“Going to a Buddhist temple is like doing sport. It’s painful, life is quite difficult But when you complete your retreat, you are very pleased to have done it”.

This is a sharing of Nicolas Toulemonde, an exchange student of RIC from France. In particular, he spent his holiday for 9 days at Wat Pa Thung Phaya Han temple in Prachinburi to experience how simple life is.

In general monks and dharma practitioners started their day by doing morning chanting and receiving food-offerings. Other roles might involve helping set up for ceremonies, cleaning up living areas, or helping care for elderly monks. A temporary dharma practitioner might take up meditation practices, or might not have a lot to do, depending on guidance and oversight.

“Before arriving at the temple, I thought I would have a simple but comfortable room, a good bed, 3 meals per day, some rules but not so many … Actually, it wasn’t like this” Nicolas said. On the first day, arriving at Wat Pa Thung Phaya Han temple, he was met by a guest monk who had the responsibility of greeting new arrival. Nothing easy for him whether sleeping, hungry and meditation. The routine went on the same day to day, and he found one day simply melting into the next. With no clocks or calendars, losing a sense of time is not only possible, it’s almost inevitable. At the end of the stay he had a great chance. He had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the branch (organized by a big temple) close to Cambodia and Laos. He traveled by van to take part in this meeting and discovered the beauty of Thailand’s countryside. In this temple he discovered many things such as how monks say hello, kneel and bow down.

Moreover, Nicalas point out that he gets a lot of experiences essentially how to live with people that are completely different from him, how to control the desires. More about Thai culture because the behavior of Thai people is very conditioned by Buddhism. For example, it is very impolite in Thailand to shout at somebody. It’s because the Buddha advised people not to get angry.

Lastly, during that valuable time, he not only learns meditating but he also learns how to live and respect with people in another culture. ^^