Greetings from Koh Samui, Thailand! I’ve spent the last two and a half weeks in China and could have been blogging my way through the countryside (Shundo says I should write more, and I agree) but entering China is like a portal into another universe. I was prepared to lose Facebook while I was there but unprepared to lose access to my blog. Mai pen rai.
This morning I woke up while it was still dark and took my bare feet and a loaner umbrella along the beach for a stroll as the sky lightened up, starting from my $30/night “resort” past the ramshackle beachside bars and cafes and massage huts and into the high-end $300/night villa realms, watching the early-morning workers with their sand rakes and trash hooks cleaning up the beach for the guests, all the while listening to a driving drum beat that seemed to be coming all the way across the water from Koh Phangan, some crazy all-night party that only stopped half an hour ago at 7am.
Bangkok was underwater from the worst floods since 1942, Koh Samui is in their monsoon season, and for the past several days I’ve gone back and forth with my travel agent wondering if it was insane to try to come here, wondering if I’d get stuck somewhere coming in or going out. The going out part remains to be seen, but coming in was easy, apart from delays on all ends having perhaps very little to do with the weather. My travel agent was placid in response to my rants and proposals for alternate itineraries. I have a feeling she is part travel agent, part emotional counselor, her success bolstered by a talent in assuring her clients that they’ll probably get through whatever tribulations their imaginations are conjuring. I appreciate her equanimity. The walk this morning made it all worthwhile, even before adding the time I’ll be spending here with my friend Meredith over the next couple of days.
In China we had a big meeting and sightseeing in Beijing, and then I left on the train for Jiujiang to join a group of Zen practitioners who visited the Fourth Ancestor’s temple near there, Tiantang temple where Dogen studied with Rujing and dropped body and mind, plus Jiuhua Shan (more temples), Huang Shan (which is temple-like in its beauty), Putuo Shan (more temples, and the biggest Guanyin I’ve ever seen), and Shanghai (home of the Jade Buddha temple as well as other sights). I have stories, of course, which I will roll out in good time.