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I am home in Austin now, recovering from a bit of jet lag and trying to figure out what is next. I feel I should finish with a “What I Have Learned” post or something. I don’t have any profound revelations to share, but I can say that I definitely want to keep traveling – to see Borneo, Indonesia, India, and more…

I am so grateful that I had this opportunity and for the support I received from friends and family. In addition, I want to thank the following people:

  • The tuk-tuk driver in Cambodia who tracked me down to return my wallet 30 minutes after I had left it in his tuk-tuk, and before I had experienced the terror of knowing it was gone.
  • The teenage son of my guesthouse owners in The Philippines who insisted upon going out and getting me some medicine when my cold was at its worst.
  • The Thai ex-turtle poacher who made me some kind of magic potion that healed my stingray stung foot.
  • The Vietnamese cafe owner who bandaged my dad’s arm after he was hit by a motorbike, and then fed us a delicious meal of steamed fish.
  • All of the crazy bus, tuk-tuk, taxi, jeepney, tricycle, cyclo, and motorbike drivers who somehow delivered me safely to my destinations.
  • Everyone who knew the way or had a plan and let me tag along.
  • Everyone who gave me information, advice, encouragement, invitations, food, rice whiskey, conversation, and smiles along the way.

Similan Island #4

I can’t believe I found a wifi connection out here! I have to post something just because I can. Tonight I am sleeping in a tent on the beach of #4 of the Similan Island chain off the coast of Thailand.

I started my advanced scuba course today. I successfully did math underwater and used a compass to navigate. I was also lucky and saw a ghost pipe fish and frogfish and a sea turtle! The turtle was like a little celebrity in the midst of a group of about 8 divers. He was just cruising along looking at everyone with a hint of disdain.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s dives – then the course will be finished and then I will stop back in Khao Lak before continuing to Phuket.

Baan Talae Nork

I have arrived at Baan Talea Nork, where I am volunteering for the Wild Animal Rescue Foundation of Thailand. The project is located within a small fishing village surrounded by rolling hills and forest. I have come to assist with sea turtle conservation efforts, but unfortunately the project hasn’t been finding any nests this season. The project staff tells me that this is because the local villagers have been better at finding the nests and the eggs get a good price at the market. Sad. But we will continue to monitor and maybe we will get lucky.

I’ve gone down to the beach a few times, and it is practically deserted except for tons of tiny sand crabs. There are several uninhabited islands just offshore. We are trying to set up a boat trip around the islands next week so we can do a reef survey – either snorkelling or scuba (keeping my fingers crossed!).

In addition to the sea turtle conservation activities, the project houses and cares for monkeys that were wounded or taken into captivity and mistreated. Most of the monkeys here are ultra-cute gibbons or macaques,. The gibbons sing every morning (I hear them clearly from my hut) and it is such a unique and beautiful sound. I am going to try to make a recording to post here.

I am happy that I decided to come here. It is a peaceful, beautiful place, the project staff and villagers are very friendly, and my little hut already feels like home (for awhile). Sadly, I lost my camera on route from Bangkok, so I don’t have any pictures to share right now.