Humble homestay and community tourism project
Located on the on the outskirts of Si Satchanalai, Baan Na Ton Chan offers tourists a homestay experience with facilities and activities that allow visitors to learn more about village life in Thailand’s Sukhothai province.
Na Ton Chan village itself is small rural settlement which is surrounded by many Chan trees—a type of sandalwood—which is where the village’s name come from. Over the years the community has successfully developed itself to be an attraction in its own right. Traditional handicrafts are made here, including baskets, furniture, dolls, chopsticks, and cloth made using traditional weaving techniques. Guests are also encouraged to try Khao Poep the region’s famous local noodle dish.
The Homestay Project has given the opportunity to local people to develop careers in community-based tourism. The accommodations might not be as luxurious as a 5-star hotel, but most visitors enjoy the rustic facilities and the overall hospitality of the villagers (newcomers receive a wrist strap from the elders of the village during a welcoming ceremony).
The village Leisure Centre sells handmade products and the Fermented Mud Cloth is one of the most popular items. The origin of this cloth stems from the fact that that the women of the community always went out to work in the rice fields in their long skirts, the bottoms of which became soaked in mud. When they returned home, they washed their skirts and put them up to dry. To their surprise, the mud-stained parts became soft to the touch and acquired subdued coloured tones that the women found attractive. After this discovery, entire pieces of cloth were soaked in mud, leading to the production of the famous mud-soaked textile.
Apart from weaving cloth for their own use, villagers who are farmers have also developed their skills in weaving Kheng—round, open, bamboo baskets used to carry their produce (much of which is grown organically for sale in area markets).
Words by Bruce Scott Photos courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand