Vagabonding Field Report: Awakening to the peaceful pace of life at Hariharalaya Retreat Centre, Roluos Village, Cambodia

grass hut

Cost/day: $20

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen lately?

This. In my pants. ‘Nuff said.



Describe a typical day:

I rise at 6 a.m. and do 90 minutes of yoga, 30 minutes of chanting, and one hour of meditation. Three hours after sunrise and plenty of activity later, I’m more than awake and ready for breakfast.

yoga hut 2
After breakfast, I wash in the outdoor showers and read a book in one of the many hammocks around the property.
Last days in Korea and America at last 365
Karma yoga, a kind of community service/volunteerism, happens three days a week. We clean the yoga hut and weed the garden.
Dharma talks happen at noon every day and could be about anything. One was a meditation Q&A; another was a snail’s-pace walking meditation.
In the afternoon, I practice slacklining, write in my journal, or paint in the creativity hut. I led an impromptu yoga session one afternoon when a bunch of us were lazing around on our mats.
creativity hut
The list of extra activities is wonderfully full. Shiatsu massage by a blind Khmer man. Workshops on body language, digestion and tantra. Reiki. Day trips to Angkor Wat and a hidden temple. Cruises around the village on old, rusty bicycles.
roluos biking
There is usually a guided meditation (yoga nidra, anyone?), a short poetry reading, and one collective “om” before we sit down to eat our vegan dinner.
vegan food
Conversations persist long after the meal, unhindered by phones and computers. Technology seems far away and unimportant out here.
Describe an interesting conversation you had with a local:
This is Marina, a 24-year-old Khmer woman who sells clothes and bags in Roluos. Her parents died a few years ago, so she lives with her aunt. Her spoken English is nearly flawless, but she wants to learn how to write. Books, paper and pencils are hard to get in the area. We talked for almost half an hour about anything from her business to life in America.MarinaWhat do you like about where you are? Dislike?

I love seeing a sky bursting with stars. I love walking barefoot around the retreat. I love developing my own personal practice with yoga and meditation that I can apply at home.

My body has adjusted to a rhythm in step with sunrise and sunset. It feels restful. Natural.
Roluos sunrise
I don’t like the relentless heat and humidity of Cambodia. No sooner have I showered than I’m sweaty again.
I also think I need more protein than the retreat’s vegan meals provide. I get hungry two hours after I’ve eaten a meal.
Describe a challenge you faced:
I did three consecutive days of silence. The first day, Saturday, was a mandatory silence day for the whole retreat. I welcomed the quiet environment as a time to reflect, read and write.
Sunday and Monday, however, were harder.
Most of the group had gone back to talking, and there were times when I would forget and let a word slip (“Sorry!”). Even worse, by Monday, I really wanted to talk to someone about what I was thinking and feeling–and I couldn’t.
What new lesson did you learn?
From those three days of silence, I learned how to become a better listener. I realized that I often interject conversations with semi-relevant or totally irrelevant information. Instead of talking to hear myself talk, I use much more eye contact and undivided attention on the person speaking to me now.Hariharalaya friendsWhere next?

After a year abroad, I’m finally going home to Colorado. I’ll be going on a road trip to a permaculture festival in Arizona shortly after my return.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | September 19, 2013
Category: Vagabonding Field Reports

One Response to “Vagabonding Field Report: Awakening to the peaceful pace of life at Hariharalaya Retreat Centre, Roluos Village, Cambodia”

  1. Barefoot Reading: This Week’s Recommended Stories and Insights from Around the World Says:

    […] Vagabonding Field Report: Awakening to the peaceful pace of life at Hariharalaya Retreat Centre, Rol… […]