Sunday, June. 21, 12:25 AM
Pang Term, Thailand
Right now I’m writing (offline) from a tiny hut made of bamboo and leaves. We’re on a farm called Second Home, about an hour west of Chiang Mai, northern Thailand’s largest city. To call it a large city is rather funny, though, as it feels more like a little town… totally bikeable, even walkable. It’s so Beautiful, though, filled with amazing buddhist temples everywhere. It seems that every block there’s another one (or three), and they’re adorned with loads of golden embellishments, dragons, and of course Buddhas… there’s never too many Buddhas! In Hinduism, I could understand a temple having a dozen different shrines, with different gods in each, but in the Buddhist temples you enter and there’s an altar area, but instead of a singular Buddha there’s a huge one in the middle, and contless little ones around him. It seems a little over-the top and monotheistic for my taste… besides Buddha never preached for you to worship him. He stressed that everything is inside YOU and ME… another example of organized religion straying too far from it’s inspiration. Don’t get me wrong, though… there are MANY buddhas, hence the multiples, and it’s all easy to enjoy and admire.
This farm is owned and run by a Monk named Chinnaworn. He’s actually on retreat for a couple months in Vietnam, so people who live and volunteer here are running it. Unlike the other farms I’ve been on, it’s extremely unorganized, and in the truest sense of it’s name (Second Home) you can do anything you want, with no obligation. Of course, everyone here contributes in a multitude of ways, so it’s really nice. Whatever experience you want here, you have. Farming, cooking, planting, weeding, cleaning, building, playing, sleeping, reading… the monk took this land 1.5 years ago and wanted to live simply, in mud huts and growing his own food. He also wanted it to be a place where anyone can come and just Be. It’s a really nice example of just doing it, keeping the door wide open, and letting life happen.
There are ponds, waterfalls, houses being built by volunteers who want to stay here for a long time, and lots of land and crops. Today we went and helped some of the neighboring villagers pick soybeans, (everyone helps each other when there’s harvesting to be done!), and we kept a couple bags of beans, and to complement dinner we made some soy milk (so easy!) and from the leftover fibrous bean matter we made a desert pudding… it’s pretty cool to go from picking to eating to composting the remnants, the complete cycle, in one day.
I still have no idea what I’m doing (in life). I’m not worried, and ironically I feel like I haven’t really done much traveling, and have much more to do! Really, I’ve only been on half a dozen farms so far, so I’m planning to stay more focused on getting this farming experience fully… I think we’ll visit a couple more farms in Thailand, do a little more vacationing at the beaches in the south before leaving, and then I’ll do heaps of Wwoofing in New Zealand. I’m not at all convinced that I’m ‘transformed’ yet… I want to live more simply, and I keep slipping back into old habits (whenever I’m in “the city”, splurging and geeking out and eating processed things). I’m getting better, but I want to really have all the tools and experience under my belt to bypass the system and be happy with it, to live a more sustainable life.
It’s Father’s Day, and I managed to video-call home to Dad (via the satelite internet link in the mud hut next to the waterfall.) We had a really nice conversation about food and farming, organics and sustainability, and I’m thrilled that my exploration has kindled an interest in my family, too! Dad and Dineen are reporting back on the local organics scene which they are now taking note of, and it makes me so happy! Hopefully I’ll actually learn something out here which I can put into action, to be a good asset someday for those who have an interest in eating and living more responsibly. So I’m working on it… one day at a time! Sometimes I spent too much time thinking about my next move, but for now I’ll focus on being here and doing and learning what I can through trail and error. If only I wasn’t suffering so much from my asthma… What is it about nature that makes me sick? So many people have described how their health suffers in urban environments due to pollution… but I’m from New York, and it’s that environment that my body is most accustomed to. It’s always been like that too… whenever I visit nice green luscious places like Virginia, the Carolinas, Florida, California or upstate New York, my allergies flare up! Of course herbal remedies would be preferable, but I don’t know how much longer I can hold out before I need to go see a doctor. I’d take an Ayurvedic doctor’s advice in a heartbeat, but I’m not in India anymore! Such is life in motion!