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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

Instructor intro

Sabaidee and welcome everyone to the Spring Mekong semester 2018, palm folded in a lotus shape the official greating from Laos, the Millions elephant kingdom of Lan Xang.

I’m so thrilled to embark this trip with you all as one of your instructor team along with Angelica and Kelsey.

I’m Somsanid Inthongsai (Som) the instructor from Lao PDR, I’ve been involved with Dragons since 2010 and the Mekong program has been the most area where I’ve been exploring the most, recently I just had a great time celebrating New Year by myself, reflecting what had happened the last year and now coming out fresh, and ready to cruise this Mekong boat together with you all!

South east Asia (SEA) mainland has been a huge home, since I’ve been mostly on the road leading trip with dragons for at least the last 5 years, I led Myanmar summer program where I most admired its natural and cultural authenticity and political complexity. But the Mekong semester probably has the most to offer as it covers the main area of the SEA, Cambodia you’ll fall in love not just with the Angkor -Wat but some meaningful lessons you will learn from the history(khmer rouge), arts and the music during the 60s, as Phnompenh was named as the pearl of South East Asia during the French colony, Lao PDR (People don’t rush 🙂 despite the fact that it is a small nation nobody knows much about it, but definitely so much going on here, it ranks top 3 of the world most GDP expanding in 2017. However the country still facing many development issues and yet still poor, but its traditions, cultures, natural beauties and people made this country an absolute exotic! (the US-secret war happened here too, be opened minded to learn from) so come before it changes. China, the big brother of the SEA. Despite the political components there’re  absolutely beauty in its diversity of cultures,  architectures, nature, religion and FOOD! Yunnan has the most diverse food of all over China and Xiao Cao(Chinese BBQ) always the winner!  I hope these little spoils will keep you excited coming to the program 😉

Before Dragons, I worked with NGOs, private schools and companies etc, as a freelancer in the field of English teaching, translation, interpretation/program liaison between the projects and the Lao government. And I also was a wilderness trekking guide when I was in a College.

When young age, a story I’d like to share with you: I started to work my first job at 16, after highschool years. To earn and pay my college, following my father into the wild, and join the topographic surveyor team. In the jungle where I learned the most to be self reliance and living life far away from human civilization, so risky due to the UXOs (unexploded ordnance) and wild animals attack. There isn’t a use of money or cellphone at all, But there I found peace and happiness, everyday waking up by the wild roosters and gibbons near the creek, starring at the peak of a gorgeous mountains with a tiredly smile, knowing that we will climb them. Eating some unfamiliar food when we ran out of the supplies, the Python, Kingcobra, lizards ect. Most of them taste like chicken as nothing to compare to,  and I was allergic to cobra but survived later on! Sleeping under the millions of stars in a little self-made bamboo hut, listening to the crickets and the creek flow was the most beautiful nature chant I’ve ever heard. Next few days we encountered a mama bear because some of us picked a little creature and thought it was a ginny pig, we returned it later, somebody made a fire and we passed it 20mn later a huge explosion noise occur, it was from the uxo but no one was injured, the story could’ve been different if any of us was closed. We survived and feeling swollen with pride of how much we achieved from 3 months experience in the deep jungle.

Thus, I valued experience in what ever I do and feeling challenged, I know it would give me something that made my life worth. So embracing this experience, with positive intention, step out of your comfort zone and embrace every moments that you witness contiously, then bring it back with a tremendous experience and knowledge in the pocket of wisdom.

PS: I was also a Buddhist monk for short period of time but a lay Buddhist for life, and love sharing and discuss about Buddhism and life in general, and you are more than welcome to participate morning or sunset meditation session when we have a chance on course.

English is my third language might confuse you sometime, and mother tongue is Lao, second is Thai and Khmer(Cambodian language) and Chinese are survival.

Can’t wait for the full circle!

Somsanid.