Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Travel Update from Ko Phan Gnan Thailand

Hello Earthlings,
Robert the traveller here, reporting to you live (more or less) from Ko Phan Gnan Thailand. In Thai, Ko means island. This is one of the most famous tourist/traveller destination islands in Thailand and probably the world. Its fame is largely due to a legendary party held here on the full moon of every night. This has been going on for some 20 years. I will not be here for the full moon, so I cant really speak to this. When it isnt full moon, the island is just like what you would expect from a tropical island paradise. This is the "off" season, so it rains for an hour each day in the mid/late afternoon. It isnt very crowded due to this combination of conditions ie off season and off moon.
I havent been to Thailand since 2004. Lots has changed, to my way of thinking not really for the better. It is still a great country to come to and relax and enjoy yourself or to party like a demon with his dildo on fire and enjoy yourself. It is more bulit up now than then and it is definately moer expensive, although the islands are always more dinero than the mainland anywhere you go...Problem is the US dollar. Yeah man. in 2004 I got 45 baht to the buck and now its 32 ouch. Well you cant have everything can you? While it is a well known fact that most everyone in the world is totally envious of the fine job the US gov't is doing, and with our victory almost certain either later this afternoon or later this week on the "war on Television". One scarcely notices how the dollar has plummeted. Enuf of this bull poop.
I have been here in Thailand since 20/9/007. Two days ago I had my first bottle of beer. I guess I havent actually quit drinking I just dont drink. I spent my first night and day in Had Yai. A large city about 60km north of the Malaysian border deep in the southern tip of Thailand. Pretty good city. hoping at night if you are into the bar scene and you happen to be in this part of the world you might want to stop by for a day or a week. It is a clean peaceful city, but i was really only there because it is close to a Krishnamurti retreat center I wanted to go to. Garden Stream retreat center.
The center was great. secluded in the jungle with a lovely stream running therough it and lots of rubber tree plantations all around. really in the middle of nowhere. There is a nice waterfall on the property too and you can swim in the natural pool and sit under the cascading water and just be cool. The center is isolated so the price of 530 bhat included 3 vegetarian buffet meals and all the tea coffee and hot chocolate and drinking water you wanted. Rooms were quite luxurious by my standards "Holiday Inn" like to American standards. They include soap and fluffy towels...
This is my second time in a Krishnamurti retreat. They are not like other retreats in that there are no planned activities or scheduled events. There is solitude lots of walking paths in nature and a huge library of dvds and book on spiritual subjects of every kind and of course lots of Krishnamurti materials. The staff was friendly and I had a fine 10 day retreat.
Immediately upon leaving I got a bus to Wat Suan Mok near Surat Thani and went into another retreat. :This was completely different! Totally planned from the moment you wake till lights out. In Thai Wat means Temple. This is a budhist monastery. These guys are disciples of the late Great Thai Monk bhuddadassa. He was a great practitioner and teacher of Annapannasita meditation. This is the meditation technique where one sits quietly and concentrates onses attention on your in and out breath. They teach yu how to do this form of meditation and also there own form or walking meditation (3 or 5 step) and Standing meditation they dont really show you lying meditation but...Here is the deal
You must take a 10 day vow of silence. No talking. No gesturing. No eye contact games. No questions. No back talk. Silence is total silence. You live like the monks. You sleep on a cement slab on a 1cm (eighth inch)straw mat. and you use a block of wood for a pillow. No shit. Bell rings at 4am to wake you. First Dharma talk and meditation session at 4:30. Yoga at 6:00 for an hour than an hour more sitting meditation Breakfast at 8:00 free time till 10 No talking!! Meditation from 10 to 12:30 sitting for 45 minutes then walking for half hour than sitting for 45 minutes then lunch (the last meal of the day) No snacks in between meals no food allowed in your room. Tea is served at 6:00 you can have hot chocolate made with soya milk if you wish. On the ninth day you fast. Afternoons are dharma talks and meditation followed by meditation. a two hour break and then dharma talks and meditation till 9:00 lights out at 9:15.
60 people started the retreat 50 finished. I loved it. The first 2 days kind of sucked. You know the sleep deprivation thing. The bed is extremely un-comfortable. you dont really get used to it. Back knees and hips and butt hurt from all the sitting cross legged. If it werent for the yoga class I think the drop out rate would be 90%!! This Swiss guy called Werner led the men. He was great!! The girls were led by a Thai buddhist nun. Men and women are segregated the entire time. We sat on oppposite sides of the meditation halls and opposite sides of the dining room.
Well the idea of all this is to achieve Vipassana or insight. and I dont know if it works for everybody (shahh, nothing works for everybody) but it worked for me. The insight I got most profoundly was "I dont wanna be a friggin' Monk!!!!!" Beside that I got a real lot out of it. Seriously I would tell youmore but you know the rest is slilence and I dont think anyone else can understand my insights. Thats why they call them insights. I really learned how much Love I have inside for my Mother. How weird is that 51 years old and in all the meta meditations(loving kindness meditation) I always thought of and sent love to Mom first. Truth. I also sent lots of love to my nephews and niece and other family members and to Angela and RB, Morty,Dr.Bob, and Howard ( a friend of mine who is quite ill). You cant really predict who you will think of when you do this kind of meditation. It just happens. There was also directed Meta meditation where you think of people you dont really "love" I sent my second ex wife forgiveness and some other people who I had no good feelings at all for I sent out forgiveness and love. Very insightful and you know what? It feels really great. Hard to believe but I am telling the total truth here. I got teary eyed a lot of the time.
So now I am on Ko Phan Gnan. Gotta go to Panang island in Malaysia in a few days because my visa willl run ut. I will meet a guy called Ryan who I travelled and got drunk with in Boca Del Torros Panama 2 years ago. He is teaching English to the natives here. Go figure.
Well here are some parting thoughts:
"Better to have loved a short man than never to have loved a tall." G.K.Chesterton
"You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself." -Galileo.
Peace and Love,
Rambling Robert


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