DAY 8: Good Bye Krakow
Saying good bye is never easy. We prepared this morning for this occasion. For the past five days, the children have been spending their free time with their Polish host families. They have had a great time and they have learnt a great deal. The children were able to adjust to all the families and by the end of this week, call these families their Polish home. The children, both Thai and Polish, have bonded. This morning was difficult for most of them. Some already cried since last night. They didn’t seem to want to leave Krakow. On a brighter note, some will definitely come back to visit their Polish family and some Polish families might visit us in Thailand too!
I prepared this morning time to be the last good bye party for everyone at the Engineering Museum. The museum is said to be such a playground for the children to learn and to run around. The museum is composed of two main exhibitions. The first one was just a warehouse of old Krakow trams for the children to just go in and play. They ran around, trying all the seats, buttons, turning wheels, etc. It was a great chance for them to explore these trams together and take pictures.
The second exhibition was on the history of codes. The children got to explore the different devices used in the past to send secret messages, especially during wars. I know that this might sound like a funny way to say good bye. But it proved to be a real fun way to spend the last couple of hours together playing, learning, and experiencing new things together.
By noon, we said our proper good byes and left. Many cried and many wish they could stay longer.
To cheer them up after such a sad morning of good byes, we kept Wieliczka as our last attraction before heading to Warsaw. Wieliczka is one of the world’s oldest operating salt mine. It is a UNESCO world heritage. Since 13th century, the place has been mined and has been producing salt for Poland for centuries. The sale mine itself is very large with an extension over 287 km. underground. Of course, we didn’t visit the whole mine today. We followed one of the most famous tourist routes today. Only this one, we already spent 3 hours in the salt mine.
Due to security reasons, Wieliczka Salt Mine is not a place we could roam around by ourselves. We needed to go with someone who really knows the ways and the inner workings of this mine. Our group was appointed with a young and energetic guide that really entertained and gave the children interesting facts and history of Wieliczka. According to him, we started our tour with just a walk downstairs to the level of the mine……this took us some time as we were walking down somewhat the same height as the Eiffel Tower + 3 m.
We walked and walked and walked....
When we finally got down, our guide continued to explain to the children how the mine was constructed and how people engineered the ways for the air to circulate. The children were all looking in awe of the place. We went chambers after chambers to see the different sculptures made by miners. Though these are not made by artists, we must say that their quality was exceptional. We couldn’t believe that these were all made of salt and salt alone!
Our guide emphasized on how the air underground in the salt mine is very healthy and how some times they even organized some sort of retreat down here for people to experience such good quality air. He also told the children that they can touch and taste everything here as it is all pure salt. With this much salt, the bacterias can’t survive and thus it is safe for the children to taste. Although he wouldn’t recommend the floor. One of our students, Tew, tasted almost everything he could taste throughout the whole tour. You can imagine how he was by the end of it……thirsty :P
One of the highlights of Wieliczka apart from the legend of the Hungarian Princess Kinga who helped the miners ‘discover’ the mine, was its main chapel chamber. Everything in this chamber was decorated with salt from chandeliers to low relief art works and statues. The children spent some time looking through all this magnificence. It was the first time for all of them to see this kind of artwork and to see them in salt form too!
After the tour, we came up through an old elevator that took us all up miners’ style.
The children still missed their Polish family but this tour has helped them feel more excited now to discover new things that lie ahead in the coming week in Warsaw.
I'm leaving you now with a photo from our karaoke road trip to Warsaw. Their smiles just say everything here :D