Thailand

Gratefulness for Kindness Shown to me in Thailand and Laos

guest house

In this video, originally an insurance ad called “Unsung Hero”, it shows acts of kindness set in what looks like it might be Bangkok, Thailand. It brought back memories of kindnesses I too experienced. Thank you for smiles, for flower offerings at the ferry bus stop on the river, for prayers, for hospital visits, (from the staff of Sri-Ayuttaya Guest House), for cool rooms and billowing mosquito nets in Laos, for all the small acts that soothed me, that helped me.

Here is a link to Sri-Ayuttaya from TripAdvisor. I would rate them highly and will never forget their kindness. Where: Sri-Ayudthaya Soi 14, Behind National Library Dusit,10300, Bangkok Thailand.

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See video here:

Interior photos from TripAdvisor.

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Sudden Downpour – Exotic Things, Eye-Contact, Peace and Protection

Sudden Downpour – Exotic Things, Eye-Contact, Peace and Protection

It was sunny when you left home, so you didn’t take an umbrella. An hour later, you’re caught in a torrential downpour. You run into the first store you can find — it happens to be a dark, slightly shabby antique store, full of old artifacts, books, and dust. The shop’s ancient proprietor walks out of the back room to greet you. Tell us what happens next!

I find myself standing in an antique store inspired by the orient. The light is dim, so I am squinting. Light comes in through the dusty windows in soft smudges, filled with dust motes. There are thankas of all descriptions, exquisitely painted, depicting various scenes. There is dark furniture from Bali, Tibetan and Thai artifacts, parchment scrolls containing almost lost secrets, only there by the grace of care. I detect the scent of wood and polish, Tibetan incense burning and smoking from a small bowl, woody, slightly sweet, blessed in the making. I am transported to Chiang Mai, where I visited a similar shop, filled with exotic objects. I go forward smiling at the proprietor, extending my hand to his, soft as tissue in the shaking. A water droplet rolls off my nose and onto his hand, he looks into my eyes and smiles. Suddenly I feel less ordinary, less solid, less certain somehow. I remember Songkran, water strewn streets and sodden clothes, happy faces everywhere, the hope of a new beginning.

Songkran, Thailand, Thai New Year

I notice a beautiful hill tribe embroidered jacket and ask if I can try it on. It fits, immediately I buy it. The colour and the embroidery is just beautiful, on a black velvet background. I also buy the delicate and vintage Green Tara Thanka, beautifully painted. I know there will be times when I ask for her protection. I thank the proprietor as he hands me a scented paper bag. I wish him well. He looks at me, deep into my eyes in a lingering moment and seems to transmit a sense of peace. Today I think back to this moment and think of the jacket, now packed into a box, sitting in a storage unit. I look forward to it once more hanging on a wall and decorating my back. Here’s to the promise of new beginnings and the beauty of exotic things.

hilltribe jacketSee some jackets here on Eatsy

 

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Image Green Tara Rubin Museum of Fine Art and at this Wikimedia Link

Songkran image Wikimedia Commons Share Alike

Bangkok and Sri-Ayuttaya

guest house

Photos of some of my stay in Bangkok at Sri-Ayuttaya and a couple of other pictures. I wish to record how thankful I am to the owners of this Guest House, for their kindness and for visiting me when I was in hospital over Christmas, with what the hospital thought was a collapsed kidney. The Bangkok Mission Hospital is fully vegetarian, so that was a treat.  I would recommend Sri-Ayuttaya to any traveler and they made wonderful Thai curries for me, with Tofu. The joys of good vegetarian food. Where: Sri-Ayudthaya Soi 14, Behind National Library Dusit,10300, Bangkok Thailand.

How sad I felt, tethered to a drip, prostrate in white linen with Christmas Carolers singing downstairs. How traveling challenges you with a kind of violent physical purging, especially when traveling in Asia. Physical afflictions plagued me in both Thailand and India. My romantic notions of living in India soon smashed into reality when I become violently ill the moment I ate something in a Delhi eatery. My sensitive sensibilities protested wherever I went. Strange coming from Africa and a warm tropical climate. Just like the mosquitoes like moths, the bacteria and viruses saw a wonderful if unwilling host, territory to be conquered.

Wat Pho – Reclining Buddha Temple

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The Reclining Buddha

The Reclining Buddha

 

My Breakfast Spot

My Breakfast Spot

 

Tiger Temple

Tiger Temple

Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.  It was an incredible experience, there were tigers all around…this one turned his head and put my whole arm up to the elbow into his mouth…the monk quickly put a white powder on the rock and the tiger let go and turned to lick it…WOW AND WOW! Almost sans arm!

 

Where I used to sit.

Where I used to sit.

Mosquitoes like Moths

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Right, so I am in Bangkok, Annie and I are going to a Wat for some Vipassana Meditation teaching. The heat is simmering, creating waves in the air. We arrive. I am excited, expectant. I mean, great place, authentic teacher, what more could I want? It begins. So there is standing, intending to walk, walking, intending to turn, turning, intending to sit, sitting. I am rocking it, I am doing it. But, I did not factor in the mosquitoes the size of moths. Mosquitoes that hated me in South Africa, unless they were desperate and there was nothing else available, loved me in a yummy way in Bangkok. Everywhere I went I was trailing a smog of repellent, which had no effect on these big boys. Once sitting they honed in. So, my first undoing was the judgement of rocking it, the second undoing was the mosquitoes. So for those who are trying to meditate, there will always be undoings: if not the monkey mind messing with your mind, it’s the environment making you uncomfortable, or it’s icky emotions playing tricks. These are all undoings we face each time we sit to meditate. Beware of the mosquitoes like moths and remember the idiom: “the devil is in the details”. Just keep coming back to the breath, or whatever the focus of your meditation is, gently, kindly, just keep opening the door and dropping back in.

“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.” ~ Anita Roddick

Image from Creative Market purchased Epilogue Presentation.

 

 

The Felt Weight

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“She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.” 

― Nathaniel HawthorneThe Scarlet Letter

I can say, that for me the release after the weight comes in moments, some of which I record here and will add to in time:

Sitting in a green cafe amidst Bangkok, soft light, sparkling glass, tranquil surrounds, beans seen through a glass-topped table, staring into the tangle of flyovers, concrete, cars and every transport mode known to man, realising the reality of the tranquil space, insulated in the muted sounds and air-conditioning, my daughter beside me – “we are doing it”. Ahaa, the reality of the freedom and the choice. The lived felt juxtaposition of chaos and tranquility.

The back of a small motorbike, whizzing around a tiny Thai town, can do, can do. Having noticed a woman at the boarder crossing into Laos, now on the back of her bike. Once crossed I walked with the weight of my backpack digging into my shoulders, eventually finding a small place in Wien Tien with a lovely courtyard. Sitting there, I saw the same woman and spoke to her in Afrikaans: “Ja wragtig ek dink jy is van Suid Afrika, (yes, I really think you are from South Africa)”. And yes, she was, of all places to find a fellow South African. How we laughed till tears fell that day and the next. How these moments lent an appreciation for small things, a cool room, tepid shower water, someone to laugh with from home, and the possibilities. Ahaa the freedom, the absence of weight.

Moving, boxes and chaos, empty spaces, exhaustion, emotional disarray, loss. How to cope? Thinking, I can apply what I know from meditation, I can label the emotion, name it, then think of it as if a cloud, passing over and dissipating, a watershed moment, again and again I did this, applied to life’s streams it gradually became easier to be more resilient, to lose the weight of the felt moment, by accepting, by letting go and simply being, knowing, really feeling it in my pores, that this moment too shall pass. Ahaa, the absence of weight. Be and be still. Meaning unfolding.

A Bangkok Park – Swamped by birds, the moments:

bangkok park swamped by birds

 

Image purchased at Creative Market.