What Was the Expedition Like?

The Earthwatchers' rendevous was at the airport at Nakon Ratchisima (Khorat). From there we went to Phi Mai, in the Issan region of Thailand, north of Cambodia. There were ten people from Earthwatch on the dig. We were matched by an equal number of grad students from New Zealand and at least that many Thai workers who would help us at the dig, many of whom were far more skilled than we, or the grad students, were, at digging efficiently and carefully.

The Earthwatchers were mostly Americans on this team, the third of four in this season, but a varied lot we were. There was Herm, who was in his eighth season of this particular Expedition, and Allen, in his third; Bob, who'd been on several Expeditions elsewhere, and others for whom this was their first Expedition. There were a young woman and a man from Japan; a woman from Australia. Interestingly, there were no couples or friends traveling together. Our ages ranged from early twenties to late seventies; Charles Higham was to make sure that we were all assigned tasks appropriate to our interests and abilities.

We had our first dinner at the dining pavilion at the Phi Mai Inn, by a peaceful, shimmering swimming pool. Air-conditioned rooms were assigned and we were greeted by Charles Higham, who told us to be ready to leave for the dig by 7:30 the next morning. Our accommodations were far more luxurious than we'd expected.
But we were there to work, and work we did. We did, that is, after a long, bumpy, and ultimately dusty ride of 45 minutes in an open bus to the excavation site at Noen u Loke. The bus could go just so far; then we had to trek over dry rice fields (the harvest ended as we arrived) to a couple of tents that announced the site of this year's excavation.
The days quickly fell into a rhythm: early breakfast at the dining pavilion, long ride out to the dig, long day working in the heat, take a dip in the marvelous pool on return to the Inn, and then, often, a talk by one of the professionals about some aspect of what we were finding, before a good dinner and an early bedtime. It was amazing how quickly and quietly the food was devoured both at the Inn and at the dig at lunch! A couple of the Earthwatchers had been out with Charles before, and had tales to tell. Others had been on other Earthwatch projects, and we compared notes, made friends.

ęClare Durst