Sunday, 25 March 2012

Sweating Bricks

What seems to be the problem officer?

Since being in Mcloed Ganj, India, back in October, this is the first time we've settled for so long in one place (a month).  We've been going for about 10 months now! It doesn't feel like long from this end though, since being Away From Home feels like normal life for us now.  Its beautiful actually.

Its been very very good to get into some regular work here though, lifting bricks instead of rucksacks.  The weather is hot now, and getting warmer.  The Thai's are glad it's not 'chilly' any more.  That is, below 30 degrees - they laugh at us shirtless, sweating foreigners in the cool of the spring, while they cover up with layers and jackets and work in the garden.  I've no idea how.  Me, i am a St Bernard, and so have just given myself a shearing this morning.

9 Tuk Tuks turn up at New Life, instead of 2 vans. Damn. Nice convoy though.

We've been closely involved in the building of a new circular meditation hall here at the foundation, on the other side of the rice paddy field. It's made of mud and rice husk bricks, straight mud, and cement.    We've only done 2 days work in the garden, while all the rest has been on the site- we've made the bricks, laid the foundations, mixed the mortar and laid the bricks.  I've learned a lot, and its cool to talk about construction stuff with california Phil, who is overseeing it.

fresh bricks from the moulds.  There are about 4000.
This will be 8 feet high...

Its big - 16 metres diameter, 18 windows, 3 doors and about 5 metres high with the roof on (made of wood, a contractor is doing that).  Its a shame we wont be around to see it finished (we leave here in 4 days, and the building is about 10 days off completion), but I hope to get regular pictures.  Its been a lot lot of heavy lifting and shovelling and mixing, and has made mince meat of my battered hands.

I’ve been putting equal effort into eating the food, with 3 lovely healthy buffet banquets a day, and this has increased my rice belly somewhat.  I’ve made myself use only chop sticks to try and eat less while being here (not a unique strategy), but I've just become really good at using them instead.

Three legged Jack gets a lift home from the basket ball court

Its been fascinating to gradually get to know some of the residents here, and their stories of addiction and recovery.  The horror and the unstoppable, uncontrollable compulsion of addiction is mind blowing, and very hard to appreciate its extent once it has got hold of someone.  It is sometimes called a Hungry Ghost -  always there and never satisfied.  But the bravery and courage of the people here is hugely admirable.

Laura is currently on a meditation weekend course, learning to control her mind, and hopefully, to levitate.  She is keen and open to learning.  The Thailand Big Knit is being spearheaded by our favourite girl, and there are approximately 18 new knitters here.  read all about it on the New Life blog - here

Before class at the art gallery knitting workshop

As I say, our time is wearing thin, and we'll move along in a few days time.  There are some great great people here and it will be sad to leave.

The Amazing Spider-Man makes it onto Laura's finest knitting work yet.  Its not for me :(

On Wednesday, we'll head back into the real world and travel south back to Bangkok on the fancy-for-us overnight train, and catch another train south east to the Cambodian border.  We'll be there for only about 2 weeks, and then cross into Vietnam for another 2, heading north and then into China.

Beyond that though, we have a change of plan.  Instead of going north through China, Mongolia and Russia to get home (that is now too expensive for us), we will cycle 3000km across europe from Istanbul to Newcastle via an Amsterdam ferry and roll onto our family driveway.  Bam!

Our lakeside villa looked much better in the brochure.

We will raise money for the foundation via sponsorship, which should take us back home sometime in September, where I will eat muesli and real bread toast for breakfast, corn beef pie for lunch, and a roast dinner for pud.


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