Location: The New Life Project Kanchanaburi
Today we all woke up early enough to be downstairs to have breakfast at 7:30. Just like the other days we have been here, our breakfast was just like an American dinner! It’s not often you get to have hot dogs and french fries for breakfast. After eating a delicious and satisfying breakfast, we headed off to clean our dishes. We are now all used to this routine. After breakfast, we headed to the same high school as we went to yesterday. The bumpy road we often take (with potholes every few inches) was filled with water from all the rain the other night. Luckily it was not raining at the moment, which made me hopeful that it would not rain for the elephant trekking. When we got to the high school, we all gathered in the gym with a stage. The first thing we did was play a huge game of sharks and minnows. In this game, all the minnows stand at one end of the room.Then the shark calls out a color, and if you are wearing that color, then you have to run to the other side without getting caught. If you get caught, then you become seaweed and have to stand still and try to catch other people. Since each grade had a different colored shirt, it made calling out colors easy. Since there were about 200 people, it was hard for anyone to win in the end because there we people filling every space of the room. After that, we split into smaller groups. There were six groups, and each group was assigned a game or activity to play with the kids. These included the human knot, duck duck goose, beading and bracelet making, the hula hoop game, and football throwing. I was in a group with Curtis and Nina doing the human knot. It was very hard to get the kids to understand how to play. But after miming out how to play and lots of tries, each group of kids I went to understood and had a great time. At about 11:00 we all gathered together to say goodbye to the high school. One of the boys stood up and thanked us for coming to the school in English, and the leaders of the day thanked the high school for letting us come. Then we went to the principles office to talk to him about the school and thank him. He told us about the percentages of kids that make it through the schooling and how the school is funded. He deeply thanked us for coming and giving the kids an opportunity to learn some English and have fun while doing it. He told us how the kids would never forget this. After this, we got back into the vans and headed back home to the New Life Project. We had a delicious Thai meal. They now remember how much we love the mangoes, and put plates out for us. I think I have eaten more mangoes in the past four days here than I have in my entire life. After lunch, we got ready to go elephant trekking. Some of us put on bathing suits on because we were going to a waterfall. I made sure to do that. Then we got into the vans and drove for about 25 minutes to the elephant trekking. Two of us sat on each elephant. Since we are an odd number, Reed got to sit on his elephant. I sat with Jess on an elephant. The first 30 seconds of being on the elephant were shocking and scary. We were so high up, and the seat rocked slightly making us think that we could fall. Very quickly we all got used to it. We trekked for about 30 minutes, which felt like five for all of us. The people who were riding the small elephants got a chance to ride on the neck of the elephant. Some elephants were 40 years old, and one was pregnant.the elephant the I was riding got it tail bitten off by another elephant. These elephants were spotted on their ears and trunk. It made them look very regal and beautiful.Then we got the option to feed the elephants. They stuck out their trunks and grabbed the food from your hands. Some of them got so needy that they put their trunks into the bucket and took the food themselves. After that, we went and saw an elephant show. There were two baby elephants in the show. They danced, played the harmonica, stood on their back legs, and bowed. Then we were each allowed to get an elephant massage. At the end of the show, you could pay 40 baht to get an elephant kiss and for it to pick you up with its trunk. It was super exciting, and we all had a lot of fun. After satisfying out elephant cravings, we headed off to a cave with a Buddha in it. When you first walk into the cave, there is a Buddha, the size of your hand.We were all wondering why we drove thirty minutes to see a Buddha the size of our hand in a cave until we turned the corner when we saw a HUGE Buddha in the cave. The next thing we did was go to the waterfall. It was about another 30-minute drive. When we got there, we got a snack of chocolate pies and chocolate sticks. They were delicious. Then we walked up a few stairs to the waterfall. It was gorgeous, and I was so glad that I brought my swimsuit. We walked carefully up the waterfall and bathed in the water with was warmer than the shower water we have been using. It was the most magical experience. I could have stayed there all day. We got some pretty awesome photos of us in the waterfall. Then we carefully headed back down to the waterfall and back to the vans. We then drove back to the New Life Project. The day flew by. By the time we got back, it was 6:00. We all changed out of our wet clothes and then headed to dinner. We got a dinner filled with fried chicken, skewers with hot dogs, noodles, and of course rice. None of us could believe that this was already our last dinner at our second home. After dinner, we all got time to hang out with the kids. Then we all headed into the meeting room and played the parachute game. Then we played a game with the parachute called cat and mouse the cat would stand in the middle of the parachute with a giant pillow. Then a few people would slide around under the parachute, and the cat would try to hit the mice with the pillow. After this, we had our usual nighttime dance party. I am going to miss the dance parties. Then we watched a slide show filled with all of the photos from our time in Kanchanaburi. Tears were shed mainly by me as we all got pains in our heart that this was out last night. We prayed with the kids, and then all the kids said in English “good night sleep tight don’t let the bed bugs bite.” We all gave out final nighttime hugs and headed off to bed dreading that we would be leaving tomorrow and thinking about what an amazing experienced we have had here. The memories that we have made here will always be in our hearts. We will never forget our time here ever. If I could spend a year there, I would. I think that we all can say that this was the best part of the entire trip so far and the most memorable. The bonds and connections that we all made were truly special. This truly is like a second home for us, and I know a lot of us will come back to visit it and come back to our friends and family at The New Life Project Kanchanaburi.