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Upper School Interim Trip Blogs

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2024 Abroad Trips

South East Asia Group 2: Last day in Hanoi

Today in Hanoi we went a a tour of the city led by a group of members of the student-run organization called Hanoikids. With the student tour guides, we visited the Old and French Quarters,Hoa Lo Prison, Ho Chi Minh Complex, and Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. Before lunch we visited a Temple of Literature with a Confucian Scholar. We stopped for lunch at a restaurant called KOTO whose mission is to provide hospitality and life skills to disadvantaged youth in Vietnam by employing them and teaching them skills such as cooking. In the afternoon we went to the house of a Water Puppet Master and saw him perform a water puppet show. Then we learned about the Legacies of War with a local History Professor back at the hotel. Lastly we ate dinner at the Home Moc Restaurant.


By Natalie


South East Asia Group 2: Mekong Delta

Today we woke up and started our day by traveling to a market town outside Hồ Chí Minh City located on the Mekong Delta, or the “Rice Bowl of Vietnam” due to the fact that it alone produces half of Vietnam’s rice and is one of the most fertile places on earth. We boarded boats at a dock and began our voyage through the Mekong River. Our first stop was at a small island where we met local farmers and learned about the production of fruits, vegetables, and rice which we also got to try. We also got to listen to some traditional Vietnamese folk music and test out the instruments for ourselves such as the đàn nguyệt or “moon-shaped lute”. From there we passed by a honey farm, where we got to hold the bee colony and taste the honey. After that, we continued by boat to another island where we had to board a smaller rowboat to continue through the small canals lined by palm trees. Deep in the mangroves, we arrived at a chocolate shop where we tried and purchased several different types of chocolate. We then rode tuk tuks to a coconut factory where we went to watch the process of making coconut candy by removing the coconut from its shell and heating and mixing it with sugar to create a taffy-like substance. Personally, my favorite part of today’s excursion was the boat ride through the canal because of how peaceful it was listening to birds singing while rowing through the palm forests.



By André

South East Asia Group 2: From Ho Chi Minh to Ha Long Bay

Today was a combination of a travel day and a day in nature! In the morning, we took a 2 hour flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Haiphong and then took a bus to the wharf where we boarded the Calypso Cruise. We then ate a delicious seafood lunch with red snapper, shrimp, crab, and more! After settling into our rooms, we went out in the bay on kayaks! We were able to explore the bay and have fun taking out our kayaks around the islands and islets. We were in complete awe of the natural and untouched beauty of the islands. Some of us jumped into the bay before quickly running up and enjoying the hot jacuzzi on board our ship. Later in the evening, we participated in a cooking demonstration where we learned how to make spring roll filling and sauce and rolled our own spring rolls. It was so interesting to learn about the technique of rolling spring rolls and seeing how different ours were from the professionals, which gave us a lot of insight into the perfection in Vietnamese cuisine. Our cooking demonstration was followed by dinner, after which we had a choice to either go squid fishing or do karaoke! There wasn’t much success in squid fishing, so we moved inside to sing karaoke, a fun bonding experience for the group. Many others sang along to songs and we all ended the night with laughs. After karaoke, we all retired to bed after a long day of travel and adventure.


By Serene 

South East Asia Group 2: Ha Long Bay

What did we see/encounter today?

This morning we had the opportunity to take a short boat ride to Cat Ba Island to do a joke to a large cave system. The limestone mountains made for an amazing backdrop as we left the cruise and returned back to shore. After that, we visited a pearl and showroom where we got to see the process through which Vietnamese pearls are procured. Next, we took a bus ride to our final hotel in the center of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. We ended our day with a food tour of the city, where we got the chance to try chicken pho, Banh Mi sandwiches, steamed pork and prawn pancakes, and coffee. 


What site was most important/valuable?

I think encountering the scenery when on the mini boat was the most important because a lot of us are used to the city and we don’t get to see nature like this, especially in the ocean/bay, that often. The geography of the islands is significant because for example, the Gulf of Mexico, you just see flat water across that goes on for miles. you do not get to see islands or mountains in the middle. It is interesting to think about how these islands evolved to look like this, and think about their original form. 


What was the most important thing I learned today?

The most important thing I learned today was the value of fresh meat before every meal. I did not know that Vietnamese people kill the animal they are going to eat for each meal. It was also interesting to see all the live animals in the market that would be eventually bought by families to cook at home. Although the sight of live animals about to be slaughtered was not appealing to most people, it is important to see because it is not common to watch first-hand in America. 


What was my favorite part of the travel day? 

Waking up and being on a cruise because I have never been on one before because I have had a small fear of them. Along with this the hike through the caves and seeing all of the stalagmites and stalactites  was incredible. Weaving our way through the caves was a super cool experience. 




By Maia and Read

Today was the last day of the trip, as we visited multiple elephant sanctuaries and got to play with and feed many elephants here. One of the facts that we learned about today was that there is only a few thousand elephants left in thailand, despite their being around 100 thousand in the early 1900s. While at the farms here we also learned that the baby elephants are very playful and naughty as they often like to charge at people like they are toys. One of the elephant sanctuaries we visited today is also home to many water buffalo which often like to fight over food. These sanctuaries are very important to these elephants because without them, they would most likely not survive in the wild as many of them are injured. Poaching is also a big problem for elephants as poachers like to kill them for their tusks. After visiting these two places today I think that I will leave here remembering how it felt to be able to walk along side these incredible creatures and see how they live. Overall I think that my favorite part of today was being able to touch and feed the elephants at the first sanctuary we visited, as it was a once and a lifetime experience. 


South East Asia Group 2: Ho Chi Minh City

Today we explored Vietnam’s Independence Palace, War Remnants Museum, CaoDaism temple, and the Cu Chi tunnels. In the War Remnants Museum, we learned about Agent Orange— a chemical compound used in bombings during the Vietnam War. But, the effect this chemical had on the citizens was egregious: body dysmorphia and birth defects ran rapidly. Also, we learned that American bombings targeted innocent civilians 30% of the time, leading to millions of civilian deaths. Lastly, we learned about the intricacies of the Cu Chi tunnels and how the soldiers survived in hiding underground. This included the booby traps set around their terrain to protect their hiding spots. The most important thing we learned today was the extent to which innocent civilians were tortured by United States soldiers in the Vietnam War. Our favorite part was exploring the Cu Chi tunnels and learning about all the different types of booby traps deployed. We loved personally experiencing what the soldiers went through and getting a closer look into the past. The remnants museum was really important environmentally because it told us that agent zero added so much dioxin that it makes deforestation difficult and contaminated the food, which is constantly affecting the people. All in all, today was about learning a new perspective about the Vietnam war and confronting the brunt truth.

By Daniel and Mary

Today was out fist full day in Chaing Mai, we started the day going to a local grocery market where we meet up with chefs from the grand mass cooking school. We were split up into small groups and followed a chef around as they told us what ingredients we were going to use to make our own lunch. The chefs explained the importance of certain ingredients and why we will use them. From there we went to the actual grand mass cooking school where we were given a tour of the place and their garden. While on the tour the chefs showed us where they grow their spices and how we will use them. After the tour we began to make out fist meal, which was  phat thai. The chefs would demonstrate mixing ingredients then we would follow after. After an hour we had successfully made all of our meals. The next thing we did was go to the Doi Suthep Temple. There we learned that it is a sacred site to many Thai people. The temple is 9.3 miles from the city of Chaing Mai and situated at an elevation of 3,520 feet above sea level.


An important thing I learned today was that Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is Chiang Mai’s most venerated temple due to its relics and it being the center of the Lanna Kingdom back in the 14th century. My favorite part of the day was the bonding I had with everyone while cooking. I got to learn for others and use tips that they gave me, which ultimately made the result of my cooking a whole lot better. 


Day 12: There and Back Again

Hi everyone! Today, January 20, we are flying back to Houston! We had to be downstairs in the lobby by 5:40 to leave for the London Heathrow Airport. Our bus ride lasted around an hour, and most of us slept during the drive. After a gruelingly-long airport security check we were given time to go shopping and grab a bite to eat at the few stores available in our terminal. Some students got coffee and pastries from a café while others just bought and ate candy from a convenience store. Our group eventually met at the gate for our 10:05 departure time. We were fed dinner during the beginning of the flight, and then given time to rest. The dinner choices were either pasta, mac and cheese, or a vegetarian option.

I think we all slept at least once at some point during the flight. When the lights came back on, we were only around an hour away. We were given a choice between a chicken or cheese sandwich for a snack. I got the chicken sandwich, which was good.

Once landed, we went through a long, weaving line that didn't take too long, as we were only there for 20 minutes. After all of us made it through, we collected our bags at baggage claim. Once we got our luggage, we were free to be picked up and leave, and to obtain some well-deserved rest from our long day, or long two weeks of travelling.



En este día nosotros tenemos escuela por la mañana. Este día de escuela, nosotros vamos a una escuela española para hablar con los estudiantes en inglés y español. Mis amigas y yo conocimos chicos de nuestra edad y jugamos y hablamos con ellos. Después de escuela nosotros vamos a ISA y a nuestras casas para almorzar. Tenemos un descanso para tomar una siesta o leer un libro. Después de este descanso mi compañera y yo vamos a ISA para reunirnos con todo el grupo para ir a una clase de flamenco. Nosotros caminamos al centro de Sevilla para encontrar el Museo de Flamenco para la clase. En esta clase nosotros aprendemos un tipo de Flamenco se llama Tango. Este baile tiene partes de Flamenco tradicional y partes de Salsa. Para mi, el baile es muy complicado porque necesita coordinación con las manos y los pies y es muy rápido. Después de la clase, nosotros vemos un espectáculo de Flamenco. Este espectáculo es muy ruidoso porque los zapatos de todos los bailarines tienen talones que son muy duros y hacen mucho ruido cuando los bailarines pisan fuerte en el escenario. Después del espectáculo, mis amigas y yo vamos a una tienda de helado para comer helado. Yo obtengo un helado de pistacho en un cono, es muy sabroso. Para cenar, mi compañera y yo estamos en nuestra casa. 


Today we started in the Northern Thai mountains at Lisu Lodge, and learned about the habitat and conservation status of the Indochinese Tiger. Some facts included them being endangered with only around 300-400 left, they have become very controversial due to anti-poaching laws, and that culturally, they protect from evil spirits. We then headed into the mountains for a jungle trek, hiking to the top on a very thin trail, then back down partly through a small village. On the hike, we learned how bamboo can be used for many different things; for example, we used them for walking sticks and one guide made a cup out of bamboo in a few minutes. It was valuable to learn about how bamboo can be used, and how the people in the Thai mountains use their geographical features to enhance the products they use. After the trek, we left from Lisu Lodge and headed to the city of Chiang Mai. Once we got to our new hotel, we had some downtime, then some of us decided to go to the local night markets. Seeing how all the little shops were set up stuck with us because it showed how hard and impressive the work most of them do is, and shows a source of income for many locals in Chiang Mai. Seeing my friends hauls from the local night market was a great part of my day because we could all compare what we’ve collected over the past weeks. Overall, our last morning at Lisu Lodge and first night in Chiang Mai showed us geographical and daily components of the locals’ lives in both places.

South East Asia Group 2: Elephant Reserve



Today, we visited an elephant sanctuary located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We had the chance to meet many elephants of differing ages, coats, and disabilities. One elephant we encountered was completely blind and we noticed how she used her trunk to feel around her surroundings as well as greet us. The elephants were accompanied by a herd of water buffalo as well. At first, we believed that the buffalo were cows or even bulls, but after much debate, we learned that due to their long snouts, horns, and eyes set far apart that they were in fact water buffalo. We noticed that the buffalo were fairly aggressive as a herder was constantly near us in order to ward off the buffalo who sometimes came charging. Not only was this a sanctuary for elephants but also for dogs! There were many stray dogs that were being cared for, many of which were injured or had an illness of some kind. The dogs were freely walking around and we were able to pet and make friends with them. Elephants hold a large importance in Thailand in warfare as well as a general symbol of royalty dating back to the 15th century, so being able to see these fantastic beasts in person was absolutely life changing. Seeing how large and powerful as well as the gentleness of these creatures really helped me understand why elephants are so important to Thai culture and standing face to face with them made me feel more connected to that culture than any other time we spent in Thailand. I will never forget the eyes of these elephants. The expression in them was almost human and you could really see how intelligent these animals were by just making eye contact. I enjoyed traveling by foot to meet them and witness the river where they bathed as well as the mud where they played and cooled off. This was an experience that I am definitely going to carry with me for the rest of my life

By Madelyn

Today, we got a late start to the day with breakfast at 8 am. At 8:30, we finished breakfast and together, headed down to the main entrance where thirty something bikes were ready for us. We were warned about its length and the many uphill battles, and thus were given the option to tap out at any moment. The first large hill was tough to overcome and many people, including myself, were exhausted by the end of it. Soon, we got to the huge hill, so bad that many of the bikers had to get off and walk instead of bike. Then, we finished the ride and switched to trucks to go white-water rafting. Then, we got lunch right at a tea orchard where we learned to pick tea leaves and make hand-roasted green tea. We tried some tea and were given the chance to go shopping. Many people ended up buying many things to share with family and friends. Afterwards, we split into two groups: one that went back to Lisu Lodge, and one that went to an Akha village. At the village, we met locals and observed their differing lifestyle. The group got back, took a break, and enjoyed dinner at the lodge accompanied by traditional dances and music. Overall, it was a fantastic day filled with new experiences but the most interesting thing I learned today was that all teas are actually made with the same leaves. They are just prepared differently, resulting in differing tastes.

Hoy nos levantamos temprano y viajamos a Córdoba. Al llegar a Córdoba visitamos la Mezquita-catedral de Córdoba. El monumento es el más importante de Córdoba y también de toda la arquitectura andalusí. Después de la mezquita hicimos un recorrido a pie por un barrio en Córdoba. En el barrio vimos la Calleja de las Flores. Forma parte del centro histórico de Córdoba. Había muchas flores bonitas. Luego tendremos tiempo libre para almorzar y explorar la ciudad. Salimos de Córdoba y viajamos a Granada donde cenamos en un bonito restaurante.



Hoy estuvimos en Granada donde visitamos La Alhambra y conocimos la arquitectura árabe conservada en el monumento. En Granada, había muchos gatos y bailes en las calles. Fue muy interesante ver los colores y el estilo de arquitectura típicos allí porque es muy diferente a los Estados Unidos. En los Estados Unidos, la mayor parte de la arquitectura destacada se construyó en los siglos XVII y XVIII y los edificios son en su mayoría blancos con muchas columnas. Sin embargo, en Granada había varios colores diferentes, como el verde y el azul, y había fuentes y grandes jardines. Después de nuestro recorrido, exploramos la ciudad por nuestra cuenta antes de regresar en autobús a Sevilla.

Ellie M.


Today we flew from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and drove to Lisu Lodge located in the Chiang Mai Province which is a 50 minute drive from Chiang Mai city. When we arrived our guide told us about the three groups who lived in the area: the Thai who are Buddhist, the Lisu who believe in Anamism, and the Aka who are Christian. This was interesting to learn about how all of these groups lived together in harmony. Earlier in the day we presented on topics such as deforestation and the Hmong people in Thailand. The Hmong people in thailand were an ethnic group with a presence in various contries, including Thailand. The Hmong people are mostly known for havong a rich cultural heritage, with unique traditions, kanguege and clothing. They greatly engage in agriculture and are known for their vibrant festivals and celebrations. Deforestation in Thailand is a huge problem with in being concentrated primarily in the South in Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, and Songkhla; three regions known primarily for their rubber plantations. Tree cover was primarily concentrated in the North. Most deforestation can be attributed to plantations including rubber, tea, and palm oil as well as logging and forest fires. Forest fires are a serious problem with there being 1,306 fire alerts reported between January 11th and 18th of this year. This helped us gain background knowledge on Thailand and helped give a better understanding of what we were going to learn about. Lastly on our walk around the village we came upon a temple and our guide told us how europeans helped paid to build the temple, but paid for the Naggas specifically. The Naggas are the serpents seen in the picture below. Today the most important thing we learned was about the shamans for the Lisu people who are chosen and controlled by the spirits to become the village doctor. The shaman can not eat any form of meat, onions, or garlic or else they will anger the spirits inside of them. This was very interesting because it was very different from anything else we had seen or learned on this trip so far. Our favorite part of the day was walking around the village and seeing the different cultures interacting in the village and the chicken fight.

South East Asia Group 2: Jan. 19

Sadly today was our last day in the mountains of Northern Chiang Mai, Thailand. As our outdoor adventure was coming to a close, our group hiked through the jungles of the Lisu village. The hike took about one and a half to two hours, but was so worth it in the end! We saw so many different sights as we trekked up this jungle paradise like spiders, wild bananas and coconuts, and waterfalls. Also, Our guides were so kind and helpful while hiking through the jungle. As a result, our beautiful trek through this scenic paradise was a calming yet thrilling experience! After returning to Lisu Lodge, we had a marvelous lunch with different Lisu dishes and headed back into the heart of Chiang Mai. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped to climb the 306 stairs up to the temple, Doi Suthep. Once we reached the temple, we were met with breathtaking views of the whole Chiang Mai city which was so astounding.


Dinner was an unexpected yet pleasant surprise: with wonderful food, great entertainment, and an unconventional eating style. The food was served family style with sticky rice and a tray of dips. Watermelon slices and tea were served for dessert. The entertainment was traditional chiang mai music with instruments and dance, with dancers in intricate outfits. The dancers gave us an opportunity to go on stage and join in dance. We watched the performances from our seating arrangement, the floor with pillows, and we all enjoyed this experience.

By Yasmeen and Caroline

South East Asia Group 2: Jan. 18

The first activity of the day was a 8 mile bike ride to the whitewater rafting spot. Because of the hilly nature of northern Thailand, the ride was uphill for extended distances which was exhausting. We were relieved to have a downhill portion at the end. Along the way, we saw many elephants  along the river and in sanctuaries. When we finally arrived at the river to raft, we took trucks upriver and set out in the river in groups of 5-6. The water was mostly calm with a few fast rapids. During the calm sections, we greeted locals along the river, saw more elephants, and admired the view of the jungle. We were all soaked but had a great time.

After whitewater rafting, we ventured to a tea plantation for lunch and a tour. First, the lunch was spectacular with chicken fried rice, soup, and curry. Next, our tour around the tea plantation commenced. We went into a field of tea plants and learned how to pick leaves that were meant for making tea. After our tea leaves were collected, a master tea crafter demonstrated the process of roasting the leaves. Once the demonstration was complete, we got to enjoy the green tea in the dining area. Soon, everyone was tired so we traveled back to the lodge for some free time. After the relaxing free time at the lodge, dinner was served. With a delicious dinner and a long day of adventure everyone was ready for some good sleep. Goodnight. 


By Harrison and Ford

Day 10: Royal Institution, British Museum, Back to the Future

Hi everyone! So today, Thursday, January 18, we are spending our second full day in London. Today we were able to get a good night's sleep because we are leaving the hotel today at 9:20 which is late for us. Today the group was split in half each going on there our adventure. One group went to the Museum of London and the other went to the British Royal Institution. First, we learned about the difference between the light spectrum color and the paint colors. While the primary paint colors are red, blue, and yellow the light spectrum is red, green, and blue these lights create the colors on our electric devices.

Afterward, we used various different kinds of clothes/fabrics and a little bag and put some chemicals with either smashed blueberries, or smashed passion fruit which would give the fabrics, either a purple or a pinkish color. 

After that, we built A moly mod of a Molecule of rara red the molecule dye that is used on the US Flag. After that, we ate food at the food court and then went back to the chemistry. 

During the second part of our activity, we had to test varying quantities of die to water in order to try and guess the ratio of tie-dye to water in a random vile. In order to do this, we started putting different amounts of dye in different amounts of water to see what kind of color they would make. We did this from 20% food coloring to 100% food coloring. After doing six different combinations, we presented an unknown amount and we had to make a best estimate using the data we had collected throughout our experiment. Whoever could estimate the closest amount of tie-dye in the water will get a prize. The prize was a pencil with the Royal Institute's logo on it and Sabrina and Saya won. 

After we cleaned up our experiment, our ruction started making different colors of fire with different rocks. She made a green fire of white fire and a yellow fire. Then explain that fire needed three things to burn heat, fuel, and oxygen. Knowing this she took a sparkler and dunked it into a tube of liquid nitrogen, which was -190°C. When she put it in, we were amazed that the sparkler did not go out. She explained that the reason it didn’t go out was because the sparkler had its oxygen, and that, even though it was submerged, it could still create light. After that, our four-hour chemistry lesson came to a close and we took the bus back to the hotel.

After both groups were done with their chemistry experiments at the royal institution and day of exploration at the British Museum we all headed back to the hotel for a quick break before an early 4:45 dinner. We ate dinner at the Steak and Company which was only a few minutes and one river away from our hotel. Almost everyone got steaks, which were a great reminder of the ones we get back home in Texas. After everyone finished up their steaks we indulged in some gelato and chocolate fondant for dessert for some extra energy before our next destination. Next, for the last event of the day, we went to the Adelphi Theater to see “Back To The Future: The Musical.” While we watched the actors sing and act their hearts out on stage everyone was mesmerized by the crazy tech the show was using from a clear screen at the front of the stage to create crazy environments and the light bars popping out of the stage that gave every effect just a little more something made this show one of the best events we went to over the course of the whole trip. After the show on our short trip back, we did bus karaoke and listened to songs like “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Sweet Dreams.” 

The beginning of our second day in Bangkok started with a bus ride outside of the city where we would embark on an exploration of markets. These markets, however, were not the typical ones you would find in a touristy area. Instead, one was organized on a functioning railroad track and one completely oprated on the water through a system of canals. We were able to visit the railroad market when a train was scheduled to come, so we stood mere inches away from the train as it passed through. Some students even handed the train drivers sodas as they drove through. Next, we set off to the floating market. There, we were paddled through the canals in groups of four, and offered various goods ranging from mangoes and sticky rice to the chance to take a picture with a snake. The wide range of products of the floating market pays homage to the culture of rivers and canals that was integral to Thai society in its history. After a wonderful Thai massage that left us feeling rejuvenated, or maybe a little sore, we took to the streets of the Talad Noi district in tuk tuks to try a plethora of foods. This area is known as the Chinatown of Bangkok, and it is home to various Chinese temples, shops, and restaurants. A part of the day that will surely stick with me going forward is the sight of the train passing by me well within arm’s reach beacuse it made me wonder why so many shopkeepers decided to set up on a heavily used train track. My favorite part of the day was the food tour and the ride on the tuk tuks; the views as we rode down the streets were remarkable, and the food was delicious.


Today was our first full day in Bangkok. We started the day by going to the Wat Pho buddhist temple where we got to visit the reclining which is a 46 meter long gold colored Buddha statue. We also saw the unique buddhist architecture which consisted of many buildings covered in brightly colored flowers made from recycled broken porceline pieces. Then we had a quick Tuk-tuk ride to the Grand Palace. Tuk-tuks are 3-wheeled brightly colored motorcycle rickshaws which is used as an alternative to a taxi ride in Thailand. This was probably our favorite experience because it allowed us to get a glimpse of Bagnkok street life, while also a bit of respite from the heat. At the grand palace we bore witness to both the Royal Pantheon and the emerald Buddha. The temple complex was surrounded walls covered in murals portraying the story of the battle between the Monkey King and the Demon King. We continued through the palace where we saw the royal residence and the Queen Sirikit museum of textiles. The Grand Palace, as compared to the palaces of other countries, holds special significance as a representation of the power and prestige of the Thai monarchy given its thriving presence in the government. We continued the day with a riverside lunch where we had various seafood dishes. After lunch we began a cruise down one of the biggest Klongs in Bangkok. Our first destination was the Royal Barge Museum where we saw the ceremonial boats to be used in the upcoming royal procession meant to celebrate the king’s 72nd birthday. We learned that the 72nd birthday is uniquely important milestone in the buddhist religion because 9 is a lucky number. 9 is the highest single digit number and associated with longevity and since 7+2=9, the 72nd birthday is especially important. Our final destination for the day was Wat Arun, which was a massive spire measuring at least 68 meters high. Similar to the other temples it had vibrant porcelain floral patterns.



South East Asia Group 2: North Thailand

We believe there is significant advantage to learning through experience as opposed to learning through textbooks alone and if that means we get to cook and devour our own homemade Thai meal, we want to learn as much as we can! We started our journey at an outdoor food market filled with Thai ingredients produce. A short drive later we arrived at Grandmas Home Cooking where we split off into smaller groups. Following that we picked and tasted fresh ingredients from their garden. First we cooked sweet and sour soup, followed by some Pad Thai topped off with Kao Soi, a Thai curry. This was one of the best meals we’ve had and that may be in part because we cooked it ourselves. We drove for about an hour into the northern mountains of Thailand where we arrived at Lisu Lodge. For the rest of the evening we explored the lodge and surrounding village. Our tour guide, Uncle Charlie took us to a local house where we found artisanal Lisu bags and learned a little bit about their culture. At the lodge the houses are constructed in traditional Lisu fashion. Following a delicious dinner we participated in a dance to traditional Lisu music. 

By Greta and Alexander

South East Asia Group 2: Highlights from Cambodia

We had a great time in Siem Reap, Cambodia these past two days and are now headed back to Thailand. Here are some highlights from our trip. On January 14th our  favorite part was the bike tour, exploring various temples such as Ankor Thom, Angkor Wat, and Ta Prohm. We favored this activity because it was a fun, active way with amazing views to learn. These important sites taught us about the Cambodian culture of Buddhism and Hinduism. Meeting up with Group 1 on January 15th, we enjoyed learning even more about Cambodian culture through learning the skills and arts of the circus including juggling and acrobatics. At night we had fun watching the circus performance that was spoken in the local Cambodian language. We valued learning about the history of the Killing Fields through real artifacts and artwork at the museum. Visiting the rice farm stuck with us because it allowed us to better appreciate the hard work and time that’s needed to make every bowl of rice. It was really great to meet up with the other Kinkaid group and see our friends. Overall, it was a great trip full of learning the different cultures and ways of living in Cambodia.



By Brinnley and Laine




Day 8: London

Hi everyone! So today, Tuesday, January 16th, we were on our way to London, England. We traveled by train to get to our destination and on the way went under the ocean, through the English Channel which connected France and London. The Channel runs over 50 kilometers long and 75 meters below the surface of the sea. Since the creation of underwater tunnels, long train rides between destinations have been cut down drastically and have become more efficient and the time and personal. The 
first thing we did after leaving the train station was head to Greenwich. There we made a pit stop at a local food truck in the park and met a few friends on the way (a nice local woman, Phil, and her German Shepherd, Zello.
After everyone had their first meal in London we headed over to the Royal Observatory where we met our wonderful tour guide. Before the tour began as we were waiting in the lobby, the oldest rock that currently exists (4.6 billion years old) was on display where we had a close-up observation and had the opportunity to use our items (magnets) that stuck to the meteor. This meteor fell from space when Earth was first created and contains Nickel and Iron [making it magnetic].
The purpose of the Royal Observatory was to be a place to study space and time to find a solution for calculating the longitude when ships would go out to sea. The prime meridian is also present in Greenwich at the Royal Observatory, which is the line of 0 degrees longitude and the starting point when measuring the distance of the East and West around the Earth. Fun fact, in 1884, the United States was considered to have the prime meridian located there; however, to do so you would have needed to cut Asia in half and the Pacific Ocean was a more suitable option so the Board of Longitude had voted in favor of Greenwich, London. 
Many different clocks were designed here and prototypes that inspired today’s technology. During this time, there was a race between countries on who could have the best clock to tell longitude and Britain gave a money prize to motivate astronomers. As a result, an Englishman, Harrison Lesser, had designed outstanding prototypes that met all the requirements yet was not paid because the Board of Longitude decided his design wasn’t mass-producible. An example of Lesser’s prototypes is H1, which was a wooden clock that was dependent on counterbalanced springs instead of gravity.
This was such a special trip to the Royal Observatory because this place has played a very important role in naval technology and science today because back then finding longitude was really hard so the way they decided the time was by counting backwards from Greenwich. This place is the home of hundreds of clock designs that have all made a special impact on technology today.
After the Royal Observatory, we took a stroll down to see the London tower where we had time to go to a beautiful gift shop and see higher views of London. During this walk, the tour guide taught us about the history of the London Tower, how it was a demonstration of Norman power, and that one of the most important reasonings behind the creation of the London Bridge was to show that the city was strong and had protection against intruders (controlling who came through the city)
After that, we began heading down to the pier to get on our cruise down the river.  We saw AMAZING views of Westminster Abbey, the Big Ben, skyscrapers, “the Kardashian,” and many more historic landmarks.  
Furthermore, after our wonderful cruise ride, we headed back to the hotel where we had some time to settle into our rooms before we headed out to Top Hat, a Monopoly-themed restaurant which was delightful.
Thank you for reading! By: Sabrina, Sophie, Jasmine

Today we left Cambodia for Bangkok, Thailand. On the way to the airport we learned about two Thai cultural norms, Muay Thai boxing, and the Sukhumvit district. The Thai cultural values included Sa-nuk, which describes the positivity always shown by Thai people.”Saving face” is the Thai value that demonstrates the Thai stereotype of always finding a scapegoat to save ones reputation. Muay Thai boxing is the nations national sport and has over 65,000 professional fighters. The sport is also known as the sport of the eight limbs because its fighters use techniques from eight contact points. The Sukhumvit district is one of the longest roads in the world and stretches 400 km to the Cambodian border. The district is also known for its vibrant nightlife, and it is where our hotel is located! On the plane we could see the mountain where Anghkor Wat received its stones. Once we arrived in Bangkok we met our tour guides Nira and Susan. We ate lunch at Park Nine before heading to Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit. After settling in, a group of us left for the mall. The Bangkok mall consists of nine levels including a cinema, market, and plenty of shops. Students purchases a variety of items including clothes, ice cream, and an IPad. Each level is modeled after a city including Tokyo, Milan, and San Francisco. For dinner we ate at the hotel and had green curry with chicken, spicy chicken soup, and Thai desserts.

Day 7: Paris

Today we woke up at 8 AM to eat breakfast here at the hotel. With an assortment of juices, pastries, and other breakfast foods, we had plenty of fuel to start our day. At 9 AM we met our tour guide, Jean-Manuel, and began our drive to a vantage point overlooking the Eiffel Tower. After we got to the edge of the vantage point we took out tourist photos and got a history lesson about the Tower. We learned about the engineering of the Eiffel Tower, specifically about the tower being hollow so the wind could go through the tower instead of hitting the tower. If the tower was solid, the wind would push the tower over due to its sheer height and weight. We also learned about the strategic uses of the Eiffel Tower, as both a radio transmitter and a strategic vantage point. Finally, we learned about the effects of the weather on the tower. The tower can sway up to 75 centimeters either way, but the most sway that has ever been recorded was 18 centimeters. Furthermore, the tower can expand or shrink up to 15 centimeters depending on the heat and sunlight hitting the tower. Finally, we learned that engineers ran a simulation to efficiently a structure of the same size in the same conditions, and the design that the simulation returned was the design of the Tower. This is doubly impressive considering that the main architect of the tower, Gustave Eiffel, never made any written plans of the design and only tweaked the designs made by the engineers of the tower.

After seeing the Eiffel Tower, we went on a bus tour around the city. We covered all sorts of topics, including Parisian architecture, and scientists like Pascal, and we got an overview of the various districts within Paris. Another thing we covered was the history of the Arc de Triomphe. During the reign of Napoleon, Napoleon commissioned its construction as he wanted a place for his soldiers to parade after a victory. After Napoleon was deposed, construction was halted but eventually finished in the mid-1800s. After  WW1, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was put under the Arc. Nowadays, the Arc is used for military parades and the Tour de France. This bus tour gave us a great look at Paris, which was great since we were only here for one day. Another important spot we drove by was the Notre Dame and we saw the reconstruction of the church from the fire in 2019. We stopped at a few locations as well, such as the Place de Concorde. Our guide showed us the area where King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed during the French Revolution and the Egyptian Obelisk. After our bus tour, we stopped at the Montmartre. After dodging pickpockets and learning about the complications of French politics, we entered the Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre, learning the history of this cathedral. We then ate lunch at the nearby square, with particular highlights being sandwiches longer than your femur and a particularly rare sight, a Starbucks. Before we went to the Flyview VR place. We stopped at a square which had the famous Paris Ritz Carlton and it also had one of only two original meter lengths there. We also saw the Texas embassy from when Texas was an independent country. It’s interesting because France was the first country to recognize the independence of Texas.

We went to the fly view virtual reality experience where we went into an interactive view of landmarks in Paris. Some major places we went to included the beaches of Normandy, multiple towns in the countryside, the Swiss Alps, and more. The experience also included mini-games where we controlled our virtual jetpack and it was really fun. We stood on a platform that moved and had to grab onto a handle, which made it feel like a roller coaster ride. Next, we did a virtual tour of Paris looking into many famous monuments in the city, such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Grand Palais and its massive glass dome, and many more. It was overall a great experience but it did give me bad vertigo after which I felt for hours. 


After FlyView, we stopped by the hotel for two hours of much-needed rest and then took a different bus to dinner. Tonight, we ate at a creperie. We had several options for both dinner and dessert. For dinner, we had crepès with eggs, cheese, and a choice of protein including ham, bacon, chorizo, or spinach. (The bacon crepè is featured below). For dessert, we had a choice of Nutella chocolate (featured below), lemon honey, strawberry jam, or butter and sugar. The food was incredibly good, and the consensus seems to be that this is the best food of the trip thus far. It’s safe to say that the ensuing food coma will help us feel well-rested for our busy day tomorrow!


By: Harris Lingle, Jack Deneke, and Evan Rohde

Tuve un día muy bueno. Fui a la escuela y aprendí mucho sobre la cultura de España. Era muy interesante aprender sobre los ríos de España porque los hemos visto muchos durante el viaje. Me sorprendió la diferencia de transportación en Europa. Casi siempre la gente camina a su destinación. En los EE. UU. nunca camino en las calles para ir a mi destinación. Pero, me gusta caminar a la escuela cada mañana. Esta foto es del camino del barrio Santa Cruz. Puedes ver la Catedral de Sevilla en el fondo de la foto. Más temprano en el día, todos caminamos hasta la cima de la torre. Este fue el primer día que llovió. 


South East Asia Group 2: Day 5 Sunday day Jan. 14th

On Day 5 of the trip we started by going to The Cambodian Youth Circus workshop. There we began by splitting into two groups to learn how to juggle and how to do simple acrobatics. At first, juggling balls was really hard, but once we started to get the hang of it, it was actually very fun. The instructors juggled with ease as we watched in awe trying to imitate their movements and skill which did not work out very well. This was the same with the acrobatics. From there we took a bus to The Banteay Srei temple. While the temple was a lot smaller than the others we had visited so far on the trip, it was still a great depiction of Khmer art. We then took a bus to meet the other group at a fine Asian cuisine restaurant named Madame Butterfly where we ate chicken curry, sticky rice, pumpkin soup, shrimp soup, and more. After taking a quick break at the hotel, we went to participate in a holy water blessing by Busshist monks to receive good luck, happiness, and prosperity. From this, we went to Wat Thmei, a location with a haunting history as a former “Killing Fields” during the Khmer Rouge’s Rule. As we explored the historic site, sadness came over us as we saw depictions of the killing fields along with real skulls and bones from the event. We then went to Malis Restaurant, where we ate fried noodles as an appetizer then as the main course had chicken and lemongrass soup. To bring an end to our wonderful day, we went to a Cambodian Circus, where we witnessed incredible feats of acrobatics, dancing, singing, and an interesting story. Overall day 5 was the longest but also one of the most productive and eye catching days on the trip so far. 

Austin and Cooke


We started today with a scenic bike ride through the Cambodian forest. On this multi-hour ride, we were able to see multiple famous temples. These temples consisted of Angkor Thom, a massive complex that served as the last capital of the Khmer Empire, and Ta Prohm, a beautiful temple dedicated to a king’s mother that has since been lost to the verdant jungle. After this journey, we ate a fancy meal of beef and eggs alongside a selection of seafood. Then satiated, we were able to take a quick rest at the hotel in preparation for the day’s highlight–the famous Angkor Wat temple. Immediately after arriving at the site, we were awestruck by the intricate design and massive nature of the temple. We crossed the royal entrance to enter the compound, and were greeted by the beautiful landscape and design that hid behind the outside wall. We viewed the four pools, now empty, that sat inside the temple and our tour guide explained that each pool represented one of the four elements: earth, air, water, and fire. We then climbed a set of incredibly steep stairs to find the 3rd floor of the temple. It became obvious that the floor was dedicated to the royal family when we were hit by the indescribably intricate carvings that adorned the walls. Then, we climbed down to view even more carvings that allowed us to learn about Hinduism’s beliefs on the afterlife and other fascinating facts about Khmer culture. Finally, after a exciting and action-filled day, we were able to enjoy a traditional Khmer-style meal and get some much-needed rest for our early flight the next day.

En casi todas las calles hay naranjos o limoneros, a diferencia de los Estados Unidos que no tiene esos árboles en público.

En algunas ciudades españolas se pueden encontrar y visitar edificios que fueron construidos para los reyes hace más de quinientos años, como este palacio, el Real Alcázar de Sevilla. Al contrario, los Estados Unidos no tienen palacios y edificios antiguos porque no tienen una historia de reyes y reinas.



Hoy comenzamos el día yendo a la escuela y aprendiendo sobre las costumbres tradicionales españolas. Las prácticas fueron muy sorprendentes porque supusieron un choque cultural en comparación con Estados Unidos. Por ejemplo, después de la escuela, muchas veces tenemos que empezar inmediatamente con la tarea. Sin embargo, en España, la siesta es un momento en el que los estudiantes y los padres pueden descansar entre 20 y 30 minutos. Después de la escuela, caminamos hasta el centro de la ciudad para visitar la catedral. En el camino, noté que las calles tenían, en su mayor parte, muchos menos carriles para que circulen los automóviles. También hubo muchas intersecciones circulares, lo cual es diferente de los Estados Unidos, donde estas intersecciones son raras.


We started our day off at the Cambodian youth circus workshop. Where we learned how to tumble and juggle hacky sacks while working with the professional circus workers, skills everyone got better at, although only a few people were able to master them. Then we went to Banteay Srei, a Cambodian temple made from pink sandstone and lava rock. Intricate carvings covered the sight and most areas were perfectly preserved even though the temple has gone through multiple renovations. 

Before leaving, we watched a local performance with various local instruments to raise money for land-mine victims and their families. Later we went to a Mahayana Buddhist holy water blessing where we were blessed with holy water and given red bracelets to scare away spirits and welcome good luck. However, we learned a few important cultural traditions like how to sit with your feet pointed away from the Buddha in the temple. 

After, we went to Wat Thmei, a memorial to the genocide that happened during the Khmer Rouge regime also known as the Killing Fields. The horrific violence committed was on full display with information about the political scene, prisoner life, and monuments to the dead using the victim’s bones. This memorial was incredibly solemn in nature, but the importance to Cambodia’s history was made very clear throughout. We ended the day with the Phare Circus where we enjoyed watching a difficult performance demonstrating a higher level skill set of the skills we learned this morning.

Day 6: Switzerland (Bern)/ Paris

At 9 am we departed via bus to the Cailler chocolate factory in Switzerland where we participated in an interactive chocolate bar making lesson, taught by Chocolatier Antonio, getting the chance to both design and flavor our own chocolate bars. Afterwards, we were able to keep the aprons we got from Cailler and shop around the chocolate shop, buying souvenirs and snacks. 


This was our last event in Switzerland before we left to ride the train to Paris, departing from Geneva. On the bus ride to Geneva, we learned more about the Royal Observatory, getting a preview of the British landmark from Ms. Cross, and taking notes to prepare for a possible 2nd STEM Europe quiz. We learned about Astronomers Flamstead and Edward Hayley as well as more information on longitude and latitude, including how to find it and how these methods were discovered.



In Geneva we went to the train station, grabbing a quick lunch of sandwiches and more from a store within the station. We boarded the train, and settled in for a 3 hour ride to Paris, France. We were given our first quiz on the train, using the previous we took from Mr. Lopes and Ms. Cross. After we took this short quiz, we watched movies, talked, and slept to pass the time.

Once in Paris, we rode the bus to the Pullman Eiffel Tower Hotel, and in the last few minutes of the ride, it started to snow. Our hotel is right next to the Eiffel Tower, so as we grabbed our luggage from below the bus, we saw the magical sight of snow in front of the lit up Eiffel Tower.



After 30 minutes of post-bus ride downtime, we all met up for dinner, eating at the hotel's own restaurant. We ate chicken supreme with vegetables and for dessert, we had a chocolate mousse cake. We all agreed it was one of the best meals we’ve had on this trip. 

South East Asia Group 2: Day 4 Saturday day Jan. 13th

On day 4, we biked to Angkor Thom temple complex, which was the former capital city of the Khmer Empire. At Angkor Thom there were over 70 temples either Buddhist or Hindu. We explored the central temple called the Bayon temple, which was built by King Jayaraman VII. After the Bayon Temple we continued our bike ride through the Angkor area to the Ta Prohm Temple, where the movie Tomb Raider was filmed. We then had lunch at Charney Tree where we ate Traditional Cambodian cuisine, including dishes such as Fish Amok and Mango Sticky Rice. After lunch we visited Angkor Wat, a massive Hindu center of worship that was converted to Buddhism, during the 12th century. All the Khmer temples were amazing, not only because of their immense size, but also the high level of preservation. The temples were extremely well preserved, as tourists could still see the facial features and expressions on the stone wall carvings. Another amazing feature of the temples was the fact that they offered free exploration, as there were virtually no off limit areas to tourists. However, my favorite part of the temples was the fact that Buddhist and Hindu influences coexisted in the same temples and resulted in amazing art and architecture. Finally, to finish our day we returned to the hotel where we reunited with the first group and had a buffet style dinner that served Cambodian and Thai food.

By Ian and Caleb


Today was a very fun and insightful day. Our day began with a walking tour of saigon, featuring the Saigon Opera house and its historical transformations from a cultural building to a government building and then finally into an opera house. Next, we moved onto the city hall where we saw the place that local government activities took place in. We then navigated through a lively local market, catching glimpses of the various snacks and street food that define the local culinary scene. Lunch at a bahn mi shop introduced us to hot peppers and vietnamese tea offering us a taste of the food prepared by the culture we have been learning about.

The image above is of the city hall. It has never changed since its construcation by the french. 

Students eating at the Bahn Mi shop.

In the afternoon we bid a reluctant farewell to Saigon as we made our way through the airport. Transitioning to Siem Reap, we settled into the hotel and met our new tour guide “Salon”. His insights about hindu and buddist religions/temples as well as his personal stories added great insight into the lives of the Khmer mon/cambodian people. We ended the day with a nice buffet style dinner at the hotel where we met up with the second Kinkaid southeast asia group and caught up about our travels thus far. Finally, we had some free time where we were able to go the gym, swim, or relax in our hotel rooms. 


  • Walker and Kaveen

Day 5: Bern/Cern

We began our day with a guided tour around Bern where we learned about the rich history and culture of this Swiss Capitol. We passed by the Swiss Federal Palace where we gained insight into the country’s political system. Among the many fountains and statues on top of them, our guide revealed to us the stories behind each one. To name a few we passed “Ogre Fountain” which reveals an ogre figure devouring a child. The exact meaning is unknown but many claim that it represents the devouring of misbehaving children or the overcoming of threats. 

Another figure we passed was Moses Fountain where Moses can be seen holding the ten commandments. This fountain reminds us the importance of our behavior in civic life since Moses is regarded as a symbol of wisdom and leadership. Interestingly enough this fountain is in front of Nydegg Church which has over 200+ figures to worship which wasn’t the ideal design. Although the bible says you should only worship one God the figures were all put in front of the church so people could understand what they were portraying. 


We later walked over to one of the most iconic landmarks of the city, Zytglogge, to learn more about the medieval clock tower. The clock tower was made in the 13th century and the clock itself wasn’t added until the 15th century. The clock has needed to be modified and made renovations to but the overall design and structure of it has stayed the same throughout the centuries. 

The clock contains an astronomical clock,  other dials in roman numerals portraying time and astronomical information, and animated figurines that react accordingly to the clock. The figures that become animated include bears, jesters, and a God(Chronos) who can be seen holding an hourglass. 

After learning about all the gears and gizmos of the clock we got the chance to go to the roof to see the view of Bern from atop.

After returning to the hotel at 11:00, we departed for Geneva, eating lunch on the bus while Mr. Lopez discussed the Higgs mechanism, the way in which the Higgs field makes elementary particles feel mass. After watching a short presentation, we crossed the Franco-Swiss border and visited a vast room filled with champagne as well as the workstations for the different colliders, as well as seemingly the big red buttons to conduct the important steps of the acceleration. Our guide used a virtual and physical model to describe the many processes that contribute and lead to the firing of the accelerator(s). The protons in the accelerator are accelerated using standing microwaves in a metallic cavity, while being curved in the circular tube by the helium-cooled superconducting magnets. Back in Switzerland, we went to the ATLAS detector and learned how the LHC was used to discover the Higgs boson, as well as the possible results of studying it, including a greater understanding of dark matter. On the ride back to Bern, Mrs. Cross explained the concept of dark energy by pointing out the unexpected steep acceleration of space and Mr. Lopez explained String Theory, a very theoretical concept which imagines fundamental particles as different vibrational modes of one dimensional particles called strings. After returning to Bern, we ended the night at an American-themed restaurant.


El Escorial

Nuestro cuarto día en España, fuimos a Escorial para aprender sobre el Monasterio de San Lorenzo. El edificio fue encargado por el rey Felipe II en el siglo XVI y  tiene un palacio real, una iglesia, una biblioteca, un colegio y un monasterio. 

Esta es la biblioteca dentro del Monasterio. Tiene muchos libros y un mural muy grande en el techo. En los estantes, los libros están hacia atrás. La mayoría de los libros son la primera edición y fueron disfrutados por la familia real. 



Nosotros vimos unos de los murales del Escorial. Hay muchos detalles en las pinturas y las pinturas tienen temas sobre la religión católica y de la vida de Jesucristo. 

En esta foto, nosotros vimos los ataúdes debajo del edificio. Los ataúdes fueron para los reyes y las reinas de España, así que hubo muchos líderes famosos en la cámara.



Hi! We started our day with another great breakfast at the Liberty Centreal hotel in Ho Chi Minh city. We departed for the Mekong Delta at 8am. The bus ride there was an hour and a half. Ellie gave a presentation about champa rice and Jordan gave a presentation about the floating markets. Ellie did her presentation over champa rice, a major food source of the Vietnamese people. Champa rice increased agriculture production in Asia because it was flood resistant and early maturing. Champa rice was able to be cropped five times a year instead of three. It caused the population to boom. This connected to the history of people using environmental resources in the Mekong Delta. Later, Jordan did her presentation over the floating markets of the Mekong Delta. This delta is a way of life and trade for over 100 years and the river system gives life to the people. It runs through 6 different countries - Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and China - with Cai Rang being the most popular and Phung Hiep being the largest. Vendors hoist their products up on large poles to advertise what they are selling fo the day. When arriving at the delta, we took a boat across the delta to an island where we saw wildlife and the fruit orchard. We were welcomed by people playing native instruments and fresh fruit with tea. Kate Hyman, Chloe Childress, Emma Baird, and Audrey Gutierrez got a chance to play the erhu. The erhu was a native instrument that was like a simple violin. 

Then, we took tuk tuks to bee farm. The lady held the bee farm in front of us and then we all got a turn to hold the farm. She showed us the honey that they sell and offered us honey tea. We went to a place where they sold us chocolates and there was a snake that we got to hold. 

Then, we went to the coconut candy manufacturing place. We all had the opportunity to try the coconut candy. We watched Pink(our guide) complete the process of breaking down the coconut to make it into a candy. Next, we went to another island where we had a nice lunch overlooking the Mekong Delta. We saw alligators on our way through the resort. As well as elephant fish, which we got served for lunch. Our lunch consisted of shrimp, rice, fish, and vegetables. After we finished lunch, we took our boat back to the bus and headed home. We came back to the hotel for a quick rest before heading to dinner at a nice restaurant called Cuc Gach. There we were served more delicious food which was enjoyed with conversations about our awesome day. Today allowed us to learn how rich the Vietnamese culture is and how they use the environment around them to the fullest. This was important to us in learning how the native people interacted with the lands around them and provide for themselves and others. Our favorite part about this day was the coconut candy factory because the candy was delicious and the process was very interesting. Overall, it was a lovely and informative day. 


Day 4: Switzerland

Today was a journey through space and time as we moved to the home of Albert Einstein in Bern, Switzerland.  We had an early-morning departure from Florence, flying over the snow-capped mountains peeking through the clouds. 


Arriving in Zurich, we had a hobbit-like “second breakfast” before a bus ride to Bern.  Along the way, our tour director Natalia showed us how Italians communicate with gestures and facial expressions as much as words and taught us a few greetings in German.  Some of our group members are enjoying the challenge of trying to pick apart long German words into elements they can identify.  

We then switched gears to science, with Mr. Lopez telling us about Einstein’s famous “miracle year” of 1905. That year, he wrote five of his most important papers while living here in Bern.  The first of these was his paper on the photoelectric effect, establishing the basis of quantum mechanics, the work for which he actually received his Nobel prize.  He also wrote two important works on molecules (a model that was not accepted by all scientists at the time).  The miracle year culminated in his first papers on special relativity, including his famous equation E = mc2.

The afternoon in Bern brought us to the ice rink on the Bundesplatz, overlooked by the Swiss Federal Palace.  Some of our more adventurous skaters learned about how skaters use the concept of angular momentum to perform their graceful spins.  We found that it might not be as easy as we thought to spin, but several students accomplished theirs by the time we were done.  Meanwhile, the novice skaters in the group found their feet using little supports in the shape of seals.  Before we left, “Seal Team Six” had successfully captured Natalia!

The highlight today was of course our visit to Einstein’s tiny apartment where he lived when writing the five papers we learned about earlier.  We were fortunate to be able to do this visit; the museum is typically closed in January because, as in Einstein’s time, the building is not heated!  They do give special tours to groups, so we were able to visit while bundled up in our coats.  We saw a biographical movie, and then spent time looking at his furniture, early editions of his work, and photos of his family. Kinkaid’s future Einsteins imagined themselves doing that work at his own table and desks.  Before leaving, we left our talon-mark in the guest book at Einstein’s standing desk, forever connecting us to the great scientist.

By Ms. Cross


South East Asia Group 2: Day 3 Friday Jan. 12th

Today was an amazing day filled with new eye-opening experiences. We spent the day visiting numerous markets in Bangkok and its surrounding areas. We started with the railroad market that was encapsulated around a train track which is very unique to Thailand. Second, we went to a coconut farm where we saw the process of harvesting coconuts and creating them into coconut sugar, milk, meat, candy, lotion, bowls, and much more. After that, we got the chance to ride tuk-tuks to the river market pier where we saw local merchants selling various goods alongside the river to passengers in the boats. This experience was very interesting because it was an unconventional way to see goods being sold and we see how the river was key to the locals way of life. Next, we visited a Thai massage place where we enjoyed a traditional commoner full-body thai massage. In the evening we ate various insects such as crickets, worms, and scorpions, as well as  Pad Thai, Fried Rice that was served in a pineapple, cooked vegetables, sesame seed covered pork, and more while enjoying live music by multiple Thai performers. Of all the things we did today, the most interesting part was the Thai massage because the massuses used their elbows, knees, hands, and feet to relieve tension out of our tired muscles. It was exciting to see everyones varying thoughts and reactions to the massage afterwards. In closing, today was filled with new and joyous experiences for every student!



Shelby and Emona

Para empezar, nuestro grupo tomamos un autobús a Toledo del hotel. En Toledo, nosotros fuimos de tour por la ciudad. Nuestro guía turístico se llama Marío y él era muy energético e interesante, como Willy Wonka. En el tour nosotros vimos un puente viejo y las montañas y el río en torno a la ciudad. Encima de una montaña tomamos muchas fotografías porque la vista era muy hermosa. Después, nos dirigimos a un puente para caminar por la ciudad. El puente era muy viejo y tenía un mapa de la ciudad vieja. Caminamos mucho para cruzar el puente sin autobús y caminamos a una sinagoga. La sinagoga tenía un aspecto de diseño como los árabes porque los árabes fueron comisionados para construir la sinagoga. En la sinagoga hay símbolos de los juídos, árabes y los cristianos. Después nosotros caminamos a un museo para ver una pintura de El Greco.


Primero empezamos el día tomando un autobús a Toledo, donde conocimos a nuestro guía turístico, Mario. Mario primero nos llevó a una montaña donde pudimos ver la ciudad y verla desde un punto de vista diferente. Después de tomar fotos de la vista impresionante que estábamos viendo, Mario nos llevó a una sinagoga donde aprendimos que se practicaban tres religiones. Estas tres eran cristianismo, islam y judaismo. Luego Mario nos llevó a diferentes museos y pudimos ver una pintura de El Greco que se llamó “El Entierro del Conde de Orgaz”.  Luego tuvimos tiempo libre donde pudimos ir de compras y comer con nuestras amigas. Finalmente, después de que el tiempo libre se terminó nos vimos todos en el lugar designado. Tomamos un autobús para regresar a nuestro hotel donde seguimos teniendo 2 horas de tiempo libre y finalmente la cena. 


Hi! Today we got started with our day at 7am with an amazing breakfast at the Liberty Central Riverside Hotel situated right next to the super popular boulevard. Right at 8:30 we went to visit the reunification palace where the american-vietnam war ended and the fall of saigon occurred. We saw  many different parts of the building such as the conference room and the helicopter landing pad.

Shortly after, we made our way over to the vietnam war remnants museum. As tragic as it was, this museum provided Kinkaid students with a realistic yet devastating perspective on the Vietnamese and even American citizens. So many lives were changed negatively and lost due to the effects of agent orange. We saw many different horrifying images and written letters left by civilians affected by the war. Later, we visited the Cao Dai Temple where we dressed modestly, covering our shoulders and knees. We witnessed the followers of CaoDai partake in a religious prayer, and as we were existing we also witnessed the followers enjoy an afternoon lunch to celebrate the end of the New Year.

We then went to a nice lunch and interesting enough the servers brough out small carrot sculptures which we found very humorous and appealing. After a relaxing 2 hour drive where we had time to rest and re-set we arrived at the Cu Chi tunnels where we began our exciting adventure. Before experiencing the tunnels first hand, we learned about the many boobytraps used by soldiers during the war. We then tested our limits and crawled on hands and knees through the tight, dark, and hot Cu Chi tunnels. Despite these harsh conditions, this experience allowed us to sympathize with the soldiers and let us feel only a fraction of what they went through during the war.

Back on the 2 hour bus ride to dinner! We enjoyed a delicious mediterranean style dinner much different from any of the local cuisine we have tried on this trip. The most exciting part of the evening was when our tour guide Luke took us to the famous “TikTok” boulevard which we found was very similar to New York City's Time Square. There were snakes, hoverboards, bubbles, flashing lights, fake statues, live music, food, and so many more eye-catching sights. We walked along the boulevard back to our hotel and called it a night. What a great day!!!!!!:)

Day 3: Pisa and Florence

We had dinner at 7 am and left for Pisa at 7:45. During the hour-and-a-half trip from Florence to Pisa, Mrs. Cross talked to us about Galileo, particularly how many of his contemporaries did not trust his heliocentric view of the universe. Mrs. Cross showed us that one way Galileo proved that the universe was heliocentric—the phases of Venus, and more importantly how it “grows” and “shrinks”. Of course, it is not changing in size, it is simply moving farther or closer to Earth. The recorded changes in Venus’ position would be impossible to incorporate into the geocentric model, as the orbits of planets are perfectly circular in this model. At the end of the bus ride, we found ourselves in Pisa, specifically at the Piazza dei Miracoli, the location of the leaning tower of Pisa. Before we could visit that, however, we had two other places to visit


We first visited a section with statues and many murals on the walls. The statues were of many important people, including Fibonacci. The murals were of very important events in Christianity. The one that we focused on was depicting the last judgment, where Jesus would return once more and judge humanity. On one side of the painting contained the ones who lived their life well, triumphing in heaven. On the other side were the sinners being tortured by the devil. Due to age, most of the murals are incomplete. Also here was where many people were buried. Next, we went to the baptistry. 


The reason for a baptistry, and the distinction between it and the main cathedral, is due to the Christian customs at the time. Until you were baptized, you were not allowed to enter the cathedral. So that people could be baptized in a holy place, many churches created separate structures—baptistries. This baptistry has something special about it, though.


Due to the large dome in the ceiling and its spaciousness, the baptistry has an incredible echo. To be precise, this echo has a delay of 12 seconds. Every half an hour a guardian comes in to harmonize with themselves, or more accurately their own echo. Next, the leaning tower of Piza. 

Despite what some might say, the tower was built to be straight. It was built one floor at a time, but around the time they made the third or fourth floors, they realized that the tower was leaning. The reason for this is due to the soil it was placed on, as it contains a lot of mud. Because of the leaning the project was put on hold for over a century until they could finally manage to build the rest. Over the course of its life, there have been many times when it was likely to fall and had even started to sink into the ground. Because of this, in modern times efforts to increase its structural integrity were made, fixing both issues. Now, how is the inside of the tower? While the very middle is completely empty, stairs wrap around the inside of it. Due to the slant, the stairs are incredibly disorienting, so much so that I couldn’t make it even halfway up. Regardless, it was interesting to see. 


The Duomo di Pisa, or the Pisa Cathedral is the oldest structure in the Piazza dei Miracoli, as it was created in medieval times. It was dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Quite frankly, the cathedral is huge. Along the walls are painted murals of scenes from the bible, and in the very middle you can see the art in the dome up above. Finally, the cathedral houses the body of Henry VII in a decorated tomb. For an hour after we finished touring, we went out to get food from nearby food places.

After this, we made our way back to Florence to see the Uffizi Gallery, where many Renaissance paintings, as well as sculptures, were kept by the Medici family. First, we saw many Ancient Greek statues. The reason that the Medici family wanted these is because they saw Greek art as the highest form of art, especially their ability to sculpt the human body. 


 Next was the “Byzantine” era art, which came before the start of the Renaissance. There are three main differences between Byzantine and Renaissance art, and that is the focus on Christianity, anatomy, and perspective. While quite a bit of Renaissance art is of Christianity, Byzantine art almost always has a focus on Christianity. Artists at this time struggled with both perspective and anatomy,  creating paintings that appear almost cartoonish. 



Now, compare this Byzantine art of Mary to the Renaissance version.

You can quite easily see how different these are. While the Byzantine depiction has Mary with a large head and little definition in her face, the Renaissance version is depicted as how a woman’s face would be. Also note the depth, as you can see the angels get smaller in the background, and even the depth on Mary’s breasts. 


After our visit to the gallery, we went off to the hotel, and at around 7:10 we made our way to the restaurant, where I had a salad, pizza, and gelato. It was pretty good. After that, we retreated to our hotel rooms, and the day was over. 


By: June Courville


South East Asia Group 2: Day 2 Thursday Jan. 11th

Today we had the opportunity to visit several awesome Thailand sites. We first went to a large temple that had several very cool buildings and structures, some containing people's ashes. It was a great experience to have seen these things and I got to witness the very interesting Thai culture.

At the same site we saw a giant statue of Buddha lying down, and the scale and grandeur of the statue was very impressive.



After this we rode on very fun carts called Tuk Tuks that drove crazily to another site, where we saw a very holy Buddha statue in a temple. It was interesting to see all the people who came to see the statue as well.

We also saw the royal palace here, which was very extravagant. The property was very big and had many different buildings which all were a little different. There was even one that was a giant mosaic.

Then we had lunch at a place with very interesting food that I was unfamiliar with but tried, and it was good. After this we went on a boat. The boat took us on a great scenic route through a Khlong, and we saw a lot of the city. We arrived at a boat museum where royal boats were held. The boats were beautiful and intricately designed and very cool. 

After the boat ride we arrived in a mall where art was displayed and we came back to the hotel. It was a great day.


Sam, Wynn, and Haylie

Los estudiantes de Kinkaid fueron al Museo del Prado donde miraron las pinturas de Diego Velázquez. El guía turístico explicó la historia de las pinturas en español. Mi pintura favorita fue  el cuadro con los azulejos en movimiento. Es interesante cómo cambia el ángulo, cambia el significado de las pinturas. Después del museo nosotros fuimos a una plaza y tuvimos tiempo libre.





El Museo Reina Sofía


El primer cuadro se llama ‘La mujer que llora’ que representa el sufrimiento de la gente después de la guerra civil. La mujer en la pintura se llama Dora Maar que fue una víctima de violencia doméstica de Picasso. El cuadro también depicta la muerte de muchos niños y la tristeza de eso.

Ese día vosotros fuisteis al Reina Sofía y visteis muchas pinturas de artistas creativos. Por ejemplo Peinture por Joan Miró. La pintura consta de una gran cantidad de piezas y fue inspirada en los graffitis de las calles parisinas. Esa pintura es importante como el Guernica de Pablo Picasso. 

Vosotros estudiais sobre el cuadro Guernica de Pablo Picasso. Fue un cuadro muy triste porque fue basado en el bombardeo en Guernica durante la guerra civil española. Picasso soló usó negro y blanco para depictar la muerte y la depresión. Ese cuadro es muy importante para el movimiento cubismo. 



Today we started off the day with a Tai Chi lesson before breakfast on the top deck of the boat. Just before breakfast for 15 minutes which is often used as a form of meditation or exercise for many people. Then we had a quick breakfast before setting off to Cat Ba island via boat which is one of the bigger islands in HaLong bay. On this island is the Cat Ba national park which is home to the Trung Trang Grotto. Here there were caves that we went through deep in the jungle with very small spaces we had to go through. We got to go on a short walk through the island’s caves and tunnels that had some beautiful spikes hanging from the ceiling. After this, we returned to the boat and before heading back to the mainland, had a little brunch to hold us over for our long drive to the airport. We then got on a flight to Saigon or Ho Chi Minh city which was about 2 hours. We then headed straight to a restaurant where we had a wonderful meal of local food from Saigon before heading back to the hotel for the night. 

Cat Ba Island:

Day 2: Florence

We landed in Rome close to midnight, retrieved our bags, and boarded the bus which took us to Florence. We did not arrive in Florence until 4 AM and once we made it to our hotel we were greeted by Natalia, our tour guide. We found our rooms and headed to bed to get some sleep before our adventure which started at 9:20 that morning. 


We had breakfast at our hotel which had an amazing view of the “Duomo” also known as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Many of us enjoyed croissants, cheeses, pies, and muffins for breakfast. 

After breakfast, we headed to the Galileo Museum where we observed Galileo’s instruments that had been held by the Lorraine and Medici families in the 18th and 19th centuries. We were excited to see two of Galileo’s telescopes along with his incline plane that discovered the equations of motion. We also learned that Galileo’s father had wanted him to be a doctor shortly before he died so that Galileo, as the oldest son, would be able to pay for his sisters’ dowries, Because of this, by the time he had his own daughters he had put them in a convent to avoid paying more dowries. Galileo had worked as a professor of physics and math tutor to members of the Medici family who also funded him in hopes of gaining more power to their name. Galileo discovered that the Earth rotates on its axis, differing from the popular views of this time such as the ones of Aristotle. We also observed Isaac Newton’s cradle and experiments with Benjamin Franklin’s discoveries in electricity. Finally, we observed the origins of the periodic table and even learned that animal bladders were used like balloons during this time!

Next, we visited the Opera del Duomo. It included a large clock that displayed the intersection between the sciences and art in that the making of clocks was intricate and scientifically advanced during this time period. We learned about the construction of the dome itself and the inner and outer layers of the dome. Additionally, the inside of the dome featured beautiful artwork, further demonstrating the intersection between engineering and art during this time. A balcony was supposed to be built around the outside of the dome; however, this was never finished because Galileo said that it looked like “a spot where crickets would nest” and decided he did not approve. We found it interesting that some of the surviving ruins from the original church could be found today underneath the Duomo. Additionally, the Opera del Duomo included art from Michael Angelo who was expected to become a lawyer but became a sculptor instead, which was not as highly thought of because it was a more physical job rather than an intellectual one. Michael Angelo did not want to be a painter because he considered it to be a “woman’s job” which therefore made it “easier.”

We then visited the Baptistery of San Giovanni where we learned that a massive flood had flooded the entire city including the doors of the Baptistery which had been ruined. These gold doors were later restored because an artist spent his entire life recreating them. So, the recreated doors are now displayed outside and the original ones are inside the museum. Additionally, the middle of the Baptistery used to have a baptism pool which is now undergoing construction.


We had lunch at a local market where students enjoyed everything from pasta to steak. Additionally, for dinner, we ate at a local Italian restaurant which was only a five-minute walk from our hotel. We enjoyed a green salad, beef stew, Italian lemon soda, and vegetables here.

By: Saya Malek and Kayla Edwards


South East Asia Group 2: Day 1 Wednesday Jan. 10th


South East Asia Group 2: Day 1 Wednesday Jan. 10th

Greetings from Bangkok! Group 2 (Gold Group) has arrived, and we are very excited to be here. Most of us were even surprised by how fast the seventeen-hour flight passed.

In Bangkok, our two guides, Anya and Teresa, greeted us warmly,


and after we had checked into the hotel, we exchanged money and went for a short walk to Station 21 mall, where we checked out the local street food and snacked on our first local dishes. We then had a short break before a delicious (and spicy!) authentic Thai meal. We learned to eat most of our food with spoons rather than with forks, and we finished off the meal with a special Thai dessert of beautifully sculpted fruits and a bamboo boat of other Thai delicacies, which looked like fruit and flowers but were actually an egg yolk sweetened with syrup and rolled rice flour and mung bean art; we also learned you have to eat the fruit first because it will taste too bitter if you eat it after the sweetened delicacies, delicacies usually saved for special occasions like weddings and business openings.

The group has really impressed us so far. They are engaged and curious, cheering when hearing about various facts of Thai history on our bus ride into Bangkok from the airport and asking about the proper way to eat their various Thai dinner courses. We look forward to our adventure ahead!



Los estudiantes de Kinkaid viajaron en un avión por nueve horas en el primer vuelo. Nuestro vuelo terminó en Ámsterdam a la mañana y mis amigas y yo comimos en Starbucks. El segundo vuelo duró dos horas y yo dormí mucho. Después de que el vuelo terminó, los estudiantes condujeron al hotel y durmieron una siesta.





  • Drive

    • We began our drive to Ha Long Bay, and we learned that there’s a law that tour bus drivers must rest every two hours and that tour guides are free to say what they want to tourists, despite other strict communist laws.

  • Rest stop - pearl making

    • After two hours of driving, we stopped at an artificial pearl making warehouse where we learned how the pearls are made. They also had a showroom where they sold pearl jewelry and pearl moisturizers. They also had a cafe where we stopped for coffee!

  • cruise/lunch

    • We got on the cruise ship which had a hot tub on the roof! We ate lunch then got ready for kayaking

  • Kayaking/monkeys

    • We went over to the kayak rental where we could either kayak with a partner or go on a scenic boat ride. The people who went on kayaks went through natural caves, and at the end we saw monkeys on the rocks.

  • Swimming

    • After kayaking and boating around the bay, we all swam in the jacuzzi and had mocktails and sodas

  • Spring roll demonstration

    • After kayaking, we went to the roof of the boat where we learned how to make pork and tofu spring rolls and dipping sauce. We also tried our spring rolls - they were really good!

  • Dinner

    • We had a great dinner filled with seafood and local cuisine. Dessert was opera cake.

  • Squid Fishing

    • We went to the end of the boat to fish for local squid and caught three. Caroline Nelson ate a raw squid!

  • Spa and Massage

    • Some students were able to check out the spa! The spa featured many different services including massages, pedicures, and facials! The boat features a private, on board, masseuse available to students.

Las estudiantes de Kinkaid llegaron al aeropuerto en Houston a las once y media de la mañana. El avión salió de Houston a las tres de la tarde y llegó a Ámsterdam a las siete de la mañana del miércoles, diez de enero. Los chicos pusieron muchas cosas en las maletas y en las mochilas para el viaje. Los chicos de Kinkaid dijeron “adiós!” a los padres al aeropuerto en Houston y se subieron en el avión a las tres de la tarde. 





  • Mausoleum

    • We started off the morning with a visit to the Ho Chi Min mausoleum. He was the President of Communist Vietnam, and is a revered figure in the country. We walked single file with locals and walked through the mausoleum to view his remains. 


  • Ethomology Museum 

    • University students with Hanoi Kids led us through the Etymology Museum to talk about the different ethnic groups in the country. We walked through different styles of houses in rural Vietnam and even got to take a group picture for the V TV— a national news channel. 

  • KOTO (lunch)

    • We stopped for lunch at Koto and tried a variety of new dishes. Our favorites were the spring rolls and the hot and sour clam broth. 

  • Temple of Literature with the Confucian scholar

    • After lunch a confucian scholar walked us through a temple and learned about decorating the altars and ancestor veneration. The spot was also a popular location for Instagram influencers to have photoshoots! 

  • Lacquerware Store

    •  Just down the street from the temple was a lacquerware store. The designs on the lacquerware plates, paintings, and dishes are all hand painted, inlaid with mother of pearl, or created with eggshells. 


  • Water Puppet 

    •  After some quick shopping at the lacquerware store we drove to the family house of a six generation water puppet master. He performed a show for us and explained the process of creating the puppets. 


  • Hao Lo Prison

    •  The “Hanoi Hilton” as it is commonly known, houses both Vietnamese political prisoners during the French colonial occupation and later American POWs during the Vietnam war.  We toured the facilities, seeing the prison cells and even the guillotine they used to execute prisoners. 


  • Speech on the roof from the Vietnam vet 

    •  After visiting the prison, we drove back to the hotel where we met with Chuck Searcy, Vietnam war veteran. Chuck was an American soldier in the war who returned to Vietnam to help with postwar recovery efforts, establishing Project Renew which helped clear unexploded bombs.


  • Dinner 

    • Finally we ended the night with a tasting menu from Home Moc Restaurant! 


Monday, January 8 Day 1: Travel Day

Welcome to our daily blog for Southeast Asia Interim Trip Group 1! Each day, a new student or couple of students will update this page with pictures and their favorite experiences. This first day, we the chaperones will kick it off!

What a long day! Arriving at IAH Saturday night at around 7:00 Houston time, we were traveling for close to 30 hours. After the long haul flight from Houston to Taipei, we were ready to stretch our legs with a 3 hour layover. Many of us grabbed some delicious food and browsed the themed shops. Each gate had its own theme: Sanrio, Rainforest, and Sports (our gate). 

Back on the plane, we arrived in Hanoi just a few hours later, at 11:45 on Monday. We made it through customs, gathered our luggage, met our awesome tour guides (Thuong and Nam), and got on the bus to the hotel.

After refreshing in our rooms, we headed out for a food tasting tour through Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Beginning at Bún Chả, where Obama ate pho, we tasted our way through street markets with fresh fruit, still-warm bánh mi, savory pancakes, egg coffee and more. 


Stuffed and exhausted, we crawled into bed, eager for day 2! Stay tuned–Mrs. Wainright, Dr. Howell, Mr. Chastain



South East Asia Group 2: Day 0 Sunday Jan. 7th



Happy New Year 2024 to all students and families.


The Chaperones are excited for this trip with all of you. We were excited last night as the students and teachers of Group 1 left and we look forward to a great experience.


Remember we will meet at the airport at 7:30pm. Bring your passport, two passport photos, and all the excitement for this wonderful experience. 


See you tomorrow,


Mrs. Lambert, Ms. Mitchell, and Mr. B


Day 1: The Hero’s Journey

Neither weather nor fatigue could deter us! After an eventful and lengthy day in Houston, we reached Frankfurt. Unfortunately, we missed our connecting flight, so we had to reroute to Florence via Rome.

However, the scientific exploration has already begun! During our layover in Frankfurt, we delved into topics such as frames of reference, relativity, and projectile motion. We also had interesting conversations about statistical samples, and the average velocity (or the lack of when you are stuck in the airport).  The discussions sparked a lot of insightful thinking and enthusiasm.