Of the various things to do in Khao Lak, I often find myself in one of the several Buddhist Temples and associated compounds in the region. Back in the 1990s, I was a devotee of a guru whose teachings were similar to that of Buddhism, so I am familiar with the principles underlying the Buddhist spiritual path. I particularly enjoy chanting, which, in my experience, allows the Divine Energy to flow through my body and up into Infinity. Yeah, yeah, I can hear the sceptical atheist retort – this is just another example of fanciful imaginings or New Age nonsense. At the very least, however, chanting is a form of mantra which can bring about a peaceful mind and a state of bodily relaxation. For a while, anyway! This Bang Niang Buddhist Temple and compound, known as the Phanasnikom Temple, is located approximately 50 meters from the main road on the way to the Chongfah waterfall, and is beautifully maintained in a pristine setting.

Many years ago, while working as a research scientist in several laboratories and institutions around the world, I had developed a very strong materialistic view of existence. That disposition was severely undermined when I joined a spiritual community under the guidance of a guru. My mind has since pretty much turned into porridge! But I have been left with a much more visceral connection with life altogether. Naturally, my taking time tasting Asian culinary delights, spending leisurely evenings in Bang Niang beaches when the Khao Lak weather permits, or enjoying a beer or two in Khao Lak bars, is in no way contradictory to this “spiritual” awakening. Or that’s what I imagine!

I would spend more time in the Chongfah Temple if it weren’t for a pack of dogs who have commandeered a space right in front of the entrance. Thailand is awash with roaming dogs who are especially prominent in small towns such as Khao Lak. These dogs can often be seen wandering the streets in the evenings and mornings growling and barking at people and motor-vehicles passing by. Some of the dogs take particular umbrage with me, and are intent on displaying their gnashing teeth. I used to think that my spiritual aura would cower the dogs of Chongfah Temple into submission, thus enabling me to float into the Temple, but I was completely wrong. They have it out for me, which probably means I was especially wrong about possessing a spiritual aura!

If it weren’t for the dogs, I would know what to do in Khao Lak on many an evening – spend more time in the Chongfah Temple. Oh well, I can hope they have a change of heart one day and gracefully allow me to join in the chanting whenever I pass by. I will not be holding my breath!

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