It’s a Hua Hin temple that’s not on the tourist map, but well known to local Thai people, especially when the time has come for quiet contemplation, perhaps for a weekend away from the pressures of urban life.
We were invited to join a local husband and wife, who with their six year old daughter (our temple guide Nong Nun), were taking time-out from their busy working life to retreat for two nights to Wat Thiti Sutto. They were dressed in the traditional white clothing of novice monks, with no food after noon, certainly no alcohol or TV and sleeping on a floor mat spread over tiles. There’s early morning Buddhist learning and study under the tutelage of saffron robed monks, then most of the day is spent alone before more Buddhist learning at 4 PM. Fans and phones are allowed but quiet please!
Women have their own area, away from couples, men and families. Wat Thitti Sutto also provides expansive grounds for walking amongst nature and Buddhist symbols aplenty for inspiration. Thai people show no scepticism or surprise at this practice, it’s a normal part of life. When there is a need to refresh or revitalise, the need for a temple retreat, whether that is for a few days, a few months or longer, is respected.
There are cultural equivalents worldwide with solitude and contemplation being the common link. Being alone in the desert is just one version. However this form of retreat has been sadly lost to the mainstream of modern western thinking; we’re too busy being stressed! Perhaps surprising is the plethora of statues featuring fierce animals including serpents, tigers and mythical creatures, but that doesn’t seem to detract from the peaceful atmosphere. The temple is set high amongst the hills just to the west of Hua Hin with some glimpses towards Hua Hin town and a fine northern outlook with cooling breezes.
We didn’t see any sign of foreigners at the temple. However we are assured anyone behaving in a way that shows respect to Buddhist ways and those in retreat is welcome. It may even be possible for foreigners to undertake their own time-out at the temple, but that needs to be arranged in advance; you’ll also need Thai language skills or assistance. Where: Take Soi 70 away from the centre of Hua Hin. Before the Artists’ Village near the top of the hill turn right. English language signs point towards the Hua Hin Dog Refuge; the temple sits high above the road after about 2 KM.