Mud huts, a mute German and a little bit of Buddha
06.11.2012 32 °C
It's time again to make contact with the outer world. Another week has slipped by; that's what happens on an adventure like this one. We've weathered a tough, though exhiliarating week high in the mountains, 90 kilometres north of Chiang Mai or a slow 4 and a half hour journey on a dusty yellow,wanderley wagon. And by was that an experience as we ventured into no- man's territory. Slowly accustoming ourselves to the Thai way of life, we made our way to our collection point, a backstreet in the heart of Chiang Mai ready for road. It is in such places that Thai life is palpable. The rising heat, the dusty pavements, the hum of passing traffic and the buzz of trade merge to make lasting memories. The locals' environment is busy and crowded- everywhere is squashed and brimming with excess. Walk into one shop and it opens out into a wide food market full of fresh and exotic fruits, meats, sweets ...whatever you fancy. Take note- be prepared for spicy food... western food is rare and the challenge for the traveller is to be adventurous! Culinary items are unrecognisable and the unimaginable is to be tried ,be it bamboo salted worms or curried tapioca wrapped in pandan leaf- there is no no need for plastic packaging in Chiang Mai.
Time is not measured here. 11 o'clock runs into mid-day, that's the way it is. Nothing is prompt. This was the case as we waited to leave for our sojourn in the mountains. Our wagon would remind you of a mini version of a public style American school bus with two benches on either side of a central aisle. The lovely aspect of public travel is you encounter like minded individuals. We met Johnny and Nathan on the bus and after the initial degree of awkwardness, we pretty much bonded. Welcome to global travel, our wee Johnny from Co Down, all 6 foot tall was instantly likeable. A qualified sparky, Johnny has been travelling now for over 3 years or more and is slow to return to the land of the living. Nathan, a History major graduate from Charlotte , North Carolina had moved here for the year hoping to secure a teaching post. It was lovely to find a nice group to share our memories with.
This road trip was dangerous. Drivers overtake on bends and edge decidedly too close for comfort to the steep road falls. In fairness, the road surfaces are largely well developed, apart from the summits of mountaineous regions where you can spot the local council boys hard at work, digging. We saw some of the most beautiful views imaginable as the wagon twisted and turned climbing high up though the amazing valleys of Samoeng. This bus service is also a delivery service.Our luggage was stored on top of the wagon and by the time we arrived to our place in the mountains the aisle and the top of the carrier was overflowing with different commodities. The people high up in the valleys depend on this service to supply them with the essentials.
As we were dropped off at our our temporary home, we had to lug or luggage up a very steep climb. Pin Yan met us at the top, where his farm rests. Though our limbs were tired we felt a sense of excitement at the fact that we had a arrived in a beautiful spot. The pictures hopefully will give a flavour of what it is like to inhabit a place that is totally outside anyone's comfort zone!
They wouldn't let me up on the rickety bamboo scaffolding - 'too big, papa, too big'
This character, Tsoy, took a shine to me and brewed up some herbal hooch in a bamboo stem that he promised would make me 'very strong, wife very happy tonight'. Unfortunately, with all the wildlife rustling around the hut at night time I couldn't quite persuade my 'wife' to test his theory. I did hack my way through a lot of bamboo the following day!!
Doesn't she look well?
I thought I'd die of heat exhaustion the first day - we were in and out of the jungle all day chopping down bamboo for the hut we were building, the legs were cut to ribbons
A moment's peace. We got out of town before all that rice in the background had to be harvested (by hand)
Relaxing in the hot tub - the plug was a tennis ball!
This was the farms luxuriously appointed toilet - we decided not to upload photos of the interior in the interests of your health and safety. Niamh had a couple of 'issues' in there that nearly led to full scale mutiny but she soldiered through. It is amazing though how disciplined one can become about going to the loo when facing into the black hole of Thailand - once a day will do just fine thank you very much.
Home sweet home
And there you have it, a week on Mindful Farm. An experience unlikely to be forgotten and probably never to be repeated.