By Jamie Williams – 2 week volunteer
Every day before hiking, you will eat a basic breakfast at the KSES base of your choosing. Bread, oatmeal, bananas, and margarine are provided, along with Nescafe coffee, creamer, and sugar (I was new to Nescafe and it turned out to be pretty good!). If you’re looking to give your breakfast a boost, I would suggest buying some additions at the supermarket before coming to the village. I bought peanut butter, which as proved to be quite beneficial for a little bit of protein before hiking. Peanut butter also is pretty versatile, going well on bread, bananas, AND in oatmeal. Others in my group bought different types of jam and fruits as additions to their breakfasts.
Lunches can be eaten in the forest with the mahouts and the elephants, or at base. Out in the forest, the mahouts cooked soup for us that resembled Ramen noodles, and were a bit spicy (although I’m REALLY sensitive to spice, others said it wasn’t spicy). Whether you eat in the forest or at base, every day you will get a packed lunch cooked by your home stay family. Being as sensitive to spice as I am, I was nervous coming to Thailand but the home stay families are very cognizant of the spice tolerance of foreigners. They will usually make the food with low spice but you can always add spicy sauce to it if that’s what you like! Also, I’d like to add as a note here that they are very accommodating to different diets, including vegan and vegetarian.
Your first night in the village you will cook a meal with your home stay family and one or two of the KSES team, which is a lot of fun! I really enjoyed seeing how they prepare food and what ingredients they use. After this, dinners are usually eaten in the village, at one of the home stays, and you will rotate each night to someone else’s home stay. The home stay families will not join you, as the food we eat is usually not the kind they prefer, but they are very accommodating! Any time there is a meal eaten as a group, you will sit in a circle and share all the food together. I’ve enjoyed this because it gives you the opportunity to try so many different foods. Lunches and dinners will usually come with a base of rice, but sometimes are made with egg or rice noodles. Potato and vegetable dishes are common. I have tasted things that were a bit too spicy for me but I honestly have not had a bad meal. The food here is delicious and I will definitely miss it when I leave!