Ray Chua

Hello fellow classmates! I'm Ray, for those whom don't know me. Today, I am here to present to you some of the places we will be visiting on our trip to Chiang Mai. 

Let's get started, shall we?

Chiang Mai GCP Trip, 2013

Where is Chiang Mai located?

  Chiang Mai is one of the largest cities in Thailand, located along the Ping River. It is located in a landlocked region, surrounded and divided by mountain ranges and forests. This region was filled with my fertile valleys, one of which where the city of Chiang Mai was founded. 

  It is steeped in more than 700 hundred years of cultural and traditional history, with temples and ancient ruins scattered around the city. Owing to the fact that it is surround by mountains, Chiang Mai offers many opportunities for appreciate nature too.

  (Its not much like our homeland Singapore. 700 years of history!? We have less than 100 years of history!)

What does Chiang Mai's name mean?

  Chiang Mai means “new city”, because it was chosen to succeed the old capital of the Chiang Mai province, Chiang Rai, in 1296. 

(Some of the names given a long time ago sound so cool, yet are so literal, aren’t they?)

Yupparaj Wittayala School

  Yupparaj Wittayala School is the first government school in Chiang Mai. It is a well known school, as well as the best school the Chiang Mai. It was built on the land that is located in the center of the old town in Chiang Mai. This land was donated by one of the former rulers of Chiang Mai, Princess Jao Dararasamee and Prince Intarawarorot Suriyawong.

  The school itself is equipped with modern facilities, such as libraries, scientific labs and computer labs. All classes are equipped with air conditioners, LCD projectors, screens and audio systems. 

  It is known for its “Chaing Mai Air Pollution: Real Time Air Quality Index” website, which provides real time information about the air qualities in Chiang Mai. 

Link to the Website: 

(Sounds a lot like our school, doesn't it? Latest facilities and all that.)

Doi Inthanon Royal Project

  The Doi Inthanon Royal Project research station is located approximately 90 km away from the the city, on the Doi Inthanon Peak.

  It was started by and sponsored by the King of Thailand himself, in order to do experiments on farming in order to help the local farmers by educating them on the best way to fertilize and enrich their farmland with nutrients and minerals that would help them to grow cash crops such as coffee, cold-climate fruits and cut flowers.

(Isn't that cool?)

  The research stations also boasts services and information regarding the application of advanced technology to help alleviate poverty, conserve natural resources and other such technologies. 

   It is a popular stop over for tourists, which come here to buy the freshly cut flowers sold there.

That's it for now!


28th October, 2013.

  Many cool things happened today, like Johanna’s exclamation about whether the water was tap water, to Julian’s jokes causing Axel to spurt water onto this plate.

  But the event that really sinks into my mind was the awkward moment that happened when we went shopping. That was the time when I got confused with the cashier and gave her the right amount of money. But I thought I hadn’t paid her enough! I had stood stupidly there, for about ten minutes. I tried to explain to the cashier that I wanted to reduce the amount of things that I wanted to buy. But she didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Thai! Her next customer, a Thai lady, tried to help me but she couldn’t really  communicate with me much as she didn’t know much English either. Eventually, the cashier helped to sort my money out. I then bought my stuff, then went back to the group.

  This taught me some very important lessons: 

  1. I should always know the prices of the items that I am buying as well as giving the cashier the exact amount I need to pay to avoid confusion.
  2. Language matters!

  I realized that language really does matters, not only in communication, but also in reputation. I noticed that our guide, Jack, speaks in a different way. For some weird reason, I thought that he was a thick. I have no idea why I thought that though, but I quickly squashed it. Jack wasn’t thick. He was funny, lovable. He was also knowledgable. He shared with us more a lot of Chiang Mai’s history.

  That is what I felt when the cashier and the Thai lady were conversing. I felt really stupid, not being able to know what they were talking about. Then I realized this is what the European powers must have felt like. Listening to the citizens of the territories speak their language. They must have thought they were dumb, along with what they thought was the citizen’s “backwards” culture. 

  That is why I realized that language is important. It connects people, it helps them to communicate and forms bonds, to be able to empathize each other, enabling them to solve problems peacefully. 

  It is also equally important to not assume things, like that people are stupid simply because they can’t speak your language. It is important to treat people like equals, with respect and they’ll treat you back the same.

  If everyone in the world did that, there wouldn’t be a need for conflict. Sadly, no one ever does it 100 percent of the time. So, why shouldn’t we start that step today? Start communicating more, communicating better. Coming to a mutual understanding with someone else and not criticizing because you were ignorant. 

  Then maybe the world could become a better place.

29th October, 2013

  Today’s trip started out as a blast! From the trip to the mountain peak, where the air was bracing and we drank hot chocolate latte, to the Doi Inthanon Royal Project, where we ate grains of rice (the rice grown the paddy fields, we tried some) and finally to a local village, where we took pictures of the farm animals and drank hot bitter coffee (some of it we ground up ourselves :P) We finally ended the trip with a wet trip to the waterfall! 

  Between the trips to each place, we would do weird thing on the bus, from Axel shouting, “We the bus!” to pretending to be on a roller coaster. We had some pretty fun times. Everyone was joyful (or sleepy). We passed around candy and dried mango to eat, as well as drinking enough waster. Like what Luvi said, “Clear stream!”.

  The part that I truly enjoyed was the conversations we had with our tour guide, Luvi. We talked about almost anything under the sun, ranging from politics, to safaris in Africa, to genetic engineering to global warming, to fact changing and the future of the world, we talked about EVERYTHING.

  But the easily the most memorable part of those conversations was when Luvi said, “Your generation is the one that can change the world. My generation <she’s 40 by the way> can’t change anything anymore, because most of don’t want to change, and all of us are slowly dying out. It is up to you to change the world’s future <we were talking about the bleak future that the world was facing>.”

   I remembered I replied saying, “Or screw the world up so badly that we doom the next generation.”, but what Luvi said got me thinking: That’s true, isn’t it? The world is going slowly downhill. Global warming, mass killings, suppression of the truth, corruption and more. But most of all is the selfishness of man. Eventually, more and more problems will be added onto this list of problems, with each problem growing worse and worse as each generation becomes more and more warped and twisted, growing more and more lazy and perverted.

  We are dragging ourselves and the generations that come behind us into a hellhole of which there is no return.

  So it is really up to us, and I mean US, our generation to change the world, to be the ones that say, “I wanna do something about this!” But then, Luvi admonished us saying that you don’t always have to take a stand. She advised us not to unless we know and understand and have felt the things that we want to wake a stand against. Or else it’s pointless. 

  Rather, raise yourself and develop yourself into a person that knows about all these problems, knows what could and should be done to solve these problems and can set and example on how to apply this knowledge. This will help future generations, all those younger than us to nurture and know from a young age the drive to change oneself and the world. To make it a better place. 

  Then, like a domino effect, this wave of change will spread, slowly at first, creeping into the minds of people and changing their perspectives, their lives. Eventually, it may change their entire nature, slowly but surely change from being selfish to being able to think not only for yourself but for others. To be able to think to leave a world for the next generation behind it.

  Then, only then, may the world be able to change. 

  (Thanks to Luvi, whom made all this possible!)

30th October, 2013

  Today was the first day we went for school in about what seemed to be a long time. Today, we went to the Yupparajj Wittaliya to demonstrate how to test water and soil samples (for my case, soil) as well as showcase “Arduino sets. 

  In the beginning, we sat there at the school, listening to the Principal’s speech as well as Ms. Li’s and took a group photo, before settling down to hear Jie Han’s as well as Sarah’s ISS project.

  Then we went off the the Chemistry Lab, to go and test out the soil samples we brought back from the Doi Inthanon Royal Project.

  First off, I met my partner, 14 year-old girl named Mana (that’s her nickname, her real name is VERY too long, Narada Mahattanapak). She told me she likes to spend time drawing, reading or socializing on Facebook. If she’s bored, she plays games on her iPhone. She doesn’t live in Chiang Mai, she lives in a nearby province, which means that she takes 40 minutes to get from her home to her school via bus. Sounds a lot like me, except for the iPhone part and the bus is a train instead. (Don’t look at me like that! I was told to socialize! No, I’m not a stalker...)

  Then we went on to soil testing. Me and Benjamin took turns to relay the various steps to test pH levels, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, with Mana and Benjamin’s partner (she’s Tay by the way) being quite interested in the work. I tried to teach as well as I could, but I still stammered a lot, got lost on which step was next and knocking over stuff. I got a lot to learn before becoming a teacher!

  After a lunch break where we went to a nearby restaurant, we came back to show them the Arduino software and hardware. There were ups and downs. Circuit #1 went without a hitch, even when there was an inability to upload the sketch onto the Arduino Uno. 

  Then Circuit #14. We spent almost 45 minutes trying to find out what was wrong with our set-up. We checked every LED light, every one of the 19 wires, even the resistors we checked. We fiddled around with the serial port too. Finally, we had to call Sarah (our senior) to come and help us out. She found out that our IC was fitted in backwards.  /)_. *facepalm* Only when it was turned around the right way did it work. We learned that we needed to be more thorough the next time we double check stuff.

  Then at last we came to the brainstorming part, where we brainstormed a bunch of ideas, before finding our way back to Benjamin and Tay to brainstorm with them! As that session ended with us unfinished in brainstorming, we were told we would start again tomorrow. What we had brainstormed so far was to research about pollution (air, water or land), fire proofing houses and stopping earthquakes before they happened.

  Then at last, we ate dinner.

  It was only then when I realised how much food we were wasting. Almost all the tables would have a plate that was still full with food, either it was squid, or vegetables, or something that most people normally wouldn’t want to eat. 

  It hit me like a ton of bricks: We are fortunate. We truly are. Back at the school, there was this man, a Chemistry Teacher by the name of Mr. Fidel, said something about the students not being able to do much practical Chemistry, simply because they do not know how. We brought those kits into the school and tested them out with out partners, not knowing that is would be one of the few times that they could find and practice a science practical. Same with the Arduinos. They simply did not have them. But not because they were poor, but because that they’re teaching system was different. Western teaching methods had to be translated and all before the students were able to follow. Yupparajj, like SST, was a testing ground for new teaching methods. Except that we were father ahead than them, simply because we had a more solid, more developed foundation to build on.

  We are blessed with a head start over others, a minor factor that makes a whole lot of difference. Following up from my previous reflection, we should not let this head start go to waste. 

  We should seize it and make the BEST use of it.

31st October, 2013

  Interesting day we had, though the “interesting” part comes into the evening rather than in the morning and the afternoon. 

  We had breakfast as usual, and went back to Yupparraj Wittalaiya to have lessons. Except with a twist: We were the students now, and not the teachers. 

  Like Jie Han’s and Sarah’s presentations, Yupparraj Wittalaiya also presented to us their presentation, with 3 students presenting about how they measured the size of lichen in the areas surrounding their schools to determine whether there was a significant amount of air pollution. Sounds cool right? 

  Then later on, we were divided into 6 groups, each one going to a separate temple to not only sightsee, but to also measure the lichen growth to determine the amount of air pollution.

  Later on, as the activity ended, we exchanged gifts with our buddies (I got several post cards, a notebook and a hand bracelet) and said good buy as we headed off to what I think was the best meal we had so far (except for all the flying insects).

  Then we come to the interesting part: We got to light lanterns and, with the hot air and smoke rising up inside of them, send them off to a journey up into the sky. As I watched them flicker out one by one after we sent them out (the lack of oxygens causes the fires that heat up the air to go out), I figured out something about life (so deep eh?):

  Life is like that hot air lantern. It’s short and brief. You can either take the chance and make the most of it, shine brightly like a lantern. Or, you can grow dim, living an mundane life, just existing and going through the motions of day-to-day activities. 

  SST wants to teach us to not be like that, to take the best of what life gives you and give your best in everything, to develop maturity and understanding as well as grow in knowledge and life skills. Only then can we start changing the world for the better.

  But that can’t happen unless you open up, let others give you the knowledge and experience to start up and pour out your heart and soul, giving your best for all things. Or else, what’s the point? 

  Isn’t that what this GCP is about? To give us the opportunity to do more, to be more. To be the VERY BEST that you can be! This GCP is not just going there to do sightseeing, to go to Yupparraj Wittalaiya and attend and instruct the activities, to go shopping or hang out with your friends. 

  It is there for for you to better communicate with people from different backgrounds, different languages, different races. It is there to gain more knowledge and form stronger bonds with your friends. It is there for you to learn and to play and to grow while learning. 

  Above all, I believe it is there to gain inspiration, to be inspired to reach out and grab hold for something that you can be proud of, for something that might possibly lead to YOU leaving a great legacy upon this small world. 

  I can’t live like that, knowing that I could have done something great and missed the opportunity to do so. I would die with regrets, knowing that didn’t do my best. Some people ask me why I do so well in my academics, why I try my best in even the most mundane things, why I volunteer for what people regard as embarrassing or turn up their nose to. I do it to make my parents proud. I do it because I CAN and I am WILLING. 

  I want to make my life on this earth a memorable one. I want to be able to leave something that people will remember me by for a very long time. I want to be able to leave an impact in society.

  I want to be able to say, “If I die today, I die with no regrets.” 

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I'm Fong hope you still remember me :)
    From your post sound like you have a very good time in Chiangmai.