By April Cole.
I’ve always felt that travel is good for the soul. There are many ways travel nourishes your soul - you see new sights, you meet new people, you open your heart to new cultures and experiences. Another way to have travel nourish your soul is to embrace the beauty of incorporating local spiritual practices while you’re traveling. In this blog I’ve outlined some of the more special and unique spiritual experiences you can have whilst traveling in Southeast Asia that can be arranged by your Kaanect Travel Coach.
The Erawan Shrine in Bangkok was built in 1956 to ward off bad luck from a hotel that was built nearby. Since then it has been known to locals as a shrine that grants good luck. With your private guide, visit the shrine and learn how to prepare a proper offering and present it to the shine. Many locals and travelers have had their wishes and prayers come true!
In the late morning you will be transferred to a Buddhist temple, where you will have an opportunity to meet with a Buddhist monk, who will share Buddhism’s concepts and beliefs. Feel free to ask the monk any questions about Buddhism or meditation you would like. The hope is for an open and honest conversation so that you understand more about Buddhism at the end of the chat.
Silent meditation retreat
Spend two days, one night at a monastery in Chiang Mai where you will learn the art of mediation from local monks. These two days are spent in silence, so that you can learn to calm your “monkey mind,” and practice wellness of your brain.
Yoga and Meditation retreat
There are many single, multi-day and multi-week yoga, nutrition and meditation retreats in Thailand. If you’re interested in a retreat, consult a Kaanect Travel Coach with the specifics of what you’re looking for in the retreat so that your travel expert can recommend the best option just for you.
One of our favorite retreats is the Kamalaya in Koh Samui. A great combination of beautiful accommodation and beach access, with quality practitioners and a variety of programs to support all your wellness needs.
“Srouch Tec” Water blessing
This morning, head to Angkor Wat with your guide in an air-conditioned car. Explore this majestic temple throughout the morning while it is still cool and has fewer tourists. Your guide will take you to an active Wat, where you should change to clothes you can get wet in as here you will experience the ceremony “Srouch Tec,” which roughly translates into “pour water.” A monk will chant in ancient Pali as he splashes water over you, washing away your sins and bad luck so you can start fresh and by being a good person can increase your good luck.
Fortune Teller and Blessing from Monk
Cambodia has a deeply spiritual culture which is still actively observed today. Many local people look to the spirits for guidance and today you will gain a brief glimpse into this long-standing and well-respected tradition. To begin your Southeast Asia travel tour, you will pay a visit to a local fortune teller. This man is very well respected by our local Khmer team, who visit him frequently for guidance. Your reading will be conducted in Khmer language and will be translated for you by your guide. You are welcome to record this on your phone for deeper analysis later if you like. From here you will move on to visit the pagodas of Siem Reap city. Pagodas are well attended by most Cambodians to receive blessings and give alms to the spirit world, a very important part of the Buddhist religion. You will receive a blessing performed by a monk from the pagoda to cleanse your spirit from which you will take away a small red ribbon tied around your wrist to protect you for the rest of your travels.
Visit Reiki Master
Southeast Asia is known for having very strong energy, and many Reiki masters come to the region as they have noted their ability to work with energy is amplified in the area. While in Siem Reap, we have arranged a visit to work with a highly sought-after reiki master who now calls the area home. She has worked as a Reiki master for decades and is known best for her healing work. Experience a one-hour session with the local master at her healing center.
Traditional Baci Ceremony
This evening you will take part in a traditional Baci ceremony. The baci ceremony, referred to as, su kwan, which means “calling of the soul” will be performed by a local village elder, maw pawn. This blessing is meant to welcome you by giving you a blessing to bring harmony and balance to your body and soul. The Lao believe that this blessing will bring the believed 32 kwan, souls, that watch over you, back to your body so that you may be blessed and healthy. Your guide and the locals will help to lead you through the steps of the ceremony. During the ceremony there will be blessings, chanting and Pook Kwan. Pook Kwan is the tying of the white baci threads on each of your wrists from the elders. The white cotton is a symbol of peace, good fortune, honesty and comfort. They are traditionally worn for at least 3 days and should be untied rather than cut off. After the closing of the ceremony you will have the opportunity to ask any questions about the ceremony with your guide and your ceremony’s hosts.
Early Morning Alms to Monks
Wake up at sunrise to give monks morning alms. You’ll be accompanied by your guide who can demonstrate the proper method of alms giving and explain this daily Buddhist ceremony. Return to your hotel for breakfast.
Sacred Cham ceremony
The journey starts at dusk with a gentle walk to our hidden spot set in the middle of nature. The Sacred Cham lets you explore this ethnic culture in its most authentic way. The Cham is well-known for their cuisine -- therefore you will start your evening experience with a Cham feast.
In this culture, a Cham Master is the most respected person who is the only one allowed to conduct important ceremonies. There are very few Masters in a Cham society, due to high requirements of deep knowledge, practices and skills. Join this Cham Master for a blessing ceremony in the Cham style -- a unique and interesting way to feel something you have never experienced before.
*tour exclusively arranged at the Amanoi Resort
Visit with a local healer
During your private visit with a dukun (Balinese healer or medicine man) you will discuss the healing process using traditional medicines and acupressure -- and in some cases, magical drawings.
Spirit of Belimbing
Start the tour early from your hotel and enjoy a comfortable scenic journey along country roads to the Tabanan area in the remote region of Belimbing. Along the way, you will observe many beautiful sculpted-terrace rice paddies. When you arrive at the start point of the tour, you will be served refreshing tea or coffee plus tasty cookies before starting the 7km trek around the coffee and chocolate plantations. The trek is not arduous but will take you up and down the rice-paddy terraces. The trek ends at the secluded Benben Waterfall, considered sacred by the Belimbing inhabitants. Bring your bathing suit and take a few minutes to bathe in the waters and thus cleanse away bad spirits and ensure good fortune for you in love for your future. From Benben Waterfall, you will be transferred by road back to the starting point for lunch followed by some relaxation time.
Later, around 4 pm, you will be attired in suitable Balinese national dress and taken to one of Belimbing’s ancient Hindu temples located in the jungle. There you will encounter the sacred monkeys that live in the temple. A temple priest will enact a Hindu offering-to-the-gods ceremony involving bantens (ornate creations of meals cooked with meat and vegetables and decorated with flowers) followed by the drinking and spraying of holy water, an essential element of Balinese Hinduism. After the ceremony, you will be transferred back to your hotel where you can enjoy the rest of the evening at your leisure.
Agni Hotra Fire Ceremony & Meditation
Agni Hotra is an ancient fire ceremony originating from the sacred vedic hindu texts. Agni refers to fire and Hotra means healing. Specially trained priests make offerings of ghee and grains into the fire while reciting Sanskrit mantras to invoke blessings of health, abundance and transformation. Participants are also invited to join the priests at specified times, offering rice into the fire, as a symbol of divine light. The ritual is for cleansing, purification and integration of all things, creating harmony and healing for the participants.
**I want to stress the importance of not being voyeuristic or disrespectful of local cultures and beliefs in your travels. If you choose to incorporate a spiritual aspect into your travels, it’s vital to do so in a manner that is respectful and non-invasive. Kaanect Travel and our local partners on the ground have well-developed relationships with the partners offering travelers the opportunity to take part in these local experiences.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can incorporate these experiences as you travel in Southeast Asia, feel free to reach out to a Kaanect Travel Coach here!