Location:Thai Plum Village 174,176 Ban Sra Nam Sai, Moo 7, Tambon Pongtalong, Pak Chong (district), Nakhon Ratchasima (province), Thailand
Lazy Monday All the days in the week have a specific set of activities except Monday - it's called Lazy Monday. I thought of hitching a ride to Pak Chong to do my laundry bit, but before I could prepare for it, I was invited to join the monastics up the hill for a picnic. Woo-hoo!
Vietnamese from the North It turns out that the picnic group wasn't just a random group of monks who wanted to do a picnic. They were all from the north of Vietnam - Hanoi and surrounding provinces. Other regional groups had their own thing as well. In Vietnam, when you say 'from the North', it conjures a whole new image - of being aggressive, fierce, tough and resilient - after all, they prevailed against the might of the USA and unified Vietnam. That is not what I have experienced here (nor in Hanoi and Hai Phong when I visited last year) - they were warm and accommodating with a placid demeanor about them. There were random acts of kindness to me, being the only non-Vietnamese in the group. One of them asked me to sit beside him so he could translate what was being talked about. Another nun shared with me her special rice tea which was of limited-supply. The same nun opened up a box of See's Candies, one of those highly coveted made-in-USA chocolate goodies. In Southeast Asia, it's hard to come by these things. She passed them around without even taking one herself! I don't know if I have that kind of control. They saw to it that my plate was full of whatever was being served. I felt looked-after...a very nice feeling when in the company of complete strangers.
Food from the North The North of Vietnam is known all over the country as having that special gift for food. They have a keen palate that can discern the minute subtleties in taste. The world-famous Vietnamese noodle soup, Phoa, had its beginning in Hanoi. And guess what? The monastics in the kitchen are all from the North - they were the ones at the picnic! No wonder the food tastes superb.
Thought for the Day One good thing has led to another. Im on my 4th day, and it just keeps getting better. I really feel privileged to be in such company. Thank you Bros and Sis from the North!
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
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
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 Station35 mins | Baht 45. Get off at Phaya Thai Station (the last stop) and walk (.8km) to the Phaya Thai BTS Station.
Phaya Thai Station (N2) - Mo Chit Station (N8) by BTS TRAIN board the BTS train heading to Mo Chit and get off there.
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:
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
not a requirement, but it helps if you bring clothing in the dark brown color in order to blend-in