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Sustainable Development Internship

Studying Mangroves in Trat Province, Thailand

I am receiving a scholarship from the Freeman Foundation under the condition that I complete an internship abroad. I am so grateful not only that I am receiving the scholarship but that it is pushing me to pursue an internship while in Thailand. The EAP Liaison at Thammasat is the best, and sets students up with internships every semester. I choose to work with The Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF) along with Jenna and Maria from UC Berkeley.

The Sustainable Development Foundation has many projects in Trat, the south-eastern-most province in Thailand. I am studying the mangroves and Jenna and Maria are studying the waste management of Trat province. A few weekends ago we went to Trat province to meet the director of SDF and learn about the projects we could participate in. We also got to sit in on a meeting where people could voice their concerns about fishing policies with their government representative.

The rally before the meeting
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This weekend I went to Trat province again to meet with subdistrict leaders (like town mayors) and visit the mangroves. I learned about the history of mangroves in Trat province; they are breeding grounds for fish and important for the fishermen's livelihood but rice and shrimp farms have displaced some of the mangroves even though the mangroves are on protected land. Property rights were only established a few generations ago so it is much more complicated than I had imagined.

Called the "Talking Forest" because the signs allow the trees to tell their story
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For the next few weeks I will be doing independent research and writing a paper that I will present to SDF.

Almost forgot, I got interviewed for local television too! After walking through the mangroves for an hour they stopped me and said "now we will interview you for the news tonight." I was a little surprised to say the least, but maybe I shouldn't have been because a guy with camera equipment had been fallowing us. If anyone finds the video of me on the interwebs send it my way!

Posted by juliaaugh 01:58 Archived in Thailand Tagged fishing thailand ecology environment mangroves internship sustainability trat_province Comments (0)

What I have been up to

Chinese New Years
We thought they were clearing the street for the parade but it was just so the princes could drive through, then they let everyone back in the street and made the parade (one dragon) navigate the crowds.
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I finally bought a uniform
We don't need to wear uniforms to class in the Thai Studies department but we had to wear it for a field trip to a museum and I will need to wear it for the midterm and final. In general people wear uniforms here more, they aren't just for police and park rangers.
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"Football" Match
Thammasat and another university in Bangkok have an annual soccer game that is much more than a soccer game. It starts with a political parade where the schools make fun of the current politics then there are performances and rituals before the game starts five hours later. During the game there continues to be constant cheerleading and complicated formations like this sponge bob image. The only problem was getting into the game. The international office made the day into a field trip by providing vans for us to get to the game, but once we got there there was no systematized way to get in. At one gate you needed a ticket, at another you had to be wearing the right shirt, at another you had to be with a Thai buddy, we all managed to get in one way or another but it was much more difficult than it should have been especially since it was organized as a field trip.
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Erawan waterfall
One of my favorite experiences so far! Its about four hours outside of Bangkok but it is well worth the long bus rides. This is just one of many pools along a short trail. We sat in one pool for a while but the fish suck off the dead skin on your feet and it feels really weird so I just perched on a log. Then we went to a pool where you can slide down the rock. So much fun! There were really big fish in the pool with the rock slide but they didn't bother us.
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Tiesto!
Abour 20 of us went to Maya Music Festival in Pattaya this weekend. We saw Don Diablo, Dash Berlin, and Tiesto. The stage was a giant lion-like head and there were fireworks, flames, smoke, and confetti the whole night.
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We also got some pool time in Pattaya
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Posted by juliaaugh 21:33 Archived in Thailand Tagged football thailand bangkok concert hike dragon parade pattaya study_abroad princes thammasat chinese_new_years erawan_waterfall tiesto Comments (0)

The Food in Thailand

Some of the food is so good, and some of it is so weird.

It took me a few weeks to figure out what I liked and how to get it, but still, every meal is an adventure. Most of the dishes are either a meat with rice or some kind of noodle dish. I normally go for the rice and meat option because the noodles can be unpredictable. Plain noodle soup is good, but sometimes the soup is really strange and has curdled blood and mushrooms so I stay away from soups. The pad thai is also good but sometimes there is mysterious crunchy things in it so I don't eat it that much either. But there is an infinite number of delicious meat and rice dishes. If I am afraid it will be too spicy I will get an egg on the side so I have something to eat.

Chicken Pad Thai $0.98
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The fork is used to push the food onto the spoon, works best for rice dishes. The spoon is also used as a knife because they don't use table knives.

For breakfast I often get a fried egg with rice and sweet chili sauce, or an "omelet," or my favorite vegetable chicken stir fry. There are also lots of fruit venders on my walk to school so I will get mango or papaya as well.

Fried egg and rice $0.42
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They always give me a plastic soup spoon like this when I get food to go, but it is practically useless when I am trying to cut up an egg or meat.

Most school days I eat lunch in the cafeteria where there are so many choices and everything is around $1. My favorites are yellow curry (tastes more Indian) or friend noodles (tastes more Chinese).

Chicken and rice $0.84
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Pork(??) and rice and veggies $1.13
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Fried noodles $0.98
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Sometimes for dinner we'll go to a real sit-down restaurant. At cheep restaurants Thai food is $2-3 and non Thai food is $3-5. Last week I splurged and paid a whole $6 to make my own cute pancakes:
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Best dessert: Roti (might be middle eastern/Indian) - crepe with banana and egg inside with sweetened condensed milk on top
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Best Thai-take on western food: spaghetti with egg and ketchup
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Best Idea: sweet potato chips
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Best Restaurant name:
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That was recently covered up...
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I eat a lot of 7-eleven food too. 7-elevens are everywhere and have everything we could ever need. If I am craving something almost american I will get a "toastie," its like a hot pocket but better, or I'll get a sushi roll, or chocolate bread, there are so many things I love at 7-eleven.

I miss sourdough bread, cheese, bagels and cream cheese, and wine more than anything else. But I think when I get back to california I will really miss the food culture here, its so easy and cheep.

Posted by juliaaugh 22:09 Archived in Thailand Tagged food thailand pad_thai curry chicken_and_rice 7-eleven Comments (0)

Laos

Backpacker Heaven

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Vientiane
I was told to have low expectations for the capital city, but I was pleasantly surprised. There was a great night market by the Mekong and all the sites in the city were within walking distance. I also took a bus to Buddha Park where there are loads of Buddha statues. The highlight was the "pumpkin" that had three levels to walk through and creepy statues in the core.

Buddha Park
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The Pumpkin
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Inside the Pumpkin
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The next few days I spent in Vang Vieng floating down the river, exploring caves, and going for hikes. There was nine of us international students from Bangkok all in Vang Vieng last weekend but we came and went on slightly different schedules.

Cute little town, we kept running into the same travelers
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Hiking through the lush
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Before venturing into one of the caves
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And my favorite part - TUBING (and stopping at the bars along the river)
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I wish I could capture just how breathtaking Vang Vieng was
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Story: When I first arrived in Laos I wanted to try one of the classic sandwiches from the venders that lined the streets in Vientiane. I was not familiar with the currency yet, but when the vender asked for 5,000Kip I figured it can't be much (it isn't, its only $0.61). I gave him the money and got on the bus to Buddha park. Then I realized I only had 50,000Kip bills, so I paid $6 for this sandwich. Hope I made that vender's day!
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Posted by juliaaugh 20:02 Archived in Laos Tagged caves vientiane hike float tubing lao vang_vieng in_the_tubing buddha_park Comments (0)

Exploring Thailand

These last two weeks I spent traveling all over Thailand. Beth and Lisa, friends from Semester at Sea, flew from the US for a packed week in Thailand. I showed them around Bangkok, then we went north to Chiang Mai and south to Koh Phi Phi. Then I met up with Colleen (a friend from UCSB) in Phuket and I went to Koh Phangan by myself.

Playing in the "sticky" waterfall in Chiang Mai. It's not as much sticky as grippy, we could climb even the steepest parts without slipping.
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Playing with elephants in Chiang Mai, they are the coolest creatures!
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The amazing Maya Bay near Koh Phi Phi. We slept on a boat that night and got to snorkel with bioluminescent plankton.
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After a fast week, I met up with Colleen, a friend from UCSB, and her family and family friends for a few days of relaxation on Kata Beach Phuket. We went to a few of the sites, like this temple, and enjoyed coconuts on the beach.
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I then went to Koh Phangan to see one more island before heading back to Bangkok. I finally got to do some hikes and a little more snorkeling.
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Koh Phangan was a great place to be a solo traveler because everyone is very social, and Haad Rin beach is small enough to where I ran into the same people every day. The full moon party takes over the island once a month but I came for the half moon when the crowds are much smaller and the party is in the jungle.

Until these last few weeks I opted to stay close to Bangkok and really get to know they city but I am so happy I got to see more of what Thailand has to offer. And the exploring will continue next week because we get a week off from school for Songkran, the Thai New Year. I will be going back up north to Chiang Mai again and Pai.

Posted by juliaaugh 22:36 Archived in Thailand Tagged elephants chiang_mai phuket sas half_moon_party koh_phangan kata_beach semester_at_sea koh_phi_phi haad_rin maya_bay sticky_waterfall ucsb eap uceap Comments (0)

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