Koh Yao Noi

So I met up with Matt in Phuket. Matt is one of the great people I met in Pai in northern Thailand and I was lucky enough to be able to hang around with him most of my time here in the south.

Because frankly, I had nothing planned. I tried to contact different eco friendly tours and acomodations around Phang Nga and national parks but no one actually replied. I wanted some djungle-esque bungalows or sea kayaking a couple of days. Nope. I don’t know why they didn’t answer but it bummed me out so much that I said screw it. I’ll just wing it from Phuket.

And that is what we did. We got to Koh Yao Noi after two different local busses (I LOVE THEM!) and a speed boat. All in all around 300 baht.

On the boat trip over to the island I tried to find accommodation, or at least information about where to stay. But man is it confusing to find out where to stay beforehand. Websites spell the same guest house differently and they mix up the location and trip advisor doesn’t have the coordinates. Everything seemed crazy. But sonehow I managed to find a telephone number to Suntisook Resort which had gotten only good reviews. I think I found it on their facebook page. But there was also a “Santisook resort” and from booking agencies you were taken to different sites all together (+6676582750 is the actual number if you need it).

So I called. They had a bungalow, we checked it out, it was really nice and we ended up staying there for three nights. For 1200baht a night we also got a scooter to use. It was a good deal especially being two and splitting the cost.

To go around by scooter was actually very nice amd effective since the town center is on the west side of the island and most accommodations on the east.

Even though it is high season I got the feeling that there were fewer people there than usual. Bars were empty and in town we didn’t see many tourists at all. But hey we had a great time anyway. The island is beautiful and the surroundings likewise.

We found great local food for around 50-60baht (I don’t know what people are saying when they think Koh Yao Noi is more expensive… that is what I paid for local food everywhere and there was even places to stay with two beds for 250baht) and reasonably priced beer at a local shop (you can’t buy it in 7/11 here because the island is mostly muslim).

We went around with the scooter, hunting views, crabs and gasoline! And we took a snorkeling tour to islands close by. We went with a long tail boat with two other guys, from Germany, they were great people as well and we had a good time boating around the different islands. The snorkeling was “meh” but at least I got to chase a couple of fishes and on one of the islands we saw a komodo dragon!
Also, a lot of people from Krabi. But it was a good price anyway, 800baht including lunch and we enjoyed ourselves.

The last thing we did on the tour was a bit of crazy trekking. Twenty minutes straight up a slippery hill like 70-80Β° steep. But the view up there was faaantastic and well worth it.

At Suntissok resort the owners were really nice and kind. They helped a lot and answered all our questions best they could. They were really genuine and helpful!

Every night it was raining, but it was very moody and cozy. We even had to ride home in the rain one of the days. That was before we went to a place where we could play some pool. So when we got there we were soaking wet. But it was ok, we dried up :D. Our new friends were already there, Andy and Aldo and we had a great time. We played for quite some time and we mixed and changed up the house rules, we learned some german and I tried to teach them what to say to a girl in Sweden. Yeah… I don’t think I gave any good advice πŸ˜€

Sorry for the images not being sorted. But I am doing this from my cell phone and it is not being a good friend. Maybe I will clean it up later πŸ™‚

I probably forgot a lot of stuff to write but it is how it is. And I want the pork buns and other street food in Sweden! GRRRAAAWWWHHHA

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image
image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image
image
image
image

image

Phuket, Karon beach

Phuuket!

As with every location I’ve gone to now I had no idea of what to expect. But it turned out great!

I met up with Matt from Pai and we decided to hit the beach to work on our tan. Kind of. We just walked around Karon town, shopping a bit, I got a god damn SARONG…. SAAAAROOONG. It is nice though. And a nice Beach bag and also new flipflops. It was actually kind of fun haggling around. And it was great to have a friend by your side again. I kinda missed that on my tour of northern Thailand.

I was staying at the Pineapple Guest house, they were really nice and helpful there. We asked for a place to eat local food and they recommended this great place, Pad Thai Shop. We ate there a lot, cheap food and reaaally good food!

image

image

image

image

The bach in Karon is actually very calm and nice. There are a lot of tourists but the beach is big and there is plenty of room for everyone. I kind of thought that there would be a lot of loud Swedes and Russians there, but they kept resonably calm. And yeah, a lot of russians. I asked a local guy about what they thought about them and he said that many of them are kind of rude. Mostly because they don’t want to adapt at all and they only use Russian, most of them don’t know English or Thai at all which is a bit sad. Feeling entitled to special treatment is not a plus in my book. But no one bothered us so it was all good.

We chilled on the beach, we shopped, we ate local food and we went with local transportation, it was very nice!

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

In the evening it also staryed to rain heavily…Β 

I’m going back there in a few days and I hope I can meet one of my local friends then, would be really awesome! It’s quite funny because we only met on a song tao/red taxi on the way from Wat Doi Suthep to Chiang Mai (40 min). But we were a group talking and having fun so we added eachother.

I also lost some weight :p the muscles are escaping my body. I really need to exercise when I get back!

Meditation at Wat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai – 7d

image

The goal with meditation is for your body and mind to come together and be as balanced as possible. I could go on and explaining a lot but it would sound so hippie-ish that I wont. I’ll just say that it is very good for your inner subconscious self. And when your inner subconscious self is in balance, it trickles down to your conscious emotional and physical parts. Your mind can easily run away from you or get filled with thoughts you can’t control which will only make you more stressed out and worry more. Meditation is a great way of keeping all that in shack.

We had one master monk, or I don’t know what to call him, but he was the one munk helping us with our meditation. So how it works is that you book your stay two weeks in advance, you decide how long you wanna stay, 3, 5, 7, 10 or 27 days, At least it is like that in Wat Doi Suthep. Other time frames may apply to other temples and meditation centers. Β You are not supposed to talk, you are not supposed to eat after noon, you are not supposed to wear anything but white clothes, including your underwear (although they seemed pretty relaxed about things like that at Doi Suthep, people could wear warmer sweaters in light colors). You are supposed to show your teacher and all your fellow meditators/students respect. That includes all of the above but also not having your feet towards a statue of Buddha or having electronic devices in the temple or meditation rooms (they were pretty relaxed about this as well, you could for instance use your smart phone as a alarm clock for meditation purposes even in the meditation center). The main rule being not to disturb others and using common sense.

Every day you have about 15 minutes with the monk talking to him about your progress or troubles. And every day he gives you new instructions for your different meditation techniques. He wasn’t the best English speaker but he really knew what he was doing. He gave great instructions, advice and inspiration for your practice. After every session with him I felt like going straight away to try meditating again.

Every day the bell rings for breakfast at 07 and lunch at 11. And at 05:30 you have a “Dhamma talk” which is the monk talking about concepts from Buddhism regarding meditation (not Buddhism itself, he was very clear about not teaching us anything about religion), concepts for understanding your own destiny and many different life lessons and stories.

And at 6 in the evening we did like an hour of chanting, which I at first didn’t really understand why. But now I get it, it is just as meditation. You focus on chanting instead of thoughts. It was also actually kind of fun to try to do it as good as you could. Because it wasn’t even Thai, it was an older language that Buddhist use.

The first day for example the monk told us:
“You can not train your mind. You can not touch tour mind as you can touch your physical self. But you can use meditation techniques to get deeper into yourself and close the gap between mind and body to try to get a good balance between the two and thus controlling your inner and physical self”.(Paraphrasing)

He told us techniques for not fighting and not arguing with people. Move away instead, don’t fight fire with fire, fight fire with water. Be water in a bowl of water standing on solid ground. Not water in a bowl that you are holding while you are running.

He said that there is no concept of winning or loosing. Humans can be destructive because they want to win. But winning and loosing is the same, it all shifts and the scale turns over. Instead be happy about what we can create just with our minds. Thinking. Be grateful to scientists and teachers.

And the concept of sleeping and getting up early. Stay young by going to bed between 10-24. The monk himself sleeps between 4-4.5 hours. Longer sleep means you need to recover more from much thinking and stress. If you control your day, you can sleep less. Human body is made for being awake during daytime and sleeping during night time. Logics. It is controlled by hormones. We feel good by the sun, don’t stay in all day. And turn of everything before sleep. It changes your balance and interferes with your mind.

For our first meditation technique we got instructions for sitting 10 minutes, closing our eyes and focusing on our stomach whilst using the mantra “rising” and “falling”. The important part is not to focus on your breathing, that will happen naturally.

========================
Β The following is what I wrote day by day at the center. I wont really edit it that much because I want to keep it journal-like.

Day 1: introduction and 10 minute meditation sessions, 18 chanting.
image

Chargeeeer proobleems.
And I found tea. I also took a longer walk around. It is nice but I hope I can sit in the temple/chapel next to this for more harmony. Will ask about that later.

Day 2: Walking slower 15 mins sitting and walking. The monk is so calm, it is inspiring. I also cleaned my room to get a better environment for meditation, it felt great.

Then I moved out my meditation to a small chapel with a big Buddha. Much calmer and easier to focus.
image

Right now my biggest problem with sitting is that it really hurts after ten minutes. So I start to wiggle and thoughts pop up. I found that if I sometimes open my eyes and look at the big Buddha everything becomes easier. I can focus and continue.
image

image


Day 3:
Real problems with focusing in the morning. But after new instructions from the monk it was better. New walking technique and new sitting technique.

Dhamma talk concept today was feelings compared to the ocean. We are like boats controlled by emotions. But we should be like a small island, with big mountain under. The I is not only physical it is much deeper. The unconscious. The I is the big mountain not controlled by the ocean but the mother earth.

And also to show love compassion sympathy and equality instead of hate anger jealousy and sadness. If someone is sad don’t laugh. Show compassion and happy sympathy.

Today there are many new people here. I guess it is Monday. Some even talking. Lets just try our best with our new day.

Day 4:
Today dhamma talk was a bit more story telling. Our master told us about our inner I, that we have a physical one and an aura or deeper one only seen by the third eye. He compared a lot with modern technology (Einstein, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Harry Potter and so on) and that there are three things to balance to be able to come together with both. Breathing, slowly and relaxing. Logical thinking and imagination. The three combined makes harmony with you. That’s how you can know yourself and be happy.

The morning meditation went like crap. I couldn’t concentrate or focus. I was annoyed by a new group of three friends, They really like to talk. And they do. Every mealtime and every time I see them. And I have never seen them meditate. They got to me.

But just before lunch I had a great session sitting meditating and that turned everything around. It took a while though because during lunch I was annoyed again but it quickly passed when I realized that I was happy. I bought a fanta and moved on. The rest of my meditation sessions have gone great. I’m smiling and when i see the new ones. I just smile to myself and don’t care. It is their loss. I thought the same about a couple that came. But today they didn’t say a word. Although I really should not care whatsoever.
I got new techniques for walking and at 14 im gonna try them πŸ™‚

Whoah my legs are tired. The new techniques were hard! And it got harder because I was nervous and my legs were already shaking from exhaustion. I got nervous because the talking dream team came in during my walking meditation. It took some great strength not to loose focus. But my heart pumped faster because my brain thought they were going to say something and my legs shook even more because I got nervous trying my best to perform with a good face. (Yes I am no monk yet :p). I finished off with sitting meditation and it went better than ever and I got calm again. Yay for me! And they actually said nothing.

But just as I though my respect for them grew. They shattered it completely. After our daily chanting they complained about “crazy customs” because a guy was told not to point his feet towards buddha. I mean we are in a Buddhist temple. Maybe try to respect the rules. We are here for free and we are learning about how to improve our lives with meditation. So crazy because I can’t understand why they even went here. Their minds are clearly not ready for this, they must have thought this was something else.

Oh well.
The concept we learned after the chanting was to merge our two brain halves to do better in life and remember better. Images and chanting is why monks can remember all of Buddhism. Apparently they have 11 scriptures and they remember it by heart with chanting! The proof that both halves of the brain is needed for good memory. And today the monk was pretty funny. He usually is, joking and stuff. He joked about Einsteins hair :D. He said his brain is just as big as ours. But not his hair.
And more progress, I sat in the front ^^
I was a bit nervous at first but it went well πŸ™‚ I like the chanting it is like our singing time ^^

I have new lying meditation to do before I sleep and my day of meditation has been great. My legs are tired! But I want to do one more session before 21.

Day 5: Breakfast was different. No noodles but instead yummy rice with vegetables. Dhamma talk was about karma. You make your own garden. Destiny changes all the time. I fell asleep during the day though. Luckily I am in a pretty chill meditation school. There are much harsher ones.

Three ways karma work. Speech, action and thought. Most important is though because it connects to all others.

Chanting was long today or the talk after. I was hungry. But we talked about the concept of universal energy. Which is love and kindness. This makes equality with anger.

Day 6: A slow day where none of my meditation has yet worked well. The talkers did stop talking during mealtime before they left though. I also saw the biggest moth ever. Seriously it was bigger than my hand. But I had no chance to get my camera before it left due someone scaring it away. I took pictures of a fly and I saw two walking sticks though.

Dhamma talk was focusing on the inner you. Your garden and that you are the gardener of your own destiny. Don’t do bad. Do good. You can be anything.
My energy level is apparent in the description of the talk :p one thing though, after lunch I tried to do sitting meditation on my special spot in the stairs.
image

I got some kind of small jungle birdpoop on me and a bunch of kids came so I kinda abandoned the meditation. Although I sat the whole time to at least stretch the legs.

I might be a bit down because I’m leaving tomorrow. I don’t know why but I always get weird the day before I am about to go somewhere. I shouldn’t though. Especially not after a couple days of meditation.

Later in the day though my meditation went better than ever. After new instructions from our master I took a walk. I found some puppies playing in the nearby village. Or they found me!
image

image

image

I wanted to spend more time with them but I was afraid that the big dogs would get protective or something. So I made sure I left before any showed up. This little walk empowered me because I went further than before and it was a side plan I had for today.
image

image

image

image

image
Chiang Mai during night

So even though I lazied about for two hours or so I managed to do good! After that I went back to the chapel I had been using some days before and tried again. Instead of 25 minutes I did 30 without flinching. And it felt really good. I could focus and I had very few thoughts πŸ™‚

After chanting, which went great (I sat still and focused on the text and could tag along) our master told us not to be discouraged if we have many thoughts. It is normal. And the same for being sleepy. And the same for seing lights. It is all our mind and it is like that because both left and right brain are connecting. We are just not used to that mindfullness.

I’ve been trying different spots for my practice. Because I want to be able to continue this when I get home and I don’t want to get used to only one setting or location. It has been great but challenging. I like the silence as well. But sometimes you want to say something. I asked one guy how long he had been there and it was his third time doing 21 days. I had to say something because someone had accidentally taken my tshirt, so I did, it felt weird but good. I also got my tshirt back so yaay!

Today I had an Ice cream to celebrate my last day. Don’t worry it was before noon πŸ™‚ and tonight I’ll have some fresh tea because the stock has been refilled! ^^
image

Tomorrow is day 7. I leave at 09 in the morning. And after that I make a quick visit to Chiang Mai and my previous hotel to pick up my bag. Then it’s of to Mae Hong Son for me! I don’t know exactly how yet. But that will surely be solved.
image

image

image
image

image

image

image

image

Hilltribe homestay day 1

Soo I’m doing this four day tour of northern thailand. My guide is a man from a Karen tribe, his name is Anan and our driver is from a Lawa/lua tribe.

This was the first day of four and it has been great. We started of by stopping at a karen market on our way to Doi Ang Khang, nothing that special. For lunch we went to the guides uncle and his village at Hoi Bong in the Chai Prakan district. We had some rice with pork and banana flowers. I didn’t know you could eat the flowers. And tea, of course tea. I learned some karen words and we chatted a bit about royal families and culture. It was very simple, we sat in their house on the floor and ate just like they would. And yeah they were eating with us :). A genuine and humbling experience!

image

image

image

image

After that I “helped” with harvesting some rice. I wasn’t good but I am sure I’ll bring luck to the farm anyway. They were happy to show me how to do it. This family were only planting rice for themselves. Not to sell it. A great thing is that other villages help with the harvest, it is like a community effort. If you help me I help you sort of thing.

image

image

We then continued further on up in the mountains towards the bordee of Myanmar. We met some nice people at lookout points where they were preparing for new years.

image

image

image

The valley in the picture is the border. During the day Anan told me alot about the different tribes around the area, the history of them and the government’s role in it all. It was a lot of information and I am sure I don’t remember it all. But a great aspect about the royal familys role here is that they really try to help the tribes. They support them so they can maintain themselves. They teach about other crops than opium and give education to the children so that they can give back to the country later on in their lives.

They have a border agreement where the different tribes can go across to their families for a couple of days or so and then go back to their hometown. It was good to see that since only a couple of years ago they were fighting at the border.

image

The village closest to the border was a Pah Long tribe. They gathered up here together like a community effort to try and sell some handicrafts to the tourists, it wasn’t annoying or anything, it actually felt quite genuine and for a good cause. And also everyone had black teeth from chewing bitternut!

A couple of hundred meters aways was a Black Lahu village. They live very simple and they still live by a spirit religion. They have their homes on stilts, each home built in just one day and all the animals wandering around below them. Dogs, cats, pigs (all black of course) and chickens. They live and cook in the same room. Ten people usually sleep in the house we visited. Because they cook and sleep in the same room, without any hole in the roof it gets pretty filled with smoke. But that way they keep all the bugs out!

image

image

image

image

We went even further up the mountains after that and stoped at some great viewpoints and campsites. Apparently this location is a heaven for Thai tourists from the south. They camp here in tents because they like to experience the cold. And up here on the winter time it can go down to around 10 degrees Celsius. That is pretty cold because the difference from the daytime is big, almost around 15 degrees Celsius. It is fun to see Thai people all geared up in thick winter hats and jackets! The military has a big presence here but I never even saw a gun. It is all pretty relaxed amd they even loan out tents for free.

We stoped to get some pictures of the sunset at a rest stop where we had yummy pork buns!

image

Almost tasted like pirogues. Just before the sunset a couple of cars and minivans showed up, like clockwork in perfect time. But nothing crazy like it apparently is around new year. There are so many cars that you just leave it on the road and walk.

Our place for the night was a gotel in Ang Khang, mostly catering to thai tourists but still very good. Just a bit expensive now in the high season. For dinner I had some Yunan style Khao Soi, it was not a soup, instead a mix of noodles and vegetables. It was very good. A roi! And the waitress was pretty fun and laughed when I said “gai”, ordering the food with chicken πŸ˜‰

image

image

image

In the evening we took a walk around the small town. Saw a small market and met a few locals. One burmese cleaner working at our hotel, he taught us some burmese words and was very friendly. We also met another guide, working for the same company, he was a bit more energetic than Anan and let me try some Thai whiskey. Which actually was good. And when his wife called he gave me the rest of the bottle… which I still have in my bag,Β  I’m not a heavy drinker πŸ˜‰

I did get a good night’s sleep. Although there was some Chinese tribe celebrattion going on. A funeral, and apparently they stay up all night singing and banging instruments and when I woke up they were still going strong πŸ˜€

And now were of again!

————
Karen:
Omuchupu – hello
Tham blu – thank you