We got to visit Phetchabun, a remote mountainous province of Thailand. It was a long drive from Bangkok, but we got some remarkable changes in landscapes along the way. From city, to plains, to mountainous roads with many switchbacks. Our most adventurous day came when we went up even higher on the
mountain to visit the farms and production sites. We went into a pickup truck bed, and wound our way up even higher. Our ears popped because of the elevation. We got to visit the lettuce production center, which was really just a shop-sized warehouse, and discussed the pros and cons of going organic.
They had a cooperative there, so they could all pool their resources. It was really cool to see examples of farmers coming together to better their industry. Without the cooperative, it would be too dificult for the family run operations to get their product to market, and get money. The whole mountaintop was filled with these small farms alongside their homes on dusty winding roads. One farm had rows and rows of lettuce, waiting for the harvest. They were all different colors and at different growth stages. There was even some baby greens that were in their little compost planter. And of course, we were on a mountain, so we were on steeply sloping ground. They let us take some home, and I enjoyed two whole heads of lettuce on the way back down the mountain. Delicious!
Somehow, the day got even cooler when we made a stop at a Buddist temple. But it wasn’t any ordinary temple, it was 5 Buddhas, all sitting together like Russian nesting dolls. It overlooked the mountain valley below, and I could see why they put such a beautiful monument here. There was another temple like area, that reminded me of Gaudi, the Catalan architect who used cracked pottery in his works. The whole place was whimsical and very beautiful. It was a great day, academically and culturally.