WHY I went to Singburi, Thailand - Volunteering Experience
Updated: Dec 28, 2019
Southeast Asia is the hub for international volunteers. Teaching English, building houses, creating a sustainable environment or enforcing animal protection are all ways people are helping the local communities. Volunteering helps enrich your life journey, influence your perspective and gives you a chance to experience pure happiness. This all comes with an added bonus of being able to travel and live among friendly people, take in the rich culture, devour enchanting cuisines, and live the simple local life.
This summer, I’ve had the greatest travel and volunteer experience my whole life; witnessing the true local lifestyle, eating local delicacies, and meeting new friends. This all happened in a small province 2 hours north of Bangkok, Thailand, called Sing Buri. As I personally am not keen on the whole idea of a company that organizes “volunteer trips” (I think these are just people trying to make a profit and not purely because they want to help), I surfed around the internet until I stumbled upon Thailandteach, a local organization based in Singburi. I was intrigued by the idea of helping people who really need aid, and purely because of their rural location, could not obtain it. I immediately emailed them and organized my trip for next week.
Thailand teach is an organization created by Pooh and Robert Newton, Pooh is Thai and grew up in the Singburi, and Robert is Canadian. Pooh is the kindest and nicest host anyone could’ve asked for, and while I never met Robert personally, form what I’ve heard, he is a great guy who believes in kindness and pure good. They created this organization from the ground up, contacting and helping local temple schools(public schools organized by the government for general education) to find volunteers that could improve the students’ English levels. And unlike a lot of the corporate travel groups, they only charge a small amount for your accommodation and meals.
Robert, over email, helped me organize a taxi from the SVM airport directly to their homestay in Singburi (around 3000baht), the ride was around 2 hours and is straight north of Bangkok, passing through Ayutthaya and into the more rural areas of Thailand. And soon I arrived at my destination. The homestay is a guesthouse built right next to the house where Pooh grew up and still lives in. As I walked through the gates, I was greeted by two of their dogs, and then Pooh. Pooh welcomed me in, showed me to my room, which was extremely spacious (since I went by my self, I presume I had a three-person room all to myself) and contains everything you could possibly need, and asked me to settle in.
After I was finished unpacking my bags, Pooh brought me out for lunch (it was around 1 PM), she was extremely friendly and talked to me all along the way in her truck. Then we arrived at a family restaurant, and this is when I realized how overpriced Bangkok is, a Pad Kra Pao with fried egg and rice is only around 40 baht there and it is delicious. After we got back to the house, I went back to my room to read and she went to host her friends, they were so nice that they invited me to sit with them. (Also, another point about the house, the view was amazing and Pooh has a greatly kept garden and lots of mango trees!) Then night came, and just when I thought I couldn’t be any more surprised and amazed, Pooh brought dinner to me, and my god was it tasty, her cooking was amazing and I had days of that to look forward to, like I said, she is the best host anyone could’ve asked for.
The morning of the next day, Pooh drove me to the school I was supposed to help teach, this particular school is farther, around a 15 minutes drive (they have a total of 8 schools to help in Sing Buri, some closer than the others). And after introducing me to the teachers and the school principal, the classes began. For me, I taught classes ranging from the 5th grade to the 9th grade, all the students were energetic, playful, friendly, and in general curious and eager to learn. The time teaching passed by fast, and I had lunch at the school cafeteria with the principal and teachers. The food at the school, although not fancy or plenty, was flavourful and distinctive, with many dishes I’ve never tried before.
Days went by and I continued to teach in the mornings, with a routine of waking up at 7 and starting school at around 8:30. And after each day of class, Pooh took me somewhere else to keep me occupied and to show me around her hometown. On the second day, she took me to a monkey temple where I dare to say hundreds of monkeys were living. And after resting for an hour at the house, she took me out again to a local market where everything was super cheap, I bought 2kg worth of mangosteens with only 50baht, and they were delicious.
On the third day, she took me on a tour downtown, to Singburi city. First, she brought me to a temple, Wat Phra Non Chaksri, the most spiritual and well-know Wat Pho/ Inclining Buddha in Thailand, even the royal family comes to pray here! She taught me how to pray the Thai way and showed me around the beautiful temple. After our visit to the temple, she drove me to the city’s shopping mall for a massage, a whopping 500baht for 2 hours worth of massage! After we finished relaxing, we had dinner at the food hall and headed back home.
(More information on Singburi toursim here)
Then on the fourth day, she took me to another market to look around, one bigger than the one on Tuesday. And after we finished shopping around, she took me out for a ride on her motorcycle around the town, along the river and the rice fields, passing through villages and other temple schools.
Then the fifth day came and I had to say goodbye, I was bounding back to Bangkok with an overlay at Ayutthaya. This was seriously the greatest experience I’ve had in my whole life, I’ve never been as connected to a foreign country, and have never understood this much about Thai culture. I’ve eaten many new dishes, saw many new sights, and most importantly felt happy, I’ve always been happy these few days, and never have I ever been so happy. This forever changed my perspective and my life. I cannot emphasize this enough, Pooh is the greatest host anyone could have wished for, she treated me as a friend, as family. She was careful, thoughtful, nice, and warm. Thailand teach was built out of pure goodness, and no one could deny that. I would recommend anyone who wishes to have a life-changing and eye-opening experience or wants to experience true Thai culture whilst helping the local community to head straight over to Singburi and experience it for yourselves.
This is also an extremely safe and affordable program; I traveled as a minor(16 years old), and I had no problems reaching to them from the airport or being treated at the guesthouse, Pooh would take care of anyone coming with good intention. Thailand is a safe country and its people are the friendliest it could get. The whole program covering meals and accommodation only costs around 120USD max, while any additional donations are welcomed. The donations do not go to waste, as everything donated goes to the school, and not a penny to Pooh and Robert themselves, everything they spent it on for the school would be reported back to the donators, ensuring that their money are being put to good use. The day my mom donated to them, Pooh bought supplies for me to bring the school on the next day!
If you interested in attending such a program please find more information on their website, or directly email them for further questions.
Stories on Singburi Tourism: https://www.sgdym-dw.com/post/what-to-see-and-do-in-singburi-thailand