Our second day in Baan Talae Nok Muslim fishing village! After surviving and enjoying our first night in the homes of our hosts, we started out the day with breakfast cooked by our host families- rice soup and Thai donuts!
The first event of the day was a ride in a long boat through the gorgeous Mangrove forest. Mangrove trees are fascinating things, and they are so useful to the people of Thailand in multiple ways.
1.) The roots can be used for charcoal and also herbal medicine. But the use of the trees for these purposes is decreasing due to laws that now protect Mangroves.
2.) The mass of the trees themselves is a huge factor in the safety of coastal villages from tsunamis. The intricate interlacing of the limbs and roots creates a wall-like structure that will help protect villages from wind and future tsunamis by lessening the force of the waves.
3.) The tide comes in and goes out through the Mangroves twice a day, this works as a natural filter to protect the ocean. The freshwater that comes down from the mountains and is used by the villagers gets filtered before going into the ocean, protecting sea creatures.
4.) In the rainy season, the ocean becomes too dangerous for fishermen, and the mangroves create a safer place for them to make their living and put food on the table.
On to the next event! Making sections of a traditional roof from palm leaves and bamboo "string". I'm not sure how well we really did, but the villagers get to sell each section we made for 4 baht, which isn't much but they got free labor!
From there we learned to make a traditional dessert called kanom jak. it had sticky rice powder, freshly shaved coconut (which is harder to do than you might think), and palm sugar. The mixture was put into palm leaf and cooked over an open flame. This dessert is like the Thai version of s'mores. And it is just as delicious (minus the chocolate)!
With full tummies we headed to the beach. The greatest thing about this village is its sense of community. Many of the people are related, and if not they are all friends and trust each other. The kids had just gotten through with school and were ready to play with us! A few young boys followed us all the way to the beach; on the way they became fascinated with our cameras. Let's just say a couple of us are coming home with 200 souvenir photos of light posts, cows, street signs, and self-portraits of little boys! We aren't complaining though--it was a great way to bond with them, along with throwing them in the ocean! The sunset was incredibly gorgeous, of course.
After the beach was our favorite part of every day: dinner! The host mom I was with cooked us a buffet of seafood bliss that her husband had caught earlier that day. One thing in particular was extraordinarily delicious, but we couldn't figure out what it was. We later learned that it was STINGRAY! Yummmm! Definitely an "Only in Thailand" moment.
The night ended with a part of the program that the villagers implemented to give us a feel of what it's like to be in their shoes and a way to understand their Thai and religious traditions. We all dressed up in traditional Muslim attire that would be worn during Ramadan, including the hijab to cover our hair. We met in a home and had the opportunity to ask questions about their beliefs and also have them tell us about the most important thing they wanted us to take away from this trip and this village. Their reply: Be kind, friendly, and open to others that may not be the same as us, and always smile because sometimes a smile is the only communication you have.
All in all, a life-changing day none of us will ever forget!! :D