Saturday, January 17, 2009


I worked in Thailand for about 2 years plus. (Markings : Black is where I lived; Blue is where I worked)

I lived in Phuket and resided in a Muslim village named Kamala. It was a Thai house. I like the structures and designs of Thai houses built with wood. This location that I picked overlooks a hill. It was cold in the morning, cool in the evening and most of the time windy. I lived alone, away from the place I work.

Life in Phuket was an 'alone' affair. Weekdays were work. I supervised fourteen retail outlets in a well known resort property. During weekends I would sleep till noon, woke up, make myself breakfast, sat on the floor and stared at the hill, listen to the wind, the rustling leaves from the small bamboo groves in my garden and birds hopping around my balcony. This is bliss and peace.

It was routine that I drove out in the afternoon heading to Wat Chalong Temple. This temple has a history of 100 years old and a well known monk - Luangpo Chiam (deceased). I would buy lotus flowers, incense, candles and robes for offering. After than would be lunch and movies.

In Phuket Town at the clock tower roundabout is a small eatery shop. Their Hokkien Prawn Noodle with soup is super authentic!!! This shop is still around today. Thai people are small 'eater' and their helping comes in small portion. I usually asked for two bowls and I am not the only one that did that.

The movie house is pretty decent and the seat is considered good. At times I 'marathon' - watching 4 movies in a day! I watch both English and Thai movies....i.e Lord of the Rings series, Matrix and many more. For days like this, I would skipped lunch and dinner and treat myself to a big ice cream float and ice cream cakes. Yummmmmmm.....y!

Sundays were committed to house cleaning, mopping the floor, changing bedsheet etc. - household chores. There was an open air food market near a beach area that only operates on weekends. It was hawker's style - meaning push cart type. I would buy myself Kai yang and Kowgeow (deep fried chicken and sticky rice), guava slices with spicy dip and a bottle of Aqua. With these I moved to sit near the sea. Not far away was an open field where adults and kids ran around kicking footballs and flying kites. I would watch them and smile to myself. What is there to ask for in life?

It was on a secluded beach that I realized what 'solitude' is. There was no activity and all was serene, peaceful and noiseless. I looked out to the sea and it was calm. Nothing there, nothing but the sea and the sky. Suddenly I saw a tiny speck of a sailing boat. It was like 'me and you against the world'. A deep sense of 'calmness' hit me! Loneliness has something to do with attachment and people. Solitude is deep peacefulness, very 'alone'. This was the first time I experienced such emotion. Believe me, it was an overwhelming experience.

I asked myself - 'You think you can live with this?' - No, I want to be alone in the crowd. I want to be with people and yet I do not want to be dragged into shall I put it?.....affairs? I just want to 'mind my own business and only reach out when they need me." You may think that this is not the practice of a Bodhisattva BUT I have high expectation of myself - To be out of 'mundane' in a mundane world.

In actual fact, I feel deeply for sentient beings and their sufferings. I feel helpless at time and there were times when I thought to myself - 'let me carry all burdens and let them be OK'. I used to cry a lot when I think of their sufferings but I am in better control now. I came through tough time in my growing years but I am sheltered and much love. I did not really suffer with Dad and Mum buffering me. However I am not blind to the difficult times and sufferings of others. The one true fact - No matter how rich you are, how powerful you are and you may be born with a silver spoon BUT you will still have sufferings.

The Eightfold Path of Buddha's Teaching applies 2500 years ago and even today. His Teaching is Timeless. I knew I will not be able to renounce the world at this point of time. I love sentient beings too much to want to let go of them. I must have make a vow somewhere in time.....and that vow will be with me until I fulfill my duties and reach my 'destination'.

Having to look after the family financially and living alone overseas most of the time molded my independent personality. I have never thought that I will go to movie alone, cry at movie alone, laugh alone and get excited alone. To be able to adapt myself to environment were my training since young. I needed a strong mind to make decisions at home and at work. I have no time to consult anyone.

I am troubled at one point in time because I believe my character as a lady is too strong. The break came when I volunteered for HOSPICE. Dr Shaw who was my mentor said this to me one day when she realized that I became agreeable and passive. I stayed in the background letting others take the lead. I tried to change to fit into the crowd. I am hoping I become a 'demure' lady by doing so. I later realized that this is not 'me'. Dr Shaw words warm my heart. She said "You do not have to change to please anyone. You have a big aura and a big heart. To others who have their personal agenda, you are overpowering for them. It is their problem and not yours." I do not really grasp her meaning until years later.

Given my personality, I have more boyfriends than girlfriends. Girls who are petty will have a hard time being my friends, it won't last. I think in any relationship this is the concept I have adopted - You accept me for what I am AND not that I need to live up to your expectation. When we make friend, it should not have 'conditions' attached. Many called themselves 'friend' but in actual fact they are no more than an 'acquaintance'. I do not have bus loads of friends but I have a handful of true friends. I count my blessings. I also realized that as I grow older, the lesser people I want to be with.

I left Phuket in November and December Tsunami hit Phuket badly. The house I was living in was gone. If I am there I would be sleeping to my death. Where am I when it happened? I was flying back from Cape Town. It was a 13 hours flight. Do you call this destiny?

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