Walking towards Chiang Mai after an evening at Tao Garden, I stopped as a gleamingly black Mercedes pulled in, and a dark glass window rolled down. I recognised the driver. ‘Master Chia!’ I said.
‘Hey, Kris! Where you going?’
‘Chiang Mai,’ said I, ‘and you?’
‘Visiting friend in Suket,’ he replied. ‘Get in, I take you to main road.’ I eased into the leather seat beside him. ‘Nice car,’ I remarked, ‘you’ve upgraded from the BMW.’
‘A while ago,’ he said. ‘And you still walking, having adventures. Chiang Mai is nothing for you, is it. Just fifteen kilometres. I remember when you walked to Pathworks in upstate New York.’
‘Twentyfour years ago this month,’ I said. ‘Next February, 2017, I will have been with you a quarter-century.’ He Monkey, I Dragon, we had many years to reflect on. As we approached Suket, he pulled out his cell and made a call, then turned on to the highway.
We spoke of this and that, of the Back to the Source event at the Tao Garden. I said I was suprised to see so few Americans there. I had been looking forward to reconnecting with friends I had made over those years, in USA and Europe. Yes, he said, there were a few Americans. Nowadays more Russians, Ukrainians and East Europeans. I had been looking forward too, to reconnecting with colleagues from UK and Europe but there were so few of us who made the journey, and many were new to the system. So it was good to make new friends.
We spoke of the changes taking place in the world of politics. ‘What happens when UK leaves EU?’ What could I say? Everyone has an opinion but nobody knows. ‘What happens in Thailand?’ He said the army had taken over to make things safe. ‘And when the King dies?’ Nobody knows, he said. The King is the unifying force at present.
And we spoke not of the politics in the world of the Tao, of the betrayals both he and I had experienced at the hands of colleagues, and other things known only by those who know where the bodies are buried.
When he dropped me in Chiang Mai a few minutes walk from my hotel, the germ of an idea had formed in my mind. I have kept notes of my journey in the Tao, from my very first encounter with Mantak in Pattaya in February 1992, through all the years of triumph and disaster, and I do believe that my story will prove both interesting and enlightening. Next week – How It All Began.
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