Monday, March 9, 2009

My Address in Thailand

Hey! I've been meaning to put this up for a while. It's ISDSI's description of what my address in Thailand is, just in case anyone wants to send me stuff... :-)

Regular mail between the U.S. and Thailand can take anywhere from 7 to 10 days (or more!) to arrive. Family and friends should send mail to:

Student Name
PO Box 222
Phra Singh, Muang
Chiang Mai, 50205

Packages that are sent through airmail often take longer than letters to arrive. Express mail (e.g. DHL) is faster. Be advised, however, that the package will probably be opened, and its contents examined by customs. Do not ship medications from the United States. All packages should have written "Gifts—of no commercial value/personal use" on the outside to identify that they are not for resale. Lists of items in packages should be general to help avoid the contents getting pilfered. Packages may still be taxed, at up to 100% of their assessed value. There is nothing ISDSI can do if your package is taxed.

When you need to receive or send something in a hurry, you can use Express mail (we recommend DHL). The physical shipping address for packages is:

Student Name
48/1 Chiang Mai—Lampang Rd (Superhighway)
Muang, Chiang Mai, 50300

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Mae Taa: Tee Bahn (At Home)

Our host family's breathtaking residence. Minimal electricity: they had lights and a TV (which, thank God, looked virtually unused). Beautiful hardwood floors. A sweet half-alfresco kitchen (I wish I had taken a picture). A gargantuan family room. Wonderful.

Straight talk.

Pi Tohn showing off his jump-rope skills after a day in the fields.

The "basement" of the stilted house included a garage, a work area, and an eating room (not pictured).

Our host family.

Mae Taa: Teak Forest

On the way back from the fields on Friday, Pi Tohn took Ben and I on the scenic route from the family farm through the nearby teak forest. The setting was placid and slightly mystical, while the sound of the huge leaves crunching beneath our feet was delightful.

Mae Taa: Suwan Pak (Vegetable Garden)

From Thursday afternoon to Saturday early morning (as in 5 AM), our group went to Mae Taa, a community in which about half the farmers have returned to growing "in-see" (organic) crops, reversing their former choices to monocrop with the aid of chemical fertilizers and GMOs.

Ben (donning the yellow T and the Indiana Jones-esque hat) and I stayed with the family whose farm is pictured about. In total, they had over 20 rai of land, on which they grew tons of herbs, veggies, and fruit. During our time there, Ben and I tilled land, weeded, grew mushrooms, picked mahluhod (a oblong, red, sweet-and-sour fruit whose English name is foreign to me), caught grasshoppers, attempted fishing, and watered the crops.

Also pictured above is Mae (second picture), our host mom, and Pi Tohn (third and fifth pictures), our 27-year-old host brother, who spent the day at the farm with us, showing us their family's land and guiding us as we tried to help out.

For more information about Mae Taa, a former ISDSI student wrote about the community here. Note: While at the time of the article's publication it may have been true that the Mae Taa organic community was dedicated to local sale of their products, there are members in the community who have begun to export their produce to Europe, where it will be sold as high-quality organic food.