A different Thailand: staying with sea nomads
Do you remember? Some time ago, we addressed the problem of “overtourism” in a blog post. When entire regions suffer from the burden of tourism, we need new concepts and approaches. Community-based tourism is one of these approaches, ensuring that everyone involved benefits from tourism: On the one hand, you get to know the country and its people much better and in a more authentic way, on the other hand the locals also benefit from your vacation in a lasting way. Let’s have a look at a very special example: a trip to a Moken village in Thailand.
At home on the seas
The Moken are a semi-nomadic people – often also referred to as sea gypsies or sea nomads – living, among other places, in the eastern Andaman Sea. They received public attention due to the media coverage following the Tsunami in 2004, because the Moken were some of the few people who were able to interpret the signs and thus to survive and save travelers. If you take a closer look at the history of the Moken, it quickly becomes clear why this was possible: They know the sea better than anyone else, because it has always been the basis of their existence and their home for a large part of the year – they went ashore only during the monsoon season.
From fishing to tourism
Whereas in the past, the Moken made their living out of fishing, the rise of industrial fishing made this increasingly difficult. And there was another factor complicating their lives: more and more frequently, they were forced to settle down. By losing their traditional way of live, they often also lost part of their culture and identity. In this context, community-based tourism is a great opportunity, because it promotes the preservation of their culture and at the same time ensures them an appropriate income.
Authenticity instead of a tourist show
This is why projects such as the one of the Tung Dap community in Phang Nga are very sustainable. They have nothing in common with the shows for tourists that are offered sometimes. Instead, travelers have the opportunity to become part of the community for three to seven days and get exciting insights into the everyday life of the local Moken. In addition to the homestay experience, the program includes workshops on traditional weaving techniques as well as snorkeling and boat trips that give you the chance to try out the impressive technique of spearfishing. An excursion to the forest gives you some fascinating insights on methods of using local plants for cooking or for medical purposes.
Spend a few days as a local
You can book a tour like this through Andaman Discoveries, which has been originally founded as an initiative for reconstruction after the tsunami (read more on the initiative in this blog post). Besides the tours to Tung Dap, you will find many other tours with a similar focus here, for example the Khaosok Lake homestay program in the rainforest or Leeled Village located in the mangrove forests, giving you the opportunity as well to take part in the life of locals and get to know local nature, culture and traditions. Depending on the tour you choose, the focus will be on fishing or vegetable growing, weaving or musical performances – and of course on the impressive nature surrounding the villages. One thing is for sure: it will be an unforgettable experience.