08.08.16 – 22.08.16
Lets just start of by saying WOW, what an experience!
When we were in a hostel in Seoul, we met a recently retired couple who were WOOFing around the world to travel and make their money stretch further. Their experiences inspired us to do something similar. WOOFing (Working On Organic Farms) is an organization where volunteers work on a farm for free in exchnage for free food and accommodation. Through our online research we found Pun Pun (not associated with WOOFing, but same principle applies).
Pun Pun is a 2-hour “tuk tuk”ride from Chiang Mai. The tuk tuk is more like a local delivery truck.To say our first 20 minutes was eye opening would be an understatement. We arrived at the farm during the midday lunch break (and the scorching heat), so barely anyone was around, then we were showed to our mud hut room with a bamboo mat as a bed and given a machete and encouraged to join the afternoon work assignment of tree-lopping! WOW! What. A. Start. It was a real change from our regular travel.
Once we chatted with the local people who were part of the Pun Pun community we began to enjoy our time. We spent two amazing weeks here submersed within local life. Pun Pun is a community of about 25 people, mainly Thai, all committed to sustainable, ecologically friendly living. The grow a lot of their own food, support the local community and each other and when they can, invest time into others. They’re really passionate about spreading the word on sustainable living options to their fellow Thai’s and offer courses they can attend to take new knowledge into other communities and villages.
Our days here were very routine.
9:00am-12:00pm: Morning work
12:00pm-3:00pm: Lunch and rest
3:00pm-6:00pm: Afternoon work
6:30pm: Showers and dinner
8:00pm: Bed time
Each day the work was different and the longer you stay the more comfortable you feel with completing tasks you see that need doing or those that fit your skills. We spend two days towards the end of our time re-organising the communities library. A sense of achievement when it was complete! Other than that we planted cocoa trees, grass to stabilise river banks, removed vines and weeds from existing trees, broke down trees for firewood, feed the cows and chickens and helped prepare food for meals.
Everyone in the community, WOOFers or locals, hepled prepare and cook food. We all ate together. All food is vegetarian, except for the use of fish, and what we ate was exceptional. P’Daeng and Nong cooked sum first class Thai cooking and Bianca learnt a lot from these ladies.
Our time at Pun Pun, was reflective of our entire trip; in that the people make the experience. We met so many passionate people. People passionate about Thai culture, sustainability, teaching other, helping the Burmese at the border and refugees among other things. We also spent time with Kat, another WOOFer, who lives in Fremantle of all places and having her made our integration into Pun Pun life a lot easier. Even the locals and Shan State young people that came and spent time at Pun Pun during our stay taught us more about the world than you could ever read about.
WOOFing is not for everyone and Pun Pun, while an excellent place, was a tough initiation into WOOFing life. We would both recommend people to WOOF at some stage, old or young; it broadens the mind, teaches life skills and allows you to meet wonderful people.
– If WOOFing speaks to you, sign up to the website of a particular country and do it.
– Be prepared before you go to Pun Pun – gum boots, gloves, water bottle, hat, sunscreen, deet, long sleeves and trackpants are a must.
– Bring lots of books or similar to help you relax and pass the hours between work.