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September 2018

Travel

Discover the ancient traditions of Chiang Rai’s Tai Lue people at Phangha Homestay

A visit to Chiang Rai’s Pangha Homestay community feels like going back 100 years to a time when Thailand wasn’t even called Thailand but rather ‘Siam’, when people got around on bicycles or rickshaws rather than cars, and when hands worked all day long to make crafts and materials (instead of typing away on keyboards…)

Situated in the very north of Thailand not far from the Myanmar border, the defining feature of this community is its people, who are of Tai Lue origin, that still maintain many of the distinct cultural characteristics passed on from their ancestors to this very day. This includes a unique northern dialect, traditional fabric-made clothes with bold patterns, and a fascinating cuisine combining elements of Vietnamese, Burmese, Isaan and Lanna food. Luckily, you’ll be able to witness this interesting culture upon arrival, as you are greeted with a welcome ceremony and introduction to the community’s history and way of life. You can also taste some of their fusion-style dishes, such as Ram Fuen rice and Tai Lue pizza.

Much of the time during the afternoon of the first day has been designated for activities in and around Pangha. There is a chance to visit some of the old-age businesses and mini-factories that are still standing, including the world’s only ‘rice paper’ making center and an old tobacco curing plant. For those seeking a little more rest and relaxation from this trip, the village is also home to a herbal foot spa and ‘gold fiber’ spa.

As the sun begins to set, there’s time to head out of the village to admire the scenery looking over the Khun Nam Nang Non Mountain, as well as inspect a local rice paddy in the evening.

After enjoying dinner with the locals, it’s time to get chill out and relax in your gorgeous homestay for the night – certainly one of the highlights of this “Extraordinary Experience”. The accommodation is comprised of a large, hand-built wooden house that has been expertly renovated inside making your stay both a comfortable and memorable.

Plenty more visits and activities await the next day on this “One Night Stay with Locals” trip. After breakfast in the village, head out to participate in some knowledge-building activities, including trying your hand as a Shan’s knife smith and candle maker! There is stop-off at the pretty Kimju Guava Garden before visiting an area at the Thai-Myanmar border that is only temporarily permitted for tourists to see.

Then it’s time to go back to the community to enjoy another northern-style lunch at a local restaurant. With a full stomach, take part in the ‘Phra Singh San Chana Man’ workshop at Wat Phra San temple before bidding farewell to your Tai Lue hosts and heading home.

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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Travel

Discover the best of Thailand’s southern Phatthalung province at Tamod Community

Thailand’s southern Phatthalung province is generally overlooked by tourists, who tend to opt for neighboring Trang or the holiday hotspots of Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga. And while this province may not boast any real beaches, there is still plenty to discover both on and off the water that runs through intertwining streams throughout the rugged landscape.

Your homestay for the night on this “One Night Stay with Locals” trip is located in the old Tamod Community, which is tucked away out of sight in the Buntad Mountain Range and near Thale Noi. The mountains and adjacent river produce some stunning scenery, which you’ll be exploring via road and kayak. The community is also well-known locally for how it uses past knowledge from floods to create suitable water management systems, which you can learn all about on this trip.

Arrive relatively early on day-one at ‘Lhad Ton Sai’ – the name of your homestay in the Tamod community. After getting acquainted with some of the friendly southern locals (and trying to understand their unique regional dialect), you head off again to pay respect to Pho Tun Chuay at Wat Tamod temple with the chance to try some tasty (and a bit smelly) fried durian at the nearby clean-energy OTOP center.

After lunch, learn more about the community’s endeavors to create a sufficient agricultural economy. This is before another “Extraordinary Experience” of the trip – kayaking along the river until dusk falls, when it’s time to watch stunning the sunset at Kuan Ta Kom (or over the reservoir). To round off a memorable evening in Phatthalung, enjoy dinner together and head back to your quaint homestay for some sleep.

In fact, you’ll probably want to hit the pillow quite early, because the early morning of day-two presents an opportunity you won’t want to miss: seeing the sun rise and the sea of morning mist rise over the mountains like a silky white blanket. This is from a lookout point at Kuan Ta Kom.

By the time you’re back down, breakfast is served at around 8.00am before heading out for more community-focused activities. These include a trip to the Apis Cerena Knowledge Center, learning how to make crispy rotis (one of the all-time favorite Southern Thai snacks) and lunch ‘Krua Roi Sai’ style at Lhad Ton Sai.

Before heading home, there is time in the afternoon to participate in a knowledge-building activity at Soon Ruam Jai Song Sasana as well squeeze in a refreshing visit to Lan Mom Jui Waterfall to beat the heat.

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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Travel

Experience Phang Nga from a new perspective at Baan Sam Chong Nuea community

For any native or foreign tourist familiar with Thailand, the southern province of Phang Nga conjures up images of dramatic limestone cliffs rising out of the turquoise waters (forming Phang Nga Bay), as well as the region’s stunning network of mangrove-covered canals and tropical jungles. Plus, let’s not forget those picture-perfect, white-sanded beaches either!

This popular destination, however, can get quite busy in certain places where tour agencies bring boat-loads of visitors each day, especially in high season. So, to get away from it all, we recommend a “One Night Stay with Locals” trip to Baan Sam Chong Nuea Community – thanks to its remote location that still makes for a perfect launch pad for many of the bay’s must-visit sights.

Perhaps the highlight of this specially-curated “Extraordinary Experience” is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the sunrise over Phang Nga Bay (at dawn on day-two), with your local guide taking you out on a boat to a secluded viewpoint overlooking the glowing sun which slowly rises above the horizon.

But this trip to Baan Sam Chong Nuea is not only about the sun, sea and sand. Many of the activities are located mostly inland. Starting from the later hours of the morning, learn about the history of this fascinating community at the village’s main center, and kayak through the mangrove forests and swamps while helping out with afforestation at the same time.

The afternoon of the first day provides an invaluable opportunity to learn more about the local villagers, farmers and fishermen’s way of life and how they earn income in this remote region. This involves checking out a shrimp paste-making demonstration, trying your hand at fabric tie-dyeing and observing traditional fishing techniques which use floating baskets, as well as visit a fresh oyster farm (with tasting, of course!)

Apart from the early morning sunrise trip (which is optional for the late-risers), even more adventure around the bay is booked for day-two. Hop into a long-tail boat – locally known as ‘hua tong’ – and observe the stunning beauty of Phang Nga Bay. Along the way, your expert local guide will take you to Petch Pakarang Cave, where you can walk up to discover the highest point for a bird’s-eye view. The scenery of Khao Phing Kan, Khao Tapu, Lod Cave, and Punyee Island is all incredible, making this long trip south (and back again) worth the extra effort.

After a short cruise back to your Baan Sam Chong Nuea homestay, it’s time to pack up your bags and bid farewell to your hosts – until next time!

To learn more about “One Night Stay with Locals” in Thailand or to book a trip for up to 10 people at a special price, please visit www.1nightstaywithlocals.com or www.facebook.com/AorSorSocial/.

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