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Plum Village Monastery: Day 1 Feb 26, 2016

Thai Plum Village International Practice Centre

Day 1: Arrival

Location: Thai Plum Village
174,176 Ban Sra Nam Sai, Moo 7, Tambon Pongtalong, Pak Chong (district), Nakhon Ratchasima (province), 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

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 Bangkok proper (Phaya Thai Station)
    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 35 mins | Baht 45. Get off at Phaya Thai Station (the last stop) and walk (.8km) to the Phaya Thai BTS Station.
  2. Phaya Thai Station (N2) - Mo Chit Station (N8) by BTS TRAIN
    board the BTS train heading to Mo Chit and get off there.
  3. Mo Chit BTS Station (N8) - Mo Chit North Eastern Bus Terminal
    Walk to Mo Chit North & North Eastern Bus Terminal (pls note, this is a 2km might like to take a cab or tuktuk).
  4. Mo Chit North Eastern Bus Terminal - Platform 6, public van at #78
    this is a short walk. Go to Platform 6 and get on the public van at #78 offering Jamnong Tour.
    IMPORTANT ! - make sure you make it clear to the driver that HIS van drops you off at Plum Village. Otherwise, they might finish the tour in Pak Chong proper. If this happens, you're still 45 minutes away from Plum Village which costs 500 Baht by cab! Best to copy/print/take a picture of the image below to show to the driver:

    instruction to driver
    For the latest info, check out their website.
  5. Mo Chit North Eastern Bus Terminal - Plum Village by VAN
    the trip all the way to Plum Village, Pak Chong costs Baht 500 and takes 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
  1. Pad Thai at Thip Samai, Bangkok Oct 16, 2018
  2. Birthday Walkabout Oct 16, 2018
  3. Coming to Terms with Donations Oct 14, 2018
  4. Feelin' Da Blues at Adhere the 13th Blues Bar Oct 12, 2018
  5. Visiting the Grand Palace of Thailand Oct 12, 2018
  6. A Web Mandate in Bangkok Oct 8, 2018
  7. 29 Days in Bangkok: Thank You and Goodbye Aug 27 - Sep 24, 2018
  8. Calling the Bangkok Police Sep 23, 2018
  9. Movie Review: Mindfulness and Murder (2011) Sep 22, 2018
  10. Yoga Inversions at Now's Fitness Gym Sep 19, 2018
  11. Flow Yoga with Teacher Kea at Now's Fitness Sep 18, 2018
  12. Movie Review: Under Construction (2015) Sep 15, 2018
  13. Walking Tour of Little India Sep 15, 2018
  14. Vinyasa Yoga with Teacher That at Now's Fitness Sep 14, 2018
  15. Abs Workout with Teacher San at Now's Fitness Sep 13, 2018
  16. Exercise Ball Workout with Teacher Bie at Now's Fitness Sep 11, 2018
  17. Exploring the Amphawa Floating Market Sep 9, 2018
  18. Exploring the Tree-Engulfed Wat Bang Kung Temple Sep 9, 2018
  19. Parting of the Maeklong Railway Market with a Passing Train Sep 9, 2018
  20. Exploring Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Sep 9, 2018
  21. Horse Racing at the The Royal Bangkok Sports Club Sep 8, 2018
  22. Fight Class with Teacher San at Now's Fitness Sep 7, 2018
  23. Exploring the Bangkok Art Book Fair 2018 Sep 6, 2018
  24. Circuit Training with Mild at Now's Fitness Sep 5, 2018
  25. Gentle Flow Yoga with Nuch at Now's Fitness, Bangkok Sep 4, 2018
  26. A Yogi Lost in a Modern Gym - Now's Fitness Sep 3, 2018
  27. Abundance at On Nut, Bangkok Aug 30-Sep 1, 2018
  28. Outside Looking In Aug 29, 2018
  29. Back in Bangkok After 5 Weeks Aug 27, 2018
  30. 15 Days in Bangkok July 10-24, 2018
  31. Peoplescape: Bangkok July 10-24, 2018
  32. Hatha and Yantra Yoga Fusion July 10-24, 2018
  33. Revisiting Terminal 21 Mall, Bangkok July 23, 2018
  34. Rope Skipping, 4mins Full-on July 22, 2018
  35. Sunday Visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market July 17, 2018
  36. Fork on the Road: Abundance or Poverty by Choice? July 16, 2018
  37. Loving Bangkok All Over Again Feb 22-26, 2016
  38. Hotel Review: Adventure Hostel Bangkok July 11, 2018
  39. Hotel Review: Riva Surya Bangkok Oct 20, 2014
  40. Exploring the Shopping Malls of Bangkok Oct 6-20, 2014
  41. Bangkok's Street Food Delight Oct 6-20, 2014
  42. Bangkok Revisited 3 Oct 6-20, 2014
  43. A First Timer in Bangkok December 31, 2005 - January 3, 2006

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

  46. Chiang Mai
  47. Mike Chong Aug 8, 2018
  48. An Intimate Conversation with my Universe in Chiang Mai Aug 8, 2018
  49. Kneaded and Pampered at Zira Spa Aug 4, 2018
  50. Savoring a Baht 3,500 Birds Nest Soup at Natural Bird Nest by Burapa Aug 3, 2018
  51. Yoga Exploration at The Yoga Tree with Gernot Aug 1, 2018
  52. Yoga In The Park - Chiang Mai July 31, 2018
  53. Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai July 29, 2018
  54. 2 Weeks in Chiang Mai July 25 - Aug 7, 2018
  55. A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
  56. Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
  57. Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
  58. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Chiangmai (Thailand) April 9-10, 2016

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

  62. Chiang Saen
  63. Exploring Chiang Saen, Thailand Apr 28-30, 2016

  64. Mae Sai
  65. 4 Days in Mae Sai, Thailand Apr 25-28, 2016
  66. Border Crossing - Mae Sai (Thailand) to Tachileik (Myanmar) Apr 23, 2016

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

  72. Pak Chong
  73. Pak Chong (Thailand) En Route to Siem Reap (Cambodia) Mar 20-21, 2016
  74. Goodbye Thai Plum Village Mar 20, 2016
  75. Yoga at Thai Plum Village Mar 19, 2016
  76. Pond Picnic with the Monastics Mar 14, 2016
  77. Sentence Expansion Mar 12, 2016
  78. Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics Mar 10, 2016
  79. First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village Mar 8, 2016
  80. Cyber Monk Redefined Mar 6, 2016
  81. Thai Plum Village, Day 6: Plum Village and Vipassana Mar 2, 2016
  82. Thai Plum Village, Day 5: Visa Snag Mar 1, 2016
  83. Plum Village, Day 4: Picnic with the Monastics on Lazy Monday Feb 29, 2016
  84. Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled Feb 27-28, 2016
  85. Plum Village, Day 1: Arrival Feb 26, 2016

  86. Phan District, Chiang Rai Province
  87. Yoga with Amm Prajna Pitchaya and the Sivananda yoga community of Phan May 16-18, 2016
  88. 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

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