Work is Well Underway at KFR

4 November 2012 - 1:46am Comments Off

Ongoing works are well underway at Kechara Forest Retreat, under the caring, watchful eye of Rinpoche who is also staying at the premises to personally get involved in the planning process and execution of critical works to be done.

In the last two weeks alone, a lot of improvements were done to the grounds including corrective works, enhancement to infrastructure and expansion of current living quarters. As it is the rainy season, the cabin site has been battered by heavy downpours exposing leaks in the marquee causing puddles in the living quarters.

The one road that services KFR took a beating and cars would sometimes get stuck in thick mud. Yet work pushed on. Large pieces of canvas criss-crossed the roofing. They were ugly but like so many things that are under-rated they held up and kept everyone dry until proper awnings arrived, which they finally did. The bad weather did nothing to dampen the spirit at KFR and if anyone had even the slightest reason to complain, the sight of a high lama trudging the filthy grounds and slippery slopes soon reminded everyone why we are all here. And day after day volunteers and full-timers chased deadlines, muddy boots thumped in and out as delicious meals were whipped up from a makeshift kitchen.

We upgraded our electic poles and cables and yet there was leakage and teams of electricians and TNB technicians became a common site at KFR. Liaisons Dato’ Ruby and Su Ming weaved their magic and before long, senior management of TNB visited our site and now a TNB substation is being planned to be located on our site to supply ample electricity to power existing and future needs.

Earlier on we reported that the old wooden shack had been extended to accommodate a tent city where 6 tents have been erected to house male volunteers. A few days later good news arrived – the wooden shack site is now to be the grounds on which a meditation gompa will be built reaching into the woods. Standing in the forest at the back of the shack early in the morning or towards the later part of the evening one soon discovers why that spot is perfect for meditation. A new tent city is now being built in front of the iconic tree with panoramic views of the hills.

The kitchen in KFR was upgraded and is now fairly well equipped (we now have a proper kitchen sink!) and whilst still small, many wholesome meals have been whipped up by volunteers. Kechara Oasis however wanted the workers and volunteers to be well taken of, and so each day now delicious vegetarian meals, soup and cakes are being delivered all the way from Kuala Lumpur.

For weeks now, Rinpoche have been patiently putting up with less than hot showers as the electricity was insufficient to heat up the water properly. Rinopoche developed a cough as a result. Taking a shower inside an extremely small shower/toilet requires some skills of a contortionist and is even more difficult for person with a large frame and so we ordered a bigger shower room with better fit-outs for Rinpoche but Rinpoche’s personals needs have never come in the way of our primary objective of bigger a Dharma centre in the forest that can benefit many.

So Rinpoche requested for the simplest of an outdoor shower covered with plain canvas instead and one was made in the last few days and a gas shower installed. Of all the beautiful and proper toilets and showers Rinpoche could have, he chose to be here roughing it out. That itself is a lesson in selflessness.

One thing we have all learnt from Rinpoche is to make the best out of any situation and less-than-perfect conditions cannot be an excuse for us not to apply ourselves. IF we all felt that we were living in a bare and temporary place, Rinpoche’s personal touches soon made it a real home and now beautiful plants and flowers chosen and bought personally by Rinpoche decorate the compound and the cabin sites.

Simultaneously, around the land, much larger works have begun in preparation for the expansion plans:

  • Carving out a new road around the first hill on the land – this will be for supply lorries and heavy machinery to traverse the land from the back, without disturbing current living quarters
  • Clearing and leveling the second hill, where a picnic spot is to be built
  • Clearing, leveling and pegging land around the temporary abode, for further expansion
  • Clearing land in a deeper part of the forest, which has been earmarked for the expansion of Kechara Village
  • Clearing the front portion of the land to provide flat, level parking space for more cars

Rinpoche, the KFR team led by Liaisons Datuk May and JP Thong, and a few other liaisons have also personally walked all around the land to identify where certain crucial elements will be building, such as:

  • a temple
  • more lodging space for staff
  • space for Rinpoche’s mumus (dogs) to run around safely outdoors
  • a more permanent home for our caretaker, Azai
  • the aviary
  • fish ponds
  • office space for Rinpoche’s assistants
  • organic vegetable garden

Works for these are now all underway and each day more volunteers come, led by Liaison Su Ming whilst Li Kheng manages the daily proceedings. Each day, all who work the land learn new skills and more importantly experience the Dharmic life which is to live our lives for the benefit for others. Ultimately, it is us who push ourselves beyond our comfort zones and experience the real purpose of our being, who benefits others.

Do see photos below of the latest development, and stop for a moment to think that if the photos show such beautiful grounds, imagine how much more spectacular it is to be there in person.

Tent City - temporary accommodation for the boys who stay up in KFR day and night to oversee the works there

Burning firewood daily to create smoke. This keeps away the thousands of bugs that would otherwise come into the cabins

Don't underestimate the size of this kitchen - plenty of wonderful meals have come out of here for workers and volunteers

Our Shakyamuni altar in the PO cabin area. We're doing pujas daily here to create merit and clear obstacles for the works.

Doesn't get more rustic than this! A meeting right in the middle of newly cleared land near our current temporary abode.

Martin of KFR (right) with an electrician discussing how to improve electricity supply to the area.

There's nothing the volunteers won't do! Here are Abby and Jace helping to clear up the area behind the butterlamp house.

Wifi in the forest? For sure. In the midst of mosquitoes, leeches and jungle, there's always a team updating social media channels about the progress of works here.

Rinpoche personally walks all around the land to survey current works and to plan the locations of different facilities on the land

Beautiful pockets of lush greens, valleys, mountains all over the land. It's truly enchanted!

Pegging the newly cleared land around our current premises for further expansion and to hold more cabins and facilities.

In the midst of a deep dark jungle.... are plans for a buzzing Internet hub - wifi, CCTVs, fibre optics and lots and lots of computers...

Creating new roads around KFR.

Rinpoche makes sure all workers are very well taken care of. Here he is checking out the proposed land for the caretaker's cabin, and advising what should be built.

A walk through the newly cleared lands of Kechara Village with Rinpoche - doesn't it look magical!

The cabin areas have become a real hive of activity, where there are frequently meetings between the Datuk May, the KFR team and contractors, architects etc.

Volunteers all raring to go on a Sunday morning! PS Spot the celebrity designer in his welly boots, ready to get down and dirty in the mud!.

We're recreating Findhorn in our very own retreat center. Here are volunteers potting new plants to beautify the current abode.

Our amazing caretaker and all-round muscle man Azai mixing cement to be laid out for his new premises. There's really nothing Azai can't do!

Gives a whole new meaning to al fresco dining. Here are our most basic washing facilities here in the outback!

Ladrang crew JP and Joy prettied up the area outside Rinpoche's cabin with many beautiful fresh plants and of course, a Buddha statue!

Beautiful view along the newly carved-out supply road.

Remember this photo - BK and Lew are planning the ever-essential networking connections, internet etc so we can bring news from deep in the forest... to the world!

Volunteers Loo and Jeffrey give contractors a helping hand, to pull in electrical cables. Our volunteers are amazing!

Plans for an organic vegetable garden starts now! We've already started sourcing for fresh vegetable seedlings and plants, like this gorgeous chilli plant.

The beautiful entrance leading to Kechara Village lands.

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