Monday, December 8, 2014

Cambodia, Laos,Thailand

In Front of ancient Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Hi Friends,

I flew from Mumbai to Bangkok on November 3rd and met two friends from India who arrived on a later flight. That evening we took an overnight bus to the Cambodian border and got a taxi to Siem Reap. Siem Reap is the tourist town situated 10 kilometers from the ancient temple sites of Angkor Wat. We stayed at the Happy Guest House for five days while exploring the many temples scattered around this large, sprawling archeological museum. This time coinsided with the annual water festival that is celebrated in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. So there were more tourists, foreign and domestic, than usual and for the first two nights there were lots of  loud fireworks displays. We used the conspicuous tuk tuks to get around. 
Typical motorcycle tuk tuk in Cambodia


View of Angkor Wat from across the wide moat






Crowd of tourists taking photos of the sunrise over Angkor Wat











 Taking a break while walking around the large area


...and enjoying refreshing coconut water

My two Indian friends, Deepak and Jeetesh



Head of the Buddha on the archway over the road

More heads of the Buddha on the temple of Bayon







Three Heads



The tiny white spot in the upper doorway is me








Lions and Elephants guard the corners of some temples 





Cambodian monks chanting at an outdoor shrine in Siem Reap

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Pickled cobra and scorpion
A boat excursion to the large lake of TonLe Sap

Boat hotel on Tonle Sap




The temple eating trees at Ta Prom










We flew from Siem Reap to Luang Prabang in Norther Laos

Sunset from the airplane

Ornate Buddhist temples in Luang Prabang 


Having lunch beside the Mekong River in Luang Prabang

Boat excursion up the Mekomg River

Filling station for boats

Nice scenery

Riverfront at Luang Prabang
Other views of Luang Prabang





Visit to the aquamarine water at the Huang Xi waterfall pools



Couldn't resist a refreshing swim





We took a bus south from Luang Prabang over the mountains of Northern Laos through Vien Vieng to Vientiane. From Vientiane I flewflew back to Bangkok then lead a weekend retreat for a group of Thai friends near the Khao Yai National Park.


Sunrise at Vien Vieng

Panoramic shot from the rooftop of our guest house






Monks on morning alms round in Vien Vieng

Chaitiya or stupa on top of Wat Saket in Bangkok


Inside the stupa where 'relics' of the Buddha are enshrined


Unusual eleven headed Buddha beside the stupa






With Ven. Dhirapanno in front of the temple at Wat Rattanawan at Khao Yai

Inside the temple with Ajhan Nyanadhammo, the Austrailan abbot of Wat Rattanawan 

Paying respects at a shrine dedicated to Luang Ta
 Mahabua Nanasampanno

At the house where the retreat was held

Retreat participants

I am now back in Southern California visiting my mother over the Christmas/New Year Holiday period.
       
I am reposting the text to the Buddhamas Carol for your New Years contemplation.


The Buddhamas Carol
or
The Ode to the Vipassana Yogi


Silent Night, Peaceful Night,
All is calm, Stars are bright,
Round the hall Yogis sitting still,
Keeping their backs straight, exerting will,
Enduring pain without any ill-will,
Pervading Metta all throughout space,
Wishing Good-will to the whole human race.
 
Silent Mind, Peaceful Mind,
thoughts are few, Pain is slight,
Focusing mind at the tip of the nose,
Knowing each breath as it comes and it goes,
Percieving the light that steadily glows,
Feeling the Rapture from head to the toes.
 
Silent Mind, Tranquil Mind,
 Thoughts are stilled, Body feels light,
All the Five Hinderances have died down,
he Ego no longer is spinning around,
Mind is one-pointed not moving a bit,
Enjoying at long last the Jhanic Bliss,
 
Sitting in Joyful Peace, Sitting in Blissful Peace.

 Silent Mind, focused Mind,
Awareness is strong, Mind is bright,
The Spiritual Faculties are prepared,
Vipassana-Insight has Mara scared,
Scanning the body from head to the toes,
Anicca, Anicca, each moment goes,
Anicca, Anicca, Impermanence flows,
 The Five Aggregates appear empty as foam,
The Truth of No-Self is easily shown,

Sitting in insightful Joy, Sitting in insightful Joy.

Silent Mind, equanimous Mind,
Awareness is clear, Wisdom shines,
The six sense-impingements arise and pass,
No desire, no clinging, no ego to grasp,
No holding to present, future or past,
Mara has vanished he took his last gasp,
This body-mind house is empty at last,
Sitting and walking the whole night through,
Greeting the dawn completely anew.
 
Silent Mind, Wisdom Mind,
Now is the time, Conditions are prime,
The Enlightenment Factors are developed well.
The Four Noble Truths become clear as a bell,
The Eye of Dhamma is opened wide,
The three lower fetters are broken in stride,
Tonight the Yogi enters the Stream,
Tomorrow Nibbana no longer a Dream .
 
(Composed by Yogavacara Rahula)
 

     Wishing all of you and all beings a Mindful and Peaceful
                                            New Year