Koh Phangan, Malaysia, Sharing, Wat Kow Tahm

Welcome brother, feel at home

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Ferry departing from Kohphangan at 7 a.m.

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Minivan arriving in Georgetown at 9 p.m. Heavy rain and inundated roads shortly after crossing the Thai-Malaysian border

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Names are just names. After a night at so-called Budget Hotel, we check in at Hotel Noble… and pay โ…“ of the price

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Keep smiling and trust me: penang people are extreeeemely friendly.

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Georgetown offers a shuttle bus circling the city free of charge. Many other means of transportation available, though.

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Chinese taoist/buddhist temple…

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Inside a taoist/buddhist temple in Georgetown

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Street Art on King Street, one of many (part of UNESCO World Heritage)

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Please do not spit.

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Late lunch with good friends at Sri Ananda. Food in Little India, it’s the bomb, man!

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Masjid Kapitan Keling Mosque, with a cannon in the garden, just in case

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Sai Baba Anniversary in Penang Road… very lively & lovely tabla music and chanting!

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After having stumbled upon manifestations of buddhist, muslim and hindu belief, on the way along the esplanade, finally St. George Church, spectacularly lit

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… and to conclude this smooth sunday, a barbecue anniversary at ‘The alley’, a funky place with generous proprietors and ample evidence of artistic expression, only two minutes from where we stay

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Koh Phangan, Sharing, Thailand

Let the good times roll

Getting up. Yoga. Hop into Badehose and sarong. Walk to the beach. Meet some friends. Naturally naked swim in the ocean. Join friends at breakfast. Hmmm… Noodle soup vietnam style. Porridge with fruits.

Scooter to a barber. Have beard shaved and hair cut. Feels wonderful. So fresh! Get some apples at the market. Drive to Wat NOW Tahm to meditate.

Check out a muaythai training centre uphill. Walk on slack line. Do some pull-ups.

Amazing view over the misty jungle.

Continue driving to rock formations. Enjoy the view at the northeastern part of the island.

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View over Nai Pan Yai

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Better avoid stepping on that creature…

Relax at a waterfall en route. Share the market apples. Meet lovely puppies and their mother on the way.

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Puppies and mom need caressing… like all beings do.

Huuuge tree next to the street near Wat Nok and Wat Pho. With spirit houses surrounding the tree. Tears of confusion run down the cheeks of a lovely girl. I can only watch.

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Very big tree (53m high)

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Watch the sunset at Wat Kow Tahm. Again meet some other friends there. One is going to Bali, another one to Paris, a third one (me) heading to Penang the next morning.

In the evening, a great meal at the open-air market. Padthai with omelette, vegetable samosa, and for dessert a pineapple pancake.

On the way back to my bungalow at Golden Rock I stop at Organic Chocolate House to reminisce. Think about aversion, compassion, care and caress, and about jealousy.

Eventually high-class chill out with high-quality dark chocolate. A chat with the beautiful proprietor, best wishes and the promise to be back.

Oh, such a perfect day…

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Chill out with good old Plutarch at Organic Chocolate House ๐Ÿ™‚

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Koh Phangan, Sharing, Thailand

Sky is clouded, Mind is clear

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Lookout from the hill (Wat Kow Tahm)

Today I rent a scooter to go around the island. Enjoy the beach. Drive. Drive. Stop. Have a drink. Chill out. Join a gong meditation with dhamma friends. Eat fresh coconut. Relax in a hammock.

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Really grrreat food

The Soul Food Cafe is a wonderful place to have lunch. I had some millet salad and a pumpkin ginger soup. So delicious! The cafe is run by an Italian man and a Brazilian woman. They prepare fresh salads, drinks and teas. You get anything there, from moringa to chlorella to tempeh and all kinds of grains and veggies.

I am staying in a bungalow at a place called Golden Rock.

At times I get disoriented. Try to keep it simple Hakeem. At all times. Don’t expect anything. It’s alright.

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View from the restaurant at ‘Golden Rock’

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Koh Phangan, Sharing, Wat Kow Tahm

Wake up, have a natural shower, walk mindfully

This morning at around 5 a.m. it was pouring. I woke up, changed the body into standing position and had a natural shower on the veranda of the kuti, i.e. the hut I am staying at.

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Heavenly shower

It started to rain so heavily that within the space of seven breaths this body was completely soaked. I actually took some soap because it was so wet. All the sand and salt from yesterday’s beach and sea dripped off the body.

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Yes, there are spiders, snakes and scorpions around…

We concluded the retreat by eating too much and going to the beach – Haad Rin. Yes, that’s where the full moon party rocks every month. Music played there. Beach was empty, though, because it is two weeks before the next happening. With a pickup truck we went. I was the one with the driver’s licence, so it was my turn to drive. Left-side driving, exciting ๐Ÿ™‚

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Dhamma investigation, Koh Phangan, Sharing, Wat Kow Tahm

Wat Kow Tahm

In the previous week, I totally lost count of what day it is. And i don’t care. Token of acclimatisation I’d say.

These last seven or eight days at the monastery/retreat centre Wat Kow Tahm were truly inspiring. As I arrived from Suan Mokh and settled here, the flow continued. I found myself getting up at 4 a.m. without any incredulous look at the alarm clock. Actually enjoyed lying there awake an hour early or so, breathing in and out until the actual waking bell rang. Time to go to the meditation hall uphill.

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Meditation Hall

Sit for half an hour, then do some yoga or tai’chi (Master Khun Supol is instructing us) at the temple. watch the sunrise. Sitting again for 45mins. Letting the mosquitoes become Ajahn Jun (masters) that bring me right back to the present moment when the mind has wandered away to rehearse the past and probe into the future, with other words dealing with stuff long gone or not yet come. Imaginary and ephemeral stuff quickly made more solid by mental proliferation (papanca). Then breakfast – well, first a food reflection:

‘Considering it thoughtfully, I eat this food, not for play, not for intoxication, not for putting on bulk, not for beautification, but simply for the survival and continuance of this body, thinking: ‘Thus eill i destroy old feelings (of hunger) and not create new feelings (from overeating).

I will maintain myself, be blameless, and live in comfort.’

Ok, right on! Get some muesli and porridge, fresh fruits (banana, papaya, pineapple) and a vegetable rice soup with many condiments to choose from at the side. It is very tasty, indeed! Difficult not to be mindlessly stuffing the belly, not thinking about the next spoonful of tasty matter that’s gonna be put into this hole in the head. It’s comparably easy to be mindfully walking and sitting all day from 4 a.m. until 9 p.m. It is at mealtimes when the real practice starts, or to put it another way: it is at the communal feasting when the progress (or lack thereof) starts to show clearly. When you reach out to Nibbฤna but all you have got is a sore body and a restless mind, the love you find in carefully-selected, well-prepared, delicious and nutritious food certainly seems like salvation, if only temporary.

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Forest monastery

On the last day of the retreat, Marko from Estonia (who had been reading the food reflection before every meal with us repeating after him) gave an hilarious version, i.e. reading this very reflection with a heavy, thick Russian accent. With us repeating after him. I laughed so hard my belly button danced a jiggy ๐Ÿ˜€

How can I describe what I am going through here? Sometimes i am moved to tears because it is so breathtakingly beautiful. Right now, in fact, I have tears in my eyes. Becoming aware that EVERYTHING is impermanent … that is indeed hard to take in fully. Better done step by step.

The ego makes it also hard to tell what is happening cuz it’s used to endless attempts at looking and sounding impressive. And it has become quite good at it. Years of training. I know what I Am talking about dude. Thus, I knead in some thoughts of entanglement and sensations of dukkha so that this whole journey we call ‘life’ is seen for what it is. There really is so much unnecessary suffering just because of clinging to a sense of self. So much distress because of attachment to this idea of I-Me-Mine covering up momentary experience like a cloak perverting perception. And knowing that does not help. Reading does not help. Not-knowing helps. Becoming perfectly still helps. It gets really obvious around here. And still, when there is a glimpse of truth shining through the dark veil of delusion, it’s being labeled as ‘my’ (spiritual or whatever) experience all too soon.

Hmmm… desire came in to wreck the show.

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Temple up on the hill

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Inside the temple

P.S. In case you take wonder at etymological dimensions, the word desire derives from Latin desirus, meaning ‘away from the star’. So if the stars your destination, why move constantly away?! BE HERE NOW.

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On the hill of Wat Kow Tahm (Mountain cave)

More photos you will find here.

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