Tacomepai, between adventure and learning

I am back in Tacomepai for a 2-weeks class on the permaculture theory and practice. I am impressed by the amount of knowledge we have been sharing. I felt like a sponge! The day usually starts at 6:30 am by gathering fire wood, working in the paddy fields, following a cooking or yoga class. Then we gather ater breakfast in the class room for some theory before putting it into practice. This way, we plant tree, dig dams, built a water filter, make compost, EM and wood vinegar and even design and plant our own vegetable garden.

Apart from the classic permaculture teachings, we discover the traditional way to live in Northern Thailand, learning how to make coconut oil, tofu, fermented soy bean pancakes, natural soap and of course tousands way to use bamboo. We spent 2 days in the jungle, cooking the food we found on the way (mushrooms, roots, leaves and flowers) and the sticky rice in a piece of bamboo. And thanks to the help of a few Thai people, we built a nice bamboo hut to spend the night. I was so glad I invested in a good machete. The next morning, we learned how to do bamboo baskets before bathing in a waterfall. Such nice experiences! The evenings were a little quitter, playing music around a fire, watching fire shows or some permaculture documentaries. Thanks to Bank, we always had amazing vegan Thai food for our meals, and also some homemade drinks. Delicious!

I learned so much, not only from Sandot, Chen ou Dan (our official teachers) but from all the participants and volunteers. We were about 30 people from the states, South Africa, France, Scotland, Australia, Thailande, Malaysia… with various backgrounds and project, but with the same motivation! We finished the class by designing our own projects in small groups. Now I have plenty of friends to visit and help around Asia and the world!

Once the class was finished, Emmanuelle, who volunteered 2 years in Togo with the same organization as me, arrived. We talked for hours about our African experience while working at the farm. I could stay forever at Tacompai, but I had to leave to visit a high school friend, who happens to be in Pattaya.

Here are the pictures:

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Tea drier on the Bolovens Plateau

Arrived in Pakse, I directly go meet South and her family, 40 km away, in their tea, coffee and pepper plantation. They own 4 hectares of land and are part of a coffee and tea cooperative. They dry the tea leaves themselves and sell their products in a nice little coffee and tea shop. South was born in Laos but she spent most of her life in France. She just came back to Laos to help her brother Sène, her sister in law, Touy, and their two boys.

Their plantation is full of fruit trees, herbs and spices: passion fruits, cinnamon tree, macadamia nuts, avocados, papayas, bananas and plenty of herbs and spices I don’t even know the name, but with which they cook amazing Laotian food! I discover the different processes to dry tea leaves (green, white, red and yellow tea are all coming from the same tea tree, only to drying process is different), start big compost piles with cabbage for the coffee trees, prepare tea tree cuttings, do some weeding and sort coffee beans as well as teach some English to the boys. I even played the touristic guide from time to time presenting the plantation to the numerous visitors (French, Swiss, Israeli, Chinese, Russians…) stopping for a cup of coffee.

I love to spend time in the shop having a great cup of tea and talking with the travelers in the middle of the coffee, tea and pepper trees. I also test amazing Laotian food: bamboo sprout filled with fish, bowls of rice filled with pork meat, caramelized pork, corn and tapioca porridge, and the country tradition meal: chicken cooked in many different ways with local herbs. And I finally tasted the durian fruit, very smelly, like French cheese!

I left Laos with nice memories and discoveries, to go back the North of Thailand where I am going to follow a 2-weeks class on permaculture.

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Dreamtime, a little piece of paradise

 Dreamtime is a guest house situated 25km outside Vientiane, in a remote place next to a nice river and waterfalls. Mike and Michelle, an Australian/Belgium couple, are welcoming visIMG_7897itors all year long and serve them great food. The houses are in recycled wood and lay on piles surrounded by water because of the termites. The atmosphere is very relaxed. Sitting on mats, people eat, drink tea or beers, smoke, play music or chess, talk about travels… before bathing in the waterfall!

They also sometimes host a few volunteers, usually tourists who love the place so much, they decide to stay longer and help. I spend a few days there cleaning paths, repairing houses, serving meals and making dreamcatchers. But I was not learning so many things about permaulture, so I just continued my way to the south…

I had to stop in VientiaIMG_7904ne to make my 2 months-visa for Thailand. It was an occasion to follow people, I met before hitchhincking, to a local karaoke. I couldn’t sing because they only had Laotian love songs available. But is was vunny and every singer got a score at the end…

After trying some insects on the market, I take a night bus for Pakse, to reach a coffee, tea and pepper plantation on the Bolavens plateaux.