Local Community Development
Recently one of my Thai friends asked me to check out Bang Prathun, a khlong (canal) side community project in Bang Khun Thian, which (according to Facebook posts) offered boat trips, making khanoms (Thai sweets), etc. It seemed like a neat idea and off we went by car.
Getting there was half the fun, the GPS got us close, but insisted in turning left or right where there weren’t any roads or into private moobans (villages) which are not open to the general public.
Finally we managed to park the car at a temple near the area in question and after asking around we finally found a kind of footpath through a semi jungle / plantation area.
Halfway we encountered an unusual noodle shop which featured 2 large posters explaining about the project we were looking for, bingo!
As we were happily ignored by the noodle shop people we continued walking and ended up behind the gas station where much earlier in the day we had scratched our heads trying to make sense of the GPS instructions!
We also noticed a back entrance from one of the moobans, the GPS was kind of correct except for the type of ‘roads’, classic!
We walked back to the noodle shop which functioned also a community/learning center… After a drink and some questions about possible activities we were taken to a local house along the khlong from where we could take a boat back to the temple.
But first a phone call had to be made to inform someone to keep their dogs in check, just in case!
In the house we were told that here they could teach us how to make khanoms as well...
We got on the boat, the ride was fun but short, after 5 minutes we were back from where we had started.
All considered a fun trip, but it left me feeling a bit sad.
Obviously a lot of money and time was invested to set this up, another poster at the ‘community center’ showed that it even had won an award last year.
Finding it was not easy, details were not mentioned on that post.
And once there it should have been pretty obvious that we were kind of tourists, however nobody came to us asking what we might be looking for.
This is a classic example I’ve encountered before, a development project is started and after a while finished, nice posters are put up and that’s it.
Actually it isn’t, to ensure continuing local activities (and make some extra money!) can work but it needs follow ups, lots of it!
To expect local people to take over immediately and handle everything by themselves successfully…, it’s a beautiful idea but not very realistic I’m afraid.
Even so, 10 points for effort and intentions, but 5 for the implementation.
Local people were very helpful in the end, but development remains a slow, very slow, process.
If you happen to be in the area, do check it out, it's worth it!