Pai, Thailand

SynchroniCity

This post is rather lengthy. Take your time. ไม่ดอ้งรีบ. You Are in Pai. Also known as Synchronicity although it rather resembles a town really.

On the way to Pai the minivan I am sitting in unfortunately hits a dog’s rear. A short rumble occurs which means the poor animal probably gets smashed under the left front wheel. This incident reminds me of the dog who was hit at Krabi when I hitchhiked to Khao Sok National Park. It was also hit at the tail end and then tried to reach the side of the road, crawling, whining desperately… my heart shivering. Mirror neurones firing away. I know how my butt hurts after three hours of sitting in a local bus, but this… well I have to accept the fact I can’t help the poor lad that is most probably expelled from the gene pool soon.

Ten minutes after arrival in the town of Pai I already found a place to put up my tent at a camp ground near Roots Bar. It’s hot. With the help of an Australian youngster named Theo it’s all set up in another couple minutes. Very helpful. Never before have I arrived somewhere and found a place to stay as easy and quick. For a week I stay here. Then I move to the other riverside.

It is hard to describe what happens here, and somehow I don’t want to… next to doing nothing for hours on end, here are some things I have done in and around this lovely town. Play table tennis. Share three delicious cakes with two lovely ladies at Witching Well. Enjoy bonfire at Roots Bar.

At the Pai Circus School I spend one afternoon at the pool and participate in a workshop. I get some advice on slacklining, learn to swing staff in the hot afternoon sun and spin fire in the evening. Bruises on right elbow and blisters on fingers say it was worth it. No photos of this afternoon. I was simply too immersed in learning a new skill. Sun sets over Pai. Kygo music enchants. Foot massage for a Brazilian girl. Read a good book about Burma. In a word: happy! And disillusioned by what’s going on in the neighbouring country. Life’s not a fairy tale.

image

image

Swimming pool at Pai circus school (100฿ just to get in not worth it, there are better places to get wet)

image

Preparation for fire-spinning this evening

When I wake up a nice lady and a cute puppy await me. At breakfast we meet Aron, a cool Californian.

Scootering Joy and me to the white Buddha uphill with a great view. On our way downstairs we give some bananas to the people working on the concrete staircase.

image

White pink and blue buddhas 😉

image

Bungalows and meditation hall at Open Mind Centre

image

Sunset at Pai Canyon

In the evening we listen to Undercover Hippy (www.undercoverhippy.com) at Art in Chai. It’s open mic night and everyone is invited to share some story some poem or whatever. It’s like poetry slam but without the competitive touch to it. I like it. Chocolate brownie, too, hihi!

image

Refreshing bath at a waterfall with a slide. Friendly people all around. Local children and travellers alike.

imageimage

On the way up to the waterfall we pass by a bar with pool table and pétanque area. Ganesh Bar it’s called. Good พัดไทย. Good mood.

In the evening when we arrive at Roots Bar (also campground, my resting place) I decide to get a bamboo tattoo. Oh yes. Sweet pain.

Morning yoga at Open Mind Centre.

image

เนิบเนิบเป็นคนติดดิน …

image

In the afternoon we eat some chocolate salty balls – put’em inya mouth n suck’em – in the shade at Earth Tone opposite Maeyen temple.

Helping Amanda, a canadian friend in need after a a scooter accident, to find a new place to stay, far away from all the noise, to cure her mind and body at Baan Din Doi Lisu (House Earth Hill Lisu) and Open Mind Centre. Lisu is a tribe living in the hills near Pai.

So many people here who come and have no clue how to ride a scooter. Or they are driving drunk. Breaking in curves. Not knowing how to deal with sand pitches. Let alone for the psychology of dealing with a highway cop patrol.

After sunset we settle down at the bonfire. The atmosphere has changed since friends left and some weirdo kids arrive. Conducting interviews instead of talking to one another from the heart. Hard to take. So after a couple days of big chill out the decision to move to the other riverside comes easy.

A tenant staying here for a longer period of time is the man from down under. With his attire and beard he looks like a twenty-sthg but he shows me his passport to prove he’s actually 18. Well, he has Greek roots he tells me… and also about his tattoo ideas on both arms. He had one made that reads ‘koi pen koi pai yim samme chun thon heng lisu’… meaning ‘slowly slowly always smiling the way of the lisu’).

Breakfast at vegan restaurant near the police station. Highly recommended. At the back their is a shrine room. Inside the restaurant no smoke no alcohol. Probly Buddhist proprietors. 35฿ for a proper meal. Excellent quality. I share black sesame which I got from Tom & Tim at Nan.

I go to pick up Amanda Dawn at Baan Din Doi Lisu. Half an hour by scooter.

image

Bungalows (300฿)

We check out the waterfall together. Take a plunge in the fresh water basins. Some cows pasturing there, too.

image

Ok, I won’t be afraid of you if you’re not afraid of me, ok?!

In the evening we pass by the Indiana cottage. Meet Leo (Bavaria) and Peter (Austria) there. And then Sarah, the ladyboy transcender we met on the first day in Pai, asks about our whereabouts and invites us to stay for free. After the strange atmosphere yesterday evening at the campfire she doesn’t have to ask twice. So the next thing to do is to move the tent and backpacks over there. With joy that’s done in about half an hour. We get a mattress and blankets from Sarah who’s in charge at Indiana cottage. Kind of. Funny guyle.

It is getting more and more difficult to keep up and write a diary. To keep track on what has happened.

image

Joyce (Amsterdam) and me strolling the streets of Pai

With happy joy who cried last night we explore House of Pork (a veggie café, as you might have guessed) and a guy shows me how to juggle with four balls.

image

We go to Om Garden with friends and have a great salad. Crawford, a slightly famous Scot (google Cambodia naked bike police chase) provides me with fresh coffee and serves it with a just-woke-up-ten-minutes-ago smile.

image

Writing postcards at John’s exquisite & extensive bookshop in walking street

image

Mr. Brown and Mr. White

image

Delicious food at Om Garden Café

image

Opening up the tent in the morning… dog gazing at me in … well.. almost lotus posture. Magic moment.

image

My resting place at Indiana cottage (the tent I bought in Sukhothai for 700฿)

image

Wake up bath in the Pai river

image

A big smile and a great chai in the evening

image

Dinner: bananas, chai and the best raw spring rolls ever!

image

One evening we discover some kittens crying… we get a ladder and get them down from the attic…

Days are going by in a peculiar fashion. Not to do anything when you don’t know what to do is the best thing you can do. And it’s so easy to do exactly that around here. It makes it so much easier to decide on the things actually worth doing. I will give you some examples:

Afternoon I attended Muay Thai training. Exhausting
Indian dinner with a nice British couple at Bebe Spice. Marvellous.
Bonfire with Crawford, Demian, Joy and many others. Relaxing.
Fire-spinning performance by Demian. Incredible.

And then…
after what seems like a month – or completely beyond any time frame, for that matter – I take a bus to Chiang Mai … and on to Chiang Rai. Joy joins me. She has even let a train ticket go void cuz she wanted to spend some more days with me.

At the bus station I reencounter a couple I had met at Pai Canyon.

Joy and I arrive in the evening. At a Reggae Bar we get advice where to check in.

Standard
Ko Lanta, Sharing, Thailand

Lanta Love

FOUR ISLAND TRIP

image

Long tail boat

image

Da Crew 😀

image

The Rock

image

The Sea view of Ko Lanta Yai

image

Snorkeling time yippiiee 😛

image

Emerald Cove

image

The Human Temple

image

The Beach

Great lunch

image

After the boat-swimming-snorkeling-sunbathing trip i volunteer to do some work where I stay: With John, I dig a deep hole and fix up the frame of a welcome sign 🙂

image

The way to the Phra Ae (Long Beach). I have my first pizza-beer combo there at sunset! I meet Alex from 2 nights ago. He teaches me some more Thai phrases & words.

After sunset I’m heading home. Have a shower. Listen to Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bobby McFerrin… l8r electronic house music and a live gipsy band playing their tunes around the corner…
… Evening chill out.

Decision to stay another day comes easy.

My body has two minor injuries. A cut on the right foot that came about while walking in-between the stones during low tide. And a blister on the right palm that stems from perforating bamboo with a screw driver. It’s all healing pretty fast. Within two days the wound begins to close up, with the alcohol I’m putting on it still burning like hell, though. Within a week it’s practically healed and there’s no need to put any plaster on it. I’m happy about that. Watching the body miraculously take care of itself, I mean.

Standard
Ko Lipe, Sharing, Thailand

Seele baumeln lassen

Chang beer and chips…
chocolate cake, coffeee…
cocktails and Christmas…
chillin chillin chillin…

image

To You All 🙂

About a week I stay at the beach on KoLipe. Mind you, I wouldn’t be here without Su. She invited me to stay here for a little while. Lucky guy, me, I gotta admit. With friends like that, life is great. We explore the island, enjoy good food together, talk tacheles, have a drink (or 2), get a thai massage (ouch!) and relax at the raggae bar listening to chill out sounds and breaking waves. The boats gently rocking nearby. Stars shine above at night. Clouds cover the sky during the day.

image

We book a royal snolking (and snolqueen, of course) trip the other day. Yet day after day because it is not sunny enough we postpone it. We stroll around the walking street and go to the other side of the island. Only 10-15 minutes on foot. Still, motarolas and scuta taxis drive around the walking street. Eventually, on Xmas day, we cancel the trip because Su leaves a day early. She decides to believe the weather forecast, pay more than 1,000 baht to get away from the island 24 hours earlier and spend a day in Bangkok instead. Go figure. I try to talk to her but her mind is set. “The weather forecast said…’ – ‘Alright, alright…’ Later, I watch the sunset while she goes shopping. Well… everyone just wants to be happy. We choose different paths. I only wish I could be more equanimous about the people I care about.

image

People are friendly here. But inna different way than in Malaysia. I do get a taste of tourism around that place. It’s nothing unusual. Nothing to be surprised about.

image

Reminiscing the irony of what happened to Ko Phi Phi when that movie came out. The book by Alex Garland delivers a message that is only hinted at in the movie. Another Hollywood love story seems more important these days. And who wants to stir up the guilty national conscience, anyway. Kiss kiss bang bang. Cut! … Forgive me if this sounds cynical. But as most cynics say, ‘I am only realistic’. If it is true that a cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing then I am not a cynic. At least not in a Wildean sense. Cuz I know the value of a good movie, trust me 😉 It’s just… I think it’s essential to look at something from many different perspectives and to try to see the big picture. It is what makes some people think of me as a strange person, sometimes asocial, sometimes unfathomable. It is also what others like about me, freethinking, able to dwell alone, happy to share and go into depths, still down-to-earth. (em… ok maybe that’s only the way I’d like to be seen haha)

image

ChiLLa CaT… a tautology, I know…

As I said before, I would not be here without Suzu. When I was in Penang we agreed to meet on the island on Dec 19 and spend a week together. I am grateful to celebrate X-mas on Ko Lipe with her. I mean, geez, who’d have thought that? It’s all happening so incredibly smoothly over here. Why not float along?! Lasciare la vita ordinare le cose.

image

Fresh coconut, please!

image

Ha Ha Ha Ppi NesS

Wishing you a wonderful, happy, peaceful and homely Christmas eve. Eat and drink well, sing and dance, and also spend a minute or 2 thinking of those who are less fortunate than you are and maybe having no one to share this evening with.

May you appreciate what you have got! May you be happy with who you are! May you be aware that there are people you love! Show it to them today! Tell them: ‘I care about you. I love you so. I am happy when you are happy.’

Is there anything better to do today than this?

I mean, apart from having a prolonged siesta 😉

image

Postscriptum:
In the end, we undertake the snorkeling trip. We really do. Since the morning brings sunshine, Su decides against taking the booked flight. She changes her mind again and stays on the island instead of flying to Bangkok line day earlier. Well, I’d say it’s OK to make mistakes. And it’s OK to change one’s mind twice in 24 horus.

Standard
Malaysia

A walk in the park

To be true to you, I am not in the mood to write a lot of words. I’ll simply let the pictures speak for themselves. It is place called Youth Park … only 15 minutes from where I stay. I walked there and met volunteer workers at the children’s adventure camp that takes place this weekend. Last weekend there was a jazz festival, a literary festival and a family picnic gathering at the Botanic Gardens. So many activities in and around Penang, it’s amazing…

image

Children’s playing ground and consumption-free leisure space

image

Work out stations… with trees and memorial stones next to it

image

You are invited to abide.

While sitting at the pool a man from near Budweis (CZ) comes around with his children. We talk and i learn he has been living on Ko Samui for the last 3 years.

image

Cool pool shower on a sunny afternoon

image

image

Family!

In the park, there are places to rest, to get wet, to access hiking trails to Penang Hill, to play chess, to skate, to do graffiti art, to talk, to eat and drink, to watch children play on playing grounds, to work out…

image

Young volunteers preparing the children adventure camp

image

Foot Reflexology Path

image

yes it hurts…

image

image

image

Standard
Koh Phangan, Malaysia, Sharing, Wat Kow Tahm

Welcome brother, feel at home

image

Ferry departing from Kohphangan at 7 a.m.

image

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

image

Names are just names. After a night at so-called Budget Hotel, we check in at Hotel Noble… and pay ⅓ of the price

image

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

image

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

image

Chinese taoist/buddhist temple…

image

Inside a taoist/buddhist temple in Georgetown

image

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

image

Please do not spit.

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

… 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

Standard
Suan Mokh, Thailand

Suan Mokh experience

Two weeks ago I left Chaiya.

I remember fireflies, bugs, ants. I remember lizards, snakes, spiders, geckos, and I surely remember them mosquitoes. I recall being amazed by the beautiful lush scenery, the palm trees, alleys, pathways. The hot hotsprings, cool meditation halls, ponds and grass. Grass as the heart of the Garden of Liberation.

I remember the simile about life not being like a high mountain to climb in order to reach its peak (perfection strive mode) but rather being many hills. And on these hills there is sunshine, rain, snow, wind. The choice to go up & down & around them is ours. We can always choose to enjoy the natural landscape of this life. I remember ‘meditation is like learning to ride a bicycle’. I remember the singer who rediscovered the courage and self-confidence to write a song after years of mental blockage.

I remember breathing in. I remember breathing out. I remember doubts arise about the sense and nonsense of becoming increasingly aware of this ever recurring process  I remember Ajahn Poh (82-year abbot) and Tan Mehdi (monk). I remember Yossi (volunteer) inviting us to stay at Donkin (Dharma Dūta hermitage) near the retreat centre for free, anytime, for days, weeks, years. I remember carrying loads of sand to cover paths around the hermitage. I remember the words about there being cobras, scorpions, spiders. I remember how I cried silently when Santikaro gave a translation of a talk by Buddhadāsa about the destruction of nature in Thailand and SE Asia in general. I remember this talk about the senseless brutality and destruction that came about by the passing of Man entered the open door of my heart and made me sob bitterly.

I remember the hard bunk and the wooden, yes, wooden pillow. I remember sweating a lot. I remember the smiles of fellow participants. I recall sounds of crickets, grasshoppers, frogs, birds. I remember an inspiring evening on day 10 with retreat participants recounting how these days affected and changes their lives. I remember listening to stories about wearing masks, about eating-disorders, about depression, headaches, crashes, near-death experiences, life-changing insights, back pain, childhood conditioning, perfectionism, workaholism.

I remember we were all looking for truth within ourselves. Discovering through direct experience what is really going on in this ever-changing field of sensations, feelings, moods, thoughts.

I remember understanding leads to compassion. I remember the mind as perfectly clear.

Standard