Andaman Discoveries - Adventure, Community, Eco-tours
  Update 47
May 2008  
Andaman Discoveries was delighted to accept a Royal insignia pin from Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn in recognition of the work of North Andaman Tsunami Relief and Andaman Discoveries since the tsunami, especially in the field of community-led development and conservation. Other highlights included two study trips, one for the Ban Talae Nok Community-based Tourism Group to the Koh Yao Noi Eco Tourism Community as well as the Ban Talae Nok Youth Conservation Group, who visited a waste management project in Krabi. It's important that community members have the opportunity to learn from others who are making community-led development and conservation a reality.  

Andaman Discoveries is going through some exciting changes, broadening our range of tourist and volunteer activities to include other communities in the region. Check out our website for more information. Don't forget we are a Responsible Tour Operator and can help make the most of your time in the Andaman region, whether you are traveling with family, friends, or by yourself. 

In This Issue
Click on a Headline to Jump to the Story
1. Royal Recognition
2. Youth Conservation Group Study Trip
3. Homestay and Guides Group Study Trip
4. Life-saving Operation
5. Village Waste Management
6. New Boat Workshop
7. Villagers' Marketing Pays Off
9. Scholarship Interview Quotes
10. Koh Yao Noi Study Trip Quotes

Wise words from
a new generation:

"A unified and strong community has the power against outsiders who want to go to our forest and remove our trees for their benefit. Everyone has to understand environmental issues, not only the
younger generation."
Isamanueal Kumuda
Youth Conservation Group member

1. Royal Visit - Royal Recognition for Our Community Development Efforts

Village and district leaders at the workshop
The Dynamic AD team, from left to right Village Coordinator, Darunee Pakdee, AD Co-Director Kelly May, Community Centre Manager and Youth Conservation Leader, Ladda Ardharn, Marketing Assistant, Egarak Chuengyan and his way-too-cute daughter
Ban Talae Nok and the surrounding region were buzzing with excitement in anticipation of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn's Royal visit to open the Ban Talae Nok school. Andaman Discoveries was honored (and flabbergasted) to receive a Royal Insignia pin in recognition of our community work in the village since the tsunami. Over the past three years, with the help of donors and volunteers, we have built and sponsored a successful community centre, which has become the focal point of the community, purchased land for the new school, supported adult education classes, assisted with community-based tourism development, implemented a waste management program, and held environmental education camps and much more. "It's an honor to accept this pin on behalf of Andaman Discoveries," beamed AD's Co-director, Kelly May. "Few people receive such a pin from the Princess in person. It's great to be recognized for all our efforts and the progress the villagers have made since the tsunami."

The children of the village, with support from a teacher sponsored by us, played traditional Thai musical instruments as the Princess walked around the school. An accomplished musician, the Princess plays the trumpet and several Thai traditional instruments. The Princess, known as Princess Angel by the devoted nation, is second in line to the throne and is famous for using her interest and expertise in science for the country's development.

2. Youth Conservation Group - Study Trip to Krabi and Phang Nga

Koh Yao Noi Youth Guides show the Ban Talae Nok Youth Conservation Group around their school and environmental projects
Koh Yao Noi Youth Guides show the Ban Talae Nok Youth Conservation Group around their school and environmental projects

Andaman Discoveries, in cooperation with MAP (The Mangrove Action Project), is working with the Youth Conservation Group in Ban Talae Nok to educate the teenagers about waste management and conservation. The group was lucky enough to be taken on a study trip to a waste bank in Krabi and then to visit the Youth Conservation Group of Koh Yao Noi to exchange ideas and reflect on the value of community conservation and respectful tourism. "A waste bank is a simple and effective way to reduce trash," noted Vipada Padung Chart. "The key to successful implementation in our village would be making sure the elders understood and persuading them to separate their trash for the betterment of the environment."

Another participant, Matihar Khunpakdee, noted the need for tourism development and conservation to go hand in hand, "Koh Yao Noi community showed us how tourism can be used to strengthen conservation efforts. We need to do this in our village if we are to be truly environmentally sustainable."
3. Homestay and Guides Group - Study Trip to Koh Yao Noi

The homestay, guides and handicraft groups of Ban Talae Nok touring the island with the Koh Yao Noi Community Guides
The homestay, guides and handicraft groups of Ban Talae Nok touring the island with the Koh Yao Noi Community Guides

Sustainability is the buzz word in the community development sector, and is what we are aiming for in Ban Talae Nok in terms of their community-based tourism, conservation efforts and livelihoods development. Ten villagers, with representatives from the homestay, guides and handicraft groups visited the famous Koh Yao Noi community to see how they are using tourism to increase local ownership, empower underrepresented community members, build local leadership, conserve their natural resources and provide tangible motivation for adoption of sustainable livelihoods on the island. The KYN community have welcomed over 800 guests this year alone, 90 per cent of whom were Thai nationals on study trips. "We always thought that Thai people did not like community-based tourism and homestays," explained one participant. "However, KYN have a successful community-based tourism program without International guests because they have Thai tourists and study trips. There's no reason why we can't do this in BTN using our experience of tourism since the tsunami."

"KYN have won several awards and attend tourism fairs to promote themselves," noted Marketing Assistant, Egarak Chuengyan. "This is what BTN has to do if we want to stand by ourselves and not be dependent on outside assistance to find us guests." This realization, after a discussion and spending time with the KYN group is a huge breakthrough for the BTN community and brings them one step closer to achieving true sustainability from a village level.
4. Life-saving operation - Patient Makes Full Recovery

The homestay, guides and handicraft groups of Ban Talae Nok touring the island with the Koh Yao Noi Community Guides
Fifty year old Travorn Prikunvat recovering after the operation

Our handicraft coordinator, Su Andankan has been part of the NATR/Andaman Discoveries family since its inception as a result of the tsunami in 2004. Her 50-year-old mother, Travorn Prikunvat, had been in extreme pain, suffering severe headaches and neck pain for the past six years. Doctors had only ever prescribed antibiotics, without any improvement. After meeting numerous doctors, Mrs Travorn was finally diagnosed as having throat cancer and required treatment immediately. AD staff could not sit back and do nothing and made funds available for the throat cancer to be removed, a mere US$320. "This operation saved my life," explained Mrs Travorn, 'For that I will be eternally grateful." She has now made a full recovery and doctors are happy with her condition. "It's frightening to think that the cancer had been inside her for over six years," explained Su. "We're happy it's out of her body and out of our life."

5. Village Waste Management - Whole Community Makes an Effort

A mother and a child weighing the trash before it is sold
A mother and a child weighing the trash before it is sold

It's not only the youngsters of the village who are getting wise to waste. The adults now realize that there is money to be made from rubbish. The recycle truck is now visiting the village every week, and the villages sold 3,000 baht (US$90) this month. This is a great improvement considering several months ago there was no waste collection in the village and most people burnt or buried all their trash. Separating trash is now becoming a habit with the villagers. AD's next mission is to encourage less plastic bag usage, starting with the Handicraft Shop in the community centre.

6. New Boat Workshop Planned - Keeping Afloat

A mother and a child weighing the trash before it is sold
Model Moken Boat Group leader, Mongkol Phauaphadung, pictured here with the rest of the group.

The model Moken boats have proved a huge hit with donors, volunteers and even local government officials. Receiving OTOP (One Tambon One Product) certification last year confirmed the model boats' exceptional quality and potential. Model Moken Boat Group leader Mongkol Phauaphadung, also part of the NATR/Andaman Discoveries family since 2004, wanted to use his skills to start fixing boats in his village. Unfortunately, he didn't have the tools required to start up a small workshop in the village. After discussions with donors it was decided that Mr Mongkol should receive US$120 as a start up loan to be repaid in installments once the workshop is up and running.

7. Strengthening Regional Ties - Villagers' Own Marketing Pays Off

The communities that Andaman Discoveries work with are not the only communities developing eco tourism in the region. Understanding the benefits of information sharing between stakeholders, AD Village Coordinator, Darunee Pakdee and Marketing Assistant, Egarak Chuengyan are meeting with groups in the area to see how they can start a dialogue for regional capacity building. The Ban Talae Nok Community-based Tourism Group met with Plernpraisrinakha Sri Nakha Tourism Club to start a partnership and to discuss how they can be cooperating and encouraging responsible eco tourists to the area. The BTN CBT Group has also contacted the Ranong Tourism Association to utilize available resources for tourism in the region. Khun Nit, Director, hopes to part sponsors their trip to Bangkok for the Thailand Tourism Fair. The Thailand Tourism Authority Deputy, Khun Chayanunt visited Ban Talae Nok village. Impressed by what he saw, he encouraged them to enter the Thailand Tourism Industry Award 2008. The BTN CBT Group have submitted their application to become a registered Homestay Group, a huge step forward for a group that previously weren't confident they could actually do CBT! It's taken three years for the group to feel ready to make the application, and AD is delighted that the group is finally realizing their potential and capabilities. Ban Talae Nok was also featured on a regional travel show called Travel People, showcasing the highlights of the village. Well done team!

8. Master Thesis Research - Reconstruction of Phang Nga After the Tsunami

A mother and a child weighing the trash before it is sold
Morten with his host family, Ja De and Bang Hem during a cultural immersion activity.

Morten Vestergaard (Denmark), a master student in International Development at Roskilde University, joined AD and the villagers as part of his master thesis research on the Reconstruction of Phang Nga After the Tsunami. A previous volunteer at the Tsunami Volunteer Center in Khao Lak, Morten was impressed by Andaman Discoveries success in the area of community-based tourism and development. Morten participated in a eco volunteer tour of both Tung Nang Dam and Ban Talae Nok, helping the soap group, the orchid conservation group and stayed in a homestay. "The trip felt very natural and authentic," commented Morten. "The next challenge will be maintaining this authenticity if the number of tourists increases." Morten will use information from his interviews to analyze different responses to disaster relief.

9. Quotes From Scholarship Interviews

Sudarat Hongwilai
Sudarat Hongwilai

Name: Sudarat Hongwilai
Age: 11 years old
6th Grade (Elementary)
Ban Pukhaotong School

"I live with my mother only. The scholarship has made it less of a financial burden for my mother. I would like to thank my sponsors who have given me the opportunity to study without having to worry about money. I will study to the best of my ability."

Ganya Nampetch
Sudarat Hongwi

Name: Ganya Nampetch
Age: 9 years old
3rd Grade (Elementary)
Ban Tung La-ong School

"My family and I were happy to get the scholarship. I will study hard, listen to my parents and be a good person for society. I hope my sponsors like the card I made because I put a lot of effort into it. I hope the card makes them happy, because I was happy to make it."

Monludee Suthapibal
Monludee Suthapibal
Name:Monludee Suthapibal
Age:12 years old
6th Grade (Elementary)
Ban Hinlard School

"I live with my father and sister, we are happy to get the scholarship, because it will help me get the good education and good future. I will not disappoint my sponsors or my family."

10. Quotes from the Koh Yao Noi study trip

Andaman Discoveries Co Director, P'Tui with the Youth and CBT Group learning about the mangrove eco systems in Koh Yao Noi
Andaman Discoveries Co Director, P'Tui with the Youth and CBT Group learning about the mangrove eco systems in Koh Yao Noi

"The KYN CBT Community love what they do, and that's been instrumental in their success. They are well managed, with a clear vision and plan. We have learnt a lot from them."

Darunee Pakdee
AD Village Coordinator
"The group's unity is easy to see. The whole island was clean and well cared for, the villagers are very proud of their island and community."

Nuttawut Lilang
local guide
"The food was a highlight for me, fresh seafood. It's a major selling point for the island."

Dolrhab Nimnuan
homestay host mother

Andaman Discoveries Co Director, P'Tui with the Youth and CBT Group learning about the mangrove eco systems in Koh Yao Noi
The Youth Conservation Group looking at different types of species found in the mangrove eco-system

"I was particularly impressed by the women's group management. Each woman made a financial investment in the group, so they feel like they are the real owners and decision makers."

Rogina Harnjit
homestay host mother and soap lady
"The group is using tourism for resource management, and it's really helping them to conserve their beautiful island."

Haron Wechsart
local guide

Andaman Discoveries is North Andaman Tsunami Relief's
commitment to long-term sustainable development.
Copyright 2008 Andaman Discoveries