101km Praset to Sangkha
We woke up with a little less spiritual tranquility than we might have hoped for after a night in a monastery. Novice monks were running in and out of the large hall we were given as a sleeping space until late in the evening, giggling at us and every so often attempting a few questions in broken English. As they came and went, a few mosquitos moved in and with we went to bed tucked well into our cotton sleep sacks despite the heat, trying to hide from the malaria virus.
We decided long before we arrived in southeast Asia that we wouldn’t take any preventative malaria medication. Too many side effects, too many regions where the virus has already become resistant to many of the drugs and anyway, our motto on this trip has always been do as the locals do and they certainly don’t pop pills year round, nor do many of the foreign NGO workers living here long-term. Avoiding bites has been our tactic but that’s a little difficult when someone has let the mosquitos into your room for you. Thankfully the risk in Thailand is very low so we didn’t lose too much sleep over it.
We did spend a bit of time though thinking about the local couple who showed up and started setting up their home for the night near the picnic tables just outside the hall where we were sleeping. We watched this obviously reasonably impoverished man and woman spread out their meager belongings and contemplated how lucky we were to be spending a night in a monastery by our own choice and because we were on a marvellous world tour while some people come to the monastery because they really have no other option.
When we finally got to bed, it was a few short hours before dawn arrived to the tune of a metal grate being rolled up and pots banging around in the adjacent kitchen, where local women were cooking breakfast for the monks. We packed up quickly and then searched for a place to make a donation to the monastery. We didn’t see any donation boxes so we asked in the kitchen by waving our money around. “Tamboon, tamboon,” the women said, looking pleased and rushing off to get one of the young monks-in-training from the night before. He couldn’t have been more than eight years old and was very shy as he sat down, legs tucked behind him, and placed his large silver offering bowl in front of his lap. We dropped in a few bills, attempted a clumsy ‘thank you’ in Thai and ran off to the local market for an iced coffee. By this time it still wasn’t even 6am but there were plenty of people in the market, who all had a good laugh at the crazy foreigners trying to wheel their bicycles between fried rice sellers and people lugging tons of pineapples on little carts. (more…)