Naku village farmers

Pacharee, friend of Khun Yai, looked after us for the morning along with Mr Santi Jeeyapan. Santi works as a facilitator to support villagers doing farm based research. We drove out to Naku Village, near Ayutthaya, where we met with three local farmers: Pattapee Poungsuwan, Somnuk Sanksem, and Yaowaluck Sukseeleang. We interviewed all three together in quite a challenging setting, a small roadside cafe. All three farmers have decided to move towards organic production because of concerns with degradation of the land and the high cost of inputs. The climate has definitely changed with more erratic weather patterns than in the past. Last September there was widespread flooding in Thailand and Ayutthaya Province was one of the worst affected, because it is low lying. They were all clear that the cause of the problem is people and that there is a need for a more balanced approach working with nature.

Farmers from Naku village - Somnuk Sanksem, Yaowaluck Sukseeleang, and Pattapee Poungsuwan
Farmers from Naku village - Somnuk Sanksem, Yaowaluck Sukseeleang, and Pattapee Poungsuwan

Yaowaluck Sukseeleang and Pattapee Poungsuwan both had their farms right next to the cafe,  so we went into the field to talk to them some more.

Yaowaluck is an amazing woman. She learnt rice growing from her parents, beginning when she was 10 years old and has now been a rice farmer for 29 years. Yaowaluck farmers 56 rai (about 20 acres, or 8 hectares) on her own. At times in the past she has felt depressed and tried other work. People think farming is a dirty job, but she is clearly very passionate about her work and life as a farmer. Yaowaluck is a true leader for the future.

Yaowaluck Sukseeleang (on left), organic rice farmer, Naku Village
Yaowaluck Sukseeleang (on left), organic rice farmer, Naku Village

We then walked down the road to Pattapee’s farm. He stopped growing rice and shifted to organic vegetable production for the Bangkok market. This was a more financially viable option for him, as well as good for the environment.

Pattapee Poungsuwan, organic vegetable grower, Naku Village
Pattapee Poungsuwan, organic vegetable grower, Naku Village

Ayutthaya

Fortunately today has been a bit quieter, a short trip (1 hour) by taxi to the old city of Ayutthaya and visiting some of the old Wat (temple) ruins (in incredible heat and humidity). We actually ordered the taxi to take us to the train station, but then the taxi driver said he would take us all the way for 700 baht (less than NZ$30).

Tomorrow we’re going out to a local village, our last bit on the ground in Thailand.

We spent part of the afternoon visiting some of the ruins of Ayutthaya with our new host, Khun Yai. In the evening we went to a night market for dinner by the river and then drove around to enjoy the ruins lit up at night time.

View from the ruins of Wat Ratcha Burana, Ayutthaya
View from the ruins of Wat Ratcha Burana, Ayutthaya
Night scene at Ayutthaya
Night scene at Ayutthaya