I can’t describe how nervous I was leaving the Sydney airport for my adventure in Thailand! I am 17 years old and decided to volunteer abroad for a couple weeks to celebrate graduation. The Gibbon Primate Sanctuary project in Mae Sot was one of a few GoEco programs that allowed individuals under 18 to go. Since I’ve always loved animals and I was the right age, the gibbon project seemed like a great choice!
We spent the first week in orientation and going on various cultural tours. We stayed at the Twin House in Singburi and the food was amazing! There was so many people from different countries and I was able to learn about life in Germany, the U.S., France, Sweden, and India! But even better, I got to learn what it was like to live in Thailand! During the orientation, we visited many temples and shrines. It was the King’s birthday that week, so everyone was wearing lots of yellow to celebrate. My favorite part of the orientation was going to Monkey Town, where monkeys ran rampant on the streets, we even had the opportunity to feed some!
I spent two weeks volunteering in Thailand at the Gibbon Sanctuary. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We woke up early to start preparing breakfast for the gibbons and macaques; their diet consisted of fruits and vegetables. We then distributed the food to the monkeys in big buckets.
After the meals and playing with the monkeys, we had to wash the buckets. To keep ourselves entertained during these chores, my friend, Max and I played word tennis. We could always see the monkeys when we were doing various chores, so there was never a dull moment. The monkeys were so cute and funny.
There were so many amazing monkeys at the sanctuary. They all had been at the sanctuary for different amounts of time, but Chester was the first ape to come to the sanctuary in 1991. I spent many hours just watching the monkeys swing around! Their balance and coordination was incredible.
My time volunteering in Thailand was an exceptional experience. The director of the sanctuary was very funny and truly an inspiring woman (and she made delicious food)! The other workers at the sanctuary helped me a lot when I had questions. I was very comfortable at the sanctuary because everyone was so friendly and helpful. I hope to visit again sometime soon! Thank you Gibbon Sanctuary and thank you GoEco!