What to Expect?

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Facilities, schools, housing and living conditions in Mae Hon Song all vary so your volunteering adventure will be unique.

Whatever we prepare you for, the experience of living with the Karen hill tribes people is likely to be quite different from anything you expect. The pace of life and work will be slower than you’re used to, whether you are teaching or installing a water system.

There are times when school time tables may change at short notice, or water projects can be altered due to bad weather conditions; volunteers who are able to adapt to these situations are the onces who can fully enjoy their volunteer experience making the placement more of an adventure into the unknown than many other gap-year, career break and volunteer programme.                        

Getting there:

You should arrive at Chiang Mai International Aiport via Bangkok and spend a few days exploring the tourist attractions Chiang Mai has to offer before traveling to Khun Yuam on a bus. 

Once you have arrived in Khun Yuam a member of our organisation will meet you and register you at the local hospital before driving you to your village where you will be introduced to your host family.

We advise all volunteers traveling from the UK to allow at least a week to arrive in Khun Yuam in north-west Thailand.      

Accommodation in Chiang Mai

If you have not organised your accommodation before you travel, don’t worry, Chiang Mai has a lot of guesthouses, hostels and hotels dotted within the city walls. You will be sure to come across vacant rooms when you arrive.

Chiang Mai has an outstanding selection of options, from friendly budget guesthouses through to luxurious hotels and resorts. For those who like to be organised, consult The Rough Guide or Lonely Planet Thailand guidebooks for their recommendations.

Communication:

It is advisable to pack an old, unlocked phone and purchace a SIM card whilst in Chiang Mai or Khun Yuam at the airport or at any 7-Eleven convience store or mobile phone shops.

Thai SIM card providers:

1. AIS: One-2-call: The strongest all-round coverage.

2. True Move: A good choice in cities such as Bangkok although the card seems to lose coverage in more remote areas.

3. DTAC: Some people say that data speeds are comparative with One-2-call, whilst others say it’s a SIM card to be avoided.

All operators offer 3G service and monthly 3G data plans with unlimited EDGE speeds, priced between 650 – 899 Baht. The best data provider in Thailand is One-2-call.

Living arrangements

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You will most likely live with the village headman and his family, whose house is the social and cultural centre of the village, so  expect to see many new faces throughout the day!  The villages all vary in their levels of development. You will probably sleep on a mat on the floor without a mattress or possibly a wooden bed-frame. Some of the houses have outhouse-style squatter toilets; some modern-style houses may have indoor toilets.

You can take an active part in the village activities, and the villagers will be as eager to talk with you as you are with them!

“Living and sleeping conditions are very good, as is the food. All the family and neighbours have been hugely welcoming and we have been very well accommodated.”

Benjie, teaching English – 2014       

Seeing Thailand

If you'd like to see more of Thailand you could do some independent traveling immediately before or after your placement. Thailand is a beautiful country and very popular with western tourists for its activities such as white-water rafting, elephant trekking or the amazing night-life in the cities; but there are still so many sites to uncover off the beaten track. We would recommend the ‘Rough guide’ or ‘Lonley Planet’ guide books for more information and advise that independent travel should be experienced either before or after your placement with us.

During your time teaching or working on the water project, your fellow villagers may be able to take you to see the local sights, such as beautiful waterfalls or a Buddhist temple.

“It was so gratifying and invigorating to actually contribute to a community in Thailand, as opposed to just observing or passively experiencing something, as I would have normally as a tourist.”

Josh Clewes, building a clean water system – 2013

 

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