Travel Update: Thailand Trip – Kayaking Around The Islands

I mentioned in my last travel update from this five week excursion through South East Asia that I recently did one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life, so this post is dedicated to that…

Along the southern coast of Thailand there are several inhibited islands and pseudo-islands (that are actually bays only accessible by boat), and all around these islands are massive limestone rock formations—some that have to be upwards of 600ft tall. When you are on a boat passing by them, they are some of the prettiest things in nature you could imagine. They make interesting silhouettes in the distance, and reveal an incredible depth of colors and richness when the sun hits them just right.

However, seeing them from a distance in a passing boat, no matter how many times I passed them, could not have prepared me for how majestic and breathtaking they are when I was directly underneath them in a kayak.

My point of view as we approached two of the formations.

There has only been one other time in my life I legitimately got teary eyed and choked up just by looking at something Mother Nature created (the other being when I was sitting at the edge of the Grand Canyon), but that’s exactly what happened while paddling the small blue kayak through coves, bays, and inlets cut in the rock, under stalactites, and around tiny islands of solid rock protruding up from the ocean floor. Looking up and seeing how giant the formations were, and feeling so small in comparison was a powerful experience that I’ll never forget.

Lindsay under a massive overhang on a perfect natural diving board.

My best attempt at a Michael Phelps impersonation.

We paddled around aimlessly for hours, and constantly stopped just to take deep breaths and let our surroundings soak in, appreciating the fact that we were exactly where we were at that very moment in time.

Going into a cove.

Exploring an inlet.

Paddling under a giant stalactites.

Lindsay shooting the gap.

I remember feeling a similar way while white water rafting through a jungle in Ecuador, which I also put very high on the top of my list of my most memorable travel experiences. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a water proof camera with me on the white water rafting trip, and this time, while I did have a camera in the kayak, I almost felt like no photo I could ever take would do the experience justice, so I opted to keep my camera in the dry bag for most of the trip. Lindsay shot a handful of digicam pics, and I did shoot a few photos with my DSLR, but I didn’t get any images that I feel truly capture how magnificent and meaningful the experience was for me.

I think part of the power in experiences like watching the sunset while sitting at the edge of the Grand Canyon, white water rafting through a jungle in Ecuador, and kayaking around tropical islands in Thailand comes from the fact that the journey of getting to that place and moment in time has been built up so much. After all the research and planning, flights, buses and car rides, and everything else that comes with the logistics of traveling, finally being in exactly that moment and mindset that you’ve been after all along is just a great feeling that can never be matched. For me, those moments are exactly why I chose to travel the world the way I do and are what make me feel so alive. In those moments I sit back and tell myself, “THIS is why I travel…”

Looking out from under a cut.

A view from the beach where you can see some of the formations we paddled around off in the distance.