Volunteer Review: Sophie Pearson - Conservation in Thailand
I visited Thailand in the first 2 weeks of July, which is mid-monsoon season there. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the first time we really got caught in the rain I was amazed! This was rain like I had never experienced before; huge blobs of warm water exploding down from the sky. It was the kind of rain you want to get soaked in because it was so hot anyway. Everything I owned was permanently damp, there was no way of drying anything completely due to the humidity, and it was no good leaving anything outside to dry in the sun because the weather was so changeable it would suddenly rain heavily.
I found the food one of the most enjoyable aspects of staying in Thailand. I stayed in a small resort consisting of several huts with four beds in each and the main community area where we ate all our meals. All the food was cooked and freshly prepared in the kitchen by a local group of women and everything was delicious. We had lots of rice and chicken but also amazing flavors of lemongrass and ginger, and I tried some interesting new dishes too like cucumber soup! You could sign out of dinner if you wanted to have a meal out any day. Other food I experienced was a Thai Pancake which was amazing and also drinking ‘Young Coconuts’ everywhere!
At the start of the week, the daily plan would be written on the board so we knew times for everything throughout the days. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t good enough to get a single day of diving in my first week in Thailand. But I barely felt the absence of it because we weren’t short of things to do. We took a trek which was exhausting but at the end we were rewarded with the most incredible view and the chance to walk right out on a ledge holding only a rope , some were more daring than others with this!
One day we went to the local primary school to paint it which was really rewarding and great fun, we also planned a workshop to educate about marine life. I really enjoyed the day we went kayaking as I was able to see some amazing sights and we went through the mangroves which was amazing. Got soaked from the rain but it was still warm, and we came back with some great pictures.
People in Thailand
Something I really appreciated was the sense of community within the group. In the huts where we stayed there were four in each room, and the communal area where we had meals and general meetings was where most of us spent time together, getting wifi or playing cards (we played a lot of cards). Also in the evenings we went out after dinner sometimes by getting a tuk tuk or bus to Ao Nang for a night out, and everyone always looked out for each other.
There were a lot of French and German people, who mostly grouped together and often spoke their own language which was frustrating at times, but the majority spoke fluent English and it was easy and interesting to talk to the different nationalities. I really enjoyed meeting new, different people and learning a lot about other countries and people’s lives.
The diving experience as a whole was great fun, it was quite chaotic when we were all scrambling for our kit on the boat but once you had stepped off into the sea it was amazing. I was shocked to see the damage of unsustainable tourism to the environment, and the visibility sometimes hindered our dives but the instructors were great and the visibility didn’t stop us from enjoying the diving. On dive days we usually had to get up early and took a 40min tuk tuk to get on the boat with all the volunteers and instructors which we would spend the day on and have lunch and snacks on board, one dive before lunch and one after.
We had plenty of freedom and were encouraged to go and explore the town. We had an induction on arrival in which they gave plenty of advice about how to stay safe and what to expect etc. and also workshops about Thai culture which was interesting and good to be aware of. I particularly enjoyed our free weekends as a bunch of us decided to travel and spend the weekend in Phi Phi. This was a whole different experience to Krabi. I thought of Krabi as very tropical rainforest-like, the coast surrounded by mangroves making the sea appear quite muddy (this making the vis bad for diving/snorkeling), whereas Phi Phi I can only describe as a paradise island, clear blue waters and almost white long sandy beaches, pretty much what I had pictured coming to Thailand would be like if I am honest.
The trip was great and we organized it together, found a place to stay overnight and decided to take a boat trip the next day to the surrounding islands. The most amazing of which was Maya Bay, which you will know if you have seen ‘The Beach’ with Leonardo DiCaprio. Another group of people (who were staying for several weeks) decided to make the longer journey to Koh Phangan for the Half Moon Party, and were planning on spending their next days off in Bangkok.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.