“After spending a week at Golden Buddha, my greatest appreciation of the resort I can’t emphasize enough (beyond the seclusion in a mesmerizing natural environment unparalleled in my experiences living in Thailand) is their mission to support the local community with true eco-tourism. I was amazed and overjoyed to learn all of the staff members, from the smiling and friendly faces behind the bar counter to the women working in the kitchen to the maintenance men who wave as you walk by, are all local people from the small fisherman village on the other side of the island.
I actually had the opportunity to visit the village, Tey Pey Yoi, through an eco-tour offered by the resort where guests have a chance to learn from local school children the art of batik painting while contributing positively to the community and school as guests. My experience with our tour guide Eak was absolutely AMAZING. His giant genuine smile and his passion and local expertise about the wildlife we saw as we crossed the savannah to reach the village was the highlight of my stay at Golden Buddha (listening to the whistles he knows by heart to communicate with different birds isn’t something you easily forget). The village itself is incredibly humble and reflective of a very low standard of living, with stilted one room homes over the water or small concrete houses covered by tin roofs on the sand. While the village way of life is a beautiful culture to witness and set in an awe-inspiring backdrop of local fisherman boats, mangrove trees, and mountains from the mainland, it brings a reality to where Golden Buddha’s staff come from, and made even more clear to me the dedication and mission of the resort to train and offer employment opportunities specifically to the inhabitants of the island. They even hire an English intern every season to provide free English language lessons to the staff, an opportunity I can now fully understand after visiting the humble and under-funded school where most of the staff recieved their education.
In a competitive tourist industry near places like Phuket and Khao Lak, Golden Buddha is true to the label “”eco-tourism”” by being an integral contributor to the local community. Knowing I am directly helping contribute to the livelihoods of the warm and beaming staff who made my stay so welcome gives me a feeling of pride as a traveler who is intentional about the footprint she leaves behind as a guest in a foreign country.”