by
on March 9, 2012 on 3/9/12 from ,

I’m back!!!!!!!

Long time no see!

It’s been almost three weeks since I last posted but I am back in Chiang Mai now, just for a week and then I’ll be off to the next field course: Forests.

So a lot has happened over the last three weeks and I have learned so much. I think it’s easy to re-cap on my course/adventures one week at a time in three parts because that is how the course was broken up. So without further ado….

Week 1

There are actually 16 other students studying with me at ISDSI but they broke us up into two different groups for the course, so Hannah, Nicole, Lourdes, Emily, Heidi, Josh, Johna, Tanner and I started our course with a six hour van drive into Don Chai village. It’s in Northern Thailand, I think in Phrae. We stayed with host families for three nights, camped for one, and then were with host families for another night (the same one). We were in class almost 24/7. We had so practice Thai by talking to our host families. We met with the National Park, the Village heads, the village youth group, and did a village mapping survey while in the village. 

Maybe I should explain what we were studying before telling you everything we did. Our course topic was Human Rights and the Environment, and we mostly looked at these two things an their connection with Rivers and dam development. So Don Chai was a village which has been fighting a dam that would flood their village (along with others) and ruin their livelihoods as fishers and farmers. So when we met with people, we usually asked them questions about how they felt about the proposed dam. Our major course themes were basically how if you affect the environment, it can also be a human rights violation.

Anyways, so because we spent a lot of time talking about the Yom River, we got to canoe on it for two days. It was not all fun and games however. ISDSI courses also have a science (ecology) side to them. So we had to do a macroinvertibrates survey, a fish survey, water testing, and species identification, and describe the river transects we paddled.

What are some of those things my fellow non-sciencey readers are thinking. Well for the macro-invertibratres survey we picked up rocks out of the river, and under the rocks are tiny organisms whose presence can tell you about the rivers health. Some of them can’t live in very polluted water so if they weren’t there it could potentially be because the water quality is too poor suggesting an unhealthy river. For the fish survey, two of our river guides from the village caught us a bunch of fish and we had to take them out of the nets and identify them and use the Shannon index (i still don’t understand this very well) to figure out the health of the river. I have to say though, the ecology part of the program was seriously lacking. It was all busy work with little explanation and with little accuracy because in Module 3 (week 3) we couldn’t even test some of the water at the site, we had to wait a couple days until we were back at ISDSI and when your are testing for Dissolved Oxygen apparently (according to the science majors) that matters.

Funny Moments

So, I do not like spiders. They are really scary when they are almost as big as your hand (mine are small) and they jump! So while paddling the Yom river we went over rapids and ran into bushes often. But on the second day the first bush we ran into spiders fell into our boat! So I may or may not have stood up and tried to smash them with the paddle……..

That isn’t all. I also jumped out of my boat the second time this happend. In my defense i saw them in the bush before we hit it and was afraid they were on me so I jumped out and then smashed two of them that were in the boat with my paddle.

For any spider lovers out there I normally do not kill spiders because they are okay when in the ceiling corner or anywhere away from me but not in an enclosed area like a boat. I tried to fling them out first but smashing them was faster. My paddling partner was not happy when I stood up and jumped out of the boat by the way.

to be continued.

So, I have a lot to write about Vientiane in Laos where we did Module 2, and then Module 3 paddling the Mekong river but I’ll write about that later.I will also post pictures as soon as possible! I have a lot! So be on the lookout for an album (I lost my computer charger so I have to find a place where I can upload my pictures and then post them. I might be able to at ISDSI on Monday.)

Paddling down the Yom in our red canoes

Nicole and our host parent's from Don Chai.

My host parent's in Don Chai.

Riding in the back of a truck to go to the national park to talk to the people working there.