Andaman Discoveries Blog

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Congratulations to Awe and Kim: just married !

This week saw the celebration of our partner’s wedding Kim and Awe from The Eco Lodge on Koh Ra Island, they took their vows on the beautiful Island on Saturday the 27th March. The AD team arrived en masse to the Island where our friends had decorated the sala the night before with beautiful red and white roses.

Celebrations took place on the island with a traditional Buddhist service in the morning, it was beautiful to witness the Thai ceremony; it is so warm and loving. The afternoon was dedicated to a western service with a reading from Kim’s brother in
law, which made the service so much more personal, only a few tears flowed, the day was magical the setting amazing, sea, sand and love all around. We were so happy to be part of this special day, for most of us it was the first Thai wedding we had witnessed; these ladies know how to dress to impress. The next day the bride and groom were whisked off, courtesy of their friends speed boat, to Surin Island to carry on celebrations into the wee small hours. We would like to extend our thanks again for allowing us to be part of this special day and wish them health, wealth and happiness in their life together.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 29, 2010


Burmese Learning Center Field Trip

by Laura Pelegrina

2 march 2010

A special day for the Burmese Learning Center. Today it’s the last day of Leo a volunteer from Danemark. He spent one month at the school and teach English to the kids.

That was a fantastic experience and he wanted to give something special to their children. So he hired a bus and we went to the beach in the morning, playing games as cartwheel on the sand, or making sandcastle. We all had so much fun. And how it’s so beautiful to see their eyes sparkling everywhere , just happy to be along the coast.

Then we went to river next to Kuraburi , we had lunch there. Everyone helped , making the sauce, spread the rice into lunch boxes, mashed the chili for the salad and the chicken…. We had a Burmese meal , delicious !! And all that in a wonderful place, following music and the famous dance “Do RE Mi .“

To finish the day everybody in the river, bigger tried to make some jump in the water, and the little children stayed long the coast and starting to learn how to swim. It was magical , even for me that was one of my best day in my life. A day full of smiles and happiness.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Farewell to Carli

As March draws to a close, we say goodbye to our super-intern, Carli Zyskowski. She came to us for a short but important 2 months. While completing her internship at Andaman Discoveries through and exchange program between Michigan State University (James Madison) and the Asian Institute of Technology, she tried her hand at many community activities.

Carli attended several community events, including the water lily planting with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at Naka. She also experienced a homestay in Ban Lion, one of the communities with whom AD works.

Carli was an asset to Andaman Discoveries during her quick tour of duty. She accomplished the long-needed task of organizing our massive accumulation of photos. Few dream of completing such a task and Carli tackled it like a true community member. We will truly miss her as she journeys on to complete her two degrees: a B.A. in Communications and Public Relations and a B.A. in Comparative Cultures and Politics back home at James Madison. We hope she returns to visit the AD staff in Kuraburi!


Red Shirt Protests Remain Far from Kuraburi

Protests in Bangkok have been ongoing since the military coup that ousted Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006. Fortunately, the protests are concentrated in Bangkok. Kuraburi and the North Andaman Coast have seen no sign of danger, violence, or protests. As a sleepy mountain town, Kuraburi residents and visitors are safe from the dramatic flare of the protesters in Bangkok, which is over 700 kilometers to the north.

The Internal Security Act was invoked in Bangkok and seven surrounding provinces throughout the tumultuous weeks of March 11-23, 2010. The Phang Nga Province was not among those included in the invocation. The Thai government has stated that it will "use all means within its powers, within the laws of the country, to make sure that the property and safety of its citizens are protected." (BBC World News, This safety and concern extends to all guests of Thailand. The Foreign Minister stated that the Thai government will provide "the greatest security to all residents in Bangkok and Thailand, including the diplomatic corps and other foreigners." (Thailand PR Department,

The protests are now completed, although there is still political discord in the country. Travelers going through Bangkok airport and on to the North Andaman Coast may encounter delays should there be further protests, but there is no danger to tourists, only inconvenience. "For tourists visiting the Kingdom, it should be stressed that foreigners have not been targeted in the on-going political conflict. Be that as it may, foreigners are advised to be vigilant, particularly in the areas where crowds may gather. The Government will continue to step up measures to ensure the safety and well-being of all foreigners in Thailand." (Thailand PR Department)

Labels: ,


Tui's Trip to Europe

Tui Chomphusri, our beloved Director, braved her first trip to Europe this March. First, she arrived in Rotterdam in the Netherlands for a marketing training with Center for Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI). The training ran between the 2nd and 7th of March, with an intensive schedule of workshops each day. Tui learned detailed theory and practice to market and develop Andaman Discoveries' programs.

She then traveled to Berlin, Germany, to attend the International Tourism Bureau (ITB) 2010 Convention. With over 12,000 attendees, the convention is a magnet for tour operators, travel agents, and like-minded organizations. Tui made connections with as many potential business partners as each day would allow. She returned to Kuraburi with fresh ideas, new contacts in the European market, and a big smile.

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 18, 2010


This blog has moved

This blog is now located at
You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here.

For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Awesome New Staff! Welcomes Jenny, Carli, and Laura

Andaman has experienced a "changing of the guard" in recent months. We are excited to welcome out new interns Jenny, Carli, and Laura to the team! We now have a fresh group to take 2010 community based tourism by storm!

A northern California native, Jenny came direct from San Francisco, California. She recently graduated from the University of San Francisco with an M.S. in Enviornmental Management, and has over five years of experience as an Environmental Consultant around the US. Jenny hopes to bring fresh program ideas and marketing concepts to the AD team.

Carli came all the way from Michigan State University to join the AD team for two months. She was sent by the Asian Institute University of Technology (AIT) through their study abroad program in Thailand. Carli came to AD to get hands-on experience in sustainable tourism and while serving the community. So far, Carli has visited several community projects, villages, and events. Carli hopes to help our online marketing efforts online and support the AD team efforts in villages.

Laura will be with AD for eight months and is our first intern from Pistes Solidaires, a French non-profit organisation based in Marseille. Laura is here to learn all she can about community-based toursim and Thai culture. This is an extraordinary experience and she really wants to add something new and help the organisation.

Labels: ,


Pink and the Youth Group need your support

Pink is the all-star leader of the Ban Talae Nok village youth and conservation group – over the last year they have restored a former shrimp pond, performed educational puppet shows about global warming, and hosted an international seminar with youth from six other countries.

Please consider sponsoring Pink's monthly salary ($180) so she can continue in her role as a community leader while raising a family!

Life has not always been so easy for Pink – the majority of her village was destroyed in the tsunami, and, due to declining fish stocks and mangrove destruction, she was unable to return to her traditional fishing lifestyle. With the development of community tourism, however, her luck is turning around.

“We are beginning to understand how to connect tourism with our way of life, and share with people how we conserve the natural environment. Andaman Discoveries is supporting the youth group to develop our own projects,” Pink explains.

Pink’s other projects include:

Waste Management - The Ban Talae Nok Youth group has been encouraging community members to Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse, and the village now has a trash bin for every home as well as in public areas. The youth group regularly collects and separates the garbage in the village and on the beach, and also makes fun recycled art. The donation supports the purchase of snacks and drinks after the weekly cleanup.

Organic Garden - The result is six garden plots where vegetables such as lemon grass, long beans, chilies, galanga, eggplants, and morning glory are locally grown. Approximately 20 houses have been given seedlings to grow fresh vegetables, with the goal of even more villagers growing their own food. Donations support tools and snacks on gardening days.

Labels: , ,


Indigenous Education - Koh Surin

The Moken are an ancient sea people who have travelled among the islands of Thailand’s North Andaman coast for thousands of years. Traditionally nomadic, they would spend most of their time out at sea in their boat houses and moored in sheltered locations during the monsoon season. In recent years, the Moken have responded to growing socio-economic pressures by settling permanently in Ao Bon Bay.

They have come to rely on selling handicrafts as an important source of income, but often have trouble communicating with visitors who wish to buy their woven baskets and hand-carved model boats. To help with this, Andaman Discoveries partnered with a local health worker to provide English lessons to the children of Koh Surin – we provided books, pencils, lesson plans, and a whiteboard. Andaman Discoveries is also sponsoring a “clean household” competition to encourage Moken to address the litter generated by good from the mainland.

Labels: , ,


Community Network - Profiles from the Field

Roliyah Chanchu, Muang Kluang Muslim Homestay

Roliyah Chanchu, or Ja Ya as her friends call her, is a member of the Muslim Homestay group in Muang Kluang village. In the past, visitors to nearby Laem Son National Park would drive through Muang Kluang but did not have an opportunity to learn about the local communities or interact with them in any way. Concerned that an influx of park visitors may threaten or affect their local way of life, locals decided to offer homestay accommodation as a way to reach out to park visitors and generate mutual understanding. Members of the Homestay Club take pride in sharing their way of life with guests, including the natural world on which it depends.

“Doing homestay gives me a chance to make new friends, and it is fun” said Ja Ya.

Ja Ya notes that a focus on local style made it affordable to join the Club, as she already had a clean home with a guest room.

“There was no need to invest anything but my time and energy” she pointed out.

Ja Ya’s whole family gets involved in the homestay process. Her daughters help cook food, including fresh fish caught by her husband, while her son plays with guests after school.

Asked about other benefits of community tourism, Ja Ya observes that even though the income she receives from homestays is not significant, she has learned a great deal from study trips with the N-ACT network. Having visited a number of communities that exemplified sustainable development, Ja Ya has separations bin for wet and dry garbage and recycling. She is also exploring how to make her own bio-fertilizer.

Labels: , ,


International Wetland Day

Governor of Ranong brings a big crowd to Laem Son National Park

The International Weltand Day at Laem Son National Park focused on the link between wetland health and climate change adaptation. Governor Wanchat Wongchaichana of Ranong and Chairman of Wetland International Day joined the crowds of nearby primary and secondary school students on February 2, 2010. Around 500 youth and adults joined the day of activities honoring wetland. Below, you see the governor accepting a basket from Somsak Soonthornnawapha, Thailand Programme Manager with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, filled with handicrafts from Ban Talae Nok and community partner villages.

The event showcased exhibitions by variety of organizations, a play about the wetland environment, and a forum regarding wetland habitat in the area and how climate change will affect it in the futre.The National Park released 50 sea turtles and 10,000 white snapper during the culminating group event, designed to raise awareness about key species that are vital to wetland and marine health.

Along with other wetland areas in Rangong, the Laem Son National Park officially became part of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Site) in August 2002. The park is shaded by a mixture of mangrove and fir trees, transitioning into sandy white beach as it nears the ocean. The network of winding paths was dotted with presentation boards from community-based handicraft groups, conservation groups, and educational groups.

Labels: , , ,


Tung Dap Children's Day

On January 9th, hundreds of villagers attended the annual Children's Day at Tung Dap. The AD crew went out to Koh Phratong to join the celebration, bringing good cheer a healthy appetite. Over 50 children gathered to dance in a specially adorned sala while guests and friends cheered them on.

The village served a delicious array of curries and fresh vegetables and the AD crew enjoyed a brief walk down to the beach, where you could see the devastation of the tsunami, even now, after six years. The coastal swamps and mangroves were beautiful, as were the smiling faces that welcomed us into the community. We left feeling full and sun-baked after a revitalizing trip to one of the villages we hold dear.

Labels: ,


Week Without Walls

International School of Bangkok Visits AD Team

The International School of Bangkok (ISB) became AD's first high school community service group in February! The pack of 21 students hailed from around the world, forming a truly diverse mixture of guests. Lead by Tui, our fearless Director and Translator, the students experienced a variety of activities that the Northern Andaman Coast has to offer.

The trip started in Ban Talae Nok where the students got a taste of traditional Thai cooking. The local youth group lead ISB through the nearby Nipa palm conservation project, explaining their efforts to preserve the environment by working with natural tidal processes to sustainably harvest crops. The ISB students then had an afternoon of weaving nipa palm leaves to make traditional roofing materials, and working with the Ladies' Soap Cooperative to mix up a batch of fresh soap!

The students spent the next day at Koh Ra Ecolodge, an environmentally sustainable outfit on an island off the Andaman Coast. They learned about local wildlife, conservation efforts at the lodge, and the nearby Reef Check Project.

ISB followed up Koh Ra with two days of fun and games at local school events. First, they visited Kuraburi High School, sharing their English conversational skills with the younger students. The following day they attended the Family Fun for National Children's Day in Khoalak, an event encouraging Burmese family interaction and integration with the Thai community.

We sent ISB off with a farewell dinner in Khoalak, where they shared their favorite learning experiences throughout the trip. As the waves crashed on the beach in front of the restaurant and we enjoyed a delicious Thai dinner and sent the ISB students back to Bangkok in style. After returning home, the students wrote a class blog to recount their time with AD!

Labels: , ,


Andaman Information Superhighway

Regional Tourism Network Launches Website

The North Andaman Community Tourism (N-ACT) network is ready to take its message to the world! Years in the making, the Andaman Coast Community Tourism website officially launched in January with the goal of promoting community-led responsible tourism by providing access to the attractions and activities found in the North Andaman region of Thailand. The site enables community members to directly outreach and market their homestays and tours.

The N-ACT network was established in 2008 to help local communities secure their future through sustainable tourism and conservation. The website is a key marketing tool and is a collaborative effort between the villagers, with support from International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The N-ACT network serves as an evolving platform to increase the contribution of tourism to sustainable livelihoods and sound ecosystem management by providing communities with access to the best available knowledge and practices. The network's success is based on careful selection of partners, capable communities, and ethical businesses with a genuine commitment to responsible tourism. The network has developed a number of tools for community tourism development and also works closely with local conservation and community development efforts.

Labels: ,


Water Lily Planting in Nakha

Several members of the Andaman Discoveries and N-ACT teams joined with a wide variety of groups to spend an afternoon planting water lilies. The event raised awareness of plighted youth.

Nakha boasts stunning mountainous scenery, and is home to the highly endangered Water Lily, known locally as the "Yah Chong." This fresh-water plant has unusually long leaves and delicate white flowers that bloom from October to December. Unfortunately, the water lily faces serious threats from river dredging and collection for resale as aquarium plants.

To help save the Water Lily, locals formed a conservation group to protect its habitat, and now offer rafting excursions to raise public awareness of this beautiful plant. Profits are used by the club to pay for school trips. The club also sponsors a nursery that is used by the youth group for replanting the water lilies.

Labels: ,


Welcome from Jenny

Dear Friends,

I am a new addition to the AD team and would like to extend a warm and enthusiastic greeting from Kuraburi!

The chains of corporate America are finally loosening as I start my third month at Andaman Discoveries. I arrived in the wake of graduating with my M.S. in Environmental Management, and have fully recovered from the frantic San Francisco lifestyle I left. Thank you AD!

I have never worked in the tourism business, nor have I lived outside the U.S. I came to Thailand to absorb as much information as possible about community-based development, having just completed my thesis on sustainable construction in Haiti.

So far, the people are amazing, the food is delicious, and the sunsets continually surprise me. I have grown beyond my wildest expectations, both professionally and personally, all thanks to the AD team.


Jenny Lovell

a.k.a "The Jeneral"

Labels: ,

Monday, March 8, 2010


Raleigh Trip with AD Staff

by Jenny Lovell

A few of us from the AD office went to Raleigh last weekend to give Erik a send-off after 5 years of loyal service. It was a good time to be had by all, truly a team building experience, and we will all miss Erik very much! I have to thank him for being the reason I visited the most amazing place...

I had the most surreal boat ride the night I arrived, laying on my belly on the bow the whole way. The moon was bright and the cliffs were glowing next tot he calm sea. I swung my hand over the front and felt the spray on my fingertips, letting the cloth banner tied to the front of the bow lightly whip me in the face as it blew in the wind. I could barely hear the conversation in the boat behind me, mostly just the light wooshing sound as the hull glided over the water. Balmy.

We spent the days laying in the sun, hiking, and taking lazy naps. At night you could hear the monkeys jumping through the trees an into the living room, looking for a midnight snack.

I had my first outdoor rock climbing experience with a Swedish man named Richard and my guide from Hot Rocks, Jay. Thus far I had only climbed indoors at Mission Cliffs in San Francisco. What a sweet deal to be able to call Raleigh my first climb. Funny enough, at the top of a nearby hike the day before, I met a young man that lived only 8 blocks from me in SF and climbs at the same gym!

I timidly scaled the 156-foot wall and loved every second. The rocks were smooth and solid, with chalk marks dotting the course, like a trail of bread crumbs showing me the way. The view from the top was a reward I did not deserve: an unobstructed panoramic of Raleigh, east and west. Beautiful. I would say it was my favorite place in Thailand, but I've officially wracked up about 10 of those.

I will definitely be returning.

Labels: ,

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]