Rice Farming – A hard day’s night
A quick jump into an airplane and I land in Khon Kaen the door to the wonders of east. The flight that takes only an hour from Bangkok is fast and without any hassle so I am full of energy to explore the countryside. As the car comes to a stop at Me kin Organic Farm (Me Kin Farm) I am ushered into the “reception area” and welcomed like a friend, a feeling you get a lot in Isan. Standing in the shade I am enjoying a lot of refreshments which included a lemongrass juice, some organic coffee from Chiang Mai and a home-brewed spirit named satho (I have to correct here – there were a couple of shots involved) which you basically drink like a tequila combining it with salt and a bite from a wild mango instead of the lime. These wild Mangos are very rare here and are grown on the farm have a sour taste to them and even look like limes.
Getting excited for more I start to explore the area with my guide learning about long beans, strawberries, mulberries and of course rice farming. It is around noon and the heat is starting to melt my brain as I am invited to relax in the shade under the palm leaf roofs as the gentle breeze helps me cool down. The hut is in the middle of the rice field standing on stilts and open to all sides as I take in the view I realize it is finally time for lunch!
I am served a delectable meal with all ingredients coming from the farm and dishes that include a delicious papaya salad, barbecued chicken, laab kai (minced chicken spicy salad) and red rice. In tradition with Thai culture I share my food with my fellow travelers on a big table, which is called Khantok.
Well fed and relaxed i get down to business and start planting rice seedlings in a bed of water and mud, which i do of course – barefoot. The sensation on my feet would be best described as walking on soft marshmallows. Each rice seedling is placed along a rope which spans across the field (the pros here of course do not need any guidelines). The work is extremely hard but somehow also has an meditative aspect to it as I crouch down to set each seedling by hand carefully. The respect I have for the workers here doing this each day is indescribable. Rice Farming is not for the faint hearted!
There is so much to do, learn and see at this farm and the owners are lovely and helpful. You could spend the night in one of the huts right out there on the rice fields which sounds amazing, you could learn how to prepare Thai dishes, get in depth knowledge on any fruit or vegetable grown here and probably if you ask nicely you could learn how to make Sato.
Please be aware that this experience is something the owners just started and the numbers of attendees per day are at 10 people maximum right now and you need to book in advance. Almost all employees speak English and are eager to bring you closer to world of farming in Thailand.
For now i will take a nap in my hammock and dream of harvest season.