After what felt like a long but ultimately still way too limited time I have returned to my home in Chiang Rai and everything is back to normal. Working and everyday life at home. When you come back from a journey those things are kind of difficult to get used to again. But we can manage, even though now – with less than two months left – the end is in sight and already taking a firm grip on everyone’s minds.
The two months of traveling have been an interesting mix of different places and experiences. Looking back at it now it was a very special time and undoubtedly a highlight of my time in Thailand. Six major destinations made up the core of my travels.
Although I spent most of the time moving around by myself I started out with an 8-day stay in Bangkok with good friends Krissi and Leonie. We found a pretty good balance with a fair amount of each sightseeing, partying and relaxing. Bangkok is incredibly diverse. There are countless things to do for many different tastes. Especially Bangkok’s nightlife makes me love the city: a blues bar hosting the greatest live music acts I’ve ever come across in a bar, underground clubs playing high quality music you’ll struggle to find anywhere else in Thailand, and, well, there is Khaosan Road also, for the not-so-classy nights, it’s a lot of fun. On top of that we were lucky to make friends with some locals who then invited us over for barbecue and beer. Probably the closest thing to real Thai-life I’ve come in the holidays.
2. KOH LIPE
This very very small island looks like paradise. I’ve never seen the ocean as turquoise and crystal clear as here and the beaches are picture-perfect. Unfortunately Koh Lipe is underway of becoming a new popular destination for mass tourism. There is still not a lot going but you can sense that something very beautiful is being exploited. Either way, I had a pretty good time here aswell. I spent a lot of time doing nothing at the beach and feeling super-relaxed. Eventually I met my friend Ramona and together with some good people we met we spent some memorable nights.
3. KOH BULON
Also very tiny but untouched by mass tourism. There is not a lot to do on Koh Bulon as you can walk every path of the island in about half an hour. Here i found myself feeling a little bored and lonely. I tried to make the best of it and spent a lot of time reading, playing soccer with locals or just strolling around aimlessly in the (very beautiful) jungle.
4. KOH PU
This was a special time. I stayed at the Sunset Beach Bungalows on the secluded North Beach of the island and barely ever moved from there. It had a incredibly relaxed and welcoming vibe to it. Me and some other guests at the resort made up our own little Koh Pu-family/gang. Nights were spent at the bar playing games with the owner Zen and his wife Toy or enjoying the sauna. Yes there was a sauna! Directly by the sea which is very convenient as you can step out of it and literally jump right into the cooling water of the ocean. I remember feeling really comfortable and, well, home there.
5. KOH PHANGAN
Life on Koh Phangan is a joyful mix of relaxing at the beach, wild partying and many, many other activities. It doesn’t feel like a part of the real world but more like some kind of fantastical oasis made to escape said thing. There is a reason why so many people get there and then decide to stay for a long time, maybe even past the date of the already booked return flight. There’s something magical about it. Il faut le voir pour le croire 😉
6. SUAN MOKKH VIPASSANA RETREAT
10 days of silence and meditation, a very challenging experience. This was the first time I really had to get out of my relaxed comfort zone but it was worth it. As you can read from the schedule below the days were incredibly long and thus mentally and physically challenging. It was an emotional roller coaster. When it was all over I had a feeling of great relief and accomplishment. I can’t really say what influence this experience had on me let alone if and how it changed me, but I am determined to keep learning in my regular life and, of course, to keep practicing meditation.
|(With some modifications on Day 9 and Day 10)|
|04.00 ***||Wake up *** = Monastery bell|
|05.15||Yoga / Exercise – Mindfulness in motion|
|07.00 ***||Dhamma talk & Sitting meditation|
|08.00||Breakfast & Chores|
|10.00 ***||Dhamma talk|
|11.00||Walking or standing meditation|
|11.45 ***||Sitting meditation|
|12.30||Lunch & chores|
|14.30 ***||Meditation instruction & Sitting meditation|
|15.30||Walking or standing meditation|
|16.15 ***||Sitting meditation|
|17.00 ***||Chanting & Loving Kindness meditation|
|18.00||Tea & hot springs|
|19.30 ***||Sitting meditation|
|20.00||Group walking meditation|
|20.30 ***||Sitting meditation|
(the gates will be closed at 21.15)
|21.30 ***||LIGHTS OUT|
If i could’ve I would definitely have gone on traveling for a while but I’m a volunteer first and foremost, not a backpacker. The holiday-travels are certainly part of the overall experience I’m making here, but in the end they will – more than anything else – stand as their own chapter: a rather elaborate, important excursion. I am very grateful for the opportunities I am given this year as all of them are incredibly enriching.