Posts in "Thailand" Category

Thailand: Revisiting the master munk Kruba Noi

Kruba noi, chiang mai, Thailand

I will never ever forget my first meeting with the master munk Kruba Noi at Wat Sri Donmoon (Chiang Mai, Thailand). I had been visiting maybe hundreds of monks before that, but this was special. The temple was full of devotees waiting for the master. A characteristic rythmic sound of a wooden stick against the floor witnessed that the master was on his way to the alter. When he past me, Kruba Noi hit my head with a book. One of the old thai women whispered “chog dee” meaning good luck.

Kruba Noi is famous for making magical objects such as statues and amulets. They are known for giving protection and business luck. The temple was therefore full of business men in suits. I had seen it before in other temples. The special however, was when Kruba Noi started to chant his mantras. I have been told that he had powerful teachers and that he mixes traditions from Burma, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.

Anyway the chanting took me into an altered state of mind. Goosebumps all over the body-yes! But it was more like a stream of energy moving from the top of my head, down to my toes and back again. I am not kidding, but it was like a glimt into the mysterious soul, or into the real nature of being.

In 2015, I went back to Kruba Noi together with my girlfriend. I was happy that he remembered me. Kruba Noi is powerful and authoritarian, but in the same time very loving, kind and humorous. I have always been fascinated by special, charismatic persons. And Kruba Noi is certainly one of them. Respect!

How to get there: wat sri donmoon is in Chiang Mai province, but about 30 minutes outside of CM city, in Sarapee area. I always pay a tuk tuk driver to take me there and make him wait 1-2 hours. Show them a picture (there are more munks called “noi”) and most of them know. In 2015 I think I paid about 4-500 baht for the whole trip. For any further question, don`t hesitate to let me help you.

See more of my pictures from Kruba Noi and Wat Sridonmoon here :)

Thailand: “It is important to be remembered after death”

thailand anismism issan

Tobacco, ricewine and betelnuts. Sticky rice, fruitjuice and fish. And not to forget a big pig`s head with yellow candles in his nose. The time is about 6 o´clock in the morning. I am in Thailand, more precisely in the remote area of Surin (Isaan). Its still cold, but the sun is just starting enlightening the foggy grass. I am invited to participate in an animistic ritual. Familiy and neigbours gather to offer food and drinks to the “dead” friends and relatives. And they offer food which they liked (a central argument for the continuum of traditional thai food). In a thai cosmology the deceased are not dead in the sense of end of existence. They are in another sphere and can be contacted ritually. They serve their ancestors food while talkning to them. Not unlikely the way western chritians speak at the grave. Some also laughing and asking for lottery numbers. However, they didn`t win. But superstition or not. I argue that such a focus missing the point. Because as Noom said “we really don´t know if they are there or not. But it is important to remember our forefathers and mothers. They gave us life itself. Wouldn´t you be remembered after your death?” I realised the enormous power and comfort to belong to a tradition where neighbours, friends and family anually ritually remembering you after death. The ide that you will “never” be forgotten gives strenght to both this life and the potential life thereafter. Sometimes the most rational choice is to get unrational, disconnect the logical thinking and participate, yes even surrender temporarily to another worldview. When putting “yourself” in paranthesis, new knowledge are allowed to enter your being.

Thaibuddha statue is not decoration

thaibuddha

“The Buddha statue is so beautyful” I said to Nong, my thai friend. “Yes indeed” he replied but said that “westerners often misunderstand  buddhist objects in thai context. They are first and foremost containers of  “saksit”, holy power.” Nong fired up three sticks of incense. He hold them between his palms and lifted them up to his front head. His eyes was closed and he was in a praying trance. He then but the incense stick in a big bowl, showed respect to the Buddha and left. I did the same thing. It really felt good and I got goosebumbs over my whole body. “The Buddha statues are a kind of spiritual technology in thais way of thinking, It contain supernormal power and laypeople may get protection and luck if we approach this power in correct ways,” Nong said. “That is why westerners are not allowe to bring Buddha objects out of Thailand. It will merely become decoration in your homes, and no respect is given to the holy power”. I could understand Nongs perspective. I don´t know what happened during this ritual, but it certainly gave me a good and unusual experience.

Going Native in Thailand

IMG_0837

Thailand has become my second home. My girlfriend is from Isaan and yearly we spend weeks in her hometown. I also have been on several trips exploring this amazing country, including an anthropological fieldwork for seven months. Sometimes I reach the mental state of “going native”. It is when a person “adopt the lifestyle or outlook of local inhabitants”. I admit that the picture may look pretty unpleasant, but I had an hardcore hangover going on. However, after spending some time in the village the cap is switched to the farmers straw hat and malboro with the local handrolled tobacco. I start to mentally adjust to the local thai thinking. Slow living, seeking shadow in the middle of the day, eating on the floor in a circle and enjoying local brew under the stars. Learning the language, being open and showing respect are fundamental to fruitful stay, not only for you but also for the local people. Go native is going with the local flow of everyday life.

Thailand: Something fishy going on in Surin

surin thailand fishing

“Hey, Frank, wake up!” It is only six in the morning and my neighbor Khong is knocking on my door. I am in a small village in Surin province. It´s located in Isaan, just one hour driving from the Cambodian boarder. “We have to eat a masculine breakfast before the masculine work.” I join the circle of five thai men sitting on the floor with a raw cow cutted up in pieces. Yes, included intestines and a chili sauce made of the cow´s stomach acid. “Today we go fishing in a special way. We need a solid breakfast before we go. Please, help yourself.” I know that this is not only about putting nutrition inside my body, it is also a question about being inside or outside the group, so I dig in.

A tube is connected to a tractor engine and put into the dam. It pumps the water out and it all looks like a straw emtying a cup of chocolate milkshake. And now we are ready for fishing, dirty fishing! With a bucket we all go out in the sinking, slightly heated mud and literally picking fishes. “Be careful when puting your hands into the mud” Khong warns. “There can be snakes and fishes with stingy spikes”. Oh my Buddha! I continue my work as a nervous wreck.

“Many fishes hide in the mud. We need to give them a small electric shock to get them to the surface.” Another neighbor comes with a car battery in a backpack which is connected to sticks of bamboo. “Not a single fish will escape this home made machinery” Khong says and I am glad not being incarnated as a fish this time around.

The sun goes down and leaving the sky pink, red and orange. We make a fish barbeque party and enjoying a cold beer. “This is life”, Khong say with tranquillity in his voice. “This is life”.

See more of my pictures from the mudfishing in Surin. Click here.

Thailand: Meeting Kruba Sitthi

7357404314_f5610910a5_o

Four hours driving from Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, we finally reach the small places Fang and Thaton. A small curly road lead us to the legendary buddhist monk´s temple on the mountain top. The monk Kruba Sitthi is abbot of the temple Wat Pang Ton Dua, and today we are here to be present to a blessing cermony. The materials of a new batch of magical amulets are going to be sacralized. Alot of prominent monks from Thailand are gathered at this remote temple, but where is Kruba Sitthi?

Suddenly an ambulance comes to the temple. All the attention draws toward the old monk who is carefully put in a wheelchair. All the people are bowing with greatest respect for the venerable Kruba Sitthi. His physician places him in the center of the cermony and white strings goes from the monk´s hands to the amulet material. In Thailand there is a belief that some monks have “saksit”, or holy power that can be transferred to objects like amulets. And by keeping and worship these magical objects, they can protect its wearer.

I buy a couple of them from the temple´s shop before I leave. They have an image of the charismatic Kruba Sitthi and will always remind me of this special meeting and moment of time. For me that´s a kind of power too.

See more of my pictures from Kruba Sitthi`s blessing cermony.Click here.