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Meditation

Plum Village Monastery: Day 1 Feb 26, 2016

Thai Plum Village International Practice Centre

Day 1: Arrival

GPS waypoint: 14°33'25.4"N 101°31'45.0"E
Location: 174,176 Ban Sra Nam Sai, Moo 7, Tambon Pongtalong, Pak Chong District, NakornRatchasima, Thailand

Teaching Mandate
In Manila while sitting in a Plum Village Monastery gathering, I was broached by Lizie about an English teaching job at the Plum Village Monastery in Pak Chong, Thailand. I said I was interested, and after coordinating with the organizer, my application was accepted. It turned out that the coordinator was the same guy who ushered me into my Vipassana practice - Jim. It helped that I had been to both Thailand and Vietnam, taught English to a Vietnamese while I was in Ho Chi Minh City, and have a background in meditation.

Leaving Bangkok for Pak Chong
From Bangkok, I explored the possibility of taking the train (B290) to Pak Chong instead of the recommended van (B500) - cheaper, faster (if not late) and more space. The van can even charge an additional B160 if a suitcase occupies a seat. That move saved me more than B200! The staff at my hotel, Adventure Hostel were helpful in suggesting I take the train from the nearby Bang Sue Station instead of going all the way to Phu Lamphong Station. My train left on schedule and arrived on schedule. There wasn't really a scenery to enjoy but the trip was fast and efficient.

Generosity in Pak Chong
Upon arrival in Pak Chong, I decided to walk around the place first before hailing a cab (B500). I thought Pak Chong was a dusty sleepy town. I was wrong. Pak Chong is a big city! Initially, I was hoping I could join some people bound for the center and split the B500 cab fare, but there was none. At the Khun-nio Restaurant (name is in Thai but pronounced that way), I was served good food for B35. I inquired with the owner if there is a cheaper way to get to Plum Village, hoping there might be a motorcycle to take me there for half the price. In a surprising twist of fate, the owner, Nui, asked her friend, Ei, who in turn offered to drive me all the way to the center at no charge! I said it was too much, but she insisted. I thought I would ride behind her on a motorcycle, but turned out, she was driving a Honda CRV! That was very comfortable. We got lost many times, but finally arrived at Plum Village. I was embarrassed that she had to go through so much effort for me, a complete stranger. I bid her goodbye and hoped I'd see her and Nui again. I had been told about the kindness of the Thai people, but I didn't expect this! Thank you very much Ei!!!

Plum Village Monastery

What is Plum Village?
Plum Village is an international monastic order founded by renowned Vietnamese Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh and Buddhist nun, Chan Khong in 1982 in the Dordogne, southern France. The main focus of the tradition is to develop mindfulness in day-to-day life to generate happiness and eliminate craving and aversion.

Brief Background of Plum Village Monastery
Thich Nhat Hanh's expulsion from Singapore for rescuing Vietnamese boat people and being refused entry to Vietnam prompted him to settle in France where he formed a small community in the village of Fontvannes, 100 miles southeast of Paris. He called it the Sweet Potato and hosted retreats focused on mindfulness. To accommodate the increasing number of participants to the retreats, he resettled to Thenac, Dordogne with Chan Khong and formally founded the Plum Village monastic order. There are now 6 Plum Village monasteries globally, one of them being in Pak Chong, Thailand.

In the Company of Monks
Upon my arrival at the center, there was an ongoing monk retreat with more than a hundred Vietnamese monks in participation, men and women. My English teaching class will commence when the retreat is over in a week. All the monks and nuns were garbed in the traditional dark chocolate brown robe. With my white shirt, I stood out like a sore thumb! I managed to be in conversation with a few of them. I found them to be gentle, warm and friendly. Their movements are almost calculated, deliberate and mindful. Conversation is kept to a minimum and noble silence is practiced at night.

Meeting with the Admins
In the evening, I met with the administrators to define my teaching parameters. My classes start after the retreat. I teach 2 classes a day, 4 days a week, for three months. One class is basic English and the afternoon class is for the more advanced students. They gave me some work materials. When I'm not teaching, I am free to join the monks in their daily routine.

Thought for the Day
It's only the first day and I'm still in the dark about the many ways things are done at the center. I am curious what awaits me in the next 89 days and what I'll be taking with me when my 3 months are over. I am grateful for this opportunity. What are the odds that someone is given a chance to live a monastic life for 3 months? This broadens my horizon significantly. I'll come away perhaps transformed, I would have refined my English teaching skill, and I'm sure I'll be developing friends I'll be crossing paths with after my departure. I could imagine this experience will also open doors in the future. Of course, I hope to be helpful in enabling the newly ordained monks to be proficient in their English. The air is full of optimism.

--- TheLoneRider

Thank you Ei and Nui!

Thai Plum Village International Practice Centre

with direction coming from Bangkok

GPS waypoint: 14°33'25.4"N 101°31'45.0"E
174,176 Ban Sra Nam Sai, Moo 7, Tambon Pongtalong, Pak Chong District, NakornRatchasima, Thailand

after 3 hours, the train arrives on schedule in Pak Chong starved, I stopped by a resto recommended by someone from the train - pronounced, kun-nio. They cook the food fresh, and it's good at Baht 35 meeting the wonderful people at Kun-nio who would later shape the way I arrive at the Plum Village Monastery - Ei, Nui and staff I thought Pak Chong was a sleepy dusty town. It turns out to be a big city
Ei offered to take me to Plum Village Monastery as a Thai hospitality. I thought I would ride behind her on a motorcycle. It turns out to be Honda CRV we got lost so many times. Finally, we saw a sign pointing us to Plum Village Monastery. Ei didn't expect the place to be that far! inside the compound of Plum Village Monastery dining area on the ground floor, meditation area on the upper floor
there was an ongoing retreat for monks coming from Vietnam dinner time huge vats of food for the many monks and nuns monks at rest on a swing
a monk in solitude in the middle of nowhere and loving it...Plum Village Monastery is home for the next 3 months    
Thai Plum Village International Practice Centre

Thai Plum Village International Practice Centre

Location: 174,176 Ban Sra Nam Sai, Moo 7, Tambon Pongtalong, Pak Chong District, NakornRatchasima, Thailand
Tel: +66(0)2-885-5980
Email:visitus@thaiplumvillage.org

Blogs on Thai Plum Village

  1. Goodbye Thai Plum Village Mar 20, 2016
  2. Yoga at Thai Plum Village Mar 19, 2016
  3. Pond Picnic with the Monastics Mar 14, 2016
  4. Sentence Expansion Mar 12, 2016
  5. Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics Mar 10, 2016
  6. First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village Mar 8, 2016
  7. Cyber Monk Redefined Mar 6, 2016
  8. Thai Plum Village, Day 6: Plum Village and Vipassana Mar 2, 2016
  9. Thai Plum Village, Day 5: Visa Snag Mar 1, 2016
  10. Plum Village, Day 4: Picnic with the Monastics on Lazy Monday Feb 29, 2016
  11. Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled Feb 27-28, 2016
  12. Plum Village, Day 1: Arrival Feb 26, 2016

How to Get to Plum Village from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport

You are encouraged to arrive at the Center Friday afternoon between 2-4 pm
  1. Suvarnabhumi Airport to BTS Train Line by TRAIN
    there is already a direct train from the airport that goes all the way to Bangkok with a final stop at Phaya Thai. Upon airport arrival, go down to Basement and take the Airport Link train to Phaya Thai Station. Get off and walk (.8km) to the Phaya Thai BTS Station | 35 mins | Baht 45
  2. Phaya Thai Station (N2) - Victory Monument Station (N3) by TRAIN
    board the BTS train heading to Mo Chit. This takes you north but get off at Victory Monument Station (N3) which is just one stop away
  3. Victory Monument Station - Plum Village by VAN
    upon arriving at Victory Monument, take Exit 4 and go down to the basement and walk 100 meters towards the Suzuki Showroom. Across is a pool of vans. Line up at ticket counter No.18, "Jamnong tour" for the trip all the way to Plum Village, Pak Chong. (Baht 500), 3.5 to 4 hours. Take the 11am or 12 noon van to ensure you arrive at the center before 4pm.

How to Get to Pak Chong (Proper) from Bangkok by train

ignore this if you plan to go to Plum Village. Take the direction above instead
  • If you are arriving Bangkok and would like to proceed directly to Pak Chong without spending a night in Bangkok, best to take a plane that will land in Don Mueang Airport in time for the #71 Train (Bangkok to Si Sa Ket) to stop at the MRT Train Station, Bang Sue, which is only a short walk from the airport. Train schedule at Bang Sue Station: Fri 10:27am, arriving Pak Chong 1:30pm. Express aircon car (Baht 289), non aircon (Baht 198). Duration is 3 hours, stopping right in the heart of Pak Chong. From Pak Chong.

    You can also take the train from the main terminal near the center of Bangkok at the MRT Station, Hua Lampong Railway Station. Departure, Friday 10:00am.

Plum Village Cost Index

(US$1 = Thailand Baht 35.77 = Php 47.52 as of Feb 28, 2016)
  • Baht 500 van from Victory Monument to Plum Village
  • Baht 289 Express train from Bang Sue MRT Station (Bangkok) to Pak Chong Train Station, aircon (non aircon, Baht 189)
  • Baht 500 taxi from Pak Chong to Plum Village (call this taxi number, Mr. Khun Paisan: 085 772.4519 for the trip to Plum Village)

Things to bring if staying overnight

  1. mosquito repellent
  2. hat/umbrella
  3. flashlight
  4. not a requirement, but it helps if you bring clothing in the dark brown color in order to blend-in
Adventure Hostel Bangkok

Adventure Hostel Bangkok

Location: 1541 Phahonyothin Rd., Payathai, Bangkok, Thailand
Tel: 062 527 2581
Hours: open 24 hours
Features: central location by the N7 Saphan Khwai BTS train station, clean aircon rooms, fast and reliable internet, staff who will go the extra distance for you, reasonable rate
Nawa Sheeva Hotel Chiangmai

Nawa Sheeva Hotel Chiangmai

Location: 184/2 Ratchapakhinai Rd, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, 50200 Chiang Mai, Thailand
Tel: 061.272.8008 / 053.326.583
Features: salt-water swimming pool, expansive space, big luxurious rooms, great hotel cafe using top-of-the-line espresso brewer
Nawa Saraan Hotel Chiangmai

Nawa Saraan Hotel Chiangmai

Location: 37/1 Singharat Lane 2, T.Sriphum, Muang Chiangmai, 50200 Chiang Mai, Thailand
Tel:
Features: upscale container-themed, luxury appointments, central location

Thailand Blogs by TheLoneRider

    Bangkok
  1. Loving Bangkok All Over Again Feb 22-26, 2016
  2. Adventure Hostel Review Feb 22-26, 2016
  3. Hotel Review: Riva Surya Bangkok Oct. 20, 2014
  4. The Shopping Malls of Bangkok Oct 6-20, 2014
  5. Bangkok's Street Food Delight Oct 6-20, 2014
  6. Bangkok Revisited 3 Oct 6-20, 2014
  7. Bangkok Dec 31, 2005


  8. Chiang Khong
  9. Ten Days in Chiang Khong, Thailand Apr 30 - May 9, 2016


  10. Chiang Mai
  11. A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
  12. Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
  13. Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
  14. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Chiangmai (Thailand) April 9-10, 2016


  15. Chiang Rai
  16. Exploring Chiang Rai, Thailand May 11-16, 2016
  17. Visiting the White Temple of Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Khun) May 15, 2016


  18. Chiang Saen
  19. Exploring Chiang Saen, Thailand Apr 28-30, 2016


  20. Mae Sai
  21. 4 Days in Mae Sai, Thailand Apr 25-28, 2016
  22. Border Crossing - Mae Sai (Thailand) to Tachileik (Myanmar) Apr 23, 2016


  23. Pai
  24. Exploring Pai, Thailand May 19-24, 2016
  25. Visiting the Land Split in Pai, Thailand May 23, 2016
  26. Trekking the Ridges of Pai Canyon May 23, 2016
  27. Climbing up the White Buddha (Wat Phra That Mae Yen) May 21, 2016


  28. Pak Chong
  29. Pak Chong (Thailand) En Route to Siem Reap (Cambodia) Mar 20-21, 2016
  30. Goodbye Thai Plum Village Mar 20, 2016
  31. Yoga at Thai Plum Village Mar 19, 2016
  32. Pond Picnic with the Monastics Mar 14, 2016
  33. Sentence Expansion Mar 12, 2016
  34. Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics Mar 10, 2016
  35. First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village Mar 8, 2016
  36. Cyber Monk Redefined Mar 6, 2016
  37. Thai Plum Village, Day 6: Plum Village and Vipassana Mar 2, 2016
  38. Thai Plum Village, Day 5: Visa Snag Mar 1, 2016
  39. Plum Village, Day 4: Picnic with the Monastics on Lazy Monday Feb 29, 2016
  40. Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled Feb 27-28, 2016
  41. Plum Village, Day 1: Arrival Feb 26, 2016


  42. Phan District, Chiang Rai Province
  43. Yoga with Amm Prajna Pitchaya and the Sivananda yoga community of Phan May 16-18, 2016
  44. Visiting the Nam Lot and the Pha Khong Caves of Phan District May 18, 2016

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Reader Comments:

Rosemarie GendiveRosemarie Gendive
(Mar 1, 2016) Amazing...I look fwd to hearing more about how the adventure unfolds

Feb 26, 2016

»» next Meditation story: Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled
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