Life begins when you start serving others. And so does the art of "untravelling". To untravel is not just to enjoy new experiences, relish new food and make local friends; it is also to share and exchange knowledge, culture, language, dreams and live the human experience we are all born for. Here's how a small village in North Thailand showcases the true "untraveller" spirit. Read on to find out how you can "untravel" in Ban Nam Cham.
Love....that never dries
Nam Cham (aka Nam Jum) is Thai for the wells that never run dry. Flanked by four ancient wells, Ban Nam Cham, about 25kms from Chiang Mai, attracted settlers as since the early ages. And even today with wells full of water, lush green rice paddies and hearts overflowing with love and joy, the community at Ban Nam Cham is set to share their age old traditions and warmth with you.
Thanks to Yotsagorn Onsri. Popularly known as Jack, he is a man with a vision. A vision to not just give back to the land and community he was born but also constantly master the balance between the old and new. Two years ago when he told the people in his village they should share their culture with foreigners to be able to learn and prosper, his friends laughed at him and believed there will be no takers.
But Jack knew his home was a treasure trove of Thai traditions, art and most importantly loving people. And true to his name Yotsagorn, his efforts have made sure we get the taste of the delicate yet sharp Thai culture; thus making them and his community truly, eternal.
Experience Thai life
Travel as we know it is moving beyond insta-friendly pictures and souvenir shopping. Tis' the age of experiential travel and harmonious living with the environment. Set amidst the cooler Mae On mountain range, Ban Nam Cham is that perfect countryside getaway for anyone and everyone.
Escape the southeast Asian heat and feast your eyes on the lush greenery or enjoy juicy, tropical fruits or pick up a new skill or two– no matter what you do, even a week will feel too little. If you are planning your next trip, take my word and ditch the blue waters and beaches of South Thailand for once and head to Ban Nam Cham. Within a 30 minute drive from Chiang Mai International Airport, you can get to the village from all major airports in the region, including China.
Here's a short guide to celebrate the subtle but glorious culture of Thailand:
For solo travellers
The urban routine has burnt you out and you are looking for an escape? Take your spot on the hammock facing the mountains and rice farms while you catch up on all the books, music and me-time you were craving for. Indulge your mind and senses in the Thai art of wood carving, typically used to decorate temples. Learn from the sole master in Nam Cham village and create your own masterpiece as you polish your mindfulness and beat the stress. Feeling out of shape? Renew your exercise resolution with evening Muaythai lessons. The kicks will start toning your muscles in a week, I bet.
Serene and beautiful, Nam Cham is for couples who like to try new things. Surprise your sweet heart with love-filled Thai desserts like kanom tien that the older women in the village will happily help you with. While waking up to wholesome Thai breakfasts and sunrise is great, cycling through the by lanes of the village or around the Wat (temple) is the real treat. Discover the neighbouring villages or visit local markets together during your stay, but make sure you seek the blessings of the monks before you leave.
Away from the hippie culture and nigh-long parties; Nam Cham village is great for that much-needed family time. Head to the local farm and watch your kids plant their own organic veggies as you pick up Thai cooking lessons. Picnic with the locals and enjoy the live barbeque, crispy rice crackers, typical northern food and glutinous rice desserts after a long day of planting at the farm. As you catch up on sleep and Thai massages, let your kids relinquish their creativity at the tie-dye factory and Thai umbrella painting workshops in the village.
Sa wat di
While there are many ways to enjoy local life and many Thai arts and traditions to learn and master; make sure you meet, chat, dance, laugh, sing and have a good time with the beautiful people of the Nam Cham community. Your time in Ban Nam Cham will fly fast, but your family (made up of all the lovely people) in the village will last forever and so will their wish for your sa wat di (well being).