“BEHIND THE CODE: AN ECPAT ADVOCACY JOURNEY TO THAILAND”, November 7-17, 2015
by Karen Weiss
I was lucky enough to participate in ECPAT-USA’s first Advocacy Journey to Thailand, focused on learning about the issue of trafficking and the work being done to combat it. I thought a day-by-day synopsis of the trip might to helpful for people considering joining a future Advocacy Journey.
Overall, the trip can best be described as AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, and THRILLING!! It combines the excitement of visiting a fascinating country with a rare opportunity to broaden your understanding of the problem of human trafficking. Traveling with ECPAT-USA opens doors to an education that would not be available to the average traveller.
We were a group of nine, including my 25-year-old daughter, a New York City writer, two employees of a corporate travel company, the Chairperson of the Board of ECPAT-USA, and three others who have a focus on stopping human trafficking or work in the field. I am an attorney and have volunteered my services to ECPAT-USA for several years. We were accompanied by ECPAT-USA’s Director of Development, Sarah Porter, and Altruvistas’ local guide/interpreter, Adisak Kaewrakmuk, who goes by the nickname, “Dee.” Despite the differences in age and backgrounds, this bunch of strangers gelled wonderfully as a group. And of course, we had the common interest in learning about and how to end human trafficking, and taking this advocacy back to our communities.
Getting There and 5 Nights in Bangkok
Bangkok’s airport is enormous! But out of the crowd appeared Sarah Porter, wearing her ECPAT-USA t-shirt. She was a sight for travel-weary eyes! We arrived the evening before the official start of the tour on the 7th. I’d recommend doing this as it allowed us to go to bed on Thai time and helped us overcome the jet lag caused by traveling for 20 hours to a location twelve hours ahead on the clock.
Altruvistas arranged transport for us to the Sofitel Hotel. Despite being travel weary, I was enthralled with the view from the taxi. I had never before been in Asia or to any country classified as “emerging” by the UN. I was struck by the juxtaposition of modern high-rise buildings and run-down low buildings. The narrowness of the streets once we left the highway was also remarkable. I could have reached out the window and grabbed a snack from a street vendor. The Sofitel (an Accor hotel and member of The Code) was a beautiful modern hotel and the staff could not have been more friendly and helpful. We checked in and crashed.