Friday, November 14, 2008

Natural Building Apprenticeship at Pun Pun Farm Thailand

Welcome to Northern Thailand! Here now, I am staying put for a couple of months to learn about organic farming and earthen adobe building. So far the place has been simply wonderful and new experiences have been walking into my life in all sorts of ways.

I am living in a simple bamboo hut with three very large spiders. This took a while to be comfortable with, but I now see them as my protectors from all the other bugs. My daily schedule starts with yoga every morning at 7am. It is a very mindful practice and a great way to wake my body and set an intention for the day. Then we have breakfast around 8am. For me this consists of fresh papaya and bananas and homemade soymilk with barley and brown sugar. We have two work sessions throughout the day, 9am-12noon, lunch, and 1:30-4:30pm, these are dedicated to gardening and building. We each have our own garden beds and will be learning about seed saving once they are grown. The building project is a two story house for Peggy and Jo, the founders of Pun Pun. It’s a really beautiful design including a main circular form and rectangular extensions of from that. We will doing all aspects of the project with few resources, so there is a lot too learn, even for the experienced builders like myself. Once a week we have an Appropriate Technology Practicum, where we’ve been split into different group to build projects around the farm including rainwater catchment, UV water filtration, solar hot water production and testing the effects of Bio-char on garden beds. An amazing amount of information and practical application! We have a bit of free time before dinner where we can go swimming in the village reservoir (twenty minute walk through the village Mai Jo) or grab a pineapple coconut shake at the You Sabai Cafe on the neighboring property. You Sabai is a beautiful, peaceful place to read, contemplate, or meet with friends with a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and daily sunset. Lunch and dinner are always healthy and delicious, we usually have brown rice with a soup full of organic vegetables or sticky rice with a spicy thai sauce and raw vegetables to mix with it. This is by far the healthiest eating I’ll have ever had for a prolonged period of time. It feels great! The evenings we usually have free, but on Monday nights we watch movies, mostly documentaries of current global concerns (my favorite!) and on Tuesdays we have a discussion group on globalization or on food production. We have lots of reading to do in preparation for these discussions, but so far I have learned a lot from them. I had no idea this place was going to be so academic. Other evenings we have been blessed with festivals in the local community and parties for birthdays of the folks in our group. There is nothing better than a chocolate cake when you haven’t had any sweets for a week.

Most of what I am learning here is actually about living simply and finding inner peace, which I am grateful to be able to focus on at this point in my life. I’ll try to keep this blog focused on the natural building aspects of what we are doing, but if you’d like to see more about the other things going on at Pun Pun, I’ll be starting a blog for that too. Stay tuned. Enjoy the photos!


  1. Very enjoyable. You sure do get around! I look forward to reading about your experiences and thoughts...

    We are starting our own cob work here where the Sierra meets the Cascades...



  2. Hello Alan!

    Thanks for following my blog. I have been traveling a lot lately and it's hard to get to the internet on a regular basis. I have been studying diferent building types and climates to help understand what's most appropriate where and how low-tech you can go. I'm actually an architect/builder and will be building a straw clay house near San Bernadino when I return to the states this spring. I'll start following your blog too and maybe some day we could check out each other's projects. also check out

    peace, love & mud-- erica

  3. Admirable Your house drem!!!