Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Chiang Mai's Annual Intakin Festival

Wat Chedi Luang

Chiang Mai's Intakin festival which is held annually for seven days and seven nights around the 1st week in June at the impressive Wat Chedi Luang Temple a focal point in centre of the old city.

Celebrating the Buddhist image of Phra Chao Fon Saen Ha thus invoking the annual rains and fertile soils. Join during the day, but more interestingly during the evenings with hundred's of local citizens to each place a small bundle of flowers among thousand's  along with burning incense at the ancient 'Pillar of the City' shrine and at all points around the Chedi thus strengthening traditional religious and community ties.

Bathe Buddha images resting in deep niches high in the pagoda's north and south facing facades by an intriguing pulley system and make merit by lighting a candle to your own Buddha depending on which day of the week you were born indicated by the different postures of the Buddha. Ring all the temple bells as you navigate clockwise around the Chedi, but please be careful not to knock the bells together!

Pay your respects in suitable covered clothing and enter into the recently renovated main hall taking in all the golden light, shimmer and shadow of the many Buddha images sitting shoulder to shoulder looking knowingly down upon you !

Intakin is the festival to see fine examples of traditional Lanna costume worn particularly by women carrying generations old finely crafted silver ceremonial bowls and woven basketry carrying delicate and lovingly folded fresh flowers and leaves to pay homage.

'Ton Yang' trees at Wat Chedi Luang

Marvel at the "Ton Yang" trees that tower over the Temple and the old city standing as sentinels, the city's silent judges and a daily reminder to follow a more sustainable society model in balance with nature. City legend tells us that if these great trees were to fall..the city of Chiang Mai will follow.  

Never fear this is Chiang Mai's traditional antidote to the global takeover by 24/7 style consumerism with a never ending supply of tasty traditional snacks to sample and shop till you drop at the temple fair. Connecting with the Mettasuksa Boys School next door is a local version of thrill rides from another century..try the cage Ferris wheel for a slightly better view over all the bright neon's, sights, smells and sonic booms of a 'user friendly' traditional religious celebration  in Chiang Mai.

Caroline Marsh is co-founder of Chiang Mai based independent ethical tour operator .."Expertise, Ethical travel and Authentic Experiences contribute to making a difference to local communities and the environment." passionate about new experiences, travel and environmental well being she writes for travel sites and coordinates local 'grassroots' community peoples actions for a better future for all.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

"Connecting Communities".. Trekking Collective a recognized regional leader in Responsible Tourism since 1988

Unique Cultural Experiences
photocredit: NancyLeeMacDonald
Trekking Collective is an independent tour operator set up in 1988 co partnered by Caroline and Chaiyan they are based in Chiang Mai, the capital city of the ancient Lanna Kingdom which was established  more than 700 years ago. ..."Trekking Collective has followed principles of sustainable tourism and ethical business practise in the vulnerable environment of  Northern Thailand's indigenous hill communities since well before 'ecotourism' became an industry buzzword..." Oliver Hargreave, Chiang Mai based travel consultant,travel guide author and photographer. 

Mountain Trails
For more than 20 years Trekking Collective's proven track record to date on sustainability for communities has meant developing environmental wareness towards a sustainable lifestyle for indigenous and local  Lanna communities in the far north border areas of the Lanna Kingdom (northern Thailand). As diverse as re planting watershed forested areas in vulnerable mountain environments started in 2001; clean water wells dug to prevent risk of disease and hardship to access an all year water supply in the early 1990's; Emergency food, supplies and interest free loans to villager's whose generations old paddifields, lychee Orchards, homes were devastated by mudslide and flood with no government agency or NGO offering help to villagers and a family whose sons were sadly lost.

Introducing hydrogen fuel cells cutting carbon by 20-30% to company vehicles since 2008, buzzing around Chiang Mai by bicycle for over 20 years, plus daily use of e-scooters  in the old city  to offering an organic locally sourced seasonal menu and supporting community group products available for sale at their offices in Chiang Mai promoting a low carbon sustainable society

Projects Timeline

  • A pleasure to support clean water supplies to  Lisu and Rad Lahu  communities on the Burma border.
  • Sponsoring school children for study materials, first aid kits, sports equipment, blankets and mosquito netting in Chiang Rai province.

    School supplies for 500 school children
  • Emergency rice dried foods and clothing carried to a Karen Village in Wiang Pa Pao district after Homes, Rice Paddies and Lychee Orchards were devastated by flood.
  • Providing pack-ponies for sustainable transportation of crops reducing 'middlemen' costs
  • Interest free loans and Trading with the Villagers
  • Providing basic health and hygiene medicines for All.
  • Successful since 2001. Native Tree species re- Forestation program. First workshop held in Chiang Mai Uni., with many of the group never traveling to the 'capital' and travel issues as no one had ID cards. The community in situ  tree nurseries and classrooms for additional workshops hand built by the Villager’s with 'living’ fencing.
  •  villager's agro forestry workshop, collect and propagate seeds so to protect the last stands of Rattan in the area. A essential forest product for food and Basketry and continuation of traditional skills
  • 2004 Piggy Bank first established with 'super pigs' purchased from Chiang Mai Government breeding centre and transported to the mountains (they were not very happy about this)
  • Shepherd Mead generously donating a new computer to the UN built boarding School, Mae Suai, Chiang Rai province
  • 2010.The Community ‘Cow and Piggy’ Bank. Now a successful sustainable stand alone project with a herd of more than 20 cows.
  • 2010-2015 Community 'Rice Banks'  for village food security
  • August 2011 'Rice Banks have been constructed and maintained by village committees in four communities.
  • On going program for old perscription glasses every type of frame especially children size frames. Poor light and nominal eye checks lead to prolonged poor sight especially for the village elders.
Mixed breed Cows are hardy and forage for food

The Community "Cow and Piggy Bank" project which was generously co supported by their long time guest since 1992 and a good hearted friend Albert Steenvoorden  is now a successful sustainable stand alone project with more than a herd of 20 cows, traded and bartered for necessary goods and health emergencies.
New born calves and piglets are cared for by families with the 2nd born reinvested back in to the 'piggy and cow bank' for another villager to establish a new 'account'. More details in English and Dutch 

Albert Steenvoorden on a personal visit to the Community

Unique Indigenous Community

Khun Eggachai village Chief

 Trekking Collective's main focus from 2010 to 2015 is on constructing and maintaining   'Rice Banks' for village food security  due to the adverse effects from global warming play directly with the people’s daily lives much faster than scientists and any computer models have anticipated. 30,000 Baht generously donated by staff and friends for Snackbar Zeeduin, Netherlands 
More donations mean they can develop a rice bank ‘branch’ for every community, environmental awareness programs, permiculture workshops developing outreach projects to other villages in the area, marketing village organic products, provide building materials and transportation. More Details in Dutch and English
As of August 2011 four communities in Chai Prakan district of Chiang Mai and Wiang Pa Pao district of Chiang Rai with their own 'Rice Banks' constructed and now maintained by the villager's themselves!
Majority decision making by the People with Low Technology solutions are the key elements to all projects. If you wish to directly help the best way is to join one of our trips and enjoy the villagers insightful company or you can become a supporter by contacting
Trekking Collective would like to personally thank the many individuals, especially Mr. Albert Steenvoorden and Mr. Sheperd Mead; School groups especially Long Island Uni. USA; University of Washington faculty staff and students; Incentive groups CATHAY PACIFIC and non – governmental organisation (NGO’s) especially FORRU based at  C.M.U. that have given their generous support, energy and expertise to the People.

UN built Indigenous Peoples boarding school receiving
PC donated by Mr. Sheperd Mead

Trekking Collective’s short, medium and long term goals have remained the same, mutual cooperation within communities, supporting sustainable agricultural practices as the main focus with an ethical sustainable tourism business model supporting these objectives.

To get involved directly join one of Trekking Collective's excellent trips as a percentage of payment goes directly to support all on-going community projects with the knowledge that costs and adminisration are kept at a minimum and the value of your money benefits the maximum number of people by the direct actions taken by Trekking Collective by their proven track record.

If you are not joining them for a trip just now, but wish to participate in projects? Human resource contributions, donations and knowledge sharing are very welcome and they follow up your trip with an annual newsletter update containing all co supported community activities over the year.
Add your email and request Bank details

    Mayor of Chiang Mai signing the ' LCLN Peoples Pledge' commiting the city to a low carbon future
    with members of LCLN and other community groups
    Locally, Trekking Collective has been supporting and coordinating 'grassroots' community groups including Holistic Environment Urban Schools Program (HEUSP) and is a founder member of Lanna Community Life Network ( LCLN). LCLN activities include promoting environmental awareness, developing a culture specific ' Peoples Pledge' that more than 3,000 citizens of Chiang Mai have signed to date including the Mayor, Chiang Mai Royal family, organic farmers groups and many regional government offices . HEUSP activities include supporting activities at 4 school within the 3 King's Monument area and the cultural heart of the city. Tree planting, recycling to self support a student’s community bank and a great success a Weekly Organic Farmer's Market  held at an urban government primary school in the old city of Chiang Mai....."Connecting Urban and Rural Communities."
    HEUSP Organic Farmer's Market at Puttisopon Primary School, Chiang Mai Old City
    Promoting a healthy Low carbon society !

Regionally and Globally Trekking Collective has been lauded a ..."Mekong Champion in Sustainable Tourism" the latest official Mekong Responsible Tourism website 2017, funded by USAid and the French Government  it is endorsed by the six regional countries that follow the banks of the Mekong River namly Yunnan, in China, Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Trekking Collective is supported by a Royal Dutch Government Export initiative supporting best practice CBT and CSR businesses from developing nations to connect with partners in the EU



Friday, September 27, 2013

UN World Tourism Day 2013.. Make a Difference Globally Celebrate Locally in Chiang Mai!

For 2012 UNWTO's challenge to the global tourism industry was to applaud renewable energy  solutions.

A locally based Chiang Mai tour operator  [TC] met the challenge to self design and locally produce hydrogen fuel cells fitted to their company vehicles reducing energy bills and vehicle emmissions by a minimum 20%

....So for UNWTO 2013's WORLD TOURISM DAY  the challenge to the global tourism industry is to work towards sustainable initiatives to preserve 'at risk' global fresh water  resources. 

Long term advocates of Trekking Collective's
indigenous and urban initiatives, Gail and Roger Johnson were in town accompanying the annual University of Washington student study tour group that participate in TC designed 'special interest' community based [CBT]field treks for over 7 years.

Each year Roger Johnson and TC exchange ideas that support Trekking Collective's core values of sustainability of low tech 'doable' community initiatives that 1. Work 2. Affordable and beneficial for all 3. reduce, reuse and recycle locally 4. low maintainence 5. everyone can do! 7. Promote towards a low carbon global society.

Ajarn Sawat Chantalay a member of HEUSP with Students from the 'Connecting Classrooms'
initiative @ Yupparaj High School with Roger Johnson demonstrating his ideas.

2013 Roger gave his time to present his latest ideas to Faculty of Engineering, CMU and at a  lively 'Connecting Classrooms' session held at Yupparaj High School a ground breaking government school "think outside of the box" initiative created by Ajarn Sawat Chantalay an award winning local conservationist, Chiang Mai native and a member of HEUSP.

Parents and locals buying their weekend veggies!

Each Friday a local community group Holistic Environment Urban School Program - HEUSP co -supported by Trekking Collective puts together an ISAC Farmer's Organic Market at Puttisopon, a local Primary School in the Old City of Chiang Mai.

A great community meeting place to promote awareness and share local and global health and environmental issues... these cool Women Farmer's grow and prepare their own endemic vegetables and make local healthy snacks to sell direct to school parents, students, teachers. The local community and foreign visitors are all welcome!

This was a great spot for Roger Johnson to show how to put together his 'pee-dra-ponics' plant feeder or 'dry toilet'..... Read On!

Ajarn Roger putting together parts whilst the Women Farmer's juggle selling veggies and learning
how to make the 'Pee-dra-ponics' plant feeder

Simple Tools

Using local sourced and recycled products

Using 'Guesstimate' technology!

Science and English Dept. teachers from Puttisopon School
check the power point presentation
and help out with Thai-English translations
A couple of Student's Dads...obviously DIY experts joined the workshop!

Taking Notes!

The simplest ideas are always the best! with Ajarn Roger's hygenic system of converting liquid waste into organic plant food.
365 days access to FREE liquid fertilizer
2/3 Reduction in solid waste storage
up to 7 x production in vegetable plots compared to not using and fertilizers
100% chemical fertilizer free soil
improve soil quality organically
urban school projects can produce organic healthy vegetables in raised dry beds - no 'real' garden space necessary
Urban and rural local governments can upscale systems for efficient community clean sanitation management. 
So making savings in the amount of water resources used within communities.

Final peedraponic prototypes!

Success! An upscaled version of the system is now in place on an ISAC organic permaculture  farm. Next term the Science Department of Puttisopon School will have a working demonstration model and garden up and running in November 2013 with workshops planned for indigenous communities by Trekking Collective along with other parallel sustainable long term community initiatives since 1988.

Khun Aree from the ISAC Women's Organic Farmer's Group
with Roger Johnson who has a 'bedroom peedraponics system'
up and running in her permaculture garden.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Great Healthy Start for Kids in 2013!

Students and Parents from Anubahn Panee Nursery part of HEUSP pilot project
celebrate Children's Day @ their school.

 Thailand celebrates Children's Day every year along with Mother's, Father's and there is also a Teacher's day so everyone's role in society is highlighted during designated days throughout the year.

Pre Schooler enjoying healthy snacks @ Anubahn Panee's special
'Gad' Market during Children's Day activities promoting
Healthy Families = Healthy Kids!

Held on January 12 for 2013 and always celebrated on the 2nd Saturday with all Schools nationwide organising activities for Children's Day a day earlier on the 11th. 

Students @ Puttisopon School were treated to a
Police K9 show...Our Doggie student has been in training for 3 years..1 more year to go!

 HEUSP Holistic Environment Urban School Program has four Schools signed up promoting healthy activities improving the wellbeing of the children and the community as a whole. All Schools are within 10 minutes walking distance from the famous Chiang Mai 3 King's monument in the heart of the old city with museums and exhibitions relating to the history and folklore of the Lanna people with important "must visit" Temples dating from the beginning of Lanna History.

As an aside there are great tasty rice and noodles lunch time restaurants across from the 3 King's which line the road by the historic "Wat Sadeua" - Belly Button Temple of Chiang Mai easily found as there is an elegant Buddha Image  beautifully housed in the middle of the road which you need to navigate around if exploring the city on foot or by bicycle as the road is now one way.

........Lets get back to the market @ Anubahn Panee Nursery!...Now for the yummy local desserts stall
 made from healthy fresh coconut milk!

 HEUSP headed  to Doi Saket to collect 100's of economic plants with medicinal or food values to give away at Anubahn Panee Nursery and at the main Children's Day event the following day at UDIF creative urban planning centre which has a lovely teak building with local ideas and artifacts housed inside and gardens along with an unique to the city earth house built in the compound promoting recycling and reusing old for new ideas!

Lovely Aunty 'Sai Tong' helping to load up the plants in our truck
She was very knowledgable about all the local plants she tends in the nursery
and kindly passed on lots of health tips!

Here's Kung Foo 'Po' helping out @ Doi Saket..sunbathing:)

On the 12th members of LCLN - Lanna Commuity Life Network joined a fun packed afternoon event now in its 4th year with hundreds of children and their families coming along with many familiar faces! - promoting sustainable and healthy ways to enjoy Children's Day with all the family - and All for free! with quiz games highlighting the environment, amazing local Chiang Mai food prepared by local university students majoring in social sciences and sustainable urban planning, other community groups with skills in the Lanna language or famed artisan skills from Chiang Mai. Many local children took part in traditional costumed dance as well as the latest global dance moves plus prizes for everyone donated by local businesses.

Young Students on stage @ UDIF Centre

Kirk Hollis from LCLN signing up young visitors to the Chiang Mai Pledge

LCLN are a local Chiang Mai community group of Thai and global citizens that have a common goal in promoting a healthy sustainable future for Chiang Mai more in balance with nature.

LCLN and Student Banners offering solutions for a healthy sustainable Chiang Mai
all these ideas can be applied to every town and city around the planet!

LCLN's contribution to the event was to encourage children and family members to understand LCLN's message then sign up to a pledge that suggests 30 ideas towards a low carbon healthy future for our city and the planet.  More than 5000 citizens have signed to date!

Regualar visitors to the event taking home an edible local herb for delicious
Thai raw food dishes!

The prize was a choice of hundreds of plants to take home and care for and in turn help reduce the CO2 in the air.

Tomoko of LCLN handing out one of the many economic plants available for everyone to take home!

One person is not strong but there is strength in many people standing together

No one is ever too old on Children's Day to go home with a prize! plant or tree does not offer shade but many planted together can shield and protect us from the heat, the sun and create clean healthy air for Chiang Mai and the planet.

Caroline Marsh is co-founder of Chiang Mai based independent tour operator  Trekking Collective Co.,  .."Hands on Expertise, Ethical travel and Authentic Experiences contribute to making a difference to local communities and the environment." A social designer, passionate about new experiences, travel and environmental well being she writes for regional travel sites and coordinates local 'grassroots' community peoples actions for a better future society                                                                                                          


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chiang Mai,Sarapi Car Free Day 2012

1500 super low carbon heroes on bikes waiting for the off!
Photo Credits: Kirk Hollis

The annual classic Car Free Day was this year held in Sarapi district which is the home to Chiang Mai's unique historical site of Wiang Khum Kum, the sunken capital city of Lanna that pre dates Chiang Mai's 716 years.

Young Student Bike Riders

The event with more than 1500 cyclists from every district as far as Mae Rim and Sankampaeng, all belonging to the Chiang Mai Cycling Network  registration was bright and early with clear blue skies across the mountains accompanying the riders.

Ladies from Chiang Mai Sunday Cycling Club

It was a great community event and a big Thank-you goes to everyone as the whole district participated from local residents, Staff at the local Sarapi Hospital, Women's cooperatives supplying huge amounts of food;  a local respected Monk Pra Ouan and temple groups involved with addressing social issues, celebrated local muscians singing traditional playful tunes in Lanna's own unique language of Kam Muang. Students from the local school band playing the morning national anthem at 8am with the supportive local head government officer  Nayok of Sarapi district over seeing the proceedings.

Nayok of Ampur Sarapi, LCLN, Kritsada Kampaengkaew of Chiang Mai Cycling Network,
Chiang Mai Sunday Cycling Club and supporters

Local community well being group LCLN and HEUSP were again invited to join the annual event signing up new cyclists to the LCLN Chiang Mai peoples pledge supported by the global community action where we cut our carbon use every year by 10% with more than 6000 + Chiang Mai pledges signed to date. LCLN supporters were there with the crowds early morning chatting with locals promoting awareness on how we can all play our part towards a low carbon future, explaining the health risks to all the community and how together we can stop the big three of urban illegal black exhaust smoke from diesel trucks that go unchecked every day, burning of fields, forests and toxic trash and changing to renewable fuel and energy sources.

Young bike riders need extra care on the roads and don't forget your mask!

Chiang Mai Cycling Network

He's looking good!.....high visability cycling gear, forearm UV protectors, visor, wraparound shades, unique lanna coconut husk bike helmet with rear red light attached plus a face mask...and your ready to hit the streets!

Line up of all the community members including Nayok of Sarapi District, Kirk Hollis of LCLN,
Kritsada Kampaengkaew coordinator of the Car Free Sarapi Event 2012 and event staff.
LCLN Says to help Reduce the Black Diesel Smoke  you  must reduce the speed  limit around the City Moat, Schools, Markets, Hospitals and all public spaces.. Turn off your engines while waiting, red lights or on a school run.
 LCLN Says Yes to Clean Healthy Low Carbon Chiang Mai!
Care for Kids, Share the road!

Bejing, London, LA, Denver, Katmandu, HK all have heavy daily smog... so let's make Chiang Mai the first SEAsian healthy low carbon city..on your bike!

You can join Lanna Community Life Network - LCLN or HEUSP activities on a local, regional or global level - everyone with 'energy, ideas and community skills' are always welcome.

Businesses, organisations, schools, teachers and parents wishing to support LCLN  contact us to find out more on how your business can sign up to the LCLN pledge.

Contact LCLN by email or local mobile Khun Punika 0892634422 Thai/ English, Ms Hui 0846146702 Mandarin and Caroline 08321523621 for English/ Thai - all ages and nationalities welcome!

.." Good Actions Require Everyone's Cooperation.."  - Jing Si

These projects have zero official funding and rely solely on the positive energy generated within our Chiang Mai Community

Like LCLN on facebook!  
Caroline Marsh is co-founder of Chiang Mai based independent tour operator  Trekking Collective Co.,  .."Hands on Expertise, Ethical travel and Authentic Experiences contribute to making a difference to local communities and the environment." A social designer, passionate about new experiences, travel and environmental well being she writes for regional travel sites and coordinates local 'grassroots' community peoples actions for a better future society