Bored? Not anymore! Things to Do in Quarantine

Bored? Not anymore! Things to Do in Quarantine

Bored? Not anymore! Things to Do in Quarantine

I must confess: I don’t have words to describe what’s happening. The world is changing right before our eyes and there is nothing we can do about it. In view of the latest developments, I have decided to put my nomadic life on hold and to go through all this together with my family. I have been back in Germany for about a week now.

Departure: unknown.

 

My Tips For The Time in Quarantine

Now, we are asked to stay home. I have to say that this is no problem at all for me personally. I am always so behind with my blog posts, books and other things I want to do that I don’t get bored quickly. And I’m working from my home office almost all the time anyway. Even if the situation were to last for two years, I’d have something to do basically all the time. But since I’m afraid that I’m the exception, here are some ideas on how to keep yourself busy during the quarantine period.

Before we get started, I would like to mention that you can and maybe should do all these things in your daily life as well. Because one thing is clear to me: this difficult time also holds opportunities. The chance to live healthier. The chance to take more care of yourself. The chance to return more to what is really important: friends and family.

Get Fit Again!

Yea, going to the gym or to the pool isn’t possible right now. But you can do a workout at home! Whether with apps, YouTube, online courses or just doing what you like… Now you can really get in shape. And there are no excuses. So grab your mobile phone, turn on the Rocky sound and get in the right mood. Your body may groan at first, but it will thank you on the long run. Because we’re not made for not using it, sitting in the office all day long and in front of the computer and at best walking to the train or the next pizza place to have some fast food. So this is the perfect moment to improve your fitness level. By the way, a friend of mine founded a Facebook group yesterday in which we do sports together every day, share our successes (and failures) and virtually kick each other in the a**. Is that amazing or what?

Go Inside!

Yesterday, I saw a cool post that said: If you can’t go outside, go inside! And I can only agree. We’ve just entered a period of upheaval. So take a moment to reflect on how your life has gone so far and how you want it to go on from now. Is this the moment to change? I don’t know. Only you can know. But in any case, I’m sure one thing will help: Inner peace! And have you ever done sports in the morning, then meditated, took a hot (or cold, depending on your preference) shower afterwards and then had a tasty and healthy breakfast? This is the perfect start in the day! Give it a try! Or do you have something better to do right now?

Finally Read in Peace!

I don’t know about you, but I have so many unread books in my shelf and on my Kindle that I don’t even know where to start. Plus, I love audio books, so the list goes on and on at Audible. I am now firmly resolved to work through these lists. Actually, since I spent a few days in the Buddhist monastery last year, I have been thinking about taking more time for it again. Be it for half an hour before going to bed, after waking up or during an offline weekend – which I actually wanted to do once a month but never managed. Maybe now is exactly the right time. No longer addicted to Instagram and to get as many likes as possible. But addicted to the next good book that stimulates you intellectually and makes you forget tweets, hashtags or wordpress.

Watch Netflix & Chill on the Couch!

Whether it’s films, documentaries or series… Now is the perfect moment for binge-watching! Wrap yourself up on the couch or in bed and let’s go. Netflix or Amazon Prime have a lot to offer for little money. But you don’t want to watch alone? Then I have great news: there is a Chrome extension called Netflix Party. It allows you to connect multiple Netflix accounts and watch with your friends at the same time. Additionally there is a chat, so you can talk about the movie. The add-on costs from €7,99 a month. Of course, it’s not quite the same as sitting next to each other and worrying about the fate of the characters or being happy about their luck together. That is obvious. But in times like these we should be grateful for this opportunity.

Make a Zoom Party!

Have you ever heard of Zoom? It’s kind of like Skype. Only better! You can simply create a link for a Zoom session and share that link. When you click on it, you join the “meeting”. But who says it can only be meetings? Exactly… No one. So get your friends together and have a Zoom Party! It could be anything from a dinner party, having coffee together or maybe a book club. When was the last time you met with friends and had a chat without time pressure? Yesterday I met with travel blogger friends for a Zoom Party and it was so nice that I have no words for it. We were almost 30 people. Normally we meet once a year at the ITB in Berlin – the biggest trade show in tourism industry in the world – but this year it was cancelled due to Corona. The best thing about the meeting was that we ALL talked to each other. Logically, no small groups can form when everyone is in the same chat. So only one person could talk at a time and everyone else listened. Now you might think that this must have ended in chaos. But no! It was just beautiful and everyone was grateful for this opportunity to exchange ideas. Try it out and be surprised!

Note: Zoom is free but only for two people or 40 minutes. If you have three people or more joining in the call is interrupted after 40 minutes. If you want to talk longer you have to upgrade to PRO, which is around 12 euros per month.

 

Learn a language!

I know an insane number of people who download Babbel , keep studying for a few lessons and then give up. Why? No time. That doesn’t make any sense. Well, maybe… But now you have the time. Now is the time to download apps, use YouTube and maybe even get a notebook or flashcards out and finally learn the language you always wanted to learn. Honestly, I could spend half an eternity just on this topic alone. I love languages, which is why I studied three of them (Italian, Spanish and Portuguese). Apart from the fact that I would like to brush up on my Portuguese and French, I have been studying Thai since the end of last year. I am having an incredible amount of fun doing that. I learn through three ‘channels’: I bought an online course (Learn Thai from a White Guy), I have an account at Mondly and I also have a teacher. I meet her once or twice a week when I am in Bangkok. Online I take lessons less often, because I find it nicer in personal contact. But I would like to try to take a Skype lesson with her once a week. My teacher also has an Instagram channel where she regularly shares impressions from Thailand including vocabulary.

Learn an Offline Skill​!

Okay, the title sucks, I admit it. But I wanted to keep it general. Because I want you to go inside yourself and think about what you would like to be able to do, but always pushed aside. Do you have an instrument that’s just getting more and more dusty? Do you want to knit your first sweater yourself? Do you want to paint or do handicrafts? There are no limits to your imagination. But yes, it’s not easy when you’re asked half your life just to focus and give your best in everything. Maybe you just do something now because you enjoy it? For no other reason… Wouldn’t that be great?

Learn an Online Skill!

Learning how to use Photoshop properly has been on my to-do list for years. NOW the moment seems to be right! I bought an online course ages ago and hopefully I will be able to go through it soon. Besides, my father wants to teach me computer programming. Sounds crazy? Maybe it is! But we sit here together, day in, day out, in quarantine. And if there’s one thing I learned from my mother’s death last year, it’s that we should use the time we have together. I’ve said it so many times: Carpe Diem. And yes, I’ve always made an effort to be productive, to seize the day when it comes to work. Another ebook (by the way, yesterday I published my 20th City Guide*!), more blog posts, more content on Instagram. But I never saw Carpe Diem as an invitation to use every day, which could be my last, for social contacts, for my family. And no matter how crazy it is and I think that programming is not really my world: I’m as happy af to spend time with my father and make him proud. Because he has always wanted me to learn programming. And as a final note: If you are considering a WordPress course to start blogging in quarantine, feel free to contact me. I give workshops and courses on this topic and am happy to help.

Cook a Delicious Meal!

On Barbaralicious you can find all kinds of information. But culinary forays are not really my thing. Yeah, I have to eat, too. But I am one of the few people who do not attach so much importance to the fact that every meal is like a culinary treat. This is reflected in the cooking. I almost never cook. If I do I make pasta as a good half-Italian. But just because I don’t like to cook doesn’t mean that you don’t either. So, use the time to get out the kitchen utensils, which may already be dusty, and prepare something delicious.

Tidy Up And Muck Out!

Coincidentally, this is exactly the right time for a thorough spring cleaning. I, too, have already started mucking out, tidying up and cleaning the apartment. Ask yourself what you really need and what is really only catching dust or keeping space in the shelf. Do you need so much clothing? What about all those books? Or the DVDs? I actually try to clean out every time I’m in Germany with my father. But now I can do it especially thoroughly.

Revise Your Bucket List!

Uh, that’s one of my favorite things on this list! Because my bucket list is also in absolute need of renovation. Yeah, we don’t know what the new normal’s gonna look like. Probably our reality will change quite a bit. And I have been wondering for days what significance travel will have in the future. Especially long-distance travel will certainly be more of a luxury good than it has been in recent years. But that will not stop us from dreaming! So dream about the places you still want to see, about the things you still want to do and experience. And a little tip: It might make sense not to just wander off into the distance. Maybe the moment has come for all of us to explore our home country better. So start reading travel blogs again and get inspired! Whether near or far… Travel in your thoughts and pack your bags when the time comes. And anticipation is the greatest joy…

Put Ideas Into Practice!

Have you ever had an idea for a project, but didn’t realize it due to lack of time? Have you always wanted to write a book? Develop an app? Paint a painting? Well, then you might be happy to hear that now is the moment: The actually awkward situation of being trapped at home is perfectly suited to finally realize such previously discarded ideas. If that’s not a reason for to celebrate, I don’t know what is.

Get in Touch With Friends And Family​!

In everyday life most of us are constantly busy. Time for friends and family? Nope. I’m the same: I don’t really talk to my best friend on the phone anymore, we meet maybe once a year when I’m in Germany. And now? Has the moment arrived to use the situation of social distancing to make social contacts really social again? To cultivate real friendships and to talk extensively with long-time friends again… Maybe you should make a list and go through it bit by bit. I am quite sure that you will put a smile on many people’s faces. And maybe even your own…

Final Thoughts About Things to Do in Quarantine

But now I am running out of ideas, too. But I can’t imagine that there isn’t something for everyone to keep themselves busy for a few weeks.

By the way, you can also combine the different ideas with each other: Convince friends to do sports with you! Arrange a time and meet online for example at Zoom and go through the fitness program together. You want to revise your Bucket List? Isn’t dreaming together with others twice as much fun? Call a friend and go through the bucket list ideas together. Or tidy up when you’re on the phone with a friend. If you haven’t heard from each other in a long time, you probably have a lot to say and it will be a long call. You can tidy up a bit at the same time.

Yes, the idea of quarantine can be frightening. But if you focus on the many things you can do instead of the ones you can’t, the weeks will surely pass quickly.

And always remember: Together we are strong! You are not alone, even if you cannot be with others physically.

Let me know in the comments which of my suggestions you like best and which you will implement!

PS: All links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links.

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Mannheim in Winter – This is What You Can Do!

Mannheim in Winter – This is What You Can Do!

Mannheim in Winter – This is What You Can Do!

At the end of November, I was in Mannheim for two days. I already knew the city from other short visits, as it is also not far from my hometown Kelkheim near Frankfurt. So I have met friends here from time to time or even went dancing. Now I should experience Mannheim for the first time in winter! The reason for my trip was the concert Night of the Proms, for which I couldn’t get tickets in Frankfurt anymore.

Mannheim – The City of Squares

Mannheim and Heidelberg were the capitals of the Electorate Palatinate, or Kurpfalz for short. This is evidenced, for example, by Mannheim Castle, which was built between 1720 and 1760 and was temporarily the residence of the Elector of the Palatinate.

The heavy destruction of the city center during World War II meant that the entire city center had to be rebuilt. This reconstruction was carried out in the style of the 1950s – namely in a grid-shaped street network, which gave the city one of its many nicknames, the Square City. Mannheim is known for its parks, for its music culture and for its multicultural diversity.

 

Mannheim in Winter – This is What You Can do!

I don’t know about you… But when I think of Mannheim, I think of the parks and the beautiful university and the castle. All places that are not ideal for winter excursions. At least if you feel the cold as easily as me.

Therefore I have four things here that you can do in Mannheim in winter:

 

Check Out The Art Gallery

The art gallery called Kunsthalle Mannheim was the first museum in Mannheim and was inaugurated in 1909. It is one of the first civic collections of modern art in the world. It was founded as a museum in 1909 and houses one of the most renowned civic collections in Germany. Works by Manet, Pissaro, van Gogh or Bacon in painting and numerous sculptures make the heart of every art lover beat faster. From the very beginning, the motto has been “Art for all” and is thus committed to people – regardless of their origin or education.

Mannheim im Winter – Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Until June 1st of 2018, the Kunsthalle was housed in the Art Nouveau building designed by Hermann Billing, which was ceremonially built in 1907 to mark the 300th anniversary of the city of Mannheim. Today’s complex has grown naturally: in part very modern and a work of art in itself. While the other part is the former Jugendstil building.

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

At a different time of the year, you can certainly sit nicely on the roof terrace, enjoy the sun and let the works of art take effect on you.

Kunsthalle Mannheim

Kunsthalle Mannheim

For all those who like it modern, the Kunsthalle Mannheim offers an app as a multimedia companion. There are guided tours and information on exhibitions, works and events. It can be downloaded from both the Apple Store and the Google Play Store.

Here are the facts about the Kunsthalle Mannheim:

Opening hours:

Tuesday – Sunday & Holidays 10 – 18 h
Wednesday 10 – 20 h / 1st Wednesday of the month 10 – 22 h
Closed on Monday

Entrance:

14 Euro / reduced 12 Euro
Family ticket: 24 Euro (2 adults with children under 18 years)
Evening ticket: 10 Euro (valid from 1 ½ h before closing time)
Annual ticket: 30 Euro (from 18 years, valid 1 year from date of redemption)

Free entrance – MVV art night
1st Wednesday of the month, 18 – 22 Uhr

 

Go to the Technoseum

In the Technoseum, the State Museum for Technology and Work, you can go on an interactive journey through time. Information is combined with experiences and complex technical topics are presented in a vivid way. It is a foundation under public law and is financed by the City of Mannheim and the State of Baden-Württemberg.

Technoseum Mannheim

The exhibition covers 200 years of technology as well as social history and is in many cases prepared in a playful and even child-friendly way, so that one does not just walk through a simple museum and look at exhibits or read the respective descriptions. No, here, everybody becomes an actor who likes to experiment. This is specially the case in the uppermost floor where one can help oneself.

Mannheim im Winter – Technoseum Mannheim

In an increasingly complex world, the Technoseum wants to make technical progress understandable and illustrate the influence on people’s lives and work. Modern technologies hold opportunities, but also risks. This is what the museum wants to show.

Technoseum Mannheim

Technoseum Mannheim

Technoseum Mannheim

Technoseum Mannheim

Technoseum Mannheim

These are the facts about the Technoseum:

Opening hours:

Daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Entrance:

Adults 9,00 Euro
Reduced 6,00 Euro
Children up to 6 years old free

 

Go to a Show at the Planetarium

In 1927 one of the world’s first planetariums was opened in Mannheim. Under a 24.5-meter dome in the Luisenpark, 514 people could be seated. In 1943, however, it was damaged in a bombing raid and demolished ten years later. It was not until 1975 that there was a citizens’ initiative to help rebuild the planetarium.

In 1984 the time had finally come: the new planetarium was built on Europaplatz. The dome is 20 metres high and can accommodate 280 people. It was equipped with the most powerful projector available at the time. But the technology improved so much over the decades that a new one had to be built in 2002. Universarium is the name of the chic new acquisition, which can realistically depict stars using fiber optics.

The old projector is located in front of the entrance to the Dome Hall and can be viewed while waiting for the performance to begin. In addition, a cafeteria ensures that you can warm up when you come in from the wintery cold streets of Mannheim.

Mannheim im Winter – Planetarium Mannheim

Planetarium Mannheim

Planetarium Mannheim

These are the facts for the Planetarium Mannheim:

Opening hours:

The opening hours of the planetarium vary as they depend on the performances, which are different every day. In the schedule you can see which performances are upcoming. The doors open one hour before the performance starts.

Free choice of seats for all events!

Admission approx. 10 minutes before the performance begins.

Tickets:

Adults9,50 €
Group of adults8,50 €
Reduced7,00 €
Children (up to 12 years)5,00 €
Students in a group5,00 €

 

Have a Hot Drink at the Christmas Market

200 huts are waiting at the Mannheim Christmas market at the water tower… For feasting, strolling, Christmas shopping! Because there’s a lot to discover here and maybe you’ll come up with an odd gift idea for Christmas.

In Germany, Mannheim’s Christmas market is one of the oldest and largest. It takes place around the water tower, the city’s landmark.

Mannheim im Winter – Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

Mannheim im Winter - Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

Be enchanted by the carousel organ or make a detour to the 18-metre high Christmas pyramid. It is accessible and there is even a café upstairs.

A colourful programme awaits you on a stage: artists can show off their talents here from 6 pm! Whether choirs, musicians or dancers… There is something for everyone!

Mannheim im Winter - Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt – Die Weihnachtspyramide

Mannheim im Winter - Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

Mannheim im Winter - Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

Mannheim im Winter - Der Wasserturm bei Nacht

Mannheimer Weihnachtsmarkt

These are the facts about the Mannheim Christmas market:

Mannheim Christmas market at the water tower

25 November to 23 December 2019

Or 23 November to 23 December 2020

Daily from 11 to 21

www.weihnachtsmarkt-mannheim.de

 

Hotel in Mannheim

I was accommodated in the Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim, less than five minutes walk from the water tower. You can reach all the places listed here within 15 minutes at the most, walking easily. So the location was ideal for me.

You can find a detailed description of my hotel stay here: Leonardo Royal Hotel Mannheim.

 

Mannheim in Winter – My Final Thoughts

My reason for this trip was a concert. So I must admit: I was a bit skeptical at first whether I would even like Mannheim in winter. I’ve already been to the parks and to the university, so I knew Mannheim mainly as a destination where you can go for wonderful walks. But what should I do in winter?

I had not expected to have such a nice time! But I found the Technoseum really exciting and it was my first time in a planetarium. The Christmas market was also really great and it gave us – me and my family – a perfect opportunity to have a bite to eat before the concert, but at the same time to do some exploring.

All in all it was a fun weekend trip!

Deine Barbara

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Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery – Vipassana in Thailand

Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery – Vipassana in Thailand

Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery – Vipassana in Thailand

Some do it to find themselves, others just to disconnect for some time. For me, the four days at Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery were a mix of both.

After my mother’s death, some things in my life were just too much for me. I had also changed a lot to be near her during her last months. Now I didn’t know where my place was anymore. Friends asked why I couldn’t just restart where I left off the year before. At the beginning, I didn’t know how to answer that. I just knew it felt wrong.

And so it came, that I wanted to spend a few days in silence. Only with my thoughts accompanied by the monks’ and the other participants’ chanting.

Two side notes: First, you can stay between two and ten days as long as you want. You can just go there without kind of “booking”. I know that sounds a bit scary, but it’s really no problem. And second, I originally wanted to stay there for five nights, but then I shortened it to four, as you will read below.

How to get to Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

The trip by minivan takes about four hours from Chiang Mai. Book a trip to Mae Hong Son (about 250 Baht) and tell the driver that you want to be dropped off at Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery.

The road is curvy and can be quite stomach-churning. I have done this trip several times and I have to say that it seems to change. Sometimes I get extremely nauseous, sometimes I can relax and enjoy the landscape, even look at my phone. But maybe it is also due to the driving style of the respective driver…

If you don’t want to take all the curves at once, you can make a stopover in the famous hippie village of Pai. This village is about halfway between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son City. In the province of the same name you are already here and can enjoy the special flair of the village on the night market of the main street.

Alternatively you can take the bus from Bangkok directly to Mae Hong Son and from where you can take the minivan to Pai or Chiang Mai. From there it takes about one hour.

 

Arriving at Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery is paradise. The compound is quite large although it won’t feel like it if you spend a lot of time there. Try to explore it a little bit and maybe sit quietly at the idyllically rippling brook or the big pond.

Das Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

The most important place for you is the Dharma Hall. This is where the meditations take place, or in the case of walking meditation (I explain the different meditations in the following), this is the starting point. By the way, men and women sit separately, which the volunteers always remind you of in case you forget. There is an area with cushions and there are chairs at the edge, so if you don’t want to or can’t kneel for that long, it’s absolutely no problem. You can also switch from the seat cushion to the chair during the meditation if you are in pain.

Die Dharma Hall von außen – Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

Die Dharma Hall – Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

This is also where the “reception” is located, meaning your first point of contact and your hub in case you have any questions.

Next to the reception is a small library, where you will find numerous books on Buddhism, as well as the book Walk to the Knower, which is a kind of guide for your time doing Vipassana in Thailand.

Library – Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

On the wall opposite to the library there is a little ‘buffet’ waiting for you: tea, coffee and sometimes powder for hot chocolate.

On the other side of the shelves are tables where you can read during the day and at the appropriate time this area turns into the dining room.

 

White clothing

When I got there, I got my white clothes. You can either bring your own or borrow some there. It’s free and you can always go to the cottage with the clothes if you need a new t-shirt or trousers. Right next door is a cottage with a laundry. There you can hand in used clothes.

Ich im Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

 

Kuti vs dormitory

Then, I was assigned a Kuti – a small hut. I was lucky enough to get a Kuti of my own. Because there are dormitories there, too, where dozens of people sleep.

For me, personally, it was important to be alone with myself in silence. I probably wouldn’t have been very happy in a dormitory.

Whether it’s a dormitory or a Kuti, your ‘home’ is very simple: you get a mat that to put on the floor, a blanket and a pillow. I personally got very cold at night, although I additionally had my own blanket and slept with long clothes. I think the cold just goes through the wood. Fortunately, I always travel with a hot water bottle, so it was ok. But I was never really warm at night.

Mein Kuti im Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

Even if you have your own Kuti, there’s nothing else in the room. There is a small bathroom attached. However, there is no hot water and you will not find mirrors in the whole monastery.

Kutis im Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

 

Silent Badge

It’s not obligatory to go silent at Wat Pa Tam Wua as it is the rule in other Vipassana places. Therefore, 90 percent of the other visitors chatted and laughed. This is not very pleasant and makes it extremely difficult if you want to be silent yourself. If you want to try yourself to stay silence during your stay, you can always take a Silent Badget from the reception and put it on.

Silent Badges im Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

I tried to stay as far away as possible from the talking people, but that is not always possible.

Besides, I had an awful lot of questions buzzing around in my head. And I am not talking about the questions that silenced me and needed silence to be answered. I’m talking about questions for which one has to talk, because one can’t find the answer in oneself, like “Where is the monastery shop or café?” or “How do I get to the caves and how far away are they?” Also, many questions about meditation or Buddhism in general started to come up in my head. It was hard for me to concentrate on meditation when I wanted to know in which language people chanted, what Dharma was or why monks’ robes were brown/orange and their heads usually shaved.

 

Routines at the monastery

Every day follows the same pattern. There is a timetable that must be adhered to. As a guest you commit yourself on arrival to always participate in at least the activities in bold print. Absence requires good reasons.

The timetable

  • 05:00 Morning meditation in your kuti.
  • 06:30 Rice offering to the monks.
  • 07:00 Breakfast.
  • 08:00 Morning Dharma talk, and meditation class.
  • 10:30 Food offering to the monks.
  • 11:00 Lunch.
  • 13:00 Afternoon Dharma talk and meditation class.
  • 16:00 Cleaning the area and helping in the monastery.
  • 17:00 Free time.
  • 18:00 Evening Chanting, meditation and Dharma talk.
  • 20:00 Meditation on your own, or have tea, coffee, hot chocolate & relax.
  • 22:00 Rest time.

 

Meals

Buddhist monks are vegans. Therefore you will not find any animal products at the monastery. Whether you like it or not: During your time here you have to eat vegan or bring your own food.

At 6:30 am the Rice Offering will take place at the Dharma Hall. All guests line up on their knees to give each monk a spoonful of rice in a bowl. This is a tradition of Buddhism that can be observed every morning not only in monasteries and temples, but also in the streets of Thailand and other Buddhist countries.

Rice Offering to the Monks – Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

Only then you can help yourself: There is a buffet with Thai breakfast. So you’ll mainly find rice, rice soup, vegetables and maybe roots and fruits.

Lunch is at 11:00 am, which also follows an offering. This time you don’t offer rice to the monks, but the food in general, which is then part of the buffet. This is of course vegan again.

Lunch is the last meal of the day. After lunch there is some fruits and otherwise only the small shop at the other end of the compound where you can buy noodle soup, chips or soft drinks.

 

Meditation

There are three mandatory meditation sessions per day. First of all everyone meets in the Dharma Hall and before the morning and midday meditation one of the monks talks about Buddhism. Afterwards, there is a 45-minute walking meditation. The main point is to be mindful while walking and let your mantra become one with the walk. The recommended mantra is Bud (when inhaling) – dho (when exhaling), but you can also find your own mantra. This was important to me because Bud-dho didn’t mean anything to me. It worked much better when I found my own, meaningful mantra after two days.

Walking Meditation im Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

Walking Meditation im Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

After the walking meditation we continue with 45 minutes of sitting meditation in the Dharma Hall and directly afterwards 15 minutes of Lying meditation. Theoretically there is still the standing meditation after Buddha’s teachings, but in Wat Pa Tam Wua it is not part of the program.

Lying Meditation im Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

The morning and noon meditation is roughly the same. The only difference is that the monk in charge stays after the noon meditation and answers questions. This was also a situation where I was unsure whether I’m allowed to ask questions wearing the Silent Badge.

The evening meditation is a little different from the other meditations. It starts with chanting. There is a Chanting Book for this and the monks tell you which page to open. This is followed by a 40-minute Lying Meditation and then a short speech by the leading monk.

Sitting Meditation im Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

The chanting is in three languages: Thai and English I recognized immediately, but I didn’t know the third language. Then I found out that it was Pali.

On the last pages of the Chanting Book there is a FAQ section, which I unfortunately only found out about on my last day. A lot of questions are answered there and I wish I had known about it at the very beginning of my stay.

 

Cleaning and helping

This point is optional, but from my own experience I can tell you that sweeping leaves, for example, can be incredibly meditative. This is one of the tasks that you have to do every day and which you can almost never finish. It is important that you practice mindfulness. So it is not the point to talk to others while doing it. But in practice it happens naturally and I am also guilty. The peer pressure was just too strong and I’m really bad at ignoring what’s going on around me.

 

Free time

At first glance, it may seem like you have a lot of free time. But believe me: you will not have a lot of time for yourself in Wat Pa Tam Wua. For example, I had the problem that I usually go to bed at midnight at the earliest. Among other reasons, that has something to do with the fact that Thailand is five or six hours before Germany and midnight in Thailand is 6 pm in Germany. This means that I’m usually chatting with friends, family and customers until late at night. Also, my posts in social media do not go online until around 6 pm German time.

Even being offline at Wat Pa Tam Wua, I could not get used to this completely different rhythm from one day to the other. I had problems to fall asleep before midnight and then I was completely tired the next day. Because of this I often fell asleep during the meditations.

But you should try to take your time and explore the compound and surroundings. It is beautiful! Also the caves are worth a trip. Plan about two hours for it.

Caves – Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

Caves – Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

Caves – Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

 

My experience and thoughts

About being silent

For me, it was clear: Even if it is not obligatory to go silent in Wat Pa Tam Wua, nothing else would be possible for me.

However, I started to think about the silence. Am I allowed to talk to myself when I am alone? Can I ask short questions like “Where is the toilet?” What is the reason for the silence?

I came to the conclusion that silence has nothing to do with the physical state of not talking, but with the fact that you are left alone with your thoughts. So in my opinion it’s okay to talk to yourself even if you wear the Silent Badge. But on the other hand, it’s not ok to listen to conversations and somehow be passively part of them, even if you’re not talking and actively participating in the conversation. Because that way you would no longer be alone with your thoughts, but you would be thinking about the conversation.

On the second day, I swept the leaves in front of my Kuti. After about ten minutes a girl came and asked if she could help me. I nodded. Another girl came five minutes later. And then another one. All three of them had no Silent Badge and chatted happily about meditation and the meaning of mindful cleaning. So it didn’t take long until I decided that there was no point in remaining silent if I followed their conversations mentally and laughed with them, even without answering. Because by my definition I had already broken the silence IN MY HEAD… So I put my Silent Badge aside.

To cut a long story short: Although I managed to keep silent for a few hours a day and really stay with myself, I didn’t manage to keep silent all the time. If I had really wanted to pull through with it, I would have had to go somewhere else in a situation like when I was sweeping the leaves in order to continue being undisturbed and mindful.

 

About being offline

BUT… yes, there is a but. I went to Wat Pa Tam Forest Monastery for a reason. I wanted the answer to a burning question I was trying to find in the silence. And I found it! Surprisingly, I did not find it in the silence, although I believe that the answer was already within myself. But for some reason I could not see it. I could only see it when I was talking to the people I met at the monastery and talking to them about my question!

Then, I had a thought:

Maybe I still found the answer in the silence. Not in the silence of my voice or my thoughts, but in the silence of the modern world. Without all the “noise” that phones and computers create inside of us… Because even if I have not managed to stay physically silent, I have managed to stay offline and, therefore, silent in social media and messengers. So there was no noise or anything else from the outside world. I’m sure that this “silence” had a huge impact and was much more important than not talking!

When I understood all this and found my answer, I decided to leave the monastery earlier than planned. Although I enjoyed the stay and my answer was a great success, I also realized that it was not good for my health to stay there:

I was always cold (I’m just not made for walking barefoot all the time, and in my little Kuti I was cold day and night), I was always hungry (no food between 11am and 6:30am is not for me), and I was always tired (as I said before, the times just don’t match my biorhythm and I couldn’t get used to it). In addition, half of the visitors were sick, wore thick scarves, drank tea, coughed and took medication from the publicly accessible medicine cabinet.

I was therefore not surprised when, on the same day I left, I got a sore throat, fever, and then a pretty bad cold that accompanied me for four weeks.

 

Final thoughts

I wrote at the beginning that I did not know why I could not pick up where I had left off the year before. After my time in Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery I knew it: I am not the same person anymore.

Walking Meditation im Wat Pa Tam Wua Forest Monastery

We all keep changing constantly. Normally we don’t even notice it, because we continuously adapt our decisions and lives to these changes. At least as far as we can. But for eight months I was in the situation that I did not adapt anything to my preferences, but only to my family. After that you can’t go back as if nothing had ever happened.

Of course, the time in the monastery does not change reality. I was and still am very busy to process the death of my mother and I still don’t know exactly who this new Barbara actually is, who is so much more anchored in Germany and Europe than the old Barbara.

Nevertheless, I am grateful for the days of multi-layered silence, for the hours of meditation, for the valuable insights into the life of Buddhist monks. I wouldn’t want to miss this experience at all!

The Chiang Mai Guide for Digital Nomads

Chiang Mai Guide for Digital Nomads

Live Like a Local

Du suchst nach einem coolen Spot für digitale Nomaden in Südostasien? Dann solltest du dir unbedingt die Hauptstadt der digitalen Nomaden Chiang Mai anschauen!

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The Muir Woods National Monument – Magical Moments in a Sea of Trees

The Muir Woods National Monument – Magical Moments in a Sea of Trees

The Muir Woods National Monument – Magical Moments in a Sea of Trees

Muir Woods National Monument is a protected area for coastal sequoia trees about 20 km north of San Francisco.

Coastal sequoia trees or redwoods are the highest trees in the world and can reach up to 115 m in height. At Muir Woods National Monument, the highest trees are about 80 meters high.

Red Woods im Muir Woods National Monument

Within this park there are several trails. The signage here was much better than at Yosemite National Park, so that I could deliberately choose the longest trail (about 2.5 hours, the shortest trail was signposted with half an hour). I admit, one reason why I chose this trail was because of his name: Ocean View!

Unfortunately, I didn’t know that the name comes from the fact that once a fire had opened the view up to the ocean. Luckily, the trees have grown again today. But because of this the sea is no longer visible.

The climb was more or less steep. It took me about 1.5 hours to reach my destination. On the way, I enjoyed the peace and the special energy of this place. It is amazing how peaceful you feel in such a place. Did you ever experience something like this?

Red Woods im Muir Woods National Monument

Red Woods im Muir Woods National Monument

 

What would these hundreds of years old trees tell us if they were able to speak?

Then, I slowly made my way through the woods and out “of the sea”.

Muir Woods National Monument

From above I could see the Muir Woods National Monument – what a peaceful place! It was a wonderful day…

And a fantastic view!

Muir Woods National Monument

Afterwards, I went back to the cool thicket. Also in summer the dense redwoods let only little sunlight through, so that it is always much cooler there. So don’t forget to bring layers to not get cold. You spend most of your time in the woods anyway.

An hour later, I arrived back where I had started.

The main path, from which all trails start, leads along a stream, which creates a pleasant and almost meditative atmosphere through its quiet but constant splashing…

Red Woods im Muir Woods National Monument

The sequoia trees reinforce this feeling. I could have spent much more time here.

Red Woods im Muir Woods National Monument

Even those who are not so close to nature will feel something magical here – between the 500 to 700 year old trees – which the mind cannot understand and will never understand and which hopefully (!) will last for many more hundred years and will survive the age of humans.

Have you ever stood in front of these gigantic trees and even been able to touch them?

I think it’s only possible to understand their size and greatness when seeing it with your own eyes.

What do you think?

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You could also like the following blog posts

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HIGHWAY 1

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Highway 1 in California: About Beaches, Sunsets, Sea Lions & Whales

Highway 1 in California: About Beaches, Sunsets, Sea Lions & Whales

Highway 1 in California: About Beaches, Sunsets, Sea Lions & Whales

When you mention to Americans that you plan to drive Highway 1 from LA to San Francisco, it usually puts a smile on their face.

This road is known for its fantastic views of the sea.

I decided to rent a car, which I picked up in Los Angeles and returned to San Francisco.

The next day, I took advantage of having a car and drove to Santa Monica to the beach to the famous Santa Monica Pier and then to the beautiful Griffith Park, which has an observatory on the summit from where you have an incredible view of LA. It is also an excellent place to photograph the Hollywood sign.

Then, I started the real adventure! I put Santa Barbara as destination into my mobile phone and left LA.

Already this short distance was really beautiful: Over hills and through valleys I made my way to the north of California.

I was lucky with the weather, too. The sun was shining all the time and it was so warm that I had to switch on the air conditioning.

After about two hours I arrived in Santa Barbara, looked for a parking place near the pier and ate lunch by the sea, with the sound of the waves.

20 minutes later I was sitting in the car again, the sea to my left, and made my way up the well-known and popular Highway 1.

It leads right along the sea and winds partly through serpentines. There are parking spots so that you don’t miss any of the many postcard views. Have your camera ready!

An absolute highlight of this route for me was that on some beaches sea lions lay in the sun.

Big and small, loud and silent.

It was beautiful! I could hardly convince myself to move on.

My destination for the night was Monterey!

I reached it after dusk and found a place to stay in my car.

A friend of mine grew up there and she advised me to visit Fisherman’s Wharf and eat Clam Chowder there. What’s so special about it? It is served in a hollowed loaf of bread! Delicious!

On the internet I had asked for prices for whale watching tours. The tours all start at Fisherman’s Wharf, so I was in the right place. I went directly to the provider I chose online, got the promised discount if you refer to the website, and even got another discount of $2.50.

The whale watching tour lasted about three hours. Much longer than the tour I did in Patagonia.

However, it took much longer to get into open waters and within reach of whales.

When the boat finally stopped and we were close to the giants of the sea, they came up quite often, but unfortunately not really close to the boat.

These whales seemed to be shy compared to their relatives in Patagonia because there they swam constantly under our boat along and emerged directly beside it to take a deep breath.

I was still able to take some nice pictures. Or what do you think?

In the late afternoon I started my onwards journey to San Francisco – the drive was about two hours.

The way to Santa Cruz (about half an hour by car) continued along the sea, so that I could watch another breathtaking sunset.

After Santa Cruz, I left Highway 1.

Never before had I seen so many beautiful beaches, sunsets and animals in just two days.

So when you travel to California, you shouldn’t miss this experience and this beautiful route.

Did you like this blog post?

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Subscribe to my newsletter so I can keep you posted about my life of travels and as a digital nomad! You will never miss a new blog post, a new ebook or where my next adventure is going to bring us. Because it’s never going to be boring!

You could also like the following blog posts

USA

MUIR WOODS NATIONAL MONUMENT

USA

5 COOL ACTIVITIES IN SAN FRANCISCO

USA

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK