Michael Braegor Strickley and his friends worked two jobs for over a year, saving up to afford the pre-college trip of their dreams.

Their efforts finally paid off when they landed in Phuket, Thailand.

After getting comfortable, the three rented motorcycles and set off on their journey south. The chosen destination was Krabi, but before the boys reached the city, one of the tires blew out.

Stranded, the boys anxiously awaited for anyone to pass by on the desolate road. Their savior came in the form of an elderly man who owned a nearby coffee plantation, Gong’s Coffee.

The man, Gong, allowed them to stay the night and even took Braegor and his friends on a kayaking trip to Malaysia the following morning. Crossing the border was less than legal, yet it was justified by the fact that Gong needed cigarettes, which are substantially cheaper in Malaysia.

Parting from the coffee bean plantation, they followed the road north hoping to reach Bangkok.

Near Surat Thani, a city along the road they were traveling, Braegor steered his bike to the center of the lane to make room for a honking tourist van. But he was forced to swerve back toward the van as a semi-truck that had crossed over into oncoming traffic came barreling toward him. Braegor narrowly escaped death as the wind blast almost flung him off his bike.

Braegor recovered from the near-death experience on the flight they took to Bangkok the following day.

The rest of their month long journey was spent praying with monks, having ice cream stolen by monkeys at the Tiger Cave Temple and scuba fishing in crystal clear waters.

Braegor has since traded in his motorcycle for a longboard, which he rides around Miami’s campus where there’s significantly less chance of being hit by a semi.

Now, a sophomore pre-med major, Braegor studies biology with the hopes of becoming of a surgeon. In his free time, he sings in collegiate chorale and plans his next big trip.

This time, Germany.

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