I first heard about WWOOFing from my flatmate. He bought a one way ticket to South America to travel around mostly through WWOOFing.
I think the idea initially interested me because it was a good way to travel for longer. But as I grew tired of my 9 to 5 job (which was more like 7 to 7 job), I started thinking more about alternative income source and alternative living. WWOOFing seemed like a really good way to see how other people self-sustainably live, and try and see if I like it too.
First stop was Malaysia. No particular reason, I just found a cool WWOOFing place. I bought my one way ticket.
Rainforest Treehouse was located in a very small village just outside of Kulai, Johor. And it actually is a collection of treehouse in the middle of a rainforest jungle. This place is run by Yao and Michelle. Yao built this forest commune with help from two other local aboriginal guys (Salim and Alang). Michelle used to be a weekend volunteer and decided to live at the treehouse full time, and left her advertising life in Singapore – sounds like me!
This place has been open to public for 2 years. People can rent it out for a night or two, and have a taste of the simpler lifestyle in the forest. There are 7 houses open to public. My job was to carry food for the guests up the mountain in the mornings, clean up the houses and set it ready for the new guests to come in. And every night at 5, me and other volunteers will go up to the ‘hall’ treehouse where we’ll prepare dinner. Starting with making big enough fire to boil water.
As much as I try no to, I am a city girl. I know the concept of making fire, but I’ve never had to do it myself, and keep it going for hours. It wasn’t difficult, but doing anything in 32 degree heat and 90%+ humidity is hard work! At least now I have an essential life skill.
There’s something very calm and serene about making fire for dinner. Watching it burn, blowing and adding more wood to keep it burning, something very satisfying about that.
The first week was very labour intensive. On one of the days, we had 108 school kids staying up at the treehouse, maxing out every single one of the houses, as well as some having to sleep in the hall. I don’t think I would’ve survived that day if it wasn’t for the other two wwoofers volunteering with me.
There were nets hanging across trees, swings, and tree towers for them to go and explore. A lot of the guests were coming from big cities like KL and Singapore, and had to say goodbye to the luxury of using toilet paper for a day for two whilst staying at the treehouse.
The second week was much easier in comparison. There weren’t as many guests – as school holiday was over. We spent most of our time planting, weeding, digging up soil, and reading a lot. We even went out for dinner and went to cute little cafes in other towns. What a life.
With not much distraction in the jungle, I fell back in love with reading. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was reading this much, this fast.
Also, the sunsets were insane.
It felt really long while I was there. But now that I reminisce about my time there, I would’ve liked to stay there a bit longer.
I’m so lucky to have found such lovley nook in a tiny village, easily missed by tourists. Even got a pretty good review from the host:
Thanks to Miri for everything. Precious time spent together with her in silent & with laughter. Love her cheerful laughing way. Always with positive attitude and full involvement by sharing lots of useful suggestions.
My host Yao told me that I’m like an old man, with my meditation and giving sensible advises to people. I’ll take it as a complement 🙂