It’s very difficult to describe the first time you pick up a baby turtle and hold it, tiny and wriggling, in your hands.
This is what I remember the mostly clearly from my time in Thailand – a lot of turtles. I remember being on my hands and knees to scrub their tanks, and trying to fill the tanks back up with more water than they had before without anyone noticing. Holding these tiny creatures in my hands, that definitely don’t want to be held, and trying to accurately put purple splodges of medicine on very small areas while they simply refuse to hold still. Spoiler: they ended up being almost completely covered in purple instead. Another spoiler: so did I.
I know that we ended up being exceptionally lucky in our first week. There are only a handful of turtle releases held every year at the Navy Base turtle sanctuary we went to, and somehow my arrival in Thailand fell perfectly right before one. As if simply holding a turtle wasn’t enough, all of us there got to release one turtle into the ocean as a part of celebrations for the New King’s birthday; and trust me, there is nothing that can compare to the absolute joy of seeing your little turtle make it across the beach and through the tiny waves that are able to knock them back easily (wherever you are, Tommy, I hope you’re loving your free life in the ocean). I don’t think I’ve ever felt prouder of anyone or anything before.
The start of my time in Thailand was actually very calm. At the beginning of the first week, we took part in a boat tour at a place called Little Amazon, which took us down an incredibly tranquil mangrove forest that created a canopy of green above our heads. I’ve always loved rivers, and any kind of river trip, but this was such a magical atmosphere that I almost felt like I should start meditating in the boat. If they were looking for a calm way to transition us into life in Thailand, they certainly found one. Stay tuned for Part 2 of my GVI Phang Nga adventure coming to you soon!
Written by Coastal Conservation Volunteer, Nicola.