All Thai’d Up

The dream team in Thai paradise

In keeping with the laid back spirit of southern Thailand – where we are right now – Hayley and I (the two Youth International team leaders who have had the privilege of traveling with this incredible group of young adults through Asia for the past three months) have decided to give our travelers a break from having to write a final blog post, and I (Nathan) will offer my reflections instead, to accompany the many photos Hayley has taken and archived below.

Hayley taking in the spectacular sunset on our private beach

“WHERE EVEN ARE WE?” “PARADISE, OBVIOUSLY!”

Life is really tough here 😅

First of all, you parents and family members of these young adult travelers have every reason to be immensely proud of your sons and daughters! They have grown tremendously over the past few months – every single one of them! They came to us in Colorado three months ago a little skittish, a little nervous, a little apprehensive about what this adventure would bring, and you ought to see them now! Grown, confident, young men and women who are confident and savvy travelers and who have seen parts of the world and experienced things few their age have!! They have been a pleasure to travel with (for the most part…! 😉) and I am sad that our time together is ending.
Charlie’s new guard friend was just as excited to meet him
The detail at the Grand Palace is incredible
View of The Grand Palace from our evening river cruise in Bangkok
“Same same but different” tank selection at the market in Bangkok

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Giant reclining Buddha at Wat Pho in Bangkok
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Charlie gives Eve a hair cut by head lamp light.
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Wat Arun at night, on our Bangkok River cruise.
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Tile work on Wat Arun, in Bangkok.
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Guard at the Grand Palace in Bangkok
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Giant standing Buddha in Bangkok
Here in southern Thailand we have had a chance to experience a small piece of paradise in the cultural context of modern Muslim Thailand.  We have swum on incredible beaches in emerald blue waters below towering limestone cliffs. We have ridden “long tail” boats across the Andaman Sea to camp out and watch the sunset from isolated island beaches, only to be further treated to a display of nocturnal bioluminescence as the waves washed the sparkling light fragments ashore giving us a reflection of the starry night sky for a brief moment at our feet. We have kayaked through dense mangrove forests on inland waterways to sounds of chattering monkeys just out of reach of our paddles. We have snorkeled in coral reefs, hovering above incredible colorful underwater worlds and looking down into them as voyeurs wishing that we too could chase the rainbow fish, the tiger fish, the parrot fish through the coral with playful abandon! And we have eaten foods too incredibly delicious to describe in the homes of gracious Muslim hosts, attempting to show our immense gratitude and appreciation for opening their homes and lives to us by helping (rather meagerly) to prepare the evening meal, even as they themselves were fasting for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan!
Alex mastering the technique

Charlie working on the shrimp

So much goes into each dish!
Dinner is served (and Tom can’t handle it)

What a spread!

I can honestly say that we have had the good fortune (or good karma from past lives?) to experience a corner of the most beautiful place on the planet. But this is a planet that needs our help; a planet that that is choking from greed and waste and over consumption. We have seen this too, in the empty plastic bottles that line the roads here, in the trash floating aimlessly in the ocean, in the coral reefs damaged from overuse and rising ocean temperatures. My sincere hope is that as a result of these experiences we will all be more responsible travelers, more responsible stewards of this one beautiful planet we live on, more conscious of our impact on the people and cultures we encounter as we travel the world, and more aware of the privilege we have as travelers, a privilege which the next generation may not have.
Sun protection in style
Eve 😎

Girl Gang 🤟🏼
Sophie and Tom

Oh hey Conor!
Charlie, Mid-flop

And after 😅

Thailand has made me acutely aware of all of these issues, but in reality the entire trip has through Nepal, India and Thailand. And I hope that in some small way both, Hayley and I, have modeled some of these values and helped our team – your sons and daughters – to be more conscious and responsible travelers themselves. As our trip comes to an end, we now entrust them not to you, but to themselves and to each other. For this is who they will need to rely on from tomorrow evening when we all say goodbye to each other as we get on the airplane from Bangkok back to our respective homes and our lives after this incredible trip!

Trevor, Eve, Sophie, Conor

Alex, sponsored by Red Bull

Team float

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Sunset from Koh Nok
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Boats docked at Koh Phi Phi
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Kayaking fun!
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Kayaking at Koh Hong

Honeymoon vibes

Sophie hitched a ride via Conor

En route to our first beach day, in the back of a local bus

Big jellies washed up on the beach

That moment when the food boat arrives on the beach 🙌🏼

Conor giving it his all 😂
Trevor steering his kayak

Conor attempting to pirate Tom and Sophie’s mighty vessel

Clearly, zero fun was had 😂

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Railay Beach from above
May the blessings of this trip continue to ripple out in all of our lives.

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