It was difficult to say goodbye to India. The amazing people, beautiful landscape, and delicious food made the time very memorable. Reluctantly the next 10 days were to be spent curiously exploring Thailand. And within moments of landing we had experienced many different emotions.
Some of the company suffered from illness. While the struggling few remained either bed ridden or bathroom ridden, those of us whose health was withstanding were quick to begin exploring. A variety of restaurants close to our hostel proved the local food is great.
The next morning we began to see what the city of Bangkok has to offer. From river taxi rides, karaoke, holy structures, and of course more food! With so much to do in so little time many sought the companionship of our leaders. Mike was extremely helpful in guiding the company around the variety of neighborhoods. His knowledge of the cultures and languages helped, throughout the duration of the trip, to have distinguished most of us from the sometimes innocent sometimes ignorant travelers we so frequently saw. Of course none of us were perfect but having a strong figure to guide us along the crazy journey made it that much more meaningful.
Similarly, Hayley was never shy to lend a hand to anyone in need. The second day was spent preparing to depart accompanied by more exploring. At 6:00pm we boarded a 12 hour train ride from Bangkok to Surat Thani, in the south, followed by a 3 hour van ride across the peninsula to Ao Nang. This was the beginning of the company’s final chapter of our story together. After a 12 hour train ride the company was feeling anxious for the coming days. Compared to previous overnight train rides Thailand public services blew the competition out of the water.
During the journey to our hostel in Ao Nang it began raining, which was something we hadn’t seen in a while. Arriving at the hostel brought great excitement, quickly followed by more anxiety. After settling in, we headed off to the beach!
With rain continuing to fall we made our journey from car to boat to beach. The company was met with breathtaking landscapes of cliffs, jungle, and beaches.
Without wasting any time many of us went straight into the water. After a few hours we returned to our hostel for a meeting with our local director, Joy! She reviewed the upcoming itinerary with us, which left most with high hopes.
After a good night sleep, we departed on an expedition involving four separate beaches, one of which was used as our campsite for the night. After a lot of swimming, and what some would call an excess amount of sunlight, we all settled onto the final beach. Some of us swam while others reclined on the beach. All of us were in awe of the beautiful sunset. We ate dinner on the beach under the stars then cozied into our tents for bed.
The next morning we ate breakfast on the island then got back on the boat. After more swimming and more island hopping we got back to the mainland were we settled into our bungalow style housing for the night.
That evening, a few of us ventured to 7/11 for some much needed aloe and lotion before settling down at our guest house for the night. The guest house was comprised of several bungalows, which allowed everyone to relax and shower before dinner. Dinner was incredible— we enjoyed fresh fish, vegetables, an omelette, and a curry soup.
The following day we rallied for kayaking in a cove and through rock formations. Simon and Will did some pirating, and several boats were tipped. A few sick people (Hugh, Augie, Annie, and Lauren) stayed behind and relaxed on the boat. After lunch, we waited for a rain storm to pass before we jumped off the boat and swam in the water.
That night we stayed in the house of a Muslim family, and we enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal, showers, and comfortable beds. It was like a bed and breakfast. We also learned a bit about Thai culture from Aeh, the man who owned the house. We learned, for example, that one should never point their feet at anyone, nor touch the back of an elder’s head, for both actions are considered disrespectful.
The next morning we had a breakfast of pastries, mango, dragon fruit, and pineapple before going on a walk with Aeh, where we learned about daily life on the island.
Later that afternoon we visited a very impressive cave that contained preserved fossils of some of the oldest species of humans.
Afterwards we got on the boat and traveled to a different island, where we stayed at another large bed and breakfast type accommodation. Mike, Marco, Annie, Brendan, Elliott, Simon, Hayden, Mia, Jules, and Charlotte all went on a bike ride around the island during a raging rain storm, which was very fun.
The next day we all reflected on the various adventures that we have experienced together since arriving in Denver three months ago. We all agreed that we harbored feelings of both excitement and anxiety in regard to returning home.
It has been an incredible trip. We have lived in three different countries. We have lived at altitudes ranging from 14,000 ft to sea level. We have braved the cold temperatures at Annapurna Base camp and the stifling heat of New Delhi. We have learned what it means to live simply, and to be happy with what you have. We have gained an understanding of how to live lovingly and honestly.
Overall, it is fair to say that we will each return home with an increased world view and new perspective of our own lives.
I would not have wanted to undertake this trip with any other group of individuals, for we have all loved and supported one another throughout the past three months.
Some more photos from our time in southern Thailand…………………