At the end of last year I came down with some kind of flu type virus and bronchitis. The plan had been for Ajahn Manapo to go on ahead of me to Thailand and so for our New Year celebrations I was on my own and not at all well. Fortunately, by Monday, January 5th I was on the mend and able to go to Khun Ting’s restaurant in Nottingham for an occasion that not only celebrated the New Year but also remembered her father who had recently passed away. There were still a few days left before my own departure for Thailand and by the time I left on the Tuesday of the following week I was feeling all right but looking forward to the warmth and a rest.
Because I’d been anxious to teach Warwick Uni Buddhist Society’s first meeting of the term I had to fly out on January 13th, arriving in Bangkok the following afternoon and then flying straight on up to Ubon where Ajahn Manapo was waiting for me. I needed to be in time first for a meeting on the 15th of the committee that oversees the publication of Ajahn Chah’s talks and the media use of his image and then, naturally, for the big day itself, the Ajahn Chah Memorial Day on January 16th, the twenty-third anniversary of his passing.
All went smoothly enough and around midday on the Friday I and other Western monks staying at Wat Pah Nanachat made our way through the crowds and the traffic to be in Wat Pah Pong in time for first of all the sermons, one for monks and another for the laity, and then the procession and partial circumambulation of the Ajahn Chah Chedi. As usual it was an amazing occasion and I frequently think how rare it is for people to gather in such large numbers for something so good. In the evening I was persuaded to get up in the sermon seat and give a talk in English. Although I wasn’t really on form I did speak at some length about the fifth precept and the harm that comes when it’s broken.
Our remaining few days in the North East were spent visiting old friends and then Ajahn Manapo and I flew down to Bangkok and from there were driven to Chantaburi for a couple of days. On our second evening I was persuaded to talk to an enthusiastic group of followers of a very old and well-known monk. Of course I had to speak in Thai and thankfully managed well enough.
Then it was back to Bangkok and the next day after a meal at Khun Yod’s factory we were driven to Cha’am and a few days rest by the sea.
At the end of that week it was time for Ajahn Manapo to return to Warwickshire and at the weekend I went back to Bangkok and then on the Monday flew to Udorn for the day to attend the funeral of Khun Ting’s father.
Tuesday and my last day was spent in Bangkok, part of it at an exhibition where Ant and Joob and their team were showing off their latest apps, then it was time to pack, get ready and steam off to the airport. And another trip was over.
There’s an album of photos here.