Travel To Grow

Understanding The World Through Travel

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Feb '09

Day 30 – Koh Lanta

In Koh Lanta we stayed on a nice little resort with a beautiful pool, a really nice bar, a volleyball net, and an oceanfront view.

Something I had wanted to do in Thailand that I didn’t have a chance to yet was to take a Muay Thai lesson from a real Thai fighter. Luckily Lanta was the perfect place! They had a cool outdoor training area. My good friend Caitlin and I got a private lesson from a retired Muay Thai fighter named Rock. He was a solid dude and had awesome skill. Back when he was a fighter his record was something like 90-12.

He has him in the clinch!

He has him in the clinch!

These kids could kick really fast

These kids could kick really fast

It was a lot of fun and I learned some new moves I had never seen back home.

I’ve mentioned the Thais are quite good at anything that involves the use of your body like sports, but I haven’t conveyed just how good they really are. For a good example of this, one day we were all playing volleyball with a few Thai people on each team. At one point during the game on of the Thai’s yelled something out, and then all the Thai people started playing using only their heads! They were so good!

The sunsets next to the volleyball court were pretty fantastic.

Theres something about sunsets on vacations.

Theres something about sunsets on vacations.

At night there was a lot of music shows. One of the big bonuses about the group I was in was that one of our two leaders named Bertus was a professional musician! He was phenomenal on guitar and sang a lot of awesome songs which always perfected the mood for the location. His signature song “I’m at the Ocean!” was stuck in all of our heads daily!

He had a great voice and played some great songs

He had a great voice and played some great songs

I mentioned we had a pool at our hotel, and one day we were having different pool competitions! The big competition was a team challenge to see who could swim the most lengths of the pool underwater. After a few of us had gone the current record was once all the way down and once all the way back. Next up was my friend who I’ll call Jack. Jack was pretty much good at everything, he could climb a tree in seconds, do a handstand for 5 minutes, backflip off a cliff into water, you name it. So naturally he was also an awesome swimmer. Jack started swimming for his team and we were all amazed by how calmly but quickly he was moving through the water. Jack made it all the way to the end of the pool and then back, and then he went all the way down again, breaking all the records, then came all the way back!! We all had our minds blown. Only Jack could hold his breath that long. To top it off when Jack made it all the way back again he stayed underwater, we figured he had won the match so now he was seeing how much longer he could hold his breath. There were about 12 of us in the pool cheering Jack on. After a little while we decided to check to see if Jack was okay, one girl grabbed him in a joking manner to pull him up but Jack pushed her off. We did this again about 30 seconds later but the same thing happened. We kept stating how amazed we were by how good Jack was at this. After a little bit longer we started to realize just how long Jack had been under, it had been many minutes. We decided to force Jack to stop showing off and come up. We grabbed him and then pulled him up. To our shock Jacks face was completely blue.

We were all instantly horrified, how could we have just watched that happen! We quickly got him out of the pool as calmly as possible. The ones who knew how performed some basic first aid on him and we quickly called for a truck to bring him to the hospital. Jack began breathing again shortly after in a strange sputtering manner, but he was still unconscious.

Staying calm in a panicked situation.

Something I’ve always been able to do that I’m very grateful for is the ability to remain calm in emergencies. I first found this out when my brother fell through the ice as we were talking up north, I was instantly snapped into a state of intense focus and presence and was able to help him to safety calmly and efficiently.

I think it’s important to know that someday you may find yourself in one of these situations and to preprogram your mind to react in a calm focused way. Having it deeply entrenched in your mind that when an emergency happens the best way to help is to remain calm can help a lot. If you do find yourself in one of these situations your first thought should be to remain calm and focused, that way you can quickly prioritize the steps needed to help the situation and take the necessary action for each. If you work in a job that could put people in specific emergency situations recognize what could happen and think about how you could help in such a situation. Take a moment and imagine a realistic frightful emergency happening and then image your calm focused response as you assist. Visualizations like this can actually program your reactions in real situations.

None of us are exactly sure at which point Jack passed out but we figured after that when it felt like he was pushing the girl off it was just the dead weight of his body reacting strangely with the water mixed with the force of pulling him. For the rest of the day we all felt horrible. We were all wondering how the 12 of us could have just watched our friend almost drown in front of us. We all prayed he’d come back fine. Telling the story now it’s hard to describe why none of us decided to pull him up sooner, but none of us ever expected that he had passed out at all. It was just too far from being a possibility to us. If it was anyone else we may have thought there was no way they could hold their breath so long, but we were used to Jack doing the impossible. I also personally didn’t even know that someone could swim under water long enough that they passed out, I had always thought the need to breath overruled the will to stay underwater and you would have to surface for air when you got to a certain point.

This was the first time I had seen someone almost die in front of me, and I was surprised how much it bothered me. I figured that kind of thing wouldn’t have much effect on me but I was incredibly upset over it. It was hard to get the image of Jack’s blue face coming out of the water out of my mind, and as much as I tried not to it was hard not to feel responsible because I was there and could have helped. The rest of the day was quite somber, and we were all too depressed over it to do anything.

Thankfully later that night Jack made it back from the hospital and had recovered. He had to get the fluid drained from his lungs but there didn’t seem to be any kind of damage done. Jack didn’t have much of a memory of the situation, so we never found out if he was indeed moving and aware when he made it back to our side of the pool before passing out or not. It didn’t matter either way we were all just really relieved he was okay.

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