The Daily Explorer

January 20, 2012

The Suited Monk and The Runner

Chiang Mai, Thailand: January 2012

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 travelling and living nomadically for just over six years since he left England in November 2005, visiting 21 different countries so far on his journey. We have been publishing exclusive news and stories about his 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 (ray@thedailyexplorer.com), ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at mozzie@thedailyexplorer.com.

In our latest issue, we catch up with Ray as 2012 gets underway. We have some highlights from his Christmas Day half-marathon race – his first in over two years – as well as news of a recent trip to Shanghai which could be quite influential in determining Ray’s direction over the coming months. And there are pictures from one of Chiang Mai’s lesser known hikes to Doi Suthep, which Ray and his friends did over the New Year.

In case you missed our last issue, we had an update about Ray’s final few days in India from our seasoned guest correspondent Sam Ozer, who recently joined the team to follow Ray around during his first extensive tour. Sam went with our global traveller as he explored the ancient city of Hampi, then on to Hyderabad for a short and unexpected rendezvous with his brother, before departing India for Thailand. You can read it now at: The Wonder of India – Hyderabad and Hampi

Above: In our last issue, our global traveller spent a few days exploring the ancient ruins at Hampi before meeting up with his brother in Hyderabad and leaving India for now. You can read it now at: The Wonder of India – Hyderabad and Hampi

Below: Schoolchildren from a school in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad on New Years Eve (Picture: Reuters). On behalf of everyone at The Daily Explorer, we wish our readers a very Happy New Year and hope that 2012 turns out to be truly great for all of you

With the New Year celebrations rapidly fading into the distance and our traveller enjoying a return to his favourite city in Thailand, I caught up with him in Chiang Mai to find out what he had been up to since returning from India and to see how 2012 was shaping up for him. 2011 was a big year for us at The Daily Explorer, as we sailed past the milestone of having 100,000 all time online visitors to our site and I wanted to make sure Ray was aware of it. “That is brilliant news, Mozzie!” said our happy traveller. “I am thrilled that so many people are finding The Daily Explorer and using the information that you and your team provide. It definitely makes it all worthwhile” added our global nomad. “There has been a lot of speculation that 2012 could be the end of the world as we know it and I am not sure if I entirely agree with that assessment, although in some respects, it could be very liberating for humanity. My feeling is that this year ahead is going to be exciting, challenging, dramatic in some ways and life changing for many of us and I truly hope that all of you find your own path to a deep sense of peace and happiness during this year. I will be doing my absolute best to evolve into the best version of myself that I can be and would like to support all of you to do the same” said Ray.

Above: Is 2012 the end of the world as we know it? Ray doesn’t think so, although we could be in for some pretty interesting times around the world and our individual lives

Below: In 2011, we sailed past the milestone of having 100,000 all time online visitors to our site! Since November, we have been tracking the locations of where people are visiting from, and as you can see from the red dots, we seem to be enjoying quite a good global coverage. You can click on the map to see the most up to date figures and get a breakdown in every country around the world of where visitors are coming from

From previous conversations with Ray, I was aware he had been slowly getting himself back into the world of business so I asked him what 2012 might look like from this perspective. “Some readers may recall that I went through a lengthy induction process last year to join a team of business coaches at a company in Singapore called Coach In A Box. In November, they set me up to work with my first clients and I now have nine in Asia. Three are based in Thailand, three in Singapore and three in India – all places that I have enjoyed as a traveller. Working with people again in a coaching role – after a six year break – is very satisfying and I am really enjoying it. The amazing nomadic journey I have been on has taught me a great deal about the art of living and I am finding ways to blend what I have been learning about myself with my years of business experience. The people I am working with are all trying to become better versions of themselves, just like I have been doing, so I feel a tremendous sense of kinship with my new clients and can see already that our time together is valuable and productive for them” he explained. “Although working in Asia is new and exciting, and something I dreamed about when I first started this great nomadic experiment, it is early days and I don’t want to allocate too much of my time to work at this stage. As 2012 progresses, I want to develop my ability to use my intuition to assess each opportunity that comes along and only accept those which feel absolutely right, both in my heart and to my way of thinking. There is one new situation which meets those criteria and I am very excited about it” added Ray. “Don’t worry Mozzie – travelling is still of great interest to me and I am not ready to settle yet! I also want to make some progress with my book writing this year. And I am determined to have another go at running a marathon in under four hours, having failed at my first attempt in 2009! I have already started training for it and it eats up quite a bit of time” said our ambitious athlete.

Above: Lots to think about for our global traveller, pictured here at his favourite guest house in Chiang Mai – “Slowly but surely, my vision of life is coming about. Now that I am working again, I have a great opportunity to keep growing and learning, and be participating in a region which is economically dynamic and really exciting geographically” said Ray. “I feel very fortunate that things are working out for me” he told me

I asked Ray if he could tell me a little bit more about the new situation that was exciting him. “Of course Mozzie, although the timing of it is hard to predict” he told me. “Some readers may recall that I went to Shanghai a couple of years ago to discuss the possibility of becoming an associate of a coaching business there. Although nothing materialised, the journey was not wasted as I met a really inspiring man during that visit called Raf Adams, and we instantly became friends. I had an intuition at the time that our paths would cross again and they have – it’s very strange how that happens! He has written an outstanding book called “The Suited Monk“, which is just being published now” explained our global explorer. I asked Ray what the book was about and why he was excited about it. “The last six years for me have been an incredible journey in which I believe I have discovered what is truly important in life (to me) which has given me a much deeper sense of inner peace and happiness, with far less status, recognition, income and material possessions, than I ever had previously. This is not to say that everyone should copy me – on the contrary – my own unique journey has only enabled me to find out the way I truly want to live my own life. And the essence of that journey, as well as the instructions for anyone else considering going in that direction, is the subject of Raf’s book. “According to Raf, we live in a society in which a multiplicity of external experiences, pressures, stresses, choices and distractions constantly pull us away from our inner wisdom – our intuition. Our limited notion of time and resources is the ‘suit’ we wear as we try to negotiate the fast-paced world around us. Yet we fail to realise that this notion has hijacked our ability to listen to our inner self – our ‘monk’ – and find lasting peace and happiness” added Ray. “Raf’s book brings together two worlds: the inner world of happiness, love, purpose and meaning and the external world of success and achievement. Or another way of saying it would be the world of the heart and the world of the ego/mind”.

Ray went on to explain why he is so excited about the book. “The stuff Raf talks about is something that I have experienced, yet it is very hard to explain to people how it feels or what the experience is like at a deeper level. Raf’s book articulates it perfectly, and not only that. It also includes his fascinating “Life Journey Model®” which is a visual representation of the journey we all make and is designed to help people integrate both their external and internal worlds, whilst giving people some very simple and helpful tools they can use. For some time, I have been thinking about how I can pass on the knowledge I have gained from my six year nomadic experiment to people who are interested, and now that possibility is starting to manifest. At the end of last year, Raf invited me to join a team of facilitators and trainers who will be leading workshops based on the material in the book during the coming months and I went to Shanghai to meet the team and start learning about these materials in detail. From the exposure I have had so far, I am very pleased to be working with Raf to make this kind of knowledge widely available and accessible to people and it really compliments the coaching work that I have recently started doing” said our excited traveller.

Above: People’s Square, Shanghai (left) – the venue of the “The Suited Monk” workshop for trainers and facilitators – “It was a pleasure to return to Shanghai and very satisfying to get the opportunity to work with Raf and the team he is building” said Ray. The economic juggernaut that is the Chinese economy continues to grow rapidly and there are new buildings appearing in the skyline all the time (right). In 2012, the number of wealthy Chinese entrepreneurs (3.3m) has overtaken those in Europe (3.1m) for the first time – “That is exactly why this is the perfect time for Raf to be launching his book and running these workshops” said Ray

Below: Shanghai is the fastest growing city in the world, with a population of 23 million people – “That is more than the entire population of Australia” said a gobsmacked Ray. “It explains why the place feels so crowded” observed our traveller

Above: The metro in Shanghai is expanding rapidly, with one new station being completed every month (left). Like many countries, the changing demographics mean that there are growing numbers of elderly citizens in the society whose financial means are stretched, hence why these people are lining up for a cheap haircut on the sidewalk (right)

For our readers who are interested in knowing a little more about “The Suited Monk“, the core of the book is the Life Journey Model®. I contacted Raf Adams to find out more about it. “Having such a model years ago would have helped me understand the journey of my life as it began to unfold” said Raf. “My journey caused me so much pain, suffering, and unhappiness that I wanted to find a way to save others from the confusion I went through. Therefore, I spent years trying to develop a model that could give others greater awareness as they walk their journey. I based the model on my experience and on a wide range of religious and spiritual teachings from throughout history, which I carefully researched while I was seeking to understand my own experiences. The world’s religious and mystical traditions have led people on the journey of life since the beginning of time. Even modern writers have explained the journey of life. For example, the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung revolutionized his field by introducing concepts such as the collective unconscious, which suggested that we are not all separate individuals, and synchronicity, which suggested that we can’t understand everything in life through the mind alone. According to Jung, on the course of your life journey meant “your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart.” He further advised that those who looked to the external world lived life as if in a dream, and only those who were able to look within would awaken. My purpose was to pinpoint the central message of the world’s religious teachings, ancient traditions, schools of spiritual wisdom, and modern self-development theories, and to combine them into one model. It is important to me that this model not be identified with any particular belief system, religious group, or culture. Rather, I want it to be relevant to individuals from all walks of life and from different countries, cultures, and philosophical or religious persuasions. My intention was to create something that anyone on this planet can relate to and apply in daily life because it speaks to the core of our true being” explained Raf. (Editors Note: We look forward to reading “The Suited Monk” with great interest!)

Above: Behind Ray’s hotel, the tower of the Radisson Shanghai (left) was the location of the first trainer’s and facilitators training event for the new team that will run “The Suited Monk” workshops as they become available. Raf Adams (right) will be launching the book in Shanghai in February and it can be pre-ordered on Amazon – “The weekend was our first chance to see some of the details of the two-day workshop format and start practising with some of the ideas and tools in the programme. It is very exciting” Ray told me. The publicity accompanying the book’s publication includes this excellent two-minute video (below)

Below: Raf Adams (centre) with some of the people who will be helping him take the key messages of his book into the world. From left to right: True Black (Taiwan), Mike Thompson of the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), Raf, our global traveller and Larry Lee (Australia) – “Raf is finding some great people to work with” said Ray. “Mike Thompson, who runs the MBA programme at CEIBS wants all of his students to gain exposure to the ideas so that they see early on in their careers that financial success alone will not guarantee their happiness” he told me

Above: Everybody pays close attention as Raf explains the key components of the Life Journey Model® – “One by one during our training, we all had to gain experience of using the tools by leading one session from the two-day workshop, which was then critiqued by our colleagues. It was very helpful for me” said Ray, “although as you can imagine, I was very nervous presenting the material for the first time to such experienced and qualified people”

After leaving Shanghai, my conversation with Ray switched from “The Suited Monk” to Theravada Buddhist monks, when our global traveller discovered on his return that the people of Bhutan were loaning a somewhat extra-ordinary national treasure to the people of Chiang Mai. “The travelling exhibition of the Tooth Relic of the Kassapa Buddha arrived at Wat Phra Singh, which is the Royal temple, a few days ago” Ray told me. “The exhibition is being presented by the Government of Bhutan (the Land of “Gross National Happiness”) and is accompanied by a host of Bhutanese lamas. The Kassapa Buddha is a previous incarnation of the historical Buddha. A selection of verses to honour the auspicious relic are being chanted throughout the day by the Bhutanese lamas and Thai monks, who alternate chanting. The Thai media described it as “a truly auspicious event for the New Year” so I just had to go along and see if I could spot the special ‘tooth’ and catch some of the chanting” said Ray. “Besides, it is virtually round the corner from where I am staying” added Ray.

Above: Major excitement at Wat Phra Singh (Wat means Temple) as the citizens of Chiang Mai rush to see the ancient Tooth Relic of the Kassapa Buddha, which is embedded in the red case in the centre of the picture

Below: Inside the temple, Thai people line up to receive a blessing from a Buddhist monk (left). Meanwhile, Bhutanese lamas and these Thai monks (right) alternate throughout the day and evening as they chant a selection of verses to honour the auspicious relic – “It is a very unusual, mesmerising, almost hypnotic sound” Ray told me

Regular readers of The Daily Explorer will know that Ray is a bit of an athletic sort and enjoys things in the physical world as much as the intellectual world of coaching and training. So it came as no surprise to me that he sent me pictures of the half-marathon race on Christmas Day, as well as some lovely shots of a lively New Years Eve trek up through the forested hills on the outskirts of the city to the temple at Doi Suthep. It has been a while since our global explorer has entered a proper race and I asked him whether it was a one-off or if he was planning to enter more events in 2012. “It could well have been a one-off” he told me. “Let me explain what I mean. Just over two years ago, I set a goal to run the New York Marathon in under four hours. Some readers may recall that I picked up a bad injury five weeks before the race and so it actually took me 4 hrs: 16 mins :29 secs and although I was very happy to have completed my first marathon before I reached the age of 50, I have always felt dissatisfied about my time. I thought that if I could run the half-marathon on Christmas Day and secure a fast finishing time, it would indicate to me if I have a realistic chance of achieving my ultimate goal in a marathon. Returning from India quite late in the year meant I only had five weeks to prepare and that is always tough for a long-distance race. I trained hard almost every day and got myself ready to line up at 5am on the day of the race, hoping to achieve a sub two hour time. Everything went extremely well and I managed to finish in 1 hr: 57 mins: 28 secs which is my best ever time for a half-marathon. It gives me an ‘indicated’ time for the full marathon of around 4 hours 5 minutes – just currently outside my goal – which is great news. If I train correctly over the next 5-6 months, I am pretty sure I am capable of getting a sub four-hour time later in the year” said our excited athlete. “I have secured places in two big International marathons in 2012 – one in Phuket in June and the other in Berlin in September. The latter is one of the world’s five ‘majors’ that take place every year, along with New York, London, Boston and Chicago. Having spent three months in Berlin last year, I am thrilled to be going back to run through the incredible city” added Ray.

Above: Christmas Chiang Mai style. Thapae Gate was home to two giant Christmas Trees – one made from empty plastic water bottles and the other from old CD’s (Photo: S Piehler)

Below: “Is this where I sign up for the Chiang Mai half-marathon?” enquires our global runner (left). Minutes later, Ray has secured a place in his third competitive half-marathon race and proudly shows us his commemorative running vest – “I have got quite a collection of these” said Ray, “and I am very happy to add Chiang Mai to my list of races as I have never been here at Christmas, despite spending quite a lot of time in the city during the last six years” he said (Photo’s: S Piehler)

Above: Our traveller had an early start on Christmas Day as his race started at 5am – “I have never been in bed at 8.30pm on Christmas Eve ever!” said Ray. “Getting a good rest before a big race is critical, as is being well hydrated, well fed and warmed up (left)” said our runner as he lined up for the start of the race (right) (Photo’s: S Piehler)

Below: Looking fit and focused, Ray heads off at the start of the 21 kilometre (13.1 mile) race – “My target time required me to run at a pace of one mile every 9 minutes, which is the fastest attempt I have made over this distance. To give you an idea of what a leap that is for me, I ran the New York marathon at a slower pace of 9 mins and 41 seconds per mile, although it is twice the distance. Still, I am two years older than I was then and the training does not get easier!” he laughed (Photo: S Piehler)

Above: Still going well and right on schedule after about 8 kilometres (left). Crossing the finishing line in 1:57:28 (right) – “I am absolutely delighted with my time as I really did not think that five weeks would be enough time to prepare my body for this” he told me. “Not only that, I still had a bit of juice left in the tank which is a very good sign that I am coping well with the training regime” added our very happy runner (Photo’s: S Piehler)

Below: The relief after the race is obvious – “Now this is done, I can start to plan my training programme for another shot at the marathon with some real self-belief and confidence. It’s the best Christmas present I could have given myself” said our dedicated athlete (Photo: S Piehler)

Above: News of Ray’s return to long distance running was reported in the January edition of Runners World (left), who were keen to secure an exclusive deal with The Daily Explorer for media coverage of his two marathons this year. After the race, our tired athlete went to the Sunday market in the old city for a much needed foot massage, as one of his excited fans looked on in admiration (right) (Photo: S Moberly)

As if running a marathon was an unusual way for Ray to spend Christmas Day, the same spirit was embodied in choosing New Years Eve to trek to the temple high up in the hills to the west of Chiang Mai, called Doi Suthep. “It’s a great trek – some 5.5 kilometres straight up if you follow the trail. If you were to drive up to the temple, the journey is around 16 kilometres because the hills are quite steep so the road meanders backwards and forwards through a series of sharp, hairpin bends as you ascend” explained Ray. “I joined a small group of friends for the day and we met inside the old city. Finding hiking trails isn’t always straightforward – in Chiang Mai they are not signposted at all. Luckily, one of my friends has done the trek a couple of times and was able to show us how to find the start. We all jumped on our motor bikes and rode across town to the Suthep Road which is the main drag heading west out of the old city. A typically busy highway with roadside stalls and colourful traffic, the road ends at a crossroads with a narrow lane leading straight ahead up the hill. Here, you are right at the foot of the mountain that dominates the skyline to the west of Chiang Mai, the forest-covered Doi Pui. Doi Suthep is at the lower end of the ridge. At a steady pace, it took us about one and a half hours to reach the temple” recalled our traveller.

Above: Ready for a short, challenging trek? “I will be once I have stretched my muscles and warmed up” says Acro Yoga specialist Anastas, from Greece

Below: The yellow circle shows from a distance where Doi Suthep is located, roughly about 16 kilometres from the old city by road and about 3,500 feet above sea level

Above: Ray and his friends set off through the forest on the fairly steep, challenging one and a half hour hike to Doi Suthep – “For anyone thinking about doing this, take plenty of water. The distance can be deceiving – it gets very hot on the hills and you can easily dry up” said Ray

Below: Anastas takes a rest by the river that flows past Wat Palad which you reach when you are about one kilometre into the hike. Actually, although the temple grounds are over 650 years-old, Wat Palad itself remained unregistered by the Thai government until 1991- “Doing this hike reminded me of just how beautiful Chiang Mai and the surrounding countryside is” said Ray

Above: Ray’s group take a rest at Wat Palad (left). While the others are taking a look around the temple, Laurence Gilliot sits in a small cave containing nine stone Buddha images. It is said to have provided refuge for those fleeing Burmese forces. One of these relics within apparently continues providing protection from flocking crows, viewed in Thai culture as omens of bad karma. Folklore also has it that if you bring meat to Wat Palad while venturing to Doi Suthep, your innards will become plagued with discomfort. Yikes!

Below: Gaston Schmitz, from Holland (left) led the trek to Doi Suthep – “He is one of the nicest guys I know here” said our traveller. “He just got married to Laurence (see above) and for their honeymoon, the two of them are leaving Chiang Mai for five months to trek right across Nepal on the Great Himalaya Trail. He used our trek to test out the backpack he will take (the one he is wearing). You can follow their journey in their blog. Laurence’s brother Max discovered that there really is such a thing as a “free lunch” at Wat Palad (right). Unusually, the monks left food out for trekkers when normally, it is the other way round and it is the monks who ask people in the community for food. The sign reads “Please have a free lunch, donated by Monks”

Above: The temple grounds at Wat Palad are peaceful and very beautiful – “It is a great place to come and meditate” said Ray

Below: Anastas does a little bit of stretching by the river before the group continues upwards through the forest

Above: For anyone who does not like trekking, even the journey by road is very pleasant and you can feel the air getting cooler and cleaner the higher you go. The trek finishes by this bend and you have to walk a couple of hundred metres along the road before you reach the Naga steps that lead up to Doi Suthep temple itself

Below: Anastas (left) and Laurence (second from left) gather with the group outside Doi Suthep. Trekkers can choose to climb the 306 steps up to the temple itself and enjoy the panoramic view of Chiang Mai city. Or go past the temple into the National Park where another part of the trek loop takes you past two waterfalls

Above: If you climb the steps to the temple, you can see over the whole of Chiang Mai (left) and you also get a closer look at the amazing Golden Chedi (right)

Below: The second half of the trek loop in the National Park takes you past this amazing, giant tree (left) and the Sai Yoi waterfall (right) – “We are very lucky to have a trek like this right on the doorstep” said Ray

Above: Returning to Wat Palad on the way back to the city, our trekkers got another opportunity to appreciate the beauty and tranquility of the grounds which have been substantially renovated in recent years

Below: A couple rest by the river and look on as monks from the temple work on building a viewing platform that looks out over the city of Chiang Mai

Editors Note: It looks like Ray’s year is off to a great start and we hope yours is too. On behalf of everyone at The Daily Explorer, we wish you all a very Happy New Year and a peaceful, joyful and deeply satisfying 2012. Our global nomad is going to be in Chiang Mai for a few weeks now as he starts his marathon training and continues with his coaching work. Our next issue should be online in a few weeks time. Just to remind you, 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 (ray@thedailyexplorer.com), ‘Mozzie’ or any of our correspondents at mozzie@thedailyexplorer.com. We will keep you posted!

MOZZIE BYTE

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4 Comments »

  1. Great start to the new year Ray! Great blog and story… your life is amazing. We hope to see you very soon here under Doi Suthep and the mountains. Love and light… X

    Comment by Susie Moberly — January 20, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  2. Hello my friend and guru 🙂 Another great issue (loved the India one too). I could feel some of your frustration reading it and remembered how that felt from my trip there. I may just turn up in Chiang Mai and surprise you one of these days x

    Comment by Angie Calder — January 20, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

  3. Ray, congratulations on the completion of the half-marathon! What a life you have 🙂 I am happy we are walking this journey together. See you soon xx

    Comment by Raf — January 21, 2012 @ 8:51 am

  4. A great read as usual! It makes me want to hike up Doi Suthep. But I think I’d better start small and get in shape first! 🙂

    Comment by Karla — January 22, 2012 @ 12:40 am


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