I was reading in the LP last night about several Buddhist monastaries outside of Chiang Mai (Thailand) where you can spend either 1 night or 7 nights as a sort of retreat. Does anybody have any experience with this? Would Laos offer similar opportunities? Would 1 night be enough? 7 too many?
Not that I think I am ready to become a card-carrying Buddhist, but it is a fascinating religion to me and I think I might really enjoy learning more than what can be gleaned from a tour of a temple or Wat.
Any tips or advice would be much appreciated.
The International Forest Monastry (WAT PAH NANACHAT) just outside Ubon Ratchathani may be worth a try - for me,being a nature lover, the visit & stay provided a great opportunity to experience and participate in a monastic community of the forest tradition.If you want to stay here for more than few days (it's worth it!), be prepared to have your head shaved, including beards and eyebrows!!!
From Ubon, go southwest 12 km to Ban Bung Wai on the highway to Si Saket, then follow signs west one km through rice fields to the forest and wat. You can take a Si Saket bus from Ubon and ask to be let off at Wat Pah Nanachat or you can take a city bus 2 km south across the Mun River to Warin and get a songtaew from the market area. Trains arrive in Warin (quite a railway hub); walk 20 minutes east into town to catch a songtaew. Easiest of all is just to take a tuk-tuk or taxi at the train or bus stations or airport.
Warin Chamrab is also close to Laos border - from Chong Mek, you can get to Paske...
No formal instruction is offered..English is the medium of instruction..Monks, novices, and laymen live in well separated kutis or you can stay in a dormitory above the kitchen.The monastery can only accommodate a small number of guests so you have to pre-arrange your stay.
While in bangkok, you can reach them at this address: 100/113 Rama IX Road, Huaykwang, Bangkok Telephone: : 66 02 - 641 5105 - 6
The monastery is one of more than 100 branch monasteries in Thailand and around the world of Ajahn Chah's Wat Nong Pah Pong
In fact, in Ubon there are many forest monastries as in Laos & Cambodia.