Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Monk's Birthday Party

Another cool person that we met through Ali and Byrun is a sweet monk named Rongsan (though the 'r' is pronounced like an 'l'). Ali has been giving him free English lessons for a little while now and promised to take him for lunch for his birthday. We picked him up just after 10 am from the temple where he lives. I don't have any experience with monks, other than occasionally seeing them walk around in Korea. Before we left Ali filled me in with the protocol- do not touch him because monks are not allowed to touch women, he's vegetarian but does eat seafood, and he eats his last meal of the day before noon. Interesting.

This was a bit sticky as most restaurants don't open until 11 am for lunch. We toyed with the idea of stopping in the little Khon Kaen museum and then abandoned that when we saw that admission was 90 baht/person. Instead we took a little stroll around the lake until it was time to go to the restaurant.

The first restaurant we chose was vetoed by Rongsan because it sold beer and seemed too much like a bar. He was worried about who would see him there. We went to a place nearby and had an excellent vegetarian lunch. There was two kinds of soup, fried rice, fish, an amazing tofu dish, raw oyesters and of course ice cream for dessert. It was quite the feast. Rongsan is an interesting person and has been a monk for 10 years now. He's studying sociology at university right now and doesn't plan on being a monk forever. It's such a strange dichotomy- he renounced and gave up all his belongings and has to rely on the kindness of others but at the same time he has a cell phone and uses the internet and studies at university.

Rongsan actually came by for an English lesson later in the afternoon and when it was over I came out and we chatted about all sorts of things. Ali and Byrun teased me a lot about that later saying that I was probably the most excitement he's had in awhile. The temple isn't exactly teaming with women near his age (Rongsan is 34). Poor guy. Haha. It was extremely cool sharing his birthday with him and maybe we'll get a chance to see him again before we leave Asia.


Carter said...

Wow! I thought becoming a monk was a lifelong commitment.

What an interesting way of life!

How were the raw oysters?

ambearo said...

So did I, but apparently that's not the case and usually all men will become a monk for a period (sometimes only a few months) of their lives. The oysters were delicious!