Written on: 30/03/2013
I booked my trip from February to March as a solo traveller and absolutely loved every second of it. Pre-departure, Gap 360 were on hand to answer my (many) questions via phone or email which I found reassuring as this was my first time doing any travelling so I was unsure what to expect. Their website was also very helpful; I was given a personal login with detailed trip information, lists of what to take and a check list of what still needed to be organised.
The two days in Bangkok were brilliant and the atmosphere on Khao San Road was so enjoyable but to make the most of a short time there, it is non stop so don't expect to have much time to recover from jet lag! Also nice to mix with the other travellers on the Thai Adventure trip.
Five of us stayed in a rented house (beautiful location, western toilet, washing machine) about 5 minutes away from the orphanage. We had a lovely Thai family next door looking after us; felt very safe and the food they cooked was delicious, although their English was limited so a phrase book is an essential.
At the school we taught classes of about 30 children, aged 7 to 15, in pairs. We bought our own teaching materials while we were in Thailand to make lesson plans, flash cards and design games to help them learn in the most fun way possible as the classrooms were very hot and we had to keep them engaged. Monday - Thursday, 10 - 3, two sets of two hour lessons and all the teachers were welcoming and happy to have us there, especially the principle who ate with us every day and made a special effort to communicate, although his English was basic.
After school and on days off we went to the orphanage where the atmosphere was wonderful; Samson (the man who runs it) was extremely welcoming and arranged day trips for us and the kids to the waterfall (a must see, be prepared for quite a steep walk) and a Karen tribe village in the traditional dress. We played a lot of games with the children and went swimming in the river there; it was such a pleasure to spend time with them and to see how happy they were in our's and each other's company. Samson has created a real sense of community in their big family, he also speaks excellent English and literally never stops smiling! The sad stories of the children's pasts makes the whole place and their happy little personalities even more inspirational.
Overall, an incredible experience that I would strongly recommend.