This is Thailand Gap Semester Group 2, checking in from Phuket. We spent our first two weeks on this island as part of the Phuket Sandbox. These first two weeks were jam-packed with a variety of fun activities. We are all having the time of our lives!! We've listed the top five most exciting things we’ve done on our journey so far for you.
#1: Scuba diving!
Hi, my name is Abby, and scuba diving was one of the most incredible experiences of this trip! The group spent one day in the pool, learning about all the equipment, safety procedures, and swimming technique underwater. We all loved our instructors and felt very prepared to dive in (literally) the next two days.
The wildlife below the surface was truly beautiful. We swam through huge schools of little silver fish being chased by barracuda and drifted over large, black sea urchins. Skinny garden eels poked their heads out of the sand and moray eels lounged on artificial reef cubes, opening and closing their jaws. Brightly colored tiger fish and giant pufferfish swam beside us, and black and blue sea snakes slithered through the depths.
On the final day, we dove 60 feet underwater to a shipwreck of an old yacht. The ship had been completely taken over by brightly colored fish. It was a truly surreal experience to be in a whole new world.
#2: Muay Thai
Hi! It’s Charlotte here, we just finished our second day of Muay Thai, which is a Thai martial art style that literally translates to “Thai boxing.” They use lots of punches obviously, but also kicks, elbows and knees. I am a taekwondo black belt, so it was really cool to try a completely different style and compare. There are two basic Muay Thai kicks: the roundhouse, which hits with the shin to the side of the ribs or head, and the push kick, which hits the front of the body. They also have a tendency to catch kicks and hold the opponent in place while they use punches or elbow strikes, and often lock each other in wrestling holds.
The instructors were super cool and demonstrated by boxing with each other. Then we went through some drills and got to work one-on-one with the instructors. They held pads for us to hit and called out different strikes, sometimes making us block or duck to simulate a real match.
At the end of the second day we put all our new skills to the test by sparing each other and the instructors in the boxing ring. Overall it was a super fun two days, and we all got a great workout!
#3: Cooking Course at Burasari
Hi, this is Owen, we just finished the culinary course where we made South Asian style spring rolls and pad thai. The head chef at the restaurant in the hotel guided each of us in a hands-on lesson on how to prepare the dishes. They even let us use the special tamarind sauce, which is unique to their kitchen. We got to work on the basic techniques of Thai cuisine, learning how to peel and chop the vegetables properly for spring rolls. The chefs were excellent at explaining the motions we went through while making pad thai. Each one of us was able to successfully make spring rolls and pad thai that we all enjoyed together at lunch. At the end we were all given certificates for completion of the Thai cooking course.
#4: Old Phuket Town
On our first day after orientation, we enjoyed a fabulous cultural tour throughout Phuket, complete with visiting a temple, seeing the Big Buddha, lunch overlooking the city and the beach, and a sunset at the westernmost point of Thailand. One of the highlights of this tour was visiting Old Phuket Town. This is a beautiful area of the city with bright, beautiful buildings in the Sino-Portuguese style. The architecture incorporates elements from both Chinese and Portuguese influences and has created a little eclectic paradise.
We spent our time here shopping at local businesses. Several people picked up sarongs, which work great on the beach. And of course, you can’t miss the elephant pants! A highlight of our time here was trying roti, which is a tasty Indian-style pancake. It was made in an open air restaurant, and Charlotte and Wyatt G both got to try out their hand at making the thin and delicious dough. The dough is then fried and chopped into pieces, then drizzled with condensed milk.
Our wonderful guide, Gong, explained what the different Buddha statues mean in a shop. The group determined what everyone’s Buddha posture and sacred color is, based on the day they were born. We enjoyed learning about the offering ceremonies and the origin stories of the Buddha.
#5: Island Hopping
It seems like every activity we do here in Thailand becomes a new fan favorite! That’s one of the amazing things about this experience because it keeps us on our toes, ready for each new and exciting adventure. One of these adventures was our day spent island hopping! We all woke up early to get to the docks and were greeted by three guides. We had the boat to ourselves. The days leading up, it had been pretty raining and cloudy, however, this day it was clear skies and sunny as can be. Perfect for snorkeling and swimming in the crystal waters!
We began our boat trek, enjoying spectacular views of open ocean dotted by island after island in the distance. We snorkeled in the clearest of blue waters and took pictures galore. For lunch, we docked the boat and stopped on an island to eat a delicious meal. We all felt immense peace as we surveyed our gorgeous, tropical surroundings and enjoyed our lunch. At this moment, we were in awe of how lucky we are to be able to do something as incredible as this! We spent the rest of our time doing flips off the boat, taking pictures, enjoying tasty smoothies and fresh fruit, and basking in the warm sun and wonderful company. McKenna calls this day a “snow globe moment” because she wishes she could capture the sights, sounds, and smells of the day and trap them in a little jar to remember forever. We will truly will never forget this day!