Amee Doyer's Farm in Northwest Thailand

At this farm producing rice, rubber and fruit a few hours northwest of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, I worked alongside Ashi, a refugee from Burma. Together we helped prepare the paddy for planting rice and although he doesn't speak English and I don't speak Lisu, his hill tribe language, we communicated with gestures and smiles.

The paddies were first plowed and then flooded to kill off the grass and weeds.

Main house where I stayed. It was a bit strange showing up to this farm and realizing that no one there had expected my arrival. I had been in communication with a Canadian guy who runs the farm with his Thai/Burmese brother-in-law, but he had left for other hemispheres and failed to mention my arrival to others on the farm. However, even though it took the main boss about week to get around to asking my name, the farm was used to receiving WWOOF volunteers and they were well-prepared to feed me and put me to work.

Jackfruit was consumed almost daily.

Lunch...we usually had pork and rice three times a day but pictured here are noodles.

An unidentifiable inedible fruit. There were several fruits on the farm whose names I was never able to figure out.

Some of the cuter swine...there were over 100 pigs living on the farm, so it was no wonder that we ate pork for most of the meals.

One day this pig was killed by one of its own and so the workers slaughtered it and cooked it up...


Alea posed with a snake killed by one of his workers in the fields. He cooked it up with a red curry, which was spicy and delicious. Despite all the bones, it was some of the nicest and leanest meat I have eaten.

A view of some of the rice paddies.

A patch of rice to be transplanted around to all the other areas.

Here you can see corn in the foreground (grown to feed the pigs), rice and several coconut trees.

Even on an organic farm, the chemicals are often not far away. Here an adjacent field gets sprayed.


Final Days in India...

Baba Ji, aka Om Giri, a friend of my tabla teacher, I saw him everyday in Dharamkot.

Here's my tabla teacher, Ashoka, performing with a sitarist.

I stayed with Arun in Delhi before leaving the country. Here was a delicious lunch served by his home staff.

Rishikesh, Ram Jula

Large statue of Hanuman, the monkey god, with some other gods inside his chest...

I returned to Rishikesh, this time to the more Indian area of Ram Jula, to take yoga and tabla classes. An inexpensive rafting trip down the Ganges River was refreshing, but I didn't stay long as the temperatures were too hot.

Daily evening aarti along the River Ganga...

Courtyard at Sri Ved Niketan Ashram. Private room with bathroom and two daily yoga classes and meditation class for 3$ a day.


Minnie's Farm

Minnie's beautiful cottage. Minnie's farm is in some hills outside of Dehra Dun.

A view down the terraced fields

Minnie and Peter, a volunteer from Germany, spreading compost.

Minnie's jeep, which transported us back and forth to her family home in the city where we often stayed. Dehra Dun might possibly have the most boarding schools per capita of any city in the world.

Ripening grapes

I was able to practice tabla while staying there.

Ripening bananas

Monkey skull! Peter and I went for a walk in the hills above the farm and came upon a monkey carcass. (We smelled it before we saw it. And then the dog started to chew on its hand.) Pretty gross.

One kind of many types of bamboo that Minnie had planted


Glacier Trek in the Himalayas

Heeding the instructions of the gianormous Lonely Planet India guide, I struck out north of Bageshwar to the tiny villages of and Loharket, where I found my trailhead for the Pindari Glacier. This trip lasted about six days, walking maybe 12 miles a day with lots of elevation change. At the beginning of the hike, the stone path wove through farms and villages through the forests and valleys, and I shared the path with locals. These guys living along the trail were all stripping bamboo to make baskets and to repair roofs.

Village of Khati with snow-capped mountains in the background. This hike was very easy. There were some signs only in Hindi (that I'm happy to say I could read), but one could have just followed the largest trail. As I was slightly ahead of the "hiking season," I only saw maybe four groups of other hikers or rather "tourists" on the trail. They all seemed to be impressed that I was walking without a guide and without a porter. Don't know why you would need a guide when there were villagers for a lot of the way to ask directions to and don't know why you would need a porter when you could sleep at and get provisions (hard-boiled eggs, cookies, crackers, chips, sometimes produce) along the way at chai huts and guest houses that also served dal, rice, potatoes and chapatis. I slept outside but enjoyed chais at the huts and meals at trailside kitchens.

Some boys were playing cricket.

Nearing Khati...I like that in this image one can see three aspects of India: religion, modernity and agricultural tradition. The Aum mural represents Hinduism, the TV satellite symbolizes modernity and the women carrying baskets of cut grass for their cattle shows their ancient relationship with the land and their livestock.

Guys taking in the view on the trail.

At lower elevations, the rhodendrons were in bloom.

Pindari River with Nanda Devi in the background. Over 25,600 feet high, Nanda Devi is India's second highest mountain...That is freakin' high! The Himalayas are, after all, the highest mountain range in the world.

On my way to Kafni Glacier, I started looking for a place to crash as it started to get dark and the temperature started to drop.

Working on a farm of the plains of Uttar Pradesh, I really really wanted to escape the heat. I wanted to venture to the mountains to find some cool air. Well, I overdid it. Here's my sleeping bag at 12,000 feet where I spent a very chilly night. I used the dry grass for extra insulation and warmth. Incredibly, with mountains this high, even at 12,000 feet, the tallest peaks are still another 12,000 feet higher up.

Close to where I slept, the fields of snow began...

You can see that much of the trail is obscured by snow.

For joy I jumped.

That's Kafni Glacier back there. At some point, I decided to check out Kafni Glacier instead of the more famous Pindari. Then, after descending a few thousand feet to a trail intersection, I took a different trail to try and reach Pindari Glacier too.

See the footsteps in the snow? I wanted to make it to the "Zero Point" near Pindari Glacier to visit the Baba (Indian holy man) living there. So far this year, he was the only person to travel to the glacier (if he arrived). And I wanted to be the second. I realize it sounds cliche, but I wanted to climb the Himalayan mountains to visit the holy man at the end of the trail! Alas, with so many very steep traverses across ice at unfriendly angles of steepness, I finally decided to play it safe and turn back. Maybe with an ice axe or even crampons I would have felt more comfortable, but I was just wearing sneakers.

Here I strung up my hammock with a lovely view of a giant waterfall. All along the valley towards Pindari, there were huge waterfalls. Compared to what I'm used to, the sheer size of these massive mountains and their valleys was impressive.

Periodically, I came across herds of sheep and goats with their shepherds roaming the rolling valleys.

On the way back, I took a side trip up to this temple atop a mountain...