On my first trip to Thailand I was in Chaing Mai for a few weeks. I was just beginning my journey into Buddhist philosophy. There was a western monk who would give a dharma (nature of all things) talk which was fascinating. He would talk for about a hour then we would ask questions. I would be mesmerised. This was so left field from any experiences I had ever had and the humorous way he explained things really hooked me in.
I wanted more. He told me about two retreat centres at the other end of the country in the South. Eventually made my way there (two twelve hour bus trips) and the first one was Wat Suan Mokkh which had only recently been founded. Got there and it was closed for some reason, so it was on to the next one which was on a small island in the gulf, Koh Pha Ngan.
Caught the ferry with like thirty other farangs. They were pretty wild looking characters. No one looked like them on the streets of west Auckland put it that way.
Taxi from the ferry and it dropped me in the middle of the jungle. The driver points and says Wat Khao Tam and I look up this broken down driveway that seems to go straight up the side of this mountain to the centre of the island. Honestly wasn’t a square metre that wasn’t broken, with big ruts washed through it. Onwards and upwards with a full kooky backpack and my near new Tevas getting rougher by the second…..1km then 2km literally drowning in my own sweat.
Finally get there and the next retreat is full!!
All the way back down the mountain and as ever, never had a plan b.
Caught a taxi at the road and just got taken to wherever he was going.
Its an idyllic island so all the bungalows loiter on the circumference. Were I ended up was just a row of thatched huts on the beach for $1 a night. On the way for lunch I met this young British couple who looked Israeli and he has the best fro ever. It was massive.
Cool couple: yes man
Me: been here long?
CC: just come from the season in Goa!
Me: The season of what?
CC: (look at each other like???) The party season man
Me: oh really? theres a season to party? Cool (trying to play it cool but thinking woo wtf?)
CC: yeah theres a party tonight man….you should come
Me: sure…. is there a band playing?
CC: (burst out laughing like I was the creature from another planet)
CC: no man trance
CC: you know electronic music
Me: oh I don’t really like electronic music, sounds all the same to me
CC: come man I promise you..its the best time you will ever have
Me: mmmmm ok…pretty tired though
CC: meet us at such and such restaurant at nine tonight. They make the best mushroom omelettes on the island.
Me: ok (not sure why you would make a big deal about an omelette but anyways what else am I doing
It was three months before I finally got off the island and during that time I had turned into one of those wild creatures I saw on the ferry and my meditation career was on hold before it even began.