Auntie Orn’s Organic Cooking Class – Chiang Mai, Thailand

While in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we had the opportunity to attend Auntie Orn’s Organic Family Cooking class.  The class takes place on a organic farm just outside of the city, giving participants the opportunity to see a working organic farm in action.  Auntie Orn’s family and helpers are all some of the nicest people you will ever meet, and the whole experience makes you feel good on many levels.  We learned how to cook three classic northern Thai dishes: Khow soi, tom yam, and panang curry!

Auntie Orn-11Auntie Orn

We were picked up a little before 9am and driven to a very local market in the countryside outside of Chiang Mai city.  We were very excited about learning to cook Thai food, as taking a class had been on our list since our first days in Thailand.  At the market Autie Orn met us and showed us around.  We sampled a few of the local items and we picked up a few things for the class.  We were the only farang (foreigners) in the market and the locals got a kick out of me sampling some ant larvae which was in season and harvested in the jungle.  It had a real interesting flavor and texture, even better with hot sauce.

After the market we drove a few minutes away to the farm owned by Auntie Orn.  In the front was a cute kitchen and tables and the land behind it was planted with all types of fruits and veggies.  There were three couples in the class, and the first thing each of us did was to plant a tree on the farm.  It was a great way to contribute something to the land!  After planting our banana and mango trees, Auntie Orn invited us back anytime to check on our babies.  You could tell she really meant it and we hope to make it back in a year or so to check on our baby banana tree!

Next we started preparing the food.  We used large a mortar and pestle to crush up lots of different stuff into a Thai curry paste which was the base of the khow soi and panang curry.  We pounded and pounded to extract the flavors of the ingredients and produce an amazing spicy aroma.  Our hunger grew as we saw how delicious everything was getting, and we couldn’t wait to try the final product!

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Auntie Orn’s Cooking class was about to get HOT!  She heated up three woks, helping us work our curries into shape.  The final product was a HUGE feast and we were all very proud of our labors! We ate until we couldn’t eat anymore, and maybe it was because we had made it ourselves, but we all thought it was by far the best food we have had in Thailand.

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While our food digested we went on a tour of the farm, learning about permaculture farming methods and how the farm would progress in the future.

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After the tour we learned how to make the ever-delicious mango sticky rice!  It was very easy and so so good, a great way to finish the meal.

The final part of the day was extra memorable.  We all received a very special New Years blessing along with bracelets for good luck!  The blessing was given with holy water and everything.  We felt special to be part of such an amazing ceremony.

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Auntie Orn’s classes are by appointment only and you can contact Auntie Orn to make a booking via her website!

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1/3 Highlights

As of January 27, we’ve been in South America for three months!  That’s about 1/3 of the total time we’ll be down here (assuming money lasts) so it’s quite a milestone.  Sometimes I feel like we’ve been on the road forever and other times it feels like it was just yesterday we landed in Medellin.

To celebrate our 1/3-iversary, let’s list some fun stats!

Days in South America:  95

Dollars Spent (not including flight): $3005

Countries Visited: 3

Books Read: 8 (Carrie), 7 (Zach)

Number of Laundromat Visits (not including hand-washing): 3

Bacterial Infections: 1 each

Things We’ve Lost
iPhone (Carrie)…The Infamous Bird Poop Incident
Water bottle (Zach)…just left it at a Couchsurfer’s house
Glasses (Carrie)…stupid lake
Sunglasses (Zach)…stupid ocean
2 rings (Carrie)…two separate places
1 shirt (Carrie)…I think this girl on our first WWOOF farm thought it was hers because she always wore orange!
Dr. Bronners soap (Zach)…”It’ll turn up!” he says
Umbrella…who knows???

And now, since it is Awards Season, we hereby present to you….

The 1/3-iversary Superlatives…a.k.a. the Best Of “So Far”

Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), llapingachos (Carrie)

Favorite Beverage: Colombian coffee

Most Missed Food: Graeter’s ice cream and peanut butter (Carrie), Mexican food and cheddar cheese (Zach)

Most Missed Event: holidays at home

Most Missed Activities:  watching Oscar films (Carrie), cooking/baking, snowboarding

Most Annoying Phenomenon: loud music and movies on buses

Favorite Activity: The Inca Trail

Nicest People: Colombians

Favorite City: Cuzco

Most Times We Said “What a Crazy Place!”: Huacachina

Best Beach: Canoa

Best Shopping: Otavalo

Best Person We’ve Met: Oso the dog

Scariest/Coolest Experience: the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano

Most Authentic Cultural Experience/Cutest Kids and Puppies: WWOOFing at Finca Campo Bello

Biggest Party/Least Authentic Cultural Experience: Loki Hostel

Biggest Personal Changes: dreadlocks and eating meat (Carrie), actually speaking a second language (Zach)

Favorite Country Overall: Ecuador

Goals for the Next 2/3rds of the Journey

1. Save money and get ahead on our budget in Bolivia!

2. Find a WWOOF experience where we actually get to farm!

3. Do more filming!

4. Improve our Spanish!

I know, I know, we really need to stop losing things and wash our clothes more!  Do you like this silly little superlative round-up?  Should we do one again after 2/3rds?

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WWOOFing Ecuador – Tungurahua Tea Room

We arrived at the Tungurahua Tea Room in the afternoon on a bus and took a quick taxi ride to the edge of town.  This was to be our first time WWOOFing Ecuador and our second WWOOF experience in Total.  The farm is really only a 10-15min walk from central Baños, but with all our stuff it would have been a long hike.  The owner of the farm, Carol, a talkative Canadian ex-pat, warmly greeted us and gave us a quick tour.  The property is a skinny pieces of land located on a hill with a front wall of sugarcane and Carol’s house resting on the top.

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Carol’s house with the volcano in the background

The Volcán Tungurahua looks down upon the house and is usually snow-covered in the mornings.  Near the front there is a citrus garden with several very nice lemon trees and about a dozen others that grow small tangerines of sorts.  As you walk further in you will find a small volunteers’ room with a bed, a tool shed, and a locked storage room.   Following these are an open air kitchen with sink, stove, and table, then a bathroom with toilet, sink and shower.  Near the kitchen is a very nice spice and tea garden containing basil, oregano, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass, and other lemony things used to make delicious teas.  Past the herbs there is a “spiritual circle” surrounded by flowers and such with a fire pit in the center.  If you walk even further there are two shade structures with hammocks and between them a garden of large cactus.  Under one of these we placed our tent, with another tent already under the other.  Between our tents and Carol’s house we could also find anise, lettuce, green peas, spinach, and some red potatoes once we knew what the plants looked like.  Other than that there were a few plantain trees and several avocado trees (only available if you could beat the dogs to them).

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Segundo, the gardener, and Zach, cooking lunch

The Work – WWOOFing Ecuador

Usually we would wake up around 7am and make breakfast.  There are two other yard workers that Carol employs whom would show up around 7:30.  Carol also has two large dogs who need walking so one of the workers takes them on a hike up the volcano every morning.  The hike is very nice and terminates at a natural spring with amazing carbonated mineral water produced by volcanic pressure.  Probably the best hike you will find in Banos, Ecuador.  After 2 hours of dog walking we had tea from the garden and sometimes a snack then after tea we went to work on Carol’s projects around the yard.  This work almost always involved randoms projects such as assisting in building walls, or sweeping dirt sidewalks, or weeding around the pathways.  Sometimes we felt like we were fighting the jungle for superficial reasons and I’m sad to report that at no time during our stay did we actually do any farming.  The work was really easy though, and no one was ever looking over your shoulder telling you to try harder.  It just wasn’t farming, and we weren’t really there to push rocks around.

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Our “home”…we put our tent on top of that platform.

Overall – WWOOFing Ecuador

We loved the location, and the work was generally easy and laid back.  However, food was not included.  Yes, whatever you could find on the farm was yours (unlimited tea, herbs, and lemonade) but most our food came from money from our pocket.  This probably contributed to our underachievement, and eventual departure when our housesitting opportunity arose.  But the property is extremely beautiful and we had a whole lot of fun there.   Just know before you go that it’s not your “normal” WWOOFing Ecuador experience.  After working on only two farms, we will continue searching for exactly what that “normal” experience is!WWOOFING Ecuador Tungurahua

Enjoy this post about WOOFing Ecuador at the Tungurahua Tea Room? Check out our archives for other adventures! Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject and our subscribe to our Youtube Channel.

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