Project Description

COASTAL

CULTURE

NATURE

WATER ACTIVITIES

Highlights: Moken culture / Coral reef ecology / Inter tidal zones & island ecology

Moken Immersion – 3 Days

Isolated for centuries on the remote Surin Islands in the Andaman Sea, the Moken (Sea Gypsies) have retained more of their time-honored traditions than any other coastal indigenous peoples in Thailand. Their knowledge of the sea is unsurpassed and they provide students with a form of education unavailable in any other school.

In the course of a weekend students will dive with the Moken over the largest and richest expanse of hard corals in all of Thailand. They will learn about Moken foods, fishing techniques and strategies, forest medicines, house and boat construction, celestial navigation and Moken spirituality based on their animistic traditions.

Students will camp on the beautiful beaches of Mu Koh Surin National Park as well as interact with children in the Moken’s village. ‘Moken Immersion’ provides an educational experience truly unique in the world and changes student’s perceptions in profound ways.

Study Focus: marine animals, island ecology

  • This unique adventure in learning begins with a morning airport pickup at Phuket International Airport. Students arriving by overnight bus from Bangkok can be picked up in Kuraburi to save considerable time (and cost) in travel this day.
  • It’s a 3-hour drive from Phuket to Kuraburi pier where we board our charter boat for the beautiful cruise to Koh Surin – homeland of the Moken. During the voyage students may spot flying fish, dolphins, whales and several species of terns. We will cruise right over Richeau Rock, one of the best dive sites in the world to see giant manta rays and the world’s largest fish – the whale shark!
  • Landing at Koh Surin after several hours at sea, our Moken guides will be there to greet us and transfer us to our tent camp on a beautiful crescent beach that is part of Koh Surin National Park. Following a delicious lunch, we set off by boat to snorkel at some nearby dive sites with our Moken guides who will show us many of the reef species they harvest as part of their daily diet.
  • Back at camp, we too will enjoy a fresh seafood dinner, games on the beach and a candle ‘sharing circle’ under the stars where everyone can share tales of their day’s adventures.

Overnight: Koh Surin National Park campground

Study Focus: coral reef ecology, inter tidal zones, Moken culture

  • Long-tailed trogon birds, performing courtship rituals in the trees above our tents, are likely to wake everyone up at first light. Pig-tailed macaques, giant monitor lizards and gliding lemurs are other wildlife we may encounter around our camp.
  • Following breakfast, our Moken guide will explain the semi-nomadic lifestyle of their ‘sea gypsy’ ancestors. They will use a model ‘kabang’ boat to teach time-honored construction techniques and tell us about Moken spirituality and the ancestor poles they erect on remote islands after becoming lost or shipwrecked.
  • Packed with a picnic lunch, we then set off for a full day of sea adventures. We will snorkel over the largest expanse of hard corals in all of Thailand, picnic on paradise beaches and have hands-on lessons in Moken medicinal, edible and utilitarian plant uses.
  • Towards evening, we will converge at the Moken village to meet the women and children and men returning from their day at sea.
  • After dinner back at our camp, there may be an opportunity for lessons in celestial navigation as our guides point out the ‘brother stars’ that guide the Moken on their long journeys between islands and archipelagos.

Overnight: Koh Surin National Park campground

Study Focus: waterfall micro clime, stream macro-invertebrates

  • We have one last morning to stroll along an unspoiled beach before breakfast and breaking camp. Bidding farewell to our Moken guides and new-found friends, we board our charter vessel for the trip back to the mainland.
  • Lunch will be served in an open-air restaurant in Kuraburi before we set out for our final adventure at Sri Phangnga National Park.
  • A short hike through a rainforest, rich in hornbills and gibbons, leads us to a wonderful waterfall where we can swim in a large pool at the base of the falls. After an hour of frolicking under the falls, students will break up into teams to do a macro-invertebrate study of the stream.
  • It will be hard to pull everyone away from this engaging exercise, but there’s still a 2-hour drive back to Phuket International Airport for the flight home.  Where else can you find a weekend that transports you so far back in time and space?
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