Extra anecdotes from the retreat

During the chanting class, the woman was guiding us again. But I really started to appreciate her ways and she also tried to give us some insights into Buddhist teachings. Such as with the following example:

‘It is breakfast time and you are standing in line with maybe ten people in front of you. And you notice… there are bananas today! And you love bananas (her story was very applicable to me so far). So you crave the fruit. But you are afraid that by the time you will arrive at the front of the queue, they will be finished. So you keep looking and watching if people take bananas and you make yourself crazy. Maybe you annoy people behind you because you keep moving around. You are suffering. And you can’t just tell your friend in the front to take a banana for you. Because you may not speak. You are already in line and cannot do anything. Maybe you will get a banana. Maybe not. And that is not a big deal. But you think it is, because nowadays every wish we have has to be fulfilled. Dukkha.’

Do you guys also have a lot of random possible scenarios passing through your thoughts? How things could go if you meet someone (again or for the first time), how things will turn out when you start a new job, see a friend, do something new, something old, anything? I’m constantly imagining, which I guess really helps my writing, but right now, it feels quite useless.

Sometimes I think of a perfect sentence, and then I forget. Hello frustration, my old friend.

I hate walking on sand. I just don’t get the excitement. It makes you slip and you constantly have to stabilize yourself, which is not fun for someone with lower back trouble. During the running course I did they also made us run on a small sandy road sometimes. Supposedly it’s easier to walk on? For whom? Not me. I hate it. Why anyone would ever go running on the beach is beyond me.

To make things more bearable for myself I have decided to skip one of the sitting meditation sessions, to copy the chants from the chanting book. It will be nice to take these words home. Some of them have real insights in them. I will do this at the end of the afternoon, at the apex of my boredom. I still don’t know why I’m staying. Well, yes, I do, but when is it going to be day 11 already?!

During one of the talks, this is where my mind went:
“So, we have to find the middle…-“
I’m caught up in the middle, jumping through the riddle…
“Not caught…-”
“ – in extremes”.

The line in front of the place to do dishes is progressing slower every day. I guess people are now mindfully washing their dishes, which means they are super slow. I’m still more of a fast-and-efficient kind of girl myself.

During the chanting practice, the monk kept trying to trick us into sitting in a lotus position (which is really hard. You need to be very flexible. I am not).
‘Just close your eyes. Breathe in, breathe out. Stretch your legs in front of you. Put one foot against your stomach. Now, just place the other on top of your lap and flip the first one, whoppa, like this’. Everybody laughs, because it is not as easy as he makes it sound. And then he reasons, that there is no I, no me, no self, no ego (which is a principle in Buddhism). It’s just a body, and there is a mind. So who feels pain?
Also: ‘When you feel pain, you are not sleepy.’

I feel like my mind is out of control. Even now, the pen is moving over the paper so fast, because my thoughts are going a million miles a minute. I’ve never noticed before how extremely quickly my thoughts go from one place to another, in the matter of seconds. And it is all so random. Also, I have a lot of repetitive thoughts (which is why I always need to write stuff down). The good thing is: I can entertain myself with my mind really well. The bad thing is: It is really, really hard to turn off.
Which is exactly what I should be doing.

I’ve noticed now that I have started writing, I cannot seem to stop. I guess the rules are there for a reason then. Oh, bells… Gotta go sit still and pretend to meditate! Bye!

Running into an old friend

After roaming Phnom Penh for a morning, I wasn’t feeling too well. My back was hurting (I strained it a week and a half ago, and it’s gonna take some time before it will be completely back to normal) and besides that, I was suffering from some thing that some women suffer from approximately every month, but about which I won’t go into detail, so the guys reading my blog won’t freak out.

Suffice it to say, I was not feeling so well. I went back to the hostel and waited there until it was time to get to my bus, which would take me to Kampot. I was feeling bummed, because I wanted to see more of the city. I was also feeling bummed because there was an earlier bus which I could have taken, and which a bunch of the people from my hostel took.

But when the time came for me to go to the bus terminal (which was really just an office), I was feeling a bit better. I walked in and looked next to me, seeing a guy in sunglasses that looked slightly like somebody I knew. This happens to me a lot while I’m traveling… I guess it’s my brains way of telling me I’m missing my friends.

So I walk over to the counter to ask about my bus and they tell me to just sit and wait. So I do. I put my stuff down and sit in one of the chairs, while sneaking peeks at the guy sitting there. He looks so much like him…

I open my Facebook app, to just look him up and see if maybe he could be in the area. He’s currently living in Vietnam, so it’s not that much of a stretch… But it still is.

And what do you know, he put on Facebook that he was going to Cambodia for a few days… But it couldn’t be. It could not be possible that I am actually bumping into somebody I know all the way across the world. It is not possible. It just isn’t…

“- Sanne?”

Oh my god. I guess it is possible. And it is the biggest coincidence I ever had in my life. It’s so weird to run into a friend in a country so far from home and it took us both a few moments to realize it.

And not only did we run into each other, we were taking the same bus, to the same place.

So we spent the next day together, riding a motorbike across some of the country. The views were beautiful and the freedom that comes with driving through such rough terrain yourself, with nobody telling you where to go, was wonderful.

We had a great day and saw a lot, and after having dinner in the evening, we went our separate ways.

Thanks for the fun day, Tom! Maybe I’ll see you somewhere in Europe the world again.



Phnom Penh

This capital city of Cambodia has plenty to offer to enjoy yourself for two days. One of the most popular things to do here is to visit the Killing Fields (which I wrote about here). But also in Phnom Penh itself are some sights. You can visit the Palace, or go to the National Museum. Or, you can be like me, and just walk around the city, which gives you the chance to stumble upon a temple and a few other iconic views that make for a few lovely pictures.