|Middle School students go white water rafting in Malaysia with Nomad Adventure|
Photo credit: Nomad Adventure
My kids have been on some rather incredible field trips since we've moved to Penang. Time after time, I keep thinking, "This would never happen in Texas."
My friend dropped off a couple of her children at my house this morning before school since she was chaperoning a field trip that left an hour before classes started. The 2nd Grade/Year 3 (ages 7-8 years old) was headed to Gua Tempurung, the largest caves in peninsular Malaysia. My daughter went on the same field trip last year and spent breakfast telling her friends all about it.
Yes, this excursion with school children involved getting semi-submerged in a shallow, underground river. Headlamps on each student illuminated dark sections. Sometimes, the only way to proceed was for them to sit down on their bottoms and slide down rocky slopes. The teachers also made sure that plenty of dads came along to help. Why? One part of this spelunking expedition involved going down a small hole from one chamber to the one below it. A dad had to lower a kid down while another would reach up to grab him/her. This was nothing like the well-lit, dry, walking tour along a paved path that my older son did on a field trip to Natural Bridge Caverns in Texas.
There's an underground river. The ceiling was so low at one part that we had to crawl. Only my head was out of the water.
|Elephant encounter for the 5th Grade (Year 6) at the Taiping Zoo.|
Not the Average Petting ZooMost of the Petting Zoos we went to in America were populated with small barnyard animals — stubborn goats, fuzzy rabbits, maybe a pony or chicken. In Malaysia, you could say that the animals we petted were much, much larger. Like Elephant large.
Every school field trip includes the part where all the kids get taken to the bathroom in a big group so that the class doesn't have to take numerous potty breaks throughout the trip. Last year's visit to the Taiping Zoo was another one of those "I'm not in Texas anymore" moments. We had to pay money for each of the 10-year-old girls in my group to use the toilets, but any collected fees were apparently not spent on toilet paper, soap, or a cleaning service. Faced with grimy Asian squatty potties — not a Western toilet in sight — these girls suddenly changed their minds about how badly the actually needed to use it. Putting on my sternest mama voice, I declared, "We already paid for you. It's a 90-minute ride back on a bumpy bus. Here's a tissue. I have hand sanitizer. Now go!" Yeah, this conversation wouldn't happen in Texas.
|Being quiet and respectful at the Reclining Buddha Temple|
Nearby Exotic Cultural EncountersWhen I was growing up in Houston, Texas, I think the most exotic cultural encounter we had on a field trip was having lunch at a Chinese restaurant after a visit to bank vault to see a million dollars in cold, hard cash. I was the only one who knew how to eat with chopsticks.
Penang's Wat Chayamangkalaram, better known as the Reclining Buddha Temple, is only a few minutes drive from our school. Popping in for a short visit is rather easy and convenient. You should see the rows of shoes we had to leave at the door. Thank goodness they're old enough to not need help putting them on. This was probably the easiest chaperoning job of them all.
On the other hand...
Growing up near the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Houston, Texas, hubby remembers going on a tour there as a youngster. That would never happen in Malaysia.
What was your favorite field trip when you were a kid?
[Note: Faces intentionally blurred to protect classmates' privacy.]
This post is part of the following Link Ups. Check them out for more around-the-world travel inspiration.