After a few days off it was time for the next camp, this one was to be at "Had Saithong Beach Resort" in Chantaburi province, about four hours drive from Ayutthaya. I was really exited for this one, not only was I was going to be do something I love but we were going to be on the beach, I had a feeling it was gonna be awesome. We went up the day before and arrived around 3pm, after check in we headed straight into the sea. It was a beautiful, quiet, secluded spot and the water was so warm. The kids were travelling to us from Sukothai, about 10 hours away, they wernt due to arrive until around 9am the next day so the evening for us was very chilled, we got a fairly early night so we ready for them in the morning.
The next day around 9ish two big buses turned up, there were only 72 kids for this camp with mixed ages (12-17) one kid I noticed had bought a guitar which I really happy about, I envisioned a little jam later on. Once they had all got their room keys and dropped off thier bags we started the program. At first I wasnt sure how well they could speak English as they were a little shy and seemingly very tired but it didnt take long for me to realise these were very smart kids and their English level for most of them was high.
After running the normal activities in the morning we had lunch and then briefed the kids on the afternoons outing, we were going to head to "Kung Krabaen Bay" a nature center not too far from the resort. Here they were given instructions of things to find and take pictures of, it was a great afternoon. When we got back around 4pm we had a two hour break before dinner, all the kids and some of us teachers went straight into the sea, we messed around in there until dinner it was a good laugh. After dinner we had two hours of activities which bought us up till 9pm it was then time for the kids to head to thier rooms whilst us teachers had a well deserved drink. A bottle of Hong Thong later I realised it was 2.30am and well and truly time for bed, the bed I had was hard (something I've noticed very common in Thailand) so I "borrowed" some of the cushions from the outdoor chairs to stick under the sheets, it turned out to be a brilliant idea as I had a great nights sleep although it only a few hours.
Day two came the usual drill, up at 7 for breakfast to start a new action packed day. It turns out the hotel staff thought some of the kids stole the missing cusions whereas they were still on my bed, when the room got made up they realised it was infact one of the teachers, it was pretty funny. After the morning activities it was time for our second outing, this time we had two places to go, the first "Ocean Sea World" to see a dolphin show and then to "Namtokphilo National Park" to visit a waterfall, the kids group assignment was again to take pictures and also create a short video talking about the different places. It was a brilliant afternoon. Upon returning to the hotel it was straight into the sea again, then dinner, activities and bed time. Much like the night before we got another bottle in and got stuck into that. Half way through the evening Save and Non, two of the kids came and found us with guitar in hand, they should have really been in bed but hey, whatever, none of the other kids were actually asleep anyway. They played us some Thai hits which were really enjoyable. The time came for us to go to bed, tomorrow would be our final day finishing at midday.
I felt a bit sad waking up knowing I would be saying goodbye to such a great group of kids. It had only been two days but I'd made a good bond with some of them. After some awesome games in the morning it was time to say goodbye, the last thing to do was to pick one student from our group to give a prize for being the best overall. I gave this to Boss, a remarkable boy who stuck out to me. He thanked me for everything and told me he would never forget me, that truly meant a lot to me, he will grow up to be an outstanding adult, he will go far as will many of the others.
This camp was by far the best for many reasons, the kids, the location, the trips, it was just perfect. One thing I must point out which didn't impress me (in fact which made me a bit angry) was the blatent use of child labour at the resort. The waitresses can only of been around 15 but the worst was the two boys doing labouring work, one maybe around 12 the other 10 at most, I saw him lugging around bricks and stone basically cleaning up after the builders, the work was too strenuous, he should have been at school. Im not naive, I know this stuff happens in this part of the world bit it is not nice to witness.
I hope to visit some of the students again in Sukothai at thier School, I plan to visit there again with Barnesy my friend who is coming over from England towards the end of January. I have one of the teachers contact details and will call him when im in town.
Today im off to Cambodia to do the dreaded visa run. Fai is driving and we're staying at a hotel in the infamous border town of Poipet filled with nothing but casinos. We're spending one night there then swinging by Pattaya on the way home for a couple of nights. It will be a little Christmas holiday within a holiday. Im looking forward to it (minus the part of dealing with the Cambodian officials of course)