Each year we welcome over 2,500 students and staff from schools worldwide.
21-23 July 2018
Discovering the Chao Phraya and Ancient Ayutthaya
The Barge Program was very pleased to welcome nineteen students and three teachers from the Appleton School, UK to join them on a trip on the Chao Phraya River.
Beginning in Bangkok, the group travelled to Ko Kret to meet the barge and begin exploring Thai culture and the importance of the Chao Phraya in everyday life. A community investigation on Ko Kret gave a first glimpse of the importance that Buddhism plays in Thai culture and a chance to visit their first Temple- Wat Pai Lom. The local pottery provided an insight into the traditions of the Mon people who settled on the island and a wander through the weekend market was a sensual delight with new sounds, sights and the smells of delicious snacks filling the air.
Back on the barge, river observations gave an opportunity for the students to consider the current and historical uses of the river and how it has influenced and shaped modern Bangkok and the ancient capital Ayutthaya.
Culture cabarets allowed the students to discover through role plays important aspects of Thai cultures. An introduction to Buddhism provided some background in preparation for a visit to Wat Niwet and an opportunity to interview a monk to discover more about life in the Buddhist monkhood. The visit challenged the students’ idea of what a temple should look like but allowed them to learn more about life at the temple and discover more about the history of King Rama V and his influences on Thailand.
The students’ next challenge was a Thai lesson before embarking on a trip to the fresh market to buy ingredients to cook traditional Thai meals for dinner whilst trying to use sustainable packing and avoiding the use of plastic bags after considering their own ecological footprint.
An early start saw the group out giving alms to monks in Ayutthaya before heading back to the barge. The highlight of the trip for students was a visit to Wat Putthaisawan School. Working with Mattayom students, the Appleton students led a number of games and activities to help the Thai students practice their English vocabulary. Much fun was had by all the students and many new friends were made.
Our final afternoon was spent exploring the ancient city of Ayutthaya, visiting Wat Phra Sri Sanphet and Wat Chai Wattanaram. At Wat Phra Sri students learnt about how it established itself as one of the more important trading cities in South East Asia thanks to the help of the Chao Phraya and about the riches of the kingdom and about the life of the royal family. Wat Chai Wattanaram offered a chance to explore the darkest part of Ayutthayan history and its downfall at the hands of the Burmese.