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Visiting Bangkok, Ordaining, Delving in the Dhamma -- Advice please

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Hello Dhamma siblings!

I am taking my next steps on an indefinite adventure to be fully enlightened. emoticon

Plan:
1. Arrive in Bangkok on 11/27 very early in the morning;
2. Get my meditation visa in BKK (hopefully, they will grant me same-day or next-day visa);
3. Stay at Suan Mokkh (http://www.suanmokkh-idh.org/) or one of these centers: http://www.vimokkha.com/medcenters.htm, depending on whatever happens.
4. Arrive in Yangon on 12/13.
5. Ordain temporarily and practice intensively indefinitely at Panditarama Forest Monastery (until the mind goes crazy and then some more).
6. Who knows?

Does anybody have any experience at any of the above centers in Thailand? Are there other places open to foreign yogis' dropping in somewhat near BKK?

Could I have advice on an affordable places to stay somewhat close to the Burmese Embassy is Bangkok while I finalize my visa? Any other random pieces of advice while staying in BKK?

Any life advice in general? I'm realizing I understand so little about how to live as a human being and how to take care of the body. I'm 25, have been on a few longer retreats, and am feeling like a brand new baby stepping into the completely unknown now. For the last 3.5 years, I've been on quite the up-and-down journey of clearing most attachment to worldly responsibilities as possible. My sister has power of attorney so she can sell the car, which is in my name, and finalize tax returns for this year.

This is the first time in my life, I feel like I can focus on intensive practice and have nothing completely necessary to do for the next year or so. There are feelings of excitement, fear, resistance, hope all bubbling up, sometimes at the same time. The "self" knows it is about to see and feel and experience a mixture of deeply suppressed rage, transformation, joy, peace, discontent, existential crises, love, fear, etc. Just some random observations I haven't spoke to many (any?) people about or put into writing.

Thank you everybody for everything.

RE: Visiting Bangkok, Ordaining, Delving in the Dhamma -- Advice
Answer
11/24/13 11:39 AM as a reply to Be Free Now.
hi Be Free Now

Sounds like a great adventure. Yeah, some tips, I've been to Thailand and checked out places. A few people around here have. There is plenty of people with good advice on a board called "Dhamma Wheel" about all of this and even some monks, who live there, who would be willing to chat. So check that out.

Also, if you don't have a lot you want to check out, getting out of Bangkok ASAP is a real money saver. Chiang Mai is better but also a huge city. If you are booking a hotel beforehand for one night (not a bad idea) find one reasonable near the old city and then first thing go looking for a cheaper place you can stand being at. You can find cheaper accommodations near the old city in Bangkok or Chang Mai and cool stuff is easy to walk to. There is a very good Thai language school in Chiang Mai as well, in the old city, which is about 4 sq km, which you can completely cover walking around in a couple days. I could try to look it up.

Um, travel by rail is reasonable. Taxi's are expensive and sit at lights for ages. The guys with the 3 wheel open putt putt carts are kind of slick and will mess with you sometimes. In cities the guys with the motorcycles are a bargain, the fast way to go and a hoot if you are comfortable with that. Major smog everywhere... like living on Mars.

What else, lots of great sights in the south, lots of excellent wats in the north.

People are people, very respectful in Thailand, not loud, but don't linger on stuff that is for sale, don't even look at it unless you want the hard sell. You can buy anything in the city, and they will ask so, beware. Most westerners can't get past that and so westerners are kind of expected to be perverts. If you keep saying, "No, no, no, no, no, no thankyou, take me to the best wat," in a few weeks they will really respect that and they will treat you like family.

Oh yeah, don't eat any red meat, one or two prawns is ok if you must and are very nice with a very small bowl of rice before ten a.m. or noon. After that, don't bother with food all day. It is hot enough if you are from a northern country that you need almost no food. Stay away from pizza, best to be vegetarian if you can, food is spicey, most of it. A hundred kinds of banana's and fruit is amazing, so, tons of awesome stuff to try out. You will probably see tragic things now and then, and it can be disillusioning if you expect all monks to be following vinaya. So, remember, people are people, like everywhere, there are all kinds.

If you are too hot there are these little napkins soaked in alcohol and aloe and kept in coolers in the drug stores, look for those, find one, buy it, open the bag and put it across the back of your neck, it's awesome when it is 40 - 50 degrees C on the pavement. You will probably not need sunscreen unless you are very sensitive and if you perspire your only going to have it all on your clothing.

There are quirks. Don't put your hands in your pants pockets. Never squat down outside of an outhouse, definitely do so in one. Stay clean. Don't touch stuff. Shower regularly if you can. Don't put your fingers in your ears. Don't curse. Don't take prices of stuff sold on the street at face value (whatever price they start with). Except for core services like accommodations, travel and food and stuff with price stickers or clearly marked, haggle a little if nothing in a shop has a price tag, it is almost expected sometimes.

Ants can really sting if they get on your skin. Stay away from bugs of all kinds.

What else, hmmmm, chickens and dogs are skinny, get all of your shots for stuff, stay away from mosquitos anyways, and have a real awesome time.

all the best
nathan

RE: Visiting Bangkok, Ordaining, Delving in the Dhamma -- Advice
Answer
11/24/13 11:07 AM as a reply to triple think.
I'm Thai, and I live in Bangkok (at least for the past 1.5 years). It's always amazing to hear what advices foreigners need to get here. Honestly, I can't give better advises than these. I hope you enjoy the trip. It sounds like an excellent adventure. Goid luck.

RE: Visiting Bangkok, Ordaining, Delving in the Dhamma -- Advice
Answer
11/24/13 11:40 AM as a reply to Julie V.
Julie V:
I'm Thai, and I live in Bangkok (at least for the past 1.5 years)... I hope you enjoy the trip. It sounds like an excellent adventure. Good luck.
hi Julie,
The cooling cloths for applying to the back of the neck, these are called 'peppers' is it?

Very helpful to have someone there confirm the helpfulness of these tips.
much thanks
nathan

RE: Visiting Bangkok, Ordaining, Delving in the Dhamma -- Advice
Answer
11/24/13 12:11 PM as a reply to triple think.
triple think:
The cooling cloths for applying to the back of the neck, these are called 'peppers' is it?


hmmm ... I don't know. I guess I never have to use one; I'm actually somewhat accustomed to the heat and never have to/ try to stay outside for too long.

Just one thing though. I am not sure if travel by rail is really the best way to get to places. Surely, the price is fixed, so you don't have to worry about being taken advantages of by local taxi drivers. (When they see foreigners ("farang"), they like to overcharge/ not use meter.) Train is actually quite low quality here though and is late almost all the times. If you want to get around BKK especially around downtown area, I would recommend skytrain (called BTS) or subway (called MRT).

About food, be careful not to eat off the street vendors. These can be too dirty for foreigners, or at least that was what I heard from my Americans/ German friends. You can get diarrhea very easily. They say the best is to eat the hotel food, but of course, this can be expensive. If you want to eat outside, make sure to look at the restaurants to see how sanitary they are. Food at meditation centers should be okay though.

RE: Visiting Bangkok, Ordaining, Delving in the Dhamma -- Advice
Answer
11/25/13 1:51 AM as a reply to Julie V.
Thanks again Julie,
I recognize now that my tip was in reference to inter-city travel such as from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, and so forth.
This was entirely my mistake to omit this distinction. If possible would you care to comment regarding cross country travel?
nathan

RE: Visiting Bangkok, Ordaining, Delving in the Dhamma -- Advice
Answer
11/24/13 7:27 PM as a reply to triple think.
For cross country travel, train can be the best/safest way to do so, although it won't go to every city in Thailand and the problem with delay is still there. That just means if you are not in a hurr, this option could be okay. Other options would be buses, which go everywhere but can be somewhat more risky. And of course, the last option would be to fly (check out low cost airline such as Nok Air and Air Asia).