Till Next Time, Thailand – Thailand Community Service

Greetings from Bangkok! After traveling around Thailand for the past three weeks, our trip concludes in Bangkok where we started as strangers, and now feel like family. Our adventure to Krabi was truly spectacular! We immersed ourselves in views that we had dreamed of before going on this journey, and were able to put our toes in the sand at some of the most amazing beaches.


We swam, kayaked, snorkeled, went scuba diving, shopped, and enjoyed every moment of our time in Krabi. A highlight for many was our snorkle/diving adventure in Koh Phi Phi. From sea turtles, to schools of fish, we saw indescribable views from the surface all the way to ten meters below sea level. We got up close and personal with a sea turtle, carefully watching as it swam around us. On top of the beautiful boat ride taking us to and from our destination, we learned that we would be diving on PADI Women’s Dive Day! All the ladies on the trip loved the representation we were able to have on this special day. We swam and splashed in the crystal blue water, working up an appetite for our lunch with a view.


Returning to Bangkok has been a very sentimental and special experience. It has brought reflection upon the entire group, realizing the quality of friendships we have made over the past three weeks. The staff of Smiling Albino helped make this trip one we will all remember. Pi-Nadia and Pi-Poy spent the last couple of days teaching us all how to make traditional Thai bracelets. From lessons, to laughs, to assistance with translations, each of us had a very difficult “see you soon” to all of the staff that welcomed us so warmly to their country.

Here are some of our trip members’ favourite moments of this incredible journey:

“I liked Mae Salak because even though it was challenging living conditions, it allowed for us to create very special memories and get to know people without the distraction of wifi.” – Ilana

“One of my favorite memories is probably the Chiang Mai School. Seeing how grateful they were when we interacted with them and play with them was incredible.” – Nicole

“Chiang Rai was amazing because despite the language barrier and the disabilities, I felt like I made a good connection with the kids by dancing with them and playing soccer with them.” – Lindsay

“The dance party at the Chiang Rai School was my favorite part because I like to dance and loved the kids!” – Sara

“The Pataca elephant farm was very special. I liked interacting with the elephants, it was something I hadn’t done before and was very unique to Thailand. it was my favorite community service and perfect for this experience.” – Max

“Scuba diving was great because it’s something that I love to do and it confirmed that I want to get certified in the near future!” – Ian

“When we went to the villagers’ homes and ate food with them. I thought it was cool to see how they lived and their reality.” – Gabbie

The “Land of Smiles” truly left us all with a feeling of accomplishment that we were able to give back to a country that is beautiful in many ways. Thank you to all families for allowing your trip member to attend this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are so fortunate to have gotten to know each and every one of them, and look forward to helping them in their future endeavors.

The Westcoast Blogger

Gettin’ a Kick out of Dubrovnik! – Backpack Croatia, Slovenia, Austria & Czech Republic

Dear Parents of Backpack Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Czech Republic,

We truly cannot believe that our time together is coming to an end!  We write to you sitting at a cafe in our final city, Zagreb, the capitol of Croatia.  Since we last wrote you, we have been quite busy!  For our last day in Split, the group went on a white water rafting adventure and then to beautiful Omis Beach.  We showed our strength by paddling through the rapids as we went downstream, and all of us managed to stay in the boats!  That was, of course, unless we weren’t swimming!  A few of the trip members even explored a nearby cave which added even more adventure to our morning as they reported that it was very dark and could only swim with help from our guides and their flashlights!  After our adventurous morning, it was off to Omis Beach, which many of us exclaimed was the most beautiful beach to date.  We welcomed the chance to squish our toes in the sand, take some beautiful photos, and jump into the water!

After saying our goodbyes to Split, we headed to Dubrovnik.  The drive was the most beautiful any of us have ever seen as the highway was right along the coastline.  We successfully crossed the border into Bosnia for a few minutes (so now we can add that to the list of countries we have visited!) and then we continued on to Dubrovnik.  We enjoyed a group lunch overlooking the beautiful beaches and then had some time to enjoy the hotel pool and gym, which many of us were excited about!  That night we walked down into the Old City to explore and get some dinner!  We all had fun exploring the side alleyways and the many restaurants Dubrovnik’s old city has to offer.  We are noticing that many dishes here include truffle oil, which seems to be a group favorite and those of us who had tried it before encouraged other trip members to give this rare mushroom a try!  After dinner we had an authentic Croatian disco experience where many of us showed off our dance moves!  We also celebrated Trip Director Shelby’s birthday.  We presented a card that we all signed and an ice-cream cake with candles!

BP Croatia, Slovenia, Austria & Czech Republic Touring the Old City

The next morning we had a guided tour of the Old City of Dubrovnik and learned all about the interesting history that took place inside the castle walls.  Of course, a high point for many of our trip members’ was seeing the sights where the popular TV show Game of Thrones was filmed (for all those who watch, the King’s Landing scenes were filmed here!) We all cooled off with a little bit of lunch and then walked down to the harbor for our sunset kayak adventure!  After pairing up, all of us set out in our kayaks to a small cove just beneath the old city walls.  We had the chance to swim and some of us even went snorkeling!  The water was clear and blue and we all enjoyed the chance to swim beneath this historic city!  We climbed back into our kayaks to paddle back just as the sun was beginning to set, which provided some pretty amazing views.  Although paddling was hard work, on the way back, all of us took some time to appreciate the beauty of where we are and who we are with!  We had a night on the town again and many of us explored the shops of the Old City.  The group met up to enjoy, what we were told, was the best ice cream in all of Dubrovnik, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint!  All of us were ready for seconds almost as soon as we finished our delicious treat.  We took the bus back up to our hotel and it is amazing to see how all of us have improved our ability to ride public transportation since our first evening in Prague together!

BP Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Czech Republic in Dubrovnik

Yesterday we had a relaxing day at the beach.  We all enjoyed taking in the views of the beautiful Adriatic Sea (for many of us, this trip is our first time swimming in this body of water!)  We collected cool rocks and sea glass, explored a few caves, and listened to some music on the beach.  In the afternoon some of us opted to explore the top of the Old City Walls and took the gondola for a beautiful view!  They returned to the group later that afternoon with some beautiful photos to show!  Last night we took the bus into town for one last night in the Old City, and of course, in true trip fashion, one last visit to our favorite ice-cream shop!  Then it was off to bed for our flight to Zagreb early this morning.  Today we enjoyed a great city tour, complete with a visit to the market and a view of the famous Cathedral, which has a beautiful roof that looks like it was made from legos!  Soon we will head out to explore the city center and then we are off to our final Banquet!

We are sad that our time together ends tomorrow, but we all have so many incredible memories, photos, and friends from our European adventure.  A big thanks to all the mom’s and dad’s out there for sending us on this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

That’s all for now,

The Westcoast Blogger

Yasou From Greece! – Backpack Greece

Dear parents, Yasou from Greece! The ferry arrived and we made our way to the quaint beach town of Sivota. Restaurants with comfy chairs line the harbor and many of us relaxed as we watched the boats coming in and out. We walked to our first beach of the summer to swim in the turquoise […]

Alpine Adventures – Backpack Europe

Hello again, I wanted to bring you up to speed on our adventures since our last post. We had an exciting last few days in Paris, including a surprise trip to a Carnival in Versailles where Simon won some great prizes.  At the Palace of Versailles, Hailey and Rachel were interested to see the pink […]