After a good night’s rest we woke up to the beach. It is so lovely to wake up and see it!

We then headed out to bike through rubber and pineapple plantations. We first had to get use to riding on the left side of the road. It was quite an adventurous ride as we made our way through a forest and to a waterfall. Right next to the waterfall was a Gibbion rehabilitation center. Though many of us thought our ride stopped there we were pleasantly surprised to learn we had another 8k to go. We ended our Tour de France cycle at a gorgeous pier where we got to look into a crystal clear ocean as we driped with sweat. 
Once we got back to the hotel it was relaxation time. Some laid out at the pool and others played football in the ocean but either way everyone had a great time in the Phuket sun (trying not to get too burnt). At 5:30 we all met up at the beach to watch the beautiful sunset. A great way to end the day all together watching the sun going down. Around 7 we left the beach and went to dinner then to bed excited for the early morning and ocean filled day that we have ahead of us. 

Part 2- Goodbye Chiang Mai

        After a quick one hour turn around at the hotel in which we had to quickly shower and pack, we checked out of the hotel and set out to explore Chiang Mai in the few hours we had left. We (surprisingly) went to another market, but instead of visiting the typical haggling street vendors trying to sell us the same pair of elephant pants we’ve seen a million (literally) times already, this was an upscale market. It consisted of many boutique-like shops and trendy cafes, including one gelato shop in which Lily got the “choco cup”- it was just as extravagant (and most importantly messy) as it sounds. 

         After the market we parted ways with our fearless build leader Parn as we headed to the airport to fly to Phuket. We boarded the red eye flight at around 9:30 and landed at about 12:30- rather uneventful since a good number of us were passed out asleep. 

        We loaded up into vans and drove the one hour drive down to the hotel, which included wishing Colm a happy St. Patrick’s Day and other typical amusing van “banter.” By two thirty we had all piled into the hotel and were heading to our rooms, where we quickly (and quite easily) fell asleep. 

Part 1- ceremony

Yesterday was the day that truly reminded us why we’re here. Why we decided months ago that this is how we wanted to spend our spring break and why we spent months raising money. It was the day that we finally gave the family their new home, a home that they would be able to not only survive in, but live in. 

After our typical morning start the day we piled in the vans one last time to go to the build site. Conversation included typical witty morning commentary along with intensive practicing for the house dedication ceremony (fostered by none other that Mr. Whyte himself). 

When we got to the build site it was just like every other day; we were able to look back at our progress from the day before and then be greeted by the kind grandmother we were building the house for. 

The morning progressed just as it had the four days prior: we kept on building. After an hour and a half of mixing more cement and carrying more bricks, we put down our gloves to begin the house dedication ceremony. 

It began with statements from the family which we had built for. The gandmother shared her sincere gratitude and told us how it would have been hard for her to save up the money for a house on her own due to her age and a medical condition which made working difficult. Hearing that made me think back to the multiple occasions when she was there alongside us passing the heavy buckets of cement, it made me realize how much she wanted and needed this house. The grandfather expressed similar statements of thanks, and later on I could see tears welling up in his eyes as he was officially welcomed into his new home. It was then our turn to make statements to the family, in which Alex, Jackson, Johnathan, and Ms. Rhodes spoke on behalf of the entire team by expressing our gratitude and appreciation for being able to build this family a new home. 

We then proceeded to the front of the house where we formed a circle, arms around each other. It was now our turn to show the family as a group how much we truly appreciate and care about the work we just did, and we had decided the previous night to sing an excerpt from “Home” by Phillip Phillips (which I’m listening to right now as Andrew has been singing the same line periodically throughout this van ride). We then passed around the key to the home, in which everyone hands it off and it ends in the hands of the homeowner. The family then proceeded to the front door and cut the ribbon welcoming them home (beautifully put together by none other than Parn and Johnathan) and we all followed inside to sign our names on the wall. 

After a twenty minute extension on Parn’s originally allotted five minute period for pictures we eventually trickled into lunch. Afterwards we head to the vans to head back to the hotel, but made sure to look back on the house we built and our job complete. 

Day 4 of the Build

        We woke up to a sunny day and devoured another delicious breakfast consisting of pancakes, waffles, cereal, fruit, eggs, yogurt, and danishes! We were full and ready for our day of building. One bus, designated to hair braiding, was full of girls prepping for helmet hair. We arrived at the site and immediately went to work. We finished the walls, built a patio, filled in cracks, and cleaned off the floor. We enjoyed our favorite snack of the day called a beng beng. For lunch at the site we ate fuk(pumpkin), pad Thai, chicken, mushrooms, and fruit. After a nice rendering shower, we took a trip to the nearby mall for some DQ blizzards… yummy! We had a special surprise for dinner and when we arrived we were ecstatic to find a show and traditional dinner awaiting us. The show consisted of different types of Thai dancing and finished off with audience participation… we stole the show. We then took a second trip to the night market where we bargained away and bought amazing gifts. To return to the hotel we enjoyed 3 person tuk tuk rides, some with music! We then retired to our rooms to get some good sleep after a long and fun day!!!

Gillian, Conor, and Abby M.

Day 3 of the Build and Night Market

          It is Day 3 of the build and we finished the internal walls with a lot of help from Yutt and Daeng. Most of the external walls are finished as well, which took a lot of cement. The community leader came by again and hopped onto the scaffolding for a few selfies. The builders all loved Merritt Ann’s dancing and continued to redo our slightly messy work with a smile. 

          After the build, we went to Americanized dinner and everyone was overly excited for the greasy food and french fries we were served. Lily was saddened to leave some of her pizza behind to go to the night market, one of the main tourist attractions Chiang Mai. 

            While walking around and getting lots of nice souvenirs for both ourselves and family, we saw lots of statues and jewelry as well as fake name brands. Abigail Lund bought some lights for her room. There was lots of music and fewer people than the other markets, so I found it more enjoyable. After an hour and a half of shopping, we were exhausted during our team meeting and all were excited to climb into bed.