“Asia Regional Forum on Biodiversity” day 2

Environmental Officer Rima de Dios was El Nido Resorts’ representative to the Asia Regional Forum on Biodiversity: Encouraging Partnership between Business and Communities for Biodiversity in Cha-am, Petchaburi, Thailand last November 3-4, 2011. She gave a short presentation entitled Sustainable Tourism for Biodiversity Conservation Case Study: El Nido Resorts, Palawan, Philippines (written by Director for Environment Mariglo Laririt), where she shared ENR’s experiences as a responsible tourism operator and how ENR integrates biodiversity conservation in its daily operations. This is her story.

Day 2: November 4, 2011

Feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep and a lovely breakfast, I made my way to the forum venue with much less trepidation than the day before. Today we were going on a field trip and I was very excited to see a bit of Petchaburi. That being the case, I decided to ditch my high heels for flip flops and my uptight business attire for a sundress. Hey, it was a very sunny day and we were a stone’s throw away from the beach so I thought a sundress was quite fitting.

We rode a double-decker bus and I decided to stay on the top deck to better enjoy the view. Our first stop was at the Huay Sai Royal Development Study Center, and here we were introduced to a man who was already nearing his eighth decade but who looked like he was only in his fifth. He was a PhD candidate at the university and was also head of the study we were about to see. He made quite an impression as he walked around in his rubber shoes, bright pink polo, and jeans. I couldn’t see a cane in sight. His study was about Vetiver grass. The grass, he explained, helped soften the soil so water can seep in. He said that the soil in the area was really hard and compact so hardly any plants can be grown. By first planting Vetiver grass, the soil can become softer which would then allow water to be absorbed; once there’s enough moisture in the soil, other plants can then be planted. As I scanned the area, I did see various plants growing with the help of Vetiver grass. I found the concept very intriguing so I decided to explore the place on my own and take some photos. A few minutes into my walk however, I started cursing myself for wearing that stupid sun dress – insects were biting me all over, my legs were itching, and I was scratching my body like mad. I had to seek the safety of our air-conditioned bus before all those blood-thirsty insects made a meal out of me. My body was still itching several minutes later, but by then we were already well on our way to our next destination – Mrigadayavan Palace.

Vetiver grass being cultivated at the Huay Sai Royal Development Study Center

Upon alighting from the bus, we were greeted by Mrigadayavan Palace staff and we were ushered near the palace entrance. We were just about to enter the palace grounds when one of the staff looked me over and started talking to me in Thai. I felt very embarrassed because he looked rather disapproving. What have I done wrong? I started to tell him I couldn’t understand a word he was saying but then one of the forum organizers came to my rescue and translated everything he had just said. Apparently, my dress was improper. I wouldn’t be allowed inside the palace unless I covered my knees and my shoulders pronto. Stupid dress again! I knew I shouldn’t have worn it. Thankfully, I brought a wrap with me so I tied it around my waist like a sarong. Now what do I do about those shoulders? Well, a very generous co-participant saw my predicament and she just happened to have a cardigan with her and she graciously lent it to me. So a few moments later I was all set. I looked like a fashion disaster but hey, at least I would get to see some royal sights.

Mrigadayavan Palace

The first thing I noticed about the palace grounds was that it took quite a huge amount of water to keep the grass all lush and green. There were sprinklers everywhere, and I mean everywhere! I thought they could have done with a bit of water conservation and not bothered with the grass at all. But then it’s the king’s palace after all, and a lawn must always be kept all nice and pretty for royalty. As the tour progressed, I found out that the grass actually helped conserve soil moisture so that other plants can survive, because apparently, the soil was also very arid in this area of Petchaburi. I looked around and saw sprinkler after sprinkler watering the grass, and although I thought that having more plants in the area did make the grounds a lot more beautiful, they could’ve just left the grass alone and saved some of that water for a better purpose. But I didn’t want to get kicked off the palace grounds so I kept my thoughts to myself. The tour ended at the souvenir shop. I wanted to buy all sorts of souvenirs but I didn’t bring enough money with me on purpose so that I wouldn’t do exactly what I was thinking of doing right then, so I had to content myself with buying an inhaler that had a very intricate design on its cover. It has proven to be very useful for my sinus problems, just so you know.

Our last stop was at the Bang Pu Nature Reserve, which was dominated by mangrove and salt-flat habitats. The mangrove was predominantly Avicennia marina and Avicennia alba, but enrichment planting had been promoted in recent years with stands of Rhizophora apiculata and Rhizophora mucronata. It was a very leisurely walk along the mangrove, and there was a view deck where we could have a 360⁰ view of the reserve. We didn’t get to see any birds, but according to the people in charge, some 200 bird species have been recorded in the area. It was a very relaxing way to end the day’s activities, and by the time we boarded the bus, I was quite ready to rest my feet.

The Bang Pu Nature Reserve

My flight was at 10 in the evening that day, and I still had to get back to the hotel and pack my things. So right in the middle of the closing ceremonies, I had to sneak out so that I wouldn’t miss my ride to the airport or my flight back home. My two-day stay in Thailand had finally come to an end. It seemed so short and I felt like I still had so much to see, but as I said goodbye to my fellow participants, I felt happy knowing I had learned new things and made new friends. Besides, I can always go back and explore the country on my own, and when I do, I’d make certain that I bring an extra pair of jeans.


Read all articles by Rima de Dios.

3 thoughts on ““Asia Regional Forum on Biodiversity” day 2

Add yours

  1. I almost never comment, but i did a few searching and wound up here Asia Regional Forum on Biodiversity
    day 2 | Sustainable tourism in action. And I do have a
    couple of questions for you if you tend not to mind.
    Could it be just me or does it seem like a few of the comments come across like coming from brain dead people?
    😛 And, if you are posting at additional sites,
    I’d like to follow anything new you have to post. Could you list
    of all of your shared sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin

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