Good Morning Viet Nam

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Attention Please....

That's right sports fans, I have an announcement, more like a plea, to make. My Plaza apartment is still vacant and desperately in need of a tenant to love and care for it. Could you please keep your ears open for anyone in the KC area who is in need of some housing?! Have posted yet another add on Craig'slist and all of the details can be found on this link,

Am bummed that I didn't think subletting was such a great idea in October, but thought surely it would find a new owner soon. 4 months later I now realize that I overlooked the small fact that winter in KC is never the ideal time to move. But spring is just around the corner and I know someone will be enjoying my old pad soon, I can just feel it. Thanks for your help!

Leaving Las Vegas

I hate good byes! Yes, I am back to reality, and in Pai, and am leaving my Las Vegas tomorrow for Laos. Parting is such sweet sorrow. But I'm getting ahead of myself, on to more pressing issues as to my last 10 days in the woods.

I couldn't have been guided to a more perfect temple for me. Wat Tam Wua is an hour north of Pai, on the way to Mae Hong Son, and is in the midst of some beautiful cliff rock mountains. The monastery has a very campy feel. It is a very small temple and there were only 20 people, if that, there, 2 monks, 1 monk in-training from LA, 7 nuns, and 4 men. There were a couple of Falang (Westerners) that stayed for a few days and then headed on. I was the last of the Mohicans to go.

On the drive up, when the cab driver warned me not to wander too far off as there are the occasional Burmese opium farmers that pass through the monastery in the evening and kill anyone who crosses their path, I began to wonder what had I gotten myself into. But after meeting Jason, the Falang monk in-training, I was instantly put at ease. When after evening chanting all 3 of the Falang headed to the kitchen and loaded our plates for a little coffee hour, I realized that this was not as intense as other temples I had been told about, nor was it as dangerous as the cab driver had warned. And when Jason started conversation about how hilarious South Park, the movie, was, especially when the viewer is stoned, I knew the no talking rule was clearly not in effect at this temple.

So as to my actual experience there, I am still processing it. No, I was not forced to meditate some insane amount of time per day. I think I averaged an intermittent 4 hours per day, on a good day. And the longest time I ever made it sitting was 1 hour, after which I was positive my legs really had fallen off. We had a pretty unstructured schedule, which required me to be even more disciplined in our meditation. There were loads of unique places to sit, my favorite being in a cave.

Back to the most pressing issue, the food. It was strictly a vegan diet and the nuns grew all of the food in their garden. I never knew homegrown veges to taste so good! But no worries, I haven't converted and as I type I am craving a fully loaded Houston's cheeseburger.

There were quite a few characters dressed in white, the most entertaining one being Jason. Talk about intense! But I guess that is a necessary thing seeing how he is taking the road less travelled. After the first day I chose to employ the no-talking rule. I wish him the best in his new life, as he is getting his robes on the 23rd and will have to make some major adjustments from there on out.

So that's my experience in a nutshell. Loads of good memories and stories, perhaps better told in person. Hope you all are well! Ciao.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I Have A Dream

And that is that one day I will be leaving Pai. Granted, my dream is not nearly as worldly nor as noble as MLK Jr.'s, but it's still a dream. And unfortunately, that dream is coming to pass very soon, as in today. That's right kids, I am actually tearing myself away from my beloved bungalow, and now you can see what I mean about this being paradise!, and moving on to greener pastures at a nearby temple. Am going on a 10 day +/- meditation retreat. Don't really know what I am in for other than we only get 2 meals a day, the last one being at Noon. Zoinks, Scooby! Don't know how I am going to make it, but it's a good thing I have recently shed loads of baggage in order to make room for forbidden snacks like Snickers and what not. Kidding. When in Rome.....

Right, so I should get back to reality just in time for the best holiday of the year! After possibly spending a few more days in Pai, post meditation, am planning on exploring northern Laos and then returning to Thailand, heading south to help out with the Tsunami relief effort via building houses. The plan, as of now, is to be down south around the middle of March. But as we all know, I never actually stick to a plan, and who knows what inspriration I could intercept while meditating. So stay tuned.....

In other news, let's hear it for Bruce Bettinger! Bruce is the first person who has come and visited me. Okay fine, he didn't actually come to see me but was just passing through Chaing Mai and I was able to persuade him to schlep a few things from home for me. A few means 12. Thanks Bruce! Had an excellent time together in Chaing Mai and dined at the Four Seasons. Um yeah, that's living. Needless to say, it was a great change of pace for this backpacker. But after 2 days of hanging out in the night markets and temples, I returned to Pai and did some quality hammock swinging.

So that's it from here. Will be off the radar for a bit, don't miss me too much. So glad that you all are enjoying the photos. It took me around 7 hours to upload all of those. But the thought of sending you all 600+ photos seemed a bit too daunting. Love it when people do that. Take care, much love, Ciao.