Sophie Hocart - High School Specials, Conservation in Thailand
My trip to Thailand was one of the best experiences of my life! Organizing and booking my trip had all happened very quickly only about 2-3 months before I was scheduled to travel half way around the world, but still I was so excited and wish it would come sooner. However as my departure day loomed nearer I became a bit scared - what if I got lost? What if I missed my flight? What if no one speaks my language? But when your first time traveling alone is to a foreign country half way across the globe, nerves were understandable.
Arrival in Thailand
I soon realized that there was absolutely no need for me to be worried. I arrived safe and sound, with transfers at the airports I had to pass through being quick and simple. I was met at the airport by one of the Projects Abroad supervisors and he took me back to the Dawn of Happiness Eco-resort, where I would be living for the next two weeks, with two other girls who were also on the 2 Week Special project.
On arrival everyone was so friendly and welcoming and I instantly felt right at home. I was shown to my room, which I would be sharing up in the villa - much nicer than the other rooms and supposedly there are fewer mosquitos there as it is raised above ground height, however, the number of bites on my legs showed otherwise! Everyone ate dinner down in the restaurant and I met all the other volunteers staying at Dawn.
My 2 Week Conservation Project
Being a 2 Week Special meant I had to fit a lot into the short time I was spending in Thailand so the ball was set rolling straight away the next day as we went through all the necessary paperwork, registered down at the dive center and were given our dive books. We went out for lunch at the Lost Fisherman, a lovely little restaurant right on the beachfront. During this time we paid a visit to the family of monkeys that live at the far end of the beach and found out just how greedy they are!
That evening we sat and watched numerous dive videos and read our dive books in preparation for the following day, which was to be my first diving experience. I was so excited and sleeping that night was very difficult! Over the next 3 days I carried out my PADI Open Water Diver course. This experience was amazing as were the dive sites we were taken to.
At the end of the week we went to Phuket’s Marine Biological Center where we visited the rehabilitated turtles and cleaned them. We also saw the baby green turtles which were growing up at the center so they could be released into the wild. During the afternoon we went up to the Aquarium where I saw some really interesting things and learnt a lot about different fish species.
The following week saw us help at a local school by cutting a nature trail through the forest, as well as 3 more days of diving where we went to new dive sites and carried out reef check surveys and a debris dive. On my last full day in Thailand we went to another local school and supported our Projects Abroad soccer team by taking part in a challenging game of ‘chair ball’ in the blistering heat against the teachers of the school!
Over the weekend we climbed the 1,237 steps up to Tiger Temple. Probably one of the hardest activities on my trip and when we all reached the top we were extremely glad to find a chilled water fountain that we filled our bottles with and then poured over each other’s heads! Later that afternoon we took a boat trip along Krabi River through the mangroves and we visited a village on water. Just as we were returning to the dock we were unfortunate enough to get caught in our first monsoon shower. I had never seen rain like it!
On Sunday we went kayaking through the mangroves, had water fights, capsized and got stuck in the mangrove roots. This was just a few of the entertaining activities of the day. During the evening we went out to Longtail Bar and restaurant, I would really recommend their milkshakes.
The monthly dinner on the last evening was a lovely night, but rather sad to know that I was going home the following day, having to leave behind an amazing group of people in an amazing place. I really hope I can go back to Thailand in the future and do it all again, it was the most awesome experience ever! I would like to thank everyone who made my time there so incredible and worthwhile – I miss everyone so much!