I was having second thoughts of staying in a farm while I was being taken up the steep hills, in a rural part of the town. I decided to stay in a farm, because it provided free food and accommodation, it was an easy way to save money during my stay abroad. I also wanted to try farming; growing up in one of the most densely populated city the only thing in my mind was to get away from the chaos to being out on the open in the fields.
The car drives up the steep hill, then takes a right turn along a narrow grass road and stops at the end of the hill. It had rained, and I looked around the bamboo structures that were incomplete and dripping wet. Then a man came to greet me, I had no clue what to expect. When I got to the dormitory that I was going to stay I felt sick, it was dirty, messy, the beds were made from wood gotten from cargo containers. Even the shelves were made from that wood, the shower was dirty with no tiles. Toilets were covered with curtains, but had no doors. I wanted to stay for the night and get out of the next day.
I knew about this place online where one can register and look for a farm that they can stay, I was told about the place and expected contribution to the farm in return for food and accommodation. The one thing that changed my mind about not leaving the place, was meeting two volunteers from Europe, one of the girl was from Denmark, she had been in a farm in Thailand where there were rats living in the room and the bed was on the ground, another volunteer was from Hungary he looked pretty satisfied with the conditions of living in a tent. I had to realize the context, I was in a farm in the steep hills of a rural part of the town, this was a completely different environment from living in a city, I can’t expect a 5 star hotel to be in a farm !
It took me a couple of days to adjust, and I was eager to get my hands dirty, the one thing that I realized very quickly is farming is a lot more difficult than one realizes. It’s physically very exhausting, with repetitive hand work, toiling under the harsh sun. There were more volunteers coming mainly from Europe, I was the only asian there, which made me realize why are only westerners working in farms and yet no asians.
Most of the people there were spending their holidays, and learning about permaculture, enjoying every bit of it. The place was very quiet and peaceful, with trees, plants, fruits all around, the environment made the whole place lively. Meeting people from different parts of the world, learning about their views, yet having a common understanding made it an incredible experience.