Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Second Home Farm

This is an organic farm run by Chinnaworn, a Buddhist monk who teaches us about farming, the land, building small houses out of natural materials and Buddhism. We are in a very rural area of northern Thailand near Chiang Mai; so rural that sometimes people in the villages nearby don’t know where the place you’re looking for is.

We are really enjoying the peace and quiet here; there are no large towns anywhere nearby and it was extremely difficult to get here because nobody knew where Pang Term Village is, which is where Second Home is located. We ended up here a day late after going about 100 kilometers in the wrong direction, meeting some wonderful people who had a roadside restaurant who took Spencer around on the motorbike asking friends how to get here (nobody had any idea since we were so far away). Well, one day and 1,000 baht later we figured it out and arrived to see Chinnaworn and two wonderful women from Australia barefoot smearing mud on the side of a mud hut. We had arrived!

We wake up in the morning and take turns cooking breakfast. If we cook, we’re up at six in the morning, otherwise we all eat around eight am in the open air kitchen overlooking agriculture terraces and the jungle and watching the clouds and trees. Breakfast here is pretty open to whatever you want to cook: rice soup, curry, stir fry, eggs, anything! Spencer even made spring rolls filled with rice, coconut milk, papaya and banana. They were delicious!

After breakfast we work, which means we do whatever we feel like to help out around the farm. That could mean going with the neighbors to learn how to plant seeds, making mud bricks, dancing around in the mud pit to mix it up really nicely with your feet, repairing other huts that are falling apart, protecting the compost from the dogs, and of course weeding. Chinnaworn likes to have fun and is always dancing in the mud or telling us papayas dreamed about us and want us to hold them, things like that. If we want to clean up a bit before lunch, Chinnaworn made a small pool with a waterfall and stream that flows down by the kitchen. We can jump in the cold water and scrub off the mud, which gets everywhere especially when Spencer and I get into mud fights, or conversations as he likes to call them.

After working for the morning we have lunch then it’s free time to walk, explore, read, nap, meditate, draw, write, cook, eat, whatever you want. Chinnaworn will take one or two of us “shopping” in the evening which means wandering around the fields and hills and picking wild edible plants that are growing. He knows so much about plants and building things and cooking, it’s always a learning time. He doesn’t eat dinner so that’s up to us but sometimes he will help us cook something amazing from the plants we gathered from shopping, then at 7:30 we have a group meditation in the meditation area. Spencer brought the singing bowls he bought in Chiang Mai and we use them sometimes which really sets the energy for the meditation.

Meditation is about 40 minutes, then we usually read something from Thich Nath Han and Chinnaworn speaks for a bit then we talk about any business that we need to then it’s free time to do whatever we want. Last night we had a fire and Spencer and I made sticky rice in bamboo, or at least attempted it. Mostly it worked out and with coconut milk it was divine. We watched the stars, you could see so many and then went to sleep.

Spence and I have our own hut on the other side of the valley because all the ones on the side near the kitchen were too small or full. We walk past the neighbors’ house every day who are the coolest couple from Korea, Ben and Lee. They are so sweet and kind and happy. They have Nobby, the most affectionate and loving cat I’ve ever met that follows Spencer and I up the hill and meowed until we let him under the mosquito net and he snuggled the whole night purring next to us.

One day Spencer and I got to go to Samoeng, the next largest village nearby to do some shopping for things we couldn’t get in Pang Term for Agi to cook with. We got a ride with Ben and Lee to town and had the entire day to wander through the stalls, try to find things like carrots and mung beans and eat mediocre food compared to the fresh organic delicious meals we’ve been used to. We did get to drink some cha yen, Thai iced milk tea that is very sweet and tasty. A favorite treat for sure! It was really fun to see a smaller market and find treasures like Denver Broncos socks on a clothes table. Go figure.

We have continued to rebuild an unfinished mud hut while we’ve been here. There was a wooden bed frame in the hut and the walls were not finished, so Chinnaworn is showing us how to make a mud bed with a soil base and mud top-coat. We have also piled mud bricks up high on the walls to fill in the gaps and make windows. I even got to make a heart shaped window and Chinnaworn had Spencer and I work together on it. He is very cute and kind. We learned that in Thai if you want to use a term of endearment you call someone you love your eyeball. How fun is that? It makes sense; you do not want to lose your eyeball so you want to take good care of it, right? Hahaha!

Now, while I am writing this Spencer and I are watching the most comical bug ever putter around on the mats next to us. It has to be blind, its white and it keeps feeling its way around and has a long snout it points in the air.

It has been sunny today but the past day or two have been cloudy and we even got one full day of rain. It’s absolutely gorgeous here and we are really having a lot of fun. Gavin and Agi, two friends I met at Daruma farm are even here, which is really fun and Agi is a spectacular cook which is a bonus! We’re going to do some yoga then enjoy shopping and dinner. Thanks to Aleda for the tip to come here, we are so grateful!

Finding our way...kind of...But not all who wander are lost according to the painting
Meditation area
Main mud pit with kitchen in background and meditation area to right
Garden party
Spence, Laura and Carmen
Chinnaworn in the waterfall cleaning up. There was also a shower
Spence learning to cut the bamboo for sticky rice
Making fine tapioca mud for the inside of the huts
Maggot in love pillow (what?!?)
Misty mountain hop
Planting an avocado tree
Building a mud hut bed
Father Tree
View from our bungalow in the morning
Breakfast time
Progress on the mud hut. That's my heart window

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