We started day 12 with a breakfast consisting of fried rice, egg, salad, and juice. The first thing we did was a planting demo in the main house at Uncle Tom’s. It went over the sifting of substrates and then mixing them with water. That soil was then put into planters and compressed so seeds could be added and then covered with more of the pre-mixed soil. We then took seedlings that had matured for around a month or two and went down to the lower beds by a greenhouse. We had to till each of the five plots and then line each with holes to insert the pak choy, broccoli, and chilis. Next we turned to the skill of making mud and rice husk bricks. Clay like soil was mixed with some water and the husk in a large trough in which we stepped to mix the components with our feet. I was shocked that all the mixture we made created less than ten bricks. This truly showed how labor intensive creating a 9,000 brick house is. Another thing that stood out to me was the “ecobricks” which were bricks formed around water bottles stuffed with plastic bags to the point that they were completely rigid and would not compress. What followed was a trip to the wind farm, whichI had done a bit of research the night before on. We stopped at a local coffee shop to enjoy some beverages with a great view. In lecture we discussed the third paper and the topic of farmer’s opinions on food sustainability practices. I liked this article because it incorporated a side of social science that is usually untouched. The discussion that followed also included the future of agriculture in the US with the changing climate. These discussions are great because we all come from different disciplines for the most part, and everyone has something unique to contribute.
Today, on day 13, we departed from Phetchabun. I woke up around 6:30 to pack some last minute items. Fitting three weeks of items in two bags has simplified to a science for me at this point. Breakfast started at 7 am, and consisted of fried rice, eggs, toast, salad, and that delicious salad dressing. There was also fresh fruit, coconut milk dessert with bananas, and freshly baked egg tarts. After filling up on food we all took some group photos and said goodbye to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. We knew it was going to be another long drive after the ride up, so we made a few stops along the way. Lunch was at the same place we had on the drive there, and it was delicious. Highlights included the green curry and stir-fried vegetables. Ryan, Aliya, Calvin and I kept ourselves entertained with some games. We all also just listened to music and periodically dozed off throughout the duration of the ride. We finally arrived back in Salaya, and the rest of the day was dedicated to finishing up our presentations. I had compiled the remainder of my research the night before, so all that was left was to put the information on slides and refine it. The six of us grabbed dinner for likely the last time at the Groove market across the street, which was sad to think about. We got pad thai, fried noodles, burgers, smoothies, and ice cream. It hit me that it was one of the last times I’ll be able to enjoy a meal outside comfortably for at least a few months to come.
It’s day 14 and I woke up today around 7 to light streaming into our room at Bundit (our apartments). I spent a while browsing on my laptop, then reviewed a bit for my presentation. We walked over from the apartments around 8:30 am, which was a nice late start. We got there around 9 am to start our presentations, and Alex’s was very enjoyable to sit through. I learned more about orchids in 15 minutes than I had learned in my combined 21 years prior. I presented next, and felt comfortable presenting the information I had researched upon. I wish I was more well-versed in a few areas, but overall was happy with how it went. Ryan then presented about GMOs, and I really enjoyed how he framed the opposite argument first to further prove his point. Aliya presented on compost in Thailand, which felt super relevant to what we had seen on the trip during several stops. Megan presented on aquaculture, which was interesting to hear as a marine science major. I enjoyed learning more about the Thai specific practices and how it varies from the United States. Calvin ended with his presentation on sustainable agriculture, which was informative regarding several different approaches of cultivation. After we wrapped up, we stopped at the campus store for souvenirs then Belinee’s (coffee shop) for snacks and drinks. We ate lunch at the Salaya market before heading back to Bundit to wrap up some packing before dinner at the college of music. Tomorrow we leave very late at night, so we have an extra day here in Thailand with no activities outlined for us. This is great because we decided to use this day to go to an island and spend some time at the beach. It will be the perfect ending to this trip before the dreadful 30 hour trip home with two layovers.