One thing I really wanted to do on this trip was volunteer on a farm. Through helpexchange.com we found the perfect spot nestled in a glorious mountain valley surrounded by limestone spires in northern Thailand. The farmer, Peter, was a soft spoken old man from Hungary. He had a hernia and swollen foot and was not able to get around to much,
so our farmstay turned into a homestay with some farming chores. I was happy to cook and clean. Peter recently made a clay oven and I had the honor of being the first to use it. Too bad I had absolutely no experience baking in a clay oven. My first loaf of bread did not cook all the way through because I did not get the oven hot enough (this is difficult without a knob to set the temperature). My second try I heated up the oven too much and burnt some rolls. My third try was success with delicious wheat berry, peanut and sesame cookies. Yay! We had all you can eat papaya, bananas, wheat berries, brown rice and fresh veggies. When we weren’t busy with chores, we engaged in hiking, wildlife watching and spelunking!
The whole area was surrounded by wonderful bamboo filled forests. Unfortunately, the forests were devoid of large animals because the locals ate them all! However we did see some great birdlife there. The region is also home to one of the largest concentrations of caves on the planet and we did our fare share of exploring caves. We”ll be going to Laos in a few days. We have to catch a bus. We will try to post more pics later.