Thursday, June. 25, 8:54 PM
Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Whoa, beginning a blog on precisely the same minute a day later… cool. Simple pleasures is the theme of the day!
Taking off from the last words of yesterday, and I think the only negative thing I can say at this moment is that I failed in advancing my Thai language skills today. I just Suck at teaching myself a language! Foreign language has always been my most difficult subject, garnering me my lowest grades in life (B’s, ha!), highlighting one of my greatest weaknesses… memorizing. I just can’t Recall. Phooey! Kap kun krap, stupid brain!
All re-tardiness in learning Thai aside, what a blessed day! As I’m sure Amy would agree, it’s nice and all to bounce around and see a bunch of places, but there’s nothing like posting up in one place for a while, and experiencing the sensations of being Grounded and Relaxed that come rarely to a traveler! As my third impression confirms, now that I am all settled-in, I Love Farms!
This morning I found some Crocs that actually fit my size 13 feet, and donning my conical sun hat with bandana protecting my neck underneath, I waded-out into rice paddies and plucked away through the morning. Picking rice is neither quick or easy, and my pruney hands were cramping-up by lunch time. By then I was soaked with the mud of my splashy performance: attempting to rinse away the dirt from the roots of each small bunch of water-grass. Behold, my modus operandi: Pluck, pluck, pluck, rinse, rinse, rinse, shake, shake, shake, shake, slam, slam, slam (on the toe of my Croc), rinse, rinse, rinse… Repeat 5X or until I have enough to tie a fist-sized bundle of grass with another piece of grass and toss it over my shoulder into the water behind me. That’ll probably yield about 30 grains of rice in the end! Manual labor exemplified.
I picked rice beside Long Tung, a 62-year old Lisu, each of us sitting on our own tire with a small board on it, which we also used to slam slam slam the dirt from the roots. At noon we broke for lunch, which Xxxx had waiting (just for me?) on her outdoor kitchen table. I showered my filthy self off, did my laundry in the machine (so quick and handy with the 2min. spin dry!), and came back over in fresh clothes to eat alone. I didn’t mind at all… being on my own is sort of my theme here on this farm! A friend at Second Home described how families in Indonesia never eat meals together… everyone just eats in their own time with no attempt to coordinate with the rest of the family. Just serve yourself and go! In the spirit of Indo, I enjoyed my meal serenely.
Speaking of serene, I think this is the prettiest place I’ve been yet. I’ve seen some jaw-dropping scenes, but this place is just idyllic. I wonder if the folks who live and work here have any idea how perfect their spot in the world is. I mean, Long Tung has probably been here his whole life (besides his travels to China, Burma, Laos, India…) but does he know how beautiful it is? This is what I thought as I gazed out into the valley during lunch, and later from my hammock view.
Before work, I changed into a dirty-looking but clean light-blue tee I found lying around, one I feel my friend Jase would own. Designed by Samuel Lara and labeled on the tag “The Things I’ve Swallowed”, the Murakami-esque illustration has all kinds of things – magic mushroom, slice of pizza, fish bone, a key, legos, octopus, polka-dotted blobs – falling from a [mouth] hole on top to a another [gut] hole on the bottom. I was so happy to feel a bit like my friend, who I can’t seem to get out of my mind these days.
During my second shift in the paddy, I found my groove. More relaxed this time, I knew better how to hit the roots so the dirt clumps would fall away easily and tie the bundles with the right pressure so as not to break the the grass-ties. 5PM came swiftly, broken-up by a shade break beneath a tree and a little exercise (crunches and chasing the buffalo out of the paddies a few times). I rushed back home to shower so I could sooner read in the hammock. I found my evening’s reward this morning: Jerzy Kosinski’s “Being There”. Between chapters I watched the chickens running around as if they had no heads. I finished the book as the sun set.
Dinner with the family was great… noodles and rice, bamboo shoots and veggies, bowls of cow, pig, and fish. (I had some fish… raised here on the farm!) Alea also served me some special whiskey, that he infused with rare roots from the Burmese mountains. No name but delicious! Tomorrow he’ll show me how to use the Oil Press… he has some oil pressed from niger seed (I couldn’t say it back to him when asking more about it!!) which goes for $6/liter in the Bangkok market! Apparently there’s healthy demand for organic and natural oils and gasses in Thailand. I was pleased to learn that ALL the food and fuel on this farm are made from natural sources grown right here!
Throughout the day, I ripped an entire Brad Pitt DVD box-set. (It was either Brad or Nip & Tuck… some selection!) Now I can finally watch Legends of the Fall again… haha I remember going to see that with my 9th grade girlfriend. I also got Kalifornia, A River Runs Through It, Snatch and Fight Club… what, no 12 Monkeys?!
I also got to daydream… I thought a lot about people that I love.
Farm life: Simply Pleasurable!