Stephanie Day - High School Specials, Conservation in Thailand
Traveling to Thailand
As the date of my flight to Thailand loomed closer I began to feel a little nervous. I was going to be flying on my own for the first time and it would take me three flights to reach my destination - Krabi Airport in Thailand. I was worried that I would somehow screw this up and end up in some strange foreign country.
However, I had nothing to worry about and I arrived safe and sound in Thailand. It was a lot easier than I imagined it would be. My first impression of Thailand was very positive, as the local people were very friendly. I met with Wilko, our team leader, and the other High School Special volunteers and then we traveled to Ao Nang, where we would be staying for the duration of our project. The adventure had begun!
My Conservation project
On the first day of the High School Special project we met the final member of our group, bringing the grand total to six people, three girls and three boys. We explored the local area and completed the administration for our dive courses. I was already a qualified diver, as was another volunteer, and so we were going to be doing our Underwater Photography Speciality Course whilst the other four members of the group did their Open Water Course.
We started our diving courses the following day. The project itinerary involved a lot of activities, including three days of diving each week. In the first week I only had two days of diving as one day was given over to theory for my Underwater Photography course. On the Wednesday we all got up early (6:30am which was a bit of a shock to our systems) and headed to the Phi Phi islands. The diving around Phi Phi was amazing, especially in regards to taking photos. There was a great array of marine life such as moray eels, clown fish and turtles. There were also loads of smaller fish which were a variety of colors, making the underwater world a delight to look at.
By the second week we had all passed our courses, and went diving to protect and conserve the local marine environment. This included conducting reef checks on the health of the reef which entailed picking up all forms of rubbish on the sea floor, from lobster cages to squid hooks and plastic bags. This was great as it made you feel that you were really helping the environment. The other activities in our schedule included a variety of other ways to help the environment.
My favorite activity was helping out in the Phuket Rehabilitation Center. We helped by cleaning the injured turtle’s habitats and also by cleaning the baby green turtles. These babies will be released into the ocean once they are about a year old in order to give them a fighting chance of survival and therefore increasing their population numbers. The turtles were very cute and this was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Another activity scheduled was helping out at the reforestation nursery where we planted 600 new trees. We all got really muddy and had trouble standing up due to the mud being really slippery because of the rain. We also did a beach clean-up which was great because we were helped out by a local school so were able to interact with the children.
My volunteering experience
Overall I found the 2 week conservation project in Thailand an invaluable experience as it gave me more self-confidence. I had managed to travel half way around the world and spend time in a foreign country on my own, meeting new people and making new friends. Hopefully it will help me in my future University studies as I now have experience that most other people don't have for Earth and Ocean Studies.
Projects Abroad were amazing in organizing the project for me, from the travel plans to the project itself. They were always there to answer any of my questions. I would recommend this to anyone that wants to have an experience that they will not forget.
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