Pottery Making The highlight of the trip for most of the children was getting to make their own Mon style pot at the pottery factory. At the factory the children also learnt about where the clay was sourced and got to see the kiln where pots have to be fired for three days and three nights. Pottery Museum At the pottery museum the children observed a wide array of Mon pots from intricately painted pots to water cooling pots and even some pots originally gifted to the king of Ayutthaya. Map Reading Grade 1 used the map reading skills they had recently learnt at the high school to create a key of the different locations we visited on Ko Kret and to help us find our way around. Leaning Chedi At the leaning chedi it was time for some history and the children learnt about how the island was formed in 1722 when the king of Ayutthaya ordered 10,000 men to dig a canal to create a shortcut from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. In 1757 the mon people were allowed to settle here after they had fled unrest in their country. The legend of the magical crocodile who brought the mon people over from Pegu and now sleeps under the chedi, causing it to lean, particularly enchanted grade 1- some of the children even heard the crocodile as they tip toed round the chedi.
KPIS Bang Pu
15 November 2018 One hundred students and staff from Keerapat International School (KPIS) met the Barge team at 9am at the entrance to Bang Pu Mangrove Forest. The objective of their trip was to investigate the importance of the mangroves, record species populations within the mangrove and help with mangrove restoration. Today was a day to forget about air conditioning, keeping clean and city life. In order to achieve their trip objectives the students needed to step out of their comfort zone and get down and dirty in the mud!!! The students stepped up to the challenge and embraced the conditions with great enthusiasm and excitement. In order to record species population separate stations were set up around Bang Pu. The main species we focused on were birds in and around the bird hide, invertebrates on land and invertebrates in the mangrove substrate. The students were able to be scientists in the field for one day. The students caught, collected and recorded the species they found by running around with nets, digging and sieving in the mud and using pooters to suck up any invertebrates they found. These activities provided the students with raw data that they were able to take back to their school and use in future lessons. Mangrove planting is always a popular activity. Mangrove planting gives the students a great chance to get in the mud, cool down and generally have fun all whilst making a positive and long lasting impression on the mangroves. This activity provides powerful feelings that fill students with a great sense of pride and gives them a connection forever to this important ecosystem.
November 5 – 7, 2018 Setting off on Monday morning and heading straight to the salt farm in Samut Songkram province south-west of Bangkok, our Year 5s and 6s were ready to learn about Thailand’s natural resources and how to use them sustainably. At the farm we practiced various uses of salt, including making salted eggs, spa scrubs and, most importantly, ice lollies! Our students toured the farm, learning about the different tools and religious ceremonies farmers are familiar with, and, despite the heat, managed to come up with some interesting questions of their own to investigate the life of the salt farmer. We stayed at the lovely riverside resort of Baan Tai Had, which always provides a beautiful sunset when we go for a swim in the pool. We had fun playing games in the hall when evening came. On our second day we adventured into the mangroves to acquaint ourselves with the weird and wonderful adaptations the plants and animals have there. We spotted mudskippers and went bird-watching by the sea, while teaching each other about the specialized trees and creatures as we walked along the mangrove boardwalk. In the afternoon we headed to Chu Chi, and local school where we used some of Thailand’s natural resources to make useful products. We used nippa palm leaves to weave roofs, coconut to cook a super yummy desert and dried the local delicacy hoi lot (razor clams) to prepare them for selling. On our final day together we visited a local sugar plantation that works as a twelve family co-operative growing sugar palms to process into sugar, as well as loads of other organic products. Here we observed and took part in the process from start to finish, from collecting the nectar to stirring the mixture to making sugar cakes. We even got to taste and take-home some of the delicious products! Overall our students had a wonderful time, and challenged themselves to learn a whole bunch of new things about resources and how to use them. See you next time AISB!