Frankly, this looked like a recipe for a disaster: You invite members of a club who have never met before to get up at five o’clock on a Saturday morning to catch a bus to an unknown event called “water rally” 200 km south of Bangkok…
I had cautiously called it “an ambitious initiative” when I forwarded the invitation. You know, it is the good intention that counts, right?
Well, how surprised was I not to find out that not only did the newly formed Thai Danish Club fearlessly pull this one off, the organizers also managed to round up 43 members for this very first member arrangement on Saturday 15 July 2006!
Well done, guys and girls!
The departure from Kasetsart University went well… I was later told. Dao and I had only had two hours sleep coming back from Singapore at 2 am the same morning, so after a sleepy “Go’morgen”, we went straight into a coma like condition on the back seat of the bus.
When I woke up, the microphone was being passed down from row to row among the participant. One by one we stated what year – or indeed years – we lived in Denmark, what we were there to study or do, and what we did now.
The eldest participants had all been there on Danida scholarships to study dairy technology in the late 1960’s. The youngest generation had been there as exchange students studying all kinds of subjects. One had worked as export manager. If others had been in Denmark not as students, but to work, it slipped my attention. But this was the glue that bound us all together, having at one point in our lives been living in Denmark.
“After I came back, I have also lived in Australia,” explained Dear, one of the bold organizers of the trip.
“But it’s like, you know, the first time, the first country… Denmark…, it was more…”
We all thought that was a very clear statement and understood exactly what she meant.
Once we arrived at the brimming river leading the swirling water from the Kaeng Krachan Dam down to the plain south of Petchburi, we were separated into four teams by the colour of our huge and practical name tags which we had been wearing since our check-in three hours earlier.
Jack and Wai had no time to listen to any wimps worrying about the current being too strong. With stern authority we were told to put on our life jackets, say goodbye to our loved ones and get into the flimsy little, brightly coloured rubber rafts which would be our only means of survival for the next hour and a half.
Along the way, we paddled for dear life and a little bit to win the race. Six times along the way we had to stop and get off the raft to find items hidden here and there. There were two fresh farm eggs, a bottle of water, a handful of bananas, two cobs of corn, a can of Coke, a big fish tied up at the last stop.
With these ingredients we were eventually requested to make a fire and cook a delicious meal.
I believe the green team was declared winners. But the important thing was the fun that we had being brought together like this and the fact that by the end of the competition we all knew the names of at least about one third of the other participants.
Then it was time for the real lunch. Some changed to dry clothes, others dried up during the lunch which offered only water to drink. So when the lunch suddenly turned into a game zone it was purely for the good reason that we all just had a good time. Among the popular games was a Thai version of Bro Bro Brille. Sanook indeed!
As the afternoon was progressing, we went out to see the dam from the main dyke which offered impressive scenery. To one side there was the view out over the hazy lake in the late afternoon. A few of us caught a brief glimpse of the Loch Ness monster but she was gone before we could alert the rest! To the other side the dyke went steep down to where the high pressured water forcefully ejected itself from the electricity generating turbines into the valley below at a volume of about twenty five bath tubs per second. Wow!
Tired from a great day of unexpected fun and physical activity combined with new impressions and the initiation of promising friendship we all found our seats in the tall double decked bus that was going to take us back to Bangkok again. Comfortably seated, we filled out a questionnaire asking us what we would like to do next time? Sports? Nature trip? Others?
The last thing I remember before dozing off was a thought that came to my mind: “The most important thing is not what we will do, but that there will in fact be a “next time!”
If you want to be there as well, you can apply for membership here. Of course there is no guarantee that you will be admitted. You could try starting your application form with the word “Please…”