zondag 10 januari 2010

Second time Baan Hua Tung, New Year and Research

The evening of the 30th of December we went back for the second time to Baan Hua Tung. This night was to prepare ourselves for the tough climb to the Chiang Dao Mountain. Even though the alarm had to be set early, it appeared that we had to wake up even earlier, already at 5.00 o'clock. This was because it was Special Monk Day and we got some food from our homestays that we had to offer to the monk in the temple. After that we had breakfast we left by car to the Chiang Dao Mountain. On our way we picked up our porters who would carry our water and the tents. At 10 finally we began our trip to the top of the Doi Luang Chiang Dao! With lunch and several other breaks in between, after 5,5 hours we reached the camping place. It was a pretty hard climb already, but we did not reach the top yet. After a break we continued walking to the top of the mountain to see the sunset. The way to the top was luckily short, but very tough and steep over the rocks. Finally we all reached the top! Where we could enjoy the sunset and the amazing view.

When we arrived again on the campsite we had dinner together. After dinner we tried to make a campfire, unfortunately it did not really work out the way we wanted. That is why we decided already early to go to bed. In other words, ground, because we did not have a bed at all. Luckily we could enjoy the freezing cold which made this the most unforgettable night of our lives! At 23.45 hr we all came out of our tents to countdown for the NewYear. We celebrated it with some Chang beer, Thai Whiskey and some little firework. Overall we have to say, this will be a NewYear celebration that we will never forget! After having almost no sleep at all, Reinier and Martine were the only ones who were able to go to another top of the Chiang Dao in the very early morning to see the sunrise. The weather was terribly cold, but it was definitely worth the amazing view, we have never seen before such a beautiful sunrise. The others woke up a few hours later and after breakfast we started our trip down. After 3 hours walking we finally arrived at the car. Yeah, we made it!!
Climbing the Chiang Dao Mountain was a great experience that we will never forget!

In the afternoon we arrived again in Baan Hua Tung. We had time to shower and relax. In the evening a New Years party was organised for the whole community. There was food, music, many presents and a lot of people, so it was very nice!
After a long night sleep (we never slept that well!), we had a day off. We used this Sunday to relax, do some preparation for the school sessions and being together with our host families.

Monday we gave English lessons to the primary school students of Baan Hua Tung. In pairs of two we prepared sessions of 40 minutes to teach the students. In total we all had 3 classes with 3 different groups. It was really fun to do and the students liked it as well. After lunch we did some games with all the students of the school outside. The day was a great success!
That afternoon we changed again from homestay and in the evening we were free to do what we wanted.

Tuesday was a busy day. In the morning we went to the nursery where we helped with preparing the food for the children. In the afternoon we visited the frog farm, the pig farm, the honeybee farm and we went to the chicken fight, which was held in Mister Ed's garden. It was amazing to see the chicken fight, but also a little bit sad. After that, Mr. Pai had a little surprise for us, he took us to the hot springs, where we relaxed for a while.

Wednesday we had another free day to prepare ourselves for the evening as we had our presentation and we had to cook some Dutch food for the villagers, as well we had to prepare a performance for the culture show. This day, Reinier, Nienke and Jonien were busy with preparing the hutspot and the bitterballen. Marlon, Martine and Susan were preparing the presentation for that evening. Meanwhile, we have also practiced our cultural performance and from paper we made clogs.

The farewell party started with the dinner and surprisingly many villagers liked the hutspot and the bitterballen, as well as we did.
After dinner we had our presentation followed by the cultural show including our own performance. At the end of the evening a lot of villagers gave all of us a kind of bracelet to bless us. Finally the villagers told us that they had a great time and they would miss us. We told them that they have a great village, suitable for Community Based Tourism and that we had an amazing and unforgettable experience.

The next day, Thursday, we left the village in the morning. We said goodbye to everyone and we left to Chiang Mai.

These last days in Chiang Mai we are very busy with our report. Together we work the whole days on our report (even on Jonien her birthday), so that we can have the presentation on the 12th of January. Every pair of 2 got a few research questions to answer. Furthermore, one was responsible for the article, 2 others for the interim report and the last 3 remaining were responsible for putting the report together and looking it through. Overall, the teamwork goes very well, every team member participates equally to the report. No problems did occur during the teamwork.

Assessment CBT-I

Name Capacity building & Training Manager: Pai
Date: 10-01-2010

Members Group:
Reinier van der Veeken Jonien Vrielink
Marlon Sikkema Martine Koonstra
Susan Roelfsema
Jonien Vrielink
Martine Koonstra
Nienke Marije Schaaf

The questions and answers from every table will be send to Brigitte her email.

Total (maximum 100 points) 89 points.
The students should have more than 55 points to be able to produce a report of significant academic quality.

As can be seen from this assessment, the team work within our group is going very well. We meet deadlines and the group results and efforts are good so far. Especially within Baan Hua Tung, we did wanted to help the locals as much as possible, to experience the real culture of the villagers. We often divide the work that we have to do, but so that we all know our roles and responsibilities. Moreover, we do not mind to do some extra work or spend more time in something. As said in the assessment, we added another program day when staying in Baan Hua Tung, to see and explore even more of the community.
We have the highest rate for our behavior and presentation as a group. We have a lot of fun and we do everything together.
Concerning our knowledge about Community Based Tourism, in the beginning we were a little confused about the real definition of Community Based Tourism. However, since we have working with it for almost 2,5 months now, we do know exactly what it means and contains. Our knowledge about participatory planning in relation to CBT is very well.
Dealing with the cultural differences during the field-work as a group was not really a problem for us. We all could adapt quite easily and joined all the activities with the villagers. However, Pai thinks that we did have a little cultural shock, but we solved it and could deal with the situation well. Furthermore, our knowledge about research methods and skills that are required in the field-work is good as well as our ability to develop interpretation tools for Baan Hua Tung.
Finally, the quality of our work so far is very good, little mistakes, accurate and overall good work.

zondag 27 december 2009

First home-stay adventure and celebrating Christmas

After a rough night train travel of 12 hours we arrived on Sunday the 13th of December in Chiang Mai city. Everybody had told us that the city is much nicer than Bangkok, well we agree with that fact. Chiang Mai is a much smaller, greener and cozier city than Bangkok. We sleep in the inspiration house which is the house of Noi (head of CBT-I) the rooms are perfect and we are situated near the city, only the city canal is in between. The first days in Chiang Mai we explored the city, went to the markets and prepared our selves for the first home-stay period. After 4 nights in Chiang Mai it was really time to go and have the home-stay experience. Our home-stay period of 6 days was separated in two periods, during the first period we had to feel like a real tourist in the village and during the second period we were really a part of the community and work with our host family and do what they do a regular day. The first day before we arrived in the Baan Hua village we visited a small community called Baan Tan here did we visited the Chiang Dao cave.

In the pick-up truck we travelled to Baan Hua Tung, which is a typical northern Thai village and looks like a little French country site town. This is the village we would stay in for the coming week. We had a warm welcome by the villagers and ate our lunch together. After lunch we got introduced to our host families, we stayed in pairs of two with different families. When we were settled in the home-stays we got a tour through the village where we saw people making baskets, huge frogs and we walked through the rice fields. In the evening we cooked together with our host family and had a campfire with them. The houses where we stayed were much bigger then expected, we thought we would stay in houses with no luxury at all, but these houses are more developed they even have some luxury equipment like mobile phone and TV. Only the bathroom reminds you that you are in a community, we have to shower with a bucket of freezing cold water. The next day we started with a nice Thai breakfast which means rice, actually this was quite nice. After breakfast we went to see the communities proud, the bamboo where they have huge bamboo trees * foto* Next we visited the community forest where a few different local guides told us everything about the different spices and threes they planted. We had lunch in this forest with all the people who came with us (this where a lot) our lunch consist of rice, meet and egg packed in a banana leaf. After lunch it was time to work, we helped building a dam in the river which means filling bags with sand and stacking them in the river.

The evening started with a diner we prepared with our host family and eat this together in the local meeting place. After the diner a cultural show was performed by the children of the village, in very nice traditional clothes different dances where performed, especially the little boys stole the show with their butterfly dance.

The last day of being a tourist was very active, we had a few jungle tracks the first one was to a cave which was pretty though. This cave was not like any other touristic caves, we literally had to clime and crawl in the cave to get through it, we were quite happy to see the light again, it was certainly very adventurous. We walked back to the hill tribe community where we had our lunch, we were invited in a hut to enjoy some local whiskey and eat pig in blood, this didn’t seem very nice to us, this man had killed a pig this morning as ritual and still had the blood on his t-shirt. We started the second jungle track to see the waterfall this was again a adventurous track, we had to climb over rocks and jump across the river but the waterfall was nice to see. That night we slept in a resort in Ha Nao which was very beautiful, that night a cultural show was planned but we where the main actors our selves, we had to dance in traditional clothes around the campfire.

The next days in the community we really lived their way of life, help them with cooking, making baskets and create nice flowers. While we stayed in the village a member of the community died, which means the whole community comes together for two evenings to pay respect, during these nights we had to help serving food to all the community members. For our research we interviewed these days our host families to get more information regarding to the food experience. On December 21th we had to leave the community and P’Pai took us to a Thai silk farm, an umbrella factory and a silver jewelry factory which was all very interesting. After the home-stay experience we got a change to relax in the hot springs and the last activity on the program was to visit the Wat Doi Suthep temple situated on the top of the mountain, we had a beautiful view over Chiang Mai city (if you look through the smock). During the days after the home-stay experience in Chiang Mai we had two appointments. One with TAT office and one with the office of Tourism and Sport to interview them regarding to our research. With Christmas we had some days off and planned to do nice activities together. We were wearing our Christmas hats everywhere to have the Christmas feeling as much as possible. On Christmas eve we went out for diner with P’Pai and he also took us to a nice club.

On the first day of Christmas we went to the Chiang Mai Zoo which is a very nice place to visit. After this we were invited to have a Christmas diner at Peter’s house (a colleague of CBT-I), this was a very nice evening and we also got some presents. On the second day of Christmas we hired some scooters to tour around Chiang Mai, we saw a lot of nice things in the area and drove through some small villages. That evening we cooked our own diner, which of course was delicious. Our last day off we booked an active tour including elephant riding, wild water rafting, bamboo rafting, visit the orchid farm and the longnecks and the big ears hill tribe. This was yet again a very nice day. The next days we have to prepare ourselves again for our second home-stay in Baan Hua Tung and also for our mountain hiking on new year, we will clime the Chiang Dao mountain.

zondag 13 december 2009

The end of Bangkok, the beginning of Chiang Mai

Can you imagine, six students with Christmas hats on a white beach and blue ocean water on the background? We did it last weekend on the beautiful island Ko Phi Phi. But before we went to this great place, we finished our research project proposal, our tourism test and the last week of seminars and other classes at Rangsit University Bangkok.

After the elephant festival in Surin our group had two more weeks to prepare our project proposal and to prepare for the test at the end. Our research teacher, mister Prantik, has helped and learned us a lot about research and the different research methods we could use in the village Baan Hua Tung, which we will visit the in the coming weeks. During week three and four of our stay in Bangkok, the group has worked very hard together to prepare the research proposal and the presentation. To reward ourselves for the good teamwork, we went to Bangkok on Saturday the 21th of November to enjoy the local market close to Mochit called: Chatuchak. The market was very big, lots of tourists and great local people who were selling their products. After the local market we went to China Town, just a few minutes by sky train and a few minutes with the boat. China Town was different from the rest of Bangkok, Chinese temples, food and local markets. At a Thai restaurant we had dinner and in the evening we met Hendrijetha on Koh San Road to enjoy the night life, including some drinks, eating grasshoppers on the street and were cured by doctor fishes. They ate the dead skin of our feet.

The next day our group worked on the project and received some feedback of our research teacher which we took in consideration. In the next days we worked together to finish the project, learn more about Thai culture and language from our Thai teacher misses Beer. A thanks giving party was given on the 26th of November and we joined the party, had some great Thai food and live music from students of the university.

On Wednesday the 28th we had dinner on the 83rd floor of the Sky Tower in Bangkok. We enjoyed the Thai food and the amazing view of the city at night. Afterwards we went to the State Tower to have a drink at the highest open air bar of the world, at the 64th floor.

The next days we, together with the seminars of Hendrijetha and the research workshops of Prantik, developed our research proposal. After we received feedback from the teachers and misses Nitsch, we have given a presentation about our proposal, the same day we have send the project proposal to Brigitte Nitsch, Pai (from cbt – i) and Prantik. On Thursday in week four we had our CBT test which was a very difficult test for us, but we are sure that we all pass it.

After handing in the proposal and making the test, we went for a cultural/holiday tour to Phuket and Ko Phi Phi. We went snorkeling, enjoying local foods and drinks, relaxing on white beaches and swimming with sharks.

But to all great things comes an end, so we had to get back to Bangkok, Sita Villa, and clean our rooms. The next day, the 10th of December we left Bangkok to start our new adventure in the Mae Klong area where we will stay for three days. After that we headed towards Chiang Mai by night train to start working at our research project.

maandag 23 november 2009

Enough to do and see in Thailand!

Sawadee ka/krab!

We already started our third week in Thailand now, time flies when you're having fun! During the last two weeks we again discovered a lot more of this diverse country.
As mentioned in our previous blog, in our second weekend we went to Koh Chang, one of the amazing islands of Thailand. It was a quite long journey, after our seminar session we took off with the taxi to Mo Chit. To continue by train, followed by bus where we arrived at Trat. Where we continued with a taxi to the boat, after arrived on the island we took another taxi and finally we arrived at the destination with a pick-up truck, Cliff Cottage. All together it took us almost as long as flying from Frankfurt to Bangkok! Our cottage you can say was quite primitive, with just a bed and a mosquito net. So, this was already a good preparation for our adventure in the hill-tribe!
That evening we had a relaxing night on the lounge terrace with sea sight. The next day Nienke-Marije, Reinier, Marlon and Susan woke up at 5 o'clock to see the incredible sunrise at the pier. After the breakfast we went to the city of Bang Bao and we arranged ourselves a private boat for diving, which was fantastic! We have been diving 10 meters deep and enjoyed the sea life. Afterwards we have sailed around a cliff where we saw a lot of monkeys. Unfortunately Jonien got bad news from home that evening and therefore we left early Sunday morning to Bangkok. Overall Koh Chang was a great experience!

This school week we had class from the CBT-I with Pai, who will also be our guide in Chiang Mai and someone who called himself the 'father' of REST, which is now known as CBT-I. Regrettably it was just the four of us this week since Nienke-Marije was lying in bed with food-poisoning and Jonien went back to Holland. With the CBT-I we discussed all about the Thai culture and CBT-I. On Wednesday we had a Bangkok trip to experience some Thai culture for ourselves. We have seen several temples, the lying Buddha, the Golden Mountain, the Grand Palace and we had an interesting interview with the Empower Foundation. Afterwards we went for dinner and looked around in the Pattpong area. Happily Nienke-Marije was also able to join us on Thursdays session where we discussed our Bangkok trip.

We did not have class on Friday since we planned to go to the Elephant Festival in Surin. We left very early Friday morning, at 5.45 to go by taxi to the train-station. Luckily we made it to be there at half past 6 to get our train to Surin! At 12.15 we arrived at the train-station of Surin and we directly checked in at our hotel, which was next to the train-station. We actually expected way more of Surin, the town was not that big and touristic at all. However we amused ourselves by walking around and checking out the area where the elephant festival would be the next day. In the evening we went to a light & sound show which was a little disappointed and besides, we where very cold. We definitely noticed that Surin is way colder already in the evening than it is in Bangkok! The next day we woke up early to go to the Elephant Festival at the stadium. Luckily we could still get tickets for it, for 300 baht. We had a great place! In the middle of the stadium, second row and on the sunny side. It started at around 9 and we have seen the 300 elephants during the show. It was really great and funny as well to see what those elephants can do! They where playing football, where painting, dancing and a lot of more great tricks! At 11 o'clock the show was finished, it was definitely amazing! Further we have been walking through the town and made an elephant taxi trip! Which was also a nice experience, these elephants where just walking through the streets and among the traffic. All the Thai people in this town where staring at us and screaming 'Farang, Falang'! Seems that they almost never see western tourists! In the evening we found a great restaurant, the Farang Connection, where we ordered Wiener Schnitzels and fried potatoes with peans. Something else than rice! :)
Sunday morning we went back to Bangkok early, with the train of 07.55 hr. At 14.30 we where back in our apartments again.

Mondaymorning we have been busy with school and had a lunch at Rangsit. At 14.30 hr we where back at Sita Villa to wait for Jonien, she came back from Holland today! We had a warm welcome for her and we're happy to be with the 6 of us again!

Two weeks to go and our study-time at Rangsit University is already over. We have a lot to do these two weeks, but we're also looking forward to go to Chiang Mai! Still no problems occurred within the group, so we're doing fine! :)

La kon!

Susan, Marlon, Martine, Jonien, Nienke-Marije & Reinier

donderdag 12 november 2009

First days in थाईलैंड..

Sawaddee ka/krab!

Sabai-dee-rue ka?

Welcome on our blog! As part of our study we are in Thailand to do the minor Community Based Tourism, first we study 4 weeks at Rangsit University in Bangkok and after that we will stay 5 weeks in Chiang Mai in a guest house and also with the local communities. We are sure we are going to enjoy our time here!

As you have noticed we already integrated quite well in the Thai community and we even learned a couple of words Thai. We have been in Thailand for almost a week now, and are just starting to get used to different climate and culture. The first day we were rather overwhelmed with the lifestyle of the Thai. It is warm every moment of the day, there are food stands wherever you look and street dogs are laying around all over the city. Even though it is such a completely different world, we have managed to get around quite well the last couple of days. During the weekend we have discovered our surroundings and the city centre of Bangkok by taxi, Tuk-Tuk, skytrain, foot and boat. In most occasions this went quite well, but there were already some moments in which we were tricked by our drivers, or where the taxi driver did not know the way home, and we are sure more of these moments will come in the future. Moreover we have enjoyed the Thai cuisine by going out to little restaurants every single night. We have not been to the Pizza hut once! A lot of different dishes have been tried, for example the fried skin of a salmon, which turned out to be not such a big success for our group. However since we will do research about culinary tourism later on in this minor, it is important for us to try new things.

Moreover we had our first week of school. When you are used to a school such as Stenden University in the Netherlands we could warn you that when you go to Rangsit University you will definitely get lost at least one time during your period there.

The campus consists of at least 12 buildings and offers you, besides educations, a medical centre, a pharmacy, several sporting centers, a shop and several spa centers. We certainly do not have all these facilities in the Netherlands!

The first day of classes we got some introduction lectures about the code of conduct of Thailand and Rangsit University, an introduction lecture about this minor and a lecture of a girl who did the same minor as us a couple of years ago. These lectures were all very interesting and nice to see. Because of these you know a little bit of what to expect during this module . In the evening we had a dinner at the Atrium, the restaurant of the school. This dinner was with the teachers and management board of this module and Stenden Rangsit University. It was nice to get to know those people and have a good dinner with them. Furthermore we had our first seminar about pro-poor and community based tourism and our first fieldwork workshop. During this workshop we worked on aspects that are important for our personal development report. These workshops are about us as an individual and as a group. Also, we had our first Thai class! Here we learned how to do a correct ‘Wai’ and learned our first words and expressions in Thai, which will be very handy. The last workshop we had until now was research. During this workshop we will focus more on the research we will conduct later on in Chiang Mai and the village.

Until now we have done almost everything with the group. Since we are not such a big group this is very easy. Everybody shows him or herself in the group and until now we like each other and we are sure this will remain the same. We have had a lot of fun nights already with a lot of laughter and chats. Last night we organized a movie night, we watched the documentary about cannibal tours. Even though we understood the message of the documentary we failed to see the connection of the movie title with the movie itself. It was kind of outdated and could have been more interesting.

We really enjoyed our first days in Thailand and this weekend we will go to Koh Chang to relax a little bit at the nice beaches over there, so that after this weekend we are ready to start our second week in Thailand!

La kon!

Nienke Marije, Marlon, Susan, Jonien, Martine & Reinier