• Thailand,  Mindful Living

    7 Tage Unplugged: Schweigeretreat auf der Partyinsel

    Me, myself and I and the Buddha.

    Das ist mehr als nur ein Social Media Detox: 7 Tage kein Anschluss unter irgendeiner Nummer. Smartphones abgeben, Computer für eine Woche runterfahren, Bücher zur Seite legen, Musik ausmachen und in die Stille gehen. Schweigen und Meditieren so wie es die Mönche in Thailand schon jahrundertelang machen. 7 Tage lang die Klappe zu halten, ist dabei nicht einmal die größte Herausforderung – mit wenig Input von außen, wird’s im Innen ganz schön laut. Mann oh Mann, was da los ist! Report von einer langen Reise ohne Kilometer.

  • Thailand

    Der Duft der großen, weiten Welt


    Die dunkle Frische von warmen Kaffir-Zitronenblättern verdreht mir im Vorbeigehen den Kopf. Auf dem Campingkocher am Straßenrand köchelt eine gigantische Suppe. Galgant, Knoblauch und scharf angebratenes Chilli kreieren die typische Duftmarke Bangkoks. Die Straßen atmen Curry. Ein Spaziergang mit der Nase.

  • Thailand,  Mindful Living

    Thai Mother Abbess Shows How Female Rebellion in Buddhism Works

    “How does a feminine approach to Theravada Buddhism look like?” is my question, when I arrive in the first ever Theravada Buddhist monastery for women, Wat Songdhammakalyani, near Bangkok in Thailand. The answer I receive over a cup of tea with the abbess, Venerable Dhammananda, and one of the sisters, Luang Pi Punna, is two-fold: “There is only one teaching of the Buddha. And this applies to all human beings. The distinction between man and woman is only one of perception. First you need to go beyond this kind of conditioning.” No frills, no doubt. Clearly the nuns are first of all disciples of the Buddha. And the…

  • Thailand

    Born as a Monkey? Go That Phanom!

    If you happen to be born in the Year of the Monkey you want to go to Wat Phra That Phanom in Nakhon Phanom, North-East Thailand, at least once in your life to earn merit and good luck. It is most auspicious when done in the Zodiac year of your birth. (Go check here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_zodiac#Years) The Thai Zodiac is very closely related to the 12 well-known Chinese star signs. Just that the dragon is replaced by a large snake and in Northern Thailand an elephant may be used in place of the Chinese sign for the pig. (The Vietnamese by the way exchange the rabbit for a cat. Just so you know.)…

  • Thailand

    There is Always More Than One Way…

    Of course I didn’t read the manual. I was busy planning to get to this faraway place. Everything else usually reveals itself in time. Right. It’s only on level 6 out of 7 that I vaguely remember having heard about the ascent to the top of the temple mountain being kind of an upward spiral. Climbing one level on excessively steep wooden ladders, walking around on ultra exposed wooden walkways, and repeat. In a bout of energy I had gone straight up to level 6. Direct approach, no messing around with unnecessary detours. Why? It was possible and obvious. Now there is another of these arduous ladders to…

  • Thailand

    How Princess Nang Usa Turned to Stone

    The wondrous stone formations of Phu Phrabat invite the curious and fanciful visitor on a journey into history and mystery of the Isan people. The invitation is to look beyond the sheer rock figures and dive into a plenitude of stories about what must have been a sacred land for many centuries if not millennia. To start with there is the tale of Nang Usa – as a baby girl happily adopted by a childless king, as a teenager kept safe from the men’s world in a remote forest hermitage, nonetheless found and loved as a young woman by the prince of a neighbouring land. A story which…

  • Thailand

    Of Lost Buddhas and Sunken Chedis

    Nong Khai seems to have a history of losing important spiritual landmarks and artefacts. There is a sunken chedi in the Mekong, of which only a corner can be seen during low tide and a precious Buddha image that is swallowed forever by the waves of the big river. Another important one is only lost for the Lao, but most prominently displayed on the Thai side of the Mekong: It is a rare statue made of bronze and gold and history knows that it was specifically made upon request by the daughters of a Lao king many a century ago. Three of the special Buddha images were created…

  • Thailand,  Laos

    Making the Meaning of Life Concrete

    I have to steal this headline. It is just too good. “Making the Meaning of Life Concrete”. Credit goes to critical journalist and historian Roger Warner, who reported in 1990 about the Laotian artist and mystic Boun Leua Sourirat. Leua as he appears to be called dedicated his life to create larger than life sculptures illustrating his spiritual insights by using concrete! As a young man he supposedly stepped into a hole while walking alone through the woods and ended up in a cave where he met the hermit Keoku. He stayed with the eremite for several years, and in the course developed his very own mysticism which…

  • Thailand

    Chiang Khan – the new Luang Prabang

    If there was a dictionary entry for “cute” in regard to towns, there would surely be a couple of photos of Chiang Khan filed under it. Over the past 10 years or so some smart investors turned the formerly sleepy Mekong crossroads into a beautifully renovated showcase of traditional Thai small town architecture. It is so perfectly manicured that it has a bit of a doll’s house appeal. It is lovely! Really. Being so neat and pleasant it automatically makes you think about staying longer. Just to dust off this little bit more from the road-trip you are on, or kick back a liiittle longer in the artsy…

  • Thailand,  Human Encounters

    In Search for the Maple Leaf

    He came all the way by bus from Bangkok to see the dark red maple leaf in Phu Kradueng Nationalpark. “When I was a student, a boy”, he says with deep sincerity, “I was playing this computer game called ‘Maple Leaf’. That’s about ten years ago and ever since I wanted to see one for real.” He is 23 now and sweetly deliberate in all his explanations. Phu Kradueng is indeed famous for having maple trees to start with, but then also for the maple tree losing its leaves at this time of the year, is what I learn. The red maple leaf being nothing less than the…