It was time to read through the third draft of my book, in order to begin work on the fourth. This is necessary because you want to understand the whole picture before making edits, rather than just editing chapter one, chapter two, etc.
So, to combine this necessity with seeing more Thailand, I walked up to Wat Khao Tham, a Buddhist temple known for its silent meditation retreats. After walking what seemed an endless amount of uphill twists and turns, I arrive at the temple. It seems like a series of tiny huts and cottages, none directly on the ground and most on stilts and such. I walk through and find the scenic spot where you can see most of the south of Phangan at once, as well as the mountains and rainforest.
With this amazing backdrop, I started reading my book. After an hour or two, it started raining, so I retreated into the closest shelter, which happened to be a small square building with paintings of Buddha on all the walls, and a small altar with incense and candles you could purchase as an offering. No lighter available, and I didn’t have one, so I didn’t light anything.
I ended up reading with Buddha for another hour, as the rain poured down. The only inhabitants of the temple I was not as happy with were the red ants. There weren’t many, and with my help and Buddha’s guidance all of them have now moved on to their next life.
After the rain, I went back out and read some more. At some point, I’d had enough and toured the rest of the grounds and made my way back down the hill. With the heat and humidity, my shirt was soaked through, so I of course turned in the opposite direction of my resort and headed to Wat Pho, another temple down the street. I already had the long pants on, so might as well.
Wat Pho is known for its herbal sauna, where lemongrass and other things are infused into a hot steam that is piped into the sauna. I didn’t think I could sweat more. I was wrong. First, you have to rent a cloth to wrap around you (unless you’d planned ahead and brought a bathing suit), and then lock up your valuables.
At first, I chatted with a local who goes in the sauna once a week for 15 minutes. Then, another tourist happened in. Kostadin is 24, Bulgarian, but spoke great English, having gone to college in Portland and in Thailand before starting graduate work in Vancouver. He was gay, as well, and traveling alone. Yes, I know, what a gay stereotype to meet in a sauna, but this sauna is part of a religious practice, connected to a Buddhist temple! Heh.
When Kostadin arrived, I was at the end of my endurance for the steam, though. We did chat awhile, though, and I told him I was getting a Thai massage right outside the sauna, so we could talk before we left. After I had my hour-long Thai massage, he had an hour-long oil massage. We made plans to hang out that night, although he wanted another round in the sauna, so I gave him vague landmarks to find my resort and he said he’d stop in on his way back to Thong Sala, where he was staying.
An hour or so later, he showed up and I showed him the resort, and we decided to have dinner at the Milky Way resort up the beach. We had a nice conversation, a slightly overpriced dinner, and then he went home to Thong Sala, as he was leaving for Kho Tao to get diving certification in the morning.
Today, I am about 100 pages from finishing reading the third draft, and will start on the fourth tomorrow. Lazy day today, barely leaving the resort.
(This is actually being posted a day late, as the Internet was down when I had this ready… today’s update is I finished reading my draft, and start editing the fourth draft tomorrow.)