In honor of Winterline’s first program in Africa, we’ve decided to focus this week’s blog exclusively on the incredible photos from Rwanda! Squad 3 has been having an incredible time exploring the town and bonding with the locals through their homestays. This week, the students used some of their free time to go on safari and see beautiful animals up close and personal. See for yourself!
“One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster”. This opening line from Murray Head’s hit song One Night in Bangkok is the perfect description of the capital city of the beautiful first country of trimester 2, Bangkok, Thailand. During your stay in this massive city of over eight million citizens, your list of activities will range from exploring shrines and temples, to working out in the outdoor gym at the beautiful Lumpini park, to immersing yourself in the shopping district of Ratchaprasong, and so much more. There truly is an activity for everyone, and throughout our stay I was continuously in awe of my surroundings, and excited to see more every day!
Our activities in Bangkok began with a tour of the city with the wonderful tour guide company Bangkok Vanguards. During this tour, the squad was split into groups of three or four, each with a guide of their own, and taken to various locations in the city to complete a scavenger hunt. During this scavenger hunt, we went to places such as Wat Saket, or the Golden Mountain, as it is also known, a beautiful mountain temple renovated by King Rama 1 of Thailand. This temple had a vast view of the city in every direction, and was filled with many different buddha statues, with bells at the peak to ring for good fortune while praying.
Following the Golden Mountain, the tour took us to Chinatown, a bustling district reflective of Chinese culture in Bangkok. Very crowded and dense with many activities and sights to see, it was nothing like the Chinatowns of America; it felt much more authentic and interesting to explore. And with authentic Chinese and Thai street food on every corner, you will never go hungry. Other areas included Ratchaprasong, a massive shopping district that is home to six beautiful shrines of various gods in the Hindu religion, as well as large shopping malls and hotels. This area of the city felt very American in a way, while still managing to capture the feel of Bangkok, the heart of Thailand.
As far as entertainment goes, there is much to see and do in Bangkok. From dense night markets, to exploration, to park visits, you will never be bored during your stay here. On one of our first nights here, we enjoyed a Muay Thai (or Thai boxing) fight, where there was never a dull moment.
It is no lie that Bangkok is host to a number of spectacular temples. One of these temples is Wat Pho, one of the oldest temples in Bangkok, which happened to be directly in front of the hotel we stayed at during our time in Bangkok. This temple is home to the Reclining Buddha, a whopping 46 meter (150 foot) long depiction of the Buddha laying down during his final stages of life. This temple is not only home to important Buddhist history, it is also architecturally beautiful; one of the most amazing human creations I have ever seen with my own eyes.
Bangkok is one of the greatest cities I have ever had the pleasure of traveling to in my entire life. I would consider it a must see for anybody that happens to catch the travel bug, and thankfully, Winterline was able to provide this for their students!
Happy Friday! This week, Squad 1 is off the grid trekking the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India. Before taking off on this adventure, the students got a course in disaster medicine from the Hanifl Centre. Last week, Squad 2 went through this course, so we’re excited to share photos from their experience. Check out the gorgeous mountain views and examples of life-saving techniques!
Meanwhile, we’re thrilled that, for the first time ever, our students are in Rwanda! Squad 3 is onto the Africa portion of their gap year; after Rwanda, they’re headed to South Africa. For now, the students are living in homestays and exploring the culture of Kigali through artisan skills like cooking and baking, dance, and farming. Stay tuned to keep up with their adventures!
Our three squads are spread across three different countries this week, and they’re each practicing different skills. Squad 1 is nearing the end of their time in Cambodia, where they took a class in bicycle maintenance before riding to Angkor Wat. They also took a class at Phare Circus School, then split up to pursue advanced skills. Our students had a choice between a 5-day meditation retreat, bicycle touring in Battambang, or getting an Advanced Open Water SCUBA certified off the coast.
Meanwhile, Squad 2 is in Nan, Thailand, where they learned the sport of Muay Thai boxing! The students also got to practice weaving and pottery, and spent some free time exploring the beauty of the countryside. Finally, Squad 3 is in Northern India, where they’ll be trekking the foothills of the Himalayas. Before taking off on this adventure, the students are getting a course in disaster medicine from the Hanifl Centre. It sure has been a busy and exciting week: see for yourself through the eyes (and photos) of our students!
This week, our students have been taking in the jaw-dropping beauty of the Taj Mahal and the grandiosity of the Angkor Wat temple complex. But they’ve been learning, too: creating marble inlays and vision boards, practicing advanced scuba diving, and cooking up a storm. The diversity of skills and culture across Southeast Asia and India are sure to be lifechanging for our students – see for yourself!
In the second week of Trimester 2, our students have settled back into their squads, new countries, and travel, meaning they’re ready for even more skills and adventure! Just like last week, our students cooked some delicious meals at Bai Pai Thai Cooking School in Bangkok and Ecole Paul Dubrule in Siem Reap. Other skills this week included ceramics, Muay Thai boxing, bicycle maintenance, and cultural exploration of the temples and city streets. Take a look at some of our photos from the past week!
When you’re thinking of travel destinations this year, why not think outside the box? A Winterline gap year offers you unique options. Stand out from the crowd and learn about a beautiful country you might not otherwise consider: Cambodia. We still have a few spots left on our 2019 Itinerary 1 gap year, and our 2020 applications will be opening soon, so get ready to visit with us!
Our trip focuses on interpersonal skills and communication. Maybe you’ve been having trouble getting along with people. Maybe school’s so overwhelming that you need a reminder of the bigger purpose. Maybe you’re trying to learn more about yourself. All of these issues will be touched upon.
Learn about conflict and see how it leaves a lasting mark. From the late 1960s until the 1990s, Cambodia was under the rule of the oppressive Khmer Rouge. While the regime ended long ago, its destruction has left an impact on Cambodia’s citizen today. Visiting Cambodia will teach you first-hand about a history you don’t know. It will also enforce the importance of learning to keep peace, and you’ll be able to pay homage to the country’s losses, helping them move forward.
You’ll get to see the beauty of Angkor Wat, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The temple complex is the largest religious site in the world. These ancient buildings are not only breathtaking, but full of history you don’t usually learn in class.
Cambodian culture is unlike any other. From the dance, to the cuisine, to the religion, Cambodia is vibrant in color and experience.
Visitors often say that Cambodians are some of the kindest people in the world. Despite a recent painful past, the people have an infectious and inspiring spirit. The best way to learn about a country is by hearing what its native people have to say. Go to Cambodia and listen to people’s stories. It’ll help you understand more about this country than you could learn from any textbook.
Experience the liveliness of a Cambodian market. Various types of goods pack full bustling stalls. Shopping at one of these markets is not only exciting, but will give you a glimpse into daily life.
The country is more than just its temples. Siem Reap has a diverse nightlife scene, while Phnom Penh is lauded for its cultural renaissance and world-class dining. Battambang is up-and-coming, notably for its architecture and contemporary art scenes.
Going to Cambodia means you’ll get to disconnect from the fast-pace of life. The beauty, the religion, the solemn history, and the kind people of the country will remind you what life is really about. Learning about loss and tragedy is difficult, but it’s important for moving forward. This visit to Cambodia will be both a physical and spiritual journey, as you recognize how to connect and communicate with both other people and your own self.