Europe, Asia · 10 Days · 38 Moments · March 2017

TDS's excursion to Thailand

25 March 2017

Last sunset of the Thailand-field-trip!

24 March 2017

Last dinner together at the beach
Appointment at the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism at the Prince of Songkla University in Phuket (2/2) We also engaged in a discussion about the sustainability and the future of tourism in Thailand and especially in Phuket, and got some new insights about how the members of the faculty at the university perceive the role of mass tourism in the area. It was interesting to see that perspectives on the topic differed across the participants of the discussion, also depending on their cultural and academic background. We as master students from Germany definitely profited from these insights and were able to form a more holistic picture on the importance of mass tourism in Thailand.
Appointment at the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism at the Prince of Songkla University in Phuket (1/2) There we had an appointment with the international coordinator Colin Gallagher and Prof. Dr. Pornpisanu Promsivapallop of the Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism. The faculty offers Thailand’s first international hospitality and tourism program on a bachelor and master level. We were presented a lot of facts and figures about this program and had a guided tour around the premises of the faculty such as a kitchen, a restaurant and hotel rooms for training purposes. We were also shown around the rest of the campus, which hosts a few additional faculties. Big differences to our schools in Germany were the special facilities the school in Phuket had to offer such as an airplane to train the students in as well as the above-mentioned hotel and restaurant.
Lunch time!
Breakfast at the morning market On Friday morning we all went to a local market in Kuraburi to enjoy some real Thai breakfast like rice soup and some baked sweets as well as (extremely sweet) coffee or tea. After discovering the different foods and drinks the vendors had to offer (like literally all kinds of seafood incl. sharks, as well as entire pig heads), the busses took us to the Prince of Songkla University in Phuket. The University was established in 1967 and is one of 9 research universities in Thailand.

23 March 2017

Reflecting our experiences
After lunch and before we left the National Park we had a meeting with the National Park authority who gave us an impression of how the park and the Moken village deal with tourism generally, what they want to improve in the long-run and what the park and its traditions and culture is all about. The two days ended by travelling back by speedboat to Kuraburi where we had an overnight in the bungalows of the Kurabari resort.
After snorkeling we met the Mokens again and they thaught us about their culture. Besides spear fishing we have learned how to row a boat in their traditional way. Finally we had some traditional music with drums and singing.

22 March 2017

In the Moken village we were welcomed by the head of the village who told us about the traditions and the history of his people. He also outlined the consequences the tsunami in 2004 had on the village. They were severe but otherwise not affecting the whole island. Nevertheless two villages with together 300 inhabitants lost their homes.
Before we headed to the Moken Village we had a quick view on our tents. The ones in the first row were just a few steps away from the shore and had a perfect view on the water. We put our stuff in the tents and were quickly back on the boat to visit the Moken Village.
In the morning we had breakfast with our homestay families. After a short drive we arrived at the pier to take the speed boat. With approximately 60 km/h we headed to the Koh Surin Islands. Shortly before we got to the island we switched our mean of transportation. The last mile we travelled in a longtail boat. So we could see the crystal clear turquoise water and could not wait to dive into it.

21 March 2017

Homestays 3/3 During our meet up with the villages major, all students got dressed up in typical Islamic cloths. Therefore our female students had to wear a typical Abaya, which is a long dress and a hijab, which is known as headscarf. Our male students had to wear a Qamis, which is also kind of a long shirt and a Chachia, which is a cap you wear for praying.
Homestays 2/3 After we had a chance to meet our host families for the night we all went together to the beach for a beautiful sunset and a picnic with different Thai dishes our host families had prepared for us. During our dinner we got to know our families a little bit more, before we headed back with them to their houses.
Homestays 1/3 After we left the Andaman Discoveries office in Kuraburi, we headed to our accommodations for the night. We had the chance to get to know the Thai culture and the way of living in Thailand in a authentic way, by staying in the local community in Ban Talae Nok. The main source of income for the community of Ban Talae Nok is fishing and farming, but ever since the home stay program, most families earn up to 30% more. The village is a traditional Muslim village, where over 99% of the population are Muslims. Therefore we not only had the chance to get to know a little bit more about the Thai culture but also about Muslims way of living it.
Andaman Discoveries 2/2 The tour operator was founded by an American volunteer who had worked with different local communities in the past and wanted to help them after the tsunami. Ever since then his and the work of his employees is guided to help out communities, therefore 50% of the revenue goes into the communities foundation. Most of the earnings from Andaman Discoveries are generated through their packages they offer, such as home stays, volunteer programs and tour programs for study groups.
Andaman Discoveries 1/2 Since we left Bangkok we had a private tour guide called Tui who introduced us to the Thai culture, the nature and showed as Thailand in a different perspective. She works for Andaman Discoveries, where we had our last appointment for that day before we headed to our home stay that night. Andaman Discoveries is a small tour operator with 5 employees and is located in the southern part of Thailand in the region Phang Nga and specializes in community based tourism. Their main purpose as a social enterprise is to protect and serve the needs of local communities.
Our appointment at the Yaowawit School started with a typical thai style lunch buffet and a warm welcome from the schools teachers. The School was funded in 2006 by the German Philanthropist Philipp Graf von Hardenberg and is registered as a non-profit organization. In the beginning the main purpose of the school was to help out children who where affected by the 2004 tsunami and ever since then many children joined the school program. Now more than 130 students live on the campus and are taught in different areas such as tourism, agriculture and basic things to prepare them for life. During our appointment, we made a tour on the property, where we had a chance to see the different school facilities such as classrooms, the kindergarten, swimming pool area, their own gardening and solar project. After the walk we headed back to the vans, which took as then to our last appointment for that day.
We started our day early in the morning with a morning mist safari on typical long tail boats and had a chance to see different birds and monkeys which are living in the Khoa Sok National Park. Shortly after the breakfast we checked out of our raft houses and left the National Park to head to our next appointment at the Yaowawit School-Lodge.

20 March 2017

After we left the jungle, we did a night safari by boat spotting hornbill birds and watching monkeys jumping from tree to tree.
The National Park offers overnight stays in wooden raft houses providing a unique experience for tourists. After check-in and enjoying a delicious lunch, we went to an amazing jungle track, crossing rivers, passing giant trees and bathing in waterfalls.
Finally, we could start and our private shuttle busses transferred us to the Khao Sok Lake pier where we changed to traditional long tail boats. Surrounded by green hills, towerlike limestone karst formations and clear water, we enjoyed the breathtaking landscape of the park. It was established in 1980 as Thailand’s 22nd National Park ad aquires a total of 738.74 sqkm in Phanom and Ban Takhun districts of Surat Thani.
After a quite comfortable journey in the night train from Bangkok to Surat Thani, we arrived early in the morning - just in time for breakfast - and met our guide Tui who is working for Andaman Discoveries. To be prepared for our stay in the Khao Sok National Park she taught us some important Thai vocabulary and also recommended us to leave most of our luggage in the headquarter.

19 March 2017

Night train to Surat Thani 🚂
Day off - Exploring Bangkok, relaxing ... Some of us visited the Grand Palace, Wat Pho with the Lying Buddha and the Taling Chan Floating Market

18 March 2017

Bangkok Food Tours We started our food journey in two groups. Our guide showed us some parts of BKK, which where close to our hotel and its various thai food styles. One unique aspect of the tour were the restaurants, which were owned by Thais who normally​ would not have any contact with tourists. The presented food included a wide range of soups, currys, sweets and others. Additionally, we learned about the different backgrounds of the food and the part of the asian culture it came from. After the tour most of us finished the last day in Bangkok on a rooftop bar recommended by our food tour guide.
Bangkok Food Tours Appointment On saturday we got introduced to the company "Bangkok Food Tours". They started offering tours in 2011 with local food and guides being their USP. We also learned about their new project 'The Smiling Tuk Tuk'. This project trains divers to be able to communicate with the tourists and understand what they want. After the presentation we were ready to experience one of their tourism products ourselves: The food tasting tour Historic Bangrak.

17 March 2017

Appointment at the international NGO ECPAT/ The Code The last appointment of the day was with ECPAT (End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism) and "The Code". First Dorothy Rozga (executive director of ECPAT) gave us an insight of what the NGO is all about. They were founded in Thailand 26 years ago. In the beginning they ran a study on the topic and found out that this issue is a worldwide problem especially in tourism since it is hard to prosecute tourists. It is also very hard to get numbers because it is a very sensitive subject and there is no typical offender. Organisations like UNWTO, Interpol, UNICEF, save the children and AccorHotels are only some of the supporting companies of the study. They aim to raise awareness and to implement guidelines. The Code is also a NGO working on implementing guidelines for hotels and other stakeholders on how to act ethically correct in certain situations.
Appointment on Medical Tourism 2/2 The Bumrungrad International Hospital is well known for its top notch medical treatments and luxury hospital stay among its 1.1 million patients per year. Most of the patients travel from surrounding countries and the Middle East to get treatment. Also most of the doctors are international or had international training. The special service off the hospital also includes top communication, pre check ups, embassy assistance as well as international insurance coordination. Additionally the hospital holds a lot of accreditations, certifications and recognitions on international basis, such as "Joint Commission International" and the award of "the international hospital of the year 2015". In 1990 the Bumrungrad international hospital also established a foundation, dedicated to providing healthcare to underprivileged Thais. After the presentation we had a guide tour through the luxury facilities of the hospital.
Appointment on Medical Tourism at the Bumrungrad International Hospital Mr. Sudi Narasimhan (Corporate Director of Marketing and Business Development)1/2 After our lunch break in the shopping mall terminal 21, where each floor is dedicated to a different destination, we made our way to our next appointment. We were welcomed at the Bumrungrad International Hospital which is the largest private hospital in the world based on international patient numbers and one of the largest private hospitals in south east Asia. This really modern hospital offers all kinds of treatments. For example there is a woman center, urology center and Dental Centre and provides free Wi-Fi for the patients staying in the hospital Mr. Sudi Narasimhan gave us deeper insight on the work of the of the hospital especially especially in terms of medical tourism. It opened as a 200 bet facility in 1980 the hospital. Nowadays it offers 580 inpatient beds and an additional capacity of around 5500 outpatients per day.
Shop around the World! Bangkok's latest themed shopping-mall!
Appointment at German Embassy Our second day in Thailand started with a big breakfast at the Narai Hotel and a long walk through the morning heat of Bangkok to our first business appointment at the German Embassy. There Ms. Gebauer and Mr. Adam talked about general background information as well as their duties at the embassy. The German Embassy in Bangkok exists since the 1960th and employs 40 people from Germany and furthermore 60 Thais. The employees engage in the following departments: politics, economy, culture, law, press and administration. Germany and Thailand are linked for more than 150 years when the kingdoms of Preußen and Siam started to work together. Nowadays more than 600 German companies are based in Thailand and around 700.000 German tourists are visiting Thailand every year.

16 March 2017

First night in Bangkok: enjoying some delicious Thai food
After the arrival and the check in at the hotel we made a guided walk and boat trip on Chao Praya River to Khao San Road to get a first impression about Bangkok and an overview about the city.
Bangkok Narai Hotel - Our accommodation for the next few nights
Arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport

15 March 2017

Ready for boarding to Bangkok
Flight to Bangkok 🛫 Meeting point at the airport :-) let the trip begin