We leave Bangkok for Jakarta tomorrow. Our first stop in Indonesia will be the Vipassana meditation centre, Dhamma Java, a 3-hour drive south of Jakarta. We will be there for almost two weeks while we will conduct a 10-day meditation retreat. Therefore, our next update will be after the course ends mid-August, when we head to Yogyakarta by train.
During our last week in Thailand we visited the ancient city of Ayutthaya and many of the soaring Buddhist temples of Bangkok, toured the National Museum, shopped and restocked our travel supplies. Bangkok is a modern city and it’s been a nice break to have reliable access to modern comfort and amenities.
It has also been really nice to be in a country where meditation practice, including our particular tradition, is very common. Although we’re still not Thailand’s biggest fans, the one true gem for us here is Dhamma Kamala, the largest of six S.N. Goenka Vipassana centres in Thailand. The Kamala centre is really lovely and we highly recommend sitting a course here if you ever find yourselves in Thailand.
We didn’t have a lot of time in Thailand (just 23 days), compared to the time we spent in China and Nepal. We will spend a full month in Indonesia, all of it on the island of Java.
As most of you know, we were not sure what to do in September after our time in Indonesia. Follwoing the 10-day Vipassana course, the next fixed plan in our travels was to meet Scott’s father and his wife in south India in November. We knew we wanted to see the historical Buddha sites, we also knew we wanted to go to Burma, but we were not sure about the next steps in our route.
As so often happens in life, things sorted themselves out and it’s all a lot clearer now. NDI Nepal has asked each of us to return to Kathmandu for another contract. We are very excited to see our NDI friends again. So we’ll be flying to Kathmandu on August 28th and we’ll spend a month there before heading over land to India in late September/early October. Since we didn’t get a chance to see Lumbini, the birth place of the Buddha, and Kapilavastu in May, we’re happy to get another chance to visit these places.
With that…. we will close this very short post and leave you with a bunch of photos and commentary. We’ll post again with an update on Indonesia when we arrive in Yogyakarta around August 14th.
Photo highlights from our last week in Bangkok
One of the greatest things about Bangkok is the street eateries. There is no end in sight to all the food. Trust any place packed with Thais. We ate noodle soup at this place almost every day.
There’s only one main item on the menu: “Vietnamese” noodle soup. Small or big with an extra egg or without. It is highly addictive!
We took the number 15 bus to the big MBK shopping mall….
Inside the number 15… Taking the local bus was cheap (7 Baht) and very easy.
Oh modern mall… with your fancy mall maps and escalators.
And Starbucks… yeah you have Starbucks too. Think what you want about Starbucks, but it’s totally consistent and delicious no matter where on Earth you find yourself. If your lucky enough to find a Starbucks, that is. We felt VERY lucky.
View from the overpass near the big malls…. MBK, Siam Center, Siam Paragon, and… another one.
but we didn’t just shop… we also visited some historic sights and temples. This was the ancient capital, Ayutthaya. It was hotter than hell. Blazing heat. Never felt anything like it before.
This is an ancient Buddhist vihara at the Ayutthaya site. A year ago the whole place was under water due to flooding.
Another ancient wat, part of Ayutthaya.
Another reclining Buddha. He’s not resting or sleeping. The reclining Buddha represents the Buddha’s final passing away, parinibbana.
Ruins at Wat Mahatat. This place was spectacular. And hot. Very hot. Anyway… it is also the most famous site at Ayutthaya.
This Buddha head had been buried underneath a tree to save it from destruction and pillaging. Forgotten, it was resurrected by the roots of the tree as it grew over the years. It’s quite special.
Gold Buddha at one of the Ayyuthaya sites.
But its not all temples for us…. this “coffee shop” — First Coffee — on Pra Athit Road is the best coffee in Bangkok. We are not kidding. Yes, better than Starbucks. Two large perfect Americanos? $1.60. It is about 10 square feet of coffee perfection.
Some of our other favorite Bangkok eateries… these street stalls are to die for… If we lived here, we’d get fat. Wait a minute… we don’t live here and we’re getting fat. These are deep-fried crunchy peanut things. Hard to describe and harder to pass up.
We’re telling you, it’s endless. We just discovered this type of street food today. Deep fried everything – bananas, sweet potato, veggies, mystery dough, everything. Very tasty. Served as a high-calorie snack on the way home from the National Museum.
We couldn’t resist taking her photo. This is Vito’s soul mate. She’s even blind…. but her owners clearly love her a lot.
… till next time we post friends and family, keep well and be happy.