|We took a ferry from Koh Tao to Koh Samui and spent one night there before the retreat. Koh Samui is one of the most popular Thai islands and has a gazillion resorts and tourist restaurants and attractions. We enjoyed a day there but were excited to be heading far away from the hustle and bustle. The following day we were picked up by the retreat staff and driven into the mountains to the retreat center. The center is perched on a mountain overlooking the ocean, and is surrounded by lush greenery (see photos). We spent the first afternoon unpacking and getting acquainted with some of the other participants before the silence began that evening. Much to my surprise, there were six people who had been at the ten day retreat with me and were also back for more. It actually felt really good to see some familiar faces.
Here’s the website of the retreat in case you want to learn more: http://dipabhavan.weebly.com/
The retreat lasted for six days, during which time Adam and I didn’t speak to one another or to anyone else. Men and women sleep in separate dorms at the center and eat meals at separate tables, so it was pretty easy to keep our distance from one another. The daily schedule consisted of waking up at 4:30am, practicing meditation several times throughout the day, eating simple meals, and listening to lectures on Buddhist philosophy. This was Adam’s first introduction to meditation, and for both of us it was our first lesson in the ins and outs of the life of a Buddhist monk. We both got a lot out of the experience and look back on it as one of the highlights of our trip.
Once the retreat ended we went back to town and got the news that our new nephew Luca Andre Vares had been born! This was super exciting as we were both thinking of him during the retreat, knowing that he was likely to be born while we were out of touch. We then boarded a ferry back to the mainland and began making our way towards Bangkok. Unfortunately, because of a very unusual tourist visa in Thailand, we had to make a detour to the border and leave the country in order to renew our visa to be able to stay another 15 days in the country. After doing a bunch of research we settled on crossing into Myanmar (Burma) as it was the most convenient to Bangkok. So we boarded yet another bus and made our way to the border.