Stay in A Buddhist Monastery

Jan 6th, 2015
I went to a photo store to take some more photos for visa application. The plan was that the next day I would go to the embassy of Bangladesh for visa application.
Regarding how to keep a low budget in Bangkok, I got two ideas from Nomads group on Facebook — staying in Buddhist monasteries and doing table diving. The idea of table diving might be too appalling to you, but it was very thrilling and let’s admit it, the philosophy behind it is perfectly right. I would try table diving and talk more about it next time. The goal of tonight was to find a monastery to stay. I went back to the 24-hour open McDonald’s again. There I met a Thai girl who happened to have studied Chinese in university and even did exchange study in Beijing. Her English was not as good as her Chinese, so our conversation was mainly in Chinese. I asked her to write down on a piece of paper in Thai “I am a traveller from China. I am very much into Buddhism. Could I sleep here for a couple of days? I could do some labour work for you. Thank you very much.” I also asked her to write another note for me for table diving.
It was about 7pm. I first went to a monastery near the big and busy Rama IV road. It seemed that there was a lecture there, a lecture from another highly revered monk. I showed the note to several people. They did not seem to be willing to help, keeping referring me to somebody else and then another somebody else. No, it was a hopeless case there. I left there and remembered that there was a monastery near the cheapest hostel where I used to stay. The dorms of the monks was a bit further from the streets, in the quiet side of the monastery. I had to pass a booth where an old man was selling incense and some lottery-like things in front of the entrance of the temple complex. Since I was not certain whether it would work out, I first showed the note to him. He looked at it and could not stop laughing, not the evil or despising type of laughing but the “being amazed” type of laughing, from which I assumed that this was not regularly done there, and pointed me to the right direction. I found several houses with monk dorms. I knocked on a door. The monk inside did not want to open it and was trying to talk to me through the net-covered half-transparent door of his room. He did not speak English. After minutes of trying, I simply showed him the note through his door. He read it and pointed me aloftly “somewhere there” and went away. Seriously, monks in Thailand were so different from those in Laos. Those in Laos were simply so much modester, more helpful and sincere. Here monks were more like a privileged class than pious Buddhists. I went to “somewhere there” and asked another monk. This one was more helpful and had a more “condescending” attitude. He came with me to the door of another monk. Upon knocking, another monk, a younger one came out and unlike the other two monks, this monk could smile and was more amiable. Seriously, dear friends, for a traveller in a strange country without any local friends, a smile from a stranger is such a valuable thing. You would not know it until you have travelled by yourself. That’s why I always give smiles generously when I see other travellers, simply to let them feel the friendly air. Ok, this young monk was about 20 years old I think. He stood under the roof, outside his own room and talked with the older monk who brought me to him. After discussion the older monk went back and this young monk nodded to me humbly and led me to an empty room. He opened the door and I saw that it was more like a study, with a printer lying on the floor. There was no bed but a big couch, which, for a passionate Couchsurfer like me, that was one of the best things to sleep on. 😉 He did not speak much English. I sincerely wanted to do some work for them, so I pointed to the line on the note “I could do some labour work for you”, which seemed to make him nervous. He frowned and said to me with a smile:”Please wait.” Ok, then I waited but he never came back to that matter, even if I asked several times. Then I came to the understanding that they simply did not have much work for me to help with.
I looked around this room more carefully, in the desire of absorbing everything from my faculties into my mind. There was a shelf full of books, all in Thai beside the wall, facing this wall was the big couch beside the wall. Between the sofa and the shelf, there were some books and a printer on the floor. Next to the printer there was also a fan. Then there were some cabinets in some corners. Most notably, there were portraits of some seemingly master monks on the wall. Unfortunately the window could not be opened. The air was a bit stifling, but there was the scent special of Buddhist temples in the air. The floor was made of wood. In South East Asia, many households requires you to take off your shoes to get in, here also. I walked on the wooden floor with my dirty bare feet. It was rather old floor, painted red but the paint already went off in some spots. Behind the door there was some plastic packages. There were bottles of water, torches, pens and so on inside the packages. They were gifts from donors. The young monk already signed me that I could drink the water inside these packages. There was no wifi, as I had confirmed with him. I felt the fresh excitement of actually staying inside a Buddhist monastery. I went back to the hostel to fetch the rest of my luggage. Since it was only about 10pm, too early for me to sleep, I watched a Quentin Tarantino movie — Resevoir Dogs. When I went to bed, no, couch it was already 1am.

The Room in the Buddhist Monastery Where I Stayed
The Room in the Buddhist Monastery Where I Stayed

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