July 2010 we made our first trip to the ‘Hideaway’ centre we have been kindly offered use of, in Pathum Thanee.
It was something of a trial run, to see how the cost, food, accommodation works out. There were 17 of us split between two buildings.
The place is lovely. Quaint wooden buildings with well kept mosquito screens and the most spacious bathrooms you can imagine. We shared the rooms – roughly 5 people to a room. But that was ok, and we even managed to keep noble silence for a day and a half. Food was ok, and the gardens offered plenty of room to go and get your own space. Evening meditation was in one of the bedrooms, which limits the group to about 20 people. During the day, the lower decks were very pleasant and spacious, disturbed only by the occasional Malaeng Wee (tiny flies) diving into ones ear. (Tiger balm prevents this by the way)
Costing just about worked out ok. There was 1000 baht left over after everything was paid for – which got swallowed into group funds. Last month we paid 2500 baht from group funds to pay for the Tai Pan hotel, since there were not enough people to share the room hire cost. So things work out. We might take some of our own food next time – including cheese for the BBQ.
Incidentally, we did not BBQ this time as the staff thought we’d be there Monday for the finale BBQ. Next time!
Going on retreat like this has a great benefit, and hopefully costs less than most people would spend on a weekend while living in Bangkok. It is always good to take some time away from your usual obsessions, responsibilities, and distractions. It’s nice to get out into nature a bit. And you work hard at arousing mindfulness. Though the situation is forced somewhat, by alternating concentration, mindfulness and open awareness you set up a habit. The aching knees, and minds that seem stuck in treacle are all part of it. If you don’t get away on retreat and put in the work, meditation practise fades from importance in your life. Many people respect and value meditation and awareness, but it plays little part in their life. You have to put something in to make it grow.
And at the end, it was great fun to get everyone’s feedback. This helps get to know each other which is always interesting. Sangha is a big part of the Way – good friends on the path; this part is often ignored by meditators who think that you have to get away alone to progress.
Next weekend retreat should be late August and again in September or early October. We will go back to Hua Hin, and then a big retreat in Nakhon Sawan if the resort works out at a decent cost.