I’ve thought a lot about the lay out of my trip to the monastery in Thailand and I’ve decided to cross into Thailand on Friday that I fly into the boarder city, on the Lao side. I was originally going to spend the night on the Laos side and then cross in the morning. When crossing by land, the visa is only 15 days and I’ll be here for 17 before my flight back. Now, I decide to go straight into Thailand, as close to the temple as possible and then go early in the morning. It cuts a day off the trip, but I’d rather sacrifice that day in order to start the first day on a good note, getting there plenty early enough for the meal and time to talk with the Guest Monk and get set up. Probably wouldn’t happen if I started on the Laos side in the morning.
From the airport I have him take me to the bus station at 12 and wait there for the big bus to fill up and leave scheduled for 3:30. The taxi drops me off in front of a crappy building with some chairs that are falling apart and some people who look the same. At the counter, the guy tells me the ticket woman will be back later. I have plenty of time, so I sit and wait. The woman comes and many more people closer to 3 and then we board and leave. The nice thing about this bus is that it takes me all the way to the big city, right next to the monastery.
I get off the bus and it’s dark already. I think it’s 6:30 by now. I go and negotiate with the taxi people and reject some cheaper offers to ride on their motorbikes. I don’t know these people and don’t trust them enough to ride a motorbike here. They go much faster, on much bigger roads than in Laos. The taxi driver I get is a little more expensive, but a good guy as he drives me right up to the monastery gates and the sign that says Wat Pah Nanachat, which means Forest Monastery Nanachat (Never figured out the Nanachat translation).
The gates are close and it’s dark, but just seeing the entrance makes my heart race. We back track and then stop at the nearest hotel just down the road. The guy at the hotel is really nice and when I ask him where I can go to buy shaving cream, he drives me to the store in his car. He tells me about his brother who is at a monastery right now and how he’s thinking of going for a short stay soon. He told me there are two types of Monasteries in Thailand. First, one called a city monastery, which is focused more on reading scripture and certainly less on the actual practice. Then, the other kind is called a forest monastery, which encourage you to read on your own, or have read already and solely focus on practice and seeing the truth of the practice within yourself. The forest monastery certainly matches with everything I’ve read about Nanachat (I just call the one I’m staying at for short). He wishes me luck as I go off to get sleep before the big day tomorrow. I make sure everything is in order one last time before going to sleep.