Purpose Driven Sustainable Tourism

Thank you study and service participants for your contribution

We had another inspirational season of study and service groups and specialized groups that fall into an ever growing niche of young adults and people that are willing to go outside of their comfort zone to learn about the local culture in a sustainable way. It is also becoming popular to give back when travelling and we are happy to facilitate meaningful, sustainable and positive service projects for groups, always ensuring that projects fulfill the direct needs of our local community partners. The groups got to know the “people and the place” along the Andaman coast, relishing in an authentic experience that brings people together, creating memorable experiences that can be shared back home. This encourages more people to travel with a greater sense of cultural and environmental awareness.

Take a look at these driven groups and what they have contributed!  Andaman Discoveries can customize programs for learning, service, cultural or personal objectives. If you are interested in these customized study and service trips, https://www.andamandiscoveries.com/thailand-hands-on-service-tours/ )

Hilversum School from the Netherlands

Coming back for the eighth year for the Community and Service work program the Hilversum school has been fostering relationships with the Burmese Learning Center and the homestay village of Ban Tale Nok.  For the service project at the Burmese Learning Center, they made a driveway to the entrance of the center, allowing easier access for the school bus. The school bus was having issues because each monsoon season the center looses about one foot of ground soil, which was beginning to leave a large bump at the entrance, making it almost impossible for the school bus to pull in and out.  Hilversum also made a stylish walking pathway underneath the classroom to bathroom roof extension that the 2019 students made. This will help to keep students’ feet dry and clean during the monsoon season when going to the bathroom. Hilversum students also commit to fundraising for the Burmese Learning Center before they arrive to Thailand. We are so grateful for their commitment to the project and understanding that the center allows Burmese students the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and strive for a better future. This year they raised an impressive 295,000THB! Thank you everyone for your hard work and commitment to making the world a better place!

Hilversum also put on a two day English camp for three local Thai government schools in the Kuraburi area. This was the third year doing an English camp and it has become clear that the Thai students are not as shy during the English lessons and are more excited to participate.  English camps are extremely popular in Thailand and foster confidence, interactive English lessons and creativity for the Thai students. However, English camps are expensive and local government schools do not have the budget or western English teaching staff to facilitate camps. We are happy to have connected Hilversum with local Thai government schools so that the English camps can now happen on a yearly basis.  The camp allowed for fun interactive English rotations and the Thai student’s quickly broke out of their shy shells and became confident when learning the English.

Hilversum also returned to Ban Talae Nok Village for some cultural integration. They made Thai snacks, fished on the beach, made soap, wove Nippa Palm Roof panels, took a trip to the white sand beaches of the Gam islands and of course, enjoyed delicious southern Thai meals with their hosts. While in the village they did a short mangrove reforestation project to help Ban Talae Nok’s long standing effort of mangrove conservation. They even visited the Suan Mai waterfall and did a one Kilometer intrepretive hike with a local park ranger. While staying in Kuraburi during their service projects they were able to visit local markets, visit a temple and talk to a monk about Thai Buddhism and enjoy karaoke at a local restauarant. Their nine days in Thailand ended with a sunset closing sveremony at a secluded beach

“Since the Thailand trip with Andaman Discoveries has been at our school for so many years I had already heard amazing things about it. This trip really exceeded my expectations in every possible way. I feel like everything we did had meaning and I learned so much more about the culture and people of Thailand than is I were to have travelled with my family or friends. I recommend this trip to anyone who is looking for a meaningful and rewarding experience.”

“Through Andaman Discoveries, I was able to see the real Thailand. Not the tourist part, the part that really shows us how the people live, eat and get income. This was such a special experience for me.”

“A newfound appreciation for myself and my whole like. It is a journey of discovery including self discovery.”

“This trip was a very awesome experience that was very enriching. What made it so great was the bonding with the people. Also it was so cool that we did activities that you would never be able to do without Andaman Discoveries and their community partners.”

Good Travel, USA

We were happy to continue our third year of collaboration with Good Travel. Good Travels amazing ethical mindset focuses on traveling with the purpose of giving back and sustaining the local environment.  They generously give a 100 dollar donation per participant to a local project. They graciously allocated the donation money to the Burmese Learning Center that our North Andaman Network Foundation supports. We were happy to put together a program that encompassed these standards by using eco-certified resorts, local community groups for cultural excursions and homestays.  Within these elements we made sure to always think responsibly, implementing the “reduce-reuse- recycle” concept during the programs.  The group went to Ban Talae Nok Village to immerse in cultural activities like making Batik, soap and tasty Thai snacks. They enjoyed talking with their home stay hosts about their vulture and lives back homeJ

Check out this amazing testimony from the group:

A New Rooster Perspective

The team at GOOD Travel booked this Andaman Discoveries homestay for the group I was traveling with. This was my first experience with GOOD Travel as well as with Andaman Discoveries. But it won’t be my last. I had read all of the information they provided and had Googled some on my own. I also spoke with friends who were familiar with GOOD Travel and Andaman Discoveries. So I was confident in my understanding of what was to occur. But I didn’t “get it” till we drove into the village of Ban Tale Nok and were greeted by one of the village leaders. That’s when the experience began taking on meaning that I had not anticipated. And thus began my transformation in Thailand. Lindsey, our Andaman Discoveries guide, had a warm neighborly relationship with the villagers she introduced us to. She knew the names of their children and her exchanges with the villagers reminded me of the conversations my mother used to have with neighbors and passers-by when I was a boy growing up in a small town in Georgia. They spoke of things that mattered to them. The village leader, an easy-going fisherman with a slow smile, told us about his community and answered our questions as he showed us around the village… the beach where the tsunami hit, the lasting impact of erosion, the health station, the mosque. He and Lindsey then introduced us to our “host moms,” who insisted that we sit for the lunch of fresh seafood and vegetables that they had prepared for us using the culinary traditions of that region. The meal, like the tidy straightforward home we sat in, was an unadorned act of kindness and generosity that was as warm and inviting as any I have ever had. And what’s not to love about authentic Thai dishes prepared by someone with the title, “mom?” There were four of us… all men, ravenous travelers eager to be guests. Our hosts seemed to enjoy watching us receive their hospitality, so they kept on being hospitable… even when my rather sizable American ass broke a stool apparently designed only for Thai behinds. We made soap as we learned about the village economy in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami. And we probably looked kind of silly crafting panels out of long skinny leaves, but Lindsey and the villagers made it lots of fun. At nightfall, our hosts served dinner on the beach, giving us the opportunity to socialize with various members of the community. The highlight of the evening for me, though, was running around on the beach with the children, taking turns inventing games we all could play. I had my first bucket shower that night, and went to bed feeling refreshed. Open. Falling asleep in a tiny fishing village on the Andaman Sea was, in a sense, revelatory. It gave me the opportunity for self-exploration; to observe myself in the world differently and to gain a new perspective on my impact as a consumer. I felt like I think Anthony Bourdain, the late chef, author and travel documentarian, must have felt countless times on his forays into parts unknown. It also gave me a new perspective on roosters: they crow whenever they feel like it, and not just when the sun comes up. And sometimes they help you go to sleep when you’re in a tiny fishing village on the Andaman Sea. Andaman Discoveries says that its programs are collaborative and “use local resources to have a positive human, environmental and financial impact.” As far as I’m concerned, Mission Accomplished. 

American School of Hague, Netherlands

Each year the American School of Hague does a week long service project with our partners at the Foundation for Education and Development. We have been privileged to plan their end of program excursion. The fun part is that they sponsor Burmese students to participate in the excursion as well. They take about 25 Burmese students from the Unified Learning Center. The Burmese students would never have the money or opportunity to take a 3 day vacation, so it is really a special initiative. This year the group headed to the strong community based tourism team at Ta Din Daeng Village to enjoy a kayak trip through the mangroves and a short hike to a beautiful secluded beach. They also did a day trip to the spectacular Surin Island National Park for snorkeling and beach time. It is inspiring to see the group of 50 students of both Burmese and ASH students bond and form lifelong friendships.

Andaman Community Tour Group, USA

We would like to say thank you for our first year of partnership with Kelly Scott. She brought a diversified group of open minded, spirited and respectful guests from the U.S.A. The group participated in a seven day culturally immersive program that allowed them to see the diversified cultural and natural environment that the Andaman Coast has to offer. We started with a homestay program in Ban Talae Nok Village with fun handicraft activities like making Batik and Soap. The group had a lot of massage therapists and was able to give back to the hard working homestay moms by offering some quick massages in between meals and activities. They also participated in the Surin Moken Experience Program and were lucky to see two large hawksbill turtles and black tipped reef sharks. They enjoyed time in the Moken village weaving bracelets, learning to row a traditional Moken boat and taking a nature hike to learn about traditional uses of plants and herbs.  Kelly also added her personal activity of doing a pineapple sugar scrub on the beach for a little DIY spa time. It was a pleasure leading this group of people who are so intent on having an immersive, culturally enriching and sustainable program.

“What a pleasure it was to travel with Andaman Discoveries to the village of Ban Talae Nok and the Kho Surin Islands. Our interpreter handled everything and put great effort into helping us communicate with our Talae Nok home stay villagers and the Moken tribe in the Surin Islands. My body was fed the most delicious food and my soul deeply touched by the opportunity to live, play and learn with some of the most joyful, simple living, resilient people I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with. I will be back!”