It’s been an everyday learning experience here on the Pagoda, Kultortoeng. Just for starters, I’ve learned the name Wat and Pagoda are the same. Here, the Monks call it pagoda, with the accent on the pa part of the word, sounding like pa-ga-da.
I have experienced some of the ritual, of Nuns’, shaved heads, wearing white, arriving first to lunch around 10:30 a.m., to chant, followed up by the Monks, who walk in single-file, wearing their orange robes. They sit higher than the Nuns and chant. Nuns serve the Monks, and it is the last meal of the day for the Monks.
They continue throughout the day with their study and routines. No one offers food wherever they go after the lunch meal. But before breakfast and lunch they may go into the villages to receive food from the villagers, as the Monks do not purchase food; it is always given to them.
The kitchen helpers work quite hard bringing large bowls of dishes to the center of the Nuns eating area, and the chanting and eating area for the Monks.
The kitchen helpers bring bowls of food into the center room and dispense it around the tables when it’s time for the Nuns to eat. Prior to that, Nuns pick up the food and take it to the seated Monks.
After lunch there is more chanting with a leader at a microphone.
The kitchen crew cleans up, taking the dishes in the big tubs back to the cooking area.
My meals are served close to where the kitchen helpers take the dishes and bring out the food. I eat alone where the family, who takes care of the facilities live. Tim Chi cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner for me.
I have had the lovely experience of having a Monk knock on my door to greet me and to help me understand Buddhism and the lives of Monks, as well.
I have spoken to seven different Monks, and one of them twice. They are gracious, kind, friendly, and make me feel welcome. They are also attentive to my questions and answer to the best of their English abilities. I am in admiration of their dedication to the discipline and learning.
The school where I teach English is simply a joy. The teenagers are lively, funny, some noisy and some shy, but all with a desire to learn English. They come to the school after they have attended a public school, so for that much schooling, I’m impressed with their tenacity to learn.
I usually have something planned that will make them think a bit, and then I offer a game or a song of some sort. They all seem to have a good time. I’m hoping they are learning something from me.
I find that since they are mainly learning from non-English speaking teachers, while they learn from their textbooks, their pronunciation is not well understood. I sometimes have a difficult time understanding the teachers, myself.
Teaching here is a challenge, but has its rewards, especially when I’m greeted as I get off the tuk tuk in front of the school, with a prayer-pose and bow, and the words, “Hello Teacher.” How can you not love that?
Monks go back to their houses after lunch.