10-day Vipassana course in Gambang, Malaysia
Here is a quick update on what's been happening in the last month. After Thailand we spent a week in our beloved KL, in the same hotel and same room that we always book here. Funnily enough, after so many times every arrival in KL gives us a feeling that's very similar to the one which you experience on coming home after a vacation, but of course a much subtler shade of it :-)
In KL there was as always more Chinese and a little bit more work on some projects. Soon it was time to leave for our real destination in Malaysia - the picturesque location of the Vipassana retreat in Gambang (2 hours drive away to the east of KL). For those who are reading the word Vipassana for the first time, check our post from the previous course we did in Thailand to find out what it's about Vipassana - 10-day journey to the depth of our minds. I am also sharing some new thoughts, or maybe same but from a bit different angle, on Vipassana, and life, and what we are in "Welcome... to the real world."
After Vipassana, with fresh inspiration to continue the practice, we went back to our room at our hotel back in KL and spent the whole day there wandering around the city with our new friend Raphael who we met at the course and who it turned out was also flying to China where he currently lives and works, just one day ahead of us. Later that day a Malaysian woman who is a friend of Raphael joined us for the "wandering" and all four of us had great time talking about lots and lots of things. In the meantime we also celebrated Jordi's birthday with some fancy ice-cream. (For the past two years getting cakes for our birthdays has become a really challenging task, mostly due to locations we end up at for the day: last year Jordi had a muffin for his birthday which we greeted at the Everest Base camp, this year his birthday was on the 5th day of our Vipassana course - trust me, nobody came to him to silently give him a piece of cake with birthday candles :-). Anyway, we had a really great time with Raphael and his Malaysian friend - it was one of those rare cases of immediate "clicking together". If time and circumstances permit, we would definitely love to visit Raphael when we are passing through Beijing in a few months.
Next day we did some shopping for some sports clothes and shoes for our kungfu training, and in another day took our Airasia flight to Hanzhou airport (a city very close to Shanghai). We arrived at around midnight after a 5-hours flight, slept in a super comfortable and quiet airport and around 5 am (this is the time when all Chinese start their normal daily activities) shared a taxi with three Chinese guys to Hanzhou train station. At the train station we bought tickets for two long trains that would eventually deliver us at Qingdao after about 24 hours. Something we'd like to proudly share :-) is that ever since we arrived in China we had been relying on our Chinese for all the communication, and to our own surprise it has been going really well. Like for instance at the train station not only did we manage to get all the tickets (we were already able to do it last time in China), but we also succeeded in explaining that the route they were suggesting to us in the beginning was almost as expensive as a flight ticket, so in the end they found us a much cheaper route (for half the price). And later we also managed to come back and exchange our tickets for the first train from berths to seats - no problem at all and nothing but smiles from the young girl at the ticket counter :-)!
Well, as I mentioned after 24 hours on two different trains and more simple conversations with the curious locals in Chinese, we arrived at 7 am (and not a minute of delay) at Qingdao station. Our kungfu teacher (who turned out to also be a simply amazing human being - more on that in future posts) was already waiting for us. Two-three hours later we arrived at our destination - his sister's house in the city of Laixi. And that's where we are going to stay for some time to come, to learn kungfu and living in China :-) More on that in the next posts. And below are some photos of the last month.
KL, the week before the course
Herbal tea in China town, KL:
Food for hungry ghosts during Hungry Ghost week in China town, KL:
Food for hungry birds in China town, KL:
Noodles place in China town, KL:
View from and around Backpacker Travellers Inn in China town, KL:
Petaling street in China town, KL:
Petronas at night, KL:
Vipassana course, Gambang:
The course facility was located inside a palm oil plantation:
The dormitories from outside:
The male canteen after we cleaned it at the end of the course:
The Dhamma Hall:
The Mini Hall:
The walking area of this facility breathes nothing but peace:
This gong sets the timetable "beat" at this Vipassana facility: