Wat Kow Tham

by Dieter Baltruschat, using a leaflet and the homepage; updated from Steve Weissman July 2007

Wat Kow Tahm International Meditation Center

Address: P.O. Box 18, Koh Pahngan, Surat Thani 84280, Thailand
Internet: www.watkowtahm.org
E-mail: info@watkowtahm.org 
Early registration recommended!! Arrival one day ahead of course between 1 and 2 p.m.!!

Winter season 2007-2008: December 14-23, January 17-26 2008 (special old & new students’ retreat), February 14-23 and March 13-22 2008

Summer 2008: June 12-21, July 8-26 (special old & new students’ retreat), August 17-26

Location: Wat Kow Tahm is beautifully situated on a wooded hill near the village of Ban Khai on the well-known holiday island Koh Phangan. It is not too large, cosy, and has lovely vistas of the island and the sea. Basically it consists of the meditation hall, kitchen, and several small dorms for the participants, washing facilities and huts for the monks and nuns.

How to get there: From Bangkok by train or plane to Surat Thani. The train ride takes approx. 13 h. The 2nd class sleeper is recommended (reserve!). From Surat Thani or Phun Phin (train station) to the ferry pier and by ferry to Koh Phangan. Purchase of a combined train/ferry ticket is recommended. It is faster to fly directly from Bangkok to Ko Samui and take the ferry to Koh Phangan. There are two ferry routes from Ko Samui to Ko Phangan: one from Nathon and a shorter from Big Buddha Beach, the latter of which is much closer to the airport. From Thong Sala pier take a taxi or motorbike taxi. Since some taxi drivers do not go up the bit from the main road to the Wat, you may have to walk it, but it is fairly short.

Teacher: Rosemary and Steve Weissman have been teaching since 1988. The atmosphere is pleasant and in three interviews meditators receive very helpful advice for practice and everyday problems.

Course and duration of retreat: A course usually runs 10 days. The program includes insight meditation (in all body positions), development of loving kindness, reflections, stretching exercises in the morning, and quite interesting lectures. For former students of Rosemary and Steve Weissman a 20-day course is held every two years. Sometimes, after the 10 days, there is a possibility of staying on for a few days in the monastery to end the course with a reduced program.

Language(s): English.

Costs and shopping: The 10-days course fee of 4500 Baht covers the cost of lodging and food. Further donations are welcome. Daily necessities can be bought in Thong Sala (the ferry port). Before the retreat, buy flashlight, flip-flops, water bottle, insect repellent, detergent, and toiletries.

Accommodation and food: Rather small dorms. Bath and toilet are set apart from the quarters. Laundry facilities exist. Men and women are in separate quarters. Bunk beds with thin straw mattresses. Blankets, mosquito nets, pillows for sleeping and for meditation and pads for sitting can be borrowed. A sleeping bag can be particularly useful during the cooler season. Persons with back problems should bring a good quality sleep pad. Outside retreat times no overnight stays possible.

Excellent Asian cuisine (self-service). Breakfast, lunch with rice and two to three vegetarian dishes and fruit in the evening. Drinking water available.

Medical care: Very good by Asian standards. This area is not considered contaminated with malaria, but in other parts of Thailand malaria is endemic.

Rules: All participants commit themselves to stay for the entire retreat, to adhere to schedule, to keep silence, not to read and write (except notes and meditation diary). Sexual activities are to be discontinued for the duration of the retreat and the five silas (moral practice precepts) to be adhered to. Clothes should be comfortable and decent (no shorts and tank tops). Each participant is expected to assume a task serving the community (e.g. sweeping, cleaning baths).

Climate and best time to go: January, February, March. During the main season from December to February and in July / August it is very crowded.

Note: Excellent for beginners. Aside from the crowded living quarters very good conditions.