Conserving and Creating: Helping Build a New Park in Takuapa
I have spent an amazing 4 weeks in Ban Nam Khem, the location of the GVI Phang Nga Projects Base, where I am a conservation volunteer. Everyday is packed with activities of a wide variety such as: carrying out biodiversity surveys in Lampi or Ton Pri, cleaning baby turtles and collecting seaweed to feed them or even carrying out a beach clean. I love every aspect of the work that is being done here.
However, when I think back on my time here, one day will most definitely stand out. One morning a group of five of us conservationists went to a local town called Takuapa.
As we left base camp that morning we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, as Kay the translator had organised the trip. We arrived at a site that consisted of huge man-made lakes. It turned out that we were attending a ceremony to open a new recreational park. The land had previously been an abandoned plot, containing bits of swamp and degraded buildings. It is hoped that the transformation will provide a haven for wildlife, a place for locals to relax and for tourists to visit.
Part of the ceremony involved the group releasing fish, planting reeds on the banks of the lake, as well as trees surrounding the lakes. All of the locals welcomed us with open arms, allowing us to take part in the opening.
It was then that we were actually invited to the opening ceremony itself. It was attended by many people, as well as seven monks.
During the excavation of the swamp a very old tree was found. There were scars on it and so it is thought to have a female spirit in it. It was because of this that the tree was decorated in flowers and laid out in front of us, beside a newly build spirit house. The spirit house consisted of a tall house for protection with a smaller house behind for the spirit to live. There were also two tables for offerings. We sat through the ceremony where the monks blessed the tree and the land.
Fire crackers and rice were thrown around the sprit house and tree.
It was truly an amazing and unique experience and one of the highlights of my time here.
Written by Jessie Somers (Ireland), 4 week Conservation volunteer
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