A trip with BPS and ISB students.

We picked up 15 international school students for our whale watching trip on Saturday, June 22 at Love Wildlife Foundation. All of our passengers on the day are on their secondary years studying at one of the most elite international schools in Thailand like Bangkok Pattana School (BPS), and International School Bangkok (ISB).

It was interesting to talk to several high school students again on our way to Bangtaboon, Petchaburi. Some of them are approaching their last years of their high school. It’s exciting to hear different choices in the subjects they are taking and their ambitions. Ultimately those last years before you leave high school is extremely important.

I found out that most of us have not seen whales in the wild before in their lifetime. And it’s amazing to imagine that there so many of them swimming around in the gulf of Thailand that is within an hour and a half drive from Bangkok!

As we arrived to the gas station to stock our things for the day trip,  a few things came to my mind…

How many whales will we see today?

Which one will we meet?

And will we get to meet any today?

We told everyone to take anti-sea sickness pills at the gas station after they had bought their snacks and drinks as a good safety precaution – but most people didn’t take it this time.

It was a cloudy day by the time we all arrived at Bangtaboon at 9 a.m. in the morning. The vessel engine was running again and the tides were calm. Once we were on board, we had our boat briefing by our friendly staffs.

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Our staff providing  ‘Conservation through education’.

 Shortly afterwards, we offered all our passengers a photography workshop with Tour. There were a lot of curious photographers on this particular trip, so we were happy to give extra tips on how to take wonderful photos.

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Photography workshop with Tour.

 The usual tides that were calm grew to become strong tides. The inevitable happened as three of our passengers became sea-sick. My stomach started churning, as I realized there was no turning back – I was sea-sick too.

The tides grew stronger and stronger as we headed south. Our captain felt uneasy because there were no whales in sight. At one point, it felt like a combination of being on a super splash and a viking ride at Dreamworld.

“Whales are probably out there to breathe, but we won’t be able to see it because of the high tides,” captain Lek said.

“Honestly, I’m not even sure if we will even be able to spot any whales today,” he said.

But spirits were high as everyone kept themselves busy.

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Most of our passengers were engaged in their own conversations, games and sing-alongs to famous tunes. Some were taking photos of the ocean, the birds and the surroundings. A few were retreating away in their books, while others were immersed to their own music. Several passengers were dozing off quietly as our vessel cruised through the ocean. And so we waited.

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Many great bird shots were captured that day.

 It was 4.30 p.m.

I was ready to give up by this time because it looked like a storm was coming. But a few minutes later, Captain Lek said he saw a dorsal fin.

Oh yes, it is!

There, over there at 3 o’clock!

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And there it was. We gathered in awe to watch a whale swimming near our vessel, and we can clearly identify its dorsal fin. It came up for a blow for about half an hour before there was another encounter. A second whale crossed its path at this point, and we were able to follow them for about 15 minutes.

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We were not able to witness the whales on its daily lunge-feeding, perhaps mostly due to the rain pouring then. We headed back at around 5.30 p.m.

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson.

About the author

Pairat Temphairojana (Pai) is working as a journalist in Thailand. It was in 2009 when he first saw blue whales in a whale-watching tour in Alaska – and upon hearing that such majestic creatures like the Bryde’s whales is populating in the gulf of Thailand, he did not hesitate to join as a whale-watching guide in Thailand. He believes that having proper standards and regulations for a safer whale watching activities in the gulf of Thailand is necessary and can lead to a more sustainable tourism for the locals living in the region. Pai will be regularly joining us on board as a field observer and a reporter on our frequent visits to the Gulf of Thailand.

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