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Frontier South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail

Hannah Banks enjoyed a 10 week adventure trail in Cambodia that included a four week teaching placement organised by Frontier

Volunteers on Frontier's South East Asia Adventure Trail experienced many forms of transportExcitedly I left England behind and headed straight for Bangkok; after meeting the rest of the trail we embarked upon a three week venture around Thailand: visiting the historical and cultural sights of the Capital, to cycling around Kanchanaburi, walking along the bridge on the river Kwai; chilling in Northern Thailand in the small town of Pai where we experienced tubing along the river drinking beer, riding and swimming with elephants, partaking in a two day jungle trek and staying with a hill tribe, chilling in many a reggae bar with buckets full of vodka redbull; exploring more temples and learning about Buddhism in Chaing Mai and even visiting the Tiger Kingdom to casually hug and cuddle the biggest tigers; lastly we sunbathed and partied with the locals on the not-so-mainstream Island of Koh Chang.

From there, we crossed the border over to Cambodia and made our way to Siem Reap where we would spend the next four weeks. Here the trail was split into two smaller groups as we embarked on our separate volunteering projects - Conservation work in the forest and teaching English in a Hannah with fellow volunteers on their teaching placement in Cambodialocal school. I opted for the teaching and stayed in Siem Reap for the month; teaching the foundations of the English Language to 4 - 21 year old Cambodian's. I rediscovered my love for teaching and thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at the front of the classroom! One weekend, the other volunteers and I went on our own small venture to Sihanoukville in Southern Cambodia where we sunbathed, saw some stunning beaches and, predictably, partied until the early hours. As the end of the month drew closer and our projects ended, we re-grouped and visited Angkor Wat and surrounding temples before leaving for Phnom Penh the next day. We spent our last few days in Cambodia visiting the Killing Fields and S21 and paying our respects.

Our last three weeks of the trail began as we crossed the border into Vietnam and headed straight for the Capital, Ho Chi Minh, where we explored the City and went on a 'Temples and Tunnels' tour before slowly travelling north to Mui Ne, where we relaxed on the beach and learnt to surf; visited the sand dunes, fairy stream and a small canyon! Next we headed further north to Nha Trang and went on a booze cruise around the small islands nearby. The boat stopped off at various locations where we were able to snorkel and see some spectacular underwater treasures. We also had the luxury of a seafood buffet on the roof of the boat; experience a condensed version of a lady boy show, and drink copious amounts of beer and free cocktails...

The party on this South East Asia Trail enjoyed some spectacular beachesWe then travelled onwards to the quaint, really pretty town of Hoi An; which reminded me so much of being in the South of France! Here we cycled around, explored more and witnessed their national holiday celebrations: even partaking by lighting lanterns and letting them float down the river alongside the fishing boats. Next we headed to Hue where we experienced true Vietnamese nightlife... and as a cultural and historic element, in our hungover state, visited the Citadel. Our last stop of the trail was the City of Hanoi where we visited more temples and explored the City and markets. In addition, we took a day trip to Halong Bay and watched in awe as we sailed through the natural phenomena of the rock formations cast out in front of us.

In Hanoi we all parted ways, and returned to our everyday lives back home. I came away with an increased knowledge, understanding and love for the different countries I visited and cultures we immersed ourselves within; made some amazing, strong, lifelong friendships and memories to look back on fondly, but the most poignant thing being I felt more grown up and calm. A strange sense of tranquillity had taken over my inner being and I genuinely now feel at peace and content.

As a final note I want to conclude that this gap year, or year out, has really been really beneficial in making me a more rounded individual, and I would recommend taking one to anyone who doesn't yet feel ready to go straight into University or College. It has helped me grow up, clear my mind and really think; spark new ideas and passions, and helped develop more of an understanding of what I would like to do in the future.

If you'd like more information about the South East Asia Ethical Adventure Trail, or any of the other exciting volunteering opportunities available with Frontier, please visit the website.

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