WINAI RATSAIKAEW had driven a cargo trailer truck for a living for many years until he called it quits four years ago to become a farmer in Phang-nga. It never dawned on him that his tangerine orchard would be the only one in town.
The young man and his family members – none had tended to any fruit orchards before – have worked hard through trial and error growing 160 tangerine trees in Tambon Tak Dat in the capital district of the southern seaside province. Finally, Winai’s tangerine orchard, named Suan Tung Pang, has thrived beyond expectations.
What was so fascinating to Winai was not the handsome profits which he earned from the sales of his fresh tangerine. Nor did the unheralded visits of more than 2,000 people, including those who traveled 760 kilometres from Bangkok down to his orchard from dawn to dusk on weekends, excite him much.
It was the matter of fact which landed him pride and joy that his tangerine orchard has been and currently remains the only one in such unlikely environment where 90%-plus of his neighbours tend to rubber and oil palm plantations.
”The mere fact that my tangerine orchard is the one and only in town immensely thrills me. I definitely take pride with that,” Winai said to a group of visitors, handing out a freshly-picked fruit under a tangerine tree which bore dozens on each of its branches. When the farmer said ”in town” it does not only mean the capital seat of the coastal province but all other areas throughout its eight districts.
Each visitor was provided a basket to carry fruits which they may handpick for themselves while strolling in his orchard. Hats were also available upon request for those who may not brave the scorching sun.
Like those at the markets, Winai’s tangerine sold by the kilogramme but for a relatively low price, even with a 20-baht fee for each visitor’s entry into his orchard included.
Though few visitors would spend longer than a few hours around Winai’s orchard and most would prefer to stay days and nights at favorite tourist attractions on shore or offshore in the turquoise Andaman Sea, the young farmer remarked that one of Phang-nga’s uniquenesses is his own year-round green and orange spot, literally.
Top: Some tangerines. Photo: Neil Conway (CC BY 2.0)