Klong Rang Jorakhe is a rising star among homestay destinations
The sight of farmers working in rice fields, interface with true rural life and peaceful existence by canals and rivers are all symbolic of Thailand’s agarian society, but the discerning traveller can only see them on postcards or in guide books.
But should the traveller choose to venture off the beaten tourist track, he will know that old allure is still very much alive and in fact thrives in the countryside.
If you happen to be visiting the ancient ruins in Ayutthaya, take the time to venture a little further up _ to Sena district where the Klong Rang Jorakhe community is located _ where the scenery and environment is still very much like it ever used to be _ vast stretches of paddies and typical Thai style houses lining the canals and rivers.
Some families in Sena district have joined the Klong Rang Jorakhe Homestay Project by opening their doors to visitors looking for an alternative place to stay _ other than hotels _ and interested in experiencing the real life of rural people. The project was launched two years ago.
According to Daorueng Rerkbuppha, the project coordinator, six families are participating in the homestay scheme.
Klong Rang Jorakhe translated into English means a canal infested with crocodiles, and so it used to be in the old days. The community that grew up around it derives it name from the canal. But gradually the crocodiles that once thrived in those waters began disappearing and now they are completely gone from the canal.
Untouched by mass tourism, the canal remains very clean and still preserves its rich natural surroundings.
Visitors can experience the way farmers lead their life by the canal. It remains unchanged from the old days even though it’s not far from the temple ruins of Ayutthaya, a prominent tourist destination that attracts millions of visitors every year. On every Buddhist holy day, locals still paddle their boats to the village temple for merit-making.
Since the villagers continue to make their living by growing rice, visitors can see vast stretches of green fields all around, interspersed with traditional Thai style houses along the length of the canal. The air is fresh and clean, the villagers easy going and friendly.
“We once had a group of Japanese tourists who were clearly surprised to see people bathing in the canal. They obviously enjoyed what they saw,” Daorueng said.
The Klong Rang Jorakhe community comprises five villages.
“We have carefully selected the families joining the homestay project. To qualify, they are required to maintain certain standards,” said Daorueng.
Klong Rang Jorakhe has become a success story for other homestay projects in the country to emulate. Several schools and other centres of learning have brought their pupils to live with villagers, as have tour operators who bring in foreign tourists wanting to experience the Thai way of life. And all of them have gone back happy after spending a night or two with the villagers.
The type of accommodation varies depending on the capacity of each family. There are houses that can take in two to four guests and provide them separate rooms, while there are others that can accommodate 10-15 people. So it doesn’t matter whether you are travelling individually or in groups, there is plenty of space for every one.
Apart from bed and meals, there are plenty of outdoor activities you can go for.
You can take a boat tour around the canal and witness the easy pace of life along its banks, or walk through deep green paddy fields and see farmers at work; you can also visit temples and join the local residents in merit-making, or go bird watching and biking along narrow muddy trails through villages, rice fields and orchards.
Accommodation with dinner and breakfast (Thai cuisine) costs 700 baht per person. For more information and reservation, contact Khun Daorueng Rerkbuppha at 09-8811042 or Mr Phanich Sringam at 01-9913061.
Story and pictures JARUNEE TAEMSAMRAN
courtesy of the Bangkok Post