One of the exciting aspects of Intrepid is that our responsible travel philosophies can translate into assisting local communities in a variety of ways. Intrepid Thailand is involved in a three-way partnership with Nakhon Sri Thammarat Rajaphat University and the Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute (CBT-I), to help students become confident local guides. Travellers on our Colours of Asia trip get to spend time with these wonderful young people and later this year we look forward to excited students joining some of our trips for special work experience.
Peter Richards from CBT-I has recently returned from Nakhon Sri Thammarat, where each Monday and Tuesday Colours of Asia travellers are looked after by the student guides who escort them to the birthplace of Thai Buddhism, Wat Mahataad Temple, and to a Shadow Puppet show by the nationally recognised master artist Suchart Subsin.
“I was just amazed by how much the English and confidence of the students has improved through this collaboration. It’s a real example of tourism benefiting the local community – in this case the students from the vocational university. Assistant Professor Naiyana Tongsrikate has done an exceptional job of coordinating the students and keeping them focused and motivated.
Take Aod, who was so scared of speaking English at the start of the program that he would wear a winter coat so the guests wouldn’t see him shake. He is now cool and confident, explaining difficult aspects of Buddhism to the group and clearly enjoying himself. Or Chai, who still can’t really speak English, but has memorised a long passage about the temple, so that he can participate in the program. The young man is just trying so hard.
Not only are the students happy, but Ajarn Suchart, one of the world’s greatest living shadow puppet masters, is genuinely proud that this project has succeeded in introducing guests from all around the world to the magic of Thai shadow puppetry. His visitors book is full of praise by Intrepid guests. He told me he likes to welcome Intrepid guests because of their ‘sincere laughter’ and ‘getting involved’ and he often invites his friends to visit him on Monday evenings to show them the proof that Thai shadow puppetry is going international!”