We had a stupendous season of study and service groups and specialized groups that fall into an ever growing niche of young adults and people that choose to travel with the mindset of immersing in the local culture in a sustainable way and giving back to local communities in whatever way is needed. 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, Check out our website. CLICK HERE
Hilversum School from the Netherlands
Coming back for the sixth year for their Community and Service work program the Hilversum school has been fostering relationships with the Burmese Learning Center and the homestay village of Ban Talae Nok. This year they focused on education and the beautiful of school grounds. For the service
project at the Burmese Learning Center, they made a small underground retaining wall. The BLC has lost over 1.5 feet of top soil each monsoon season, creating a problem with erosion and making the ground structures prone to cracking. The wall will keep the under and top soil in place, allowing for a stronger building structure. They also created new murals in the bathroom focused on teeth brushing and hand washing. We always say that school groups can fill direct needs for communities and schools. A testament to this was the first ever English camp at our partner school of Baan Triam that hosted 18 local Thai government schools. The schools have never had the budget or Western speaking groups to provide their students with this opportunity. The Hilversum students, in partnership with the Thai teachers at each school, provided fun rotational English lessons to 150 Thai students for 2 days. They had stations like weather, directions, ordering at restaurants and basic conservation. On the last day, hugs were given and tears were shed, but more importantly everlasting friendships were made. 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.
“This trip is by far one of the bets experiences I have had in my young life. The ability to immerse myself in Thai culture and be welcomed so openly was an amazing experience. I know that this is not the last time I will be in Thailand and that is due to this trip. Truly remarkable!”
“The village was very cozy and a great way to see another side of Thailand. I greatly appreciate that the families took us in, they were very friendly and helpful. The BLC and the camp were great because we also got to interact with the local kids.”
Marianapolis Prep School, USA
We welcomed Marianapolis Prep school students from America for the first time. They did an intensive 15 day program that we custom made to fit their learning objectives. They began with a five day stay in the Homestay Village of Ban Talae Nok, where Andaman Discoveries staff and the Ban Talae Nok Tourism Team gave the Marianapolis students immersive 2 day Thai culture and language classes. They also traveled to the beautiful Gam islands, made Thai snacks, wove Nippa Palm Roof panels, created handmade soaps and ate a lot of delicious Southern Thai food. The next portion of their trip focused on a service project. They headed to the Burmese Learning Center and gave the outside of the center and playground a new coat of paint, which has not been done since the center was re-built in 2013. The Burmese students excitedly watched and made comments like “it looks like a whole new building” “I am so excited to learn in such a pretty place” “it looks so bright and fun, it makes me excited to come to school” and the best one “the green looks like fresh vegetables, I want to eat it.” Marianapolis also made a donation to the Burmese Learning Center to support the future education of the students. There second service project was with a small mangrove conservation group that focuses on mangrove reforestation and also providing education to the local schools so the young generations learn the importance of mangrove conservation. The students spent 2 days filling bags of dirt to plant mangrove saplings in the nursery, gathered mangrove saplings from the forest and re-planted them in the nursery and planted mature saplings back in the mangrove forest. They were able to begin the process of reforestation for 300 mangrove trees and planted 100 mature mangrove saplings back in the mangrove forest. After immersing to the full extent in Thai culture and giving back to the local communities, the Marianapolis students headed to Khao Sok National Park for some well deserved relaxation time and jungle exploration. They enjoyed a kayak trip with a local community group that prepared coffee and tea in hand made bamboo cups, a night safari where they saw Dusky Languor monkeys sleeping high in the trees and a one day jungle survivor course where they learned to cook pancakes out of a piece of wild bamboo. Their last excursion was to the floating bungalows on Cheow Lan Lake in Khao Sok National Park where they saw an endangered and rare bison “Gaur” on an evening boat safari. Their last morning was highlighted by a bright pink and orange sunrise over the limestone cliffs with gibbons calling in the background. It was a pleasure to host such mature young adults that showed cultural sensitivity, genuine interest and perseverance throughout their program.
“Andaman Discoveries was extremely well prepared and helpful in preparations for the trip. Lindsey and Pi Bee were energetic and patient and made us feel at all times safe and secure while giving us a great experience with many different activities that were meaningful. “
“I loved the variety in the trip regarding the activities. It gave us the opportunity to learn about Thailand and landscape and culture, but also allowed us to learn about the mangroves and their importance and also have more insight in how others live.”
Possibilitarian Retreat, USA
The title says it all, we were happy to begin fostering a relationship with Good Travel that sent us energetic and empathetic participants! Good Travels amazing ethical mindset focuses on traveling with the purpose of giving back and sustaining the local environment. Good Travel also gives 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 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 about our commitment to sustainability, implementing the “reduce-reuse- recycle” concept during the programs. For example day lunches were packed in banana leaves instead of Styrofoam containers. The group began with a trip to the refreshing Sri Phang Nga National Park waterfall and then headed to Kuraburi for overnights at the eco-friendly Greenview Resort. They did a one service project at the Burmese Learning Center to meet the students and center they donated money to. Together with the Burmese Students they created an inspirational mural. The highlight was the Burmese Teacher suggesting writing “grassroots of love”, fostering the center’s vision of community and peace among the students. The group then headed to Ban Talae Nok Village for a two day homestay that allowed them to immerse in cultural and handicraft activities like making Batik, soap and tasty Thai snacks. Before heading to Khao Lak for some relaxing beach time, the group did a one day trip to the Surin islands with the Moken Tourism Team. Our Moken guide Ngueiy welcomed them into the Moken village, sharing stories about their cultural heritage and current situation. We look forward to the 2019 groups coming next year and continuing this great partnership with Good Travel.
“My overall experience was phenomenal. The activities were fun, the connections I have made with the other members of the group will last a lifetime. I feel GOOD about myself and this trip. I made a positive impact on the villages we visited by directly supporting them with purchases and embracing their culture and customs with love and respect”
“I liked everything about this trip! Lindsey was incredible! The Burmese learning center was life changing for me. And the wisdom of the Buddhist Monk is priceless!”
Moken Experience Day trip with Shantitur Travel, Argentina
For 5 years Shantitur Travel from Argentina has been sending a group of 25-30 vivacious Argentineans for a Day Trip with the Moken on the Surin islands. The day trip focuses on learning about the local heritage in the Moken village, providing dance and songs for the Moken Children, relaxing on the white sand beaches with turquoise waters and snorkeling with the knowledgeable Moken guides. Cultural and language barriers have no limits when spirits are high and fun activities are brought forth. We look forward to the group coming again next year to share joy and laughter with the Moken children on the Surin islands.
American School of Hague, Netherlands
For two years students and teachers from ASH come and do service projects with our partner organization, the Foundation for Education and Development that supports the Burmese Migrant Population in Southern Thailand. The ASH students help at a local Burmese Learning Center and also learn about Burmese Culture. To commemorate their time together, ASH sponsors the Burmese students to go on a trip to Khao Sok National Park, including a day tip to Cheow Lan Lake. It is a great time for the ASH students and Burmese students to bond in a beautiful environment and for the Burmese students to have an adventure and vacation that they would never be able to afford on their own.
Yoga and Massage Group, USA
We would like to thank Integral Travel for their amazing group this year who continues to show how patience, positive attitudes and sharing talents can break cultural barriers and plant seeds of friendship for a lifetime! Thanks to the massage group, the hardworking homestay group in Ban Talae Nok Village was able to receive massages and have a morning of relaxation. They also enjoyed a two day program with the Moken Tourism Team on the Surin Islands where their Moken guide, Sutat, led them on amazing snorkeling journey’s, taught them to weave bracelets out of forest Pandanus, row the traditional Moken boat and spear fish.
“This is by far the most amazing trip I have ever been on. It far exceeded my expectations at every turn. Lindsey is fantastic at her vocation and I feel lucky to have had her as our guide/translator. I was so happy to have our students in such good hands. Thank you!”
“My experience in Thailand, thanks to AD, was amazing, but my experience in the village was life changing. My time in the village changed the way in which I want to travel and see the world. The people in the village, specifically my host mom made me feel at home while I was thousands of miles away from my friend and family”
Hong Kong University, China
For the first time, we hosted students from Hong Kong. We were able to send them to a new community conservation group located in Nakha that recently contacted us to host service groups. The community group focuses on mangrove conservation, habitat rehabilitation and also sustainable fishing, and clam harvesting. Hong Kong University was able to help build pens to raise clams for the local community to harvest and sell at the local markets. Hong Kong Students also participated in a homestay program in Ban Talae Nok Village to participate in culturally immersive activities like making a Thai snack, weaving Nippa Palm Roof Panels, fishing on the beach, making soap with the local women’s group(and using it during some monsoon rains), and traveling to the deserted Gam Islands for a lovely picnic on the beach. They also got soccer games going in the evenings with the local kids.
Brittish International School Phuket, Thailand
We were happy to provide day trip excursions for BIA with our new community partner of Ta Ding Daeng Village located near Khao Lak. The village has begun to create eco-tourism day trips that involve learning about the village history and kayaking along the mangrove eco-system. We look forward to working with Ta Ding Daeng Village in the future and are so happy to see new villages coming forth with programs!