Sunday July 10th, 2011; 13:52
Location: Doi Suthep Monastery Chiang Mai Thailand
Why: Getting spiritual above Chiang Mai City.
After 11 blissful days in Koh Tao, my flip flops were ready for another wander somewhere in Thailand. Some meditation medication seemed like a natural progression from my yoga experience in KT in my quest to find peace and happiness from within.
First order of business was to get myself back to BKK and catch a train to the northern capital of Chiang Mai. A leisure ferry ride sprawled on the top deck. Getting nicely golden brown can be painful.
Me loungin' on the ferry enroute to BKK via Chumphon:
Finally got to BKK, back to my 'base' camp of Nap Park Hostel, got myself sorted out whilst enjoying a marvelous thai iced coffee.
Life is good:
This is how one looks when taking a 14hr train ride to Chiang Mai on 2nd class, top bunk sleeper with fan. Classic Dirtbag Backpacker:
Alright, I am in Chiang Mai and the next goal was to get my ass up to Doi Suthep, home of the International Buddhist Center (IBC) for a week of silence and reflection in the mountain jungle with monks. It is not as easy as one may think. There are rules to be followed if one is to truly benefit from the practice.
This meant NO:
No food after 12pm (gulp)
5am - wake up
5:30 - 6:30am - Dhamma Talk
7am - Vegetarian Breakfast
11am - Vegetarian Lunch
6 - 7pm - Evening Chanting
8pm - Lights out
***Meditation is suppose to be practiced between these hours**
This was much harder than I expected it but a rewarding experience nonetheless.
The living quarters were sparse to say the least:
After six days of meditating, I am happy to note that I have learned skills which I can practice anywhere for a little bit of inner peace everyday. The best part of buggering off to meditate was the people I met there. A sense of camaraderie developed as we supported each other to push through the loneliness, quietness, and boredomness at times.
My peeps at IBC. We cheated by sneaking out at night for food in the market down below the temple grounds. From L-R Goh (Malaysia), Chimene (Brazil/Taiwan), Julian (Germany), Michael (Holland), Lyndsay (N. Ireland), Agata (Poland), Melanie (Germany) is not in the pic:
Despite the change in pace, Doi Suthep is a beautiful Buddhist temple with lush vegetation and great views of the city below:
One of the paths to the Monks' living quarters:
Doi Suthep - 306 steps up to the temple:
At the top, you can walk around the grounds and take in the views of the city:
As karma would have it, I checked out the same day as Lyndsay and Chimene. Together, the three of us made our way down the mountain to re-integrate into everyday life. Lyndsay, a leggy 19yr old blond from Northern Ireland with a trucker mouth has been a great travel companion the last few days. Chimene, a gorgeous Chinese Brazilian 20yr old with a moon tattooed on her forehead gave me a much needed hair cut from my burgeoning mop top. We have been staying at A Little Bird Guesthouse (how cute is that name?) She and Agata have buggered off to Pai whilst me and Lindsay are getting all hardcore and fit muay thai training at the Chay Yai Gym just outside the Old City walls.
My fellow meditaters and now dorm mates, Lindsay and Chimene (pronouced Shee-men-nay):
My new lid, courtesy of Chimene who happens to be a hairstylist (karma happens):
Today, my day off from training started with an amazing papaya smoothie. Tough day: