Sam Thompson

A Thai field trip

Where's our risk assessment?

During my government high school's summer program that I somehow got drafted to help with, we had the opportunity to take our students to Safari World in Bangkok. I've never been on the "adult" end of a field trip, so I had no idea what to expect... and this being Thailand, the trip certainly didn't disappoint.

First, at least if you're from the USA, a field trip is pretty much a big deal. You must have permission forms signed and checked, adequate student-to-teacher-and-parent ratios, risk assessments, emergency plans... pretty much the same thing you'd need to do before undertaking a CIA mission. Actually, in my home county in Georgia, the school system stopped field trips altogether because there was simply too much paperwork and costs involved. But, not here in Thailand!
Permission forms weren't present. There was a roster that we used to see who all should be on the bus before leaving the school, but that was about it. No risk assessments, no liability forms, no nothing.

And that said, I must say: the students, all 40 or so of them, were far more well behaved than any field trip I've ever been on! The cultural differences are amazing... in a good way. The fact that there are less rules and restrictions seems to make the students more well behaved. Go figure.

The bus itself for this trip was comical. I will certainly say it's the nicest bus I've been on for any kind of school trip by far; it was a coach, and even in America I'm used to non-air conditioned buses. But this bus didn't have enough seats for the students, so there were ten or so of them just lounging in the aisles and leaning against the door next to the driver. No big deal.

Furthermore, this particular bus did not have any working gauges. BUT, it did have a 2x1500 watt amped stereo system that the students and bus driver used to have a mini-rave en route from the school to the zoo. Who needs to know how fast you're going when you can have a party on board?

But enough about the amusing journey. Safari World in Bangkok is quite a neat place to visit, albeit steaming hot as is all of Bangkok. You enter the park by going through a mini-safari (as the name would suggest), and get to see the works: lions, tigers, ostriches, giraffes... it's Africa in Thailand.

The park itself, once you're through the safari, has plenty of exhibits and shows to offer. I won't say it's the coolest place I've ever been, but for a field trip, it certainly was worth the time there. We saw several shows, including sea lions (my favorite), dolphins, an orangutan rock and boxing show, an American Western show, and a quite impressive James Bond show. So really, it's a theme park with a zoo on the side.

The students, although quite hot, seemed to enjoy themselves, but I'd argue that I had a better time than they did. The older I get, the younger I am, right?
All in all, I'm hoping to be invited on another Thai school field trip. The students are well behaved, and it was quite a lot of fun! Who would have thought you could get a job that pays you to have a good time at the zoo?


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