Wetlands School Network Exchange Event

23-27 December 2009, Krabi, Thailand

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Water Watch Penang sent 1 Teacher, Miss Lee Chin Inn and two students,Chan Men Yen and Jason Chang Hao Liang to represent Malaysia in this international event. Miss Lee did a presentation titled " WATER WATCH PENANG’S WETLANDS CONSERVATION SCHOOL PROGRAMME’’. Chan Men Yen and Jason Chang will do a joint presentation titled "STUDENTS' BIOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT OF RIVER WATER QUALITY''.

 

Report of Wetlands School Exchange Event in Krabi, Thailand

23rd -27th December 2009

1. Preface

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Water Watch Penang for giving us this great opportunity and Prof Chan Ngai Weng and Ong Ke Shin in leading us during the preparation. Besides, we also would like to thank the organizer and volunteers for putting so much effort to make this event success. We really had a wonderful trip in Krabi, thanks so much!

             2. Background Information

This was the 12th Event of this kind, undertaken once every year in a wetland-area in one of the participating Asian countries. The objective of the Wetlands School Exchange Network Event is to exchange cultural and environmental information on wetlands, discuss conservation matters and develop a network among the students from different countries, as well as visit and get to know about an important wetland site in Asia.The whole event was funded by Wetlands International (WI) China, together with JGEF (Japan Global Environment Fund) as well as the local Krabi Provincial Administration.

             3. Participants

In total around 60 participants which consist of students, teachers and representatives from diverse wetland sites and  the WI offices – China, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia - from the countries Korea, China, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia participated.Malaysia took part with 6 participants:3 students: Chan Men Yen (Ian) and Jason Chang Hao Liang from Water Watch Penang, Tan Key Kang form Kuala Gula3 adults : Lee Chin Inn, a teacher from Penang and facilitator from Water Watch Penang; Goh Yong Chuan, environmental journalist and Rosemarie Anne Popp, Project-Assistant in WI Malaysia

4.Report on activities

24th  December 2009 :

  • Open Ceremony For The Event
  • Presentation from  WI Officers, Teachers and Students 

The opening ceremony was officially launched today in Ammartpanichukul School. After the welcome speech from the Master of Ceremonies, the event started by several Thai cultural dances by students from the school. One of the performance was “Welcome to Thailand” to introduce Thailand, the land of smiling to us and welcome us to Thailand as well. These were not only an entertainment, they shown their respect to us through their performance. We were impressed by their performance as they were really professional and passionate toward their culture. Next, there was welcome remark by Mr. Somsak Kittidhrakul, Krabi Provincial Administrative Organization and opening remark by Mr. Prasit Osatanon, Krabi Governor.

We felt sorry for unable to understand those remarks as they were conducted in Thai. After the great opening ceremony, a student from Ammartpanichukul school introduced Krabi Estuary Wetlands (Ramsar Site). His was concerning the endangered fauna found in Krabi Estuary Wetlands.  Before the ceremony ended, one representative from each country was invited to give a welcome speech. Jason was represented Malaysia to thanks Wetland International staff for putting efforts to organize this event, to let us know more about the wonder of our nature, especially wetlands. Jason believed that all participants will realize the important of wetlands through this event and willing to conserve it. In the afternoon, there was a presentation session for WI officers, teachers and students.

Representatives from each country were given 10 minutes for the presentation regarding “Wetlands Conservation and me”. The presentations were started with students, and followed by teachers or WI officers. For Malaysia presentors, Ian Chan and Jason Chang introduced the biological assessment of river water quality which they learned from Water Watch Penang. Tan, with Goh to help in translation from Chinese to English, he talked about how he learned about mangrove through WI-Malaysia project and how his father and himself take part in mangrove conservation in Kuala Gula, Perak recently. And for Lee, besides from a briefing about wetlands, she made an introduction about Water Watch Penang and its school programme.  For Japan presentors, the students were hardly spoke English, hence, most of the presentations were conducted in Japanese which we can’t understand. For teachers or officers, a chief ranger from Chiba Japan talked about a severely degraded wetlands site where they tried to conserve it. For Chinese presentors, they always showed very proud of the wetlands resources in their country and felt proud to take the responsibility in wetlands conservation, like a mission that they must be accomplished.  For Korea presentors, they showed us a few video-clips which were taken at their country wetlands a week ago, and that impressed us most. One of the video-clip was about waterbirds (with Black-faced Spoonbill) feeding in a lake, and another one showed many species of forest birds enjoyed bathing in a same small stream pool.  For Thailand presentors, they talked about the beauty of Krabi Ramsar site where we will visit in the next day. 

The experiences exchange among each country through presentations should be a good time for us to learn about wetlands conservation among each country. However, because of the languages gap, and also some of the presentations were too technical, so we were unable to understand some of the presentations.  Thai- cultural dance by four Ammartpanichnukul School year 8-students with the music “Rattanakosin Kingdom”.  “Welcome to Thailand” by four dancers and a singer from Ammartpanichnukul School  Jason was giving a welcome speech. 

Before the presentations started, we had our lunch at Ammartpanichnukul School hall, with Thai musical performance by the 5 of the students from the school. It was very nice music. Ian and Jason were the first students to give presentation. They were good!  

On Christmas’ eve, we had our dinner outside KPAO office. All participants received a Christmas present as well. Really thanks for their hospitality!

 
 

              25th December 2009 :

  • Cultures Exchange
  • Visit to Ammartpanichnukul School Academic Exhibition
  • Field trip to :  Tha Pom Klong Song Nam, Gastropod Fossil Site,Coastal Fishery Research, Development Centre,Nopparat Thara Beach for drawing presentation  

For the cultures exchange activities, it was a happy time for all the participants to know each other. Most of the countries present a song (we presented Raya Sayang); with exceptions that Japanese group teached us origami, and one of the Thai groups presented us some very nice traditional dance. Representatives from Ammartpanichnukul School’s language programmes also wished us some Chinese, Japanese and English Christmas songs. For the last sessions, students from each country were given a poster card to draw a topic about wetlands conservation which they will present it in the afternoon at Nopprarat Thara Beach. During the visit to Ammartpanichnukul School Academic Exhibition, we were impressed by the self-organised exhibition by the students. Without much guide from teachers, they enjoyed themselves in selling food, gave explanation for exhibition, and even had a temporarily stages to present a rock music band show. That was really fun! We were greeted nicely by the students of Ammartpanichnukul School where they invite us to enjoy foods sold at their stalls.  After lunch, we depart from Ammartpanichnukul School on a bus joined by the school’s volunteer students. On our way to our first destination Tha Pom Klong Song Nam, we learned other languages and try to communicate with students from other countries using their language. 

Tha Pom Klong Song Nam, a dense evergreen forest is the source of the short stream that flows out to the open sea. The upper stream of this crystal clear water is completely fresh. It has supported a swamp and evergreen forest communities along both sides while the lower stream receives the influence of sea water. When the sea level is high, the water becomes brackish. The forefront plants of mangrove forest grow and expend well around here. Therefore, a significant ecology system is created at the meeting points of these two land and sea water. Tha Pom Klong Song Nam is most probably the most beautiful stream we have ever seen in my life, the water is as clear as crystal with greenish blue water just like the sea. We took a mouthful of the water and it was  really good and we were surprised that it was fresher than mineral water! On our way towards Gastropod Fossil site, one representative from each country was asked to express their feelings and their opinions to the rest of the group. Ian was chosen to expreses his feeling and opinions. After Tha Pom Klong Song Nam, we head on to the Gastropod Fossil site near the beach. The well preserved mollusc fossils, or the so-called 75 million years shell cemetery, are exposed along the shoreline and headland of Ban Laem Pho, Muang district in Krabi. The mollusc fossils are interpreted as having been deposited in a fresh water lacustrine environment during the tertiary period. To date these fossils at this location are propose as the only coastal site in the world. Abundant mollusc fossils are well preserved in calcareous claystone beds, interbeded with the claystone shale, limestone and lignite layers which are found locally. The thickness of these fossil beds range from 1-2 meters and most of them lie beneath the mean spring high tide level.

Gastropods are the dominant macrofossils in these beds while Bivalves are the minor ones. After leaving the Gastropod Fossil site, we went to the Krabi Coastal Fishery  Reserch and Development Centre. There we were taken on a walk where they kept many species of marine life in separate giant tanks. The Giant Grouper with the largest as heavy as 150kg is the greatest attraction. There are also other attractions in the centre like the giant crab, clown fish and seahorses. During the visit there, the centre’s researchers took us to the Giant Grouper compartment to let us feed them.

The experience was wonderful, we were shown how the Giant Grouper reacted when being fed and how aggressive they are. Then we were shown by one of the researchers about the ‘personalities’ of the starfish and the puffer fish. It’s the first time we see starfishes learn ‘Tai Chi’ and the puffer fish ‘pop’ up.Our next destination is Nopparat Thara Beach, at the beach each country were given about 5minutes to present about the drawings they draw earlier in the day. Each country did their presentation very well and so do we. Jason was in charge for the presentation this time and he did a great job!

The title of our drawing is ‘Every Living Being Has A Right To Live’. After the presentation, we were given some free time to enjoy the scenery of the sunset and take a walk along the beach. The scenery there was breath taking. Ian and Jason even went into the sea. We walked out to the sea about 50meters but to our surprise, the water level is just below our knees. Soon after that, we took a walk to the next island. Walk to the next island?? Are you sure?? You might think its impossible, but it’s true, because the tide are low, two islands are connected to the mainland, you can take a walk from the mainland to the first island then the next island. After sunset we head back to Krabi town for our dinner. 

Our dinner that night was quite simple, we were given free time to buy whatever we want to eat at the Krabi town night market. For the first time of my life, we had eaten snacks made from worms and crickets. The food there was simple, nice and cheap! We thank a lot to the volunteer students for their help and their generosity. After dinner we went back to the hotel and that’s it for December 25. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Thai cultural performance by participants from Thailand.  Christmas carols from Ammartpanichnukul School’s language programmes students with different languages.  Ammartpanichnukul School Academic Exhibition, food selling. Ammartpanichnukul School Academic Exhibition, live music band show. Crystal clear water at Tha Pom Klong Song Nam. Beautiful scene at Tha Pom Klong Song Nam. Gastropod Fossils. Starfishes learning ‘Tai Chi’. Krabi Coastal Fishery Research and Development Centre. Jason then gave a presentation our drawing , ‘Every Living Being Has A Right To Live’.Worm snacks!!! 

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             26th Disember 2009 :

  • Field trip to : Khao Kanab Nam,Klong Prasong for Bird Watching, Koh Klang Village for Mangrove Planting
  • Farewell Dinner   

The time has passed so fast and it was the last day of the trip. The first destination was Khao Kanab Nam. It is 100 metre high hills arising from water. It is one of the outstanding natural landmarks of Krabi. Some of the students from Thailand immediately cleaned up the rubbish found there once they reached. They were good role model for all of us. We climbed up a staircase and were able to see stalactites and stalagmites in the cave. Human skeletons have been found there and it was theorized  that they were the remains of immigrants who became stranded and died after a sudden flood. Then, we went for a boat ride to Klong Prasong. There was a long boat ride. We saw the mangrove ecosystem. Once in a while, we were able to see monkeys and birds. There were some fishermen fished there. They smiled to us and showed us the fishes they caught when we passed by.We saw a wonderful scenery when we reached Klong Prasong. There was a small tower for bird watching.

We went in and were very patient to take a look for the surrounding by using binoculars. Unfortunately there were only few birds can be seen as it was a hot sunny day at that time.  After that, we did study the ecology there. We found ant lions with the beautiful holes and different species of crabs also can be found there. Some of the crabs were sensitive to our movement. So, we spend some time waiting for their appearances from the holes. We had a wonderful time in observing the organisms surviving there. Then we went for a short boat ride to Koh Klang Village to have our lunch and mangrove planting there. Koh Klang Village is a small, peaceful Muslim Village with only bikes and motorbikes are driven there. We were served with fabulous Thai food in this village.

We were greatly indebted by the hospitality from the villagers and the volunteers from the Ammartpanichnukul School. Besides, we also saw recycle bins there. The plastic bottles and aluminum cans are allocated according to the different categories. They are concerned about the environment and take part actively in conserving the nature. After ‘feeding’ our stomachs, we started to walk to the place which we were participating in planting mangrove trees. All participants took part actively and cooperated well to plant all the mangrove trees. The little cute children in the village also came and took part in the mangrove planting.

We planted almost 200 mangrove trees there. It was hoped that the mangrove trees can grow up well and we would have the chance to come back and see them in the future. Despite hardworking in planting trees, we also made nice mud painting on our faces. After cleaning ourselves, we went to Ammartpanichnukul School for the closing ceremony. The closing remark was done by Mr. Somsak Kittidhrakul, Krabi Provincial Administrative Organisation. All the participants from each country were given certificates of attendance and souvenirs. The event ended by having a farewell dinner. Despite busy barbequing the food, the representatives from each country took turn to sing on the stage. We also danced together with new friends and it has definitely enhanced our relationship. The event ended with laughter and happiness.

The experiences in Krabi are unforgettable throughout our lifes. The wonderful cultural performances, breathtaking scenery, the hard work of conserving wetlands, the hospitality of the people there to make Thailand a land of smiling which is so attractive to all of us. We hope that we will have more chances to explore this wonderful natural land in the future.  Khao Kanab Nam, natural landmarks of Krabi. Cave in Khao Kanab Nam Bird watching at Klong Prasong. Wonderful moment of catching crabs! We then toiok a group photo at Klong Prasong. Mangrove planting at Koh Klang Village.  We also did mud painting on our faces and received certificates of attendance. We also had a wonderful farewell dinner party in which Ian and Jason did Malaysia proud by singing. 

 
 

Reported by Ian Chan Men Yen, Jason Chang Hao Liang and Lee Chin Inn