This page is a collection of the planning & preparatory information that was disseminated before the short-term mission trip to Thailand occurred. For pictures and reports of the actual trip experience, please visit the Trip Highlights page.
Destination: Na Toey, Phang Nga province
We have been assigned to Na Toey, a farming village of about 7,000 people located in the Khok-Kloi district in the province of Phang Nga. The immediate surroundings are natural forest, a rubber tree plantation, mountains, waterfalls and the sea.
We will be working with a new Habitat affiliate that originated with the international disaster relief effort after the 2004 tsunami. Over 250 Habitat house have already been constructed in the tsunami-impacted area. They transitioned into an independent Habitat for Humanity affiliate in October 2006, and we are the first Global Village team to work with them.
The Phang Nga province of Thailand which is located in the southern part of the country. Although lesser known than Phuket, the area just to the south that we heard so much about after the tsunami of December 2004, Phang Nga actually suffered more tsunami damage than any other place in Thailand.
The people in Phang Nga thrive on agriculture, notably rubber and rice plantations. They also attract considerable tourism with natural beauty ranging from towering mountains on the interior to picturesque beaches and bays punctuated by unique limestone islands.
For a broader view of the entire country, please see our About Thailand page.
Photo courtesy of Jack Kingsley
Habitat house construction in Thailand
This picture, which was taken by a fellow volunteer who has led four Global Village trips to Thailand, shows that most HfH houses are simply four plaster-finished concrete block walls with a metal roof supported by C-bar trusses. Options for electric wiring and plumbing are included in the houses, which average 36 square meters (386 square feet). It normally takes about 15 days to build one house.
However, we expect a different process in Na Toey that has grown out of the tsunami disaster relief work. For efficiency and speed, houses are constructed using a newer interlocking earth block and non asbestos roof tile method.
The work is divided between a "production center" and the individual house sites. We expect that our team will be doing some work in in both locations.
Photo courtesy of Imre Klaasen
Climate & Weather
Based on this summary from WordTravels.com, we are going to be in Thailand at the most comfortable time of the year:
High temperatures and humidity levels are experienced throughout the year. The country is hottest between March and May, and monsoon season runs from June to October. In September and October much of the country suffers from flooding, particularly in the north, north eastern and central regions. The cool season, most favored by visitors, runs from November to February.
The average high temperatures during our visit will probably be in the mid- to upper-eighties, with overnight lows in the high-sixties to low-seventies.
We are told that the Na Toey area is in a tropical zone and although the weather is generally hot, there is constant rainfall year-round due to the 2 monsoon seasons. During May to October, the southwest monsoon creates large waves on the Andaman side. The northeast monsoons wreck havoc on the Gulf of Thailand coastlines during the months of November to February.
We've promised all along that we will be staying in simple, safe, inexpensive housing, and now we have final confirmation that we will be at Sawasdee Lagoon. The tents appear to be neat and orderly, with a solid footing. We have made arrangements to leave valuables at the office to minimize security issues. The facility is relatively close to our construction site (about 15 minutes by van), and provides some lovely extra activities like biking and enjoying nature. Although it has been recommended that we do not swim in Sawasdee Lagoon, that should not be a problem because there is a picturesque swimming hole with a waterfall near the construction site. We are still working out the meals details, hopeful that we can eat our breakfast at the Lagoon and have lunch brought out to the construction site. All meals will be prepared with clean water and under sanitary conditions appropriate for our "gringo" stomachs.
Our last three nights in Thailand will be in Phuket as we enjoy 2 days of R&R before departure. In sharp contrast to our work days accommodations, we will stay at the luxurious Naithonburi hotel.
Balancing our building and advocacy work will be some R&R time to further explore the Thai culture.
Photo courtesy of Jack Kingsley
- Sundays in between our build days will be a time to experience Thai worship and getting to know the area markets, museums, etc.
- One Sunday we will visit the resort at PhiPhi island. A Google image search turns up many photos, and this PhiPhi Phuket travel site gives some additional information.
- We will visit Phangnga Bay and see James Bond Island. See this travel site for pictures and descriptions and this Yahoo forum for a few travelers' reviews.
- On the last day we will unwind with some sightseeing and shopping around Phuket.
- Optionally, some of the team will remain an additional 5 days to explore a bit more of Thailand. We will journey to the Chiang Mai area in the northwest corner of the country, and end up with a day or two in Bangkok. We hope to visit the Thai Elephant Conservation center in Chiang Mai, where we see an earlier Habitat Global Village team playing in this picture.
Although the actual cost of the trip will not be finalized until we know exactly how many people join the team, we believe following guidelines to be in the ballpark. The total price is likely to be about $2,800 to $3,600 per person.
|Round trip airfare. Although we will negotiate a package through Twin Horizons Travel, you are free to make your own arrangements.||$1,200 to $1,500||GV Team or travel agent|
|Food, lodging, ground transportation and activities in Thailand||$900 to $1,100||HFHI|
|Travel health insurance||$60||HFHI|
|Donation to Habitat for Humanity International to support the Global Village program||$100||HFHI|
|Donation to HfH Thailand for house materials||$350||HFHI|
|Immunizations and malaria tablets||$0 to $275||Clinic|
|U.S. Passport (must apply for renewal if expiration is earlier than Sep 1, 2007)||$100||State Department|
|Thai visa, exit tax, etc.||$15||GV Team|
|Columbus GV Team Administration||$35||HFHI|
|Optional donation for tools||$50||GV Team|
Health & Safety Information
Fortunately, we are traveling to a relatively safe area. Nonetheless, it is prudent to be aware of some standard precautions that apply to all of our trips. If, after reading the standard precautions, you wish to visit the Centers of Disease Control site, click here to jump to the Thailand page.
Thoughts from Dinner on 19-Dec-06
Sunday, Dave, Regina, Marge, John, Ben, Scott and his wife & I had a great meal at a Thai restaurant near our home. After looking at the menu, some team members are interested in asking Professor Nong, "How do you say "mild - not hot?" Anan Klailee, the owner, joined us for about 30-40 minutes to talk about how much fun we are going to have in Thailand. He also shared some traveling advice:
* Bargain - when you are making a purchase - especially if you are a tourist! For example, if a seller quotes you $10 for an item, offer $2.00 to $2.50 as a counter offer and be willing to settle for about 35 - 40% ($3.50 or $4.00)
* Phuket, Bangkok and Chiang Mai are very different from each other. Phuket - the pace is slow and touristy. Bangkok is very fast paced and international. Northern Thailand is much more rural and reminiscent of the past in attitudes and culture. The language and food are also different.
* For those who have time in Bangkok - be sure to see the floating market. Go early (6:00-6:30 a.m.) because most of the activity is done by 8:00 or 8:30a.m. You can catch a boat for $5 and buy some breakfast and eat while you float around.
* The other "must see" in Bangkok is Wat Arun - known as the temple of Dawn and the grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo, where the Emerald buddha is housed
* Otherwise, Anan, who just returned from Bangkok this past week, said to be prepared for traffic jams!
I also asked Anan what he would recommend for inexpensive gifts for our community leaders. He said that anything made in the USA is a big hit. We will bring Greater Columbus HFH t-shirts and he also suggested some Ohio State t-shirts. He is amazed how many people he meets at home who follow OSU sports - especially the football program!
Our HFH-GC is also making a sign, in both English and Thai, that the affiliate can hang on the construction site.
We have a pro soccer team here and I will check to see if they will donate some balls (deflated) that we can bring. Otherwise we'll plan to make school gift purchases there.
Ben, our only team member who has traveled to Thailand has some souvenir suggestions:
"The theme you will see repeated over and over in Thailand is that of the epic poem "The Ramayana," the story of the good Prince Rama of Ayodhya and his fight with the demon king of Lanka, Ravana. Ravana kidnaps Rama's wife Sita, and Rama fights to get her back. He is aided by Hanuman and the monkey gods. This is an Indian tale, but it carries over into all the regions of Southeast Asia.
In Thailand, the kings were Rama I, Rama II, etc. I don't know which Rama the current king is.
The characters of the Ramayana are depicted in various ways throughout the country. So, bass relief characters on temples will include those from the tale. Also, there are temple rubbings, shadow puppets, etc. all with Ramayana characters. My friend even bought a hand carved ivory chess set where the pieces are from the Ramayana. Among souvenirs, the Ramayana characters will be prominent. http://www.mythome.org/RamaSummary.html
Silver items are good purchases, and there is a kind of silverware called neilloware. From the government Public Relations Department, "One of the most sought after objects from Nakhon Si Thammarat Province in southern Thailand is neilloware, or in Thai, khruang thom. The delightful and precious silverware, elaborately patterned and lacquered, is, in fact, identified with this southern province with a long history and rich cultural heritage."
If you are interested in jewelry, you might consider buying a star sapphire or something with rubies, although the Burmese rubies are a deeper red than the Thai ones.
Maybe bring back some temple rubbings. Almost all that you can get are copies, not originals, but they are attractive and cheap. When we were there in 1970, Karen bought a couple of the shadow puppets.
In ceramics, the thing is Thai Celedon. You can get all sorts of items made in this way.
The Thais also have tableware made of bronze.
In Bangkok, you will find many art galleries with very nice oil paintings. Many of the Thai artists were schooled in France, and it shows in their work."
Looking forward to our journey together,