Chaos to Focus,
School finally ended and after two short days of “exams” (I didn’t have to take them so I just sat in the art room) the summer holiday became a long waited for realization.
But it wasn’t all freedom. I was quickly booked for english camps runnning so close to eachother I barely had time to breathe.
For example after my class trip I only had a half an hour to re-pack my bags and shower at home before going to Bangkok for a YES meeting. So literally my week looked something like this: English Camp in Saraburi with another school for 3 days–> two day break–> two day class trip to Phetchaburi, same day choose to go home and shower then scramble over to Bangkok–>next day walk around Jutdujak market and then go back home with Liz and Marei–>day after that wake up early to help at another english camp (with my own school) for 5 days–> come home on day 4/ but end up spending the night in Bangkok to meet up with 2 firends,Tyler and Sage –> Manage to get home by 7:30 in the morning for graduation (which meant waking up at 5:30am!!),unpack my bags, iron my uniform,shower, and go to school, Surprise! I’m a half an hour late and my adviser looks like if I were another minute late I would get kicked out of the country (but I was told the ceremony would start at 9 and I got there around 8:45), my class 6/4 has a good-bye party, I planned to leave that after 12ish, stayed until 3 and remembered that I had to drop by the bank, consulted my other adviser who says the bank will close in 5 minutes, 3 minutes later I show up sweaty and red faced after a mad-dash from the school and wait inside, 10 minutes go by and my number hasn’t been called yet. My train would leave at 6, and I still needed to pack! Screw the bank- I don’t need money- catching a train is slightly more important at the moment. I take a motorcycle taxi back= the fastest and most convenient form of transportation. I get home, run up stairs, and throw as much clothes as I can in my bag as fast as I can. Run down stairs, and get my younger host sister to send me to the bus stop via bicycle. I try to balance while holding overweight bags in my arms with my legs tucked awkwardly on either side, and my sister’s heel scraped against my shin as she tried to pedal. We reached the end of the neighborhood, and I say goodbye and jog to the bus stop. I don’t even wait 5 minutes until the next bus pulls up. Sitting at last I observe a strange tingling sensation and discover my right shin is bleeding. “Just a flesh wound”. I make a few phone calls; my friend is already waiting at the train station, luckily she was with a relative. I also called another friend to check on her because the other night she ended up sleeping on the beach because there were difficulties getting a hotel. A teacher from my school discovers that I”m on my way to the train station and takes me to a bus headed towards the Hua Lompong Station. I end up getting off past the JutduJak weekend market because the traffic becomes mare stagnant than a rock in the middle of winter. Seriously I waited 10 minutes and at most the bus moved 10 meters- No way I’ll get to the train station on time at this rate! I hop off and of course right when I reach the BTS(Bangkok Sky Train) station the traffic begins to move at a normal rate again… I needed to take the BTS to Silom and transfer to the MRT(Mass Rapid Transit). I arrived with 30 minutes until the scheduled departure time! As I arrived I spotted a group of 3 Italian exchange students who were going to the meditation camp too! However they had tickets for a train leaving an hour later I met up with Alise, from Latvia, and asked if she would be cool if we changed our ticket to the later train. She thought that was a good idea as well. However, if we wanted to change our tickets we would’ve had to do that up to an hour before the scheduled departure, and by now there were only 10 minutes left! We could always cancel our tickets and buy new ones…but 217 baht? We decided to catch our train as planned.
*Journey to meditation camp*
3rd class train tickets aren’t so bad after all, I thought to myself as we sat down across from a young family. In fact, this reminded me quite a bit of the trains I took with my family in India…without the cows blocking the tracks. The large windows were opened, and there were little fans on the ceiling, the one closest to us was supposed to rotate but it was stuck in the opposite direction. At first the train was too stuffy and hot! But as the train began to pull away from the station it began to cool down. Unfortunately, the train stopped often and the a few hours into our journey it stopped completely. Before this, Alise and I decided to have a look around. As we were returning to our seats a crazy and unkept old man attempted to get us to buy his snacks made of coconut milk and egg. We weren’t interested, and told him so in Thai which impressed and he decided to talk to us in Thai…and try to get us to buy the “kanom”. He told us a story about how he got a lady from england drunk last week and she kissed him… “jub ti ni (she kissed here-pointing to one cheek), ti ni (and here- pointing at other cheek), leh ti nii duai (Here as well!- pointing to his mouth containing only 3 rotting teeth). Poor dear, must’ve been so wasted. Nobody, not even somebody who IS drunk could even imagine kissing that face! He had long straggly hair that couldn’t have been washed since a few weeks at least. His mouth, like I said before had only three teeth (that I could see at least) all yellow or brown in color, and looking dangerously close to falling out as well. This guy had to be over 60, and survived by selling “kanom” on passing trains, and I guess he enjoyed getting foreign visitors drunk. ew… He tried again to get us to buy his snacks, but we said we didn’t know if it was even delicious. So, HE TOOK A SPOON OUT OF HIS POCKET AND SPOON FED US! Then asked of if it was good, we replied “Chouy chouy” meaning more or less, which obviously meant we were in the mood to buy the whole thing now…not. Well, he thought so and asked for 30baht. What could we do? He opened the package already and it’s not like we could run away. Just as we got out our money to pay, a sailor from the Thai navy handed the money over to the seller. He and his friends were sitting across and watched everything. Then he told the seller to go get something to drink, the seller disappeared, and we began talking to the soldiers. This was when the train broke down. An American by the name of Oliver came to where we were and claimed that a family was sleeping where his seat was and asked if he could sit with us. He told us he had just came from the dining cart when the train disconnected- cosa?- that’s right, disconnected. Gotta love Thailand. We were waiting for the engine to come back, which took over two hours…
*Getting it together, Learning to focus at Suan Mohnk Retreat*
The train stopped at Chaiya, a sleepy little town in Surat Thani, in the south of Thailand. Alise and I got off and were able to find a Songteaw that took us right to the temple. We registered and sat in the dinning hall taking advantage of our last hours without the silent rule. The AFS exchange students got our own dorm, seperate from the other meditators. We began on the 30th, and ended on the 11th. We had a set schedule to follow. We woke up at 4:30 in the morning to begin our first meditation session, and then “Mindfulness with Movement” the most simple from of yoga imaginable! 2 meals a day. But not so bad actually, and we even got hot cocoa or tea in the evening. There were even hot springs we could relax in at the end of the day. I learned a great deal about Buddhism and also about myself.
Meditation is not simple. I’ll get into that more later, but now I’m sitting in an internet cafe, where I’ve been for the last 2 hours actually! See what happens when just about two months go by and I haven’t blogged? I’m not even on Facebook… very rare occurance. Anyway, I have to go, because it will be dark soon and this place is going to over charge me if I stay even a minute too long… blah. I promise to finish later. So many stories! Until then “Peace on you”
*Heather Namwan Jackson ❤
ps. I recommend watching “The Italian goes to Malta” if you haven’t seen it yet, def. check it out! 555