Ban Rai

Local Weaving Exhibition and Demonstration Centre (Phaichit Weaving Group) is located behind Wat Ban Rai, next to Ban Na Fai Bueng Ta Pho School. Turn into the alley beside the school and go on for 700 metres. It is a group of people weaving cotton cloth with dyes from nature. They also teach others who are interested in weaving. The patterns of the cloth are ancient ones such as Lai Kho Luang, and Lai Kho Kham Duean. There are shops to sell Pha Sin, bedspread, tablecloth, cloth for tailoring and Mon Khit pillow. In this area, there is also a museum of ancient cloth which is more than a hundred years old

Ban I Mat – I Sai Hill Tribe Cultural Centre is located at Mu 4, Tambon Kaen Makrut, under the responsibility of the Hill Tribe Development and Contribution Centre, Uthai Thani, existing in a part of Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary. Most hill tribes are Karen, living peacefully and simply while they still practice their old traditions strictly. The examples of major interesting events are the festival to pay respect to the pagoda where there is a show of sword dancing, and the ceremony to pay respect to the Pho tree.

When the festivals are held, all relatives will return home. Those two events will be held every year in April. The date of the ceremony depends on the readiness of the people in the community; for example, when they finish harvesting. The most important thing is that this village does strictly not allow people to get involved in gambling or drinking alcohol.

Visitors can stay overnight at the Karen village, Chao Wat Yang Daeng Village, or shelters in the cultural centre which houses the Hill Tribe Museum. Please call Tel. 0 5651 2026 from 8.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m. It also sells hand-made products, local woven cloth in natural color, bamboo basketry, and seasonal agricultural goods, such as dried chili.

To get there, from Amphoe Ban Rai, drive along Highway 3011, Ban Rai – Phu Bon route for about 20 km. to the end of the asphalted road. Take a laterite road for another 1 km.

Tham Kret Dao is 1 km. far from Ban I Mat – I Sai Hill Tribe Cultural Centre. It is possible to see the walking route leading to this cave. From its entrance, there is a bamboo ladder leading downward to the cave. It is a massive cave with large stones which can glitter when the light shines on them. The ceiling is full of bats. Villagers bring those bats droppings to make a fertilizer for plants in their fields. It is necessary to bring a torch.

Namtok Tat Dao is a little further from the entrance of Tham Kret Dao. The 9-tiered waterfall flows over rocks and is surrounded by fertile forest.

Botanical Garden is about 5 km. from the cultural centre. It has a natural fresh and comfortable atmosphere. It takes about an hour to walk around. In the garden, there are useful local plants and various species of plants; such as Sadao Pa whose fruits and leaves can be made into an organic repellent, Ton Sabu whose fruits can be used in bathing, washing hair and clothes, Rang Chuet which has a medical property to sober up. Some plants are poisonous such as hair of Chang Rong which can make peopleûs skin painfully itch when touching. Ya Nong – upas trees – has a poisonous sap which hunters in the past applied to the end of their darts that used for hunting.

 

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Termite mushrooms in Thailand

Every year stalls pop up on the 3086 from Kanchanaburi selling termite mushrooms which the local villagers collect from the mountain forests.

Termite mushroom sellers Nong Prue Kanchanaburi

The het khone termite mushroom is regarded by Thais as the king of them all. And at the height of the mushroom madness cars from Bangkok and even further afield can be seen queuing up to buy this expensive and much sought after delicacy.

Termite mushroom "madness" Nong Prue Kanchanabur

They appear when the weather starts to change at the end of the rains. After the termites have swarmed from their nests to establish new colonies. Giving the mushroom spores in the organic matter the ants have gathered, the chance to germinate and sprout.

In the central region het khone are found in the Phetchaburi, Kanchanaburi provinces as well as the mountainous part of Suphan Buri. But the sweetest, tastiest mushroom are to be found in Nong Prue in Kanchanaburi.

This small farming town has a well established reputation as the mushroom capital of Thailand. And the stalls pop up every year at the intersection with the road into the town, transforming it into a bustling market as the customers arrive in search of the freshest and the best mushrooms on offer.

These are special days for the local people who wait patently for the first mushrooms to appear. And just before the rains cease completely there will be extreme hot and oppressive weather which they refer to rawn het or “mushroom heat”.

There is another variety of het khone grows in Isan. They are called het pluak by the locals and can be found at the beginning of the rainy season, from late May through early June. And the villagers gather them for eating rather than to sell. But when the price goes up they find their way to the markets in Bangkok.

 

Wildlife conservation in Thailand

If you want info on what places are suitable try:
www.tigerawareness.co.uk – Phil is in Leicester right now but doing some really good projects in SEA
http://wildlifecalling.org.uk/ – Anita is in Kettering and knows where everybody is so can get info for you
http://www.cee4life.org/ – everybody knows Sybelle but tell her Anthony Hopkins told you to speak to her

use the contact form on those sites and ask them for suggestions

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