Galle, Mirissa, Sri Lanka, Unawatuna

Going ALL the Way

My travels are coming to an end. Slowly slowly coming back to what people generally call reality.

It is August 2017. Soon i will be going back to Europe. I have about one week left in Sri Lanka. One week. Why not check out some beaches and temples? Take some rest before heading back to Colombo and Negombo 😀

 

A local bus with a funky interior design brings me south to Wellawaya. From there, I take another bus due south, to Mirissa.

 

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Once in Mirissa I take a tour on a scooter to Galle and Unawatuna

 

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I am surprised to find a Japanese Peace Pagoda which has an astonishing resemblance to the one in Vienna at the Danube. Same goes for the interior arrangement of the temple.

 

 

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Jungle Beach. Five minutes from the Peace Pagoda. I just had a dip in the ocean. Cut my feet and knees on the corals. Taking rest now. Enjoying the heat. Get lunch. Some locals invite me to celebrate their friend’s upcoming marriage. A lot of food. A lot of booze.

 

Along the coast I ride for about an hour until I reach Galle. I walk about aimlessly. There are quite a lot of tourists here. Most of them Dutch. Which makes sense as this is a Portuguese Fort built in 16C fortified and extended by the Dutch in 17C. I feel as if I have seen enough of Galle after about two hours. There are old churches and antique stores, the beach is not far and the view is terrific.

All of this, though, as interesting as it may be for someone interested in it – for someone who’s really into it, seems to be not much more than entertainment for the many. An opportunity to take a selfie and another, and another. Some proof to show to others: “Look at us, we have been here.”

 

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Before and after Galle I chill out at the beach. Driving or walking around aimlessly is what I like most these days. Nowhere to go in particular feels great. Of course, there is also a certain restlessness in the mix. As soon as I sit down somewhere I feel like I wanna explore what is behind the next hill or what the next bay has to offer. On my offline map it only says “blowhole”…

 

 

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Sand and Sea before sunset

 

 

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Bali, Bedugul, Sharing

Motivations of giving

Doddy and me had just met yesterday evening – it so happened we stay at the same guesthouse. We share some stories and he tells me he goes to Surabaya the next day. Sure he can give me a ride to Pemuteran – he is happy to do so! We are meant to start at 5 a.m. But for some reason we leave two hours later. Ok by me. Going back to bed for another two hours I listen to this:

https://youtu.be/wTFLC_81dM4   
   

We go south from Bedugul (Hotel Melita, IDR150,000/double room)… I had scootered there from Ubud with an Italian guy named Andrea: Mille grazie amico!

   

My Italian travelmate Andrea & me on scooter ride to Bedugul. A taxi driver wanted IDR500,000 for the ride from Ubud to Bedugul. So we rented a scooter for 1/10 of that and went up north by ourselves. Thank you, Andrea, for taking me along with my big backpack 😉

   
   

Pura Ulun Danu Beratan (Temple at Lake Beratan, in Bedugul, Bali)

   

   

So from Bedugul Doddy goes south to do some business, and from there he goes to Surabaya where he lives. He brings me all the way to Gilimanuk. So generous! Inviting me for breakfast (Nasi pecel) and offering to help out as a guide next time i am travelling Indonesia. Please bring some friends along so We can make a group tour, he says, and keeps on repeating also when I visit him in Surabaya a week later. So, my dear reader, now you know that I know a guy who can help you with organising a trip to Bali-Lombok-Flores-Timur!!

   

Wonderful Buddha statue at Brahma Arama Vihāra, Bali

    

12 links of paticcasamuppada – Dependent Origination on the steps of the Biggest Buddhist Temple in Bali (Brahma Arama Vihāra)

   

Ignorant fools, aggressive, greedy minds, closely related to humanity

   

Oftentimes I suspect people expect something from me in return. That might be true in some cases. Sometimes, though, the generosity of some person I meet is genuine and his/her only motivation is to give without wanting something back (and be it only a loose connection to that Austral… European traveller). Anyways, I have to make a confession of being somewhat stingy at times. Having arrived here at yet another paradise in Bali – a shadow cast over dat place – all I can think of is to save money by negotiating the price of accommodation. I am ashamed of how I acted. Even if it is common as a backpacker to negotiate and to try saving a buck – I have come across people who truly excel at this pastime, made it a sport even (“look, I’ve only spent 100 rupiah in a month” etc. etc.) – even so, I sense that I hurt Putu by my attitude, the lady welcoming me at their homestay in Pemuteran. I regretted this and told her I am sorry as soon as i could muster up the courage to do so. Stinginess hits me sometimes. I would like to be inspired by the generosity of the people I meet. Or is it that I am generally generous, grateful and giving? Am I being too harsh with myself? Like a white cloth on which a small stain of stinginess is all the more visible than on a dirty rag? Who can tell? Who knows my innermost drives, values and motivations… but me? All I know is that I don’t particularly like myself in survival mode!

Maybe it has brought the species where it is nowadays. Be that as it may, suspicion and mistrust remains a nasty habit nonetheless. So I give the tuktuk driver some more than he expects, something more than what we agreed upon. Surprised, he looks at me and smiles… and tells me my next ride “if you go to airport or whatever, sir” is free of charge. Now I am surprised.

Too surprised to get his phone number.

And off he goes.

   

Sun sets over rice fields on our way back to Bedegul, Bali

   

Suspecting others to take advantage of me and trying to make the best deal. I need to change my view if my actions shall habe a more gentleman touch. Simply ‘wanting’ to be more generous does not work. It’s gotta be in the spirit of wuwei – not forcing it. Advice is appreciated, dear readers? how do you deal with this issue in your life? Are you aware of why you are giving time, money, resources, smiles? Do you expect anything in return? Are you disappointed, even angry, when someone is ungrateful? Do you identify yourself with the giver? Do you use giving as a means of self-aggrandizement? Do you think you can only give once you have enough – and when will it ever be enough?
   

This has helped me along my journey:

   

“Any wish, any desire, any activity in the mind is dukkha, because all thinking is forever moving. Movement is irritation, which creates dukkha, and can never be totally fulfilling. if we think about the past, for instance, we bring it into the present. If that past was unsatisfactory, we wish it had been different, thereby causing ourselves a lot of needless suffering. We should let the past rest. […] Equally, if we bring the future to mind, hoping for something we want, or praying that some other thing will not happen, we bring that also into the present and with it, dukkha. We need to look at ourselves honestl, though without judgment, and recognize how frequently we do this and how foolish it is.”

Ayya Khema

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Kuching, Lundu, Sarawak

Exploring West Sarawak

When we do not work…

or play beach-volleyball…

or enjoy the view…

or chillout at the campfire…

    

   

… we use our time to explore the surroundings.

   
One fine day a carpenter from Scotland named Dave who volunteers at Matang Wildlife Centre (22km west of Kuching) comes to finish work on some doors, handles, locks etc. Konrad, Karla, Leon, Joy and me borrow his car and decide to hike for an hour to the most beautiful waterfall in this region. What is shown on the photos is a mere fraction of what there is to see; there are trails following the river up up up to more than ten waterfalls, each more beautiful than the previous, providing spectacular views over the entire rainforest with semingly endless variations of green. Indescribable.

   

Refreshing pool at the end of the hike

   

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Kuching, Sarawak

Men of the forest

Before Joy takes her leave from Kuching and flies to KL we rent a scooter for a day and visit Semenggoh Wildlife Centre  It is located about 20km south of Kuching-la. At 3 p.m. the orangutans get bananas, pineapples, coconuts and sweet potatoes. Some of them come out to get food. Others don’t. We are lucky to experience the effortless smooth movements of these amazing creatures.

   

They branchiate (swing from branch to branch) and are many times stronger than human creatures.

Cute baby orangutan clinging to mama

   

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Burma, Mawlamyine

Some impressions of Pa-Auk Tawya Monastery

I went out searching for liberation in the forest, but that turned out to be crazy, because the truth is within oneself.

(Ajahn Buddhadāsa)

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Dark grey boulders, lush green landscapes, and a big blue sky

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Oh how I love to walk in nature and explore hiking trails!

Today I spotted many many animals. A frog sat on my left flipflop when I returned from the upper dhamma hall. A cock wandered around just outside my kuti. A squirrel came down from the forest to where I was practising walking meditation in the afternoon. A spider rested in its web’s centre. A bird flew right above me into the tree tops. An ant tried to crawl in between my toes and I wouldn’t let it. Four cute puppies licked my hands like their mommy’s tits and I’d let them. A butterfly stroked the earlobe of a man walking in front of me. A cat sat next to a nun having lunch. A mosquito found its way into my mosquito net cell. So many animals… and as for the humans, they’re spitting coughing burping farting chatting like there’s no tomorrow. Which in fact there is not – it’s always today.

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Foundation for another building, maybe a new dhamma hall?!

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Joey (Manila) and some bearded guy

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*chirp chirp chirp*

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Sunset from a hill near Pa-Auk Tawya Monastery

Days go by really fast here.

Two substantial meals per day. Eight hours meditation per day. A walk uphill to watch the sunset. Some chanting. Sound sleep. Some say: ‘If you want to live a spiritual life all you need to do is to go to bed early and get up early.’

That’s it? Maybe it is. It’s a good start for sure.

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Burma, Mawlamyine

Traveller mind, Tranquil mind

Now I have stayed at Pa-Auk Forest Monastery in the south of Mawlamyine. It was good. Good to settle down after some months of being on the move. Meditation schedule was as usual. Not too tight but tight enough.

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Noble silence was not taken too seriously. Many monks from China, Vietnam, Thailand, and also westerners. All in all about 400 people there in the woods. Staying in kutis (huts) and practicing ānāpānasati and/or four-elements bhāvana at the Dhammavihārī Sīma, the upper meditation hall.

After some days my roommates (from Myanmar and Germany) left and I had this relatively big and, what’s more important: silent place all for myself for the remaining 10 or 11 days. Upstairs one local monk’s residence.

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Sharing

Jungle Trekking Tour

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Mekong river at Huay Xai

After some nights at the border (HuayXai) I decide to leave my French friends one morning and head to Muang Sing. It is a small village near the Chinese border. Not much going on there.

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Muang Sing. Good place to do nothing at all.

I do not feel like renting a motor cycle at the moment to go north to the hills and do some trekking on my own. So the next morning I go to Luang Namtha. I meet the Canadian couple again. Like me, they find it hard to decide if it’s better to go trekking with or without a guide.

I rent a bicycle to explore the area and go to the waterfall (4 km from town).

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On the way to the waterfall … riding bicycle

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Lao road Lao truck Lao dog

I spend the afternoon there and meet two French guys. (In Laos, I meet many French folks in general…)

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Together we book a tour in the evening. So next day we start in the morning. The group consists of 6 people.

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We visit Lanten on Day 1 and a Khmmu tribe the next day. Sometimes we are greeted in a very friendly way, sometimes we are eyed suspiciously, sometimes regarded with indifference as just another bunch of passersby. The guides joking and explaining plants and animals on the way. Freshwater creeks to bathe in. Cooking with bamboo poles. Campfires at night. Simple and great food. Sleeping in the jungle with sounds of (rather big) animals in the darkness. Three days go by quickly. What stays with me are innumerable magic moments when nature reveals its beauty and its merciless way to the human heart mind.

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Getting provisions for the trek at Luangnamtha market, 9 a.m.

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Trail at noon

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Laughing with Lanten village children

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The next day. After spending the night in a Lanten village we venture deeper into the thicket of Lao jungle

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Swinging swinging so much phun

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Prepare tasty meals in a very simple way

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Mister Mii, a colourful guide

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Refreshment

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Where we spend the second night…

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“Sweaty business” someone muttered

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Nam Tha … nam means H2O and Tha means Tha haha

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Khmmu village

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Revising the cycle of life and death with Khmmu children

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Lunch and swim at Nam Tha before heading back to town after three days in the Lao jungle

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yeah that’s me in my element over there

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