TheLoneRider
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Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics Mar 10, 2016

Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics

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

Alms Round
A forward-thinking monk at Thai Plum Village, Bro. Nguyen Luc, asked if I could be a part of the monastics' alms round to a nearby village by carrying the food received by the monks and nuns. It was a privilege I wouldn't pass up. An alms round is when the monks and nuns go out of their monastery and essentially beg for food. They are given food / water and sometimes money by householders (people who earn a living and not in the monastic order). The householders in turn, are given a blessing by the monks and nuns. Monastics, by tradition, cannot earn a living in order to devote their lives in the pursuit of self-realization. As such, they have to beg for food. This is a tradition that dates back to the time of Buddha.

Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics

Luang Prabang, Laos
The first and last time I witnessed the alms round was in Luang Prabang when I was a passing backpacker. The monks came out of their temples to a waiting line of tourists who came prepared very early in the morning to give them food. This ritual became popular in Luang Prabang that it has become a tourist attraction.

Informing the Villagers
The week prior, some monastics already made their rounds in the village to distribute leaflets letting them know that monks and nuns from the Thai Plum Village would be passing through for their alms round. This would prepare the villagers to make ready anything they'd like to give the monastics.

Theravada and Mahayana Tradition
Buddhism, in the last 2500 years since the time of Buddha, has branched-off to many monastic traditions and remains the staple religion in Thailand. The widely accepted tradition is the Theravada Buddhism. These are the monks who wear the dark mustard colored robe. They subscribe to the original tenets of Buddhism which is rigid and steeped in the ways of the old world. They do not cook so they have to beg for food. They only eat one meal (or 2) a day. These are the monks the Thais are accustomed to.

The other branch of Buddhism is the Mahayana Tradition to which Thai Plum Village is a part of. Mahayana adapts to the changing norms of society and is viewed as 'modern' by the traditionalists. Even within Mahayana, there are other traditions, some, more open than others. Thai Plum Village is perhaps one of the most open - it allows its monastics to play music, play sports, cook and eat 3 times daily and even have precepts to govern the use of cell phones and cars! It doesn't mean they're party people - they simply adapt to the changing norms of society and make their tradition more accessible to the younger people. As monastics, they live by defined precepts that govern their moral and spiritual conduct. They wear a dark chocolate brown colored robe - and Thais are not used to seeing this. Thus, even though Plum Village is Buddhism in a Buddhist country, it remains largely unheard of, and unknown to Thais.

Ending Thoughts
Thai Plum Village has a well-stocked kitchen and the monastics eat healthy vegetarian food. When they do the alms round, it's not really because they need food. They do this because it's part of the Buddhist tradition, and also because this practice connects them to the nearby villages and allows them to share their merits and showcase their mindfulness. It encourages people to visit the center and benefit from its tradition.

Thank you Bro. Nguyen Luc for making me a part of this time-honored tradition.

--- TheLoneRider
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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

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 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 walk...you 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

Plum Village Cost Index

(US$1 = Thailand Baht 35.77 = Php 47.52 as of Feb 28, 2016)

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
Currency Converter


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