Monday, October 13, 2008

Sleeping arrangements

There are 4 major celebrations that you will expect to have lots and lots of people:

1. Makha Puja day
-the date for Makha Puja is not fixed. It follows the Thai calendar

2. Anniversary of the passing away of Luangta's mother- 31 May

3. Luangta's Birthday- 12 August

4. Kathina (normally end of Oct or first/second week of Nov). For year 2008, it will be on 18 October 08.

Therefore, if you are there, do expect there will be a bit of problems with the sleeping arrangements. You may want to consider booking a hotel/inn in advance- because accomodations may be fully booked since many many people come to participate in Kathina. For instance, a friend of mine had booked 6 buses from Bangkok to Udon Thani- they arrive on Saturday morning and go back on Sunday afternoon. And many others are doing that.

Normally, others will be sleeping at the halls. Female quarters will be expected to be full because places are very limited.

Still, kathina is a very auspicious time- to perform offering and dedicate merits, especially for your parents, a sick family member, etc.

How to Get to Wat Ban Taad

Kathina at Wat Baan Taad will be happening on 18 October 2008 (Saturday). It is estimated that many many people will be attending the event- to perform kathina.

How to get to Wat Baan Taad:

1. Take a flight to Bangkok airport (Suvarnabhumi airport).

2. From there, take the airport bus (go down one level) AE4 that goes to Hualampong train station. The last I used the bus, it was 150 baht- the bus takes the highway. Taxi- much more expensive unless there are 4 of you travelling- then it will be worth it.

3. At Hualampong station, get a ticket to Udon Thani. The train normally departs at about 7 or 8pm at night and arrive Udon Thani the next morning.
I strongly recommend you buy the lower bunk air con second class seat. The upper bunk is too unsteady and narrow- you may not get a good night's sleep.
The ticket (second class air con lower bunk) will cost about 700+ baht.
Note: Normally, you may find that all the sleeping bunk tickets are sold out- I noticed more and more people are opting to travel by train. So, it is not a good idea to travel on the same day as you buy the ticket. Try to get it days ahead
Thai airway will allow advance booking for the maximum duration of 2 months.

4. If you get the train tickets, you will arrive Udon Thani station about 8am in the morning. Please take note- once the train past stations like Sakorn Nakhon, you will have to be on the alert. Udon Thani is not the last stop- the train only stop for a while.

5. Once you get out of the station, there are many motorbike tuks tuks waiting. Negotiate the price and tell the driver you want to go to Wat Ban Taad. The distance is about 15km, if I am not mistaken, so they should not charge you more than 200 baht.

Pictures above: Udon Thani train station

Wat Pa Barn Tard, Barn Tard,Ampher Meuang, Udorn Thani, 41000 Thailand

Most locals know where is the place- however, I have met a driver who do not know and also illiterate. So he end up asking around where is the place- we finally arrived (have faith, friend, have faith :) )

I have a book from Luangta that is in Thai with a map at the back. I have taken 2 photos and included the copy of the map as per below. Please click to enlarge the picture and see which one is easier for you to print out. You will find it useful because many people are not fluent in English- so it will be useful for you to show to the drivers who can't read or speak English. But once you reach Wat Ban Taad, you can easily find English speaking monks, nuns and laypeople.

Another option is to take the overnight bus. Udon Thani is about 6oo+ km from Bangkok.

But please note there are about 3 or 4 bus major bus stations in Bangkok- each going to a different direction. Ask the airport staff which bus station has bus tickets to Udon Thani.

Hope the above helps.

My quote:

"Sometimes, limitation is what we set out to be... I used to have fear about going to look for Luangta, even though I really want to meet this great monk. Finally I summoned my courage and go there. But when I got there, I found so many others- especially foreigners -who flew on the other side of the globe just to see him. "