"When we get out of here, we want to eat many things".
They ventured in while the cave was dry but were caught out by a sudden deluge of rain, which flooded the system.
The diver's death brought heartache for rescuers and anxious relatives waiting outside the Tham Luang cave in the country's mountainous north - and raised serious doubts over the feasibility of attempting to bring a group of boys with no diving experience out through the cramped passageways filled with muddy water.
The path out is considered especially complicated because of twists and turns in narrow flooded passages.
Thai officials had been leaning in their public statements toward a quick underwater evacuation because of fear that access to the cave could soon close again because of seasonal monsoon rains expected this weekend.
Former Chiang Rai governor Narongsak Osottanakorn, who is heading the rescue operation said: "We have discussed different plans for various scenarios, including those suggested by foreign cave diving experts, to assess their feasibility".
"I talk to them every day, if they'd like us to take the kids out, it has to be in the minimum risk", he said.
"Definitely, you can feel it that it has an effect, but we're moving on". It is only a small battle we've won, but the war has not ended.
But getting them out has presented a whole new dilemma.
The boys see their situation in less grandiose terms, according to their notes home, which were made public Saturday.
"I'm fine", wrote another one. Tell my brother to be ready to bring me fried chicken.
"I'm anxious about the rain", said Visunlaya Songjang, 59, a volunteer from Mae Sai.
Another boy, 13-year-old Sompong "Pong" Jaiwong, put on a fearless face: "Dear Mum and Dad, I love you. I promise to take the very best care of the kids", he said.
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Tee: Don't worry, I'm so happy.
Sompong "Pong" Jaiwong, 13: "Dear Mum and Dad, I love you".
One suggestion for extraction was to teach the boys how to dive out of the cave.
The football team coach Ekkapol Chantawong, who is 25 years old, has apologized to the boys' parents in a note that he handed to the divers.
Coach: To all parents, now the kids are fine. I miss everyone. I really want to go back as fast as possible.
"Thank you for all the moral support and I apologise to the parents".
What happened to the Thai navy diver?And without proper oxygen levels, staying put could also prove deadly.
Hundreds of rescuers, mostly Thai Navy SEALs, are working to provide those trapped in the cave with all necessary supplies while pumping water out of the complex.
The best window for a rescue could come in the next three or four days, the leader of the rescue effort said on Saturday.
The Thai boys trapped deep inside a partially flooded cave will be evacuated alongside experienced scuba divers in what is being called a "buddy dive".
In this Thursday, July 5, 2018, file photo, worldwide rescuers team prepare to enter the cave where a young soccer team and their coach are trapped by flood waters in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand.