Bodhi Garrett lost his home, his job, and most everything he had in the tsunami that struck Thailand in December 2004. In spite of this personal setback, Bodhi used the tragedy as inspiration to get busy; and get busy he did. He formed North Andaman Tsunami Relief in early 2005 and has morphed this into Andaman Discoveries - a responsible tour operation. In Bodhi's words: "We started by doing relief projects FOR community members, then we progressed to development projects WITH community members, now we are assisting with projects led BY community members."
Background & History Of Andaman Discoveries
Andaman Discoveries is a leader in sustainable tourism and development in Thailand. We have been working with tsunami-affected communities to provide authentic community-based tours, study and service trips, and volunteering opportunities since 2005. We are a social enterprise, and our programs benefit both the guest and the host - providing genuine benefit to local people and fascinating insights into a unique way of life for visitors.
Andaman Discoveries was founded as a relief organization in the wake of the 2004 tsunami, and has implemented over 150 projects to help local communities move from disaster to sustainable development.
Andaman Discoveries is based in Kuraburi, a relatively undeveloped area just north of the resorts of Phuket and Khao Lak. The cultural diversity and spectacular natural beauty of the region make it a fascinating place to explore. Pristine jungle, untouched beaches and coral reefs provide habitat for rare wildlife. Muslim, Buddhist and Moken villages live side by side in harmony. Fishermen and farmers still make a living from their traditional livelihoods. These friendly people invite you to experience their traditional way of life and explore the diverse eco-systems of the area.
Visitors have the opportunity to learn about the traditional culture of the local people and take part in day to day village activities. Your involvement helps to support the long-term economic rehabilitation of the region in the wake of the 2004 tsunami, and to protect the culture and environment of the region from encroachment of mass tourism.
Andaman Discoveries works with eight communities in the area to provide:
• Volunteering opportunities with local schools, orphanages, and conservation projects; and
• Tailor-made Study and Service Tours for schools, universities and other groups;
• Community based tours for individual travelers, families and small groups;
• Excursions to Koh Surin National Park and island eco-resorts.
'Putting together supplies for reparations to squid traps' Copyright © Andaman Discoveries, All Rights Reserved
Philosophy & Vision
Based in southern Thailand, Andaman Discoveries is committed to enabling self-sufficiency and autonomy in the area of community-based tourism and community-led development. Andaman Discoveries acts as the bridge to connect communities who want to participate in tourism to visitors and volunteers who want to experience traditional lifestyles and pristine eco-systems, away from traditional touristy destinations. When supporting Andaman Discoveries, you give villagers the chance to participate in tourism, bringing empowerment, unity and identity amongst the community.
Possible Voluntary Service Activities In Which Voluntourists Would Participate
Andaman Discoveries volunteer programs have been designed to support local organizations and local people. We work with carefully selected local partners that provide essential care and services to disadvantaged children in Southern Thailand. Our partners include a school for disabled children, an orphanage, and a learning center for Burmese children.
Andaman Discoveries staff will make sure that you have all the information and support you require during your placement. One of our team will meet you on your arrival, introduce you to the project staff and provide you with a detailed pre-placement briefing on the project, the local area, and Thai culture and customs. We can also provide you with a Thai phrasebook, teaching resources and advice to help you settle in and get started.
Southern Thailand Orphanage
This small locally run orphanage in cares for 25 children who, for one reason or another, are unable to live with their natural families. Thanks to the warm hearts and hard work of orphanage staff and volunteers, these children now have a safe, happy and supportive environment in which to live and grow. Volunteers make a vast difference in the lives of these children, by being a friend, mentor and role model. Whether you are talented at teaching, baking, art, computers, writing, sewing, or gardening, there is a way for you to contribute.
Burmese Learning Center
The children of Burmese migrants in Thailand are faced with a set of challenges that differ from other children in Thailand. They do not have legal citizenship in Thailand, nor are they recognized as citizens of Burma. Most Burmese migrant children are unable to enter the formal Thai education system.
Teaching English in a Burmese Learning Center is a valuable way to make a positive impact in these children’s lives. The ability to communicate in English is a vital asset for Burmese youth, as they venture out into the working world. You will help to improve the lives and possibilities for Burmese youth living in Thailand; and you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in both Thai and Burmese cultures and languages.
Volunteering with disabled children is a valuable way to spend some of your time overseas. This Special Education Center in Phuket provides education for disabled, autistic, and deaf children aged 4 to 16. The school aims to provide the children with a caring and stimulating environment to help them realize their potential in life. The school cares for around 25 children who come to the school each day from the surrounding area.
Possible Touristic Activities In Which Voluntourists Would Participate
The cultural and biological diversity of the North Andaman coast of Southern Thailand make it a fascinating place to explore. The region boasts two of the world's oldest ecosystems: tropical rainforest and coral reefs. The area also has extensive mangroves forests, beautiful beaches and crystal clear waterfalls. The people of the area are Muslims, Buddhists and Moken sea gypsies, many of whom still live a traditional lifestyle, making a living through small scale fishing and farming. Thai cuisine is world famous for its delicate blend of spices, fresh seafood, spicy salads, curries and noodle dishes.
An Andaman Discoveries experience can include a range of activities:
- Village life: get to know the villagers and take part in daily activities such as fishing, rubber tapping, shelling cashew nuts or making fishing nets or squid traps. Pay a visit to a traditional local market and help your Thai hosts prepare mouthwatering Thai meals from the fresh local ingredients.
- Conservation activities: help the local youth group with mangrove conservation, participate in a beach clean up or help with the conservation of rare orchids.
- Nature based adventures: learn about the diverse eco-systems of the area and the exotic wildlife, including rare flowers, hornbills and gibbons. Tour the mangrove forest by long-tail boat, hike in the jungle, swim in a waterfall, snorkel in tropical waters, or simply relax on a deserted beach and watch the stunning North Andaman sunset.
- Handicraft activities: join one of the local handicraft groups and learn about how the communities make natural handmade soap, batik prints, thatched roof pieces or recycled handmade greeting cards.
You will be transferred from Phuket International Airport to Khao Sok (approximately 2.5 hours). Khao Sok National Park has scenic limestone mountains and a large reservoir that was formed by the Ratchaprapha dam. The park comprises the largest area of virgin forest in Southern Thailand, with abundance of wildlife such as gibbons, deer, wild boar and wild elephants. Relax in a tree house with beautiful surrounding of rainforest and limestone cliff. Book activities of your choice for the next day. Activities include: elephant trekking, kayaking, hiking, night safari and tubing. Overnight in Khao Sok.
After breakfast, enjoy your activities in Khao Sok. Overnight in Khao Sok. (B)
After breakfast, transfer to Andaman Discoveries office in Kuraburi (approximately 1.5 hours), where you will learn about how this organization helped the tsunami recovery efforts. Transfer to Ban Talae Nok (approximately 45 minutes) and meet your host family, settle in, and have lunch there. After lunch, use your creativity to make a traditional batik and traditional roofing with nipa palm. Relax on the deserted beach and watch the sunset in the evening, and then enjoy dinner at the homestay. Overnight at a homestay in Ban Talae Nok. (B,L,D)
Enjoy a traditional Thai breakfast in the morning. Learn how to make soap with natural ingredients with the local soap cooperative, which was formed after the tsunami to provide secondary income to the villagers. Relax in the village or help with the homestay family to prepare lunch. In the afternoon, learn how to make Thai desserts. Farewell to the villagers and depart for Kuraburi at 15:30. After a brief feedback session, transfer to the nearby resort and relax. Overnight in Kuraburi. (B,L)
You will be transferred to Kuraburi Pier after breakfast. Koh Surin National Park consists of 5 islands approximately 60km off the coast of mainland Thailand in the Andaman Sea. The park has fine white sandy beaches, thick jungle, crystal-clear waters, and the most extensive coral reef in Thailand. Your guide will take you to various snorkeling sites and have time to relax on the island. Overnight in a tent in Koh Surin National Park. (B,L,D)
Activities in the morning may include: snorkeling or walking on the nature trail. After lunch, you will be transferred back to the mainland (1.5 hours) and then to Phuket International Airport (2.5 hours). (B)
Phone: +66 (0) 87 917 7165
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