On Saturday, January 11th we traveled from our guest house in Bangkok to the Tamkrabawk Monastery Drug Detoxification Center. It was about a two-hour drive to the center, but instead of traveling in two small vans like we had been the rest of this trip, we traveled in style! We were all able to travel together in a big bus complete with purple cushioned seats and pink curtains!
Once we arrived at the center we were greeted by a monk who led us to a seating area. We listened while he explained to us what the treatment center was all about. He explained that people from all over the world come to the center to get help and detox their body and minds from drugs and alcohol. He gave a us a brief description of the people's daily life at the center.
Each person was allowed a certain amount of baht to spend on food each day (there are a few restaurants on the grounds), and every morning they started their day with sweeping to get their bodies moving. He explained that exercise is good for the clients' bodies, because it helps them to sweat out the toxins and feel better. He also told us the benefits of drinking the herbal tea throughout their stay and daily steam baths to allow for more sweating and detoxification.
The most interesting part of their regime was the "vomiting ritual" that they participated in every day for the first 5 days of their stay to also cleanse their bodies. We were fortunate enough to be able to watch three people do this in front of us. They lined up next to each other in front of a drain with a bucket of water infused with herbal tea besides them. The music started playing and the rest of the group began to chant. Out walked a few monks with a bottle of darked colored liquid. We were not told what was in it, only that it was made from plants that came from the surrounding mountains.
The participants then took a shot of this liquid and immediatly chugged water and started to vomit. We were told it doesn't necessarily make them nauseous, so they have to make themselves vomit. If they do not, they will get stomach cramps and have crazy lucid dreams.
After we watched the people vomit we talked to a man who was from California and a man who was from London, where we learned insights on their lives and drug addictions. It was a very cool experience and we were able to see a whole different way of drug treatment than we would see in America.