With our stomachs full and the chores tended to, we set out on the supposed 5 hour drive to Buriram, where we were hoping to find a new farm. We were less than an hour in when Rao, our host, decided it was time for the first break. We ate lunch and chatted for a bit before heading off again. I doubt it was more than half an hour before the next stop happened. We drove up to a stunning temple for a little nap. Three of us decided to skip the nap and, instead, start trekking up to the temple which lay approximately 510 steep steps up a hill… Dare I mention the near 35 degrees? It was near unbearable at points, but the view made it all worthwhile.
With sweat dripping from our every crevice we sat down and peacefully enjoyed a sweet, ripe mango, only to be interrupted by a monkey on a mission. He only got away with one mango and a plastic bag… and probably a bruise on the head from the mango that was sent flying in his direction. But all is well and good – I got to pat a cute mare and her foal.
Into the car we piled. As the sun began to set, Rao decided to stop by a huge lake.
And this dog could not take her eyes off all our snacks:
So as you could imagine, the five hour trip ended up being closer to eleven hours with at least six breaks along the way. Eventually, however, we did make it to the permaculture convergence, where the last workshop was wrapping up and most people were fast asleep. Even in the dark this place was paradise! Young coconuts, ponds, and plants were everywhere. At 1am, after setting up our sleeping quarters, we headed down to the main hall where we were shown how to tap a bamboo stalk for water… later that morning we got to taste the water, which had dripped straight from the stalk into a plastic bottle – all with our help.
The first thing on the schedule, was a tour of the grounds, which was led by the owner. We got introduced to all the various plants she was growing.
After a bafflingly nutritious breakfast we were eager to learn all about live tree architecture. It is amazing how motivated these people are to change the ways of our modern lifestyle by incorporating sustainable solutions… Such as building structures with live trees! It was at this workshop where we worked up the courage to talk to the host we are now staying with.
The rest of the day consisted of snacking on lots of organic foods, like coconut, banana chips, dried longan, and pork rinds.
We went to three other workshops that day:
- Water management in Buriram with the mayor
- Sustainable water filtration systems that use multiple stages using charcoal, sand, gravel, etc.. Louise is pretty excited to try implementing this into her
- And a very abstract (and honestly it was a load of baloney) workshop on the dragon dream method… basically guys, you gotta remember to complete your projects, include people in you projects, and celebrate. Do not forget to celebrate.
Oh, and my favourite part was the hands-on and interactive cooking session, where we learnt how make peanut butter and fermented radishes.
I might have helped clean out the last of the peanut butter from the awesome KitchenAid blender. While learning about the peanut butter, we got talking to the woman in charge; a long-term volunteer at a farm called ‘The Mindfulness Project’… So not only did we manage to find one awesome farm where we could stay, we created a whole network, reaching all the way to South Africa. Can I just say well done to Louise and I? We will give ourselves a pat on the back!
Dinner was served on the lawn, where we sat crosslegged eating barbecued meat and scraping coconut sticky rice out of the centre of a bamboo stalk, all while chatting about everything you think people would chat about at a sustainable farming convention. After dinner there was a few hours of jamming, where people danced, sang, and drummed their hearts out.
This is the view from our cute bungalow room:
The next day was much slower and more relaxed… If that is even possible. We only managed to attend one workshop supposedly about superfoods… again, super abstract and very very spiritual. Next came the posing for a group picture:
If I look like Im in pain… That’s because I am – this must have been the 15th picture we took. We then packed up our back packs, ate our last super-nutritious lunch and said goodbye to Rao and his friends, who we have grown to like very much. We then hopped in the car with our new host and his 4 year old son and drove the four hours to Pak Chong. We were greeted at the farm by 6 other volunteers and one cute 2-year-old Turkish boy.