Malaysia, Sharing

Expect the Unexpected… or expect nothing at all

Yeah come to think of it, don’t expect anything at all. That’s even better. Cuz expectation is a fetter. Makes you upsetter. Just think however it plays out it don’t matter.

Expectation is ‘yogi poison’ cuz it disables the mind to remain clean, clear and calm. And only if it is CCC can it see what’s REALLY going on.

I’ll give you a quick update on my last couple of days. I am staying at Bodhi Heart Sanctuary (BHS) near Penang Hill and the Botanical Garden. My staying there is not charged as long as I spend two hours a day working at the compound.

Surprising Sunday

I meet Jenny that day. She comes by to participate in a monthly ceremony held at the Chinese temple nearby. She invites me to join her for lunch and to stay at her place overnight. I spend the day at the house beach. In the evening a DVD movie and a silent night without mosquitoes.

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View from Jenny’s balcony

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Near the house beach

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Abandoned house, allegedly haunted

Meandering Monday

I decide to visit the clan jetties. Huts built on the pier reaching about 500m out into the ocean.

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UNESCO was here ๐Ÿ˜‰

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An exceptionally friendly family selling fresh fruit on Chew Jetty

I help the man fix a marquise. Four hands can do a job twice as easily as two, I think. I get some melon and a goodie from the curry puff uncle.

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The clan jetties

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Men at work

Some Chinese girls come over and want to take a picture with me on it. Why, I ask them? ‘Because you look handsome.’

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Handelt es sich um ein Fahrrad?, fragte er.

In the evening I rent a scooter and go back to BHS. It is raining, of course. Tank is empty, hmm. I get lost in the dark. I have a big laugh about life, the universe and everything. I ask someone. ‘No, i don’t have a raincoat, sir. It’s a bit l8 4 that now, anyways.’ He helps me, of course. I find my way again. Finally I am home. Soaked and happy as a fish ๐Ÿ™‚

Sweaty Tuesday

I take the scooter and visit a Kuan Yin Temple on a hill nearby.

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Kuan Yin Temple

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Kuan Yin statue

After that, I drive to the National Park. In Malay it is called Taman Negara Pulau Pinang. A black guy sits on a bench at the entrance. ‘Wanna have breakfast? Come on. Take some!’ Guess I need not be amazed anymore but still am.

I come to know him as a national park ranger. Later on, more NP rangers arrive and join in. So I only eat the rice with spicy gravy and pass on the fish head of somebody else. I am happy to get rid of it. He is happy to get some more prote in. Win-win.

I trek for an hour to Monkey Beach.

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Monkey Monkey Beach

I relax for a while and then walk up towards the lighthouse Muka Head. On the way I meet four guys who happen to be boat captains. The tattoo on my forearm is interesting for all Muslims. It opens doors with them. They invite me to koffee and katom (a bitter tea). For NRG! as the eldest named Muhammed emphasises. I am happy to learn that they’d take me back to the entrance for free. I simply wait for them and have a coconut at the beach. On the way down I meet three lovely and helpful young germanians. They give me tips and favourites for Laos and Cambodia. Thank you Jasper, Johanna and Sophia ๐Ÿ™‚

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Trail to the lighthouse

I walk up to the lighthouse. I arrive there and walk upstairs. Nice view. Extreeemely hot.

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After the trek to the lighthouse, I walk back to the beach – on the way meeting the captains again and have a chat – and i am invited by Indonesian girls who are having a picnic there. They wanna take pictures. Alright. So I think ‘you take pictures and I take food. deal.’ And certainly, there are three questions posed – where you from? you alone? you wanna marry her?

Later some agile Africans (Nigeria, Botswana, Namibia) want to have a photo session with me at the beach. One of them shares some cool pineapple with me.

Everybody who comes along waves at me and/or says hello. Without the intention to sell me anything I don’t need, that is.

At 5 p.m. the captains come back and we sit together.

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Boat captains and me at Monkey Beach

Soon after we leave.

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At the entrance, Ron (a hiker from KL who gets back with the same boat) obviously needs a ride so I make an offer he can’t refuse. I give him the second helmet lampenschirm and off we go to good old Georgetown. In Muntri Road, I stop at the Purrrfect Cat Cafรฉ. Ron gives me his business card ‘in case i might need anything’ and i buy a PenangMuralArt T-shirt and bring back the scooter to Happy Ken in Love Lane.

I stroll around Little India. Let the day roll out in slow pace. Indian pace. Have a great dinner. Go to the Alley for a tropical punch and a chocolate truffle cake and wifi for update my loved ones ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Reassurances while doing business…

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Free Shuttle Penang

Catch a bus home. Take a cold shower. Go to bed. Put on the fan. Turn off the lights. Breathe.

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Dhamma investigation, Lunas, Malaysia, Sharing

Eat your drink. Drink your meal.

Here is some food for thought ๐Ÿ˜‰

There is plenty of delicious food being brought to the Buddhist hermitage Lunas. And when I speak of plenty, I actually mean abundance. It is organised like a potlatch. It’s all donated by devotees. That is, local families with their children and all – every day of the week a different Dฤna groups brings food to the hermitage. So there is all kinds of food and the devotees emphasize ‘it is a pleasure to serve you’. But only before noon. After that, no food.

It’s sometimes impossible to tell if something is meat or sweet, and since we are supposed not to open the mouth (except to eat mindfully) it is not possible to ask if this samosa is filled with potatoes or tuna or if that bun is sour or sweet. Take a guess. Hey captain! If you want something, take it! Reach out and put it on your plate mate. Before it’s gone. Or don’t. The next dish is already in front.

I have stopped trying to make nice arrangements. It all gets mixed up on the plate anyway. (Well, actually the arrangements just naturally become nice) In the course of the week, I have also given up my conviction – it sounds like convict, anyway, a prisoner of views! – to be a vegetarian person around here. Some of you who know me might be aghast. Some of you who really know me will understand. Alms bowl offerings, it’s special circumstances. The offerings file past in front of me in the dining hall – quite similar to thoughts of past and future filing past in the meditation hall. In both cases, there is not much time to choose. Once I grab it, it’s on my plate and I feed on it. Yes, sometimes it’s fish, shrimps, meat, egg, dairies are mixed into the dish. I have resorted to eating everything again, to live like an omnivore for ‘a good week’ (in myspeak meaning approx. 10 days). Yes, sometimes it’s greed, anger, jealousy, fear, lust. I am resolved to let everything come and pass by for ‘a good week’. In case I feel exhausted afterwards, I know I’ve had too many thoughts on my plate, too much food on my mind. Whatever. Neither am I here to judge any experience nor am I here to make it mine. I am here to observe. Observe objectively what is happening while it is happening.

Note it.
Know it.
Let it go.

Today is Sunday, for instance, and the dining hall is crowded with devotees. First they queue to serve the monks. Then yogis and yogฤซnis, samaneras (novice monks) and sayalays are served. More than 50 or so different types of food file past us. I just take what seems agreeable. As mentioned before, once I go for it, it’s on my plate. No time for close examination. No chance of being picky.

So I’m gonna make a resolution. I’m gonna deal with it later: As soon as everything (cuz maybe something reeeeal good is coming along in a minute…) has been offered. I’m gonna try to remain equanimous when I realise: I took too much too much, man. I’m gonna remember: Three things on the blue planet truly challenge a man’s common sense and prove his dignity or lack thereof: An ether binge with a paranoid lawyer at your side. A beautiful young woman offering her virginity. The thoughtless rapid ingestion of piles of food.

So the real work starts in the dining hall. What happens in the dhamma hall is merely preliminary. A preparation for the task of beingmindfully aware of holding the spoon and lifting it to the hole in your head, noting ‘chewing, chewing’ and ‘tasting, tasting’. In other words, it is difficult not to overeat. So many delicacies. After lunch, there is always the opportunity to practise generosity by handing over the leftovers to the stray dogs and cats that live here, too. Food is taken in silence, by the way. An Italian’s nightmare, I suppose. A prejudice based on nationality, I suppose.

Just as everything else, so too the intake of food is done in silence. There are two or three signs pointing out that ‘Speaking is the greatest hindrance to the progress of insight.’ So it’s definitely not what you’d call a social event, exactly.

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Malaysia

Gorgeous Georgetown

So many cultures. So many varieties of food to choose from. So many places to check out. Such an amazing time we have here!

Time flies when you are happy.

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Tibetan Temple on Love Lane, Georgetown

After having explored on foot and by bike, I think it is a good idea to expand the horizon and check out the surrounding areas as well. Therefore, on Wednesday I rent a scooter to get around. No driver’s licence, no problem. Don’t get caught, that’s all. ‘You know how to drive? – Yessidosir. – Alright then.’

Move confidently into their midst.

Twenty minutes after leaving the bike dealer, I turn into Armenian Street and check out the Malaysian executive force. Neat. Tidy. Environmentally friendly. But with temperatures above 30, they gotta have a thorough sweat m8!

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The three men in black are police on bikes

I can’t possibly tell everything I see on my way. Let me just say it’s an intense day with a soaked T-shirt and pond-like roads at times. Hot and humid and a lot of road covered. Getting lost and getting an overview of the city in the process of finding my way again.

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Easy traffic on Carnarvon Road (chinese name: swampy road)

I drive around. I get lost somewhere in the south of the Penang island, in Jelutong. U-turn. Get lost again somewhere again. Trying to find my way. Woah man, so many three-lane jalan sehala, meaning one-ways. It’s confusing.

I rediscover the very temple we had seen when we went along with the bicycles the other day. It is up on a hill with a nice view. It starts to rain heavily in the afternoon. I spend the time walking mindfully at the adjacent gazebo until the temple opens at 4.30 p.m.

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A Hindu Temple with a very long name attached to it ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Inside the Hindu temple

Is there still enough time to go to the Kebun bunga, the botanic garden? Sure there is. I mean, actually that was my initial intention, and the reason I rented a motosikal in the first place. Waterfall Road is just five minutes from the temple.

Immediately I feel at home here. I walk. Slowly I explore a gorge. And a Japanese garden, a herbal garden, orchid garden, a turtle lake, and a rainforest trail. Ahhhh…

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A formal garden

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Monkey island

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Imagine the sound, the smell, the humid air…

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Before I leave, i turn around and take this picture at Waterfall Road, the entrance to the botanic garden (taman botani)

After having returned the motosikal, I find my friends – like, naturally, telepathically informed – at Kassim Mustafa’s having dinner. Goes without saying I join in with a delicious roti banana and a fresh coconut. I sleep like a baby when I finally get home to Hotel Noble.

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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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Dhamma investigation, Sharing

upset stomach and a brunch with spain

this morning i am not feeling well at all. I could not sleep and get up at 10 a.m., have to puke ferociously into the toilet. i attribute it to the food I have eaten the evening before. whatever it was, it is gone now that I am writing this. lucky bastard, me.

after taking a shower (there is only hot water) and doing some meridian stretching, at 12 o’clock i finally make my swaying way down wobbly stairs at saifon guest house to get some liquid back into the system. the body feels so fuckin weak… i choose to spend a couple of hours just sitting in the shade.

whilst i am staring holes into space, some five Spanish girls arrive. they ask me if I have recently eaten here. i tell them. what i had for lunch (no prob) and what i had for dinner (prob indeed). they invite me to sit with them for lunch. yeah! let’s talk some castellano ๐Ÿ™‚ i am not really hungry and just drink a 1.5l bottle of water with isotonic tablet. after that I feel better and order (at the exact place i ate that probably sickening supper) five spring rolls ‘mai gin nwasad’ (‘I don’t eat meat’). they seem to have been ok cuz this is now two hours ago and i am awake and feel some chi flow again.

i guess the lesson I have learned is to be aware of what I am eating while I am at it, tasting it, chewing it, and leaving it – even though i might be very hungry – in case it tastes reheated or funny in any other possible way. as the body recovers and the dizziness passes by, leaving clarity in its wake, it also serves a reminder of anicca, impermanence.

now it is 3 p.m. i check out. leave a green pullover there. i won’t need it in this heat anyway and i want to travel more lightly. the train back to bangkok leaves in half an hour. the night train to chaiya at 19:30. i bought some cashews, apples and bananas for the ride. i will continue to save energy today and stroll ever so slowly through the hot air, dodging mosquitoes on the way.

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