Overcoming Fears in Thailand
It didn’t look far when I looked at the map of Hua Hin. An early morning walk along Thailand's Hua Hin beach of about one hour (I thought) a few turns and in a short time I’d be at my desired destination Khao Krailas Hill (the aptly named Monkey Hill).
This is the home of numerous statue and Buddha. It promises great views over the town of Hua Hin a regular holiday destination of the Thai Royal Family my Lonely Planet Guide informs me.
After walking for a time I felt sure I’d gone further than I should have, (had the map been to scale!) I stopped to ask directions. “Oh you haven’t got far to go” said the man pointing far into the distance he said cheerfully.
To be honest it looked much further and the sun was getting higher in the sky. I was hot so I ducked up a road and waiting right there (aren’t they always) was a trusty tuk tuk with keen driver. After some good natured banter, we agreed on a price of $10 for him to take me to Monkey Hill. He promised to wait for me while I wandered around the site, and then take me back into town.
Just as well I used a tuk tuk because we were motoring for quite some time before getting to my destination. He had to ask for directions too and I noticed that as none of the signs were in English I doubt I would have reached the wat had I continued with my walk.
After arriving at the site, I very nearly changed my mind about visiting it. The first time was when I saw the steps I had to climb to get there. They were very steep and seemed to reach up to the sky.
The second time was not related to such “wimpish” behaviour. As I neared the top of the steps, shoulders and arms covered like a respectful tourist (shamefully I forgot about the open toed shoes though), I was stopped in my tracks by six dogs barking furiously, their sharp fangs baying for food, or revenge - who would know.
I’m scared of dogs at the best of times and I wasn't sure just how much I could trust these noisy dogs looking as though they would attack any second. I was paralysed quite literally “on the spot” quite unsure what to do. Where was my Bach's Rescue Remedy drops? That would have calmed me down in a flash, but I remained as still as the many stone statues I'd come to see. I was sure that if I turned and ran down the couple of hundred steps I had just grunted up they might begin to chase me.
As I wavered in my decision making I heard a sing song call “good morning ma-dam” and turned to see a craggy lovely open faced old lady walk towards me. Drapped around her thin body was a simple, pure white toga style garment. She carried a long bamboo stick which she hit on the ground and she spoke very softly to the dogs until they are silenced. After moving the now silent dogs away from me, with and open arm gesture invited me to visit the wat.
I’m so glad I persevered.
Many of the buildings and statues have been carved out of the side of the massive rocks that make up this hill. There is a beautiful carved and gold trimmed wat.
Frangipani trees in full bloom cast their lovely soft sent around the hill, a monk dressed in an orange robe makes a scratching sound in the dirt as he rymthically rakes the crisp leaves into a pile. It feels so spiritual here. I feel lucky to be here and am enveloped by a feeling of calmness. I want to know more about this place but it's not a tourist enterprise – in fact I am the only outsider here.
This wat appears in need of funds as it looks past its best. I was delighted it's open to be shared with those few of us who take the time to stop by a while and have some reflection time.
Although I didn’t see any of the promised monkeys I am so glad I persevered, but most of all I am glad the old lady appeared to silence the barking dogs.
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