Moments in Thailand

Reflections from our Southeast Asia Semester (B) crew...

The experience of spelunking in the caves near Chiang Mai was an unforgettable one. Every person in my group had fears and apprehensions about some of the challenges we faced - such as free rappelling 100 or so feet down into a pit of darkness or sitting in the deepest darkest part of the cave surrounded by bats and large spiders with our headlamps off - yet everyone faced and overcame them with the support of our teammates. The group dynamic and support has been unparalleled to anything I’ve experienced in the past and after only one week my group mates have become a family that I’ve shared experiences with that will last a lifetime.
- Connor Flynn

After a rough day of caving (an activity that I learned I’m not afraid of), it was about 3.30pm and I repelled down the last section before we walked down the mountains and I waited in the beginning section of the cave for the guides to accompany me down. I found a very uneven sharp rock to sit on and I turned to my left to see the most beautiful ‘sun shower’ I’ve ever experienced. I was sitting in the dark cave alone, staring at the beautiful green mountains of northern Thailand with the sun gazing through the leaves as the rain started to fall. It was still, silent and spiritual. It was one of the most serene moments I’ve experienced and the solitude of being in the mountains with something so pure as rain is indescribable. The universe was giving me something incredible and spiritually moving after such a hard and challenging day.
- Raye Ebensteiner

Opening your eyes and seeing exactly what you saw with them closed is a brand new experience. Deep underground in the caves of Chiang Mai, we turned off our headlamps one by one until we were surrounded by inky blackness. Trips like this are eye-opening. The world is out there waiting for you to experience it, you just have to trust your legs to carry you through it.
- Juliette Jamieson

The only light in the darkness came from the weak beam of my headlamp, illuminating corners of the cave, sparkling, smooth, and silvery cool. I had never been spelunking before, my suburban life distancing me from any activity of this sort. I’m not an adrenaline junkie - I’m quite risk averse- but I found myself fascinated as I hiked into the blackest black I had ever seen. I thought I should be scared, but realised that amazement had replaced fear. I stared at the crack in front of me, less than a foot wide. My mind told me I could never, should never. But with the coaching of the guides and the cheering of my peers, I slid through into a new cavern where I felt capable and calm and curious. I realised that moments like this are exactly the point of a program like this. Pushing past a fear, breaking down a barrier, and proving to myself that I can. The moment was both externally and internally beautiful.
- Isabelle Daellenbach

A week into our journey in Southeast Asia I discover that I have a hard time finding a snapshot moment of my trip - I cannot place my finger exactly on that defining moment. A few minutes pass by and I realise that one of the most important moments for me on this trip, was gathering with all of my friends that I've made on this trip and playing different games with them. This was a special experience for me as it let me get closer with all the people in my group and would be the event that brought me out of my shell and allowed me to become more outgoing and less reserved. This moment gave me the confidence to reach out to people - it's had an extremely positive impact for me - not only on this trip but for years to come.
- Anan Veerina 

My snapshot is a group of kids who met just 4 days ago, sitting around a bedroom playing ‘Never Have I Ever’ and laughing like we’ve known each other for years… and someone exclaims "Guys this is crazy, no one’s ever been this close this fast.” We’re telling stories and sharing secrets, sprawled across the floor and two twin size beds. There’s warmth and community and I can’t believe I get to spend the next 10 weeks with these people. I’ve decided I’ll always say there are 10 weeks - 70 days - left on the trip, because it already feels sad to hear days subtracted from this experience. “Like we’ve known each other for years”.
- Zoe Johnsen

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Author Beth Farrell Posted