There was nowhere to go but everywhere

Photo: Hero Images/Getty Images

The air had a rhythm to it at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. Gently buoyed by the earth beneath, I watched trails of smoke dance through the air above. They stirred sensually and lazily from the ends of idle cigarettes, writhing ever skyward, some joining another tributary with a kiss, or else dispersing altogether with the wave of a hand.

With my index finger, I reached up and stirred the nearest smoke stream, watching it whirlpool outward before fading into nothingness. I scanned for the source: a boy nearby, slim and fair, with fiery red curls. …


Scientists have known for years that the coral reef systems of the world are in decline. Beautiful and delicate, while they only cover less than 1% of the sea floor, they’re home to more than a quarter of all marine life and produce half of the oxygen we breathe.

The CoralAid initiative is producing results in Thailand | © The New Heaven Reef Conservation Program

Fighting against the impacts of threats like pollution, climate change, and coastal development, conservationists worldwide have been scrambling to find ways to save this incredible natural resource. …


Southeast Asia’s longtime reign as an international destination has launched many niche industries aimed at attracting visitors of every kind.

These range from the robust medical tourism industry, through which people travel for low-cost procedures or ones not available in their home country, to the many eco and volun-tourism programs, catering to travelers seeking to give back on their holidays.

More and more, travelers include eco or voluntourism activities on their holiday itineraries © Kerry Kellenberger / Flickr

As the travel statistics gradually grew, another, more circumspect trade thrived in the Kingdom of Thailand: fertility tourism. …


“If someone questions the dangers of cave diving, they’re fully unprepared to meet the challenge.”

In this statement, Chris Haslam, an expert RAID technical diving instructor, neatly echoed the sentiments of the diving community of southern Thailand, from where several expert cave divers traveled last year to assist with the rescue of 12 boys and their coach from the Tham Luang cave system near Chiang Rai.

Cave diving can be incredibly rewarding and exciting — and done safely with the right training | © Erik Brown

While storms continued to rage across the south, news of the final individuals emerging from Tham Luang cave broke via text message, word of mouth, and hesitant rumour — before it was finally confirmed…


Bali, Indonesia. Boracay Island, The Philippines. Maya Bay, Thailand. One by one, these paradise destinations are being closed off to the public by government mandates — an 11th-hour effort to stop fragile ecosystems from collapsing under the pressure of years of unmanaged tourism.

Photo by Dustan Woodhouse on Unsplash

According to experts in South East Asia, sustaining a highly profitable tourism industry, protecting local livelihoods and preserving natural resources is a complex balance that has yet to be struck.

“The tourism industry in the Island of Boracay spurs our economy and provides livelihood opportunities for many of our people,” says Helen J. Catalbas, the regional director…


It’s the early hours of morning and I’m watching small wisps of clouds race by in the sky, somewhere in some hemisphere. A Google search reveals these are scattered cumulus clouds, and I’m oddly captivated by their velocity. I spend my life in the ocean and yet I’m stunned that corridors of current can exist so invisibly thousands of meters above when the terrestrial morning is so calm.

Romantics cling to the idea that they and their star-crossed lover are gazing, probably romantically, out onto the same sky. But that’s bullshit. My sky on the other side of…


Sitting on the porch of my $140 a month bungalow (suck it, NYC rent), I passed the evening (and a bottle of whisky) waiting out yet another island-wide blackout. Bodies were strewn under the awning, us all hiding from the unrelenting onslaught of monsoon rains. I thought about this random assortment of people from all corners of the globe: the easy, tranquil lassitude of our friendships when truly nothing more than our decision to live on this seven-square-kilometer patch of sand connects us. Or maybe it’s more than that: the deliberate decisions we’ve each made brought us here. …


As the ferry slows its speed, aisles of seasick tourists slacked against their seats with faces of disheveled relief, feel a certain superiority. Feel everything. Be sure of everything. The boat docks with a thud like the last train pulling into Grand Central Station, like a vessel to your own deliverance. You know nothing about this place but you can put your finger on its pulse already, steady as the surge. And honey, you’re home.

Go overboard at first. Glassy-eyed and barely lucid, let days glaze by cathartically, gluttonously, hair growing long, saturated by sweat and salt, tangled in the…

Leslie Finlay

Overworked “yes” girl turned artist of my own lifestyle. Marine conservation nerd. Based in Thailand 🇹🇭

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store