Saturday, 14 November 2009

Australian travellogue: Serpentine

Despite the adrenalin rush of being on holiday in a new country, the most boring part of our visit to Western Australia was the unavoidable long, long drive from Perth to Albany. As much as I had tried to anticipate this personally, I was still not prepared for the boredom that came from driving endlessly on a straight, narrow road with nothing much to see on both sides. My wife took it worse because I did not prime her for it at all. I though that I could surprise her simply with the excitement of being in Australia itself but I was mistaken. I could sense some concern in her as we set off on the drive. Yes, we did stop several times to take a rest and walk about and explore a bit but basically, nothing to excite us yet.

But first things first. At the outskirts of Perth, we made a detour to Serpentine (population, 2006 census: 1,856) to fulfil a casual remark we made to Ajahn Brahmavamso last year to visit the Buddhist Society of Western Australia if ever we set foot in this part of the country. It took us about 90 minutes to locate the entrance to this monastery, arriving there at almost eight o'clock in the morning. Maybe it was still too early in the morning because except for a man working in the gardens, not another soul stirred.

We didn't manage to meet the widely travelling Ajahn Brahm because he was away in Thailand. However, we did meet Ajahn Brahmali who suggested that we make our way to the Jhana Grove Retreat Centre further up Kingsbury Drive where he would be conducting a debriefing of devotees (I think they were all from overseas, Malaysia and Singapore, mainly) on the final day of a nine-day Buddhist retreat session. So there we went and Saw See made her dana presentation of robes to Ajahn Brahmali in full view of these people from around the region. Great!

Unfortunately, we couldn't stay long at the retreat centre and we went back to the BSWA to look around. I kinda liked the main hall. Wall-to-wall carpeting too. Back home, it would be all tiles. By the time we left, our visitors were starting to turn up.

We noticed this sign at the entrance to the Jhana Grove. It has all the hallmarks of a Ajahn Brahm wit written all over it. Trespassers will be converted? That's typically him, all right!

Next: Perth to Albany
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