“I just learned to paddleboard in Thailand, and it was freakin’ amazing!” exclaimed Christie Creveling as she stood on the beach in post-paddle bliss. Surrounded by the dramatic limestone cliffs and emerald water of Railay Beach it seems obvious why Christie was feeling the stoke… but this is only the tip of the iceburg. Our adventure travel vacations are much more than a fun time in beautiful destinations, although we do a damn good job at providing that too. We strive to create experiences that cultivate personal development and deeper connection to self, all beings, and our environment.
By stepping away from her comfortable life as a wife, mother of three, and small business owner of For the Love of Fitness and Health, Christie was already feeling the vulnerability of the unknown, traveling all the way across the globe to meet a group, half of whom she’d never met. Well aware of her giant leap of faith, we greet her by setting a tone of support, respect, love, and non-judgment in our opening circle - creating a safe space within the unfamiliar. This cultivates a sweet openness that lends to contagious honesty and the group bonds through sharing our stories. Although we’ve come from different places, ages, and experiences, we begin to recognize our similarities… we all have shit we’re dealing with, and we all want to be heard, understood, and loved.
With newfound confidence from this solid foundation of friendship we set out to explore our new surroundings. After inflating our NSP stand up paddleboards, we walk down a colorful, winding path through tropical flowers and trees, spotting the calm ocean glittering in the early morning sun. FLOW owner, Rob Macias, gives a land lesson to the SUP beginners who listen intently with nervous-excitement. With paddles sized and everyone ready, we push the boards into the warm welcoming water. The newbies begin on their knees to feel out the stability of their boards, and the seasoned paddlers offer encouragements along the way. One by one everyone gets to their feet and there is a collective realization with laughter and disbelief…. “I’m doing it! I’m stand up paddling in Thailand!” I watch as my new friends stop to soak it all in – looking up at the orange and green cliffs towering above, and turning back to see the beach, now small in the distance. It’s a whole new perspective, a vastness you begin to grasp from the outside looking in, at the space between the shore and the infinite sea. It’s humbling, as you feel insignificant in this surreal, breathtaking landscape, yet simultaneously completely unified with the entire universe. This is L-I-V-I-N.
Our boards give us so much freedom to explore and play – we try to knock each other in and take lots of refreshing swims. Paddling under stalactites and through caves, we give paddle high fives, and squeal like little kids. We surfboard sit, our feet dangling in the water and turn our faces to the warm sun. Laying down, we float weightlessly, like the slowly passing clouds. The local longtail boats begin to roll out loudly, taxiing people to the next beach, and we cruise up like ancient explorers to check it out for ourselves. Our own private, pristine oasis with monkeys swinging in the trees, soft orange sand and a protected cove for swimming. It feels like a dream. Paddling back to Railay Beach, we navigate around narrow islands dotting the shoreline – with tall, sheer cliffs diving into the water – like a scene from Jurassic Park. We take a thousand pictures, a hundred selfies, and many deep reflective breaths.
Gliding smoothly over coral and up to shore and then pulling our boards onto the sand, we hug as an overwhelming feeling hits us… we accomplished something new, in a far away place, and we did it together. It’s the type of thing that shows you what you’re made of – not only the act of paddleboarding in Thailand, but everything it took to get you there: taking a risk and saying “yes” to an opportunity; getting work, home responsibilities, and finances covered; stepping out of your routine into the unknown; the list goes on and on. This is transcendental experience – the kind that makes you feel fully alive and touches your soul so deeply you will become positively transformed - evolving, aligning with your true self and getting back to your essence. And perhaps, most rewarding of all, you will return a better mate, parent, business owner, and human being for it.