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Plum Village Monastery: Day 1 Feb 26, 2016

Plum Village Monastery: Day 1

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.

Thank you Ei and Nui!

--- TheLoneRider
YOGA by Gigit Yoga by Gigit | Learn English Learn English | Travel like a Nomad Nomad Travel Buddy | Donation Bank Donation Bank for TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

Rosemarie GendiveRosemarie Canada
(Mar 1, 2016) Amazing...I look fwd to hearing more about how the adventure unfolds

Next stop: Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled

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

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

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
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