Fang district

Sitting crossed legged with a bowl of suspicious breakfast food, I listen to the wild life that hums around me. The breakfast is eaten in silence. The focus is on the food only, not on what others are eating or wondering what will be your next meal. Your focus is on the now. Fuelling your body and being mindful of your thoughts and actions. I cradle the bowl and bring a variety of flavours to my mouth. Chilli, fish balls, rice, unusual vegetables with sharp flavours, pork and green leafy spinach. I try and eat slowly to savour the variety of flavours that assault my senses. Behind me sit the monks, dressed in their robes, silently savouring their food.  I have arrived at the temple.

I am easing into the routine slowly. My friend and I arrived in Fang after a 12 hour bus journey. We did not have VIP which was recommended, as I was so flustered when I arrived at Mo Chit bus terminal, I simply forgot to ask. We took our seats at the top of the double decker bus and were not disappointed with our seats. There was plenty of space, free water, cookies and lunch. We waved goodbye to the hussle and bussle of the city before entering the country side. Mile after mile of vibrant greenery, before we steadily made our way up the mountain road. We could feel the bus struggle as we climbed further and further, passing the lush green forest and the mountains that became increasingly intimidating as the darkness enveloped us. Soon it was pitch black with not a light to show us the way. Me and E looked at each other giggling nervously, grateful that there were two of us. I was certainly thankful that I had not made the trip alone!

12 hours later the bus stopped in Fang. I was expecting some sort of bus station but got a bench instead. We sat and waited….And waited. Knowing that there had been a communication breakdown with G (the monk who would be looking after us) we found a hotel behind Tesco (oh, Tesco you make homesickness bearable) for £6 each. We climbed into our beds, exhausted and the next morning made our way to the Temple, catching a bus that would take us to the temple 15 minutes away from the centre of Fang.

Here I am, living in the Temple grounds, surrounded by forest and nature. Each morning there are a variety of unusual noises, echoing from the vast mountains. Each morning the gong sounds and the temple dogs howl in delight, sending shivers down my spine. Roasters crow their morning song and the crickets hum steadily in the garden. The air is so fresh and warm in the day time but come night fall the bitter cold seeps through the wooden rooms and into my bones, causing me to wrap up with multiple layers. The silence here is something else. So peaceful that my mind and thoughts seem so loud and powerful that I have no choice but to ‘watch’ them. Wondering if they were always this loud, rude and selfish. It makes me wonder who I’ve been living with for the last 28 years, and why have I allowed my mind to run wild and mischievously, causing havoc not only to those around me but also myself. Always criticising, bullying and generally causing pain. Needless to say I am worlds away from my previous life in an office, staring at the screen, watching my life slip away minute by minute. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to whatever force pushed me into resigning and taking that leap of faith.

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