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December 15, 2012 / A Mindful Traveler

Places to Be and Places to See

In a few days, I’ll be traveling to Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia with the intentions to deepen my meditation practice, do some volunteer English teaching,  and hopefully encounter better weather than I’m experiencing here.  (Although, after a week, the snow I mentioned in my last post has generally melted.)  I do intend to see some sights, but with the exception of Angkor Wat (which my guide at Machu Picchu told me was the greatest set of archaeological ruins in the world), they didn’t guide my itinerary.

I can’t imagine not visiting the Grand Palace on a first trip to Bangkok nor Sunset Hill on a first journey to Luang Prabang, however I (perhaps naively) have as my primary goal experiencing day to day life in Theravada Buddhist countries that have the added convenience of being warm.  When I mention this to friends, I’ve encountered more understanding than I was expecting but nonetheless a fair amount of skepticism.  I think this is reasonable considering my own experience that it’s difficult to get a sense of a place until you’ve spent what a tourist might call “too much time” there, that is enough time to exhaust its obvious attractions.  A number of places where I’ve lived (New York and Korea* chief among them) are much more rewarding places to reside than to visit, while others, which I’m not naming in the interests of politeness, tend more toward the reverse.

My naturally curiosity draws me to places to see, but my sincere hope is to encounter more places to be. Thus, I hope this will be the first of many visits to Southeast Asia.

* I say Korea since I’m not speaking of the specific place where I live so much as residing in this country and doing most of my socializing in Seoul.  I haven’t said Seoul because I don’t actually live there.

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