OK, it’s time to leave Pai for a stay in Wat Tam Wua. It is a Buddhist monastery north-east of Pai, near Mai Hong Son close to the border of Myanmar.
No registration is needed to go there so we just researched how to get there. You can take a minibus for 150 Baht or a local bus for 60 Baht per person. You just have to inform the driver that he should drop you at Wat Tam Wua. The ride takes around 1.5 hours with a stop in Sopong half an hour before the monastery.
After our introduction to meditation in Pa Pae we’re looking forward to visit another monastery but I’m a little nervous too because of the more strict timetable and longer meditation sessions. Beside that there is no dinner because monks are fastening after 12 AM and we are thinking about how this will affect us.
- 05:00 AM Wake up and meditate on your own
- 06:30 AM Offering rice to the monks
- 07:00 AM Breakfast
- 08:00 AM Meditation session
- 11:00 AM Lunch
- 01:00 PM Meditation session
- 04:00 PM Work like cleaning
- 06:00 PM Chanting and meditation session
The bus arrives in the late midday and drops us at a small crossing with some houses and a street food restaurant. A big wooden sign is welcoming new guests to the monastery. Following a small road we are walking towards two hills. They are covered with forest and surrounded by fields. Next to the street is a small river. It’s just beautiful.
After fifteen minutes walk we reach the monastery. All the buildings are in best conditions. It looks like a huge area.
A Polish guy called Artiom is welcoming us and guides us to the registration book. It’s a surprise for me how many people registered just in the last days. From far I can hear people chanting and I know they’re many.
Artiom shows us our new homes. Helen gets an own cottage with bathroom and I will sleep in a dorm. Men and women have to stay separated. Her bed and my place on the floor are just covered with a 1 cm thin mat. It should not be too comfy to motivate people to stand up and meditate early 🙂
After preparing my sleeping place and a shower I start to explore the area. There are two rows of cottages, a big main hall where food is served, a kitchen building, another meditation hall and a Dhamma building. Two lakes with huge fishes in it are inviting one to sit down and relax. Behind the small meditation hall steps are going up to caves in the northern hill. There is a platform with different Buddha statues, two meditation caves and a pathway into the forest. Beside the pathway are the cottages of the monks. The way is following the side of the hill and the nature is mind-blowing. I find a nice place where I want to meditate and perhaps to sleep and two other caves at the end of the way.
In the evening we join the chanting and meditation session. They have a chanting book in Thai / English and we are chanting in both languages. Only this takes around 50 minutes all together and it’s a quite good concentration exercise for me. The meditation takes 40 minutes and it is the first time that I’m meditating that long. I enjoy it a lot!
Next days are ruled by the timetable and the bell that shows that meditation starts. I wake up between 4:30 and 5:00 AM. The meditation in the early morning is the best for me. Then the rice offering trains myself in the act of sharing. The vegetarian breakfast and lunch is just delicious. They use a kind of Tofu we never had before. It’s difficult to be sure that it is not meat.
Because it is getting really hot in the afternoon and together with lunch in the stomach the afternoon session is always the hardest one for us. To not fell asleep is a tough job ^^ The walking meditation at the beginning makes it a little easier and is a great new experience.
In the evening I use the time to read about Buddhism and mindful living, sometimes I do some yoga in one of the caves. Two nights I am sleeping in the forest and feel like a the baby in the stomach of its mother.
The other lay people are nice. Some wants to talk, some enjoy to be silent. You can see it by the “SILENT and HAPPY” badge they wear. The atmosphere is peaceful and quite but also not that happy like in Pa Pae. For me it is because the strict kind of meditation. It is Vipassana, a form of insight meditation. This means that it is strongly about watching your inner self very concentrated. For me personally it is a great way to explore myself, but it is exhausting in this intensity.
After four complete days in the monastery we feel that it is time to move on. We prepare our stuff for the next morning and I watch a movie and eat chips in the evening as an act of ending the time there. Next morning we have a last breakfast, donating money for our stay and taking again the local bus. This time to Chiang Mai to head to the border of Laos.
- Blog of a guy from Mumbai staying in Wat Tam Wua
- Friends of Wat Tam Wua (Facebook)
- Russian/english page about Wat Tam Wua
PS: We met a really nice couple from Brazil at the monastery who are travelling like us around the world. If you are interested in more stories and photos from all around the world you can have a look at: