Phillip had suggested us a route to take from Chiang Mai to Nan and then from Nan to the Thai-Lao border. I can’t recall the name of the border crossing…it’s legit…but kinda isolated…could not find it in my usual resources! Getting out of Chiang Mai, we noticed some gray clouds, felt like rain was a’comin! And rain it did, not super heavy though. After grabbing our usual snacks at 7-11 (it’s everywhere in Thailand, where the hell did they go in the US???), we headed out and found ourselves riding through some beautiful green hills and villages. We saw some signs for a waterfall so we decided, let’s see what they got. Usually at these parks we found there was a fee, but we found nobody there to collect anything so we sped through. We found a clearing with a small little waterfall and some random shacks. While we were exploring this area, Tom went to explore another area and came back with an interesting find. There was a ‘jungle monastery’ on the next cut that would offer us a night halt and food. Since it started raining and there wasn’t really much else around, we thought this would be our best bet. When we rode into the complex, we found it totally tranquil. We were approached by a monk who ended up being a professor taking a 3 month hiatus to learn meditation. He was a calm, nice man and he explained to us that we could stay and we would be given dinner and breakfast as well.
The guys really hit the lottery because the monk told us that only the boys would be allowed to go to a medicinal sauna for meditation. I spent the next 2-3 hours reading about Laos and Cambodia in our quarters…apparently I had missed the ‘ladies’ time at 4pm for sauna and meditation. Finally Nick and Tom came back. They were both dazed and in another dimension…they were just speechless in regards to what they had gone through. Even Nick…I didn’t know what to think…what the hell happened in that sauna? It was very simple…the boys said they had a nice conversation with the monk and then meditated in the sauna for a while which was apparently an out-of-body experience. Afterwards they showered and then the monk took them for a tour around the monastery. The 8 monks at the monastery basically come to practice meditation. The jungle offers so many distracting sounds (seriously does, it got loud at one point while I was alone in our quarters) so the monks meditate at night with just a few candles lit along their path. They walk a path back and forth learning to face their fears and concentrate. Very useful, I know I could use some of that! While the boys were telling me their tales, the wind picked up and leaves were being strewn about. I do have to admit, it was a different feeling in the air. Eventually we decided to retire and filled up our sleeping pads and laid out the sleeping bags. It was a hot and mosquito filled night. Waking up in the morning was tough, but it had to be done. We had to get to Laos! The sevadars (helpers to the monks) laid out a crazy amount of food for breakfast…rice, fruit, red beans in coconut milk, noodles, omelets, pastries etc etc..! The monks eat vegetarian and only eat once in the morning from whatever they get for alms. I felt so guilty eating all this, what did I do to deserve this free food and lodging? I just happened upon this place. Whatever the case, it was God’s will… It reminded Nick and I of our faith and our Eastern spirituality…it was a random night and one that I’ll never forget.