Even though it was only 6 days that I got to spend my time at Ban Mae kampong, I really enjoyed the time I got to spend there and the lessons that I learnt from the program. The Homestay program only started about 20 years ago in response to the One Tambon One product. Local people mostly depends on fermented tea and tea production. They also depend on the river which flows through out the village for their electricity and how much King Rama 9 played such an important role in helping the villagers establishing their lives.
I learnt how they make use of the tea leaves and turn it into pillows which are said to help with insomnia and increase your lifespan too. It helps the locals to earn more income from selling is as souvenirs and such. How their religion helps saving the environment, Tree Ordination where they tie an orange cloth around the trees and whoever cut those trees would face consequences, only bad luck will come in their ways. As an exchange student in Chiang Mai, I got to admit I didn’t get to learn about Ban Mae Kampong, but through the program, I got to know that the name actually came from the KamPong flower and that the people here migrated from Doi Suket about 200 years ago. I really love its good atmosphere and a perfect balance of exciting activities and relaxing mountain lifestyles. The area is probably most famous for the Flight of the Gibbon but the homestay program has gotten quite well known too.
The Mae Kampong homestay program has proved to be a big success benefiting visitors and villagers alike. The village acts as a co-operative with the revenue brought into the village used to help local projects and preserve the community. I got to see how the award-winning homestay and various eco-tourism initiatives have helped the Mae Kampong community. The hiking trails around there are great for those wanting to get close and personal with nature, and really study it and even though we got lost, I still think it was an enjoyable experience since we didn’t panic and actually made fun of the situation quite a bit too. I also got to enjoy the delicious tea from the local coffee shop and see why there are people who drive for about an hour just to drink coffee here and relax.
I cannot forget learning Lanna Dance and Mouy Thai. I remember it was so tough my hands still remember the pain from twisting my wrists too much but it was an unforgettable memory. I have always been kind of interested in learning Mouy Thai and that was such a nice memory for me and I actually started to get interested in Lana Dancing and I think it would make an interesting tour program. If we got to include this kind of things with Ban Mae Kampong, it would be even more successful since it would attract more tourists. We got to learn more about elephants and how they take care of them and treat them well.
However, I couldn’t help but notice that the roads are quite dangerous since it is an uphill mountain and it is quite narrow. It made me feel quite unsafe and I really hope they would consider using other methods of transportation or maybe limit amount of car usage by replacing it with public ones or maybe even better environmentally friendly ones. Either way, this program provided me so much knowledge related to both Thai culture and Community based program, how it helps contribute fair amount of income to the locals. This program plays an important role in enhancing better understanding of ASEAN CBT tourism especially the relationship of Asean and Korean youth. I will not forget the meaningful experiences and friends that I have made throughout this program and I hope it will keep going on and on.
By Malenpunareay Lay, CBT Program participant from Cambodia