Thursday, June 16, 2005

Pathom Asoke

So, there has been a slight change of plan. I was so enamoured with Pathom Asoke that I decided to stay there instead of Moo Baan Dek (also a wonderful place). This is the first chance I have had to get into town and an internet café in three days since arriving at Pathom Asoke.

Pathom Asoke is a really intense place. I sleep on a straw mat on a hard tile floor on the top floor of one of the few building in the otherwise organic community setting. Behind me is a dorm of male students. At 3:30 in the morning, loud bells go off. Slow, then picking up speed and becoming fast. The dorm behind me wakes up. You can hear guitars, flutes, and one hundred young boys singing in Thai. Soon after, you hear monk chanting coming over the p.a. or just over the land. At about 4:30 all the noise reduces to a soft murmur, and you are able to fall back asleep for a short while. At 6:00, the noise begins again. More guitars and flutes and singing. More boys yelling and screaming. And, finally, it is impossible to sleep when the guy who sleeps next to you turns on one of his many teeny-bop american techno remixed tapes. Now you are up, and ready to get out.

So you leave the dorm. Soon you are greeted by one of the blue-suited students. You start working somewhere. This morning, it was the garden, digging big holes in rock-solid clay dirt soil mixture. You work for a few hours until lunch at 10. Only two meals here. Then you can break for a while until 12. After that, back to work. Weeding the garden, preparing mushroom cultivation bags, chopping cutting cooking food, etc. There is so much to do, and your assistance is always helpful. Work again until dinner at 5. After that, its your choice. You can either walk around and find some extra chores to work on, or you can retire to your room and relax. So far, I’ve been going to bed around 8 or so. By the end of the day you are so worn out, sometimes you can’t even walk. The hard floor hurts, and your sweaty body sticks to the straw mat, and you feel claustrophobic inside your mosquito net; but you are so exhausted you fall right to sleep.
I am overcoming the language barrier quickly, but not completely. The most frequent thing I say is still mai khaojai (I don’t understand). But that’s okay. Pathom Asoke is really a beautiful place, and despite all of the hardships you really feel good at the end of the day. Plus, there are thai kids of all ages, and they are so much fun and so good-natured.

Well, time to go for now. Gotta get some rest for more mindful moving meditation tomorrow.

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