I actually wanted to write a text about a fun ride with the yellow Songthaew. About how the driver of this shared taxi transported not only people, but also car parts and bags of unknown content. I wanted to write about how twelve people, including their luggage and groceries, squeezed into the interior and another stood on the exit step – right next to another bag of unknown content. I wanted to write about miy sitting neighbour’s knee in my calf, the elderly woman who was supposed to get to know her grandson for the first time, and an overturned bag full of eggs. Then two nuns invited me to lunch.
I had just tumbled out of the Songthaew, stood between my two backpacks and the ukulele on the roadside, was about to shoulder one when I noticed the car next to me. The window opened. “Hello, where do you want to go?” An old and a young female face looked at me kindly, the heads shaved, the clothes pure white. I couldn’t help but smile back happily. “I’m looking for something for lunch and then I want to go up to Wat Phra Koet,” I explained my plans to the two women. The younger translated for the older into Thai, a short exchange of words. “We also want lunch. Do you want to come with us? ”Why not, I thought, and shortly afterwards my luggage and I sat in the little car’s back seat.
Noodle soup with beef
The journey didn‘t take long, I learned that the younger of the two women had already been to Germany a few years ago – including Frankfurt – and that they lived in the nearby temple. A small noodle kitchen was the destination of the two. They told me to take a seat at the next table. The younger woman translated my order (I just couldn‘t get enough of noodle soup with beef) and she asked for my understanding that now it was time for lunch and the two were talking in Thai. But we could talk later. And only when the waitress brought our soup plates and bowed deeply to the women with hands folded in prayer did I realize: The two women are Buddhist nuns and not, as I had assumed, guests of the local meditation center.
After lunch we started talking. She had seen herself in me when she found me on the side of the road, said the younger nun. After completing her studies, she worked in her parents’ company, she reported. At some point she came across mindfulness and meditation. She tried to talk to friends about it but they didn’t understand it, and then she eventually arrived in Chom Thong to visit the large meditation center right next to the temple. Back then, she was 24 years old. Phra Ajahn Tong, the abbot of the monastery, had suggested that she be ordained at some point. For ten years now she has been a nun in the monastery.
Stop at the supermarket
After lunch she wanted to know if I still had some time. “We want to take you to Phra Ajahn Tong,” said the younger nun with a friendly smile. He recently passed away. I must have looked a little confused. “He is still there,” added the young nun. Then I understood: The Phra has left his body, but his soul is still there – until the karma decides whether he is born again or goes into Nirvana – this is my lay explanation.
After a stopover in the supermarket (“You need something to eat up there!”) we finally sat in the large hall, which was prepared in memory of Phra Ajahn Tong. People have time to mourn for a hundred days. We bowed to the large wooden Buddha and then knelt in front of the memory place set up for the deceased. “He’s still here,” said the nun. “You can just tell him what your name is, where you come from and what brought you here.” We closed our eyes. “Three minutes of meditation?” She finally asked? What happened was overwhelming for me. Never before have I been able to put myself in a meditative state so quickly. Never before have I had tears in meditation after such a short time. A special but also confusing moment full of connection to a person I had never met before.
Enjoying silence together
The three of us lingered a little in the great hall, enjoyed the quiet and watched some believers. After another stop in the beautiful temple of Chom Thong and in a café for iced tea, the two of them drove me out of the city and up the hill to Wat Phra Koet. The younger nun personally took me to Phra Montri, on whose temple grounds I would meditate for the next few days. And she also looked closely at my little Kuti to make sure that I was well accommodated. I couldn’t have been more grateful.
Everything has it’s time
When I look back on my trip, I can say that this is one of my most beautiful travel experiences. “You are in the right place at the right time,” the younger nun assured me. This feeling has often accompanied me in the past few months. When I think back, what has led me from one place to another, from one person to the next, from one experience to the next, from one lesson to the next, especially in Thailand, I know that there can be no coincidences.
When I said goodbye, the younger nun wrote down my phone number. She said she wanted to get in touch with me. So far, she hasn‘t done so. But I’m sure I’ll hear from her when the time comes.
Cover photo: I was allowed to take a photo as a memory of the two lovely nuns. But they don’t want to see their faces on the internet. I respect that, of course.
Random Acts of Kindness
During my travels I have learned two things:
1. Those who have the least often give the most.
2. There are friendly people everywhere.
There is always a story behind selfless action. It deserves to be told and collected as Random Acts of Kindness.
Inspired by @TheKindnessGuy