I think almost every volunteer would agree that there isn’t a view quit like that of Houy Pakoot!
One my first day in the village I was fortunate enough to experience a celebration day for the end of rice season. I was greeted by a delicious breakfast with my family, followed by not so delicious rice whisky. The volunteers then went round to different houses in the village to celebrate with the families. This was a great way to get a sense of the type of people the villagers are. They are happy, generous, hard working people. The day made me feel more at home, happy and calm. It was also a great way to get to know the other volunteers (especially with a few glasses of rice whisky). As the weeks went on I grew more attached to all the people there and the village itself, which is something I did not expect before going out there.
Hiking was genuinely one my favourite parts of the experience. I learned a lot about different species of animals, insects and plants while in the jungle, which I did not expect. You become closer friends with people by chatting and helping one another on hike. I remember being speechless when I first saw the elephants. I learned so much about elephants health and behaviour through the staff, mahouts and data collection.
An aspect of the trip I didn’t not expect to do were the presentations in the first two weeks. This was one of my favourite parts because I was able to learn so much about elephants, the Karen people, ecosystems and the situation of conservation in Asia. As well as learning a lot some of the presentations did make me feel irritated with the current situation animals and their habitats are in. This has made me driven to help as much as I am able to change the situation of these animals.