Our trip is almost over; staying in a field teaching meditation until Sunday, then back to Bangkok, Wat Mahadhatu, until we fly on the 31st.
Visas were a success, amazingly; we arrived at a nearby hotel the night before - Yasa commented on the number of pretty women standing around on the corner; when I found a box of complimentary condoms by the television, we started to wonder where we were. Turns out the Sri Lanka embassy is not in the best area of town.
Went early to the embassy, documents in hand, everything went well until I thought to confirm that the visas would be given without charge, seeing as how we had no money. They would not be. 5,000 baht in the hole, I made some calls to supporters who either didn't answer or didn't seem too keen on sponsoring the expense. Mara had struck again.
We were called up to the window by the people next in line; I told them we weren't applying any more, since we had no money. They had heard me on the phone and asked whether my supporters were coming - in truth, I said, they were coming, but hadn't offered to pay the visa fee. 'Did they want to?' was asked. 'If they had wanted to, they probably would have said so,' was my answer.
The people asking were a couple headed to Sri Lanka on vacation. They paid for Yasa and Sumedha's visas without hesitation after that. In return, I offered them to stay at our monastery and to take them to see the Buddhist holy places in SL. They readily accepted, so we will be able to pay them back in some way for their random act of kindness. People can be amazing.
Did some monk shopping yesterday with supporters in Bangkok, new robes for Sumedha, Pali grammar books for me, and some good mosquito tents for meditation. A Malasian man came up to us and tried to talk to us in broken English until he learned I spoke Thai. He turned out to be a store owner of one of the religious shops in Sao Ching Cha. He donated to us two full sets of quality robes.
When we were in Chiang Mai, we stopped off for the afternoon at Wat Rampoeng. Talked with Mae Chii Nadya, an old student who may some day come to SL. Also met up with Mae Chii Jai, an even older friend who has helped me for over ten years. She is pretty sure she would like to come to Sri Lanka to ordain, and so one set of robes probably belongs to her.
This morning I received word from a Sri Lanka woman who came as a translator for her mother to our centre and ended up decided to ordain as well. Quite a story, worked in a beauty salon and had a fiancee in Dubai. After meditating for two weeks, her outlook changed completely and so the second set of robes is hers.
Also while in Chiang Mai, visited Wat Tam Bua Tong, just to see whether all to work we put into the place went to waste or not. Turns out it has become a real meditation monastery, with a student of Ajaan Tong continuing where we left off. We had a great talk and he confided that he really wanted to return home to his province. He said he wanted me to come and help run the place so from time to time he could leave. My thought is it may be possible to visit for a month or two at a time to let him leave. More on that later - now I'm just happy it is still up and running.
Plans are forming to return to Thailand June 15th to practice with Ajaan again, bringing Bhante Anoma this time, meeting up with some supporters who want to practice with him, and discussing possible future ventures in Thailand. We're all quite content with SL, but given all the effort put into learning Thai, it seems a waste not to at least visit from time to time, if for nothing more than to learn from Ajaan Tong and take a break from running a meditation centre.
Anyway, it will be as it will be. All is well.