The Daily Explorer

April 21, 2011

Happiness is Here and Now

London: April 2011

MOZZIE BYTE (Editor): A warm welcome to all our Daily Explorer readers. For those of you who are joining us for the first time, Ray has been living nomadically for nearly five and a half years since he left England in November 2005 and has visited 18 different countries so far on his journey. We have been publishing exclusive news and stories about his many encounters and experiences (you will find all of these in our Previous Issues archive).

Our aim at The Daily Explorer is to create a great publication for you, so please keep sending us your comments and suggestions as to how we can improve what we are doing. You can use the comments box on this site, or email Ray (, ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at

In this issue, you can read about Ray’s experience at the seven-day “Understanding Our Mind” retreat just outside Bangkok with Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Currently in London for a short visit, our global nomad also updates us on a new business idea he is developing and to wrap up, we have some interesting video clips which were sent to us by readers. It is likely that Ray will return to Asia soon for a few months to continue his book writing programme. Consequently, new issues of The Daily Explorer may appear less frequently in the second half of this year.

In case you missed our last issue, we had an update from Chiang Mai, Thailand where Ray started work on a long awaited book about nomadic living. He attended a five-day “Writers Retreat” to learn some of the basics of good authorship. And he had also been meeting on a regular basis with his newly formed club of fellow authors in the city, prior to heading for London. You can read it now at: Turning Over A New Leaf

Above: Full moon over Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, where our global nomad recently began the long and challenging journey to become a published author. You can read all about it and find out what else he got up to in: Turning Over A New Leaf  (Photo: Mark Meurs)

There was definitely something different about our traveller, who seemed very grounded and peaceful when I met him in London recently. So I asked him if his experience at the retreat in Thai ‘Plum Village’ had anything to do with it. “That would be a most definite yes!” said Ray as he explained to me what had taken place. “Most Daily Explorer readers know that I continue to dedicate some of my energy and time to personal and spiritual development. It is becoming clearer to me that my own peace of mind and happiness is totally (and I mean TOTALLY) dependent on what is happening on the inside of me, as opposed to what is happening externally. There is a great sense of freedom for me in this realisation. I appreciate that this can be a difficult idea for people to accept sometimes but none-the-less, through practising ‘mindfulness‘, I am finding out the truth of this for myself. Being at this retreat was like being wrapped in a huge blanket of loving kindness for seven whole, blissful days and is one of the most powerful experiences of connecting with ‘life in the present moment’ that I have experienced so far” recalled Ray. “It is really helping me to tune in more strongly to the voice of my own intuition and be happy with whatever life brings.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy” – Thich Nhat Hanh

I was curious to know what inspired our traveller to attend the seven-day “Understanding Our Mind” retreat near Bangkok? “For the last couple of years, I have been attending a weekly gathering in Chiang Mai of the Green Papaya Sangha. Every Thursday, anywhere between 15 – 40 people gather for a couple of hours to meditate in the style of Thich Nhat Hanh, who is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist now based in France” Ray told me. “I read one of his books which profoundly affected me and the regular meditation has been a transformative catalyst sometimes. When I discovered he was going to be visiting Thailand to host a retreat, I registered immediately for a place. He is 84 years old and I thought this could be one of the last opportunities to spend time with one of the truly great men of the world” said Ray.

Above: Does this University near Ayutthaya have the longest name in the World? We are not sure, but it was most definitely the venue for the Thai Plum Village “Understanding Our Mind” retreat which our traveller attended recently

Below: Over 800 people, mainly from Thailand, attended the retreat – “When I arrived to register (left), I was amazed to see just how much support there is for the Plum Village style of Buddhism, especially in Thailand where Theravada Buddhism is popular – “This modern university (right) is now one of the main centres of learning in Thailand for all forms of Buddhist studies and welcomes students from all over the world” Ray told me 

“The source of love is deep in us and we can help others realise a lot of happiness. One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy”  – Thich Nhat Hanh

For readers who would like to know a little bit more about him, Thich Nhat Hanh joined a Zen monastery at the age of 16, studied Buddhism as a novice, and was fully ordained as a monk in 1949. In the early 1960s, he founded the School of Youth for Social Services (SYSS) in Saigon. This grassroots relief organization rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools, established medical centers, and resettled families left homeless during the Vietnam War. He travelled to the U.S. to study at Princeton University, and later to lecture at Cornell University and Columbia University. His focus at the time was to urge the U.S. government to withdraw from Vietnam. He urged Martin Luther King, Jr. to publicly oppose the Vietnam War; King nominated Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize in January 1967. In 1973, the Vietnamese government denied Nhat Hanh permission to return to Vietnam and he went into exile, establishing Plum Village in France. From 1976 to 1977 he led efforts to rescue Vietnamese boat people in the Gulf of Siam. “It is still one of my dreams to go to Plum Village” said Ray. “But for now, I am just very grateful to have had the opportunity to be in this man’s presence” he told me.

Thich Nhat Hanh spends a great deal of his time dispensing his teachings about Mindfulness so I asked Ray to explain to me what this means. “Let me answer your question by quoting the man himself” said Ray tactfully. “In one of his recent articles, he described it like this: “Mindfulness brings concentration. Concentration brings insight. Insight liberates you from your ignorance, your anger, your craving. When you are free from your afflictions, happiness becomes possible. How can you be happy when you are overloaded with anger, ignorance, and craving? That is why the insight that can liberate you from these afflictions is the key to happiness. There are many conditions of happiness that are present, but people don’t recognize them because they are not mindful. When body and mind are together, you are fully present. You are fully alive and you can touch the wonders of life that are available in the here and the now. So you practice not only with your mind but with your body. Body and mind should be experienced as one thing, not two. On that ground, you see that everything you are looking for is already there. Whether it is enlightenment, nirvana, liberation, Buddha, dharma, sangha, or happiness, it is right there. In fact, that is the only place, the only moment, where you can find these things. Conversely, when mind and body are separate, when we’re lost in thought and are not in the present, we lead what you’ve described as a kind of corpse-like existence. Maybe intellectually people know that they should live in the present moment, but the habit energy that has been there for a long time is always pushing them to rush around, so they have lost their capacity to be in the present moment in order to lead their life deeply. That is why the practice is important, and talking is not enough. You have to practice enough to really stop your running around so that you can establish yourself in the present moment. That is the very beginning of the practice: stopping. Stopping, looking deeply, and finding happiness and liberation – that is the Buddhist path”.

Above: Picture of Thich Nhat Hanh as a young novice (left). He has been an advocate of peace his whole life and fought tirelessly for it during the Vietnam war (right)

Below: Thich Nhat Hanh with The Dalai Lama

“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Above and below: The University was one of the few places in Thailand that could accommodate the 800 or so people attending the seven-day retreat – “With three meals each day for such a huge number of people, outdoor food ‘tents’ were erected and the group was split into four sections so that everybody would be able to eat their food at the same time” explained Ray. “Unfortunately for us, the weather during the retreat was unusually cold and wet for this time of year, with very high winds and plenty of rain. Being completely unprepared for this, I sat shivering during meals once or twice” he recalled

Above: The accommodation at the University was very basic – “It was essentially a number of classrooms converted into makeshift dormitories, with nothing more than a thin straw mat on a hard concrete floor in an icy cold air-conditioned room” said Ray. “Knowing this in advance, myself and a few friends managed to find rooms (with proper beds!) in a nearby guest house and ‘commute’ in each day” admitted our comfort seeking traveller. “I did a 10 day silent Vipassana retreat in 2006 and slept on a concrete floor the entire time, which felt appropriate. This time around, I was quite OK within myself to forego the opportunity” he laughed

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness” – Thich Nhat Hanh

So what exactly happens at a Plum Village Retreat? “Well Mozzie, the day begins by waking up at 5.00am. The first sitting meditation takes place in the hall at 5.30am and continues until 6.30am. Then everyone goes outside for walking meditation, which lasts around an hour too. Breakfast is at 7.45am and after everything has been cleared away, which you all do together, the day resumes for a Dharma discussion from 9.30 – 12.00. This is basically a talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh in which he explains more about Buddhism, how to live in the present moment, unravels important concepts such as mindfulness and really creates understanding and inspiration for a more peaceful, compassionate way of living with loving kindness towards oneself and others at the centre” explained Ray. “All of this activity is done mindfully i.e. with absolute attention on one’s breathing and being in the moment that you are in. All meditations are done silently and meals are eaten in silence too until the sounding of a bell after twenty minutes which is the sign that it is OK to talk to your friends. I actually found the practise of eating mindfully to be a wholesome, wonderful experience” said Ray. “As I slowly chewed each mouthful of food, I contemplated all of the work that nature had done to have that food manifest on my plate – the creation of the soil, the seeds, the sun, wind and rain required to harvest the food etc. My food actually seemed to taste better as a result and I had a sense of deep happiness and gratitude for something I habitually take for granted and never consciously think about. I figured that if I was doing this with my food, I may well be doing it in other areas of my life too so I have paid a lot more attention to this since the retreat and am noticing that I feel more connected with the planet and the people around me as a result” observed our global explorer.

Above: A group of monks from the Plum Village Sangha attending the retreat in Ayutthaya

“After lunch, there was an activity called ‘Total Relaxation Meditation’ which was without doubt one of the best parts of the entire day” recalled Ray. “All you had to do was to go to the huge meditation hall at 1.45pm and lay down on the floor on your back with a cushion under your head (blankets optional) whilst the lights were all dimmed. Then one of the Plum Village nuns would quietly and gently sing lullabies for an hour and a half in the most beautiful, melodic, angelic voice” recalled Ray. “It felt so soothing, so relaxing – I was usually asleep within minutes as were most people in the room and what a deep sleep it was – it was perhaps more restful than the sleep I have every night” he told me. “It felt so magical, like being back in the womb. I would recommend it to everyone” added Ray.

At three o’clock, the main group was divided into smaller units of around 20 people, called ‘Families’ for a meeting lasting until 4.30pm. “The purpose of this group was to give individuals an opportunity to speak for any reason; to validate what we were experiencing, ask for help with any issues or problems coming up for us in the retreat, share something we had learnt or just report to everyone about something we were experiencing gratitude for” Ray told me. “I loved this part of the day as it made me feel very closely connected with the people in my family, which was appropriately named ‘Harmony’. We also ate all our meals together from day three onwards and I could sense the bond that was being strengthened in this group as each day went past. There was even one of my friends from Chiang Mai in my ‘family’ group and it was a chance for me to get to know him even better than I did already. I am sure many of us will stay in touch in days to come, especially as we have set up a group page on Facebook!” said our traveller.

“My actions are my only true belongings” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Above: The magnificent Conference Centre at the Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University provided a huge meditation hall for the Plum Village retreat and can easily hold well over 1,000 people comfortably – “The lake beside the hall was the perfect setting for our daily walking meditations every morning” said Ray

Below: The Buddha inside the entrance hall at the Conference Centre

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar”  – Thich Nhat Hanh

At 5pm each day, there was an opportunity to practise mindfulness in exercise, with a variety of different groups to join. “I spend a fair amount of time in Chiang Mai, where many of my friends practise yoga and other forms of meditative exercise so for most of them that came with me on the retreat, this was not really anything new” explained Ray. “I am not habitually used to this type of thing – most readers know that I prefer running and find that it gives me the peace and space I desire from time to time as the stresses of daily life build up. One group I joined was practising some kind of martial arts using sticks, slowly and mindfully moving into different positions to get a good stretch, increase the heart rate and exert the body. It was pretty cool” Ray told me. After mindful exercise, attendees had their evening meal, followed by another Dharma talk or presentation in the main hall which would finish around 9pm. Thich Nhat Hanh is very big on ‘Applied’ Buddhism, which means that it is not sufficient to merely understand it, but critical that it becomes integrated with your practise of living everyday life” explained Ray. “That is why so much emphasis is put on the practise part – how we walk, how we eat, how we speak to one another. Regarding the latter, there were some demonstrations given during the evening seminars on how to bring more loving kindness to our relationships with our dear ones. I found this particularly useful and have been practising in my conversations with close friends ever since” acknowledged Ray.

Above: The enormous meditation hall could comfortably seat over 1,000 people. Ray and the other retreatants spent a good part of the day in meditation, attending seminars and presentations during the week of the retreat

Below: Thich Nhat Hanh begins one of his many Dharma talks during the retreat – “It is difficult to find the words to describe just how incredible he is to be around. He truly lives each moment in the way he teaches. I watched him closely and no matter what he is doing or who he is with, he gives his total attention and is always so kind in how he speaks. He is definitely one of the most loving men I have ever seen and an example of the kind of leadership society so badly needs right now – being around him inspires me to be the best version of myself that I possibly can, and I am still working on it!” said Ray

“Our own life has to be our message” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Above: Thich Nhat Hanh with monks from the Plum Village Sangha – “He explained to us how important the family (Sangha) is” said Ray. “He never gives retreats on his own as he does not believe that the words he speaks have any real power to transform people’s lives. That power comes from their interaction and the relationship with all of the Sangha members over the course of a week, so deep connection takes place and inspires people to open their hearts to each other. I can tell you, having been there, that his philosophy is sound and it definitely does happen” observed Ray

Below: Gaston Schmitz (in red) and Steve Epstein (blue cap) listen attentively as someone simultaneously translates for one of the Thai monks. Both are members of Chiang Mai’s Green Papaya Sangha and good friends of our global explorer (left). Brother Pittaya, who is a Thai Theravada Buddhist monk (right), spends a lot of time with the monks from Plum Village – “He is known in the Sangha as the ‘Smiling Monk’ as he almost always has this huge, beaming smile on his face” observed Ray. “Compared to the austere nature of monk culture in Thailand, Plum Village offers an opportunity to engage with and experience the brotherly and sisterly love that Plum Village advocates and is drawing huge support amongst the Buddhist community in Thailand. A new, permanent Plum Village for Thailand is currently under construction and should open in 2012” added Ray

“Compassion is a verb” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Above: Every afternoon, the larger group broke up into smaller ‘Family’ groups for a discussion about what has happening for everyone during the week – “There was a tremendous sense of connection between all of us in the ‘Harmony’ family by the time the week was over” said Ray. “We have created our own Facebook page and I hope to stay in touch with many of the people I met” he added

Below: Maiko Nomiyama (centre), also from Chiang Mai, leads a group for ‘mindful exercise’ during one of the afternoon sessions

“Life is available only in the present moment” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Above: According to Thich Nhat Hanh (left), “in modern society most of us don’t want to be in touch with ourselves; we want to be in touch with other things like religion, sports, politics, a book – we want to forget ourselves. Anytime we have leisure, we want to invite something else to enter us, opening ourselves to the television and telling the television to come and colonize us”. (Right) Ray mindfully eats his meal in silence – “Becoming conscious takes a lot of practise” said our traveller. “I am so habitually used to doing mundane things in ‘automatic pilot’ mode that half the time, I haven’t even noticed I was eating or driving somewhere. It’s as if I get lost in my thoughts and miss the little details of life going on while I am doing those things. I have discovered that walking, singing, talking and eating food are great opportunities to be in the present moment and experience the joy of being fully alive” he reflected. “And with that discovery comes an enormous sense of peace. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment” added Ray. “When I am at peace in myself, I feel like I used to when I would enter my own home in London, except I don’t actually need the place anymore – it’s as if I have my own island right here within myself which I can access just by breathing in and breathing out mindfully”

Anyone who attends a Plum Village retreat can, if they wish, choose to undertake the “Five Mindfulness Trainings” which represent the Buddhist vision for a global spirituality and ethic. They are a concrete expression of the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, the path of right understanding and true love, leading to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and for the world. To practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings is to cultivate the insight of interbeing, or Right View, which can remove all discrimination, intolerance, anger, fear, and despair. If we live according to the Five Mindfulness Trainings, we are already on the path of a bodhisattva. Knowing we are on that path, we are not lost in confusion about our life in the present or in fears about the future. “Essentially, by undertaking to do these trainings, you are summoning the support of Thich Nhat Hanh and members of his Sangha to bear witness to and support you in making this commitment to yourself. It is a very powerful action for an individual to take and not something to be taken lightly. I liken it to marriage vows” Ray told me. Did he decide to take the trainings? “Not at this time Mozzie. I thought about it very deeply and decided it did not feel right for me at this moment” admitted our traveller. For any readers that are interested, the Five Mindfulness Trainings are related to our Reverence For Life, True Happiness, True Love, Loving Speech and Deep Listening, Nourishment and Healing.

Above: During some of the evening seminar sessions, demonstrations of loving kindness in communication were given (left), which really made it easy for everyone to see how Applied Buddhism works and how to integrate it into your daily life and relationships with your loved ones. Many of the retreatants decided to commit themselves to the Five Mindfulness Trainings and a special ceremony was held towards the end to witness their commitment (right)

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Above: Ray receives his completion certificate from Phap Huu, who has been a monk in Plum Village all of his adult life. Born in Vietnam and raised in Canada, he decided that this was the life he wanted to live when he was 13 years old, which came as quite a surprise to his family. They have been very supportive ever since – his parents sometimes attend the retreats too – “He was an amazing, living example of everything Thich Nhat Hanh talked about during the week; very kind, open-hearted and always sharing himself authentically” observed Ray

Below: The ‘Harmony’ family gather one last time to celebrate the completion of their retreat – “One of the things I love about Plum Village is that they run several retreats every year for whole families, including young children which makes it a lot easier for people with kids” said Ray, who is third from the right

Above: Ray’s friend Azriel Cohen from Chiang Mai (left) articulates some of the joy he has experienced during the ‘closing circle’ ceremony which marks the end of the retreat. Many others echoed his sentiments (right) – “Everybody there took something away from this week that deeply touched them, myself included” Ray told me

One of the members of Ray’s ‘Family’ compiled this short video clip with some highlights from the week, set to one of the many Plum Village songs:

Below: Our traveller hasn’t quite made the leap to living as a Buddhist monk just yet – “In some ways, it would be quite tempting – to know oneself deeply is a very blissful state to be in. I guess I like too many earthly pleasures to live at that level of discipline, for now anyway” he told me (pictured here by Susie Moberly in 2008)

Ironically, having spent his last week in Thailand with a group of monks and nuns, it was another group of nuns of quite a different kind that motivated Ray to hot-foot it back to London. “Some time ago, I found out that both my niece Rebecca and my nephew Daniel, who attend the Emanuel School in south-west London were going to be appearing in this year’s production of “The Sound of Music“. Becca was playing the part of Sister Margaretta – one of the nun’s in the Abbey where Maria is sent from to be the replacement Governess to local hero Captain Von Trapp’s seven children. Dan was cast as one of them – Friedrich. My sister-in-law Kitty, who is an actor, was helping behind the scenes at various stages of production, so it really was a bit of a family affair” explained Ray. “I managed to get a ticket for the last night of the run, which gave me just enough time to get back from Thailand. And I am so glad I made it – they both gave really superb performances and the show was really well produced. I love most of the songs, which I grew up with as a kid myself and enjoyed humming along to them” added Ray.

Above: The 2011 Emanuel School production of the Sound of Music starred 16 year old Rebecca (left) as Sister Margaretta and 12 year old Daniel (right) as Friedrich Von Trapp – “I am so impressed with these two” said Ray. “They study and play really hard and both have a lot of talent” he said proudly

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the story, set in 1930’s Austria, a young woman named Maria is failing miserably in her attempts to become a nun. When the Navy captain Georg Von Trapp writes to the convent asking for a governess that can handle his seven mischievous children, Maria is given the job. The Captain’s wife is dead, and he is often away, and runs the household as strictly as he does the ships he sails on. The children are unhappy and resentful of the governesses that their father keeps hiring, and have managed to run each of them off one by one. When Maria arrives, she is initially met with the same hostility, but her kindness, understanding, and sense of fun soon draws them to her and brings some much-needed joy into all their lives — including the Captain’s. Maria teaches the children to sing, and through her, music is brought back into the hearts and home of the Von Trapp family. Eventually the Captain and Maria find themselves falling in love, even though Georg is already engaged to a Baroness and Maria is still a postulant. The romance makes them both start questioning the decisions they have made. Their personal conflicts soon become overshadowed, however, by world events. Austria is about to come under the control of Germany, and the Captain may soon find himself drafted into the German navy and forced to fight against his own country.

Above: The cast from Emanuel School performing the wedding scene at the marriage of Maria and Captain Von Trapp, watched by the nuns in the abbey (Becca is fifth from the left)

Below: Maria brings music back into the Von Trapp household for the first time in years, as they all sing ‘Edelweiss’ (Dan is on the right)

From films and plays to books – I was curious to find out how Ray’s writing project was coming along. “To be honest, I am making very slow progress” he said. “I have not been writing much since I went on the retreat and probably won’t until I get back to Thailand in a few weeks. I am happy with the small amount I have done and got some good feedback from my colleagues in the writers club I am part of. The London Book Fair was happening at Earls Court last week, so I went along to have a look and start researching in advance of when I will be ready to open discussions with publishers” he told me. “Another friend of mine from Chiang Mai, Mel Campbell, who has nearly finished writing her first book (about Yoga for pregnant women) was there too. Her husband Matt is my running coach and he was taking part in this years marathon. Mel has reached quite an advanced stage and a couple of publishers have expressed interest in giving her a contract. I don’t think it will be too long before she wraps up a deal” Ray told me.

Above: The main hall of the London Book Fair at Earls Court Exhibition Centre – “Every major publishing house was represented there” observed Ray. “It was quite intimidating and I am very aware that it is a huge challenge to produce something of high quality that will stand out and grab the attention of this community” he told me. “I am going to give it my best shot though” added Ray 

Below: The London Book Fair attracts thousands of visitors every year (left) and is where you can see first hand how competitive the market really is. To be considered by one of the mainstream publishing companies, your manuscript has to be presented by an agent so wannabe authors like our global traveller have to try and meet potential agents at the show to create interest in their projects (right)

Above: Spotted in a coffee shop beside the London Book Fair: “Tell them I am not prepared to accept anything less than a one million advance and a full colour spread in Hello! Magazine” says Mel to her agent as they attempt to negotiate a book publishing contract on her behalf – “I have seen her draft manuscript and her work is excellent” said Ray, “so if any pregnant mum’s want to continue with their yoga practise, Mel’s book is a must have item” he added

Below: Whilst Mel was in London setting the book world alight, her husband Matt was in town to take part in the 2011 London Marathon (left) – “He was very excited to be in the race although I am not sure if he stuck to his training programme with as much discipline as he taught me” said Ray. “I don’t think things went according to plan for him on the day, with knee problems making his goal time practically impossible. Lets just say he was a fair bit slower than the winner Emmanuel Matui (right) from Kenya, who completed the course in a record time of 2:04.38” said Ray diplomatically

Above: The London Marathon attracts thousands of runners who are raising money for charity, including this couple dressed as Prince William and Kate Middleton as a tribute to their forthcoming Royal Wedding (Photo: PA)

Editors Note: Ray will be taking advantage of being in Europe by visiting friends in Amsterdam and Berlin shortly, so we will be despatching one of our journalists to see what he gets up to and make sure you get the full story in due course. After that, a return to Chiang Mai is possible but we will not know for sure until he is back in London in a couple of weeks time.

In case you missed our last issue, Ray told us that he is exploring the possibility of offering a service to bring people to Chiang Mai who are in need of expensive dental work. The facilities there are really world-class and yet are available at a fraction of the price that people living in the UK, USA, Australia or New Zealand might pay. “Many of my friends have had work done there, including one couple from Sacramento who were quoted $8,500 at home for metal removal, a few caps, crowns and fillings. They were able to get all of their requirements met here in six or seven sittings over a two-week period. The total bill came to $1,500. Not only that, they commented on the brilliant service, saying that their chosen dentist had been totally focused on them and they had felt really taken care of. He even played an American radio station for them whilst they were in the chair! And on top of all of this, they enjoyed a great holiday in and around Chiang Mai which was essentially free” he explained. “Many people are aware of this but are still too nervous to venture abroad, which I can understand. Going to a new place can be a daunting experience, even without having to be concerned with medical treatments. So my aim is to provide a concierge style service and take care of people from the moment their plane lands to the moment they leave. I hope to have more detailed information for our readers later but in the meantime, anyone who is requiring expensive dental treatment is welcome to get in touch. You may be able to save a huge amount of money, depending on what you require” said Ray.

Above: There are world-class facilities in Chiang Mai for people requiring complex dental work. Slowly but surely, more and more foreigners are coming to get their needs met – “Inflation makes everything more expensive and some people’s finances are under greater pressure than ever before” said Ray. “I am aiming to help people save money and still get a first class job done, in a beautiful city where they can also relax and enjoy themselves. Having spent so much time in the city myself, I am clear that many people would be thrilled if they really knew what is available and how to access it” added Ray

Our aim at The Daily Explorer is to create a great publication for you, so please keep sending us your comments and suggestions as to how we can improve what we are doing. You can use the comments box on this site, or email Ray (, ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at We will keep you posted!


Above: Some of you may remember Ray’s 50th birthday last year, which we covered in a special edition of The Daily Explorer. One person who was not able to celebrate him in person was his mum, Hetty (left). Waiting for him to arrive in London for several months, she generously arranged for our global traveller to have a belated birthday lunch with her to mark the occasion – “It was a very big moment for her and for me” said Ray. “She is one in a million and probably the only person who consistently reads everything in these blogs! She has always been there for me. I am delighted that we have finally been able to get together and give thanks for her continued presence at this stage of our wonderful lives” said Ray



  1. Hi Ray
    Thanks for so generously sharing your experience, insights and journey.

    With gratitude
    Andro x

    Comment by Andro Donovan — April 21, 2011 @ 3:29 am

  2. The retreat sounds amazing and congratulations on your completion certificate. As for the long University name, I think the record might be held by the Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Antidisestablishmentarianism Society in Wales!

    Comment by Nic Meredith — April 21, 2011 @ 4:47 am

  3. WOW WOW WOW! This retreat sounds awesome! I’ll be doing the same one day – you can bet on it. “We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness” – I LOVE this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh. So true. Your outside world and your circumstances are just a reflection of where you’re at vibrationally.

    Heres to your journey Ray!


    Comment by Nick — April 21, 2011 @ 6:49 am

  4. Dear Ray,

    How wonderful you were able to be in a retreat given by Thich Nhat Hanh! It must have been amazing. I’ve read books by him on and off for the last decade and he is such a clear and compassionate man. I knew you were doing a course based on his work but didn’t know he was there. It sounds physically very demanding – well done for completing it – and it looks like it was worthwhile for everyone. Thanks for letting us know about it in detail.


    Comment by Jane H — April 21, 2011 @ 6:52 am

  5. I was fascinated to read about the ‘Plum Village Retreat’ and your experiences there. (I’m suddenly very mindful). Seriously I am. Happy to see Nikki dedicating her energy to her passion and great to see her doing the garden! AND great to see your Mum looking fantastic (I now know where you get your good looks from. Interested to know more about the Dental surgery. We are both in dire need of Dental work. Please let me know more.

    Comment by Susie Moberly — April 21, 2011 @ 9:40 am

  6. This is a truly moving issue Ray. It is a priviledge to watch your life unfolding and to see the physical (marathon experience) followed by this latest spiritual foray puts my own varied experiences in this lifetime into perspective. I felt that the retreat brought into sharp focus how tricky it is to really live each moment of every day so that the spiritual, physical emotional and mental blend seamlessly and enrich every second we breathe. Thank you for this reminder.

    Comment by Helena Dennison — April 21, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

  7. Wow Mr Martin. So many things to think about and take from this issue. You continue to inspire me my friend x

    Comment by Angie Calder — April 21, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

  8. Thank you Ray for your constant inspiration …..

    Comment by Kathleen — April 23, 2011 @ 2:59 am

  9. Really appreciated the Thich Nhat Hanh retreat episode. As someone who wrote an autobiographical journal for a whole year I am totally supportive of your desire to write a book. From my own experience I know it can be tough at times but it’s worth persevering. You will start to find your ‘voice’ and then it gets really exciting! Good luck in Berlin – hope that goes really well. Looking forward to hearing about it. Much love, Michael

    Comment by Michael Banks — April 25, 2011 @ 1:36 pm

  10. Great blog issue, uplifting and thought provoking. Peace of mind and happiness TOTALLY dependent by what goes on in the inside? I fully got that you meant it when I read it and then wondered what it was like! I am another one of your readers who combs through every issue!

    Comment by charlotte fuerer — April 27, 2011 @ 3:31 am

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