My name is Lesley and I travelled from the UK to Headrock Dogs Rescue to volunteer for 2 weeks: here’s my journey.
I flew from London Heathrow to Bangkok with Oman Airlines for £379 return.
There are a few different ways to travel to the shelter from Bangkok:
With Nok Air fly from Bangkok to Chumpon Airport, flights are about 2,500 THB, if you book well in advance flights can be as cheap as 1,500 THB. A taxi from Chumpon Airport to the shelter is about 1,500 THB
Using VIP bus company Roong Reuang, catch the bus from gate 8 at the airport to Hua Hin which takes about 3 hours and costs 300 THB. From Hua Hin catch a taxi to Bangsaphan; approx cost 2,500 THB. It is a long taxi ride, about 2.5 hours.
You can get the train from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok direct to Bang Saphan. It’s really cheap and the express is 5 hours and the normal train is 7.
Alternatively you can get the train from Hua Hin to complete your journey. The train station is about 5 miles from the accommodation where volunteers can stay and there are no taxis only motorcycle taxis which is no good if you have a case.
You can get a taxi from Bangsaphan to the airport for 4500 bht
I stayed at Baan Love at Sea which cost me £300 for 2 weeks, it was right on the beach with air con, hot water and free wi-fi. There are cheaper accommodation choices nearby from as little as 400 THB a night if you have a fan, more with air con.
Why Not Café offer a full English breakfast including a gorgeous latte for £4
Why Not Bar does great food including Western dishes and cocktails 200 THB for a veggie stir fry with rice and a glass of wine.
Subai Subai was a little more expensive but I had an awesome pizza for 200 bht and a glass of wine for 100 THB.
At Cuisine restaurant I had a 3 course meal with wine for £5. The offer both Thai and Western food.
Evening meal and alcoholic drink £3
Blue Bar is great for food and entertainment.
I had the best massage of my life for 250 THB for an hour.
Volunteering at the shelter
While staying in Bang Sapan you can hire a moped for 200 bht per day, a taxi costs 150 THB if you don’t fancy the walk along the beach to the shelter takes about 40 minutes. I would recommend you set off with lots of water and a hat as it gets hot and there’s nowhere to buy any additional water from.
A typical volunteer day starts at 9 and finishes at 1. This is how my day generally panned out:
Sweeping down the salas followed by refreshing the water bowls. Cleaning out the plastic beds if anyone has peed in them. The small puppy pens need sanitising and it’s a great excuse to play with them! If the puppies need it you can give them electrolytes, their syrup and calcium.
Next job is looking after the dogs that have eye problems.
Cleaning their eyes and then applying drops or gel. Then it is feeding time and then on to skin treatment. Depending on the condition you apply sulphur, purple violet or coconut oil: all natural remedies.
All the time you are interacting with the dogs, grooming and bathing also regularly feature.
During my time at the shelter a litter of very sick puppies came in, they were called Alex, Alice and Henry. We covered the small outside pen with netting in preparation for the tiny pups. They were too small to be vaccinated but they needed more space especially when they were joined by their mum.
It was a hot, sweaty job but seeing the pups reunited with their mum made it all worthwhile. I spent a lot of my time caring for these pups, but I did drag myself away and loved spending time with the shy and blind dog.
Headrock Dogs also cares for over 200 dogs at a nearby temple. I visited the temple with Verity where we provided medical care, flea and tick treatment as well as replenishing the water.
Before we reached the temple we took a sick dog called Jirapa to the vets where she was diagnosed with blood parasites.
I have been home for 2 weeks now (March 2017) and I am already planning my return trip next year. I have volunteered at other shelters in Thailand but this was different. The dogs are so calm and all get along. They are free to roam and play and socialise. A new dog was introduced whilst I was there and they just accepted him like he had been there for ages. The experience is very hands on and very rewarding. Some days it is literally life or death. So so rewarding.