First things first, we got The News during our layover in LA when a cheer went up in the airport bar near where we were sitting. Congratulations USA, we have a president who may actual lead the country somewhere worth going!
So, 28 hours from Seattle to Chiang Mai, then a few more hours getting out here to this oh-so-remote and oh-so-unique place. We were truly overwhelmed. The countryside is beautiful, green, forested mountains with wide flat valleys, lots of agriculture, mostly small farms. Christian picked us up with 2 other volunteers and we drove up ever smaller roads through ever smaller villages till the last 100 yards or so which are so rutted and muddy I admit I had thoughts of being trapped at the ends of the earth.
The farm had been taken care of by one couple most of the summer and they had to leave suddenly a week or two before Christian got here. Neglected and overgrown was my first impression. This is a low tech, high labor operation with many projects going on. The overgrown vegetation and general need of tidying up on top of our travel fatigue was really a downer.
But, after a few hours of sleep and a morning meeting that gave a little direction to our lives for the next few weeks things looked up a bit.
The six of us who are staying here right now are all long term volunteers and we are getting along really well. Apart from Peter and I who are the token elders, all are in there late 20’s or so and each has an enthusiasm they’re eager to let loose.
So, I’m still trying to figure out what Panya is. Based on my current information, it’s part teaching facility, part farm, part spiritual retreat, part summer camp and part an episode of Survivor. All in all I know we’re lucky to be here and it’s fun to be chipping in on the work that needs doing here. We get very little time to spend on projects like this webpage so I’m just going to load some pictures and let you have a look.