The off-campus trips: The stuff that made the weekend so great

Hey guys;

Here it is, the post where I finally go into detail about the two off-campus trips mentioned in my other post.

So, there were two off-campus trips. The best part is, the second trip (which is a residential trip as mentioned in my other post), took place the day following the first trip! Can you believe it? That is why I considered this, in addition to the other events I mentioned in my earlier posts, to be a very good start to the second half of 2018, and…all these events after the midterm exams so far have proven me right; things are definitely improving since the setbacks of the first couple of months.

Anyways, let’s dive right into the two trips…

The first trip was a club trip. Yeah, after failing to secure places on so many club trips, I finally managed to secure a place on one, and that is the AIESEC club trip on July 6th. Although it was just a half-day trip, it’s still better than nothing…

At first I was worried whether this trip will actually happen as, up until the weekend before this trip, I heard nothing about it. To ensure that I don’t miss out on the registration (which I will assume is a first come first serve system), I decided to turn the notification for the AIESEC club group chat back on. And…finally, the registration link was posted and since I have notifications turned on, I went right ahead and fill in the details. Luckily the form was fairly simple and I was done within a matter of minutes.

To be honest, I was quite skeptical whether I will get a place, given my track record with trip registrations based on a first come first serve system, but on I think Tuesday (July 3rd) or Wednesday (July 4th) I received a mysterious phone call. I decided to pick it up, and…turns out it was a call from one of the organizers confirming my place on the trip! And…guess what, when I checked the list of participants, my name and student ID appeared fourth on the list! That was like…the most wonderful thing this year; to finally get a chance to go on a club trip. The very last time I went on a club trip was way back in March 2016; and back then it was only because someone dropped out that enabled me to secure a place.

The meeting time, from the main post in the chat, was I think 8AM. But on the day, even though it was nearly 8AM, there were suspiciously few people. I was worried, but eventually one of my friends (who was part of the organizing committee) showed up and informed me that the organizers are getting everyone some snacks and that the van would be leaving soon.

After waiting, the van did finally left, at like 8:30AM I think. The journey to Siam Museum took around 45 minutes. When we got there, turns out the museum opens exactly at 10AM so we have to wait.

When we finally got inside, we were briefed by one of the museum staff. We also had the option of receiving an audio guide for the exhibition, of which I decided to use. The audio guide came in a form of a small remote-like device with a headphone. I chose the Thai language guide. Luckily my friend was able to stay with me throughout the whole exhibition, so I decided to just ask her to play my audio guide whenever we enter an exhibition room.

The exhibition we went to was the one about what I can describe as the development of Thai nationalism throughout Thai history. The first set of rooms was on the third floor, containing about six exhibition rooms. In one of the rooms, there was like an audio film detailing how Thai nationalism developed since the rain of King Rama IV.

According to the film, during the Ayutthaya, Thonburi and early Rattanakosin eras, the concept of Thai nationalism did not exist. Thais, Laotians, Khmers and other ethnic groups live according to their own traditions and beliefs. It wasn’t until the rain of King Rama IV that the concept of Thai nationalism developed. Since then, this concept continues to evolve, in response to changing external environment but the fundamental pillars of Thai nationalism remained the same. Nation, religion and the monarchy. In the 20th century, this concept became an attraction for tourists. Thailand’s success in fending off against European colonists meant that much of her culture and tradition was preserved, thus enabling Thailand to use her cultural wealth as a selling point when promoting the country as a tourist destination.

The second set of exhibition rooms was on the second floor, and, unlike the first set of exhibition room, this second set more or less showcases different aspects of Thai culture. There was one room showcasing Thai religious beliefs and there was this area where people can make wishes and so I decided to make a wish, which is for my team to win the upcoming project proposal competition for the integrated marketing communication class and…guess what, my team actually won!

Oh, and I forgot to mention, in addition to the audio film on the third floor a number of rooms also have interactive features

After the exhibition, I ended up waiting for a bit as the organizers are getting ready to leave. I decided to ask my friend to order cold chocolate for me. We finally pulled out of the museum around 12PM or 12:15PM. This marks the end of the half-day trip.

Overall, I think I really enjoy this trip, and I think I definitely learned something from visiting all the exhibition rooms and listening to the audio guide. I’m glad I’m able to secure a place on this club trip.

Let’s now move on to the big trip…which is the Hua Hin residential trip for the global leadership development class.

This trip, unlike the Siam Museum trip, is a class trip. This trip is worth 10% of the grade (5% for just joining the trip, 5% for submitting the reflective report). When the teacher announced this trip, I was really happy. Finally a residential trip that is easy for me to get a place on! There was no registration involved, I just have to get my parents to fill in and sign the parental approval form and that’s it, just like how it was during the STA days. Originally this trip was to take place from June 30th to July 1st, but it was moved due to the fact that some students have to go to prom. But hey, one week later than the original schedule is not bad…

The appointment time was around 7:30AM or 8AM on Saturday (July 7th), but it seems that most students arrived quite early, most likely to eat the provided breakfast and to go to toilet. Unlike the Siam Museum trip, the rendezvous was the lobby area of the new building. Finally moments before 8AM, we were told to get on the bus.

The buses was huge. They were both double-deck buses. This truely brought back memories of my STA days, since double-deck buses were used in two of the four residential trips in year 12. Originally I picked a seat on the second row behind the stairs but found out that there was a slanting bar obstructing the window, so I decided to search for a new place to sit. Finally I managed to get students sitting at the leftmost seats on the row in front of the stairs to change seats. And…I’m glad I made that move as the window was really big and there wasn’t any serious obstructions to the outside view. I felt like a VIP sitting in that seat as my seat was one of a few seats with large, unobstructed window views.

Not long after we all got on the bus, the bus pulled off. The first stop was The Rose Garden hotel. We stopped here to learn about the philosophy of sufficiency economy and the so called ‘Sam Phran model’. But before the owner of the hotel arrived, we played a small ‘get to know each other’ game. Basically, for this game everyone has to write down the names of six people at the back of their name tags. The organizers will then announce a question, and everyone has to ask the person listed on the name tag the prescribed question. There were a total of six questions. Interestingly, three of the six names on my name tag were people who I am either working with right now or have worked with before. But since these people sat so far from me, I have to walk quite a bit. But I could have made my life easier, if I just chose the three people sitting right in front of me instead…

After the game, the lecture finally starts. I actually drifted off into sleep from time to time, but at least I did capture some of the key points. This hotel basically used the philosophy of sufficiency economy to rebrand itself. How this is done is basically by encouraging farmers in the local area to grow organic food, and to mainly purchase organic materials for use as ingredients for food in the hotel restaurant. To ensure that farmers receive the maximum benefit, the hotel decided to shorten the distribution channel by buying directly with farmers. To help farmers convert to organic farming, the hotel has asked successful organic farmers to help other farmers. This is basically sustainable and responsible business activity at its best…

After the lecture we went to a nearby market where we can buy something to eat. I bought some chips (which I didn’t eat until the following day), sticky rice with pork, a Thai dessert and bread (which I ate for lunch). I originally wanted to buy some cold drinks but found out that it would take too long so I just went with a regular water bottle instead.

Originally, we were suppose to arrive at the Hua Hin hotel around 2PM or 2:30PM but the bus suffered a delay and we pulled into the hotel at like 4PM or so. This meant that one of the games planned have to be scrapped and that I won’t have time to either go swimming or to go hunt for new inflatable toys. But we did managed to play a few games. Though everyone was divided into teams, the games does have a significant portion of individual element. During one of the games one student slip and fell, so the whole game had to be temporary stopped so that medics can step in and provide first aid. To round up the afternoon, we did the aerobics, but since I couldn’t catch up with the instructor I decided to do my own dance moves, just to get some exercises. A bit is better than none at all…

After that, we went to our rooms. The room, I must say, is a standard hotel room. I shared rooms with one of the committee members. There was one double bed, but my room mate decided to let me have the whole bed to myself.

Dinner was…um, 7PM? There was actually no fixed time for dinner as everyone was free to go eat anywhere they wish, and at anytime they wish but most people opted to go to the Cicada Market, which is a popular tourist attraction with lots of food. I ordered squid and fried chicken for dinner, which tasted alright. After sitting around, I finally returned to my hotel room at around 9PM and that’s pretty much the end of the first day.

The second day I woke up at like 5:20AM. The first activity was yoga. The instructor was the same as the aerobic on the first day, but this time my teacher was also there to help me. It was actually pretty good doing yoga in the morning, and this gave me a preview of what to expect if I do take this class as my third PE subject.

Breakfast was around 7AM, and it was pretty much a standard hotel breakfast with fried eggs, sausages, hams and bread along with steamed rice and some hot drinks. After breakfast, I decided to spend a bit of time in the hotel pool with the inflatable toys I brought along with me.

After spending time in the pool, I returned to my hotel room, took a bath and packed up my things. It’s sad that the trip is drawing to a close, isn’t it? I really missed those long residential trips back at STA…

The next activity was, um, class. What? Really? Yeah. But at least the teacher and the organizing committee didn’t make it entirely boring by adding some games which is basically the application of leadership skills learned throughout the course, particularly communication skills as one of the games involves one person looking at a picture prepared by the committee and describe that picture to the next person. That person then has to try to describe it to the next person, and so-on…finally the last person receiving the message has to try and replicate the picture. The team who gets the replica correct wins. It was a pretty fun game, I guess.

After that, we all head out for lunch in the hotel restaurant. As the lunch was decided days before the trip, we got to eat whatever we chose. I chose chicken with garlic and fried eggs (I think, can’t remember exactly). After lunch we finally prepared to leave.

Originally we plan to depart around 1:30PM or 2PM, but we ended up pulling out at 1PM. On the way back to MUIC we stopped at a gift shop where we can buy souvenirs. I decided to buy some Thai snacks. It was during this time that I finally finished the chips I bought on the first day.

We arrived back at MUIC around 5:30PM. I thought I was going to get a chance to grab a Mcdonalds or a KFC since the bus was going to stop at a service station but turns out that this wasn’t the case…how disappointing. Anyways, this marks the end of the trip. Oh, and I forgot to mention, on the bus I pretty much just listen to music on my phone. On the first day the headphones I brought with me broke, so when the bus stops at a service station with 7-11 I decided to go in and buy a new pair of headphones.

Overall, the residential trip was truely enjoyable, and I think I can give it the ranking of the best event of 2018, at least for now. But however I will most likely combine it with all the other events after the midterm exams. Keep in mind as of this writing there are still a little over five months of 2018, so…who knows…another residential trip could come up.

So…yeah, that was the post detailing the two off-campus trips…this was certainly one of the longest posts I ever wrote…

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