Blog : environment

Pattani Naturally Charming Small Town

Pattani Naturally Charming Small Town

Many ask what is so fascinating about Pattani. We hear about negative events in the South of Thailand from time to time. But have you ever wondered what it’s really like to visit Pattani? Here’s an inside story.

///THAILAND///

Story: Samutcha Viraporn / Photo: Sitthisak Namkham, Samutcha Viraporn

Naturally charming, Pattani is a cosmopolitan area with many small town secrets waiting to be discovered. You will love southern hospitality, the friendly and generous reception that locals, for the most part Muslims and Thais of Chinese descent, give their visitors. For simplicity’s sake, let’s look at 5 good reasons why you should pay them a visit.

 

The mangrove forest is both a source of food for locals and a healthy coastlands ecology that protects the city from strong winds.

Adventure: Take the Tunnel of Bushes through a Mangrove Forest

If you travel the world in search of adventure, the sight of a centuries-old mangrove forest and a tunnel of bushes that runs through it will fill you with awe. It’s home to tropical trees and woody plants with countless prop roots that thrive to form dense thickets. The unspoiled forest covers the entire coastal swamp that’s flooded at high tide. Dubbed one of Thailand’s healthiest wetland ecologies, the Bang Poo Mangrove Forest in Yaring District lies along Pattani Bay and only 25 kilometers from the provincial seat.

A tunnel of bushes among tropical coastal swamps offers views of impressive natural scenery. It tells stories of an enormous richness of the mangrove forest.
Tourists learn how to collect sea mussels, a hands-on experience at the Bang Poo Mangrove Forest, Yaring District.

It’s quite an education to stop by the Yaring Mangrove Forest Study Center. Take a boat ride under forest canopies, then head out to sea and back. The service is offered by villagers. Learn how to collect sea mussels like locals do. On the way back, take a moment to observe sea birds on the bay and coastal wetlands, where sedges and other grass-like species thrive. They provide raw material for sedge basket weaving industries in the area. It could be your most exciting ride, and the view is fantastic.

The tidal mouth of the Pattani River that empties into the Gulf of Thailand.
Dense groups of sedge thrive inside the mangrove forest. The glass-like plants are used to make weaving crafts associated with the way of life in southern Thailand.

The mangrove forest was originally part of ancient coastlands that had grown to form an impenetrable mass around Pattani Bay. After a period of neglect, concerted efforts have been successful in restoring it to good health. Nowadays, tour activities vary from season to season, ranging from boat rides into the forest on nights aglow with fireflies, to stargazing night rides, to homestays at affordable prices.


 

The façade of the widely revered shrine of Lim Kor Niew.

Old World Charm, Chinatown, and Cool Café

Like other settlements in an earlier time, Pattani originally was a regional hub of commerce. The charming old town sits on the banks of the Pattani River that provides convenient access to the open sea and areas in the hinterland. This is evident in the way shop houses and people’s homes are located along river banks. You will like a quiet saunter on Pattani Pirom Road from Ruedee Intersection to Anohru Road.

The place of origin of an extended family in Pattani in bygone times.

Since ancient times, the little Chinatown at Anohru had been a region of diverse cultures, where Thais, Indians and Chinese met for the buying and selling of goods. It’s also home to the holy shrine of Lim Kor Niew, a goddess widely revered for her supernatural powers. Other main tourist attractions include relics of a bygone society, such as the ancestral home of the Kunanurak clan, and the residence of Khunpitakraya, son of Chinese monk Kunanurak who governed Pattani in the past.

Pattani Pirom Road, one of the city’s most popular thoroughfares.
The café named “All Good Coffee & Bakery” is right next to a famous Hainan chicken restaurant.
The interior of IN_T_AF Café and Gallery looks out over the Pattani River.
Part of an interior living space at the home of Khunpitakraya.

Anohru Road is famous for cozy Chinese style inns, charming wood homes, and Sino-Portuguese architecture. Coffee lovers shouldn’t miss the old town’s greatest hangouts – All Good Coffee & Bakery (which is right next to a famous Hainan chicken restaurant), and IN_T_AF Café & Gallery.

Civilization has diverse origins. Krue Se Mosque is a beautiful piece of architecture and pride of Pattani town. The holy shrine of Lim Kor Niew is a widely revered temple that’s the city’s heart and soul.

Looking for a holy place to pray to God? There are the famous Krue Se Mosque and the Central Mosque of Pattani. Dress properly if you intend to visit.


 

Don’t miss out on it! Wae Mah Roti is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Delicious Food, Good Tea, Great Roti, and all

Pattani food culture is interesting for it brings people together to enjoy good eating. There is happiness in their eyes as people meet and eat together in their favorite restaurants. If Roti, or Chapati, is your thing, you shouldn’t miss the Wae Mah Roti shop. It’s always full of people, but it’s worth a visit. There’s the slightly salty, crispy crunchy kind to suit every pleasure of taste. The best place no doubt, if you want to eat like locals do. And it’s inexpensive, too!

Wae Mah Roti shop is busy all day every day.
The frying pan that goes to work non-stop every day at Wae Mah Roti.

For a more modern atmosphere, there is Chaba Roti & Coffee located behind Mor Or (call sign of the Prince of Songkhla University at Pattani). It’s located on Samakkee Road Route B. Their famous tea recipes go together very well with Roti. A nice place to dine alfresco.
By the way, if strong tea is your thing, go to a small shop called Cha-Indo & Roti located on the same road. Right opposite from it stands Papa TaGu Restaurant that serves Khao Mok, the Thai Muslim version of Indian Biryahni. The fragrant yellow rice dish is served with chicken, fish, beef, or goat meat. All good. Take your pick. If you dine together as a group, it’s better to order trays of food and come away satisfied every time. You will love the Arab rice they use, which is perfectly fluffy and not sticky.

Chaba Roti & Coffee presents charcoaled Roti and Roti with curry, a Pakistan style recipe served with sunny-side up eggs.
Mouth-watering Khao Mok recipe at Papa TuGu. Order trays of food if you come as a group. It’s deeply satisfying.
The sign in front of Papa TuGu that has appeared in print media.

If the ambience of a restaurant is important in entertaining guests, we recommend Baan De Nara. Try out their signature yellow curry with mackerel and coconut milk. You may also like Solok, a traditional southern dish made of bell peppers stuffed with fish, shrimp, and a healthy dose of curry, a lesser-known recipe but delicious nonetheless.

The most delicious meals at Baan De Nara: Yellow curry with mackerel and coconut milk, Solok (traditional southern dish made of bell peppers stuffed with fish and a healthy dose of curry), Boodoo, and fired shrimp with lemongrass. All good.

Chinese food is meant to be savored and enjoyed. For that, we recommend London, an old restaurant widely admired for enchanting Chinese cuisine. Their highly pleasing recipes are on par with those that you get in Bangkok no doubt. But for a mouth-watering Rad-Na meal (stir-fried noodle with pork and kale soaked in gravy), go to Num Ros Restaurant, and you won’t be disappointed.


 

An event that’s part of the Pattani Decoded design exhibition.

A Vibrant and Growing Scene of Art and Design

You may have heard of the Koleh boat that over time has come to symbolize culture and the way of life on the Malay Penninsula. But there is more to Pattani than just the Koleh boat.
Nowadays, at a continually increasing rate the young generation of Pattani has taken a keen interest in art and design. As a result, an art gallery called “Patani Art Space” was born. It has achieved its objective in promoting the works and ideas of up-and-coming young artists in the three southernmost provinces.

Asst. Prof. Jehabdulloh Jehsorhoh, founder of Patani Art Space

Over the past several years, their designs have received proper recognition. Take for example the Benjametha brand of ceramics, which earned a few DEmark design awards; the Batik of Baan De Nara, which some Japan buyers bought for Kimono making; and the Tlejourn brand of footwear that turned recycled ocean waste into products of quality and value.

An outdoor market selling secondhand goods and vintages that’s part of the Pattani Decoded design week.
Patterns characteristic of Malay design by local artists on show during the Pattani Decoded design week.
Ocean debris transforms into raw material for the Tlejourn shoemaking industry.
Ceramic article by Emsophian from the brand Benjametha.

The force behind this success was Rachit Radenahmad. He teamed up with Melayu Living, a local creative group. Together they succeeded in staging “Pattani Decoded”, the province’s first Design Week showcasing works by local artists, designers and community members in August 2019.


 

Roti Achiva, a crisped-to-perfection Roti meal by members of the Vocational College of Pattani. A delicious memento to take home!

OTOP as Memento of Your Visit

Your adventures in Pattani are not complete without something to take home or a souvenir to remind you of your visit. For that, we recommend Roti Achiva, a local brand of crisped-to-perfection meals made by members of the Vocational College of Pattani. It’ so delicious it’s hard to stop eating. By the way, there’s another Roti brand called Miss Millah, which is also very good. It’s part of OTOP, an acronym for the “One Tambon, One Product” project. Take your pick. Or go for dried banana strips and fish flavored rice chips that are equally popular.

 

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Upcycling Ideas …Turning Trash into Quality Products

Upcycling Ideas …Turning Trash into Quality Products

Who would have thought it! Discarded plastic bottles and jars could transform into cute whale-shaped napkin box covers. Not to mention water-saving glass drying trays for the kitchen. Plenty of fantastic ideas for modern home décor and accessories to make sure everything is organized and in place!

/// Thailand ///

Stoty: Samutcha Viraporn, Photo: Press

Disposable plastic bottles become trash after a single use. In the manufacturing process, some of them are discarded without seeing the light of day. The good news.  Designers have come up with ingenious ideas to turn waste into products of better quality and higher value than the original.  And the sky’s the limit.

Many transparent plastic bottles are made from a type of plastic called polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. What we don’t see is the plastic packaging that doesn’t make it to the shelf. In the manufacturing process, bottle samples are taken out and evaluated. By law, the plastic packaging that fails quality control testing cannot be recycled into bottles and jars again. So they become raw materials to make different types of goods instead.

The Qualy manufacturer brand, in collaboration with the beverage company Ichitan, is able to breathe new life into unusable industrial waste, turning it into reusable raw materials. Its main forte lies in design capabilities that turn unwanted materials into upcycled products that meet the higher expectations of modern customers.

Its expert skill in recycling earns it a reputation for creative new products for a chic home update. One of them is the cute whale-shaped napkin box cover called “Moby” that takes 28 recycled plastic bottles to make. It takes pride of place in the bathroom, or serves as a reusable plastic bag holder for the kitchen. Anyway only biodegradable plastic bags are recommended. The design is stimulated by whales that have died from plastic waste in their stomach. It’s the tip of the iceberg that reminds us all to use less plastic to protect the environment.

Also worthy of attention is the aptly named “Oasis Tray”, a drinking glass drying rack made from 56 recycled plastic bottles. It doubles as an irrigation system that supplies small amounts of water to houseplants.

Other interesting products include a beautiful array of indoor planters, each made from about 8 to 10 recycled PET bottles. Not to mention greenhouse supplies and cute containers designed to encourage people to start growing for a better, healthier home environment.

Together, they convey a rich and subtle message. Reduce plastic waste now, or turn it into new materials for creative reuse. After all, we still have plenty of discarded PET plastic packaging to deal with.

Creative New Products from Recycled Ocean Debris

Creative New Products from Recycled Ocean Debris

Looking for a new pair of shoes? You’ve come to the right place. Tlejourn, an ocean-friendly brand of footwear, has unveiled creative new products made from waste recycled from the ocean.

 

///Thailand///

Story: Samutcha Viraporn / Photo: Sitthisak Namkham

Before and after. Nattapong shows his work, an old rubber flip-flop he found at a beach, left; and a new sandal after a complete makeover, right.

Tlejourn is the brainchild of Dr. Nattapong Nithi-Uthai of the Rubber Tech and Polymer Science Department, Faculty of Science and Technology, Prince of Songkhla University at Pattani. He’s co-founder of Trash Hero Pattani, an active environmental group in southern Thailand.

Trash Hero Pattani is the spearhead of a program that collects waste materials washing onto beaches every Wednesday. A lot happens from there. First, marine trash is separated into two categories. Then, non-recyclable items are put through the proper channels, while rubber parts from old shoes, boat fenders and side protectors are converted into reusable raw materials. The recycling process includes reducing them to fine particles and putting them through a heated press to make rubber mats. They become the raw material from which Tlejourne sandals and other products are made.

Dr. Nattapong Nithi-Uthai (left) and Dr. Singh Intrachooto (right) collect pieces of waste on a beach. Photo: Facebook Singh Intrachooto
Pieces of ocean waste are pulverized, mixed, and put through a heated press to make rubber mats, the first step in the recycling process.
Recycled rubber mats from a heated press on their way to the assembly line.
Recycled rubber mats are cut using die cutting tools, a step in the manufacturing process that’s passed on to cottage industries in the local community of Pattani.

Besides its in-house footwear industry, Tlejourn also supplies reusable raw materials to leading manufacturers, among them the Thai-American designer Pring Paris. Tlejourn footwear products are available at Soda, one of Thailand’s well-known fashion houses.

The brand also offers women’s shoes by means of co-branding with the designer group Muzina of Japan. Known as Muzina x Tlejourn, their joint products recently made its world debut in a fashion show that was part of the annual Tokyo Fashion Week. Tlejourn is collaborating with the shoe manufacturer Nanyang to offer the Khya brand of sandals made from recycled ocean waste and materials left over from the industry.

Ladies slippers with recycled rubber sole and fluffy hair from the Thai-American designer Pring Paris. Photo: Press
A Muzina x Tlejourn joint product makes it world debut at the Tokyo Fashion Week. Photo: Press
Colorful Khya flip-flops, a joint product from Tlejourn and the leading footwear manufacturer Nanyang. The sole is a mix of recycled rubber and materials left over from the industry.
Designed for everyday wear, Tlejourn casuals are made by co-branding with local footwear manufacturers.

On the future of the natural environment, Dr. Nattapong said: “We know that in the next three decades, ocean trash could be more numerous than marine life. In three months, Trash Hero Thailand volunteers collect more than 80 tons of trash washing onto beaches, of which about 8 tons are old shoes and other footwear that people have discarded.

“In the last four years we sold more than a hundred thousand shoes. As a result of that, a half of ocean trash have disappeared from local area beaches. but heaps of refuse remained. It’s an almost incredible tale of a waste crisis. Everything is on a grand scale. By making Tlejourn footwear out of recycled ocean waste, we join other environmental groups in a wider effort to rid the ocean of discarded materials. It’s a formidable challenge. Everyone can chip in to make the problem go away, and we are campaigning to turn those heaps of ocean waste into creative products, not just shoes.”

Tlejourn founder, Dr. Nattapong Nithi-Uthai of the Rubber Tech and Polymer Science Department, Faculty of Science and Technology, Prince of Songkhla University at Pattani.
Flip-flops and keychains in lively colors are made from recycled ocean debris.

Needless to say Tlejourn has turned crisis into opportunity. As countries in the ASEAN membership struggle to cut down waterborne debris, each and every one of us must do our share of the joint campaign. Let’s make the sea beautiful again.

A pair of Tlejourn sandals with recycled rubber sole. Photo: Press
Trash Hero Thailand volunteers gather for a good cause. Photo: Trash Hero Thailand

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Southeast Asia on Average Scores Poorly in Environmental Sustainability

Southeast Asia on Average Scores Poorly in Environmental Sustainability

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2019 published by the World Economic Forum shows the ASEAN collectively scores 3.8 out of 7 on factors that contribute to the environmental sustainability of the T&T industry. In spite of that, the Region has an advantage over North Africa in price competitiveness.

 

Java Island, Indonesia / Photo: Zak Noyle, Foundation for Deep Ecology

All things considered, Singapore is ranked number 17 in the world. Malaysia comes in at 29, Thailand 31, Indonesia 40, and Vietnam 63. Brunei Darussalam ranks number 72, and the Philippines 75 while Lao PDR and Cambodia take number 97 and 98, respectively. Myanmar is not analyzed in the 140- country/economy report. Interesting results:

Environmental Sustainability, and Natural Resources

Individually Thailand, Indonesia, Lao PDR, and Cambodia score lower than the regional average of 3.8 on factors contributing to the sustainable development of the T&T sector. Interestingly Thailand gains 4.8 in natural resources management, outscoring the global average after its decision to close the famous Maya Bay to allow coral restoration and marine life recovery in the Phi Phi Islands National Park.

Mekong River in Laos / Photo: Raymond Richards

Air Transport Infrastructure, and Human Resources

Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand also outscore the global average in air transport infrastructure, and human resources/labor market. However, there’s still room for improvement in their ground and port infrastructure.

Business Environment, Safety and Security, Health and Hygiene

Cambodia fares badly in world average rankings, especially in infrastructure and factors contributing to the business environment, safety and security, as well as health and hygiene.

Plastic Pollution in Myanmar / Photo: Stijn Dijkstra

The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report provides a valuable tool for policy-makers and businesses to anticipate emerging trends in global T&T industry. For the ASEAN Region, it’s a key engine of growth. The role of tourism is obvious in the Thai economy. The country saw a record 38.3 million tourists in 2018, up 7.5% from 2017. Another 41 million visitors are expected in 2019. Meantime, a Mastercard survey placed Bangkok number one city on the Global Destination Cities Index for the third time in 2018.

Find out more at: https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-travel-tourism-competitiveness-report-2019

 

A Region Says No to Plastics

A Region Says No to Plastics

Bye-Bye Plastic Straws / Our love affair with plastic straws used for drinking from a glass and bottle is being replaced by something new.

//ASEAN //

Fresh drink with natural material straw in Bali
Eatable straws made from rice flour, Vietnam

A company in Vietnam has introduced eatable straws made from rice flour. Bali has banned them along with plastic takeout containers and single-use plastic bags. Laos is witnessing an increase in drinking straws made of sustainable materials while some supermarket chains in Thailand have done away with plastic bags entirely.

The message is clear. Reduce plastic waste and its environmental impact. Here are some interesting developments across the region.

In December 2018 Bali announced legislation to prohibit plastic straws, plastic takeout containers as well as single-use plastic bags and utensils. After a six-month grace and considerable opposition, the ban officially went into effect on June 23, 2019. It’s seen as part of a wider effort at reducing plastic waste by 70% in the long run. As a result, waxed paper straws have replaced those made of plastic. Some hotels on the paradise island even serve beverages with glass tubes instead. Interestingly, the fight against plastic waste started in earnest five years ago when two teenage siblings, Isabel and Melati Wijsen, launched a campaign called “Bye-Bye Plastic Bags” to raise public awareness of the impact of pollution.

Isabel and Melati Wijsen
Glass straws in Bali, Indonesia

Elsewhere, a company in Laos has introduced drinking straws made of sustainable materials such as bamboo and stalks of a reed. A factory in Vietnam is making eatable straws out of rice flour in much the same way as pasta is made. Its thin, hollow tubes are firm and stable in shape for up to half an hour. Similarly, drinking straws made from morning glory stalks are offered by specialized restaurants in Vietnam and Thailand.

To save the ocean from trash, some supermarket chains in Thailand have stopped giving out single-use plastic bags. Among them, three Tesco Lotus stores on Chang Island have done away with plastic bags entirely.

Drinking straws made of sustainable materials; rice flour, bamboo, and reed

Across the globe, in March 2019 the European Parliament voted 560-35 to approve a ban on disposable plastic products from 2021. In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would prohibit single-use plastics starting 2021. Prior to that, in July 2018 Seattle became the first US city to ban plastic straws, plastic stirrers and disposable plastic utensils, while the New York City Council also introduced legislation to ban plastic straws by 2020.

 

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Lottery Recycling Ideas / Nothing Goes to Waste

Lottery Recycling Ideas / Nothing Goes to Waste

The Bangkok Design Week that ended February 3 was a confluence of many great ideas, among them products of a collaboration between two homegrown designer groups, Thinkk Studio, and Studio 150. Their waste recycling ideas shone with excitement at a show called “City Materials”.

/// Thailand ///

A variety of interlacing designs made from strips of lottery paper waste.
Thailand lottery tickets

The seat of government of Thailand, Bangkok is renowned for being a regional trade and economic hub, as well as home to many established and up-and-coming designers. Much of the large, densely populated city is not covered with forest. Nor does it have a wonderful richness of industrial materials. But, do you know this?

Every fifteen days, the number of lottery tickets and packaging material printed in Bangkok is enough to cover 173 football fields. Of that amount, a whopping 98.6% accounted for the tickets that didn’t win. Not only that, lottery tickets are printed on special grade, water-repellent paper that doesn’t break down easily. All things considered, that’s a whale of a job for paper recyclability.

A spinning toy for kids, the top, is made of a bundle of lottery paper strip.

Where most would see useless waste materials, the two designer groups see endless possibilities. Thinkk Studio creatives, in association with their design peers at Studio 150, have researched and experimented with lottery paper waste for some time. They succeeded in recycling it in ways that could answer specific design, art and craft and industrial needs in future.

 

“City Materials” showcased five materials the joint team has recycled from wood chips, plastic bags, incense sticks and ashes, coffee grounds, and discarded building supplies sold for scrap. For a glimpse into their design ideas.

A collection of papier-mache constructed out of QR Code sections of the lottery tickets. The malleable mixture, three-dimensional object becomes hard when dry.

 

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Thailand Will Be Home to the Region’s Largest IKEA Store

Thailand Will Be Home to the Region’s Largest IKEA Store

The new IKEA store in Johor, Malaysia was dubbed Southeast Asia’s largest when it opened for business four months ago. That’s about to change as the candidate for the top spot will open in Thailand in a matter of days.

/// Thailand ///

 

The world-renowned, Swedish-founded furniture retailer will launch its newest, largest store in Southeast Asia in Bang Yai, Nonthaburi on March 15. It will be the country’s second IKEA store that’s geared towards meeting the needs of people in Nonthaburi as well as outlying districts in Bangkok’s Northwest.

IKEA Bang Yai will be the Swedish chain’s largest store in Southeast Asia come March 15.

The newest retail establishment in Bang Yai spreads over a surface of 50,278 square meters, compared to 46,700 square meters at the IKEA Tebrau store in Johor. The Malaysian store was opened on November 16, 2017.

The IKEA Bang Yai store is partially solar-powered. Its solar arrays comprising 4,548 photovoltaic cells mounted on the rooftop are capable of producing 1.5 megawatts per year, or about 13% of the building’s electricity needs. It is LEED certified for quality and achievement in green building features.

Unlike other IKEA retail establishments, the Bang Yai store has cashier stations on every floor. The new design enables shoppers who are short on time to get in and out of the store faster.

Bird’s eye view of the IKEA Tebrau store in Malaysia

IKEA’s world largest store is located in South Korea. Opened in December 2014, the IKEA Gwangmyeong has 59,000 square meters of business space. The chain retail establishment has six stores in Southeast Asia — two in Singapore, three in Malaysia, and one in Thailand. The Bang Yai store will be number 7 in the region.

 

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3 Apps to Check Air Pollution Levels

3 Apps to Check Air Pollution Levels

Despite the omnipresence of the Internet in society today, there seems to be a disconnect between the impact of pollution and access to the information needed to protect public health. Strange as it may sound. According to a 2017 estimate by the environmental tech company Plume Labs, only 0.246% of the earth has access to that vital information.

/// ASEAN ///

 

 As air pollution levels rise from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok to Yangon, and Phnom Penh to Jakarta, it’s wise to stay abreast of the latest developments. There are many websites and apps that measure the concentrations of both PM2.5 and PM10 and other pollutants. Here are three useful apps to check air quality wherever you are.

An example page of the Real-time AQI app.
An example of Real-time AQI’s advisory page showing air pollution values, concentrations of airborne particulates, and protective mask recommendations by Greenpeace.

– Air Quality: Real-time AQI App –

The Real-time AQI app for Android and iOS shows air quality information from more than 10,000 monitoring stations in over 60 countries, including mainland China, Korea, Japan and countries across Southeast Asia. It provides, among other things, data about the concentrations of smaller airborne pollutants (PM2.5) and larger particulates (PM10). The former refers to extremely small particulate matter 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter or about 3% the diameter of human hair.

Updated hourly, the same information is linked to the developer website http://aqicn.org along with data on harmful gases and other readings such as temperatures, pressures, and humidity. The site also publishes visualized maps and protective mask recommendations from the global independent campaign organization Greenpeace. Get to know three types of masks to protect you from PM2.5 that ordinary surgical masks cannot. Whether it’s on the mobile app or the website, good infographics are worth a thousand words and a good place to start researching.


 

Plume Air Report provides air pollution levels in Yangon and Phnom Penh, which are not listed in the AQI app.
Flow, a portable instrument for checking air quality values and weather maps by Plume Air Report.

– Plume Air Report App –

Plume Air Report on the iPhone is a reporting and forecasting app that tracks real-time air pollution levels for every city in the world. The environmental tech company (website https://plumelabs.com) is the maker of “Flow,” a mobile personal air tracker that measures harmful pollutants indoors and outdoors. Real-time data including air quality indices, temperatures, UV levels, winds, and humidity are updated hourly along with pollution forecasts for the next 24 hours and statistics for the past 7 days. Flow makes it possible to track harmful air pollutants even in cities without AQI monitoring stations. The device is open for pre-order. Check the website for availability.


 

An example page of the AirVisual app showing unhealthy air pollution levels in cities across the globe. The information is updated hourly.

– Air Quality: AirVisual App –

AirVisual is a real-time and forecast air quality app that provides AQI indices for over 70 countries worldwide. Available on both Android and iOS, the free app gathers information from more than 9,000 locations via global networks of government monitoring stations and AirVisual’s own sensors. By giving historical, real-time, and forecast air pollution data, AirVisual is a pocket guide to avoiding harmful airborne particles. The AirVisual Earth Map is a good place to start tracking pollution levels and weather conditions with hourly updates.

In Southeast Asia, notably Bangkok, Chiangmai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Jakarta, thick haze of air pollution isn’t going away any time soon. As the fight for clean air continues, it pays to be in the know and avoid places with high concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10. The mobile apps mentioned above are three of many technologies designed to get the message across in the interest of public health and safety.

 

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10 Remarkable and Beautiful Big Trees in Thailand

10 Remarkable and Beautiful Big Trees in Thailand

Besides their tremendous importance for the environment, big trees have great societal value as study sites, tourist attractions, or centers of communities. Come along as Living ASEAN and the BIG Trees Project travels around Thailand to see ten magnificent trees.

/// THAILAND ///

Story: BIG Trees Project /// Photography:  Charnpichit Pongtongsumran with BIG Trees Project, Sitthisak Namkham, Pipop Boosarakumwadi, Arisara Jaktreemongkol

 

– Giant Tree in Uthai Thani –

Circumference: 97 meters (including buttress roots*) Age: 400 years

This giant tualang is on private land in the middle of a forest, but the landlord is happy to let everyone come visit. One side of the tree has the claw marks of a bear trying to knock down a honeybee nest. The Lao villagers here are descendants of settlers brought here two hundred years ago as an outpost in the conflicts with Burma.

*”Buttress roots” reach from branches to the ground to support the tree.

Tualang tree (Koompassia Excelsa Taub)

 

– Sai Song Nam Kingdom, Klong Sung Nae, or “Little Amazon,” Phang Nga, Thailand –

At Klong Sung Nae fresh water runs into the sea, creating a combined  “two waters” (song nam) ecosystem. Rowing along the stream you pass beneath disorderly hanging roots of 200-year-old banyans while traversing a rich natural environment: a grove of 6 remarkable ficus trees, black hornbills, snakes hunting for food . . . if you’re lucky, you’ll see some playful otters jumping and swimming around.

 

Photo: Sitthisak Namkham

– Giant Monkeypod, Kanchanaburi –

Now a tourist destination in Kanchanaburi Province, this is considered the largest Thai monkeypod (rain tree) on record, taking 10 people to reach all the way around it. The branches extend out to cover a remarkable area of 2,416 square meters. Monkeypods, native to South America, came to Thailand more than 100 years ago, perhaps by Catholic priests bringing them from Saigon. Some, though, say it was an Englishman, first head of the Thai Royal Forest Department, who imported them from Burma, while yet others maintain King Rama the 5th (Chulalongkorn) brought them back from Java, and gave them their Thai name of “kampu.”

 

– “The Giant,” Chiang Mai –

This arboreal colossus is now a Chiang Mai tourist destination with a coffee shop where you can relax and enjoy the view of the lush green forest. To see The Giant, Chiang Mai you have to drive up a scary, steep, narrow road, but it’s still high on the list of must-see attractions in Chiang Mai’s Mae Kampong District.

 

Photo: Pipop Boosarakumwadi

– Tree in a Rice Mill Smokestack in the Middle of Bangkok –

Truly unusual and startling! Growing out of a smokestack to spread its branches above an abandoned rice mill, this banyan tree appears to have a rectangular trunk. The smokestack is 2.75 meters wide and the banyan rises 26 meters above the ground. Located in the Rat Burana District, the tree is listed in “Unseen Bangkok.”

 

Photo: Arisara Jaktreemongkol

– Heart-shaped Bodhi tree, Silpakorn University –

At the front entrance of Silpakorn University’s central library, its door next to the Royal Palace on Bangkok’s Rattanakosin island, stands this gorgeous bodhi tree. Its charming heart-shaped foliage lifts the hearts of all visitors. Silpakorn University, the first Thai university of the arts, was founded by an Italian.

 

– Giant Tree, Sakon Nakhon –

This tree is within a “don pu ta,” where the spirits of ancestors are said to reside. Local villagers have strong beliefs about this, so trees in that area are not cut down. This giant tree has become the residence of bees, bats, ants, birds, and insects living condominium-like on different levels. But it makes a first-class children’s playground during community merit-making festivals based in this ancestral spirit forest.

 

Sampran Riverside: A Green Model

Sampran Riverside: A Green Model

For over five decades “Suan Sampran”, also known as the “Rose Garden,” has been the admiration of everyone. The rich, well-cultivated piece of real estate is also home to a waterfront hotel that many have come to love. Nestled on a 170-rai plot on the beautiful Tha Chin River, the Sampran Riverside Hotel is a real gem.

/// Thailand ///

Story: Panchach Changchan /// Photos: Sungwan Phratep /// Location: Sampran Riverside www.sampranriverside.com

The Sampran Riverside Hotel sits embraced by a circle of trees by the bucolic Tha Chin River. The interior has since undergone a complete makeover giving it modern appeal and a great many conveniences.
The Sampran Riverside Hotel sits embraced by a circle of trees by the bucolic Tha Chin River. The interior has since undergone a complete makeover giving it modern appeal and a great many conveniences.
A well-preserved Thai-style home sits at the water’s edge evoking fond memories of riverside living not so long ago.
A well-preserved Thai-style home sits at the water’s edge evoking fond memories of riverside living not so long ago.
Every residential unit has a pier that juts out over the water. Made for relaxation, the raised structure is hemmed in by lush foliage and mature trees including banyan, mast, and coconut groves. Nearby, fragrant pandan plants thrive turning it into a sweet-smelling pond.
Every residential unit has a pier that juts out over the water. Made for relaxation, the raised structure is hemmed in by lush foliage and mature trees including banyan, mast, and coconut groves. Nearby, fragrant pandan plants thrive turning it into a sweet-smelling pond.
The renovated interior brings out the character of a modern villa complete with many amenities. An air-conditioning unit is hidden in plain sight behind wooden furnishings. /// Steep pitched rooflines add an airy atmosphere to the impressive interior design. The triangular portion of the wall is adapted to offer plenty of openings to allow natural light and make the design appear lightweight.
The renovated interior brings out the character of a modern villa complete with many amenities. An air-conditioning unit is hidden in plain sight behind wooden furnishings. /// Steep pitched rooflines add an airy atmosphere to the impressive interior design. The triangular portion of the wall is adapted to offer plenty of openings to allow natural light and make the design appear lightweight.

Only the name has changed. The famous Rose Garden is now known as the Sampran Riverside Hotel. Everything else remains the same — great atmosphere, beautiful garden, and cozy accommodations. The main hotel building and six Thai-style homes at the water’s edge have undergone complete makeovers. Apart from modernistic interior design and new décor ideas in some corners, the warm and inviting ambience is there like it’s always been. The Sampran Riverside carries on the tradition as a salubrious destination with views of the river, the garden, and the unhurried way of life of the surrounding community.

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Damask roses thrive in a chemical-free environment. Besides their ethereal beauty, rose petals also have other practical uses. Among other things, Damask rose petals make for sweet-smelling tea when dried.
Damask roses thrive in a chemical-free environment. Besides their ethereal beauty, rose petals also have other practical uses. Among other things, Damask rose petals make for sweet-smelling tea when dried.

The Thai Village Zone is the hotel’s latest attraction designed to take visitors on a journey back in time. It offers plenty of activities that afford the chance for individual participation. They include traditional textile weaving, flower garland making, and umbrella painting. For those who love going to the show, there are folk art performances, music, cultural storytelling, children’s games, martial art performances, and the famous Thai elephants show.

Apart from the magnificent Thai elephants show, folk art performances are well received among visitors. Waves of laughter confirm they find great storytelling about the Thai way of life as fascinating as it is informative.
Apart from the magnificent Thai elephants show, folk art performances are well received among visitors. Waves of laughter confirm they find great storytelling about the Thai way of life as fascinating as it is informative.

The new name was timed to coincide with an entirely new concept in property management. The hotel owners, now the third generation, have decided it was time to go green because nature was home and it deserved to be well looked after. Damask rose farming needed a lot of chemical fertilizers. So the management decided to gradually do away with it. In the process, the land traditionally used for rose cultivation was reduced to just a few small plots. The rest, about 30 rai, was transformed into a thriving organic farm. It was a win-win situation for all. For the hotel workforce, it meant better health and wellness. Nowadays fruits and vegetables are picked fresh every day, enough to meet the needs of four restaurants on the premises.

The wetlands ecosystem offer many benefits from supporting plants and aquatic life to filtering spent water before it is made safe and returned to natural waterways. Among the useful species are edible fern (Diplazium esculentum), arrowhead Amazon flowers, and pandan plants (pandanus amaryllifolius).
The wetlands ecosystem offer many benefits from supporting plants and aquatic life to filtering spent water before it is made safe and returned to natural waterways. Among the useful species are edible fern (Diplazium esculentum), arrowhead Amazon flowers, and pandan plants (pandanus amaryllifolius).

The organic initiative is called the “Sampran Model”. The concept reaches out to agriculturists in the vicinity. The hotel acts a go-between man connecting farmers in Nakhon Patom to consumers both in and outside the community. It encourages agriculturists to avoid using chemicals and set up fair trade markets to promote sales. On weekends it puts on special events to make fresh fruits and produce available to consumers.

The weekend is the best time to relive the past as the lush oasis comes alive with activity, including the much-talked-about Floating Market. Aboard traditional rowboats, vendors come loaded with good foods as well as fruits and produce picked fresh from neighborhood farms.
The weekend is the best time to relive the past as the lush oasis comes alive with activity, including the much-talked-about Floating Market. Aboard traditional rowboats, vendors come loaded with good foods as well as fruits and produce picked fresh from neighborhood farms.

Our team had the opportunity to catch a ferry ride to the opposite side of the river. We landed on a thriving fruit orchard that was organically cultivated. Anirut Khaosanit, also called the local wise man, was kind enough to share his knowledge and years of experience on organic farming. His was a mixed-species vegetable farm, where morning glory, eggplant, climbing wattle and luffa are grown using compost made from green waste.

Herbs and pleasant smelling flowers thrive in the front garden.
Herbs and pleasant smelling flowers thrive in the front garden.

 There was never a dull moment. Our day in Sampran was packed with stories and activities. From the vegetable farm, we proceeded to nearby Sook-Jai Market and Rim-Klong Market looking for delicious meals that were made fresh the traditional way. There were plenty of those.

A wellness spa parlor showcases a full array of “Patom” skin-nourishing products. The house brand offers many aromatherapy products handcrafted from Damask roses and organically cultivated herbs. www.patom.com
A wellness spa parlor showcases a full array of “Patom” skin-nourishing products. The house brand offers many aromatherapy products handcrafted from Damask roses and organically cultivated herbs. www.patom.com

Once a rose garden on the Tha Chin River, the newly renovated hotel has grown and become an awesome destination offering upscale accommodations and exposure to cultural exchanges. The Sampran Riverside no doubt has discovered that going green is the way forward. It translates into happiness for all. Pursuing the sustainable path not only benefits the hotel and its guests, but also contributes significantly to the betterment of society to which it belongs.

This little hill has been standing here for a very long time. It is home to many flowers, especially local species like wild sage, gold showers, yellow cosmos flowers, and gardenia crape jasmine. All of these species thrive in their natural habitat.
This little hill has been standing here for a very long time. It is home to many flowers, especially local species like wild sage, gold showers, yellow cosmos flowers, and gardenia crape jasmine. All of these species thrive in their natural habitat.
The Thai Way of Life Zone isn’t about just farming demonstrations. It offers hands-on experience in every step of rice cultivation. Guests can try their hand at doing it, from sowing seeds and replanting to harvesting and milling.
The Thai Way of Life Zone isn’t about just farming demonstrations. It offers hands-on experience in every step of rice cultivation. Guests can try their hand at doing it, from sowing seeds and replanting to harvesting and milling.
Modern day Thais don’t chew betel nut. But mature Areca palms are kept on the property as part of the original groves that have stood here since times past. They tell stories of unique charm of the way of life in Central Thailand.
Modern day Thais don’t chew betel nut. But mature Areca palms are kept on the property as part of the original groves that have stood here since times past. They tell stories of unique charm of the way of life in Central Thailand.
Anirut, lovingly called the local wise man, is always there to share his knowledge with visitors. /// His blackboard shows the timetable, tips, and tricks for growing plants, making compost, and care for the vegetable gardens.
Anirut, lovingly called the local wise man, is always there to share his knowledge with visitors. /// His blackboard shows the timetable, tips, and tricks for growing plants, making compost, and care for the vegetable gardens.
Kids and parents enjoy a field day on the weekend. It’s a good opportunity to learn about farming while having fun harvesting fresh fruits and produce.
Kids and parents enjoy a field day on the weekend. It’s a good opportunity to learn about farming while having fun harvesting fresh fruits and produce.
Children take stock of fruits, vegetables, and eggs picked fresh and ready for their first lunch on a farm.
Children take stock of fruits, vegetables, and eggs picked fresh and ready for their first lunch on a farm.
A traditional riverboat ferries hotel guests to an organic farm on the opposite side of the river.
A traditional riverboat ferries hotel guests to an organic farm on the opposite side of the river.
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