Tag - northeastern

Chaiyaphum, Thailand

 

Barely heard of and even less touristed Chaiyaphum makes the ideal base for nearby stunning national parks.
Barely heard of and even less touristed Chaiyaphum makes the ideal base for nearby stunning national parks.
Barely heard of and even less touristed Chaiyaphum makes the ideal base for nearby stunning national parks.

Though not as rich in attractions as its neighbouring provinces, barely heard of and even less touristed Chaiyaphum makes the ideal base for nearby stunning national parks, and has a few worthy spots of its own too. CHRIS WOTTON gets under the skin of this undiscovered slice of Isaan.
 
Never heard of Chaiyaphum? That’s little surprise, as few people have. Tucked up in Thailand’s north-eastern Isaan region and bordered by Khorat and Khon Kaen, this largely untouristed province barely registers a foreign face. Still very Thai in appearance and character, the main industries here are rice and sugar production, while the province is also renowned as a silk centre. The capital city of an otherwise largely rural province shows the signs of some limited urban development, but venture here and you will still discover somewhere pleasingly quiet and low-key, the perfect antidote to the Bangkok lifestyle.

The primary attractions here, the Jao Pho Praya Lae monument and Prang Ku, are largely unimpressive and at most worth a passing glance. In fact, you will probably pass the former several times before even realising what it is. Jao Pho Phraya Lae was the eighteenth century Lao ruler of Chaiyaphum, and this statue in his name is the centrepiece of a roundabout in the centre of town on Bannakan Road. He switched sides to fight with Bangkok when Vientiane declared war on Siam at the start of the 1800s.

Jao Pho Phraya Lae lost his life in the ensuing battles, but was kept in high esteem in Chaiyaphum and today has two annual festivals celebrated in his name in January and May.

The Khmer Prang Ku further along Bannakan Road past the entrance to Siam River Resort, meanwhile, is really equally disappointing as a sight. Poorly preserved and not much to look at at all, in its heyday it was a temple on the route that connected Angkor Wat with the (far more impressive and better restored) Prasat Muang Singh just outside of Kanchanaburi.
Today, if nothing else it serves as a reminder of just how small Chaiyaphum proper really is – particularly at night, by the time you’ve walked just a short way east to this site, you feel like you’re well out of the city and into Isaan village life.

Tat Ton National Park makes for far more of a reason to visit Chaiyaphum. Twenty-three kilometres away and easily reached by 30 baht public songthaew share taxi from a stand at the north end of the city on Non Muang Road, it boasts amongst other sights an impressive waterfall that stretches to 50m wide in the rainy season – take care as it is easy to sip by the water’s edge. Group tours aside, you are likely to be almost alone in the park, and pretty much certainly the only foreigner. The 100 baht entrance fee gets you access to the whole park, which also includes the smaller Tat Fah waterfall.

The park as a whole is the perfect spot for a dose of back-to-nature relaxation sure to enliven the senses, and if you want to drag it out a little longer there are bungalows to rent too. The return journey to Chaiyaphum is a bit more of a pain than getting there, since songthaews don’t take this route after the morning – but you can hitch a ride back to Chaiyaphum quite easily. If all else fails, walk some way along the road you came down, make yourself look tired and wait for a few women to start shouting, asking if you need a lift back to Chaiyaphum (for a price). They came to our rescue, so they’re bound to for you as well.

Back in Chaiyaphum proper, picnics are the order of the day at a secluded, peaceful spot at the side of a small lake in the streets behind the Tesco Lotus supermarket on Sanambin Road. Roll up on a bike or on foot, having stopped at food stalls on the lanes nearby for giant Isaan-sized grilled chicken skewers and fresh pineapple with dried chilli and sugar, and soak up the goodness of some fresh Chaiyaphum air from the shade of the many trees lining the lake. As is the beauty with so much in this city, aside from the odd local fisherman you will likely have the place to yourself.

GET THERE: Buses run by at least three different companies connect Chaiyaphum with Bangkok’s northern Morchit bus terminal in about six hours. On the return leg, the three companies unhelpfully all have their own departure terminals dotted around town, but there are also local bus connections to Khon Kaen and Khorat, both linked to Bangkok by trains and planes.

WHERE TO STAY: Most western tourists stay at the five-star Siam River Resort, towards the far end of Bannakan Road, where 990 Baht will bag you a plush room with balcony and breakfast, and access to the pool. There’s free wi-fi and bike hire and staff are excellent. The Deeprom Hotel is also worth a look, with its pleasing pastel exterior, though staff speak little English. Expect to pay 800 Baht for a double air-con room.

MOVING ON: Khon Kaen is two and a half hours away by local bus – great for foodies, it also boasts the Bueng Kaen Nakhon lake which makes for a great walking spot. Buses to Khorat take two hours.

CHRIS WOTTON is a twenty-something crazy about Thailand. After a first visit in 2008, he fell in love with the country and has since travelled its length and breadth, searching out local life – and local food! – while writing and researching for SE Asia travel guides and magazines. When not discovering and writing about Thailand, Chris studies French and German in his native UK, and runs an online shop selling authentic Japanese and Thai cooking ingredients.

Beung Kan, Thailand

Beung Kan, Thailand
Beung Kan, Thailand
Beung Kan, Thailand

Situated in Nong Khai Province to the northeast of Thailand, Beung Kan makes a good stopping off point on the way to Laos. This is a quieter alternative to the interesting yet sometimes overwhelming bustling city of Nong Khai. Baung Kan may be quaint, dusty and slightly sleepy, but there is still plenty here for the adventurous to see and do.

A great attraction is the temple of Wat Phu Tok. This temple features six levels of steps, which can be slightly difficult to climb in the heat of the day – it is best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon. However, the spectacular views over the surrounds countryside from the top more than make up for the effort. This is a absolutely enchanting place, and people are offered the opportunity to get to know it better by staying overnight in one of the dormitories.

A pleasant day trip from Beung Kan is the charming little town of Sangkhom, which looks out on the Lao island of Don Klang. This is the home of several beautiful flowing waterfalls such as Nam Tok Than Thip and Nam Tok Than Thong, which is a great place for swimming and cooling down after a hike through the countryside.

Whilst there, make sure that you check out the pretty little temple of Wat Pa Tak Sua, which is located 4 kilometers from the town and another great hiking destination. Another point of interest is Wat Silawat. Beung Kan, a great place to hire a bicycle and go exploring or go trekking to.

This peaceful village is also a good place to be lazy for a few days and just soak up the stunning scenery, fresh air and tranquility. There are a few local guesthouses where you can indulge in delicious Thai food and practice the simple art of doing nothing.

Ubon, Thailand

Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand

Ubon Ratchathani Province is located in the southeast of the Isan region of Thailand. The capital city bears the same name, but is more commonly known as Ubon. The name means Royal Land Lotus Blossom in the Thai language and refers to the exceptional natural beauty of the area.

The city, which sits on the northern bank of the Mun River, was originally founded in the late 18th century by Lao immigrants and still retains many aspects of Lao style and culture. For an insight into the rich and interesting history of this area, pay a visit to the Ubon National Museum.

Ubon Ratchathani is best loved for its stunning national parks. No visit is complete without seeing the spectacular Phu Chong Na Yoi National Park, which covers an area of 687 square kilometers, featuring stunning views from the cliffs at Pha Pheung and the huge Bak Tew Yai Waterfall.

Another area of great beauty is the Kaeng Tana National Park and don’t miss the Pha Taem National Park with its pre-historic cliff paintings showing scenes of fishing, rice farming, figures of people and animals.

There are many beautiful waterfalls in the area, and it is possible to swim in the clear waters of most. Some of the best include Nam Tok Saeng Chan, Nam Tok Thung Na Muang and the magnificent Nam Tok Soi Sawan.

It goes without saying that there are many interesting temples to explore, embodying design features of both Lao and Thai temple art. Look out for Wat Tung Si Muang, Wat Supattanaram, the rectangular chedi of Wat Phra That Nong Bua, Wat Si Ubon Rattanaram and many others.

Koh Hat Wat Tai is a small island in the Mae Nam Mun which is great for swimming and sunbathing. Another attraction in the area are the Warin Chamrap District Temples. These are two temples where people from all over the world gather to study meditation. Wat Nong Pa Phung is reserved for Thai people, while Wat Pa Nanachat is for non-Thais.

The silk weaving village of Wat Nong Bua is located 18 kilometers from the city and makes a great day trip, while many people travel to ride the Kaeng Saphue rapids or take a boat trip on the turbulent white waters.

Ubon has a large night market, which is a great place to get a cheap meal and buy some local produce.

If you are in the area during the festival of awk hansaa in July, make sure you stay for the Candle Festival, when processions of wax religious images are carried through the city on floats.

Nakhon Phanom, Thailand

Nakhon Phanom, Thailand
Nakhon Phanom, Thailand
Nakhon Phanom, Thailand
Nakhon Phanom, Thailand

The name Nakhon Phanom means ‘city of hills’ in the Thai language, and this ancient city located on the right bank of the Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom Province in northeast Thailand gets its name from the striking jungle covered mountains which surround it. Nakhon Phanom is situated 580 kilometers northeast of Bangkok, across the Mekong River from the Laotian town of Thakhek. Nakhon Phanom is well known as a place of great beauty and a gentle pace of life which immediately enchants visitors and stays with them throughout the rest of their journey.

The culture, art, music and customs of the Lao people have a strong influence on this area, and it is blended well with the elements of Thai culture as well as the faint traces of other cultures which still linger in the background.

It is well worth taking the time to explore the town’s temples, especially as many of them embrace both Thai and Lao temple design features. Wat Si Thep is a good place to start as it is covered with a collection of beautiful murals. Other interesting temples include Wat Okat Si Bua Ban, Wat Maha That and Wat Noi Pho Kham.

Located 50 kilometres from Nakhon Phanom town, Phra That Phanom is the most celebrated temple in the area and makes a good day trip. The temple features a magnificent 53 metre high five-tiered golden umbrella inlaid with a plethora of precious gems.

Just 4 kilometres west of Nakhon Phanom town, Ban Na Chok offers a rare opportunity to visit a Vietnamese community in Thailand and learn about their unique culture and traditional way of life.

There are many other appealing villages around Nakhon Phanom town that make good day trips. Hire a bicycle and head 45 kilometres north to Nam Song Si. Another great day trip is the cotton weaving village of Renu Nakhon, 52 kilometres south. Whilst there, pay a visit to the attractive Wat Phra That Renu Nakhon.

The Riverside Promenade follows the banks of the mighty Mekong River, and there are dozens of food stalls dotted along the banks from which to buy a cheap meal and watch the world go by.

Nestled in the Langka Mountain Range, the Phu Langka National Park is a great place of natural beauty and stunning vistas. There are two sparkling waterfalls to swim in and many places to enjoy a picnic in the sunshine.

Interestingly, the beach of Hat Sai Thong – Golden Sand Beach – only appears between February to April, when the river is at its lowest. If you happen to be in the area at the time, this is a good opportunity to slap on some suntan lotion and soak up some rays.

Nong Khai, Thailand

Nong Khai, Thailand
Nong Khai, Thailand
Nong Khai, Thailand
Nong Khai, Thailand

Nong Khai Province, in the very northeast of Thailand, is often referred to as the gateway to Laos as many people stop off there on their way to visiting Thailand’s northern cousin. Even if you’re not planning to cross into Laos, make sure you check out the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, which spans the Mekong River.

The province features stunning scenery consisting of forests, national parks, and many small towns located on the banks of the Mekong River. There are two main points of interest for visitors to Nong Khai Province; the city of Nong Khai and the quiet yet charming dusty town of Beung Kan.

Nong Khai is the capital of the Nong Khai Province and offers a wide range of things to see and do. Indeed, many people visit the city only intending to stay a day or two and end up staying for several weeks.

The main attraction of Nong Khai city is the Sala Kaew Ku Sculpture Park, which is full of massive sculptures from Buddhist and Hindu ideologies. Here you will find incredible images such as seven-headed Naga snakes and a wide range of human-animal hybrids.

Visitors should make a point of seeing Wat Pho Chai, which contains the magnificent Laos-style Luang Phra Sai. Other temples of interest include Wat Noen Phra Nao, Wat Lam Duan and Wat Tung Sawang.

During the dry season, the spire of Phra That Nong Khai appears above the waters of the Mekong River. Also appearing in the dry season is the beach of Hat Jommani, which is a good place to soak up the sun.

Nature lovers should pay a visit to the extremely beautiful Phu Wua Wildlife Reserve, while the Nong Khai Museum is a great source of local history and culture.

Nong Khai is a province that loves to party, and there are many colourful festivals to see and enjoy. Late May brings the Rocket Festival, while the full moon in October brings the Rowing Festival. This festival is famous as this is the time when fireballs mysteriously shoot from the Mekong River. The fireballs are widely believed to be breathed by a sea monster living in the river – dispute it at your peril!

Another festival worth looking out for is Anou Savari, which occurs on March 5th and is the city’s biggest street fair.

Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand

Nakhon Ratchasima Province was once part of the Khmer empire and was moved by King Narai between 1656-1688. Around 260 kilometres from Bangkok, travel to Nakhon Ratchasima is easy as it is connected with the northeastern railway line and the Nakhon Ratchasima Airport is 26km east of the city.

There are two main focal points for visitors to this province, the city of Nakhon Ratchasima and the picturesque town of Phimai.

The city of Nakhon Ratchasima is better known as Khorat or Korat. Korat is the capital of Nakhon Ratchasima Province, and there is a great deal to see and do and many opportunities to learn about the city’s interesting history.

A good place to start is the Maha Viravong National Museum, which contains good displays and countless well labeled artifacts. Another interesting site is the Thao Suranaree Monument, where you can see the revered Lady Mo statue.

A tour of the city will lead you to the city wall and unique Chumphon Gate, and don’t forget to look out for the l?k meuang (city pillar shrine).

Nakhon Ratchasima Province is famous for its pottery, and excellent examples of this can be seen decorating Wat Salaloi. Other interesting temples in this city include Wat Phra Narai Maharat and Wat Pa Salawan.

Nakhon Ratchasima is special in that it has two night bazaars, and both the Thanon Manat Night Bazaar and Wat Boon Night Bazaar and good places to do some shopping, have a cheap meal and do a little people watching.

One of the main attractions of this area is the magnificent Khao Yai National Park with its dense jungles, spectacular mountain views and famous waterfall.

Another great day trip is the Reclining Buddha Image at Wat Dhammachakra Sema Ram, just 40 kilometres south of Korat.

If you are in the area during March, make sure you time your trip to coincide with the Thao Suranari festival. Celebrated between March 22nd and April 3rd, the festival features parades, theatre and folk songs. 

Loei, Thailand

Loei, Thailand
Loei, Thailand
Loei, Thailand
Loei, Thailand

This sparsely populated province in the North-East of Thailand has a lot to offer for the independent traveler with a strong sense of adventure and a dash of curiosity. Close to the Laos border, this can be a great place to stop off for a few days and discover the spirit of Thailand.

With its low mountains, flowing waterfalls and immense areas of open, fertile land forming plains that hold the province’s main town and the River Loei, this is a place of great natural beauty and contains a wide range of both natural and cultural attractions.

The province of Loei experiences different weather conditions to much of the rest of Thailand. During the winter the temperature can drop to 0 degrees C with swirling fogs and mists, whilst in the summer it is not unusual for temperatures to exceed 0 degrees C.

There are three main areas in this richly diverse province that draw travellers: Loei city, Dan Sai and the sleepy yet picturesque and very welcoming town of Chiang Khan.

The city of Loei was formed in 1853 by king Mongkut (Rama IV) in order to better administer the accelerated population in the area. Loei city is the capital of Loei Province and there are many things for visitors to see and do.

The extremely beautiful Phu Kradung National Park is well worth exploring, and it is easy to spend an entire day there as it contains several sparkling waterfalls and Tham Yai – which literally means ‘big cave’ in Thai.

Another great day trip idea is the Phu Reua National Park, which can be combined with a visit to the nearby Tham Erawan and Wat Tham Erawan.

The Culture Center of Loei is a great place to explore at your leisure and get to grips with the local history, and you can discover the uniquely creative side of the people at the Sirindhorn Arts Centre.

The centrally located night market is a good place to pick up a bargain, engage in some colourful local banter and find a cheap and tasty meal.

If you are in Loei city at the end of January, don’t miss the Cotton Blossom Festival, where floats are decorated with cotton and there is dancing and cavorting in the streets.

Buriram, Thailand

Buriram, Thailand
buriram_4
Buriram, Thailand

Many places in Thailand are given poetic names and Buriram, which means City of Happiness, is no exception. The town of Buriram is the capital of Buriram Province in Isan and is located roughly 410 kilometers northeast of Bangkok.

Located on the northeastern railway line and with a regional airport; Buriram Airport, Buriram is easily assessable. Buriram Province is steeped in history and the beautiful backdrop makes this a good place in which to chill out for a few days and to get to know Thailand.

The Phanom Rung Historical Park, 40 kilometres south of Buriram town is situated on the summit of an erupted volcano and has spectacular views of the surrounding paddy fields. This thousand-year-old site contains one of the most important Khmer sites outside Cambodia, the magnificent Phanom Rung temple, which is also the largest Khmer monument in Thailand.

The Khmer temple at nearby Prasat Meung Tam is also well worth a visit, and there are dozens of other interesting Khmer ruins in the area such as Kuti Reusi Nong Bua Rai, Kuti Reusi Khok Meuang and Prasat Khao Praibat.

Bird enthusiasts should check out the Buriram Bird Park, and the ancient kilns at Tao Sawai ancient kilns offer an insight into the craft of pottery.

The Lower Isan Cultural Centre is a good place to visit to learn more about the rich and interesting history and people of this unique area, and the beautiful Khao Kradong Forest Park, with its enormous Buddha image crowning a hill offers spectacular views over the lush green countryside.

Buriram Province is some what cooler than most of Thailand and a great way to explore the region and pass a few days is to hire a bicycle and explore.

Khon Khen, Thailand

Khon Khen, Thailand
Khon Khen, Thailand

Nestled in the heart of Isan, Khon Kaen is the centre of Northeast. The capital of Khon Kaen Province is the city of Khon Kaen, which is a rich source of culture.

The Khon Kaen National Museum, Khon Kaen City Museum and the Art and Culture Museum are all great places to spend a couple of hours and learn about the area and its people.

To the centre of the city, the beautiful 100-hectare lake known as Beung Kaen Nakhon (Kaen Nakhon Lake) is a great spot for a picnic, whilst the nearby temples of Wat That and Wat Nong Wang Muang and definitely worth exploring.

Khon Kaen is the centre of the north-eastern silk industry, and the Sala Mai Thai silk village 55 kilometres to the west makes a great day trip. Here you will see top quality silk dyed in a wide range of colours and made into a multitude of different products, and in the traditional weaving households you can actually see the silk being skilfully woven.

Khon Kaen is a province with stunning natural beauty and it features a couple of great national parks. Phu Wiang National Park was recently made famous when dinosaur remains were unearthed there, whilst the Nam Nao National Park contains the region’s highest mountain

peak – Phu Pha Jit, which measures a colossal 1271 metres. It is possible to camp in the grounds of both national parks for just 30 baht, which makes a very cheap and picturesque option, although not so much so during the monsoon season!
Next door to the park the Phu Kiaw Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to leopards, tigers, elephants and many other beasties.

Also not to be missed is the unusual Ban Khok Sa-Nga Cobra Village, where the local snakes are highly revered. Here you can witness the love and trust shown by the villagers to the mighty snakes as well as daily cobra shows.

Another great day trip is Prasat Peuay Noi (also know as Ku Peauy Noi), where you will see the region’s largest Khmer temple.

Khon Kaen celebrates its local skills and traditions with the Silk Fair and Phuk Siaw Festival, which last for 12 days in late November. The Phuk Siaw Festival is specially intended to preserve the unique Phuuk Siaw (friend bonding) tradition and is marked with much merry making and folk dancing.

The Abbot of Wat Pah Nanachat

The Abbot of Wat PahNanachat, Ubon Ratchathani, ThailandBy Jaruwan Supolrai, English and Communication student, Ubon Ratchathani University
Venerable Ajahn Nyanadhammo was born in Adelaide, South Australia in 1955. He became interested in Buddhism by being inspired from reading the Buddha’s message while a biology student. And in 1978 he then stayed at Wat Buddhadhamma near Sydney before traveling to Thailand to ordain.

He received his novice ordination from Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara at Wat Bowon Niwet Wiharn in Bangkok. And in 1979 at the age of 24 he received full ordination with the late Venerable Ajahn Chah at Wat Nong Pah Pong, a forest monastery in Ubon Ratchathani, the northeastern Thailand.

He then spent many years wandering on ‘tudong’ in the forest, staying in secluded monasteries and seeking out great meditation teachers and following their footsteps especially the late Venerable Ajahn Chah’s. From 1994 to 2002 he stayed at Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery in Western Australia as deputy to Ajahn Brahmavamso.

In 2002 when Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro left Wat Pah Nanachat Venerable Ajahn Nyanadhammo took over his duties and become the abbot of Wat Pah Nanachat, a branch monastery of Wat Nong Pah Pong with an international community of English speaking monks, which run by the late Venerable Ajahn Chah.

Since then he diligently has worked training ‘anagarikas’ and ‘novices’ and guides the monks at the Wah Pah Nanachat. Always he gives a talk to Buddhists and people who come to give the offerings in every morning, which the talk can be counselling to those in need. And on the religion day he gives the Dhamma talks at Wah Pah Nanachat and other branch monasteries of the late Venerable Ajahn Chah in Thailand and sometimes in other countries around the world.

His First Contact with Buddhism

According to his biology background while in a university, he studied both life of animals and plants. So those things led him to be interested in studying the life of human beings and discovering what life was about, what was the true happiness and what we people were searching for.

One day when he went back home he had a chance to read a Theravada Buddhism book that his friends left at his home.

“I did not intentionally read it, I was just reading for killing the time” said the Venerable Ajahn Nyanadhammo. Then he could not put it down, reading it all the night until finishing, becoming more interested in Buddhism, his faith had arisen.

He said, “I appreciated of the Buddha’s teaching, because it was about the Four Noble Truths,” Since he did not find a true happiness, nobody found “paqqa” wisdom.

He began asking himself; Where is the person who has the true happiness? Where is the person who has the ‘paqqa’ ? Where is the ‘paqqa’? All the answer goes to the Buddha. The Buddha is the person who has the “paqqa”, he see through the sufferings, he pointed the cause of suffering and a path out of suffering that we can be free from sufferings getting the real happiness.

His Turning Points

With his curiosity in Buddhism, in the morning, he did not hesitated to go to the bookstore to buy Buddhism books. The result from reading a second book and seeing the picture of a monk on the cover of the book, which was the first monk he had ever seen in his life, had inspired him to want to be a monk.

“Having never ever seen any temples or any monks before, but I wanted to be a monk like him in the picture, it is because of my faith in Buddha, said the Venerable Ajahn Nyanadhammo.

After that, he went to the Buddhist Society in his hometown. When getting inside the temple. He said, “I had long hair and was dressing up in hippie style” and he did not know how to behave himself there. He did not take his shoes off until someone told him to take them off.
 
And there was a sign with the word, ‘Observe the Five Precepts’ written on a label inside the temple.
 
After reading the Five Precepts on that label, he felt it was the right thing for him at that time, so he decided to observe those precepts for the sake of himself and other people to be safe from any other harmful things all around. And later on, he began to practice meditation from reading many books.
 
Finally he met Ajahn Kantaparo, who used to stay at Wat Bowon Niwet Wiharn in Bangkok and came to teach Vibbassana (insight meditation) in Australia recommended him to come to Thailand.
 
Flying to Thailand
 
Not like any other farangs visiting many interesting tourist attractions when first coming, when arriving Bangkok he told a taxi driver to go to Wat Boworn Nivath Vihan where he became ordained a novice monk.
 
“From the first day that I came to Thailand until this day, I spend my time at the monastery I did not go to any other place”, said the Venerable Ajahn Nyanadhammo. And when asking why he chose to come to Thailand, “Because Thailand has a lot of Westerners and a lot of the old traditions” he said.
 
Training Under Ajahn Chah
 
A monastic life after having a chance to meet Ajahn Chah at Wat Nong Pah Pong and having him as a preceptor, he had spiritually trained with many Dhamma materials among many other training monks.
 
“I needed to change everything, I needed to speak Thai, I needed to eat Thai food and etc.” said the Venerable Nyanadhammo. It was tough with the change of food, language, weather and cultures. The food was extremely basic: sticky rice, leaves, curries – which were all put in one pot together – and a few bananas.
 
And what is more important was that the change of his manner to be suitable as the make him a good monk that he had to behave correctly. ” I felt like I was a new person, I was born again I was died from a farang and was born to be a Thai, “he added.
 
As Ajahn Chah’s way of teaching, he usually left his monks pretty much alone to practice and to learn the Vinaya or monastic codes of conduct; he would take them aside only occasionally if he sensed there were some problems need to be solved.
 
Ajahn Chah Gave Him a Kick

 
One day Ajahn Nyanadhammo and his monk-friends went on the same alms-round together into the village, and, as they were coming back to the dining-hall, there was one monk started complaining about the monks who hand out the food.
 
Self-righteous anger came up in him, and he said to him, “Instead of complaining about the other monks, why don’t you get up and help us?” And then he stormed off in a huff.
 
As Ajahn Nyanadhammo was walking, he heard Ajahn Chah’s voice saying, “Good morning” in English. (The only words he knew in English were ‘Good morning’ and ‘Cup of tea’.) He turned to see him standing only three feet away with a big radiant smile on his face. And he said, “Oh, good morning, Luang Por.” And he radiated loving kindness to Ajahn Nyanadhammo, and the aversion completely disappeared and he was really happy.
 
That evening he decided, “As Ajahn Chah was very friendly to him, he would go over and offer him a foot massage”: that was a way to do some service for him, and he often would teach Dhamma at that time. So he was sitting on a cane seat with Ajahn Nyanadhammo sitting on the floor and massaging his foot.
 
When the bell rang for evening chanting. Ajahn Chah told the other monks to go to the chanting and Ajahn Nyanadhammo was left together with Ajahn Chah; it was a beautiful cool evening, with the moon coming out full, and the sound of some seventy monks chanting, he said “It was just wonderful. Ajahn Chah sat in meditation as I was massaging his foot – and my mind was on cloud nine, uplifted with joy”.
 
At that point Ajahn Chah kicked him in the chest and knocked him flat on his back! He looked up in shock, and Ajahn Chah pointed at him saying, “See? In the morning someone says something you don’t like and you’re upset. Then someone else just says, ‘Good morning’ and you’re uplifted all day. Don’t get caught up in moods and emotions of like and dislike at what other people say.” That is one of the lessons that he still remembers to this day.
 
Staying And Teaching in Western Australia

 
After his fifteenth year as a monastic life in Thailand, he was requested to stay and teach the Dhamma in Western Australia. “I did not want to go there, I needed to go, because people there they were hungry for the Dhamma”, said the Venerable Nyanadhammo.
 
When he and his monk-friends first came there. They had to stay in a small house. Some days they did not have any meal, because nobody came to give them the offerings.
 
Not for long someone gave them a land in forest to build a monastery. Before they built a ‘sala’ and a ‘kuti’, they needed to stay in the hut for a while and had to bathe in the stream with cold water. He said, “I was living with kangaroos in the forest”.
 
“Some did not know Buddhism, some did not know gathering the alms-food”, he said, teaching Dhamma to Westerners is not easy like teaching Thais who were born in the land of Buddhism – basically have the faith in Buddha.
 
It is necessary for them to cultivate faith in the Buddha to them so that we can teach them how to meditate which is what the Westerners are interested in.
 
Teaching the Dhamma to Westerners might take a long time until it works. ” It was difficult at first but it worked and was useful in the end” said Venerable Ajahn Nyanadhammo.
 
The Family’s Thought
 
Asking what his family thinks about his ordination, when they heard about Buddhism, they did not understand. “And when I had became ordained wandering to meditate in the forest, they thought that I was crazy.”
 
But nowadays the family heard about Buddhism and have some knowledge and understanding the history of Buddhism. “They maybe see a picture on the television or documentary about Buddhism or Buddhist monks, because of that they understand” he added.
 
Things have changed quite a lot since he first came but generally he thinks most western people’s parents want their children to be happy and want their sons to be happy people to be peaceful themselves in the world. And generally the parents found it acceptable.
 
The Conclusion
 
Being of one monks here who follows the Buddha’s footstep and other great venerables, he has been seriously doing the Dharma propagation activities in Thailand and overseas – for the sake of making the world a peaceful place. ” Nowadays there are many interested Westerners coming to in Buddhism in Thailand” added the Venerable Ajahn Nyanadhammo.
 
*FOOTNOTES
 
“Tudong” – taking a bowl and robes and walk seeking out secluded places to meditate in the forest
 
“Anagarika” – a person in preparation to be in yellow robe and observe the Eight Precepts
 
“sala” a place where people gather making merits
 
“kuti” a place where monks stay in
 
“Luang Por” an old venerable
 
Wat Nong Pah Pong” – a forest monastery of marsh and pong” (pong is a type of high grass).