I agree with George W. Bush about one thing - clearing brush is a good way to clear the mind. Cambodia is a tense place and travel is stressful. Writing also has its frustrations. Right now, it's balm for the soul to work with my hands in the dirt, to see the results of my labor in the land and feel it in my arms and back.
Four years ago Ryan bought a few acres on a hillside near a small village north of Chiang Mai. Back then, he owned a field. Now, he owns a forest. We're hacking brush and digging a foundation for his future house, Baan Thantawan, or Sunflower House.
Ryan's land is adjacent to a truly inspiring little community called Pun Pun, founded by a Thai farmer named Jo and his wife Peggy, a native Coloradan. Jo is Thailand's supreme authority on adobe consturction, which he first encountered in Taos, New Mexico. In only a few years Pun Pun has become a little village of beautiful adobe buildings, organic vegetable gardens, a library, a seed saving depot and a cafeteria where truly delicious meals are made three times a day.
This is a wonderful place and I don't want to leave. It's dry season now and farmers are burning their fields. A smoky haze covers the mountains and makes this little valley feel like a dream world. Each night Ryan and I sleep under a mosquito net on the land we're clearing and wake up to the blood-red rising sun at dawn. Tonight there will be a full moon.
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Life is easy. Why do we make it hard?