BAN PHU Arrival
When you think about a holiday in Thailand, one rarely imagines mountains, textile, rice fields and tribal culture - which was why I was quite surprised when the Thailand Village Academy Project sent me to a destination in North Eastern Thailand many have hardly even heard of.
After an hour's flight from Bangkok city to Nankhon Penom airport and another hour's road trip into Mukdahan, I found myself in a peaceful side of Thailand - no beeping horns, no loud music...just open fields and silence.
I arrived at Ban Phu in the evening and suddenly I was greeted by members of the community, dressed in their traditional attire and with a welcome drink. "It is herb flower drink," the man said. The blue color intrigued me a little bit but the taste put me in my place...it was like watered down nectar juice (if that makes any sense.)
Soon other elderly members of the community and the leader Ajan Thawan, a very mild mannered elderly gentleman soon made their way to the community centre to welcome Faii (my friend I was travelling with) and I to the community.
Turns out, Ban Phu is a Phu Thai community with a history of over 100 years. The Phu Thai people migrated from Kham Aw Khiaw and Wang in Laos in 1844 which is why the Phu Thai share many similar cultural traits with Laos and Vietnam. "It is a strong community," Phi Mu (our guide) explains. "In 2006 HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn awarded the community for being peaceful and happy. Apparently Ban Phu was quite known as a model village which was why they were now ready to open it up for tourism.
Starting with home stays, the community members share that they believe in working together to make tourism a success which is why they make sure visitors are distributed equally so all home stays earn good income. By having the entire community participate in welcoming guests to the village, they hope to create a unique travel experience for visitors.
Soon we were then ushered to the home stay. Unlike most places where a car drops you off to your accommodation, Faii and I were given bicycles (with baskets). I thought it was strange at first. But the minute I rode the cycle on the quiet empty lane in this beautiful community, I felt I wanted to keep going. The warm night breeze and the sound of crickets in the evening made the perfect setting for a bike ride and I soon realized this was going to be one of the many things I would love about this unique Thai home Ban Phu.
Stay tuned to find out more about our adventures in Ban Phu.
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