Whilst in Pai, I had the pleasure of meeting a fantastic group of volunteers working on a wonderful programme on the outskirts of the town. The group were making traditional mud bricks whilst camping in the mountains; cooking and eating around a campfire.
Mud brick building has been around since ancient civilisations. This method of building is (for obvious reasons) more economic as the costs of tools and materials is far less expensive than modern methods. Using natural materials to create bricks that are dried in the sun is more sustainable and has less of an impact on the environment.
Na (an incredibly friendly Thai guy with Rasta dreadlocks and an infectious smile) takes on volunteers to help make mud bricks to construct different buildings and occasionally do demos in town. This particular build was for a local monastery.
The monks had a space with bathrooms and showers that the volunteers could use and lunch usually consisted of leftover alms.
This way was a fairly new concept to me and I loved getting an insight into earthen building, as well as experiencing the friendly atmosphere of the volunteers there.
Unfortunately, one of the downsides to earning your income source online, is missing out on some of the more authentic experiences that can be available to you. I was slightly jealous of the simplicity at camp and felt that a longer stay could have really benefited me, but I need money to continue my travels and so a day visit it was!
I still took a lot away from the experience, watching the dynamic of the volunteers working with Na and what they had to say about the current trends in “Voluntourism” stirred an interest in me on the subject and they all had attitudes that made it an enjoyable experience.
It was a shame I couldn’t have stayed for longer!