There is a lot to appreciate in this Happy Healing Home, but it depends what you're looking for. We were a couple (28 and 35) exploring farms of Northern Thailand for friends and possible partners as ingredient sources to my girlfriend's all-natural skin care line. So before I include any complaints, we knew our goals would not have been fulfilled here, even if the energy had been any bit fun at all. They are not a commercial farm or trying to be in any way. We paid 400 baht per night.
We arrived to Happy Home welcomed by water buffalo and a picture perfect landscape of Lanna lifestyle. The bus lands at 2:30pm everyday, which happens to be during their break hours and the place is pretty quiet. We eventually found Jim's place up a path and the group was sitting quietly drinking tea. Jim silently gestured as if we were free to roam and explore his land, while everyone else just gazed on. We nodded gratefully with our 40 lbs packs and walked off wondering that was a special mushroom tea they were drinking?)
Eventually a young man named Val came over and showed us their rule book and asked in which shack we were staying. He realized we were still wondering that too, and pointed to the one they had just 'replaced the floor on yesterday' :) We were grateful and still quiet excited to dig into the land here. Break time ended and Val - who turned out to the longest term resident of two months - rallied the weekly newbies to go cut buffalo grass. It didn't take long to figure out people's impression of the place when two of the girls were leaving after two days, when scheduled for two weeks.
Dinner came around and was excellent. I am certain we can attribute that towards the new-arrival Indian family of 4 who's mother is an amazing cook, as well as all around person! Once seated Jim muttered an unintelligible prayer, and most everyone eats silently. I had not yet read the rule book thoroughly, so continued to ask questions and try to engage with folks. Jim would point to Val for responses as if his disciple. After dinner we helped wash the dishes and went to bed.
The next day I really tried my best to connect with Jim and the community residents, but failed to feel anyone clearly. So we left the next morning feeling our work there would be useless or given no value. This came from Jim's attitude and the littered graveyards of falling or torn down bamboo shacks. We were the first to sleep on our new bamboo floor just put in. I don't know if they just replaced the flooring or also the frame, but the joists had such wide gaps someone will definitely fall through it within a few months. Every other new shack had something undone or falling apart despite none being older than a few months. If this Happy Healing Home just got started a year ago I would have been thrilled to stick around and help with upgrades. But with 11 years there, everything is constructed so poorly, it honestly just felt depressing next to all the other broken shacks and bathrooms.
That day we built a fence as loosely directed to prevent the buffalo from entering the shower. We then went for a hike to gather some new bamboo and basically escape the awkward vibes all around. As I read over their long history of reviews online here, I suspect there was a time when the resident community was more lively; and that alongside with their terrible construction skills, there was a fun and creative vibe to explore the land and one's self and skills more happily.
However, we found no inspiration or vision, with terrible leadership, poor instruction, and lacking tools. I'm sure Jim and Tea have touched many peoples lives and we wish we had arrived when that might have been available to us.
We wish them the best of luck in their endeavors.