After a short stay in Kuala Lumpur (KL), we left the city to venture into the jungles just outside of KL for our first volunteer opportunity.
Bamboo Village promised to be a bamboo architecture center and organic garden, where we hoped to learn bamboo building. However, what we found was a guesthouse with all the building complete and the organic garden yet to be planted or even planned. The romantic idea of learning bamboo architecture and harvesting fruits from an organic garden gave way to welcoming guests and cleaning toilets. Unexpected and humbling (as I will graciously put it).
Although an unexpected experience, Bamboo Village was not a total loss. Staying in a bamboo house was a memorable experience. The atmosphere was very serene and peaceful, bamboo houses set amongst the jungle, with babbling ponds and monkeys swinging from trees. Roosters crowing, starry nights, and the slowness of life that comes with heat and humidity.
MEETING NEW PEOPLE
Although we did not learn the skills we had hoped to learn at Bamboo Village, we had other experiences that were equally fulfilling. We met volunteers and guests, shared meals and stories, and made new friends. We met a handful of English, two Germans, and a French woman who were volunteers. We had a wonderful time with them hanging out after our work day and hearing interesting travel stories.
We also met many guests – several Malay families and locals visiting Bamboo village. The Malay families were so kind to us. A Malay group studying at a nearby bamboo architecture center invited us to dine with them for breakfast lunch and dinner. Their cooking was delicious! – curries, fried rice, fried dough with chili sauce. YUM! They taught me a game with rocks that teaches focus – I was extraordinarily bad at it. And as a parting gift, they gave David a sarong and me a bati. So so kind! Malay hospitality is amazing!
GOING WITH THE FLOW
Possibly the most difficult thing about Bamboo Village for me, was “going with the flow” which was set by Ramadhan, the friendly, but scattered owner. Ramadhan is in the middle of what some may term a “success disaster” – his business is taking off at a time when he is unprepared. And he has not yet learned how to take the help that he is asking for or organize the requests he has for his volunteers. As someone who is very structured and organized, it took me some time to get used to scattered requests and giving advice that was often requested but rarely heeded. I cannot say that I learned the skill of going with the flow before departing Bamboo Village. But something tells me I will have many more opportunities to learn this lesson.
NEXT STOP – THE BEACH!
After a week in the jungle, we head to the beaches of Koh Lanta, Thailand to relax for a week before venturing into the jungles of Thailand for more volunteering. Our next volunteering gig will be with DinDang (http://dindang.jimdo.com) to learn permaculture and how to build clay houses. Sounds oddly similar to the promise of Bamboo Village…. hopefully this time, we will get what we bargained for. But first, the beach!