Well, after twenty-seven hours of various misadventures, I have reached Wat Suon Mok and checked into the meditation retreat. Since we’re not supposed to leave the retreat grounds or do any reading/writing while we’re there, this means you won’t hear from me until Nov 11 or so…I’ve also turned off my cell phone, etc. so I’ll be totally unreachable until then.
Yes, I *have* heard about the bomb attacks in southern Thailand. No, I do NOT want to hear any more on the subject. Assume I can take care of myself, and shut up already. If I get blown up, I get blown up, but I’m not going to spend my entire trip looking behind every tree. (If I sound crabby please forgive me; it’s over 100 degrees here, the trip was a bit of a strain, and I started this morning with a 1.5 km before-breakfast hike, with a 50-pound pack and no water. I am thus in the sort of mood you’d expect.) For what it’s worth, I’m not in the southernmost provinces, though I may trip down to Malaysia to get my Thai visa renewed once I finish the retreat.
Current plans, since I haven’t yet heard back from the Burma travel agent, are to go to the Surin Islands after the meditation retreat, take a PADI course, and go diving. But haven’t decided yet; I figure i’ll worry about that once I finish the retreat. I might check with a travel agent or something, though.
Wat Suon Mok is beautiful, and contains enough wildlife that I’m regretting having mailed my snake, bird, and mammal books home. (This will undoubtedly become a recurrent theme, as the size of my pack keeps forcing me to discard things I know I’ll need later.) There are jungle fowl–which is to say very picturesque-looking roosters, I’ll try to get a photo–all over, which is both good and bad. Good, because they’re really cool-looking; bad, because the truism that roosters crow at dawn is, as anyone who’s ever been around one knows, entirely misleading. Roosters do in fact crow at dawn. They also crow at 3am, 4am, 5am, midnight, and any other hour at which they happen to be awake. This makes sleeping somewhat more complicated. Fortunately, I brought earplugs.
I’ve also seen a blossoming coconut palm and quite a few beautiful foliage plants, plus a very pretty lizard in shades of brown and bright green, looks like a cross between a panther chameleon and a “standard” lizard, sitting on the coconut blossoms, head cocked, looking down at me. I would have taken a picture, but I already checked in my cameras, alas.
I’ve also seen some really neat sights–a water buffalo (or very weird-looking cow 😉 ) standing in a rice field next to blossoming lotus, a flock of egrets taking off out of a rice paddy, and all sorts of other stuff that I could describe much better if I’d actually had enough sleep. Maybe after the retreat…
“see” you in 10 days…