For the last 6 years I’ve been away from home on my birthday, but this year has been the best adventure yet! I had only been living in Huay Pakoot for a week before my birthday and it had been an incredible week full of culture, learning and amazing people. Before I left England I had already had many celebrations for my 21st birthday, so I came to Huay Pakoot with no expectations for my birthday but I was overwhelmed with everyone’s kindness.
The day started early, waking up at 6:30 am and getting ready for the day. I then headed up the hill to Root’s for a morning coffee with an amazing view. This is one of my favourite spots in the village, it’s so relaxing. Before hike everyone meets at base to have breakfast and get ready for hike. As soon as I arrived everyone was so kind and sang happy birthday!
We then headed out in the truck for hike, I was going to see Bulowan for the first time, I had heard amazing things and I was so excited to see him as he’s the only adult male! Our hike was actually very short, it was more of a walk. I was quite grateful for this as we had hiked down to the river the day before and it was a tough hike. Bulowan was in quite an open area which is incredible because you can observe all the tiny details especially when doing a health check. We did all the checks on him and he was on the lower end of the scale as they lose their appetite in musk, which he had been in for the last 2 weeks. Once checks and data records were completed, we followed him and then he settled to graze.
We then headed back to the van to meet the other hikes and have mahoot lunch in the forest! I really enjoy these lunches and I was really lucky to have one on my birthday. The mahoots make a fire and cook a huge pot of noodles and roast some sausages. It’s a lovely experience to watch them cook and talk to everyone about their hikes. Once again I had happy birthday sang to me and I blew some candles out that were in my rice!
Delicious surprise at basecamp
Once we arrived back to base G and Anne had been making Crepe’s and they smelt delicious!They then brought the crepes in with candles and everyone sang again! Everyone dug in and it was so nice to have a sweet treat with lunch! We then had an afternoon of Karen lessons and a presentation on Biodiversity which was so interesting. Every other Monday evening you have time to spend with your homestays, my homestay is Dee who speaks fluent English which helps massively with settling in! I am trying to learn the language as the villagers really appreciate the effort you make to speak with them.
I love the evenings in the village, it is so nice to get to know everyone in a relaxed environment. On my birthday evening we watched the World Cup which was fun and once again everyone sang and lit some candles on a cake! I’m so glad my birthday fell early on in the internship as the whole experience made me feel so welcome and has really helped me settle in to the project!