What does the Golden Mountain mean to me?
I see the Golden Mountain Bankgok temple in a photograph, or in the distance when I drive on the streets of Bangkok, and my heart soars with memories of a life of adventure, discovery and freedom.
Our old home.
The Golden Mountain, or its more exotic name, Phu Khao Thong, greeted us every morning from the window of our school office bedroom.
I would often take my students for walks up to the top of the golden mount or we’d play Frisbee in the gardens below.
We had the honour and privilege of attending many Buddhist ceremonies in the grounds of the Wat Saket the adjoining temple, including the anointing of a very famous Thai pop singer into novice monkhood. Wat Saket is a Royal temple of Bangkok; we felt special teaching and living at the school connected to it.
We knew we could never get lost in Bangkok. All we had to do was say “Golden Mountain please” and were brought safely home.
Sometimes if we were late we would have to climb over the locked 9ft high school fence. We’d wake the night guard with our giggles mid-leg throw over. He jump from his wooden bench bed, shake his head when he saw it was just as crazy falangs and laugh.
The Golden Mountain faithfully steered us home after nights spent on Khao San Road getting our Western fix and street meals of 10 baht Pad Thai.
My colleague and friend Jintina would sit with me in her small office and we’d talk in jilted English. Her laughter always framed by the Golden Mountain sitting outside her window.
Oh, how I miss that Golden Mountain and those days.
You don’t realize the depths your memories will be when you are making them.
We didn’t understand how much that Bangkok temple, the Golden Mountain was affecting our lives and changing us.
At the time we thought our life was filled with the problems of adjustment and culture shock. The anguish associated with this was far too present.
Now in the future, I don’t remember those problems and negative emotions, I only remember what was so great.
Don’t focus on the bad in your life, it will always be there; it is meaningless and unmemorable. The problems of adjustment will mean nothing to you years later.
All that will matter is the joy you didn’t even realize you were having – focus only on experiencing this in the present moment.
We get frustrated with the challenges of travel that seem to be so present.
They overshadow that which is really good. And that which is really good is always there, we just have to choose to focus on it.
Is there a place in your travels that, at the time seemed fraught with challenges, but now when you look back you realize how memorable and magical it really was?