The Quest to be like Aang

Posted by SammyK on Mar 14, 2010 at 05:33 AM | Comments

I'm Back In Travel Mode
After almost 6 months staying in my hometown, I'm back out and traveling the world again. Looks like I'm a bit addicted to new places.

But I'm starting out with a familiar country - Thailand. I was here this time last year with my buddy William.

For the first few days here in Chiang Mai, I've settled down into the same place as last year - The Grand Napat. It's luxury furnished apartments with pool and workout facilities for about $70 a night. That's a deal!

But tomorrow I go up to Fang, Thailand for a very important mission: become like Aang.

The Last Airbender

Aang is the the Avatar. No, not from the recent movie, but from the cartoon, "Avatar: The Last Airbender". The most amazing cartoon ever made. If you haven't seen it yet, by all three seasons on DVD. You will not be disappointed.


Aang is a monk from the Airbener tribe who is supposed to be the "avatar" or basically the only one who can save the planet from destruction.

I'm not going to save the earth from impending doom or anything, but I'm going to be immersing myself in the monk culture for 2 weeks.

So You're Becoming a Buddhist Monk?
Well, I'm definitely not becoming Buddhist, but I am seriously becoming a monk and will be doing all the things the monks do at the rural temples in Thailand.

What does that entail? Well, you know, not killing any living creature (including mosquitoes), not touching women (even bumping accidentally)... shaving my head and eyebrows.

Don't worry, I'll make sure to post some pics of my new look tomorrow sometime. The temple has WiFi - these are some modern rural monks we're talking about!

Here's a question I get asked a lot.

Why are you becoming a monk?

1) To Learn Meditation Techniques
At first I wanted to go to the temple to just practice meditation. It seems like most people in the Kentucky culture automatically associate meditation with some strange eastern religion and won't touch the concept of it with a ten-foot-poll.

This is unfortunate because there are many health benefits from meditaion. There is also strong evidence from the Bible that Jesus meditated. When it says Jesus went off to pray in several of the passages, it describes Jesus secluding himself for long periods of time. I doubt he was just sitting there saying, "And dear Lord help me this and give me that." I'd be willing to bet he was in deep meditation and focus.

And focus is exactly what I wanted to take away from this. I'm a bit of a rabbit chaser and any shiny object tends to grab my attention. The hope was to learn to spend a few minutes everyday in meditation to clear my head and really focus on my task at hand.

And who better to learn focus techniques than from the monks who go up into the mountains and sit in the snow with nothing but their thin robes on and through meditation, bring up their body temperature so much that it melts the snow around them! Now that's focus!

2) To Get To Know A New Culture
The other reason I wanted to become a monk is to get to know a culture that few Westerners get to experience.

Most monks we Westerners know from TV and movies are these crazy kung-foo monks who fight bad guys with impossible fighting techniques. Our view of monks is badly warped and I wanted to see what a real monk culture was like.

Ever since I learned that people live their lives differently around the world when I was in Guatemala back in 2005, I started to look at the world and other cultures a bit more objectively. Now I want to experience many lifestyles to better understand why people do the things they do around the world.

With understanding comes respect. With respect comes better co-existence.

3) To See What I Look Like Bald

I know it sounds crazy, but another reason I wanted to become a monk is just to see what I'd look like with no hair on my huge noggin. I could have just shaved my head back at home, but that's boring. Now I have a perfectly legitimate excuse.

Thanks to Amanda, I now know that for 20% of the population, once the eyebrows have been shaved off, they don't come back - or they come back all sparse and scraggly. Let's hope I'm in the 80%...

And Then...
After my monktastic adventure, I'll be taking my bald head to Ukraine where I will immerse myself in yet another culture for 2 months. I've also got some cool plans for my time there.

The goal is to keep everyone who cares up-to-date here my personal website. It won't be as glamorous as my adventure videos from Two Guys Around The World, but hey, text and pictures are still in for at least a few more years. :)

I’m Sam “SammyK” Powers. Freelance PHP coder, West Coast Swing Dancer, and Linguist who loves to travel around the world.

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