ActivismEnvironmentFeminismThailand

To Save Travel, Save the Community! Why we Created a Tour with Radical Grandmas in Thailand

Asia Art Tours is proud to announce our collaboration with the Radical Grandmas of Thailand.  The Grandmas sell their textiles to help fundraise for the “People who Love Their Home Town” group (In Thai:Khon Rak Baan Kerd). Together they form a cooperative opposition against mining conglomerates who want to pillage their land for resources and ultimately take away their way of life.   Asia Art Tours is offering an immersive homestay with the Grandmothers where they will teach you traditional weaving, introduce you to Thai village life, and show you the power of community and activism.

The tour can be found here: asiaarttours.com/tours/the-radical-grandmas-of-thailand/

(Photo Credit: Louis Bryant) 

Recently over coffee, a former colleague began complaining about luxury travel. He was sick of the 7-star hotels, and their deliberate segregation of his clients from everyday communities and people.

He yelled to me “I want to show people the Real Asia! Real Street Food, Real Temples, Real Markets with all the smells, and scents and emotions. But all of it is disappearing, getting developed, getting controlled or banned”.

(Photo Credit: Louis Bryant) 

As he spoke, I was reminded of the never-ending articles about gentrification, homelessness and real-estate markets gone crazy. I remembered a Twitter Headline about Greta Thunberg, a teenage Swedish Girl who was given an audience at Davos; where she begged billionaires not to destroy the world or its climate.

(Photo Credit: the Color Four Production) 

I told him, “All of those things you mention require community, and we didn’t protect those communities” I paused to then emphasize . . . “from our clients”.  My clients are different now, but before when I also worked in Luxury Travel, I too welcomed hedge-funders who gentrified cities and oil executives who destroyed forests. I sent them on vacations in Japan with its deep social ties, and Yunnan China with its preserved nature.

I felt horrible every time I took their money, but I still took it.

I left luxury travel and started this company, mostly so I didn’t have continue being a hypocrite. That’s also why I’m starting more tours like this one. To help protect and grow what still remains. 

The Grandmas are called radical, but really they are a reminder of everything my colleague lamented as lost: Community. The difference between Artisanal Weaving and a Sweatshop, is community. The difference between a living farm and a hollowed out mine, is community, the difference between Thailand, Japan, American and any other place in the world, is community.

(Photo Credit: Louis Bryant) 

It’s our hope that through the wisdom of the grandmas, the living history of artisanal weaving and the ability to visit untouched Thai Culture, that we can remind travelers that travel is nothing without community.

I hope you like the idea and essay, and I know you’ll love the Grandmas! Visit Asia Art Tours or email Matt@asiaarttours.com today for more information!

(Photo Credit: Rotjana Kongsaen) 

Editors Note: The Radical Grandmas are a weaving collective that fundraises for the efforts of group Khon Rak Baan Kerd (KRBK) or “People who love their Hometown ” who actively protest against gold mining in the village of Na Nong Bong where the grandmas reside. They sell their textiles locally and online and a portion of each sale goes to supporting court fees, transportation costs, and organizational development of KRBK.

Author Matt Dagher-margosian

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