The White Continent

When someone you know undertakes an expedition like Bangkok Patana 2041 word quickly spreads. Our school community has been no exception and out of the wood work come inspiring stories like the one we are about to share. Coke Smith is an Environmental Science and Biology teacher here at Bangkok Patana who also happens to have been to Antarctica an incredible six times! Here Coke tells us a little about his time on the last wilderness on earth.

Antarctica, also known as the ‘White Continent’, is one of the world’s last great wildernesses. For wilderness enthusiasts and adventurers, Antarctica offers some of the most amazing experiences, ranging from truly unmatched landscapes and topography to some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities anywhere on the planet. Antarctica is a land of extremes.

During my years of expedition traveling, I have had the rare privilege of visiting Antarctica six times, while I was an expedition leader for my Eco tour company, La Selva Expeditions.  At that time, I attained membership in the ‘Pre-One Hundred Thousand Club’, for being on the first 100,000 people to ever visit the continent. During my travels to the White Continent, I experienced much of what the region had to offer. My emphasis was generally wildlife, but what I often found myself doing on these expeditions was spending nearly 24 hours out on the deck of our Russian research vessel observing the ice flows and surreal Antarctic landscapes as they passed me by. Antarctica is truly one of the world’s most beautiful places.


A young 1000lb Southern Elephant Seal greeting us on our arrival to Antarctica.


Remember that you only see about the top TEN percent of an iceberg! Note the black dots on this one – they are penguins!


Coke diving to the bow of his zodiac to keep it from blowing over during the beginning of an Antarctic typhoon!


Adelie penguins are one of the more common penguin species that can be seen on Antarctica.


Coke at the Polish Research Station, Arctwoski which once served as a whaling station.

As a newcomer to the Bangkok Patana family I was very impressed to see that one of our first guest speakers was Robert Swan, one of my long time inspirations for expedition traveling. And when I learned about his 2041 project and that TWO of our Bangkok Patana family members, Helen Thew and Rebecca Leiler, would be joining him on this year’s voyage, I was even more impressed! This is a very special project with progressive objectives that aim on creating a new generation of leaders who are informed and passionate about the challenges our planet faces and are invested in a sustainable future for our future generations.

Bangkok Patana should be proud of our willingness to send our representatives on this voyage. Even more importantly, we should be proud to have two members of our community willing to invest their time and effort to not only experience one of the most extreme places on earth, but to bring their experiences and knowledge back to share with others for years to come. I have no doubt that Rebecca Leiler and Helen Thew will return enriched from their experiences. I for one am looking forward to learning what lessons they will have to share with our community when they return.

To find out how you can support Bangkok Patana 2041, click here.

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