Mar 20, 2016
Goodbye Thai Plum Village
Location: Thai Plum Village
174,176 Ban Sra Nam Sai, Moo 7, Tambon Pongtalong, Pak Chong (district), Nakhon Ratchasima (province), Thailand
The Visa Snag
With my visa snag, my planned 3-month English teaching at Thai Plum Village came to an abrupt 3-week halt. After more than 3 weeks living a serenely cadenced monastic life, it was time to say goodbye and leave Thailand.
I always default to being on my laptop, doing web work that never seems to finish. Here at the center, I fought the urge to go to my laptop when a brother or sister approaches me for anything. Sometimes, they just want to get to know me, to see if I am having a nice time at the center. Sometimes they would ask me if I can take a look at their English work. They never impose. It is always with assumed humility. I am flattered that they would feel comfortable enough with me to talk and share. Whatever it is, I always find time to be with them. The laptop work will have to wait.
I would say the 2 biggest lessons I've learned from this experience is mindfulness and connectedness.
- connectedness - When I find myself in a strange place with strange people, I remind myself that we are all connected. That alone changes everything. The strange place becomes my home and the strange people become friends I have yet to meet. So I thought I had 'connectedness' all figured out. Again, at Thai Plum Village, it's taken many levels up. Here, I become the air that has been rendered polluted. I am the same man who cut down the trees and deforested the mountain. I am the caterpillar inching its way on a tree bark. I am also the bird that ate the caterpillar. I am not only connected. I am them. We are one. We are the leaves of one tree.
I cannot speak for other traditions, but here at Plum Village, the monastics take their practice seriously. They may have come for various reasons, but when in here, they devote their lives to serious practice in the pursuit of mindfulness, happiness and helping others. Interestingly, I never heard of anyone talk about enlightenment - just mindfulness.
On The Fly Lesson Plan
I planned on teaching conjunctions one day but a student said, "Teacher, I want to ask you so many questions but I don't know where to begin - how to use the words to ask you." The others nodded in agreement. Forget about conjunctions then. On the spot, I junked my planned lesson and shifted into a new plan. With my remaining few days, it's more urgent to get them to formulate conversational questions. That was the impromptu lesson for the day. I think a teacher should be able to do this, otherwise, I'd be more of a text book reader than teacher.
My students are grateful for what they have learned - and they made it clear through their endearing gestures. Someone would give me a papaya fruit, another would bring water to class to offer me, others would openly express that their English has improved considerably and so has their confidence. A group scheduled a picnic hike with me while another group hosted a tea gathering. At the end of my stay, they gave me a card saying wonderful things about their experience with me, either through my English class, the yoga class, and perhaps the most flattering of all, about me as a newfound friend. I cannot say enough about their kindness and gentleness.
At the risk of seeming to go beyond my bounds, I suggested a few things to the center...but always with the best intentions at heart.
As I taught English and yoga, I was also a student, learning Tai-Chi from one of the monks, a student of Thich Nhat Hahn as I learned mindfulness with every breath, and a student of the Sangha as I learn about community harmony and cooperation. It's a rare privilege to live a monastic life - 4am waking up followed by meditation, Dharma talks and Dharma sharing within the day, meditative work to maintain the center, mindful eating on all meals, 15-minute bell reminder throughout the day for mindfulness. Life takes on a deeper dimension. All these I'll take with me back to the default world...hopefully make it a better place.
The following people like this:
(Jun 4, 2018) I came across your website by chance as I was looking up Thailand Plum village. I just had some brief reads and felt very inspired by your writing especially about yourself. I wish I could do something similar to what you do and express so real in writing. Thank you, Rose
(Mar 24, 2016) That is a beautiful experience, Git. Thank you for sharing what it is like in the village. Yes, mindfulness. Oh wow, let me know when I may hug you!!
(Mar 24, 2016) Bummer about the visa snag...but it sounds like you really had an enriching visit. I love your suggestions for the sangha. They were lucky to have you!
Sis Nen Ngoc
(Mar 20, 2016) Dear teacher, by the time you stay here, I nourish myself everyday with yoga exercises and lived English which you gave us. I feel a lot beter after every studying. Thanks for be here, teach us and bring good energy to our monastery. I will remember your words, "If you don't feel excited with life, there's something wrong" and "One strong self will be able to spread peace to the world" (I don't remember clearly your words, but main content is like this.) They also remind me of my way of living. Very hope to see you again. Happy teacher, you are changing the world (and we are too). Goodbye.
Sis. Diem Nghiem
(Mar 20, 2016) Dear teacher, I am really feel thankful to you, because you have contributed wholeheartedly to good energy source of the Sangha. I see you happy, we happy too. I hope that you'll come back here and teach us more. I know that all of us brought many happy to you also. "We are the leaves of one tree. We are the waves of one sea. We are the stars of one sky. The time has come for all to live as one. We live together." I hope you have enough friends, time, health, money...for traveling anywhere you want to go.
Bro. Nguyen Sinh
(Mar 20, 2016) When we are happy, everything will be okay. Don't forget, practise meditation everyday.
Bro. Dinh Luc
(Mar 20, 2016) I feel very happy when I met you and I feel we're happy when I have a chance to study English with you. You already made me more excited in English. I think my capacity in English will be improved after this class. Thank you for your wholeheartedly.
Bro. Ha Tam
(Mar 20, 2016) The happy teacher can change the world! I believe that. You will become a happy teacher within mindfulness.
Bro. Tue Giac
(Mar 20, 2016) I become more diligent in learning English whenever I remember your sharing, "the more you make mistakes, the more you learn." Thanks for everything you have done. I wish you always generate a lot of mindful energy for your daily life.
Sis. Phuong Khe
(Mar 18, 2016) Dear brother, thank you for present in here, to bring diligent energy to do everything. I'm happier than I'm before, after studying English class and practicing yoga and I feel I'm stronger, healthier, solider, peacer than I was. I can see one thing - that the good mind, gentle speak, compassion heart spread good energy to everyone and everyone around you has benefit so much. So I wish, where you come, you bring that happy energy to everybody. Be happy, be healthy, be your self.
(Mar 18, 2016) Gigit, it was a pleasure meeting you. I am sure too, we will meet again in my next home, Austria. You will always be welcome to enjoy the beautiful mountains and some nice cheese, bread and wine together.
Next stop: Pak Chong (Thailand) En Route to Siem Reap (Cambodia)
Thai Plum Village International Practice Centrewith 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 CentreLocation: 174,176 Ban Sra Nam Sai, Moo 7, Tambon Pongtalong, Pak Chong District, NakornRatchasima, Thailand
Blogs on Thai Plum Village
- Goodbye Thai Plum Village Mar 20, 2016
- Yoga at Thai Plum Village Mar 19, 2016
- Pond Picnic with the Monastics Mar 14, 2016
- Sentence Expansion Mar 12, 2016
- Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics Mar 10, 2016
- First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village Mar 8, 2016
- Cyber Monk Redefined Mar 6, 2016
- Thai Plum Village, Day 6: Plum Village and Vipassana Mar 2, 2016
- Thai Plum Village, Day 5: Visa Snag Mar 1, 2016
- Plum Village, Day 4: Picnic with the Monastics on Lazy Monday Feb 29, 2016
- Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled Feb 27-28, 2016
- Plum Village, Day 1: Arrival Feb 26, 2016
How to Get to Plum Village from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi AirportYou are encouraged to arrive at the Center Friday afternoon between 2-4 pm
- 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 trainignore 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
- mosquito repellent
- not a requirement, but it helps if you bring clothing in the dark brown color in order to blend-in
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