Redefining our relationship with nature

No shampoo. Don’t want to introduce substances into the ground even though it is natural.

Honestly, the first internal reaction was a sense of slight discomfort, but the moment I stood under the cold, pure and clean water from the forest that feeling went away instantly and I quickly fell in love with this very natural lifestyle. 

During our 10 days in HEPA (Ha Thinh Province), we spent 3D2N at Khe Soong Model with Mr Khanh. The stay at this new model began with a short trek from Rao An, walking across a beautiful stream. The scenery was amazing with mountains and forests in the background.

View of sunrise from the farm

Not too far away from the farm, there is also a nice camping/picnic spot. Mr Binh, our host at Rao An farm, brought us on a trek across 3 waterfalls to the riverside where we had a picnic lunch. Mr Binh quickly started a fire and grilled some beef for us. It was an awesome, unforgettable experience!

Trekking through a big waterfall
BBQ beef for lunch
View of the fireplace by the river
Riverside picnic

Back to life at Khe Soong, Mr Khanh consumes food only from his farm. Not only does Khe Soong boast a huge variety of crops, he also does beekeeping, has fish ponds and rears cow and chickens. Mr Khanh is a flexitarian, but has a vegetarian diet typically. On one dinner, he kindly offered to go fishing for us, but suggested that we have to gut the fish ourselves. We were incapable of accepting the offer so he went to harvest fresh vegetables and collected eggs for our dinner. On the last day, he very kindly hosted a party for us with other folks in HEPA and made a very delicious chicken porridge with red rice from his hometown. We also had the opportunity to make cassava “cake”, with fresh cassava harvested from the farm.

Mixing the ingredients together
More mixing
Preparing the cake
Steaming the cake

“Why don’t people just eat potatoes”

 

During our stay at Khe Soong, we also participated in some farming activities and helped with rice harvesting. This must be the most impressionable and intriguing experience for myself. Since young, we have been indoctrinated with the concept of how hard farmers have to work for our rice, but it never internalised till this experience. Harvesting rice is a long and tedious process, being something like this (we still don’t have full knowledge of the process): 

  1. Cutting the wheat 
  2. Packing and collecting them in a bundle 
  3. Trying to tie the bundle very very tightly 
  4. Transporting them 
  5. Separating the grains from the stalk 
  6. Drying the grains 
  7. Separating good and bad grains 
  8. Breaking the husk 

On top of these, its really difficult to walk in a padi field! I am definitely much more appreciative of rice and the food that I have to eat. 

Cutting the rice for harvest
Collecting the wheat in a bundle
Separating the grains from the wheat
Separating the good and bad grains

Mr Khanh is a really philosophical and kind individual. During our stay with him, he shared his perspectives on life and beliefs very openly. I slowly learnt that his motivations behind his decisions always stems from bringing happiness to others. For instance, he shared that he diversified his cooking and learnt to cook with more flavours or soya sauce (though not from his farm) because he wanted to make delicious food for his parents. The only constant in all his decisions is what would make others happy instead of what he would like to/ what he believed in. His big heart extends beyond humans but to other beings as well. Despite being very busy with work on the farm, Mr Khanh would always take time to cook a nutritious meal for his 8 cats and 5 dogs. We are blessed to have met such an inspiring and warm figure! 

Waiting for their meal!

The short stay at Khe Soong farm in HEPA re-defined our relationship with nature. Speaking to and learning from Mr Khanh, we understood what it meant to nurture nature to nurture ourselves, going beyond protecting nature or living in nature.

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Shuen Hwee Yee

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