I arrived in Pai a little city lost in a small valley, but full of tourists! It looks like a touristic resort for Europeans and Americans, walking in mini-shorts in the streets, while Thai people are managing the shops. The city is full of vegetarian or vegan restaurants as well as hippie clothes shops. The atmosphere is very relaxed, but far from the Thai culture. Fortunately, once you are outside the city you can enjoy the beautiful rice fields and buffalos. And when you go further in the mountains, you can enjoy nice trekking and waterfalls.
I am joining David and Lilly, an americano-german couple, who decided to start a food forest 3 years ago. The land was used before only to grow rice with chemical, so it is full of clay. So they have to work a lot and be patient to rebuild a good soil with mulching and composting. There are welcoming volunteers only since a few months. We spend our days planting trees and constructing an “adobe house” (with mud). I am learning many things like planting a fire break, mulching with various materials, and mixing to good material to plaster the “adobe house”.
After spending a whole days the feet and the hands in earth, mud and buffalo poo, it’s a really pleasure to bath in the river, among the fireflies before enjoying a great meal like rice with pumpkin and coconut milk. I also become addicted to sweetened soy milk and logan fruits !
David and Lilly are always ready to share their experience, but also the lessons they learned from their mistakes. The beginnings have been tuff for them, as they were only two people to do everything. They were missing money and labor. They think, if they had to start again, they would pay more attention to:
– Fund raising, easy for a reforestation project
– Creation of a community, where each person has a specific task
– Networking, especially with the village around, to get their support when needed
Before leaving Pai, I bought a new music instrument, called “ukulele” (a small guitar). So now I will be able to animate great nights under the stars (because for « around a fire » it is too hot)…