Since leaving behind conflict and poverty in their native countries, Kam Kampun and Nittaya Soponprakobkit have not ventured beyond the forested hills in northern Thailand they now call home. Without Thai ID cards, their movement is restricted. Their handmade creations, however, are set to travel the world. Kampun, 60, makes beautiful paper from mulberry bark and Nittaya, 32, has woven striking black, white and grey textiles which are now on sale in IKEA stores across Europe. The pair work for the Doi Tung Development Project, one of Thailand's oldest and most established social enterprises, which employs hill tribe communities, many of whom are stateless. From this month, their products can be bought at IKEA stores in six European countries, including Britain and Sweden, as part of a limited-edition collection called EFTERTANKE ("reflection") launched by the world's biggest home furnishings retailer. This is the sixth and largest collection Doi Tung has produced for … [Read more...] about Social businesses bring Thai hill products to IKEA, Bangkok supermarkets
Edge hill open days
Viet Nam News by Thu Giang HÀ NỘI - I begin a one-day tour in Tai Chung, in central Taiwan, on a beautiful day in autumn. The weather is so cool that it makes me feel happy to mix with the green atmosphere and daily life of the local residents. It's 8am when my friends and I leave our hotel in the centre of Tai Chung City to ride in a passenger car, which takes us to the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village - about 60 kilometres to the south of the city. Our car drives on the highway, which winds through mountains and hills. The mountain range is not too high, so it easily allows for views of a picturesque mountain with white clouds drifting and bobbing around the top, while the bright morning sunlight travels down through clouds, along with sparkling paddy fields and highlighting the roof of several houses built separately on the mountains' slopes. On the way to the village, Chiu Yi-Chuan, a local tour guide, tells us that since first opening in July 1986, Formosan Village had … [Read more...] about A lovely day to remember in Tai Chung
Poor patients in Vietnam and other developing countries could suffer a significant hike in the price of medicine brought on by a regional trade pact that has been impossible to track. The latest round of negotiations for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) wrapped up Monday in Australia with a sunny joint statement issued by high-ranking trade officials noting “significant progress.” But soon afterward, Reuters reported that “no breakthrough was forthcoming on the thorniest questions.” "There is no prospect for an agreement on market access (between Japan and the United States) at the moment," Japanese Economics Minister Akira Amari was quoted by the newswire as telling a news conference in Sydney on Monday. American political wonks note that congressional Democrats view approval of another free trade agreement as political suicide—a position that became poignantly public when Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid denied President Barack … [Read more...] about Vietnam, developing countries brace for toll on cutting edge drugs under Pacific trade draft
Planning a cycling trip in these remote areas of Vietnam as a solo traveller might not be the wisest decision, primarily due to the need for special permits in the less well-discovered areas, but I knew I could do without, having lived for nearly 8 years in Vietnam. I decided to initiate my 18 year-old son, Sacha, to the art of cycling his first bicycle trip ever. Our first challenge was to put the bikes on the train from Hanoi to Lao Cai and then bike 40 kilometres uphill to Sapa. There are many trains from Hanoi to Lao Cai. However, almost all sleeper seats are controlled by travel agents. It is impossible to buy sleeper tickets. Some seat tickets or a few second class sleepers may be available at the train station without pre-booking. Ask the travel agents for the latest departure at 9.45pm, the SP3. The soft-bed cabins are cheaper at around VND330,000 and you can put the bikes on the train for VND80,000. Registration for the bikes is done at the back of the train station in Hanoi. … [Read more...] about Pedalling the Northwest of Vietnam
Mario J. Schwaiger On the one hand: Hey, it's the tourist capital of Vietnam! On the other hand: It's the tourist capital of Vietnam. I decided to give it a try. I am able to think about the quality of my decision later and until now I am pretty happy I did it. There's more in Mui Ne than just Russians (Yes, really) and beach. In most of the Vietnamese cities I've visited I just went to the first guest house and asked for the price. If I liked it, I stayed, if I didn't I bargained until I was happy. Mostly the prices were between US$3 and US$7 but I wouldn't pay much more for a simple, private room. This was the first shock in Mui Ne: The prices for such things were "cheap" with US$30 and it was not so easy to find something adequate due to the whole city (actually it's just a very long street by the beach) is mostly occupied by upper-priced hotels. The trick is - like in the first district of Saigon - look for the small narrow streets and ask the families in the … [Read more...] about Is Mui Ne worth an adventure…?