Cultural activities are a great way to participate in and learn about the daily lives of the villagers. Even something as simple as preparing a meal with your host family can be an intimate and warming experience that allows you to connect with and appreciate their lives.
Andaman Discoveries has a close relationship and understanding of each village, and our staff is well-respected; when we go into village, we go as longtime friends. This gives you an intimate insight into the daily lives of the villagers you meet.
Many of the villagers are local fishermen, and enjoy having people join them as they go out to lay or collect their traps or nets. The fishermen still use traditional fishing techniques and methods to catch fish, squid and crabs. See them hauling in their traditional fishing nets by hand revealing a bounty of sea life including groupers, red and white snapper, tuna and barracuda. You’ll also learn about sustainable fishing techniques and the variety of traditional traps and nets used to catch squid, lobster, crabs, and fish. You might even be lucky enough to witness a pod of dolphins that frequent the coast.
Cashew Nut Activity
During the month of March, cashew orchards bear their surprisingly pear-shaped fruit. Guests can watch the lengthy process involved in harvesting the cashew nuts and join in the lively roasting process. After this, each cashew nut is individually shelled by hand, ready for sale in the local market.
Crab Farm Visit
Assist villagers in providing a delicious crab meal with a resource that is a vital source of income. There are different aspects of the process you can experience: Building crab boxes, cleaning boxes, removing soft crab and visiting a crab farm. After your hard work, we promise you’ll appreciate the next crab feast you eat.
By simply learning a few Thai words and smiling, you’ll break down the cultural barriers and start to connect with your host family. Informal workshops are an opportunity to share stories, show photographs of your family, and learn more about each other’s culture in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The families are always keen to show you how to wear their traditional sarongs and headscarves, which are a great photo opportunity for everyone back home. In the evenings, community members often gather to listen to local folk singers or watch traditional Thai dances performed by the youth. Depending on the date of your stay, you may participate in a traditional festival or holiday.
Let local villagers introduce you to some of Thailand’s unique local fruit. During the green season of June, July, and August, the fruit orchards come to life. Feast on an exotic array of durians, rambutans, jackfruit, mangosteens, and logans picked straight from the tree. Join in the fun process of selecting ripe fruit then enjoy them immediately or later at the homestay. During the month of March, villages’ sprawling cashew orchards bear their surprisingly pear-shaped fruit. Guests can watch the lengthy process involved in harvesting the cashewnuts and join in the lively roasting process. After this, each cashew nut is individually shelled by hand, ready for sale in the local market.
Want to stay in the village with a host family? Inquire about our homestay accommodation.
Interactive activities with children
Can include playing games or sports at the school or beach. One particular favorite, “Poor Little Turtle,” involves blindfolding all particpants and walking through an obstacle course to the beach — the object is to gain an appreciation for the journey a blind infant sea turtle makes to the sea. Activities with children can also include English lessons in the homestay.
The communities can sometimes use assistance with tasks like dam building and building a shed to protect supplies.
Lunch on a Fish Farm
A Krachang is a traditional floating fish farm, a bit like a floating wooden hut with netted areas to enclose the fish. The Krachang includes a small living area where visitors can watch their delicious lunch being prepared. The visitors can then sit on the open deck, surrounded by mangroves and feast on a selection of mouth-watering Southern Thai curries and freshly caught seafood. You are most welcome to feed the fish, just mind you don’t get splashed!
Making Shrimp Paste
Learn to make a common ingredient used in Thai cuisine: shrimp paste. The paste is often an ingredient in dipping sauce for fish or vegetables.
Making Squid Traps
Catching squid is one of the key livelihoods of the region. Making traps is a continuous activity. Join the local fishermen to tie ropes from floating devices to traps, tie nets around the floating devices, or carry the finished cages to the high-tide mark where the cages go out to sea in the morning.
Natural Rubber Tapping
The Andaman region has a host of rubber plantations. Some of the villages work on rubber plantations. You will notice rows of rubber trees with their characteristic coconut shell collecting pot attached to each one. If you see lots of what looks like bath mats hanging up, that will be the sheets of rubber left out to dry. You will see how the locals process this natural latex, from tapping the tree to rolling it into the finished product. You can even try your hand at rubber tapping; it’s not as easy as it looks! Rubber is main source of income for some of the villagers; it is used to make tires, diving fins, and shoes.
Nipa Palm Weaving
Nipa palm leaves have a variety of uses in traditional in Thai culture, including as roofing material. Try your hand or simply observe as the villagers weave these leaves together. Nipa palm roofing is cheap, durable, and waterproof, and can last up to three to five years. The fresh leaves are also used to wrap sticky rice desserts, or it can be cut, dried, and used as cigarette papers.
Orchid Farm Visit
Orchids provide a colorful, rich tapestry throughout Thailand. Tung Dap is home to an orchid farm with seemingly endless rows of stunning orchids. Meander about the farm while learning about the popular flower in Thailand. A visit to this bright, color-filled farm is sure to develop photographs worth framing at home.
In between making squid traps or being at sea, the local fisherman love to gather food from local ponds. They tend to be quite successful by trapping lots of smaller fish and even the periodic large catfish. Visitors can get muddy by trying to catch the big ones with their bare hands or by throwing weighted nets.
Andaman Discoveries and volunteers assist with numerous teaching activities throughout the year. These range from environmental education, creative workshops, sports camps, competitions with other villages and English fun and games. The most common activity is assisting with English lessons at a local school. However, if you have a special skill and would like to help teach something like an art lesson, please contact us.
Learn how to cook a variety of mouth watering Thai dishes with the experts themselves, the women of the village. These women have culinary skills to rival any five-star chef and will share their skills with you so that when you return home you can impress your friends with an authentic Thai dinner party! Spend a full morning or afternoon in the kitchen with comprehensive demonstration and hands on practice. At lunch or dinner, relax and enjoy the dishes that you created with the villagers.
Thai Dessert Making
For those with a sweet tooth, you won’t want to miss making traditional dessert, or kanom, in the village. There are many varieties of kanom, which is usually made with flour, coconut and sugar. It is a fun and interactive activity and your host will guide you through the entire process of making kanom — and you can enjoy eating it at the end!
The food will be a highlight of any home-stay, and you certainly won’t go hungry! Every meal is like eating out at the best Thai restaurant back home, and the hosts are more than willing to accommodate vegetarians or guests who aren’t haven’t quite got Thai tolerance to chilies!
Leena, International Volunteer Society
University of Birmingham