Wonderfruit music festival to launch in Thailand

As the UK festival season draws to a close, we say goodbye to Glastonbury, see you later Latitude and bye-bye Bestival. But what if another eclectic, eco-conscious festival was yet to come? And better still, you can leave your wellies at home as this one will be set on a beach in Thailand!

It’s time to welcome Wonderfruit! This brand new music festival, from the people behind Wilderness, makes its debut in Chon Buri, a stunning tropical setting just outside Bangkok in Thailand. Wonderfruit takes place from 19 to 21 December 2014 with tickets on sale from 15 September.


Nick Mulvey, Seth Troxler, Hercules Love Affair and Fat Freddy’s Drop are all confirmed with more acts to be announced. A mix of Dance, Electro, Folk, Disco, Dub, House, Reggae, Punk and Techno will be played out across some lovely sounding stages including The Floating Stage and Lotus Gardens.

The festival promises to be eco-friendly and socially-conscious, promoting a lifestyle of health and sustainability. The ‘barefoot luxury’ ethos of the organisers’ current UK festivals will give you some idea of the kind of event to expect (at Goodtrippers we are desperately trying to find a diary gap for a pre-Christmas trip!).

Alongside a great musical line-up will be fine dining, health and well-being workshops, art, theatre, film and eco farming activities.

Nick Mulvey plays Wonderfruit
Nick Mulvey joins the Wonderfruit line-up

Jo Vidler, co-founder and director of Wonderfruit, said, “All too often, large-scale music festivals leave a scar on the land. Fields of mud, plastic, empty cans, discarded tents and more are left on-site with toxic toilet chemicals leaching into the soil. Wonderfruit actively looks to work with and improve the land it sits on using only natural and locally sourced materials for its structures and stages.”

Pete Phornprapha, co-founder of Wonderfruit said, “Since we own the land, we will be creating some permanent sustainable models for the festival, and the experience as a whole, to serve as an advocate for eco-friendly and sustainable ways. We want to help people understand that social responsibility and enterprising shouldn’t be viewed separately. Part of the proceeds will be used to create opportunities to ignite the movement through the year and not only at the festival.

“It is a long-term goal and this is just the start. We are working with the vest people in all relevant fields to make sure that the programme is developed properly over the years to better impact lives and values in society. And, of course, to celebrate and have fun.”

For more information about Wonderfruit, and to book tickets, visit www.wonderfruitfestival.com


Explore Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago with Song Saa Foundation

Join the new ‘Journeys of Change’ tours to find out how the Song Saa Foundation is making a positive impact on the people and places of Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago

Fancy an unforgettable trip to Cambodia’s southern coastal region? The Song Saa Foundation, an initiative of the luxury eco resort of Song Saa Private Island, has launched a new programme of fascinating tours in this generally undiscovered region. The ‘Journeys of Change’ tours allow visitors to get first hand experience of the Foundation’s charity projects across the Koh Rong Archipelago.

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The region itself is a beautiful mix of palm-fringed beaches, coral reefs and dense tropical rainforest, all home to a vibrant range of animal and marine life, and indigenous Khmer communities. The Song Saa Foundation runs a number of charity projects in the region to improve the lives of local people and help protect precious species and habitats. On a four-day ‘Journeys of Change’ tour, visitors can see exactly how these projects are making a positive impact in Koh Rong, while using the luxury eco resort of Song Saa Private Island as their base.

Accommodation on the tour

All tour bookings include a four-night stay in a Jungle Villa in Song Saa Private Island (twin share), complete with private pool and sea views. The tour price also includes all drinks and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There are several opportunities during the tour for guests to spend some time at their leisure and enjoy the spa and water-sport facilities on offer. The multi award-winning luxury resort is considered a leader in sustainable tourism due to its continued commitment to reducing waste and energy use, recycling and reusing wherever possible, and being fair employers that support the local community and local livelihoods. (You can find out more about their sustainability credentials here).

Tour itinerary

Day 1: Boat transfer from Sihanoukville; welcome drinks at Song Saa and introduction to the programme

Day 2: Introduction to Khmer words and customs; island safari around Koh Bong and Koh Ouen; Khmer fishing village encounter including participation in an education workshop with the Foundation’s youth environment group, the Song Saa Sea Turtles

Day 3: Boat of Hope Voyage – join the monthly outreach programme visiting communities across the archipelago to offer clinics and deliver nutritional support. Lunch will be a special picnic on the beautiful 5-mile beach.

Day 4: Guests can pick a morning and an afternoon activity from the following: Marine conservation encounter (help the work of the conservation team in the islands’ marine reserve); Rainforest conservation encounter (work alongside Foundation staff as they survey the surrounding rainforest); Garden to Plate cuisine experience (learn the art of sustainable food growing and Khmer cooking); The World is Your Basket (learn how to make a traditional Khmer basket).

Day 5: Spend the morning at leisure or taking part in one the activities listed above; boat transfer back to Sihanoukville.

Dates, prices and booking

The four-day tour costs £980, which includes accommodation on a full-board basis, speedboat transfers, and all charity project excursions and activities. Tours take place 16-20 of each month in June, July, August and September 2014. For booking and further information visit www.songsaa.com or email: reservations@songsaa.com. For full information about the Song Saa Foundation and its work visit www.songsaafoundation.org.

Recommended for… Those looking to get involved with charitable projects in Cambodia, but who only have limited time

Be aware that… Flights to Cambodia are not included in the tour price

‘Good’ credentials:

  • 100% of tour fees go towards continuing the charitable work of the Song Saa Foundation in Cambodia
  • Stay at a leading sustainable eco resort
  • Join and support marine conservation, rainforest conservation, and community charity projects
  • Tour groups kept to a maximum of 10 people to ensure minimal impact


(Please note: Google Marps marker is only an approximate indiction of location)

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Meet the sun bears of the Wildlife Rescue Project, Thailand

The sun bears of southeast Asia are classed as a vulnerable species, but there are some good news stories. We caught up with PoD Volunteer to hear about how three of their resident sun bears, Ginger, Ben and Jessia, are getting on at the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Thailand…Bear_Praew

Currently the PoD Wildlife Rescue project in Thailand is home to 28 rescued beers, both the Malayan sun bear and the Asiatic black bear. Almost all bears at the centre were previously kept as pets in private homes and temples, however, a few were also confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade as cubs. Caring for the bears is not easy – they are very destructive, eat a lot, need large enclosures to be without stress, and because of their past as pets (being fed the wrong food) their medical condition needs close attention. Some bears are diabetic or have bad teeth from eating sweets for many years before they arrived at the Wildlife Rescue Centre.

Bear_PindaThe arrival of Ginger, Ben and Jessia

In September 2012, the centre received a call from a temple in Southern Thailand asking for help with some unruly bears. It’s very common in Thailand for people to donate wildlife to temples, even though they are far from ideal locations to keep wild animals, and in many cases medical care and sufficient nutritional food is not available. Thankfully, in this case the abbot had called the Wildlife Rescue Centre for assistance.

On inspection, the enclosures at the temple were not strong enough and two of the bears regularly escaped from the cage, destroying property in the local area. To reduce the threat to the community and improve the welfare of the bears, the abbot had decided that the best decision was to give them up.


Life at the Wildlife Rescue CentreBear_Ben

All three rescued bears, named Ginger, Ben and Jessia by the team, moved straight to the large open enclosures at the Wildlife Rescue Centre. This is where the real work (and skill) comes in as the centre tackles the issue of getting the bears to embrace sharing an enclosure!

Jessia is a rather boisterous character and in the first few weeks Ginger was not particularly welcoming towards her over-enthusiastic approach. In the initial introduction – when the gates between the enclosures were opened – Jessia ran straight up to play with Ginger but it was a bit too much and Ginger decided to climb to the top of one of the bear towers, making it clear that Jessia was not allowed to follow her!

Bear_PheemaiOver the weeks, the Wildlife Rescue Centre continued to introduce the bears in small sessions. As time progressed, Ginger became accustomed to the energy that Ben and Jessia both display. The centre continued to separate the bears at feeding time to ensure that competition didn’t emerge, but the centre is happy to report they are now living together very peacefully.

The more relaxed they are, the more their personalities shine through: Jessia and Ginger often play together, but Ben has always remained more distant. Jessia has taken a shine to a particular spot on a concrete tree while Ben very much enjoys searching for food that volunteers hide. Ginger has lost a good amount of weight and hopefully, with the large enclosure and her balanced diet (with less candy!) she will be healthier every day. The three bears all sit together while feeding and share the same climbing trees – it has definitely been a successful integration.

Would you like to join the team and volunteer with PoD at the Wildlife Rescue Centre in Thailand?Cleaning one of the bear pools

  • You’ll be helping to look after over 300 rescued animals including bears, primates, birds, reptiles and other small mammals.
  • Tasks including feeding the animals and cleaning their enclosures
  • You could also be helping construct new enclosures and taking visitors on tours
  • You’ll be working 6 days a week, 6.30am – 5pm but the atmosphere is relaxed and informal, just remember you’ll get more out of it the more effort you put in!
  • The centre is based on temple grounds around 100m south of Bangkok – this peaceful location is by a lake which houses a few ‘gibbon islands’ used to rehabilitate rescued gibbons. It’s 25km from the beaches of Cha Am and Hua Hin.


For more information about the project, including dates and prices, visit www.podvolunteer.org/Animals/wildlife-rescue-thailand.html



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Lost in Laos? Volunteering in Vang Vieng

Guest blogger Ellie Cambridge, of NGO Frontier, lifts the lid on the Laos Volunteer Adventure project

the beautiful landscape of Vang Vieng150km north of Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, you will find the quaint town of Vang Vieng which sits within a breathtaking and mesmerising location – it’s no surprise that this town has become a hot destination on the tourist and backpacker trail. The town is completely surrounded by limestone cliffs, at the foot of which you can find the town’s most famous natural resource – the idyllic Nam Song river. Tourists and locals alike gather here for kayaking or tubing – and you can hop off your chosen river transport and explore the numerous caves that Vang Vieng boasts. The town, which still manages to maintain a peaceful lifestyle, despite its popularity, also has several lagoons which are every bit as exotic as you’d expect.

But for those wanting to also make a positive difference to the area, Frontier’s Laos Volunteer Adventure makes the most of the beautiful surrounding while getting volunteers involved in work that greatly benefits the local community.

The project has one clear and precise goal – the sustainable development of the children in Vang Viengcommunity. This is reflected in the project itself uses environmentally friendly building methods and farming practices (bio-gas, permaculture, and mud-brick), which will all assist in encouraging sustainable future development and will help preserve the natural environment for future generations.

Teaching for the future

The activities that volunteers get involved with on a daily basis are teaching, sustainable building, organic farming, bio-gas technology, water supply, and waste management. Teaching is valuable tool in terms of creating awareness and will help change the way that future generations approach sustainable development and farming. Volunteers on the project can make a real difference in the way the community flourishes by teaching (as creatively as possible) the importance of sustainability. Teaching English to young and enthusiastic children and young adults at the projects community centre is also conducted on a daily basis, which is important for their further education.

delicious local food in Vang ViengFarming the land and new technologies

An emphasis is put upon the ideals and practises of organic farming within the community. An important part of the project is to tend to the various crops of fruit and vegetables that are grown naturally in the fertile soil found on site. Tasks will also include replanting and harvesting when necessary, and volunteers will of course get to enjoy the fruits of their labour by eating the produce during meals! Bio-Gas technology is something that the project is currently setting up, and it is hoped that in the future all of the local homes will use this form of technology for energy; it decreases the use of firewood and generates natural fertiliser that can be used as part of the organic farming programme.

Click here to find out more about the Laos Adventure Volunteer project.

Recommended for… Anyone who wants to be submersed within a new culture and get hands on experience making a tangible difference in the lives of villagers.farmland in Vang Vieng

Be aware that… Accommodation is clean and comfortable, but sleeping arrangements are shared dormitory-style.

‘Good’ credentials:

  • Grassroots, authentic volunteering experience
  • Long-term and sustainable green development


About the author: Ellie Cambridge works for Frontier, an NGO dedicated to safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystem integrity, and building sustainable livelihoods for marginalised communities in the world’s poorest countries. Find out more about Frontier’s volunteer projects, ethical adventure trails and gap year planning.

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