Wilderness Lodge! near Nam Khong River, an hour or so into the mountains from Pai, Thailand
How strange it is to be back in a community that is so different from Sadhana! First of all, it’s so small– there’s only 5 of us here now. Peter, a slow and calm Hungarian man, sets the intention for the place while Alona, a kindly German woman who has three weeks volunteering here (and lots of other farming experience) under her belt makes everything go smoothly. Ginoene, a French man new to WWOOFing, and we arrived just two days ago. The money thing is also a bit funny. On CSing (how we found out about the place), it says to chip in for food, which we are completely fine with. But in person, there are signs up that estimate the cost of breakfast, dinner, snacks, water/tea/other beverages, sleeping in a tent, hut, and so on. One meal is estimated to be 45 Baht. The costs add up quickly! But then there’s another list of ways you can reduce your expense to the community by helping out. For 45 Baht an hour, you can garden. Sweeping inside is 30 Baht an hour. We haven’t been able to get a clear answer yet as to how much we should contribute which can be problematic since we don’t want to monetarily support non-vegan things. So that’s the other way the Wilderness Lodge is different:
It’s also not a vegan community. Meaning milk, eggs, cheese, fish and perhaps other animals are consumed here daily.
We weren’t sure how much the non-veganness would matter, but it has become clear that we will leave here in two days because of it. I keep alternating between an enchantment with the land, the coolness of the air, the river, dogs and cats, and the lush vegetation, and a strange sadness in not connecting with the people who live here. As Julian said to me earlier, “I’m just not sure how much I agree with this project.” And that’s exactly it. I can’t seem to feel dedicated knowing that the people here have a way different belief system than I.
I’ll tell you from the beginning: Our last night in Chiang Mai, we were looking up CSing hosts in Pai and stumbled on Peter’s profile. It sounded great! Nestled in a valley in the mountains, river, farming, etc. just not vegan. After five hours on a very bumpy and windy road, and one hitch, we arrived at late dusk, and were welcomed into the main hut for dinner. My first thought was, “yippee! dinner! we haven’t eaten much all day” immediately followed by “oh no, I hope it’s vegan…” Luckily it was, except the boiled eggs on the side. After we ate rice, a nice stir-fry, and chapati with jam, Julian and I offered to do dishes. As we were cleaning, the others started talking about the plans for the chicken hut. Julian and I exchanged worried looks. Then, the three of them came into the kitchen to start making cheese out of the old cow’s milk that had been sitting out. Alona offered us some whey and Peter reminded her, “they can’t eat that. they’re veeeegun!” She exclaimed how sad she was that we couldn’t try it and so on. My heart was sinking fast. Since we had just arrived, I wasn’t feeling up to some cheerful explanation on why we don’t have milk or eggs. I just wanted to ignore her. So that’s turned into my coping strategy from then on. This morning again the talk turned to chicken coop work and I just stretched out on the wood floor next to the cat and pet her. Eventually I fell asleep.
By the time the planning was finished, I woke up and Julian and I picked another project to work on: fixing the watering system for the coffee plants. We spent the next few hours stuffing rags into bottles to slow the draining of water into the plants’ roots. Peter and Gione though, worked on the chicken coop cutting wood for the house. I know they probably aren’t judging us, but I just feel like I did easier work than they did. I would really like to explain to them why I disagree with keeping chickens to eat their eggs and most likely their flesh. But I don’t think they realize we disagree. This is where being better with NVC could come in handy. I know I’ve also avoided waking up to meditate with them in the morning because I have a strong judgement that you cannot be serious about spirituality unless you recognize the spirits of all animals.
That has left us with the decision to leave. So, next stop: Pai! The so-called hippy mecca of Thailand where we’ll explore and hopefully find a new farm.
Update: I had wanted to share with the other community members about why we were leaving sooner than we thought, but couldn’t think of a way to do it. We actually ended up leaving without saying anything and I have felt really sad about it. What a failure to stand up for animals. Does any one have any suggestions on how to say something through a message on CSing?