Volunteering in Thailand – “The Land of Smiles”

Posted by: Shebnem

The familiar surrounding of places and people and go volunteering in Thailand at the Learn, Volunteer and Travel project, doing a job I had little experience in, with people I had never met and a culture so intensely different it often stopped me dead in my tracks.

Due to the project being in more beautiful community area, close to the city of Sing Buri, a bus was in order. It was fantastic to see the road side markets lit up for the evening hustle of people as we drove passed, I was glad to discover the reason why Thailand is called “the Land of the Smiles”- simply because everyone was smiling pretty much nonstop. The contrast that I could see to my life back home was too huge, it felt like a dream…After couple of hours we arrived at the Brown house, where we spent the first week.

The first week was the Siam Culture Week (also known as the ‘Introduction week’).During this immersion course we had the chance to discover Thailand through the eyes of the local Thai people, step into their world and become part of a fascinating culture, its unique etiquette and way of life. Each day of the week was full of different activities, such as visiting temples, participating in Thai cooking & Thai language lessons, making coconut bracelets, and all of that while building lifelong friendships.

Moreover, during this week we had the chance to truly experience the incredible Thai cuisine. Thai food in Thailand is leagues better than anywhere else in the world. There’s more variety and more flavors. Your mouth dances with flavor when you eat there…and NO, I am not exaggerating!

My second week I volunteered at the orphanage. What a treat that was! The children were very welcoming. As I had expected, I was indeed overwhelmed with the cramped living conditions and health and safety (or more like lack of), but those kids were so loving, so dynamic, so full of warmth and without fail greeted us with beaming smiles and ‘hello ma’am’ every morning upon our arrival. Their English was limited but they tried their best to communicate with us.

As my time in Thailand came to an end, I did feel so very upset to be leaving. However, I felt like I had already said my painful goodbye to my beautiful coordinators and friends. I feel lost without that place even after weeks of returning back to Bulgaria. I would give anything to be back in teaching and knowing that I am touching some lives. For me this journey was a vehicle through which I reached a deeper understanding of life and without a doubt I would return to this magical adventure in a heartbeat!