This week has gone so fast, don't know where to start! On Monday we got up at 6 o clock to offer the monks food as they walked through our village, we had a big bowl of rice and then packages of vegetables, biscuits and oranges, but the monks who were supposed to come to us were not walking on that day as they had a cremation, so we went on a hunt for some monks! It felt like a life scale of Where's Wally but where's the monk instead, we walked through our village, and then decided to cross the river on a pulley type boat which can only be described as a large plank of wood, carrying our food for them, desperate to find a monk to give it to! It was very funny, still dark at 6 o clock in the morning with Abby still in her pyjamas as we didn't think we'd be leaving the house, in the end we found a temple and went and sat in it very determined until one lonely monk came back with his trolley, we were very pleased, we each gave him our offerings, transferring it onto a tray as we aren't allowed to give it to him directly, then he blessed us as we knelt on the floor in front of him, was quite a trip first thing in the morning!
The next day three monks came to our house and we all sat with them, Iris our coordinator translating and we asked them all sorts of questions about being a monk and the religion, it was really interesting as we'd watched a documentary the day before so had a bit of knowledge to form some questions from. They then had their one meal of the day at our house and chanted to us before they had to go back before 12; it was very interesting to find out about their opinions and practices.That afternoon we packed up for our temple stay, it was a small temple surrounded by woods and a couple of houses where poor people have asked the monks if they can stay with them as long as they follow their rules. We had to be in all white as these were pure colours, so had to rent some trousers and shirts, which felt like pyjamas, it's surprising how stripped of personality you can feel in baggy white clothes and hair up was a very unique feeling. We had a look around the temple and then at the local market to which we got a lot of stares, I don't think the people are as used to seeing white people around as in our village in Singburi and topped with full white clothes we couldn't possibly stand out or be more white!
In the evening, we learnt some of the chanting with the monks, and then learnt some different types of meditating: sitting, standing, walking and reclining. It was very difficult to shut your mind off, as soon as you think I'm not thinking about anything you're like ooh I just thought about not thinking about anything so it would take a lot of practice, but the walking one where you just walk really really slowly with your eyes shut was very relaxing. The girls all slept in a house that night on the marble floor which was interesting but I think we were all so tired that we just slept right through, the boys didn't have as much luck as they were in the main hall where we were meditating, they had a skeleton hanging feet from them, howling dogs by their window and stray monks walking in in the middle of night and just sitting beside them praying, very lucky we missed out on that one they looked very tired in the morning!
We got up at about 5 to actually join the monks getting the food in the morning rather than give it to them like the other day, it was really good, we walked through the main streets and people come and wait outside their house offering them rice, sauces, cakes and all sorts, we went through the local food market and then back through the smaller back streets. It was really nice seeing how much respect the people had for the monks and we greeted most of the people we passed with our new Thai language skills!
They had such a big trolley of food for only five monks and Iris said that any left-overs go to the poor, they can come to the temple and share the food after the monks have eaten which I thought was a nice idea. That was a very unique experience spending time with the monks and one that I won't forget for a long time, we came back to our house and took in all that had happened!
This morning we went for the most beautiful bike ride, we had proper Miss Marple bikes with baskets on the front and went round in a big circle by the river, through the local villages and a few schools, then stopped for lunch at a house where three little ladies had made us a huge amount of Pad Thai to eat by the river. The breeze kept us cool and I don't know why but it really was amazing, one of the best things we've done since we got here!
Written a lot this time, I can't believe how much we are doing, but we still have time to relax too, I only have 3 more nights in my ecohouse :o( then I start the trek and the week after that the beach week at Koh Samet, can't wait for it all to come but don't want it to go as fast as it has!
I'm going to wait to Oz I think to put some more photos on just to be safe from the viruses going around so there will be a little bit of a delay but lots will come soon!
Love Hannah x